October 31, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:53 PM

FITTING MOURNERS (via Robert Schwartz):

Yasser Arafat's unrelenting journey (Barbara Plett, 10/31/04, BBC)

Foreign journalists seemed much more excited about Mr Arafat's fate than anyone in Ramallah.

We hovered around the gate to his compound, swarming around the Palestinian officials who drove by, poking our microphones through their dark, half-open windows.

But where were the people, I wondered, the mass demonstrations of solidarity, the frantic expressions of concern?

Was this another story we Western journalists were getting wrong, bombarding the world with news of what we think is an historic event, while the locals get on with their lives?

Yet when the helicopter carrying the frail old man rose above his ruined compound, I started to cry... without warning.

In quieter moments since I have asked myself, why the sudden surge of emotion?

Because you're a moral imbecile?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:43 PM


'The liberal elite hasn't got a clue': As a member of the Manhattan intelligentsia, novelist Tom Wolfe seems a lonely defender of George Bush's conservative values. But, he tells Ed Vulliamy, he's bewildered by a sex-mad society and tired of being lectured to at dinner parties. So is he voting for Dubya tomorrow? He's not quite telling (Ed Vulliamy, November 1, 2004, The Guardian)

Wolfe's lambent success in documenting ambition, drunkenness, sloth and meanness in his own country has taken him from his native Virginia to New York which he wrote about in Bonfire of the Vanities, pitching the super-rich "Masters of the Universe" in high finance against the real world of the Bronx. But even as the author of the quintessential New York novel, Wolfe feels estranged in the city, as he surveys America during the final days of the election campaign. Estranged not from the subjects of his scrutiny, the "Masters of the Universe", but rather from the liberal elite.

"Here is an example of the situation in America," he says: "Tina Brown wrote in her column that she was at a dinner where a group of media heavyweights were discussing, during dessert, what they could do to stop Bush. Then a waiter announces that he is from the suburbs, and will vote for Bush. And ... Tina's reaction is: 'How can we persuade these people not to vote for Bush?' I draw the opposite lesson: that Tina and her circle in the media do not have a clue about the rest of the United States. You are considered twisted and retarded if you support Bush in this election. I have never come across a candidate who is so reviled. Reagan was sniggered it, but this is personal, real hatred.

"Indeed, I was at a similar dinner, listening to the same conversation, and said: 'If all else fails, you can vote for Bush.' People looked at me as if I had just said: 'Oh, I forgot to tell you, I am a child molester.' I would vote for Bush if for no other reason than to be at the airport waving off all the people who say they are going to London if he wins again. Someone has got to stay behind."

Where does it come from, this endorsement of the most conservative administration within living memory? Of this president who champions the right and the rich, who has taken America into the mire of war, and seeks re-election tomorrow? Wolfe's eyes resume the expression of detached Southern elegance.

"I think support for Bush is about not wanting to be led by East-coast pretensions. It is about not wanting to be led by people who are forever trying to force their twisted sense of morality onto us, which is a non-morality. That is constantly done, and there is real resentment. Support for Bush is about resentment in the so-called 'red states' - a confusing term to Guardian readers, I agree - which here means, literally, middle America. I come from one of those states myself, Virginia. It's the same resentment, indeed, as that against your own newspaper when it sent emails targeting individuals in an American county." Wolfe laughs as he chastises. "No one cares to have outsiders or foreigners butting into their affairs. I'm sure that even many of those Iraqis who were cheering the fall of Saddam now object to our being there. As I said, I do not think the excursion is going well."

And John Kerry? "He is a man no one should worry about, because he has no beliefs at all. He is not going to introduce some manic radical plan, because he is poll-driven, and it is therefore impossible to know where or for what he stands."

Cheney: Kerry Took Poll on Bin Laden Tape (PETE YOST, 10/31/04, Associated Press)
Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday that Sen. John Kerry's first response to Osama bin Laden's new videotape was to take a poll to find out what he should say about it.

A spokesman for Kerry's campaign did not deny polling on the bin Laden videotape...

Too funny.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 PM


Koreans Quietly Introducing Jesus to Muslims in Mideast (NORIMITSU ONISHI, 11/01/04, NY Times)

A South Korean missionary here speaks of introducing Jesus in a "low voice and with wisdom" to Muslims, the most difficult group to convert. In Baghdad, South Koreans plan to open a seminary even after Iraqi churches have been bombed in two recent coordinated attacks. In Beijing, they defy the Chinese government to smuggle North Koreans to Seoul while turning them into Christians.

South Korea has rapidly become the world's second largest source of Christian missionaries, only a couple of decades after it started deploying them. With more than 12,000 abroad, it is second only to the United States and ahead of Britain.

The Koreans have joined their Western counterparts in more than 160 countries, from the Middle East to Africa, from Central to East Asia. Imbued with the fervor of the born again, they have become known for aggressively going to - and sometimes being expelled from - the hardest-to-evangelize corners of the world. Their actions are at odds with the foreign policy of South Korea's government, which is trying to rein them in here and elsewhere.

It is the first time that large numbers of Christian missionaries have been deployed by a non-Western nation, one whose roots are Confucian and Buddhist, and whose population remains two-thirds non-Christian. Unlike Western missionaries, whose work dovetailed with the spread of colonialism, South Koreans come from a country with little history of sending people abroad until recently. They proselytize, not in their own language, but in the local one or English.

"There is a saying that when Koreans now arrive in a new place, they establish a church; the Chinese establish a restaurant; the Japanese, a factory," said a South Korean missionary in his 40's, who has worked here for several years and, like many others, asked not to be identified because of the dangers of proselytizing in Muslim countries.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM


Ethnic Clashes Erupt in China, Leaving 150 Dead (JOSEPH KAHN, 10/31/04, NY Times)

Violent clashes between members of the Muslim Hui ethnic group and the majority Han group left nearly 150 people dead and forced authorities to declare martial law in a section of Henan Province in central China, journalists and witnesses in the region said today. [...]

Although most Chinese belong to the dominant Han ethnic group, the country has 55 other groups, including several Muslim minorities and others who have ties to Tibet, Southeast Asia, Korea and Mongolia.

Ethnic Muslim Uighurs in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang have led sporadic uprisings against Chinese rule and authorities maintain a heavy police presence there to prevent an Islamic insurgency.

Hui Muslims, scattered in several provinces in the central and Western part of the country, are more integrated and generally are not considered a threat to social stability.

But outbreaks of Hui unrest were not uncommon in the 1980's and tensions can bubble to the surface after even minor provocations.

Many Hui areas remain economically impoverished despite rapid economic growth in China's urban and coastal regions, and some members of minority groups say the Han-dominated government does little to steer prosperity to them.

And folks wonder why they buy into our future, instead of their own?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 PM


Employment Growth Accelerated in October: U.S. Economy Preview (Bloomberg, 10/31/04)

U.S. employers probably added 175,000 workers to payrolls in October, the most in five months, while the unemployment rate held at a three-year low of 5.4 percent, the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists shows.

The Labor Department's report will be released three days after the Nov. 2 presidential election, which polls show is a toss- up. President George W. Bush says his tax cuts have helped the economy, while Democratic challenger John Kerry says they haven't boosted jobs.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 1:05 PM


Germans flock back to days of the Cold War
(Allan Hall, The Scotsman, October 31st, 2004)

They have seen the feel-good movies that captured the spirit of the good old days. They have eaten the food and even rebuilt a stretch of the Berlin Wall. Now the German appetite for ‘Ostalgia’, the love of all-things from the former communist east, is being satisfied with a spell in the army.

Germans who lost their pride along with their country nearly 15 years ago are queuing up in large numbers to spend £190 on martial weekends where the discipline is tough, the food grotty, but the thrill "unbeatable".

The venture has been launched by two brothers, Reinhard and Christophe Heyes, who have bought several monster T-55 Soviet-made battle tanks from a scrap metal dealer in Czech Republic along with a set of armoured cars. The guns no longer work but the engines still roar like thunder, and, for stood-down personnel of the former East German "People’s Army" in particular, the thrill of what-might-have-been is what lures them to the tanks’ battleground 50 miles north of Berlin.

It sounds like a masochist’s ball: sleeping under canvas, up at 6am on cold and wet mornings for 20 minutes brisk physical training in the mud followed by an ice-cold shower, bed-making and "personal care". Woe-betide the weekend warrior who doesn’t get his olive-green Volksarmee-issue bedside closet gleaming like a crown jewel.

Afterwards, there is combat training with the weapons of a force that was once destined to be the hammerhead of a Soviet invasion through Europe. While the machine guns, mortars and radio sets attract a certain amount of nerdy interest there is no getting away from the fact that the recruits’ main goal is to drive a battle tank.

Reinhard Leitlauf, who recently joined up again for a weekend in the mud, said: "I was a major in the NVA [People’s Army] but the Bundeswehr [the current German army] doesn’t want me. This brings back old memories of old times when we were respected. The adrenaline rush when I was back on the tank was incredible.

"And I can tell you this - if the word was given, we would have been on the Rhine before the West even woke up!"

Yes sir, a country of thoroughly committed democrats who have long forgotten how to goosestep.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:02 PM



Osama bin Laden doesn't seem nearly so cocky in the unedited version of a videotape aired on al-Jazeera, complaining that the manhunt against him has hampered al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden's newest tape may have thrust him to the forefront of the presidential election, but what was not seen was the cave-dwelling terror lord talking about the setbacks al Qaeda has faced in recent months.

Officials said that in the 18-minute long tape — of which only six minutes were aired on the al-Jazeera Arab television network in the Middle East on Friday — bin Laden bemoans the recent democratic elections in Afghanistan and the lack of violence involved with it.

On the tape, bin Laden also says his terror organization has been hurt by the U.S. military's unrelenting manhunt for him and his cohorts on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

A portion of the left-out footage includes a tirade aimed at President Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, claiming the war in Iraq is purely over oil

The President should go on the air with these bits pronto, maybe even a formal address to the nation tonight or tomorrow.

OSAMA THE IMPOTENT (Amir Taheri, October 31, 2004, New York Post)

The tape is interesting for still other reasons.

First, the style: For the first time, bin Laden uses a clean, direct prose, free of blood-curdling hyperbole, childish poetics and flowery rhetoric. This may be because his message is specifically addressed at American voters rather than Islamist militants.

Second, this is a clearly political message. There are no religious motifs, no citations from the Holy Book or the Hadith and no pseudo-theological arguments. Having claimed for years that religion and politics were one, he now acknowledges that they are distinct domains. In that sense he has taken his first step toward secularization.

Third, Bin Laden appears to have abandoned his messianic pretensions. He no longer wants to save humanity from kufr (unbelief) and plant the banner of the Only True Faith on top of every capital in all continents. He is, in fact, reading an op-ed piece written in the style of Michael Moore.

FOURTH, Bin Laden is trying, rather belatedly, to attach himself to politi cal causes that might attract some Arabs. These include the Palestinian cause, a key ingredient of pan-Arab bitterness. But he also speaks of the U.S. intervention in Lebanon in 1982, forgetting the fact that the U.S. Marines and the French paras went there on behalf of the United Nations to prevent Israel from marching on Beirut to capture and kill Yasser Arafat and the entire Palestinian leadership trapped there. Nor does he mention that Arafat and his colleagues were taken to safety in an American ship under U.S. Marine escort.

His selective memory also omits the numerous instances when the Americans came to help Muslims such as in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and in Kosovo.

Finally, and here is the most surprising theme of the message, bin Laden is offering the Americans a deal. To cast himself as an honest deal-maker, he takes up some of Michael Moore's themes, especially about President Bush not reacting to the 9/11 attacks fast enough.

The deal is simple, and bin Laden hammers it in more specifically: "Do not play with our security, and spontaneously you will secure yourself."

Or, it doesn't sound like him because it isn't.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:10 PM


MASON DIXON - A PRETTY GOOD MEASURING STICK (Kerry Spot, 10/31/04, National Review Online)

Mason Dixon was the most correct pollster in 2002, picking the right winner in 22 out of 23 polls. Their average error on each candidate was 1.8 percent.

Their results released Saturday night:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 PM


With terrorism as backdrop, Bush narrows gap vs. Kerry: Challenger has 45-41 lead, but 12 percent of N.J. voters undecided (JOE DONOHUE, October 31, 2004, Newark Star-Ledger)

The latest poll shows Democratic Sen. John Kerry with a 45 percent to 41 percent lead over Republican President George W. Bush, with 12 percent still undecided and other candidates taking 2 percent of the vote.

The survey of 740 likely voters was taken Wednesday through Friday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent. Two weeks ago, the poll found Kerry with a 51 percent to 38 percent advantage among likely voters.

Acting poll director Patrick Murray said the president's visit to South Jersey on Oct. 18, combined with his emphasis in recent days on the issue of terrorism, appears to be striking a chord with New Jersey voters, particularly independents and South Jersey residents.

Polls taken by Star-Ledger/Rutgers-Eagleton and other groups since mid-summer have shown voters struggling to make up their minds. They showed a big Kerry lead just after the Democratic National Convention, a near-tie after the Republican National Convention, a wider lead for Kerry after the three debates and now Bush narrowing the gap again in the campaign's waning days. [...]

The latest survey found Bush, by a 78 percent to 16 percent margin, is considered the preferred candidate to handle the fight against terrorism, which voters said is the campaign's top issue. The incumbent, by a 57 percent to 33 percent margin, also is viewed as the stronger, more decisive leader.

78%-16%? That's a Red state.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:55 AM


Schilling makes pitch on behalf of president (David R. Guarino, October 31, 2004, Boston Herald)

Apparently Curt Schilling doesn't regret his endorsement of President Bush after all: The Sox hero has recorded automated phone calls backing Bush that will be made until Election Day.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:48 AM


Governors Elections in 11 U.S. States Tuesday (Michael Conlon, 10/31/04, Reuters)

Voters in 11 U.S. states elect governors on Tuesday in contests overshadowed by the fight for the White House but not always influenced by it.

Republicans currently control 28 governorships to 22 for the Democrats. It appears there could be some turnovers, but the net gain or loss for both parties may be about the same when the dust settles, depending on a number of tight races.

While governors often break ground with new policy agendas, this is a light year for such races and the contests have turned on local and regional economic issues rather than the national ones dominating the race for the presidency.

The contests, ranked by state population:

It'd be especially helpful to add West Virginia and Indiana.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 AM


Mutual fund survey finds retirement a top priority (MEG RICHARDS, 10/31/04, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A recent survey found that mutual fund ownership is on the rise after two years of decline, an encouraging signal that Americans are starting to save more money. But although most investors say retirement is their No. 1 priority, experts say the vast majority remain in danger of shortchanging this goal.

According to a study by the Investment Company Institute, the lobbying group for the mutual fund industry, 48.1 percent of households own mutual funds, a slight increase over last year but still below the peak of 52 percent in 2001. The median balance of $48,000 represents about 47 percent of total household savings.

Retirement was the primary investment goal for 72 percent of fund owners surveyed, said Sandy West, the group's director of market policy research. Some 84 percent participate in some sort of defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k) or government thrift, and 69 percent said they own an individual retirement account, up from 57 percent in 1998. For 58 percent of those surveyed, their first investment in mutual funds was made through their employers' defined benefit plan.

People obviously need to save more if we're going to re-privatize retirement, but that's what a reformed Social Security will force. Meanwhile, only in America could you have savings rates this high and be considered a nation that doesn't save.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 AM


African Union Peacekeeping Troops Head to Darfur (Cathy Majtenyi, 30 October 2004, VOA News)

More than 200 Rwandan troops are on their way to the war-torn western Darfur region of Sudan, where they will assume peacekeeping duties under the African Union.

Rwanda's foreign minister, Charles Murigande, told VOA Saturday that 241 Rwandan soldiers are headed to Darfur.

There, they will join more than 150 Rwandan peacekeeping troops already there, as well as about 50 Nigerian troops who were sent to the area Thursday.

Altogether, seven African countries are expected to contribute more than 3,000 troops to the African Union's peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Mr. Murigande said he is pleased his country is involved in the continental effort.

"The vision of the African Union is to build an Africa, which is peaceful, integrated and prosperous," said Charles Murigande. "We believe, by participating to the Darfur mission, we are also contributing to the realization of this vision."

Don't tell Francis Fukuyama.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM


Name as many Division 1 college sports teams as you can whose nickname does not either end in the letter "s" or include a color.

We've posted some answers in the Extended Entry portion

Here are 20, courtesy of Mark McCormick:

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Illinois Fighting Illini

US Naval Academy Midshipmen

North Carolina State Wolfpack

Hofstra Flying Dutchman or Pride (a twofer!)

Union College Dutchmen

Bucknell Bison

Marshall Thundering Herd

Georgia Tech Ramblin' Wreck (more traditional than Yellow Jackets, this was the nickname when John Heisman was football coach; yes, that Heisman)

University of Southern California Women of Troy (women's teams!)

University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine (women's teams again, the men are the Warriors; technically "Rainbow" is not a color)

Hobart College Statesmen (lacrosse)

University Wisconsin Green Bay Phoenix

University of Nevada Reno Wolfpack

University of Massachusetts Minutemen

Pepperdine Wave (actually the Waves, but in SoCal it's cooler to just call them the Wave)

University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux

North Dakota State Bison

Centenary College Gentlemen (Robert Parrish's alma mater)

William & Mary Tribe

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 AM


Will Osama Help W.? (MAUREEN DOWD, 10/31/04, NY Times)

W. was clinging to his inane mantra that if we fight the terrorists over there, we don't have to fight them here, even as bin Laden was back on TV threatening to come here.

Strange, wouldn't you think the point is that instead of attacking us here all they can do is make idle video threats?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:34 AM


The President's brain (Mark Steyn, 24/10/2004, Daily Telegraph)

Profile: Karl Rove

A month ago, the standard complaint from Democrats went something like this: Bush has only one adviser but he's an evil genius; Kerry has thousands of advisers and, whether any of them are evil, none is a genius.

Their envy was directed at Karl Rove, the President's longtime adviser or (to quote the title of a biography of him) "Bush's Brain". The slightest misstep by Senator Kerry and the more paranoid Democratic websites are quick to detect the fingerprints of Rove - even though, like most evil geniuses, he doesn't leave any.

Meanwhile, over on the Right, they're happy to feed the Left's paranoia and gleefully credit every disaster on the Kerry side to another cunning move by Rove. Within an hour of The Guardian publishing its pro-Kerry letter from Lady Antonia Fraser to the swing voters of Clark County, Ohio, I received an e-mail from an American howling with laughter and insisting that this "Lady Antonia" figure was an obvious Karl Rove plant.

But so advanced is the Left's fevered obsession with Rove that it's increasingly difficult to parody. Every presidency has a sinister power behind the throne, and the fact that in this case the guy on the throne is the world's biggest moron naturally enhances the prestige of the power behind it. Indeed, the more furiously the Left maintains that Bush is a dummy the more extravagantly they talk up his shadowy Machiavel.

What folks tend to ignore is that W was tutored by Lee Atwater and hired Karl Rove.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 AM


Stock market tea leaves (Larry Kudlow, October 30, 2004, Townhall)

As more Americans have come to own stocks over the past 20 years, the stock market itself has become a leading indicator of presidential elections. One rule of thumb in this investor polling experiment is that a flat or down market in the 10 months preceding an election can spell defeat for the incumbent. In 1992, the broad-based S&P 500 was essentially flat, and the incumbent George H.W. Bush was defeated. In 2000, the index declined, and the proxy incumbent Al Gore lost in a cliffhanger. However, in both 1988 and 1996, the S&P rose more than 10 percent, signaling victory for respective incumbents Papa Bush and Bill Clinton.

Where are we today? Stocks, like everything else, are signaling a close call. Year-to-date, the S&P is higher by 1.5 percent, an underwhelming performance as far as Bush is concerned. However, since mid-August the S&P is up 6.2 percent, and in just recent days the whole stock market appears to be snapping out of its "bubble of fear" funk, to use economist Don Luskin's apt phrase. It's still possible that stocks are calling it for Bush.

Luskin and others have pointed out that uncertainties surrounding this election, such as the possibility of a highly litigious voter recount, have created a risk-averse fear among investors. The theory goes that this has induced investors to buy safe-haven gold or gilt-edged Treasury bonds rather than more economy-revitalizing stocks.

It would appear that the best way to snap the stock market out of its doildrums is to produce Osama's body, but the second best would certainly be to get some kind of Social Security privatization underway early in the next Congress.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:04 AM

Word of the Day (Dictionary.com Word of the Day, October 31, 2004)

diablerie \dee-OB-luh-ree; -AB-\, noun:
1. Sorcery; black magic; witchcraft.
2. Representation of devils or demons in words or pictures.
3. Mischievous conduct; deviltry. [...]

His worst excesses of unfeeling diablerie belong to his
early days.
--Robertson Davies, "The Making of a 'Dublin Smartie,' "
New York Times, October 30, 1988

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 AM


Ukraine May Tip to the West or to the Past in Voting (David Holley, October 31, 2004, LA Times)

Amid fears that disputes over the vote count could trigger violence, citizens head to the polls here today in a presidential election marked by a fierce battle between pro-Western and Moscow-oriented candidates.

Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, widely viewed as a free-market democratic reformer, is facing Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, who is popular in Ukraine's largely Russian-speaking east, in an exceptionally harsh campaign.

Thirteen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the election marks a critical moment in Ukraine's history. The outcome could move this country of 48 million either toward warmer ties with Western Europe and the United States or back into a tighter post-Soviet relationship with Russia.

The election, said Igor Zaytsev, a 31-year-old businessman who supports Yushchenko, will decide "whether it will be yesterday or tomorrow in Ukraine."

Polls show the two men roughly tied for the lead in a field of 24 candidates, with neither expected to receive the 50% support required to win office. A runoff between the top two finishers, if needed, would be Nov. 21. The winner would succeed President Leonid D. Kuchma, who has been in power for 10 years.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 AM


Special Forces Enter CIA Territory With a New Weapon: The Pentagon gains the power to let elite troops give millions in cash or arms to foreign fighters. (Greg Miller, October 31, 2004, LA Times)

Moving into an area of clandestine activity that has traditionally been the domain of the CIA, the Pentagon has secured new authority that allows American special operations forces to dole out millions of dollars in cash, equipment and weapons to international warlords and foreign fighters.

Under the new policy, the U.S. Special Operations Command will have as much as $25 million a year to spend providing "support to foreign forces, irregular forces, groups or individuals" aiding U.S. efforts against terrorists and other targets. Previously, military units were prohibited from providing money or arms to foreign groups.

Pentagon officials said the new capability was crucial in the war on terrorism, enabling America's elite soldiers to buy off tribal leaders or arm local militias while pursuing Al Qaeda operatives and confronting other threats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:55 AM


Why 'This Is About Bush': His narrowly focused 'hedgehog presidency' cements the allegiance of conservatives and galvanizes his foes. The result is bitter division. (Ronald Brownstein, October 31, 2004, LA Times)

More Americans than ever may participate in Tuesday's presidential election — as volunteers and, on Tuesday, voters. But in its tone, its agenda and its fervor, the marathon race for the White House bears the unmistakable imprint of one man: President Bush.

As much through his unflinching style as his aggressive policies, Bush has powered a campaign that has engaged, motivated and divided Americans — and much of the world — like none in recent times.

The Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry, has his admirers and his critics. But the unprecedented sums of money raised by both parties, the long lines of early voters already crowding polling places in many states and the anticipation of a sharply higher turnout Tuesday are all primarily reflections of the passions Bush has stirred in four turbulent years, especially by invading Iraq, analysts agree.

"This is about Bush," said Andrew Kohut, executive director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Half a century ago, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin famously separated intellectuals and artists into two categories: the fox, who is clever, creative, committed to many goals; and the hedgehog, a creature driven by a single unwavering conviction. By Berlin's standards, Bush has produced one of the purest examples of a hedgehog presidency.

With his repeated tax cuts, his support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and the war in Iraq, Bush has consistently pursued goals that generate strong support among Republicans and conservatives, but at the price of provoking antipathy among Democrats and liberals.

Sure, except that 70% of the American people support things like the ban on gay marriage, the partial-birth abortion ban, and a ban on cloning. Over 60% support privatizing Social Security, tax cuts, and deposing Saddam. America isn't very evenly divided--the 40% is just loud and angry.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 AM


Film Reveals Iraqi Perspectives on Postwar Life (All Things Considered, October 29, 2004)

For the documentary Voices of Iraq, Iraqis received 150 video cameras and were asked to film whatever they wanted. The result is a rare look at daily life in Iraq -- the tragic, the joyful and the mundane. Filmmakers Eric Manes and Archie Drury talk with NPR's Michele Norris.

The filmmakers express their disappointmenmt/anger/disillusionment with a corporate press culture that's only interested in blood and bombs and not the ordinary lives of Iraqis who are thankful to be rid of Saddam.

Voices of Iraq—they must be heard (Joel Mowbray, October 31, 2004, Townhall)

Groundbreaking and instantly compelling, VOI is sort of the anti-Michael Moore film. There’s no narration, no heavy-handed editing. And whereas the man from Flint started with his premise and assembled his film to support it, the only goal when making VOI was to emulate the producers’ trailblazing MTV show Fear, which gave cameras to everyday youths who filmed themselves at supposedly haunted locations. Defying expectations, the show was a hit.

Not knowing what to expect, the producers partnered with actor and Gulf War veteran Archie Drury, who personally distributed cameras in Iraq this April. When they started getting back initial footage not long after, the situation was less than ideal, yet nowhere near as bleak as the media portrayed.

Life in Iraq is normal. Maybe not normal by American or European standards, but certainly for a country barely out from under the thumb of a bloodthirsty tyrant.

Throughout VOI, kids are seen being kids: laughing, playing, teasing, roughhousing. Iraqis are seen being silly: an adolescent boy doing what could only be described as a strange solo dance, an actor who filmed himself taking a shower, and policemen making bizarre sound effects and goofy faces. And boys being boys: young men returning to college last month hitting on pretty girls with lame come ons, such as “The most beautiful girl, come here” and “Come here, I just want to talk to you.”

Interspersed with that are painful reminders of Iraq’s all-too-recent savage history, including former victims of Saddam’s torture having a conversation over dinner and video of Shia in the south recovering skeletal remains from mass graves. Though a few longed for the “stability” and “security” of Saddam’s regime, no one seen in VOI was under any delusions about the despot.

During Saddam’s pretrial hearing, Iraqis were shooting in celebration, and one man talked about how he danced when he heard the news of the tyrant’s capture.

Iraqis’ elation at Saddam’s demise should not come as a surprise. The most chilling moments of the film were four brief clips from official Fedayeen (Saddam’s paramilitary) videotape footage: a blindfolded and handcuffed man thrown from the top of a building, falling to his death; a boy’s hand being chopped off; two blindfolded young men, boys really, sitting on a bomb as it detonates; and a beheading.

Lasting no more than 15 seconds and completely silent, those images will haunt even the most jaded for days.

This side of evil, the real enemy of VOI is the mainstream media.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:40 AM


In Iraq, U.S. Officials Cite Obstacles to Victory (ERIC SCHMITT, 10/31/04, NY Times)
Commanders voiced fears that many of Iraq's expanding security forces, soon to be led by largely untested generals, have been penetrated by spies for the insurgents. Reconstruction aid is finally flowing into formerly rebel-held cities like Samarra and other areas, but some officers fear that bureaucratic delays could undermine the aid's calming effects. They also spoke of new American intelligence assessments that show that the insurgents have significantly more fighters - 8,000 to 12,000 hard-core militants - and far greater financial resources than previously estimated.

Perhaps most disturbing, they said, is the militants' campaign of intimidation to silence thousands of Iraqis and undermine the government through assassinations, kidnappings, beheadings and car bombings. New gangs specializing in hostage-taking are entering Iraq, intelligence reports indicate.

"If we can't stop the intimidation factor, we can't win," said Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, the commander of nearly 40,000 marines and soldiers in western and south-central Iraq, who is drawing up battle plans for a possible showdown with more than 3,000 guerrillas in Falluja and Ramadi, with the hope of destroying the leadership of the national insurgency.

In some cases, senior officers say, their goals could inadvertently act at cross purposes. For example, Iraq cannot hold meaningful national elections if militants still control major Sunni cities like Falluja. Negotiations there have broken down and many officers predict a military offensive. But hard-line Sunni clerics say they will call for an election boycott if American troops use force to put down the insurrection.

"Getting Sunnis involved in the political process to me is the biggest thing that has to happen to help the security situation," said one senior commander. "If a good portion of Sunnis don't participate, then that may give life to a larger Sunni insurgency. That's worrisome."
The sooner it turns into a specifically democrats against Sunnis war the better.

U.S. Hopes To Divide Insurgency: Plan to Cut Extremism Involves Iraq's Sunnis )Bradley Graham and Walter Pincus, October 31, 2004, Washington Post)

The dominant element of the insurgency, the officials said, is a loose group referred to in U.S. military documents as "Sunni Arab rejectionists," consisting largely of former members of Hussein's government. These are onetime military officers and intelligence agents who U.S. officials have come increasingly to believe had some kind of plan to reorganize into cells and wage an insurgency if U.S. forces invaded.

Filling out the resistance, the officials said, are an assortment of Islamic extremists, some homegrown, such as the militia led by radical Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, and some foreign, such as those associated with Jordanian-born Abu Musab Zarqawi, plus a mix of criminals, financiers and other "facilitators" operating inside and outside Iraq and having access to substantial sums of money.

The new Pentagon plan, devised over the summer, centers on enticing more Sunnis into the political process while targeting the Islamic extremist groups for elimination. It depends heavily on building up Iraqi security forces more successfully than in the past year and breaking the bureaucratic logjams that have stymied flows of reconstruction aid into formerly rebel-held cities such as Samarra to win over civilian populations.

"The aim is to drive a wedge between the Sunni Arab rejectionists and the incorrigibles," said one senior official involved in policymaking on Iraq. "Many in the rejectionist group feel disenfranchised and are being intimidated. They need to be relieved of that yoke and engaged, while the extremists need to be isolated, captured or killed."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 AM


‘What Bush should have said was: Here’s a man who’s been murdering everyone he could get his hands on for 25 years. We don’t need a reason’ (Alan Taylor, 10/31/04, Sunday Herald)

In the second Gulf war, [PJ O'Rourke] was in Kuwait when the tanks bulldozed in, watching on television while events unfol ded. He finally arrived when the battle appeared to be over and the looters were ransacking Baghdad’s galleries, museums and libraries and work was getting under way to restore utilities. “You have seen the backside of war,” an electrical engineer told him.

Indeed. But O’Rourke has also seen the front side of war, having spent much of the 1980s dodging bombs and bullets, ever fearful of being kidnapped and summarily executed. His job, he says, is simply to report what he sees, which he does with panache. Unusually, however, it is from the perspective of a humorist and registered Republican. War may be random in its brutality but in O’Rourke’s hands – as in Joseph Heller’s and Jaroslav Hasek’s – it is also a situation for comedy, a theatre of the absurd.

A decade after the first Gulf war, he found Kuwait basking in the joys of freedom. “The McDonald’s on Arabian Gulf Street has a doorman and a mâitre d’,” he writes. “A Mercedes dealership on the west side of town is the size of a country fair. Premium gasoline costs 87 cents a gallon or – to put that in Kuwaiti currency (at $3.34 to the dinar) – nothing. Lunch lasts from noon to five. The gutra [headdress] on the man in line ahead of me at the McDonald’s bore the Dunhill label.”

Is this, then, what Iraqis can expect, say, 10 years hence? O’Rourke, patriotically dining in a Covent Garden hotel on a steak burger and fries, washed down with a Coke, does not exactly exude optimism.

“Well,” he says, “we may end up cutting and running from this thing. It’s hard to see any attractive outcome on this. Yeah, looking back on it, it may not have been the right thing to do … I think the thought was – if I’m right in reading what was going on in American officials’ minds at the time – that this was a very large chess piece that had to be removed.”

Not that O’Rourke is the slightest bit remorseful about the blitzkrieging of Saddam and his murderous chums. As far as he’s concerned, he was a very bad man who had some very bad relatives, who ran a very bad government, who did some very bad things in a country which had lots of very good oil which gave him the wherewithal to do more very bad things. There was also, he argues, plenty of provocation . “I saw what the Iraqis did in Kuwait,” he says, and the grimace on his face tells you it was not nice.

So they got what was coming to them. It doesn’t concern him that no weapons of mass destruction have been found or that no link has been proved between Saddam and Bin Laden and 9/11. “What Bush should have said was, ‘Here’s a man who’s been murdering everyone he could get his hands on for 25 years. We don’t need a reason. We’re going to do to Iraq’s dictators what Hollywood does to its has-beens at the Academy Awards ceremony. We’re giving Saddam Hussein a Lifetime Achievement Award’.”

October 30, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:21 PM


Battle Cry of Faithful Pits Believers Against the Rest (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 10/31/04, NY Times)

Pollsters, political scientists and conservative organizers say the election is the strongest manifestation yet of a two-decade-old shift away from the allegiance of different religious groups to each party toward an overriding gap between ardent traditionalists and the more secular. Rhetoric pitting the most observant against the least is spreading beyond a core of white evangelical Protestants to other denominations, conservative Catholics, black and Hispanic Protestant churches and even some Jewish groups.

Many conservative Christians say part of the reason is the contrast between Mr. Bush's openness and Senator John Kerry's reticence on the subject of faith. They say another reason is the confluence of social issues like same-sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research with the expectation of vacancies on the Supreme Court. But pollsters and political scientists say that, more than in any other presidential election, the Bush campaign and its allies have tried to capitalize on what some call "the God gap." Although Mr. Bush often emphasizes tolerance and inclusiveness, the grass-roots campaign has in some ways fulfilled the conservative Pat Buchanan's widely panned description at the 1992 Republican convention of a "religious war going on in our country for the soul of America.''

Here in Allentown, the most closely contested district in a major swing state, a Bush supporter independently took out a billboard reading simply, "Bush Cheney 04 - One Nation Under God." Republican party mailings in two Southern states suggested that Democrats would ban the Bible, and the party has retained David Barton, a proponent of the idea that America is a "Christian nation," to speak to groups of pastors.

About a week ago, Mr. Bush met with Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia, in his latest attempt to shore up Catholic support in Pennsylvania, and earlier this month officials of his campaign met with African-American pastors in Toledo, Ohio. At the Republican convention, the party was even host to its first gathering explicitly for Orthodox Jews, a sliver of the electorate that has now swung decisively in Mr. Bush's favor.

"It is a very, very concerted effort from the Republican side like we have never seen before," said Luis E. Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, of the efforts to take advantage of the religious-secular divide. "There is no question that Bush and his people have played up and helped to solidify that trend."

Hard to imagine that which divides America from the rest of the West wouldn't divide America itself to some extent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:14 PM


Hispanic Democratic group in Fla. rejects Kerry endorsement, citing moral issues (Erin Curry, Oct 29, 2004, BP)

The Democratic League of Miami-Dade County has announced it does not endorse John Kerry for president, mainly because he is part of the current party leadership that has rejected the moral values and ethical principles of the vast majority of Democrats across the country, according to league chairman Eladio Jose Armesto.

With more than 1,000 members and a reach that expands to 100,000 pro-life, pro-family Democrats in Miami, the Democratic League was chartered by the Miami-Dade Democratic Party in 1989 and is primarily led by Hispanic-American Democrats.

The league released a statement Oct. 27, saying the Democratic presidential candidate stands "at a polar extreme of American public opinion" on certain issues, including same-sex "marriage," partial-birth abortion and human cloning.

The way in which gay marriage informs this election is going to lead to some surprising numbers on Tuesday.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:08 PM


In defense of a liberal agenda (RONALD MEINARDUS,, 10/31/04, Japan Times)

Today, hardly another political term is as misapprehended and misrepresented as is "liberal." A case in point is the United States in the runup to the presidential elections. For partisan reasons, the Republicans and the so-called neoconservatives have gone on a rampage to discredit liberalism. If you listen to President George W. Bush's campaign speeches, you get the impression that "liberal" is a four-letter-word. [...]

In historical terms, the great liberal achievements have been the spread of democracy, the establishment of the rule of law, the respect for human rights and the expansion of the market economy. Conceptually, these principles may be termed "intellectual property" of the liberal movement. Only recently have these principles been adopted by other political mainstreams -- such as the conservatives and, today, even the socialists. While the "liberalization" of these two traditionally antiliberal political ideologies is a positive development, it has also caused ideological confusion.

In the U.S., liberalism-bashing by the conservatives has become so powerful that some liberals have changed their identity and prefer to be called "libertarians." This said, it may be instructive to go back to the roots and discuss the substance of what constitutes a liberal agenda of government.

Conservatives lost the battle for the word liberal forty years ago. When the Left won it the term did become a dirty word, because it no longer had anything to do with liberty.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:04 PM


Anti-Kerry remarks by Labour MP put Blair on the spot (Patrick Hennessy, 31/10/2004, Daily Telegraph)

[Gisela Stuart, the former health minister] claimed that a Kerry victory over President George W. Bush would prompt "victory celebrations among those who want to destroy liberal democracies".

Writing in The House Magazine, the parliamentary journal, the Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston wrote: "More terrorists and suicide bombers would step forward to become martyrs in their quest to destroy the West."

In another dig at the Democratic challenger, she wrote: "You know where you stand with George and, in today's world, that's much better than rudderless leaders who drift with the prevailing wind."

Mr. Kerry was windsurfing and couldn't be reached for comment.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:39 PM


The winner is... US conservatism: The Democrats face an awesome task in Tuesday's elections but, for the country's good, they must win (Will Hutton, October 31, 2004, The Observer)

[T]he deeper truth is that conservative America has become a formidable cultural and electoral force - and it offers its allegiance to George Bush instinctively and unhesitatingly.

Even if Kerry manages to win, American conservatism will remain the most dynamic component in American political life. Although a Kerry victory (for which I hope) is conceivable, it is already clear that the race is so tight that the Republicans will retain their grip on the House of Representatives - with little prospect of an early reversal. Talk to Republicans and they regard their control of the House together with more state legislatures as the heart of their power base; in the checked and balanced US political system the presidency is the necessary but insufficient condition for political leadership.

In short, a Kerry victory would only be the end of the beginning; for the Democrats to move the US even marginally from its current hardening right-wing trajectory, the long-term task is the rebuilding and sustaining of the liberal coalition that they held from Roosevelt's New Deal to the end of the 1960s - and which will allow them to challenge what is now a Republican legislative dominance. That requires not just political energy and a mobilisation on the ground that the Democrats have only just begun to demonstrate - it also means winning the battle of ideas, where they are still at first base.

For Senator Kerry to win the election he'll have to win in states where most of the statewide officials are Republican, like Ohio and Florida, so it seems hard to believe that he could pull that off and not carry some considerable number of congressional seats too. But Mr. Hutton is correct that it wouldn't matter in the longer term. Where Bill Clinton at least campaigned as a Third Way Democrat, Mr. Kerry would be in no position to reform the Party in the ways that it needs in order to appeal to the 21st Century. He is a throwback to the '70s and his presidency would be devoid of signifigance.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:07 PM


We Win: Sox Fans Bid Curse Adieu (Dan Mackie, 10/30/04, Valley News)

This year, the Red Sox made history and broke history. They shook off the four horsemen of our collective apocalypse -- misfortune, ineptitude, cowardice and Grady Little. They rose from the dead against the New York tyrants.

So this one's for all the boyhood dreams, for kids who threw rubber balls against front steps and thought they'd play in Fenway Park someday.

This one is for old ladies and young girls, old men and young boys, for drivers who listened to games on scratchy car radios. This one's for the people in New Hampshire and Vermont who listened on far-off stations because the local ones went to bed early.

This one's for people who had to stand and leave the TV room, their hearts running fast as lawn mowers, for people who opened the morning papers and started their days with a sip of disappointment.

This is for the fans we lost along the way, for family and friends we long to watch one more game with, spend one more hour with, to say, before the important and painful things, “How 'bout those Red Sox?”

You want to know what this means for Sox fans? It's everything, the only thing, the transformation of dread into dreams.

And me? I watched the playoff games with all the serenity of a squirrel staring down a lumber truck.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:27 PM


Great to see that Bobby Jindal, whose 2002 gubernatorial bid in LA was sunk by racism, will be a freshman Republican congressman in '05.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:12 PM


Brief Point (snopes.com)

Claim: Senator John Kerry told interviewer Larry King that he "hasn't had time" to be briefed on the possibility of new al Qaeda attacks.

Status: True.

This actually redounds to the Senator's credit. His campaign pretty clearly made a conscious decision to just lie in the later stage of the campaign--about everything from the draft to Social Security to Tora Bora to "missing" explosives--and if they were going to do that it is certainly better to have done so from a position of ignorance than to duplicate the shameful way that JFK the 1st lied about the missile gap even after being shown there was none.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:00 PM


Midwest business surges in October: Business activity expanded much faster than expected, increasing for an 18th straight month. (Reuters, October 29, 2004)

Business activity in the Midwest expanded in October for the 18th straight month, and at a much faster rate than expected, a report showed Friday.

The National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago business barometer jumped to 68.5 from 61.9 in September.

Economists had forecast the index at 59.0. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The employment component of the index rose to 54.1 from 53.9 in September. New orders rose to 79.4 from 69.7 in September.

18 straight months? The question isn't why WI, MI, MN, IA, etc. have moved into the President's column but what Ohioans are whining about.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:48 PM


There are more than enough conspiracy theories and paranoid ravings floating around out there, but we have gotten to the point where it's hard not to see something nefarious in the way the Washington Post tracking poll expanded from using the results of three nights to four nights this week, which just happened to allow them to include Senator Kerry's weekend numbers in the results until today. Weekend polls notoriously tend to favor Democrats, so showed a Kerry rise and even a lead at one point--what was most noticable in their sample was that terrorism declined in importance--but with only weekdays included the President is back to 50% and a three point lead. Gotta go now, the aluminum foil skull cap is so tight my vision is blurring.


Okay, now I know I've gone nuts. Here's the description of their methodology that accompanies today's poll:

This tracking poll is based on a rolling three-day sample.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:39 PM


Bush Lead Widens Among Likely Voters -- Newsweek (Reuters, 10/30/04)

President Bush's lead over Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry has widened to 6 percentage points among likely voters, according to a Newsweek magazine poll released on Saturday.

The poll showed Bush leading Kerry by 50 percent to 44 percent, and independent candidate Ralph Nader drawing 1 percent support. [...]

This week's poll surveyed 1,005 registered voters from Wednesday through Friday, and the final night's polling came after the broadcast of a new videotape in which al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden raised the prospect of fresh attacks against the United States.

The war against global terrorism has been a major issue in the campaign, and the Newsweek poll said voters trusted Bush over Kerry by 56 percent to 37 percent to tackle terrorism.

That last number is why you'd have to doubt that the Supermarionation Osama Show will damage the President.

Bush, Kerry Spar Over Bin Laden Video (MARY DALRYMPLE and TERENCE HUNT, 10/29/04, AP)

"As Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists," Kerry said in Florida, standing next to his campaign plane. "They are barbarians, and I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes, period.

But he went on, in the radio interview, to question Bush's judgment in the Tora Bora chase and to say he would do a better job keeping the United States safe.

"Democrat, Republican, there's no such thing," Kerry said. "There's just America and we are all united in hunting down and capturing or killing those who conducted that raid and we always knew that that was Osama bin Laden."


Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:24 PM


“By Gradual Paces”: As the election approaches, some warnings issued by the Founders leap off the page as never before. (Jim Sleeper, 10.26.04, American Prospect)

If some of us anti-Bush Americans seem on the verge of a nervous breakdown in these final days, it's not necessarily because John Kerry is our heart's desire or even because George W. Bush and Co., under cover of fighting terrorism, are spending the country into crushing debt that will drive the social compact back to the 1890s. Nor are we wrought up because a Republican ticket led by two former draft dodgers (as defined by every conservative Republican since the late 1960s, when both men did their dodging), has savaged war heroes like Max Cleland, John McCain, and Kerry himself.

The republic has survived excesses like that, if barely. What really scares some of us is the foreboding that, this time, it won't outlast the swooning and the eerily disembodied cheering at those Bush revival rallies. Something has happened to enough of the American people to make some warnings by this country's own Founders leap off the page as never before.

As soon as King George III was gone, the Founders took one look at the American people and became obsessed with how a republic ends. History showed them it can happen not with a coup but a smile and a friendly swagger, as soon as the people tire of the burdens of self-government and can be jollied along into servitude -- or scared into it, when they've become soft enough to intimidate.

Alexander Hamilton sketched the stakes when he wrote that history had destined Americans, "by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force."

And Ben Franklin sketched the odds, warning that the Constitution "can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall have become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other."

How might that happen? "History does not more clearly point out any fact than this, that nations which have lapsed from liberty, to a state of slavish subjection, have been brought to this unhappy condition, by gradual paces," wrote Founder Richard Henry Lee.

The Founders were all reading Edward Gibbon's then-new account of how the Roman republic had slipped, degree by self-deluding degree, into an imperial tyranny.

That folks on the Left express such lunatic fears--and seem to welcome the prospect of an assassination if necessary--has indeed made most of doubt their sanity, even if their chosen candidate does have that lean and hungry look.

It hardly seems worth pointing out the reality that in opposing the President's "tyranny", they oppose school choice, individualized social security accounts, Health Savings Accounts, free trade, the liberation of the peoples of the Middle East, etc...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:55 PM


Bush Voters in Baghdad: Liberal Iraqis almost all hope for the president's re-election. (LAWRENCE F. KAPLAN, October 30, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

We know what John Kerry thinks of Iraq. But what does Iraq think of him? Since he may soon be presiding over a war there, the question merits an answer. Yet, while the press has devoted page after page to the electoral preferences of the French, the opinions of those who count most overseas have received nary a mention.

Partly this derives from the simple fact that, as polls show, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis don't care who wins our election. Their concerns run closer to home--especially how to stay alive. There's an exception, however: the thousands of academics, lawyers, rights advocates and other educated elites leading the effort to create a new Iraq--nearly all of whom have hitched their fortunes to our own and nearly all of whom hope that President Bush wins.

Liberal Iraqis repeat the same question: Will the U.S. leave? These, after all, are the Iraqis building institutions, occupying key positions in ministries, and cooperating openly with the U.S. And they're the Iraqis with the most to lose in the event John Kerry makes good on his pledge to "bring the troops home where they belong."

This prospect, once unimaginable, has become very real in Iraq. The fear of abandonment has transformed meetings between Iraqi and U.S. officials, until recently arenas for grievance, into forums for the expression of solidarity. Leading Iraqis stayed up late into the night to watch the presidential debates. "Sophisticated Iraqis are listening closely," Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak Al-Rubaie says in a telephone interview. "Any discussion of withdrawal worries them." Echoing this, Manhel al-Safi, who recently left his post as an aide in the prime minister's office for a job in the Foreign Ministry, says, "There's a level of fear--people in the government are afraid the Americans will leave Iraq."

It's not the Iraqis who should be afraid--the Senator would have no choice but to back them until the elections are held. It's the rest of the democrats in the Middle East who should be scared, because he prefers their quiet oppression to their messy freedom.

The Election and America's Future (EDMUND S. MORGAN, New Haven, Connecticut, 11/04/04, NY Review of Books)

It may take many years to recover what we have lost. We cannot restore the lives lost in Iraq, the lives of our soldiers, none of whom deserved to die for us, and the many more lives of the people we have professed to liberate in a war fought under false pretenses. But we can dismiss the people responsible for the other horrors committed in our name. Our self-respect, and the respect of the rest of the world for us as a people, hang on the next election. The damage now being done can be stopped. Some of it can be reversed. But the longer it goes on the less reversible it becomes.

Mr. Morgan is a great historian, but let's see him face the Iraqi people and tell them their freedom wasn't worth a single American life.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:41 PM


Pope to meet Iraqi leader (AsiaNews, 10/29/04)

Pope John Paul II (bio - news) will meet next week with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the AsiaNews service has learned.

The lateness of the announcement doesn't leave Senator Kerry much time to denounce the Pope.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:39 PM


In Okla., Bush's Popularity Boosts GOP Senate Hopeful (Lois Romano, October 30, 2004, Washington Postr)

President Bush may be fighting nationally to keep his own job, but here in Oklahoma, his coattails are giving quite a lift to the Republican candidate in a tight and contentious Senate race. [...]

Coburn has long had a penchant for impolitic remarks. During the campaign, he said he favored the death penalty for abortionists, he called the Senate race a choice between "good and evil," and he said he had heard there was "rampant lesbianism" in Oklahoma schools. And in a state with a large Native American population, Coburn disparaged age-old federal treaties that fund the tribes and criticized some Cherokees with marginal bloodlines for claiming tribal benefits. By late September, Carson -- who is part Cherokee -- was inching ahead. Earlier that month, Salon.com published an article alleging that Coburn had committed Medicaid fraud and sterilized an underage woman without her consent. Coburn denied the charges and accused the Carson campaign of planting the story -- an accusation that Carson denied.

The initial coverage was damaging to Coburn. But after Carson aired a negative ad about the charges, Coburn fought back, and his campaign began to rebound. "I think the Carson campaign pushed it one step too far and Carson's negatives went up," Gaddie said. "Coburn caught some sympathy."

Republicans also began taking advantage of Bush's popularity in the state. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has been airing widely an ad declaring that a vote for Carson is "a vote against President Bush " -- a direct plea to Bush supporters who are worried that Bush's second-term agenda could be hampered by a Democratic Senate. Another independent group has purchased radio ads calling Coburn a "fearless conservative" who "stands with President Bush."

To reinforce the point, Vice President Cheney, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and former president George H.W. Bush have all been here campaigning, urging voters to support Coburn for the sake of the Senate and the president.

Coburn and the NRSC have also hurt Carson by tarring him as a liberal and comparing him to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). "That alone can have a devastating effect in this race," said Kenneth S. Hicks, a political scientist at Rogers State University in Oklahoma.

The more important coattail state could well prove to be WI.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:01 PM


Time to Tell Hussein's Story (Anne Applebaum, October 27, 2004, Washington Post)

With bombs exploding in the Green Zone, the fate of Saddam Hussein seems to many a secondary priority. But what if this logic is backward? Leave aside abstract ideals of justice and human rights and consider the practical reasons to get this tribunal underway: What if the insurgency, the bombs and the massacres are happening precisely because there has been no national discussion of the past?

If that sounds peculiar, don't listen to me. Listen instead to Kanan Makiya, the former Iraqi dissident who has now dedicated himself to consolidating, scanning and investigating the archives of the former regime. Makiya thinks that what matters is not whether the Iraqis remember Hussein's reign but how they remember it. Was the Baathist state a totalitarian regime under which the entire nation suffered? Or was it a conspiracy of the Sunni minority against the Shiite majority? If Iraqis come to believe the former, argues Makiya, it might still be possible for them to unify behind a new national government. If Iraqis come to believe the latter, the result could be ethnic civil war. A complete trial of Hussein, one that showed the extent of the corruption, forced collaboration, violence and terror he imposed on the entire nation, might help Iraqis understand that all of them -- Shiite, Sunni, Kurdish -- suffered in different ways.

If Makiya's views aren't convincing, listen to Leszek Balcerowicz, who was the Polish finance minister during his country's economic transformation at the beginning of the 1990s. Ruminating recently on the parallels between post-communism and post-Baathism, Balcerowicz noted that along with inflation and price controls, one of the most serious obstacles to reform in Poland was the information imbalance. Because there was no free press before 1989, Poles knew little about the real state of their country. After 1989 there was a lot of free press, and it was all negative. Fed on a diet of "isn't everything terrible," many began to idealize the past and reject the present. Something similar may be happening in Iraq today. Increasingly, everything that is wrong in Iraq, from the malfunctioning infrastructure to the ethnic tensions, is blamed on the U.S. occupation. A wider debate about how Iraq got to where it is -- how Hussein mismanaged the country, murdered whole villages and stole the nation's money -- might help persuade Iraqis to invest in the present.

One thing we continually underestimate--and it's not helped by the Left's insipid comparisons of Republicans to fascists--is just how dysfunctional life under a totalitarian regime is and to what degree the oppressed are misinformed about even the most basic elements of daily life. The recent history of Eastern Europe and Russia amply illustrates the danger of moving on before the old accounts are settled.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:31 PM


Kerry defends abortion on Hispanic television network (CNA, Oct. 29, 2004)

In a brief interview with the Hispanic television network Univision, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry justified his support for abortion by saying the act is a decision between “the woman, God and her doctor.”

Kerry’s response to the question was eliminated from the transcript of the interview which Univision posted on its website.

Nevertheless, the response was included in the televised version as millions of Hispanics tuned in.

After speaking on Iraq, eventual immigration reform and the economy, reporter Maria Elena Salinas said, “Some sectors of the Catholic Church are concerned because you support abortion and therefore you would be going against its teachings,” to which Kerry responded: “I am against abortion.”

Salinas then asked if he would name justices to the Supreme Court who would be willing to limit abortion. Kerry replied, “I am in favor of the right to choose."

Captain Clarity strikes again.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:26 PM


Conflicting reports on Arafat's health (CNN, 10/30/04)

There were conflicting reports Saturday about the medical condition of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who is being treated for illness in Paris.

Palestinian officials close to Arafat told CNN they have reached the conclusion that the era of Arafat as Palestinian leader is over.

Actually, George Bush ended it in June 2002.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:23 PM


"A Somewhat Higher Opinion of God": A conversation with biologist Ken Miller. (Interview by Karl W. Giberson, March/April 2004, Books & Culture)

Ken Miller is professor of biology at Brown University. In addition to his specialized research, Miller—a practicing Roman Catholic—is the author of Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. He is also the coauthor of a series of high school and college texts and has frequently debated opponents of evolution (see www. millerandlevine.com/km/evol/). Karl Giberson spoke with Miller about his faith, his public role as a defender of evolution, and the integrity of science. Here we conclude the two-part conversation that began in the previous issue. [...]

The Intelligent Design people who have moved to the cultural center-stage recently make a lot of hay out of the writings of Richard Dawkins, Peter Atkins, Steven Weinberg, and other scientists who are harshly critical of religion. How justified is that?

It is always the case, in any political debate, that the two extremes tend to justify and validate each other. I think the Intelligent Design movement has seized upon the most extreme views of the meaning of evolution to argue that this is an inherent aspect of evolutionary theory.

They recognize what is going on when Dawkins and others in that vein make the statements they do about the meaning and the purpose of life and the irrelevance of religion. What they are doing is essentially abandoning science and pushing a philosophical point of view. Now it is a philosophical viewpoint that these people have every right to hold. But what is important is that the philosophical viewpoint should not be confused with the science that is behind it.

What the Intelligent Design movement has done all too often is to conflate the science and philosophy, to argue that within evolutionary biology there is a philosophy of anti-theism and a pro-materialist or an absolute materialist philosophy. That is simply not true. The fact is that the philosophy and the science are separable. Evolutionary biology is very, very good science. The philosophy that one draws from that, however, depends upon one's own philosophical point of view, and not so much on the science itself.

An interesting thing occurs when you say, "ok, let's teach our children about Intelligent Design theory." What happens very quickly as you try to assemble a curriculum is you realize that there is nothing to teach. Intelligent Design theory is empty. Intelligent Design theory is really nothing more than a set of half-baked arguments against evolutionary biology. It has no coherent, theoretical or factual or scientific basis of its own, and once that is realized the air comes out of the blimp.

I'm sure that the unsettling conversations and disputes about evolution will go on, but I am equally sure that Intelligent Design theory, as it is critically examined by more and more people, is going to lose steam in a very big way.

When ordinary people who might be inclined to accept evolution think about it, they have to think about it as the way that God created us. But it doesn't look that way to them. How can we think about the role of God in evolution and still validate this concept that he is the creator?

I would ask people who are concerned about the issue of how God could have created us if our species arose by evolution to have a somewhat higher opinion of God. What I mean by that is that the God that we know through Christianity is not someone who acts like an ordinary human being, who simply happens to be endowed with supernatural powers. We are talking about a being whose intelligence is transcendent; we're talking about a being who brought the universe into existence, who set up the rules of existence, and uses those rules and that universe and the natural world in which we live to bring about his will.

The overwhelming scientific evidence shows very clearly that all species did not appear simultaneously. They appeared gradually over time and often appeared to take the places of other species that had been lost to the earth by extinction. We human beings—created from the dust of the earth, the Bible says—arose in exactly the same pattern. We are part of the natural world, and I think one aspect of God's message to us is that we have to look to the natural world to understand our relationship with God.

If someone says, "So, how did God create me?" I would ask them to raise their view and look instead at a Creator who brought an incredible evolutionary process into being—that he created not just me and not just you as individuals but he created us as part of the fabric of life that completely covers this planet. I think that's a bold and expansive vision and the one that I hold to.

Evolution is obviously a fact, but neither Darwinism nor Intelligent Design are much use in explaining it. Creation still rules the roost precisely because it makes no pretense to be science.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:09 PM


Candidates Use Their Muscle, Hone Messages in Final Days (Maura Reynolds and Peter Nicholas, October 30, 2004, LA Times)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger harnessed his star power to President Bush's reelection campaign Friday, telling a roaring crowd in this must-win battleground state, "I'm here to pump you up to reelect President George W. Bush."

In a lengthy introduction, the governor praised Bush for his strength and determination in fighting terrorism and helping the nation recover from the Sept. 11 attacks. He made no reference to the issues on which the two men differ, such as whether to ban gay marriage.

"If you flex your muscle on Nov. 2, I guarantee you that President George W. Bush will be back," Schwarzenegger said, echoing a trademark line from his "Terminator" films.

Bush, who is normally impatient at long introductions, appeared not at all to mind the praise.

Posted by David Cohen at 9:45 AM


This site coordinates with service members in the middle east. Packages sent to the AnySoldier contact with the line "Attn: Any Soldier" will be distributed to members of the unit. On the "Where to Send" page, there are messages from the contacts, descriptions of life in-country, and a wish list for the unit.

As the "Where to Send" page says, browsing through the site is addictive, and there are only 15 days left to mail a package sure to arrive by Christmas.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 AM


Bush-Kerry race tightens in state (Mark Naymik, 10/30/04, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Ohio voters are nearly split over their choice for president, according to a new Plain Dealer poll that shows President Bush's lead over John Kerry has shrunk to 3 percentage points, making the race statistically too close to call.

Ohio voters surveyed say they favor Bush over his Democratic challenger, 48 percent to 45 percent, down from a Plain Dealer poll of the same size conducted in mid-September, when the president held an 8-point lead, 50 percent to 42 percent. Five percent of voters in the new poll say they are undecided, down from 6 percent in September. [...]

The survey of 1,500 likely voters, conducted Oct. 26-28 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, has a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points, meaning that either candidate's support could be 2.6 percentage points higher or lower.

Two percent of those interviewed for the new poll favor neither Bush nor Kerry and responded "other," though no specific alternatives were offered. Ralph Nader, who attracted 2 percent in the last Plain Dealer poll, was not included in the new poll because he has been dropped from the ballot for failing to properly collect petitions.

The Democratic strategy of keeping Ralph Nader off as many ballots as they can looks to have helped here, as has Sentaor Kerry's co-opting of the anti-war vote. It seems possible that the Libertarian candidate, Chuck Bednarik, could influence final results more than Mr. Nader in some states.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 AM


TONE DEAF (ROBERT A. GEORGE, October 29, 2004, NY Post)

Bush owes part of his gain to the social conservatism of many black Americans. Blacks are more likely to oppose abortion and gay marriage than whites — that's Bush's side on both issues. [...]

But Kerry's problems with blacks go beyond simple issues. Discuss the candidate with African-Americans — even those likely to vote for him — and you'll often hear that he is "distant" and "tone deaf."

Look at what just happened in the key swing state of Ohio.

On Saturday, Oct. 16, Kerry gave a speech at a high school in the small town of Xenia, outside Dayton. Nearby is Wilberforce University — the oldest private historically black institution of higher learning, whose president is former Rep. Floyd Flake (D-Queens).

A rally, mainly of students from Wilberforce and its sister school, Central State University, was staged at the Wilberforce campus. Organizers were led to believe that if there were at least 100 people, Kerry's motorcade would make a quick stop.

Eventually 150 students and supporters — including congressional candidate Kara Anastasio — gathered for four hours on a cold (rainy and snowy) Ohio day.

And the Kerry caravan drove right on by. All the long-suffering got from the candidate was a clenched "victory" fist out the window.

According to Shavon Ray, president of Wilberforce's NAACP, the students were devastated — with comments such as "This is why I don't vote."

Ray told the local NAACP chapter the affair was a "slap in the face." [...]

Meanwhile, this past Wednesday, George W. Bush had a huge rally in the Pontiac Silverdome in the battleground state of Michigan. On stage with him were two of the most popular black gospel singers — Marvin Winans and Freeport, Long Island's own Donnie McClurkin.

There's a psychology PH. D. waiting for whoever wants to explain this essay about the contempt Mr. Kerry displays for blacks coming a week after this black columnist endorsed the Senator.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 AM


The Osama Litmus Test (DAVID BROOKS, 10/30/04, NY Times)

The nuisance is back!

Remember when John Kerry told Matt Bai of The Times Magazine that he wanted to reduce the terrorists to a nuisance? Kerry vowed to mitigate the problem of terrorism until it became another regrettable and tolerable fact of life, like gambling, organized crime and prostitution.

That was the interview in which he said Sept. 11 "didn't change me much at all." He said it confirmed in him a sense of urgency, "of doing the things we thought we needed to be doing."

Well, the Osama bin Laden we saw last night was not a problem that needs to be mitigated. He was not the leader of a movement that can be reduced to a nuisance.

This seems quite wrong. He's most likely dead and his organization is nothing more than a nuisance. The video tape is pitiful testimony to the futility of their "cause." They couldn't disrupt elections in Afghanistan for cripessake, never mind here. With just a little persistence and a reasonable commitment of men and money the Reformation of the entire Middle East is moving so quickly that the thugs who, quite accidentally, got the ball rolling are no more than a Waziristan's Favorite Home Videos after-thought.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM


Lester Lanin, Bandleader of High Society, Dies at 97 (DOUGLAS MARTIN, 10/29/04, NY Times)

Lester Lanin, who, from the White House to Buckingham Palace, from the Plaza Hotel to the grand ballrooms of the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers, epitomized a rarefied and perhaps fading species - the society bandleader - died on Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 97.

His spokeswoman, Betty Shulman, announced his death.

Mr. Lanin brought smooth tones, swift changes and a casually elegant style to a continuous stream of dance music, from Dixieland to swing to very, very tasteful rock 'n' roll. He supplied danceable happiness to several generations of the richest and most beautiful people on earth, at events ranging from Queen Elizabeth's 60th birthday party to the wedding of Christie Brinkley and Billy Joel to the private parties of the duPonts, Chryslers and Mellons.

He made music for Grace Kelly's engagement party, and at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. He wrote "My Lady Love" in honor of their marriage. The kings of Norway, Spain, Greece, Denmark and Sweden hired him.

He played every presidential inauguration since Eisenhower's, except two. Jimmy Carter thought he was too expensive, and George W. Bush didn't invite him. (Ms. Shulman said he may have been disappointed that Mr. Bush didn't ask, particularly since he had long been a favorite of Mr. Bush's father and grandfather.)

His fast, two-beat dance tempo - what is called the businessman's bounce - became a standard by which society bands are measured. He and his bands (he sometimes had more than a dozen on the road at once) by 1992 had played 20,000 wedding receptions, 7,500 parties and 4,500 proms. [...]

Inducted into the Big Band Hall of Fame in Palm Beach, Fla., in 1993, Mr. Lanin built a legacy that The New York Times that year called "an elaborate construct built from scratch each night." The Times said Mr. Lanin claimed to invent the concept of playing continuous music at a party, and he is legendary for never leaving the bandstand during a dance.

(President John F. Kennedy could not help asking Mr. Lanin when he went to the bathroom, according to many reports, all of which seem to neglect to give the answer.)

Mr. Lanin was famous for giving away multicolored cotton hats, 50,000 a year, with "Lester Lanin" emblazoned in script behind the brim. He liked to say he was in "the happiness business."

As studiously as you tried to avoid the garter belt, you had to snag a hat.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 7:45 AM


CNN Larry King Live (Transcript, 10/29/2004; via Polipundit)

OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.


KING: OK, Walter. What do you make of this?

CRONKITE: Well, I make it out to be initially the reaction that it's a threat to us, that unless we make peace with him, in a sense, we can expect further attacks. He did not say that precisely, but it sounds like that when he says...

KING: The warning.

CRONKITE: What we just heard. So now the question is basically right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing.

But, "Uncle Walter," what we really want to know is who put Rove up to this. Was it Sharon, the oil barons, or Halliburton?

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:19 AM


It is the must-have Christmas gift you can't have (Claire Smith, The Scotsman, October 30th, 2004)

It has been heralded as the "Game Boy for grown-ups" - a must-have gadget that offers a pixilated paradise for gaming addicts, downloads music and even plays movies.

Tens of thousands of adults and children are waiting for the arrival of the PlayStation Portable - known as the PSP - in the UK. But it emerged yesterday that the gizmo will not be available in time for Christmas after its manufacturer Sony effectively blocked the import of the machines to Britain following their release in Japan on 12 December. [...]

Retailing at just £100 - an unexpectedly low price - the PSP was certain to be the big Christmas hit in the UK had Sony delivered it to the market in time. Teenagers, the so-called Generation X-box, are a lucrative market but with the average age of a Playstation owner now 28, the adult market is key.

It really isn’t worth getting up some days.

October 29, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:41 PM


Stem cells offer hope of treating blindness (Mark Prigg, 10/26/04, Evening Standard)

Researchers today claimed a breakthrough in treating blindness after a team of doctors used stem-cell therapy to restore vision.

They transplanted human stem cells into the eyes of mice and chicks, and found the cells regenerated.

It is now hoped that when transplanted into the eyes of patients with damaged retinas, the stem cells may be able to re-grow damaged cells.

A team at the University of Toronto took retinal stem cells from human cadavers ranging from babies to pensioners, and transplanted them into the eyes of onedayold mice and chicks, it was reported in the US journal Proceedings Of The National Academy of Sciences.

Within four weeks, the transplanted cells became photoreceptor cells inside the retina.

NARAL and John Kerry and the rest of the death lobby were so hoping it would require human sacrifice.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:36 PM

FINAL FAIR (via Robert Schwartz):

Presidential Vote Equation (Ray Fair, October 29, 2004, Fair Model)

With the release of the NIPA data on October 29, 2004, all the actual economic data are available for the vote prediction. The actual values (as of October 29, 2004) of GROWTH, INFLATION, and GOODNEWS are 2.9 percent, 2.0 percent, and 2, respectively.

Given that the actual economic values are close to the values used for the previous vote prediction, the current vote prediction is little changed. The new economic values give a prediction of 57.70 percent of the two-party vote for President Bush rather than 57.48 percent before.

No one's ever lost an election with an economy this good.

Labor Memo Suggests Bush to Win Election (LEIGH STROPE, 10/29/04, AP)

Labor Department staff, analyzing statistics from private economists, report in an internal memo that President Bush is likely to do "much better" in Tuesday's election than the polls are predicting. [...]

"Some show the margin of victory being smaller than the models' inherent margin of error, while others report the lead as substantial. And this is without the consideration of a third-party candidate."

Bush's win of the popular vote could be 57.5 percent, 55.7 percent or 51.2 percent, said the paper, dated Oct. 22 and prepared by the department's Employment and Training Administration staff for the assistant labor secretary.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:27 PM


Bin Laden Takes Responsibility for 9/11 Attacks in New Tape (MARIA NEWMAN, 10/29/04, NY Times)

Osama bin Laden said for the first time that he ordered the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, according to a videotape made public today, and he accused President Bush of "misleading the American people" about the attacks.

He also said that "the reasons to repeat what happened" on 9/11 remain, according to the Web site of the Al Jazeera satellite news network, which obtained the tape.

The videotape is the first featuring the Al Qaeda leader to surface in more than a year, and it comes just four days before the American presidential elections.

"Americans will not be intimated or influenced by an enemy of our country," President Bush said while campaigning in Toledo, Ohio, adding that he assumed his rival, Senator John Kerry, shared that view. "We are at war with these terrorists," the president said, according The Associated Press.

Mr. Kerry, in a statement on his campaign Web site, said: "As Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. They are barbarians."

In an interview with WISM in Milwaukee, Mr. Kerry also took the opportunity to suggest that Mr. bin Laden remained on the loose because of the Bush administration had bungled the campaign against terrorism.

To the naked eye and a brief glimpse, the video doesn't look like the Osama who we saw on tape right after 9/11 and authentication by our CIA is pretty much worthless. But we'll certainly not know for sure by Tuesday, so let's assume it's real.

Mr. Kerry's initial response, striking a note of unity, was excellent, but his secondary one is risible. He sure as heck wouldn't have unilaterally invaded Western Pakistan so the notion he'd have produced Osama and the remnants of al Qaeda can't be taken seriously.

Meanwhile, the actual text of the "Osama" message is revealing, Transcript of Al Jazeera Tape (REUTERS, 10/29/04)

God knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers but after the situation became unbearable and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, I thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were that of 1982 and the events that followed -- when America allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon, helped by the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

In those difficult moments many emotions came over me which are hard to describe, but which produced an overwhelming feeling to reject injustice and a strong determination to punish the unjust.

As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me punish the unjust the same way (and) to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women.

We had no difficulty in dealing with Bush and his administration because they resemble the regimes in our countries, half of which are ruled by the military and the other half by the sons of kings ... They have a lot of pride, arrogance, greed and thievery.

He (Bush) adopted despotism and the crushing of freedoms from Arab rulers and called it the Patriot Act under the guise of combating terrorism.....

We had agreed with the (the Sept. 11) overall commander Mohammed Atta, may God rest his soul, to carry out all operations in 20 minutes before Bush and his administration take notice.

It never occurred to us that the commander in chief of the American forces (Bush) would leave 50,000 citizens in the two towers to face those horrors alone at a time when they most needed him because he thought listening to a child discussing her goat and its ramming was more important than the planes and their ramming of the skyscrapers. This had given us three times the time needed to carry out the operations, thanks be to God...

Your security is not in the hands of (Democratic presidential candidate John) Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands and each state which does not harm our security will remain safe.

Israel, Lebanon, the Patriot Act and My Pet Goat--it's pretty much the Michael Moore talking points.

It's probably futile to conjecture about how the electorate will react to the tape--though it's funny that it was dumped on a Friday afternoon, not too media savvy, eh?--just guessing you'd tend to say that when terror's the issue the President has done well. You'd think though that one thing we should all take away from the tape though is that when they wanted to influence the Spanish election they blew up trains in Spain and when they wanted to influence the Australian election they blew up the embassy in Jakarta. Now they want to influence our election and the best they could do was a video?

And here's what the Senator's failure to understand Pakistan would have cost us, ‘CIA and FBI operating freely in Pakistan’ (Daily Times, 10/30/04)

“Under procedures agreed to by the US and Pakistani governments, agents from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency have been allowed to eavesdrop and conduct wiretaps on terrorism suspects in Pakistan, a cabinet minister said on condition of anonymity,” reports the Washington Post Tuesday.

The report filed by the newspaper’s Pakistani stringer says that “for its part, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, Pakistan’s military intelligence service, has designated special units to collect counterterrorism intelligence through hundreds of newly recruited agents and state-of-the art surveillance equipment provided by the US government. ‘There is almost daily exchange of information between the CIA and ISI. The cooperation is even better than the Afghan war days,’ said the minister.”

Pakistani police and intelligence officials, continues the report, say that once a target is tracked down, any raid is always conducted by local law enforcement agencies “under the direct supervision of senior ISI officials, many of whom have taken training courses with the FBI and the CIA.” All key al Qaeda suspects arrested in Pakistan have been “handed over to US authorities for broader investigation.” In each case, Pakistani intelligence officials have been called in by their US counterparts for coordinated follow-up, according to the report.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 4:36 PM


Study puts civilian toll in Iraq at over 100,000 (Elizabeth Rosenthal, International Herald Tribune, October 30th, 2004)

More than 100,000 civilians have probably died as direct or indirect consequences of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, according to a study by a research team at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

The report was published on the Internet by The Lancet, the British medical journal. The figure is far higher than previous mortality estimates. Editors of the journal decided not to wait for The Lancet's normal publication date next week, but instead to place the research online Friday, apparently so it could circulate before the U.S. presidential election.

The finding is certain to generate intense controversy, since the Bush administration has not estimated civilian casualties from the conflict, and independent groups have put the number at most in the tens of thousands. [...]

In 15 of the 33 communities visited, residents reported violent deaths in the family since the conflict started in March 2003. They attributed many of those deaths to attacks by coalition forces - mostly airstrikes - and most of the reported deaths were of women and children.

The risk of violent death was 58 times higher than before the war, the researchers found.

"The fact that more than half of the deaths caused by the occupation forces were women and children is a cause for concern," the authors wrote.

The team included researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for International Emergency, Disaster and Refugee Studies as well as doctors from Al Mustansiriya University Medical School in Baghdad.

There is bound to be skepticism about the estimate of 100,000 excess deaths, which translates into an average of 166 excess deaths a day since the invasion. But some were not surprised. [...]

The paper is studied and scientific, reserving judgment on the politics of the Iraq conflict. But in an accompanying editorial, Dr. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, is acerbic and to the point about its message.

"From a purely public health perspective it is clear that whatever planning did take place was grievously in error," Horton wrote. "The invasion of Iraq, the displacement of a cruel dictator and the attempt to impose a liberal democracy by force have, by themselves, been insufficient to bring peace and security to the civilian population. Democratic imperialism has led to more deaths, not fewer."

Over fifty thousand women and children have died in Iraq and nobody knew? And all the fault of the coalition? Boy, it’s a good thing they got this news out just in time. If anyone here is an expert in statistics/public health, it would be interesting to have a professional opinion as to whether the science is as noxious and distorted as the politics. (Free registration required)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:40 PM


Pentagon: US Forces Removed 250 Tons of Al Qaqaa Explosives: Early Reports Exaggerated Quantity of Explosives (Nicholas Stix, October 29, 2004, A Different Drummer)

In a noontime press conference today at the Pentagon, Pentagon spokesman Larry Dirita and Army Maj. Austin Pearson, an ammunition management officer who was at the Iraqi ammunition depot Al Qaqaa in spring, 2003 with the Army 3rd Infantry Division, cast doubt on the New York Times/CBS News report alleging that 377 tons of Iraqi munitions had disappeared from the site, after it had come under American control in April, 2003.

Maj. Austin estimated that his unit removed 200-250 tons of munitions, and Mr. Dirita emphasized that reports that 141 tons of RDX explosives were at the facility under IAEA seal may be mistaken, and that perhaps only three tons of RDX were at the facility.

An ABC News report by Martha Raddatz and Luis Martinez on Wednesday, first revealed the 138-ton discrepancy, which could reduce the amount of Al Qaqaa explosives in question to approximately 239 tons. The Raddatz/Martinez report also emphasized that the IAEA seals were not secure; weapons could have been removed through unsealed ventilation slats. Together with the 200-250 tons that Maj. Austin’s unit removed from Al Qaqaa, the new information could explain the disposition of virtually the entire weapons cache at Al Qaqaa.

Which led Kerry spokesman Joe Lockhart to say of the Gray Lady, "The bitch set us up."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:31 PM


Bush Asked to Stop Using 'Still the One' (DEVLIN BARRETT, Oct. 29, 2004, AP)

The songwriter who helped pen the 1970s hit, "Still the One," is demanding that President Bush stop using the tune at campaign events, arguing that he's no fan of the Republican incumbent and the campaign never got permission to use the song.

Cheesy pop? Lee Atwater must be spinning in his grave.

Posted by David Cohen at 1:51 PM


Arafat Arrives in Paris for Emergency Treatment: Ailing Palestinian Leader Rushed to Military Hospital (Glenn Frankel, Washington Post, 10/29/04)

Ailing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat arrived here by air Friday afternoon and was immediately rushed to a French military hospital for emergency medical treatment.
I suppose an Israeli military strike is just too much to hope for.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:11 PM


Jordan renews territorial dispute against Syria (Maariv International, 10/29/04)

Jordan has decided to renew a long dormant territorial dispute with Syria, and has issued Damascus with a formal demand to return territory illegaly seized in 1970. [...]

The renewed Jordanian demand is based on the 1923 map, which delineated the border between what was then the British controlled East Palestine and French occupied Syria. The Jordanians claim the map clearly shows the disputed land belongs to Jordan.

In addition to the map, the claim also includes a subtle hint that force could be used if all else fails, was made at the behest of Washington. The US is angry and frustrated at Syria, which has brazenly flouted promises and commitments to end its clandestine cooperation with the Sunni insurgents in Iraq. In addition Syria has refused to honor a UN demand to live up to its commitment to vacate Lebanon. Instead Assad has acted to increase Syria’s hold over Beirut, replacing former premier Al Hariri with a hand picked stooge.

It's like an episode of Nature where the other animals realize the big predator is bringing down his prey and they circle in for the scraps.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:57 PM

THE GORE EFFECT (via Tom Morin):

Cheney, Gore Headed To Hawaii To Campaign (Hawaii Channel, October 28, 2004)

Vice President Dick Cheney is heading to Hawaii for a Republican rally on Sunday, Gov. Linda Lingle said. The rally for Cheney starts at 11 p.m. at the Hawaii Convention Center. The vice president is scheduled to appear in four other states before arriving in Hawaii on Sunday. [...]

The Democrats are also sending some big names in the party. Former Vice President Al Gore and Sen. John Kerry's eldest daughter, Alexandra, are scheduled to arrive Friday.

As Howard Dean can attest, an endorsement from Mr. Gore is the political equivalent of jumping the shark--move HI to the Red column.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:52 PM


East St. Louis Mayor Carl Officer Joins "Democrats for Bush": Offers to Speak Nationally to Black Americans on BET on Behalf of the President
(MARKET WIRE, 10/29/2004)

Four-term Mayor Carl Officer of East St. Louis announced before local supporters today that he has accepted the position as head of the Illinois Steering Committee of "Democrats for Bush," founded earlier this year by Democratic Senator Zell Miller of Georgia. A life long Democrat, Officer is a third generation African-American entrepreneur and mayor of America's poorest city. [...]

Questioners clamored to know why he had decided to support President Bush's re-election. The mayor responded:

"I watched the debates intently, especially to try to measure the strength of each man and compare how each would face the awesome responsibility of America's safety -- a President's #1 priority. As a relatively new father, I indulged my three year old daughter and let her stay up with me as I watched. When it was over, and I looked into her eyes, I knew I had to go with the proven product, and I believe on the issue of protecting Americans first, nearly everyone agrees George Bush is the leader by far."

In further discussion with his somewhat stunned local political supporters, the mayor noted that he has long had some serious differences with the Democratic Party on gay marriage and abortion. Officer, an ordained minister, admitted that he and other African American Christians were much closer to President Bush's views on these issues.


By the Numbers: More Black Voters Turning to Bush (John Jessup, October 29, 2004, CBN.com)

Traditionally, African-American voters overwhelmingly support the Democratic party. And strong voter turnout by African-Americans is crucial to Sen. John Kerry's goal of becoming the next president. But the country's moral decline has more black Americans in George W. Bush's corner than ever before.

Winsome Sears is running for Congress in Virginia's Third Congressional District, as a Republican. She is an African-American leader with a new message for the black community.

Sears said, "You look at me and immediately you say, she's a Democrat. I have no political power left, our forefathers did not die in the fields so that we could be beholden to a political party; they died so that we would be free -- free to be whoever we wanted to be. Traditionally, we as black people have gone to the Democratic Party, but I think that we are now at a wake-up call, because the final straw was this homosexual marriage issue."

Posted by Peter Burnet at 12:20 PM


Germany asks will Queen say sorry? (Alexandra Hudson, Reuters, October 29th, 2004)

Germans are waiting to see how the Queen refers to Britain's 1945 bombing of Dresden when she visits next week, now that they are speaking more of their own war-time suffering and breaking a long-standing taboo.

Just days ahead of the Queen's first visit since 2000, a row has erupted in the British and German press over whether the air raids were justified and whether the monarch should apologise.

Dresden was devastated in a firestorm which killed some 35,000 people just three months before the war's end. The fate of the eastern city has come to epitomise civilian suffering.

"Will the Queen say sorry?" asked the country's largest selling newspaper Bild on Thursday.

The Queen will host a concert in Berlin to raise money for Dresden's cathedral which lay in rubble for 50 years and is now a focus of German and British reconciliation.

"Such delicate gestures of reconciliation are probably too complicated for newspapers like Daily Mail and Daily Express to understand," wrote the Berliner Zeitung daily.[...]

"Krautrage" said a headline in the Daily Star tabloid.

Rumour has it that, in the spirit of the new Europe, she will apologise with her fingers crossed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:10 PM


Is Every Memory Worth Keeping?: Controversy Over Pills to Reduce Mental Trauma (Rob Stein, October 19, 2004, Washington Post)

Kathleen Logue was waiting at a traffic light when two men smashed her car's side window, pointed a gun at her head and ordered her to drive. For hours, Logue fought off her attackers' attempts to rape her, and finally she escaped. But for years afterward, she was tormented by memories of that terrifying day.

So years later, after a speeding bicycle messenger knocked the Boston paralegal onto the pavement in front of oncoming traffic, Logue jumped at a chance to try something that might prevent her from being haunted by her latest ordeal.

"I didn't want to suffer years and years of cold sweats and nightmares and not being able to function again," Logue said. "I was prone to it because I had suffered post-traumatic stress from being carjacked. I didn't want to go through that again."

Logue volunteered for an experiment designed to test whether taking a pill immediately after a terrorizing experience might reduce the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study is part of a promising but controversial field of research seeking to alter, or possibly erase, the impact of painful memories -- a concept dubbed "therapeutic forgetting" by some and taken to science fiction extremes in films such as this summer's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

Proponents say it could lead to pills that prevent or treat PTSD in soldiers coping with the horrors of battle, torture victims recovering from brutalization, survivors who fled the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and other victims of severe, psychologically devastating experiences.

"Some memories can be very disruptive. They come back to you when you don't want to have them -- in a daydream or nightmare or flashbacks -- and are usually accompanied by very painful emotions," said Roger K. Pitman, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School who is studying the approach. "This could relieve a lot of that suffering."

Skeptics, however, argue that tinkering with memories treads into dangerous territory because memories are part of the very essence of a person's identity, as well as crucial threads in the fabric of society that help humanity avoid the mistakes of the past.

"All of us can think of traumatic events in our lives that were horrible at the time but made us who we are. I'm not sure we'd want to wipe those memories out," said Rebecca S. Dresser, a medical ethicist at Washington University in St. Louis who serves on the President's Council on Bioethics, which condemned the research last year. "We don't have an omniscient view of what's best for the world."

Some fear anything designed for those severely disabled by psychic damage will eventually end up being used far more casually -- to, perhaps, forget a bad date or a lousy day at work.

"You can easily imagine a scenario of 'I was embarrassed at my boss's party last night, and I want to take something to forget it so I can have more confidence when I go into the office tomorrow,' " said David Magnus, co-director of Stanford University's Center for Biomedical Ethics. "It's not hard to imagine that it will end up being used much more broadly."

The manner in which "Eternal Sunshine" answers this question makes it profoundly conservative. That others would answer it so differently is just another illustration of how much some people hate humanness.

Such resentment is, by definition, >unnatural:
To Autumn (1819) (John Keats)


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.


Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:59 AM


Fukuyama’s moment: a neocon schism opens: The Iraq war opened a fratricidal split among United States neo–conservatives. Danny Postel examines the bitter dispute between two leading neocons, Francis Fukuyama and Charles Krauthammer, and suggests that Fukuyama’s critique of the Iraq war and decision not to vote for George W Bush is a significant political as well as intellectual moment. (Danny Postel, 28 - 10 - 2004, OpenDemocracy)

In “The Neoconservative Moment,” Fukuyama turns a heat lamp on the cogitations of one thinker in particular, Charles Krauthammer, whose “strategic thinking has become emblematic” of the neo-conservative camp that envisaged the Iraq invasion. Krauthammer, one of the war’s most vociferous advocates, had somewhat famously fancied the end of the cold war as a “unipolar moment” in geopolitics – which, by 2002, he was calling a “unipolar era.” In February 2004 Krauthammer delivered an address at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington in which he offered a strident defense of the Iraq war in terms of his concept of unipolarity, or what he now calls “democratic realism.”

Fukuyama was in the audience that evening and did not like what he heard.

Krauthammer’s speech was “strangely disconnected from reality,” Fukuyama wrote in “The Neoconservative Moment.” “Reading Krauthammer, one gets the impression that the Iraq War – the archetypical application of American unipolarity – had been an unqualified success, with all of the assumptions and expectations on which the war had been based fully vindicated.” “There is not the slightest nod” in Krauthammer’s exposition “towards the new empirical facts” that have come to light over the course of the occupation.

Fukuyama’s case against Krauthammer’s – and thus the dominant neo–conservative – position on Iraq is manifold.

Social engineering

Krauthammer’s logic, Fukuyama argues, is “utterly unrealistic in its overestimation of U.S. power and our ability to control events around the world.” “Of all of the different views that have now come to be associated with neoconservatives, the strangest one to me was the confidence that the United States could transform Iraq into a Western–style democracy,” he wrote, “and to go on from there to democratize the broader Middle East.”

This struck Fukuyama as strange, he explained, “precisely because these same neoconservatives had spent much of the past generation warning...about the dangers of ambitious social engineering, and how social planners could never control behavior or deal with unanticipated consequences.” If the US can’t eradicate poverty at home or improve its own education system, he asked, “how does it expect to bring democracy to a part of the world that has stubbornly resisted it and is virulently anti–American to boot?”

He didn’t rule out the possibility of the endeavour succeeding, but saw its chances of doing so as weak. Wise policy, he wrote, “is not made by staking everything on a throw of the dice.” “Culture is not destiny,” but, he argued in tones echoing his former professor Samuel Huntington, it “plays an important role in making possible certain kinds of institutions – something that is usually taken to be a conservative insight.”


The only way for such an “unbelievably ambitious effort to politically transform one of the world’s most troubled and hostile regions” to have an outside chance of working, Fukuyama maintained, was a huge, long–term commitment to postwar reconstruction. “America has been involved in approximately 18 nation–building projects between its conquest of the Philippines in 1899 and the current occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq,” he wrote, “and the overall record is not a pretty one.”

The signs thus far in Iraq? “Lurking like an unbidden guest at a dinner party is the reality of what has happened in Iraq since the U.S. invasion: We have been our usual inept and disorganized selves in planning for and carrying out the reconstruction, something that was predictable in advance and should not have surprised anyone familiar with American history.”

What's most amusing about this little dust-up is how completely Mr. Fukuyama has come to resemble his role model, George F. Kennan, the original "X," whose containment policy the U.S. adopted at least in broad strokes, but who came to oppose that policy when Ronald Reagan opted to force it to its logical conclusion. Now Mr. Fukuyama, who correctly identified liberal democracy as the inevitable political destination of modern human communities, sounds just like those folks who insisted at various stages that Germans, Asians, Slavs, blacks, etc., were incapable of being democrats. Pity the prophet who lives long enough to refute himself before history vindicates his vision.

Hayek and Iraq (Max Borders, 10/29/2004, Tech Central Station)

The study of spontaneous orders has long been the peculiar task of economic theory, although, of course, biology has from its beginning been concerned with that special kind of spontaneous order which we call an organism.
-F. A. von Hayek

Anti-war and pro-war libertarians broke bread recently at a speaker series hosted by the Cato Institute, a free market think tank. Hawks like Deroy Murdock and Ronald Bailey squared off against doves like Charles Pena and Robert Higgs in what amounted to a civil and enlightened debate.

The questions: Was the US justified in going in to Iraq? Should we pull out? Will it work?

The way the two camps viewed the prospects of success in Iraq were especially telling. Anti-war speakers were skeptical of "attempts to impose" a democratic republic on the Iraqis. Pro-war panelists spoke of "removing the impediments" to freedom, commerce and stability. Paradoxically, the careful observer would have found something valuable in a point about which the two sides did not agree, i.e. -- how the insights of Friedrich Hayek apply to the conflict.

Anyone who cares about the success of Iraq would do well to pay attention to both sides' interpretations of Hayek, as each camp's treatment can inform the nation-building project, such as it is.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:42 AM


Kerry's edge on Bush in California narrows (Bill Ainsworth, October 29, 2004, San Diego Tribune)

Democrat John Kerry's lead over President Bush has narrowed to seven points among likely California voters, while Sen. Barbara Boxer has increased her lead over Republican Bill Jones to 19 points, according to the latest Field Poll.

The nonpartisan poll showed that the Democratic ticket of Kerry and John Edwards has support from 49 percent of likely voters, while Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are favored by 42 percent. Nine percent are undecided.

It seems entirely within the realm of possibility that Mr. Kerry will win nothing West of the Mississippi nor South of D.C..

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:36 AM

SHOWGIRLS, THE SEQUEL (via John Resnick):

Clinton counted on to boost Las Vegas turnout (Las Vegas REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/28/04)

Democrats are hoping to get an early voting turnout boost Friday from the Democrat who twice carried the state.

President Clinton will campaign for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry at 3:30 p.m. at an outdoor rally at the Clark County Government Center Amphitheater, 500 South Grand Central Parkway.

The rally is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required.

Clinton, who had quadruple bypass surgery seven weeks ago, has campaigned in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Florida this week.

He is scheduled to be in Las Vegas until Saturday.

Sending him to Sin City is like carting coals to Newcastle.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:31 AM


Apologize, George W. Bush! (Douglas Kern, 10/19/2004, Tech Central Station)

Apologize for fighting an unwinable war. Apologize for failing to win that unwinable war before the All-Star break. Apologize for fighting the insurgents too aggressively, and apologize for showing them too much mercy. Apologize for forcing democracy and freedom upon the mere 85% of Iraqis who desire them. Apologize for ignoring the thoughtful and nuanced objections of some civilian-bombing terrorists in the Sunni Triangle. Apologize for not sending enough troops and apologize for taking too many troops away from their homes and families. Apologize for…oh, apologize for something. It really doesn't matter what. Just admit that you were wrong about something important. It's ever so much easier to defeat your arguments when you concede them to us first.

Apologize, George W. Bush, because there's something delicious about watching righteous men eat their words. You won't be so quick to dismiss nuances and overtones and penumbras when you have a shame-faced apology sticking in your craw. And when we've neutralized your moralizing tone, it will be vastly easier to neutralize the popular, we're-the-good-guys morality that you propound. Oh, we could take the high road, of course, and praise an apology as a dignified gesture that will help to heal the bitter divisions in our society. But we won't. Your apology will be reduced to a lurid sound-bite on some vicious DNC advertisement that mocks your confident faith and uncompromising principles. And let's not even think about how America's enemies will use your apology to undermine your credibility. Get used to the smell of your apology, George W. Bush. It will be rubbed in your nose until the day you die. [...]

Apologize, George W. Bush, although wartime presidents never do. Roosevelt didn't apologize. Truman didn't apologize. Neither did Eisenhower, Johnson, Kennedy, or Nixon. Every wartime president has made mistakes -- sometimes ghastly mistakes that cost the lives of soldiers and civilians. But no one ever demanded apologies from those presidents, perhaps because Americans used to understand that war is an inherently chaotic and unpredictable thing in which awful mistakes will always be made.

Apologize for saying there were WMD in Iraq, for not securing the WMD at al-Qaqa, for not attacking Iraq before those WMD could be moved, and for attacking at all.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:09 AM


With Nothing Left to Win, Fans of Red Sox Suddenly Feel a Loss (PAM BELLUCK, 10/29/04, NY times)

It didn't take long to go from ecstatic to existential.

Having waited 86 years for a World Series championship, Bostonians found themselves on Thursday swirling with elation, but also scratching their heads.

What are Red Sox fans to do when the angst of being one of the world's greatest underdogs is gone?

There is no dopeslap hard enough for such people.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:03 AM


US occupation through Iraqi eyes (Pan Hu, 10/29/04, Asia Times)

Rumored to be Iraq's next ambassador to the United States, Dr Kanan Makiya, a formerly exiled Iraqi intellectual best known as the author of Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq, was one of the strongest proponents of ousting Saddam Hussein through invasion and still feels removing Saddam's tyrannical regime was clearly the right thing to do. But while his critics cite his close links to neo-conservatives in the George W Bush administration as the reasoning behind these sentiments, Makiya is by no means adverse to dishing out some of his own criticism of the US's handling of postwar Iraq.

Last Monday, at a lecture hosted by the World Affairs Council of Washington, DC, in Maryland, Makiya acknowledged the precarious security situation in Iraq and the insurgency's stubborn resilience. But he asserted that the insurgency's threat is significantly limited by the fact that it offers no political alternative to Iraqi citizens. Fueled primarily by economic hardship and anger at the foreign occupation, the insurgency cannot win the support of Iraqis who wish to fight for something, not merely against something.

While Makiya is confident that as material conditions slowly but steadily improve for ordinary Iraqis, and as the American occupation's profile diminishes, the insurgency will collapse from its lack of a constructive program, even if it takes several years, he still insists that stabilizing Iraq is an Iraqi matter, and it was a mistake on Washington's part to not grant sovereignty to Iraqi leaders in the immediate aftermath of the invasion. By establishing a formal occupation authority, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), to dominate Iraqi affairs, the US gave an unmistakable impression of naked self-interest that would color Iraqi perceptions of its policies. Moreover, by bungling an entire year's effort to establish indigenous security forces, the CPA set the stage for the sharp escalation of guerilla violence that engulfed Iraq last spring.

It's the most important lesson of the Iraq/Afghanistan war and will need to be applied in places like Palestine, Syria, Iran, etc.--Muslim populations are more than ready to govern themselves and eager to do so relatively liberally. Unlike post-WWII Germany and Japan, our presence is a hindrance, not a help.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 AM


American rebel vs American al-Qaeda (Pepe Escobar, 10/29/04, Asia Times)

"Let me be the voice, and your strength, and your choice
Let me simplify the rhyme, just to amplify the noise
Try to amplify the times, and multiply it by six-
Teen million people are equal of this high pitch
Maybe we can reach Al-Qaeda through my speech ...
Let the President answer on high anarchy
Strap him with an AK-47, let him go
Fight his own war, let him impress daddy that way
No more blood for oil, we got our battles to fight on our own soil."
Eminem, "Mosh"

"Allah willing, the streets of America will run red with blood, matching drop for drop the blood of America's victims."
- Azzam al-Amriki (Azzam the American), on the new purported al-Qaeda video [...]

Compare Eminem's get-out-the-vote message with the man with his face covered by a keffiah and sunglasses saying, in English, "The streets will run with blood." The man, Azzam al-Amriki (Azzam the American), is the alleged new face of al-Qaeda, revealed on a tape delivered to the ABC News office in Islamabad last Sunday by a courier who got paid US$500. The courier said he collected the tape in Peshawar the day before, and assured that the video was filmed in the Pakistani tribal areas.

The 75-minute digital tape comes with the As-Sahab logo - al-Qaeda's video-production company. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are assuming the man in the tape is white, college-educated, and maybe not born in the US but raised there. He speaks with a slight accent. He could be one of hundreds of jihadis holding US or European Union passports operating along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

Some US intelligence sources believe he could be Adam Yahiye Gadahn, born Adam Pearlman in Orange County, California, whom the FBI has pinned as an al-Qaeda translator. His nom de guerre is Abu Suhayb al-Amriki. The al-Amriki in the tape quotes the Holy Koran in Arabic, also speaking with an accent. The rhetoric is classic al-Qaeda.

After what is supposed to have been extensive examination by both the CIA and the FBI, ABC News finally decided to broadcast parts of the tape on Thursday. Both the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and al-Jazeera say the tape is the genuine article in terms of jihadi media, with good production values such as Arabic subtitles and a scrolling message across the bottom of the screen a la CNN and Fox.

ABC News officially was not sure if this was a very well-crafted hoax or a big story. By airing the tape, it has shown it believes it is a big story. But the most troubling thing was that someone in the US Department of Homeland Security was heavily leaking to gossip website Drudge Report to pressure ABC to run the tape.

One of the very best scenes in Denys Arcand's great film The Barbarian Invasions comes when the socialist professor recalls the humiliation of trying to hit on a Chinese woman by praising the Cultural Revolution, to her horror. One doubts that folks like Eminem on the anti-American Left even comprehend how appalling is the convergence of their message with that of the Islamicists.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 10:11 AM


What can you say? (Simon Heffer, The Spectator, October 29th, 2004)

Forty or 50 years ago one did not discuss, in middle-class society in Britain, matters such as religion, sexual practices or income. Now, anyone who shies away from these subjects will be condemned as a prude. Many might regard this as a liberation; others would see it as the ultimate invasion of a privacy that they feel is their right, but to which others feel no one should be entitled. Matters concerning women have been especially opened up. Menstruation, a taboo stretching back to the ancient Greeks, is now freely discussed without embarrassment, and tampons advertised routinely on television. A film, Nine Songs, has just been passed for general public showing depicting explicit and unsimulated sex acts. Indeed, in the matter of sexual behaviour and openness, only paedophilia and incest still retain a sense of general public distaste. With few prosecutions taking place of those who engage in under-age sex, the age of consent is being driven down to 14 by stealth. Libertarians argue fiercely that the law should have no right to intrude into any sexual act between consenting adults --even, it seems, if they happen to be closely related to each other; so one wonders how much longer those two taboos will now last.

That the taboo system survives is because of the effective and immediate replacement of one taboo by another. Once it was no longer taboo to countenance homosexual activity, it became (as Mr Buttiglione has found) taboo to find it objectionable. Once the repudiation of conventional Christian belief became entirely acceptable, it became taboo to impose Christianity in even the mildest of ways into any context where it might not be welcome. That is why some local authorities, for fear of offending non-Christian staff or members of the public, play down or avoid altogether any mention of Christmas or Easter. As soon as the state endorsed single parenthood by effectively making it a salaried occupation, it became taboo to criticise it. Now that the British have lost their reputation for the stiff upper lip, and counselling and cod psychology have become two of our greatest industries, it has become the height of shocking bad manners to chide people for behaving with emotional incontinence. That, fundamentally, was why such a fuss was made about The Spectator’’s comments on the cult of sentimentality —in which I had a hand —a fortnight ago. A few decades ago no one would have found any of the new taboos remotely controversial, for they were the orthodoxy. Their dismantling has been led by politicians, and it is politicians who, in the interests of currying favour with the public and with opinion-formers, are the quickest to exploit any breaking of the new taboos by jumping on the bandwagons associated with them. [...]

There cannot be a taboo without some sort of authority behind it. For centuries, that authority was the Church. Now, in a secular society, taboos are dictated by fashion. They are reinforced by those with a vested interest in upholding them —notably politicians who want votes, newspapers who wish to build circulation, and broadcasters who seek bigger audiences. When the fashions change and the taboos change, so too will the views of those who claim to lead but who effectively follow them. There has been no clearer example of the way these things turn round than the now notorious speech made by Mrs Theresa May in her brief and inglorious reign as chairman of the Conservative party, when she branded it ‘‘nasty’’. When she made those remarks at the 2002 party conference at Bournemouth, many in her audience found, as Mr Kinnock put it, that what they thought were their beliefs had become prejudices; such is the way with the manufacturing of the new taboos.

The more one thinks of it, the more one sees the overhaul of the taboo system as the natural goal of the whole movement of political correctness. The movement has stepped up the sanctions against those who break the taboos. It used to be considered merely impolite or uncouth to break the old ones. Breaking the new ones can be fatal to one’s career or credibility, as Mr Buttiglione has found. It puts the transgressor at the mercy of what Solzhenitsyn called ‘‘the censorship of fashion’’.

One issue left unexplored in this thoughtful piece is the degree to which science is being cowed and co-opted by the new censors. Old-fashioned liberals relied on scientific inquiry to temper the rigidity of taboos and promote tolerance by demonstrating that their absolute authority or universality could not be justified by objective reality. Today, more and more, we see science used to bolster intolerance, absolutism and the politically correct war on tradition. Studies on the acute and terrifying dangers of second-hand smoke continue to spew out in defiance of everyday experience and common sense. Women who stay home to raise children are regularly reported to suffer more emotional disorders than their working sisters. Any biologist who argues that gayness may not be inherent or determined risks the attention of the local human rights tribunal or even the wrath of a howling, very unscientific, mob. As Mr. Heffer notes, no modern taboo is more extreme than racism and–wouldn’t you know it–science is lending a hand by “discovering” that race is an artificial construct. As we saw with Bjorn Lomberg, a scientist that challenges political orthodoxy in the nebulous and ethereal world of global warming is lucky to avoid professional ruin. And finally, as readers of this blog know well, many evolutionary biologists and anthropologists behave like modern Inquisitors and spend more time trying to mock, demonize and destroy dissenters, or even sceptics, than addressing the many evidentiary gaps and logical weaknesses of their theories.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:14 AM


Economy Grows at 3.7% Rate in 3Q (Jeannine Aversa, October 29, 2004, AP)

The U.S. economy grew at a 3.7 percent annual rate in the third quarter -- a pace that was slightly better than in the spring but not as strong as many analysts expected. Friday's government report was the last such broad snapshot of economic activity before Election Day.

The reading on gross domestic product (GDP) for the July-to-September quarter followed a 3.3 percent growth rate in the prior quarter, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

Plug that into the Fair model and it's awfully hard to see how the President doesn't win by a rather significant margin in this election.

Meanwhile, Senator Kerry thinks we should be more like France, Weak data buffets French economy (BBC, 10/29/04)

A batch of downbeat government data has cast doubt over the French economy's future prospects.

Official figures showed on Friday that unemployment was unchanged at 9.9% last month, while consumer confidence fell unexpectedly in October.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM


We Are All Floridians Now (Douglas Kern, 10/29/2004 , Tech Central Station)

The 2004 presidential election is shaping up to be uglier than an octogenarian stripper convention. Look for intimidation, blatant vote fraud, bureaucratic incompetence, judicial shenanigans, and the promise of an ugly, heavily litigated November - and that's just at my house.

It's grotesque. Chaotic. Undignified.

It's just the way we like it.

The tumult that Florida suffered in 2000 was no fluke. Florida's electoral imbroglio was the perfect political storm -- a confluence of bad faith, aggressive lawyers, shabby laws, faulty procedures, and arrogant judges. And it will happen again, because no one has an interest in fixing the problem.

The decline of the Democrats into permanent minority status will take care of most of these problems, as elections become more uneven. For instance, just two years after the Florida debacle Republicans swept the state elections of 2002 and the President is going to win by such a wide margin there this time that there will be no recounts.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:23 AM


Blame game at the U.N. (Japan Times, 10/29/04)

Revelations about the U.N. Oil for Food Program get uglier and uglier. Designed to allow Iraq to collect revenues to pay for humanitarian supplies such as food and medicine, it appears to have been manipulated by Baghdad to reward friends of the regime and enrich the country's leadership. The damage has been magnified by allegations of corruption and negligence on the part of the United Nations. There needs to be a complete investigation of what went wrong with the Oil for Food Program, but caution must be taken to ensure that this does not become a witch hunt that needlessly tars the U.N. and settles scores in Iraq.

Why not?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:21 AM


Schilling's not done pitching, and Bush digs it (Noelle Straub, October 29, 2004, Boston Herald)

Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling will throw his support to President Bush at two New Hampshire rallies today, unexpectedly stealing part of Sen. John F. Kerry's hometown base.

In an unexpected slapdown to the Bay State senator, Schilling urged support for Bush during an interview yesterday on ABC's ``Good Morning America.''

``Make sure you tell everybody to vote - and vote Bush - next week,'' Schilling said.

Surprised host Charlie Gibson replied, ``Whoa, all right. Something else that divides the nation as well.''

Gee, what were the odds a straight white married Christian male would be conservative?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:04 AM


A Letter From Mr. Burke To A Member Of The National Assembly (Edmund Burke, 1791)

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity - in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:50 AM

IMAGO BUSHIE (via mc):

'Bushism': Win or lose, the president has remade the politics of the right. (JOHN MICKLETHWAIT AND ADRIAN WOOLDRIDGE, October 27, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

The past four years have arguably brought more dramatic changes to conservative America than to America as a whole--to the way that it thinks and is organized, and to the ranking of the groups within it. The right has been in the driving seat, but it has not been a comfortable ride. [...]

The massive growth in the state during this presidency (faster than under Bill Clinton, even if you exclude the spending on the war on terror) owes a fair amount to opportunism--to Mr. Bush's willingness to pay off friends in the business world or a refusal to pick a fight with allies in GOP-controlled Congress (he has not wielded his veto pen once). But at its heart it is a deliberate strategy. He came to office planning to expand the Department of Education (an institution the Gingrichistas had planned to abolish). And he laced his acceptance speech at the GOP convention with promises to use government to improve people's lives.

Is this, as many conservatives fear, a move to the left? Mr. Bush was certainly worried by the way that Gingrich Republicanism had apparently alienated suburban Americans. But he is no Nixon, flying in Harvard professors to fine-tune the Great Society. He has had a more ambitious aim: to turn government into an agent of conservative values. Hence the emphasis on choice and accountability to force public-sector bureaucracies to act more like the private sector. And hence the enthusiasm for using government departments to promote conservative values such as sexual abstinence and responsible fatherhood. Before Mr. Bush, conservatives had assumed that the only way to win the battle against what Michael Barone has dubbed "soft America" was to shrink government. Mr. Bush has pioneered a different strategy--to "harden" government itself.

Mr. Bush's position in the culture wars is much easier to categorize than his position on big government: He has shifted power dramatically in favor of social conservatives. Modern American conservatism has been based around a coalition of antigovernment libertarians (many of them based in the West) and social conservatives (many based in the South). Reagan did a virtuoso job of keeping both sides happy, giving the social conservatives just enough to keep them on side, but never so much that he risked alienating the libertarians (who always suspected that a divorced actor was one of them). In his first term, Mr. Bush has tilted in the direction of social conservatives. Wherever you look--stem-cell research, gay marriage, abortion rights or drug policy--he is joined with the religious right. [...]

Which brings us to what is Mr. Bush's boldest contribution to reinventing conservatism--foreign policy. It is easy to find parallels between his foreign policy and Reagan's. The latter married American power and American principle (particularly the onward march of freedom). He believed in calling evil by its proper name. And he endured criticism that he was a naïve Wilsonian rather than a sensible conservative realist. In some ways Mr. Bush's battle against "the axis of evil" is a logical continuation of Reagan's against "the evil empire."

But these continuities should not blind conservatives to the radicalism of America's post-Sept. 11 foreign policy. First, remember that Reagan's foreign policy was, at the time, a radical departure from older conservative traditions such as America-firstism and Kissingerian realism. Then add the fact that the Bush foreign policy has been far more ambitious than Reagan's was. Turning to the neoconservatives, Mr. Bush has applied his doctrine of spreading democracy to an area of the world where the Reaganites feared to tread. Baghdad is not Warsaw; Ayatollah Sistani is not Lech Walesa. Mr. Bush has also taken his ideas much further than Reagan. Within a few months of the declaration of the "Bush doctrine"--those who harbor terrorists will be treated as terrorists--American tanks were rolling into Baghdad.

From Sept. 11 till the Iraq invasion, most conservatives expected that the war on terror would hold their movement together. The "axis of evil" would fit into the slot vacated by "the evil empire." And the conservative foot soldiers would put aside their differences--particularly over government spending--in a common war against Islamist extremism.

There are still times when that theory holds--the GOP convention was a masterly exposition of this unifying credo--but as Iraq gets ever messier, the noises off-stage grow louder. [...]

Yet there is one area where Mr. Bush has exceeded the expectations of everybody on the right--party building. He is arguably the greatest Republican party builder since William McKinley. Presidents always have a temptation to put themselves above their parties. Thus Nixon pursued a policy of "lonely victory" in 1972 and Mr. Clinton "triangulated" between the House conservatives and his own party's liberal wing. Mr. Bush has eschewed this temptation.

He put the full credibility of the post-Sept. 11 White House on the line when he campaigned for his fellow Republicans in 2002--an election that ended with a GOP majority in the Senate. The White House has also paid enormous attention to building an organization to get out the vote, with a captain in every precinct and volunteers in every county. Mr. Bush has done nothing less than reinvent the party machine for the world of far-flung suburbs and exurbs.

Foreign crises come and go--the fundamental reforms of the domestic Welfare State are far more important.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:41 AM


Morality and Economic Law: Toward a Reconciliation (Thomas E. Woods, Jr., April 5, 2004, From the Lou Church Memorial Lecture delivered at the Austrian Scholars Conference, 2004, Mises Institute)

[T]hose of us within the Church who advocate the Austrian approach to economics are not demanding that the popes preach Austrian economics from the Chair of Peter. No one with any knowledge of the
development of economic thought among churchmen over the centuries would
dare to claim that a single view could constitute "Catholic economics." Against those who suggest that a Catholic may look at economic matters in only one way, Professor Daniel Villey reminds us that "Catholic theology does not exclude pluralism of opinions on profane matters." We do not claim that ours alone is "Catholic economics," but merely that what we teach is not only not antagonistic to, but in fact is profoundly compatible with, traditional Catholicism.

A profound philosophical commonality exists between Catholicism and the
brilliant edifice of truth to be found within the Austrian school of economics
. The Austrian method of praxeology should be especially attractive to the Catholic. Carl Menger, but above all Mises and his followers, sought to ground economic principles on the basis of absolute truth, apprehensible by means of reflection on the nature of reality. What in the social sciences could be more congenial to the Catholic mind than this?

Likewise, Austrian economics reveals to us a universe of order, whose structure we can apprehend through our reason. As Professor Jeffrey Herbener explains, "A causal-realistic approach to economics arose in Christendom because only there did scholars conceive of nature as an interconnected order, created in the flux of time by God out of nothing, and governed by God-ordained natural laws that human intellect could discover and use to comprehend nature, with the goal of ruling over it for God's glory." The alternative is the world of John Stuart Mill, who posited that it was entirely possible that we might find some place in the universe where two and two do not make four--a view which, in Herbener's words, "is grounded in the metaphysical position that the universe is not an orderly creation." Which one is more compatible with Catholicism should not be difficult to discern.

The Church has always maintained that faith and reason are not in conflict,
but rather constitute two harmonious paths to truth. That is the approach
toward the secular world that makes the most sense for a Catholic, and for
which there exists considerable precedent throughout history. In the second
century, St. Justin Martyr spoke of the "seeds of the Word" to be found in the ancient Greeks, and Clement of Alexandria insisted that the great works of the Greeks be studied at his renowned catechetical school. St. John of Damascus (John Damascene) adopted the same attitude. He favored the study and use of what was good in Greek philosophy because "whatever there is of good has been given to men from above by God, since "every best gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights."

In my book on Catholic intellectual life during the Progressive Era, I show that the same type of interaction with secular knowledge was at work in the early twentieth century as well. It is simply not possible to question the doctrinal orthodoxy of the men I profiled in that book. At the same time, they were not afraid to engage in selective appropriation of the best of secular thought wherever it contained an insight that might be of benefit to the Church, all the while keeping the Faith itself free from profanation.

Yet while the Church has not hesitated in the past to make use of whatever
secular knowledge has to teach, what is especially interesting about the present case is that the secular truths that economic theory has to teach were in some cases anticipated or even discovered by some of the Church's own theologians. The Austrian School carries forward a great many of the economic insights of the late Scholastic theologians--a source of pride, not shame, for modern-day Catholics. The Scholastics perceived clear relationships of cause and effect at work in the economy, particularly after observing the considerable price inflation that occurred in sixteenth-century Spain as a result of the influx of precious metals from the New World. From the observation that the greater supply of specie had led to a decline in the purchasing power of money, they came to the more general conclusion--an economic law, as it were--that an increase in the supply of any good will tend to bring about a decrease in its price.

The Austrian School also shows what reason, properly exercised, can accomplish, and surely this is something that Catholics, who have always granted reason its rightful due, ought to appreciate. The great economic treatises of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard begin with the axiom that human beings act, and proceed to the elaboration of an entire economic system from this irrefutable premise and a few subsidiary postulates. Austrians reject the mathematization of the discipline that other paradigms have encouraged, and dismiss artificial models that reduce man to a mere atom. They are methodological dualists who insist that the study of man, who unlike animals and inanimate things is endowed with reason and free will, is something unique, conceptually distinct from the study of the physical universe, and they criticize the attempt to fashion economics along the model of physics and the hard sciences.

This, clearly, is a system that is eminently congenial to the Catholic mind.

Economics does not contain all the answers of life, nor does it claim to. It
does, however, show how the morally acceptable desire for profit leads to
spontaneous social cooperation that obviates the need for a bloated state
apparatus to direct production. It shows us the fascinating mechanisms by
which peaceful social cooperation, without the initiation of physical force,
leads to overall prosperity. This means less disease, more leisure time to
spend with our families, and greater opportunities to enjoy the good things
of civilization.

Any free market type economy is almost completely dependent on catholic morality for its success.

October 28, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:49 PM


Our dangerous distance between the private and the commons: Americans have retreated into cocoons of the like-minded where all they hear is echos of themselves. (Jonathan Rowe, 5/27/04, CS Monitor)

The concept of property early settlers had wasn't a walled fortress; it was a permeable membrane that sought to reconcile the parts and the whole. Early New Englanders built their towns around a commons, a shared pasture for livestock. Private woodlands were open to others for hunting or cutting wood, unless owners fenced them.

Water law, so important in the new land, reflected this desire for balance. You could use the water that ran through your land, but not in a way that diminished your neighbor's use. The water belongs to all of us, the law said, and ownership has responsibilities as well as rights.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which laid out a plan of government for what is now much of the upper Midwest, declared that the main waterways there "shall be common highways and forever free."

Such thinking isn't a quaint relic of a simpler time. It's rooted in a fundamental economic truth - namely, the symbiosis between the private and the common.

Private property couldn't exist without a society that honors and protects it. The value of property derives largely from the efforts of others, or gifts of nature. Take a Park Avenue apartment, or a Cape Cod cottage, put it in a cornfield or urban slum, and you'd better reduce the asking price. The structure is the same; the difference is what's around it. The real estate mantra "location, location, location" really means "gifts, gifts, gifts" - of society and nature. This is true of financial assets as well as real estate. In fact, it's true to a degree of all human production and creation. Every invention, business technique, story, and song draws on what has come before. I couldn't write this, nor you read it, without the English language - a gift to both of us. We all stand on many shoulders; and earlier concepts of property acknowledged this.

Nowhere was this thinking more evident than in the realm of invention and ideas. America itself is an idea, the first nation so conceived; so the views of the Founders on this point are especially telling. Jefferson and Madison considered the mind to be the mother lode of freedom, and they wanted no restrictions - private or public - on its fruits. The copyright and patent clause of the Constitution generally restricts these private monopolies to limited times; and this provision is of a piece with the First Amendment protections of freedom of speech.

Benjamin Franklin was no slouch when it came to a dollar - yet he didn't seek patents for his numerous inventions. "As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad to serve others by any invention of ours," he said.

There were contrary views, of course, and these soon gained the upper hand, being more congenial to moneyed interest. But the sense of affiliation with a whole persisted, in folkways as well as public policy. There were the frontier barn raisings and harvest bees in which work and time became a commons neighbors could draw from. There was the Main Street culture that combined the commercial with the social and civic. Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas held their famous debates at county fairgrounds and town squares throughout Illinois.

Democracy wasn't separate from the setting in which it occurred; and farmers and townspeople, many with little formal schooling, sat in the baking sun for hours to listen. [...]

We live...in suburbs conceived as staging areas for personal consumption rather than for social interaction. We move about in the hermetic enclosures of cars, shop in malls designed to exclude anything that might interfere with the buying mood.

We barricade our attention in electronic cocoons of iPods and cellphones. Family car trips once were occasions for storytelling that built a narrative bond between generations. Now kids sit in back and watch DVD's. Then we wonder why parents have trouble communicating with kids - why we feel lonely, isolated, and depressed.

Step by step, the paths through our "rice fields" have become walled corridors of one.

A reason for today's bitter, polarized politics is that people don't have to talk with those they don't agree with anymore. They just retreat into their cocoons of the like-minded where all they hear is echoes of themselves. They lose the capacity to tolerate - let alone listen to - anyone who thinks differently.

One wonders if the problem isn't precisely the opposite, that in an Information Age we're exposed to the ideas of others like never before and upon that exposure are made contemptuous of those we naturally disagree with.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:44 PM


The Genial Mr. Nock (Edmund A. Opitz, November 1982, The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty)

Conversation is “a living with others,” the dictionary tells us, “a manner of life.” It’s a cultivated way of handling leisure, and it has a synergistic effect on the people involved—provided they meet Rabelais’ test, being “flee, well-born, well bred, and conversant in honest companies.” For it is the amiable who shall possess the earth, sang the Psalmist (Ps. 37); not the sectaries who see things through the distorting lens of the ego and try to conscript every idea into the service of a faction. The True Believer cannot become a good conversationalist, for “conversation depends on a copiousness of general ideas and an imagination able to marshal them.” It’s an intellectual dance of reciprocal inspiration, exhibiting “a power of disinterested reflection, an active sense of beauty, and an active sense of manners.” [Albert Jay Nock] thought of his Freeman as a sort of conversation, “a fellowship of fine minds in all parts of the globe.”

Nock came into full possession of his powers during his editorship of The Freeman, 1920- 1924, from his fiftieth to his fifty-fourth year. He had had a solid grounding in the classics at St. Stephens, and his valedictory address to the class of ‘92 reveals a remarkably disciplined mind for one so young. He went on to earn a graduate degree in theology, then furthered his education informally during the next two decades by reading and travel—steeping himself in the worlds of scholarship, culture, and affairs.

As his inner life ripened the visible man followed suit; slim, poised and assured, impeccably attired—a commanding presence. He became the Albert Jay Nock his friends knew during his Freeman days and after; a man of immense reserve, a person around whom legends cluster, a writer whose erudition and prose style earned him a select following—larger now than the corporal’s guard he had a generation ago. It was not in him to become a popular thinker and writer; he wrote for the Remnant and tried to do a solid body of work for the future. “The first rate critic’s business,” he wrote, “is to anticipate the future, work with it, and look exclusively to it for his dividends.” The future Nock worked for is catching up with him!

Nock was a virtuoso in these matters, and we shall not see his like again. But we can follow his development as meticulously set forth by the man himself in Memoirs of a Superfluous Man. This book (whose title summons up Turgenev) is not an autobiography in the usual sense of that term. Every suggestion that he write a book about his life was rejected with annoyance—until a friend suggested “a purely literary and philosophical autobiography.” Nock fell in with this notion because, as he said, “every person of any intellectual quality develops some sort of philosophy of existence; he acquires certain settled views of life and of human society; and if he would trace out the origin and course of the ideas contributory to that philosophy, he might find it an interesting venture.” Thus, the Memoirs, “the autobiography of a mind in relation to the society in which it found itself.”

Nock closes his final chapter, privacy still intact; but the attentive reader’s mind has been subtly invaded, and it would be a dull fellow indeed who could deny that the hours spent with this book were not among his most memorable reading experiences. Nock discourses on education, literature, women, politics, economics, religion and death, and he does so in matchless, eighteen-carat English prose, spiked with apt quotations and laced with allusions. Nearly a lifetime of reflection had been spent on each of the topics here aired, and this book is Nock’s final statement and testament. It is the book by which he will be finally judged, the one in which he himself took most satisfaction. It is a book to be enjoyed and then mastered; and as the dyer’s hand is stained by the medium he works in so does the magic of the Memoirs work on a person’s whole outlook and philosophy.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:29 PM


The Swift Vets have put together five 5-minute movies summarizing their disputes with John Kerry. I recommend "The Sampan Cover-up," a story I was not familiar with.

Hard to believe the news media doesn't think these are worth stories.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:10 PM


In many states, control of legislatures at stake: The GOP has reached almost perfect parity with Democrats. A five-seat swing could tip control in 28 chambers. (Sara B. Miller, 10/28/04, CS Monitor)

The GOP holds a slim edge at the moment: Of 7,382 seats, they control 60 more than Democrats. In this election, there are 28 chambers where a switch of a handful of seats - three state senate seats or five state house seats - would alter party control.

"Our two parties today are poles apart," says Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. "If your state senate switches from 21 Democrats and 19 Republicans to 22 Republicans, the change is a lot bigger than those two seats."

While usually further off the radar, these local elections have caught the attention of the national parties: More energy is being spent on state legislative races in this cycle, says Mr. Storey. It is still not a huge operation, he says, but the parties are recognizing the impact that legislatures have on state policymaking. Moreover, state legislatures often act as a training ground for candidates who may some day run for higher offices.

"Republicans have made significant gains [at the state level]," says Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Minnesota. "That is a trend the Democrats view with real concern." [...]

Republicans control both legislative chambers in 21 states, Democrats control both in 17 states. Power is divided in 11 states. Nebraska has a unicameral and officially nonpartisan legislature.

If the GOP continues the trend of gaining power in the state legislatures, some political scientists say, it could be a sign of a needed realignment within the Democratic Party, says Michael Kanner, at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Mr. Schier agrees. Even in Minnesota, he says, Democrats have narrowed their message, moving further to the left on certain issues like abortion. "It is one of the reasons for their competitive disadvantage," he says. "If they want to win elections, they'll need a much broader tent."

Beneath the foamy surface of the not un-competitive presidential race move tides that bode ill for Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:59 PM


How al-Qaeda May End (Christopher C. Harmon, Ph.D., May 19, 2004, Heritage.org)

How have terrorist groups been defeated? Here are five of the common ways that they have ended:

Military Force

Although the option of force was often derided as “simplistic” prior to September 11, powerful military offensives have some-times defeated terrorist groups. Perhaps nothing else would have defeated the Assassins—a Shia Islamic offshoot of the late 11th through 13th centuries—in what is now modern-day Iran. They had a powerful ideology, secret cultish practices, absolute devotion (by which acolytes would commit suicide on order), and inaccessible fortified bases. Their usual targets were Sunni Muslim leaders. When the famed Saladin and other rulers fought back, they managed to contain the Assassins. Schism wounded the cult. Thereafter came the Mongols, who systematically devastated or dismantled the Assassins’ castles. By the year 1270 the cult was ruined, its membership largely dead or dispersed.

In a United Nations’ world, harsh military offensives against terrorists are unusual, but even so there are cases and successes. After the Khmer Rouge revolutionaries and terrorists became the rulers of Cambodia, only a war waged by Vietnam destroyed their merciless regime in 1978.

In a second example, when pressed by the indigenous Moslem Brotherhood in Syria in 1982, Hafez al-Assad took them under what became known as “Hama rules,” literally bombing and shelling the Syrian city of Hama for almost two weeks. Incredibly, Assad suffered little long-term disrepute for murdering more than ten thousand Syrians, nor did he pay dearly for occupying Lebanon, including the Bekaa Valley, which remains an infamous terrorist haven. Upon his death in 2000, Assad was lionized abroad.

Military force—narrowly and sanely directed— has been a part of many successful modern governmental campaigns. Tupac Amaru (MRTA), a Peruvian Marxist-Leninist organization, was already undermined by internal inadequacies and countervailing police skills. However, the government’s April 1997 commando raid, which recaptured the occupied Japanese Embassy in Lima, finally ruined Tupac Amaru. All but one of the 72 hostages survived but 14 terrorists were killed— including mission leader Nestor Cerpa Cartolini. Because Tupac Amaru’s historic founder was languishing in jail, MRTA immediately collapsed. As scholar Michael Radu intoned, “This group was moribund before; now it is buried.”

Today, military efforts have been essential to initial successes against al-Qaeda, especially in Afghanistan—where the regime and international terrorism were more closely intertwined than in any other case in modern memory. Only by destroying the state could the international problem be solved and the Afghan nation be given a fair chance at liberty. Afghanistan enjoyed a two-year respite from most terrorism, which only began to return in 2004.

Good Grand Strategy

A second way terrorists end—and a marked pattern in the post–World War II era—is national effort under a sage grand strategy. Under sober government leadership, all major aspects of national power—from the political and military through the economic and informational—are deployed with focused energy and resources. Democracies are often at their best in these struggles, demonstrating adherence to principles, yet taking temporary exceptional measures and drawing on little-used internal and external powers. Confronted by a crisis, a country is nonetheless saved by remaining united and acting with force and prudence.

Secretary of Defense, and later president, Ramon Magsaysay led the Filipino people in beating the Huks, a guerrilla and terrorist movement in the post–World War II era. At the time, such Communist movements were often winning in Third World theaters. With help from the U.S. that was notable for its limits and discretion, the Republic of the Philippines and Ramon Magsaysay attacked the problem from all sides. They purged corrupt army officers, revitalized confidence in elections and democracy, and initiated modest relief works to address landlessness. When making war, the Filipino army focused on superior intelligence and small-unit tactics. The government side wore out and defeated the Huks. The rise and fall of this challenge spanned no more than eight years.

Several decades later came the rise—and fall— of Germany’s Red Army Faction (RAF). Waging an urban campaign (rather than the Huks’ rural insurgency), the RAF members were no less doctrinaire Communist revolutionaries. They had strong leaders—gifted students and publicists such as Gudrun Ensslin and Ulrike Meinhof. They kidnapped, shot, and robbed a path across West Germany. Few among the 60 million West Germans actually stood up and followed this tiny, self-proclaimed “vanguard,” but as T. E. Lawrence had warned, a guerrilla group might survive with sup-port from only 2 percent of the population. At first, the RAF did find protection, safe houses, and borrowed cars. However, support did not grow, and gradually the gun-holders were cornered one by one and jailed. The first RAF generation failed by 1977: A second team arose, but lasted no longer than 1982.

Germany wore out the RAF with effort and self-discipline. When there was no bloody over-reaction, this foiled the terrorists’ hope to “expose the latent fascism” of the post-war republic. The Germans did require new laws and new efforts at policing and intelligence—including a revolutionary approach to police unit data computerization, which raised civil liberties concerns but did catch terrorists. A brilliant commando raid by specialized border police (called GSG-9) liberated a Lufthansa airliner hijacked to Mogadishu, Somalia, by a German and Palestinian team. That well-judged risk, and total success, was so psychologically crushing that two Baader–Meinhof leaders committed suicide in their cells.

This second model—disciplined democracy in action under good grand strategy—is the one most akin to the current U.S. approach against the militant Moslem international.

Capturing or Killing the Leaders

Some terrorist groups have failed when their leader of singular importance is arrested and jailed under irrevocable terms. This fate befell the egoistic Abimael Guzman, creator of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). After years of careful planning and cadre-building, Guzman turned the Shining Path to overt violence in 1980—at the moment when reform and elections were restoring democracy in Peru. Sendero intimidated and butchered Peruvians in the countryside—and to a lesser degree in the slums and cities—with dynamite, machetes, and single-shot weapons. Tens of thousands died and many more suffered tragedy, injury, or despair. Yet it largely and quickly ended with Guzman’s arrest in September 1992. Despite the efforts of a “Comrade Feliciano” to carry on, the torch of lead-ership could not be re-lit. The women and men around the famed founder may not have lost their faith, but they did lose their power.

Another bane of the 1980s was the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a special enemy of Turkey and Germany that was founded in 1974 by Abdullah Ocalan to promote an independent Kurdistan. The PKK sought independence via Communist doctrine, thousands of gunmen, and a closely managed reign of terror over the Kurds—as well as the Turks and others in Europe. Its signature was a string of simultaneous bombs in several cities. It practiced extortion, drug trafficking, and killing, while its leader gave press interviews from safety in Syria. Today, the PKK has passed from the scene. A new organization called KADEK has formed from Kurdish activism and is thus far relatively pacific. Evidently, the PKK’s center of gravity was less a burning nationalism than it was Ocalan himself. When he was captured in Africa and bundled back to jail in Turkey, the organization collapsed. Thus far, no equal has taken his place.

Today, one strategy against al-Qaeda is to arrest or kill the first and second tier leaders—a reasonable approach. Coalition security forces must capture or kill both Osama bin Laden and Aiman al-Zawahiri, as well as more of their lieutenants.

A Turn Toward Democratic Ways

A few terrorist groups have turned away from violence or toward democratic ways, or both. Their sincerity in this may be suspect, but some terrorists do outwardly and convincingly reform, reentering nor-mal society and pacific political life. The imprisoned Nelson Mandela was the most esteemed leader of the African National Congress (ANC), which held anti-apartheid ideals but frequently conducted hideous terror attacks, often against black South Africans. When Mandela was released, he quickly replaced Oliver Tambo and led the ANC to power through elections—and became the widely admired president of a new republic.

Two current militants-turned-politicians in Germany also suggest this pattern. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer was recently “outed” by photographs of him kicking a policeman in a street brawl on April 7, 1973, in Frankfurt am Main. Fighting alongside him was Hans-Joachim Klein, a famous terrorist associate of Carlos the Jackal. Yet, few question Fischer’s work in recent years on behalf of the German republic. Daniel Cohn-Bendit—once notorious as “Danny the Red” for his militant central role in France in 1968—is serving Germany in the European Parliament as a Green Party and Free European Alliance co-president.

Certain American terrorists of the same era have surfaced from the underground to become influential, often as educators. Mark Rudd, student leader turned Weatherman, is now a teacher in the Southwestern United States. Bill Ayers, a later Weatherman leader, became a Chicago university schoolman and authored a book about child education. His new memoir, Fugitive Days, renounces little. He is married to former Weatherwoman Bernardine Dohrn, also a professor (of law) and a children’s rights advocate.

In today’s struggle with lethal strains of militant Islam, reform or pacification of certain terrorist principals and ideologists may be impossible. Many leaders and groups will refuse the paths of moderation and reason in politics. Some who are apocalyptic-minded will never lose their blood lust. Reform or pacification would be potentially attractive only to select individuals and terrorist groups that are more political and “practical” than al-Qaeda.

Some Terrorists Succeed

Finally, history shows that some terrorists attain power without undergoing reform. Combined with political organization, and often with guerrilla warfare, their terrorism does triumph and they capture state power. Such men prove to be rough masters. One blanches at what the Khmer Rouge did while in power. More often, terrorists-turned-rulers restore outward calm—something despotisms do well— and then govern more by clever spying, quiet coercion, and selective brutality than by overt violence. That is how the Sandinistas ruled Nicaragua after their victory in 1979. In this way, the Algerian FLN (National Liberation Front)—pioneers in plastique bombings in cities—ruled Algeria after victoriously parading into the capital in 1962. Still in power by the early 1990s, the FLN was repressing a revolution by their own Muslim countrymen.

Of course were al Qaeda to "win" somewhere it would just make the job of finding and killing them easier.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:57 PM



ONCE again, John Kerry shows his instinct to go for the capillaries, rather than the jugular.

Kerry has embraced the dubious New York Times/CBS accusations about U.S. bungling permitting the theft of explosives from an ammunition dump in Iraq. The senator has chosen to predicate the entire final week of his campaign on the unsolvable mystery of what happened to the bomb-making material in the chaos surrounding the invasion of Iraq.

By stepping up to bat and running an ad in which he speaks directly into the camera in an effort to win votes over the issue, Kerry has made the dubious journalistic accusations his own and bet his credibility and his candidacy on the outcome.

How will we ever know when the explosives were removed from Al-Qaqaa and by whom? How can we tell if they were taken away by Saddam's minions before or after he fell from power, before or after the United States troops had passed by the dump? We can't, any more than we can tell who did what in the jungles of Vietnam 30 years ago.

Because we can't know the final truth of Al-Qaqaa, it was a ridiculous decision by the Kerry campaign to jump with all four feet onto the issue. When Kerry should be scoring aggressive points, he will find himself debating the fine questions of who did what in Iraq in the frenzied days of late March and early April of 2003.

The problem is not just that the story is bogus but that it is incoherent. Until a week ago the Left had largely won the argument about whether Saddam retained a significant WMD threat on the day of the invasion. The overwhelming majority of ordinary Americans still think he was a threat, but at least the seeds of doubt had been planted. Now though, in an effort to stir up hysteria, the Kerry campaign has to so overreach on this al-Qaqa story that they are implicitly claiming that Saddam did indeed have WMD when we invaded. Given that the Senator has reversed himself over the course of the campaign and says that he would not have replaced Saddam, based on the assertion that he was no threat, to now claim that he was a threat undermines his own case against the war. Al-Qaqa is a political loser and running on it for the final week would be disastrous. He won't.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:39 PM


The 92% Solution: Kerry and the black vote. (Peter Kirsanow, 10/28/04, National Review)

The Kerry campaign's concerns about its candidate's failure to rally black voters in numbers similar to those received by either the Gore or Clinton presidential campaigns have become a staple of the daily news. Whereas in most elections, a candidate's base support solidifies as the election approaches, several polls show that Kerry's black support has actually been eroding over the last two months.

Kerry's late-summer poll numbers among blacks hovered around 84 percent. By early October, that percentage had fallen to 74 percent. In the last several days, the percentages have slipped further. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies poll puts Kerry's black support at 69 percent. A Pew Research poll gives Kerry 70 percent of the black vote.

Kerry's black poll numbers are ominously lower than those for Al Gore whose share of the black vote in 2000 is estimated to have been 92 percent. The good news for Senator Kerry is that in mid-October 2000, Gore's black poll numbers were around 75 percent — 17 points lower than his ultimate share. If Kerry can add another 17 points as Gore did, he will still garner a healthy 86-87 percent of the black vote.

Break out the Jasper, TX ad!

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:04 PM


Do liberals fail to understand voters? (George F. Will, October 28, 2004, Sacramento Bee)

John Kerry's campaign shows that liberalism remains merely reactive, and reconciled to many of conservatism's triumphs. Kerry complains about No Child Left Behind and the Patriot Act but does not call for repealing either. For all Kerry's histrionic sorrows about "the rich" being too laxly taxed, his proposal to raise the top income tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent accepts Ronald Reagan's revolution in lowering the rate from 70 percent. And Kerry has not proposed even a mild modification of modern conservatism's largest legislative achievement, the 1996 welfare reform that repealed the 1935 Social Security Act's lifetime entitlement to welfare.

Every four years the party out of power unleashes an epidemic of economic illiteracy, hoping to further lower the nation's already low pain threshold. During last spring's South Carolina primary, Democratic presidential candidates, oblivious to cognitive dissonance, lamented the perils of free trade — while proximate to the BMW, Michelin and Fuji plants.

Despite Kerry's reiteration that Bush's presidency is the first since Herbert Hoover's to coincide with a net job loss, the public seems, unsurprisingly, unaroused. The unemployment rate (5.4 percent) is what it was when President Clinton coasted to re-election in 1996. And the economy's growth rate over the last four quarters (4.9 percent) is higher than the rate over the year before the 1996 election (4.0 percent). Kerry's excoriation of Bush over budget deficits is blunted by the fact that while the government was running deficits in 47 of the last 55 years, the GDP has almost sextupled and 79 million jobs have been created.

Liberals are perpetually puzzled that Americans are not indignant about facts like this: In the last 30 years, the percentage of national income taken by the richest 5 percent of households rose from 16.6 to 21.4. Liberalism's constant problem is that Americans are aspirational, not envious.

We're not French.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:15 PM


Notes, Quotes From Michigan Campaign (RON FOURNIER, 10/28/04, Associated Press)

John Kerry thought he had Michigan's 17 electoral votes sewed up until polls showed his plans on the verge of unraveling.

Realizing that President Bush had narrowed the race in a state Democrat Al Gore won by 5 percentage points in 2000, Kerry rushed advertising money to Michigan and paid a visit himself this week.

He can't afford to lose any states won by Gore four years ago, certainly not one that hasn't backed a Republican presidential candidate in 16 years. Kerry advisers say they're confident the state will remain in the Democratic column, though Bush is pressing hard.

The president visited for two straight days this week, appealing to blue-collar conservative Democrats in Saginaw on Thursday with criticism of Kerry's leadership ability. [...]

The ancestral home of "Reagan Democrats" who backed President Reagan in the 1980s, Michigan supported Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

The last Republican to win Michigan was Bush's father, who had been Reagan's vice president. Reagan had won in the 1980s by wooing blue-collar Democrats, many of them Catholics and union members who decided that their party had grown too liberal on social issues.

If you go only by the polls, which seems inadvisable, you'd say the President was about to trade OH & NH for PA, NJ, MI, WI, NM, MN, OR & HI. If you can explain that you're a genius.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:52 PM


Kerry talks of accountability, Red Sox win (The Associated Press, 10/28/04)

John Kerry today accused President Bush of constantly ducking responsibility for his own actions, assailing the incumbent for the fourth consecutive day over the disclosure that nearly 400 tons of explosives were missing in Iraq.

Democratic candidate Kerry also said the Republican president's attempt to compare himself to John F. Kennedy was off the mark.

"When the Bay of Pigs went sour, John Kennedy had the courage to look America in the eye and say, 'I take responsibility, it's my fault," Kerry said, referring to a bungled invasion of Cuba in 1961.

The Senator is certainly correct that President Kennedy's failure to remove Castro was one of the signal failures of any recent presidency. After that the thread of his argument gets pretty frayed, since he's the one who says that he, like that earlier JFK, would have left the enemy in power.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:47 PM


Abu Mazen to succeed Arafat: Abu Ala has promised to support him (Marwan Athamna, 10/29/04, Maariv)

Former PA premier Abu Mazen will temporarily take over Arafat’s authority while he is incapacitated, and will succeed him in the event that he does not recover from his current ailments.

Abu Ala, who replaced him as premier has agreed to support him. The two mew agreed that if necessary the Palestinian Legislative council will meet in emergency session in which all presidential authority will be passed to Abu Mazen.

Abu Mazen was appointed by Arafat as premier about a year ago under intense international pressure. He opposed Arafat’s decision to launch the current intifada, and is on record as saying the Palestinians would better serve their interests by negotiating with Israel.

Now is the moment for Ariel Sharon to rise even further above himself. He can create a Palestininian state and not have to hand it to his most loathesome foe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:36 PM


Marriage amendments all expected to pass (Cheryl Wetzstein, 10/28/04, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

State constitutional amendments defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman are likely to pass in all 11 states where they are on the Nov. 2 ballot, making the amendment a factor in the presidential race in three battleground states — Michigan, Ohio and Oregon. [...]

Recent polls indicate that the 11 amendments are likely to pass, with support ranging from 52 percent in North Dakota to 77 percent in Arkansas.

What can you expect from the Flicker Tail State?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:26 PM


The Investor Election? (Duane D. Freese, 10/28/2004, Tech Central Station)

There is a dirty little secret about Social Security privatization -- and why John Kerry tried to scare seniors about a trumped up Bush "January surprise" to take away their benefits by privatizing their program.

The secret has nothing to do with protecting seniors, or Bush intending to take away their benefits, as Kerry falsely claimed. So, what is it?

A poll released Tuesday conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, at the behest of Investor's Action, a new group founded by TCS host James Glassman found that Bush has an 8 percentage point advantage over Kerry among the 71 percent of likely voters who invest in the markets (margin of error of 3.46). Meanwhile, among those who don't have investments, Kerry holds a 14 percentage point lead.

It's the ultimate genius of the Ownership Society--owners are conservative.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:18 PM


Former NYC mayor stumps for Bush in Maine (DAVID SHARP, 10/28/04, MaineToday.com)

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani praised President Bush´s leadership in the war against terrorism Thursday as Republicans continued to press on against Democrat John Kerry in Maine´s 2nd Congressional District.

Giuliani compared Bush´s situation with that of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. It was an unpopular war but Lincoln, like Bush, had the vision to see what would lie ahead if the war were not waged, he said.

"The major overriding issue," Giuliani said, "the most important thing now with our country is leadership. We need a leader who can take us through difficult times."

Giuliani´s visit shows that the GOP is not willing to cede Maine despite a recent poll that showed Kerry ahead by 11 points. The poll also found the race much closer in the 2nd District.

He's got to be headed to NJ & PA for the weekend.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:13 PM


The New de Tocquevilles: The French are just trying to understand. (Elisabeth Eaves, Oct. 28, 2004, Slate)

Guillaume Parmentier, director of the French Center on the United States and editor of The United States Today: Shock and Change, says there are two major explanatory fads afoot in the attempt to understand U.S. behavior: It's all about the neocons, and it's all about religion.

With few exceptions, French writers "superbly ignored" neoconservatism for years, Parmentier told me—then suddenly noticed it about 18 months ago. "Now because of the Bush administration, many French observers—guys who have no interest in the facts, but who are interested in big ideas—have discovered neoconservatives and see them all over the place. They call Cheney and Rumsfeld neoconservatives, which is totally absurd," Parmentier said.

While dismissive of many of the new books, Parmentier has high praise for one, Messianic America: The Wars of the Neoconservatives, by Le Monde journalists Alain Frachon and Daniel Vernet. It's a full history of the neocons, from their hatchery among the Democratic left in New York to their post-9/11 influence on the presidency. The publisher's blurb explains that neoconservatives think America is the embodiment of good and that it "can assure its own security and remain true to its moral mission only by exporting democracy, by force if necessary." French readers may acquire a more sophisticated understanding of U.S. foreign policy than many an American liberal.

As for the second fad, religion, authors like Guy Sorman treat it as paramount. The author of Made in USA focuses on the fact that a full 80 percent of Americans say they believe in God. Americans are "a mystical people," he says, and he has a theory that all religions in America are converging into one as their modes of worship become more and more alike.

A third theme emerges in many of the books: It's all about Sept. 11. Except, while there is general agreement that the United States must have been traumatized and profoundly changed by the terrorist attacks, no one seems to be sure exactly how. Indeed, Sorman went looking for evidence of a transformation and found that "American society has remained self-centered, too busy to fuse into a single nation capable of taking an interest in faraway cultures. No more books on Islam are sold, no more foreign films seen than before the attacks; students are not moving any faster toward learning foreign languages."

Can Americans learn anything from foreign anthropologists studying their own? Sorman says the point is moot. He has "no illusion" that he could be influential in the United States—unless he emigrated. "No one is interested in what foreigners have to say, not liberals or conservatives," he said. "The beliefs of Americans are so profound, they are so convinced that they are building a new civilization, with a universal appeal, that the comments from outside are insignificant."

Why don't they just read de Tocqueville--he not only explained us bit could save them if they'd listen:
I have said enough to put the character of Anglo-American civilization in its true light. It is the result ( and this should be constantly kept in mind) of two distinct elements, which in other places have been in frequent disagreement, but which the Americans have succeeded in incorporating to some extent one with the other and combining admirably. I allude to the spirit of religion and the spirit of liberty.

The settlers of New England were at the same time ardent sectarians and daring innovators. Narrow as the limits of some of their religious opinions were, they were free from all political prejudices.

Hence arose two tendencies, distinct but not opposite, which are everywhere discernible in the manners as well as the laws of the country.

Men sacrifice for a religious opinion their friends, their family, and their country; one can consider them devoted to the pursuit of intellectual goals which they came to purchase at so high a price. One sees them, however, seeking with almost equal eagerness material wealth and moral satisfaction; heaven in the world beyond, and well-being and liberty in this one.

Under their hand, political principles, laws, and human institutions seem malleable, capable of being shaped and combined at will. As they go forward, the barriers which imprisoned society and behind which they were born are lowered; old opinions, which for centuries had been controlling the world, vanish; a course almost without limits, a field without horizon, is revealed: the human spirit rushes forward and traverses them in every direction. But having reached the limits of the political world, the human spirit stops of itself; in fear it relinquishes the need of exploration; it even abstains from lifting the veil of the sanctuary; it bows with respect before truths which it accepts without discussion.

Thus in the moral world everything is classified, systematized, foreseen, and decided beforehand; in the political world . everything is agitated, disputed, and uncertain. In the one is a passive though a voluntary obedience; in the other, an independence scornful of experience, and jealous of all authority. These two tendencies, apparently so discrepant, are far from conflicting; they advance together and support each other.

Religion perceives that civil liberty affords a noble exercise to the faculties of man and that the political world is a field prepared by the Creator for the efforts of mind. Free and powerful in its own sphere, satisfied with the place reserved for it, religion never more surely establishes its empire than when it reigns in the hearts of men unsupported by aught beside its native strength.

Liberty regards religion as its companion in all its battles and its triumphs, as the cradle of its infancy and the divine source of its claims. It considers religion as the safeguard of morality, and morality as the best security of law and the surest pledge of the duration of freedom.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:00 PM


Schilling coming to Verizon with President Bush (JOHN DiSTASO, 10/28/04, Manchester Union Leader)

Red Sox pitching ace Curt Schilling will accompany President George W. Bush to his campaign stops in Manchester and Portsmouth on Friday.

The Union Leader has learned Schilling will appear with Bush at rallies at the Verizon Wireless Arena and at the Pease International Tradeport.

Schilling urged viewers to vote for Bush on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program yesterday morning. The Bush campaign then quickly invited him to join the President in his final campaign visit to the Granite State, sources said. Schilling gladly accepted.

It is unclear if Schilling will be wearing his now-legendary bloody sock, which came to symbolize the Red Sox’ dramatic run to their first World Series title in 86 years. But don’t be surprised if he waves it to the crowd, or if the crowd waves mock bloody socks at him in appreciation of his courageous pitching performances during the playoffs and World Series.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:56 PM

50 & 60 & 240:

Poll: Republicans inch ahead (Bill Harlan, 10/28/04, Rapid City Journal)

Republicans John Thune and Larry Diedrich have overcome double-digit deficits to draw ahead of their Democratic rivals, Sen. Tom Daschle and Rep. Stephanie Herseth, according to an independent poll.

The Republicans' leads were between about 1 and 2.5 percentage points - within the poll's 3.5 percent margin of error - and pollster John Zogby of Zogby International warned that the Senate and House races in South Dakota were too close to call. "We've got two competitive races here," he said.

Libertarian House candidate Terry Begay polled less than 1 percent.

The Rapid City Journal, KOTA-TV and other state media outlets commissioned the poll, which Zogby conducted Monday and Tuesday. Pollsters interviewed 800 likely voters.

Thune led Daschle 48 percent to 45.5 percent in the Senate race, Zogby said. Diedrich led Herseth to 47.2 percent to 46.1 percent.

In tie, candidates would pick Bush (Jennifer Sanderson, 10/28/2004, Argus Leader)
South Dakota's major-party candidates for U.S. House both said Wednesday night they would vote to re-elect George Bush if a tie in the Electoral College forced the House of Representatives to choose the next president.

And both agreed that, should they one day advance to the Senate, they would not apply a single-issue "litmus test" to U.S. Supreme Court nominees.

The hypothetical situations were posed to Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth and Republican challenger Larry Diedrich during a debate sponsored by the Argus Leader and KELO-TV. It was the pair's final exchange before Tuesday's election.

Red States will just keep getting redder as the permanent Republican majority takes hold.

Signs of a tough House race in the 45th District (Jeff Switzer, 10/28/04, King County Journal)

Republicans have turned up the heat in the 45th District on a key open seat that swings between the parties.

Campaign signs supporting Democrat Larry Springer have new companions with a matching color scheme that read ``Liberal-Larry.com.''

That Web site has cartoon caricatures of Springer and cites controversial votes he has taken as a Kirkland city councilman.

The site is paid for by the 45th Legislative District Republicans, and directs visitors to Springer's Republican opponent, Jeffrey Possinger, a Duvall city councilman.

Springer and Possinger are fighting on behalf of their parties to succeed Democrat Laura Ruderman, who left her House seat to run for secretary of state. Control of the state House might hang in the balance.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:48 PM


ED & RUDY FORM 'AIR' FORCE FOR W. (DEBORAH ORIN, October 25, 2004, NY Post)

Two former New York mayors, Rudy Giuliani and Ed Koch, have teamed up to tape an odd-couple radio ad for President Bush that will run all over Florida in a bid to court ex-New Yorkers.

The joint radio ad by Democrat Koch and Republican Giuliani says that "we often disagree," but they're both backing Bush because he can win the war on terror.

Giuliani says that while Bush is willing to stick with difficult positions even as public opinion shifts, John Kerry is a man who changes his position often, even on matters as important as war and peace.

Koch chimes in, "President Bush will go after the terrorists and the countries that harbor them. That's why, for the first time in my life, I'm voting for a Republican for president. I'm voting for George W. Bush. And I hope you will too."

A GOP strategist said, "You have a huge number of retired New Yorkers in Florida. Both Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani have universal name recognition, and they're both very popular in general and with Jewish voters."

Ex-New Yorkers and Jewish voters have become a prime target in Florida.

Hard to know what to make of polls these days, but FL doesn't even appear to be in play anymore, given the size of the leads the President is posting in Gallup and elsewhere.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:20 PM


Dutch may have met Hobbits (news.com.au, October 29, 2004)

SCIENTISTS who announced yesterday they had discovered a new human species suspect the "hobbits" could have lived as recently as 500 years ago.

Experts from two NSW universities told how finding the dwarf-like skeleton in a remote cave on the Indonesian island of Flores was just the tip of the iceberg.

They hope to continue digging in other parts of the island -- and prove some of the species survived until the 1500s, when Dutch explorers settled in the area.

The best part of the story is the way it refutes everything Darwinists claim about human brain size.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:58 AM


Real divide is only in elitist minds (Victor Davis Hanson, October 27, 2004 , SF Chronicle)

[T]he true nature of our loud divisiveness is rarely remarked upon. In the last three decades, there has been a steady evolution from liberal to moderately conservative politics among a majority of the voters, whether gauged by the recent spate of Republican presidents or Bill Clinton's calculated shift to the center. Now the House, Senate, presidency and the majority of state governorships and legislatures are in Republican hands. A Bush win will ensure a conservative Supreme Court for a generation.

In contrast, the universities, the arts, the major influential media and Hollywood are predominately liberal -- and furious. They bring an enormous amount of capital, talent, education and cultural influence into the political fray -- but continue to lose real political power. The talented elite plays the same role to the rest of America as the Europeans do to the United States -- venting and seething because the supposedly less sophisticated, but far more powerful, average Joes don't embrace their visions of utopia.

Elites from college professors and George Soros to Bruce Springsteen and Garrison Keillor believe that their underappreciated political insight is a natural byproduct of their own proven artistic genius, education, talent or capital. How then can a tongue-tied George W. Bush and his cronies so easily fool Americans, when novelists, actors, singers, comedians and venture capitalists have spent so much time and money warning them of their danger?

For all Sean Penn's rants, Rather's sermons, Michael Moore's mythodramas and Jon Stewart's postmodern snickers, America, even in times of a controversial war and rocky economy, is still not impressed. National Public Radio, "Nightline" and the New York Times are working overtime to assert their views in this philosophical debate; Jimmy Carter and Al Gore -- not George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole -- are fuming. Most Americans snore or flip the channel.

It is apparently a terrible thing to be sensitive, glib, smart, educated or chic -- and not be listened to, as we have seen from this noisy and often hysterical campaign among elites. That is the real divide in this country, and it is only going to get worse.

Yeah, but they're so dang loud about it...

Posted by David Cohen at 11:08 AM



Ms. Kennedy Schlossberg doesn't like it, but only one candidate for president this year could possibly, if elected, give the following inaugural address. He would, of course, be severly criticized for being a religious zealot, warmongering divisive extremist.

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom—symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning—signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge—and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do—for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge—to convert our good words into good deeds—in a new alliance for progress—to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support—to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective—to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak—and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course—both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.

So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms—and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah—to "undo the heavy burdens ... and to let the oppressed go free."

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation"—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility—I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:05 AM


Trailer trash: fightin' mad, want Dubya: One particularly overlooked group will keep the White House Republican next week (Peter Hartcher, 10/29/04, Sydney Morning Herald)

The first point to make is that while John Kerry has sought to fight much of the election campaign on the economy, it is not the dominant issue. There is something else preoccupying the American mind: "Nobody asked Abraham Lincoln what the unemployment rate was in 1864, as the Union forces marched to victory in the Civil War," quips Walter Russell Mead, one of America's foremost analysts of foreign policy.

The dominant theme of this presidential election, the first since September 11, 2001, is national security. The No. 1 issue of importance to voters is the Iraq war, according to Gallup, and the No. 2 issue is the threat of terrorism. So the two top issues in the minds of the American voter are both national security matters, and here we begin to unravel the mystery of Bush's political resilience.

When the US is at war, there is a powerful group of Americans, overlooked in American politics most of the time, whose feelings are stirred, whose resolve is stiffened, and whose intensity forces itself to the centre of national political life.

It's a group that constitutes the hardy core of the American folk, and it was introduced by the novelist and ex-Marine James Webb in these terms: "This people gave our country great things, including its most definitive culture. It is imbued with a unique and unforgiving code of personal honour less ritualised but every bit as powerful as the samurai code."

"This people", wrote Webb to his fellow Americans, "are all around you, even though you probably don't know it". They are the Scots-Irish. They arrived in America in the 18th century in small boats to find existing English settlements, and so pushed on inland to occupy the harsh mountain wilderness along the Appalachians. They fought the Indians, then they fought the British. From the beginning, they formed the core of the American fighting forces.

In his new book, Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, Webb explains that the heavily Scots-Irish people of West Virginia, who make up only 0.6 per cent of the national population, ranked first, second or third in military casualty rates in every US war of the 20th century.

They reshaped American politics by taking hegemony from the aristocratic English-Americans and starting the populist movement.

And, surveying an ancestral Virginia graveyard, Webb, a former senior official in the Reagan Pentagon, writes that they are his people: "The slurs stick to me, standing on these graves. Rednecks. Trailer-park trash. Racists. Cannon fodder. My ancestors. My people. Me."

The first president to emerge from the backwoods ferment of America's Scots-Irish was Andrew Jackson, 1829-37, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans and the man who brutally purged the native tribes of America from their east coast homes and forced them westward.

His contemporaries described him as fighting mad. His people, he said, were the "farmers, mechanics and labourers". And it's in his honour that Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations has named the strong populist strand in American attitudes to war Jacksonianism.

Our Jacksonianism is why the Left dropped Abu Ghraib as an issue and why they're making a mistake in thinking that publicizing the WMD at al-Qaqa will help the isolationists.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:53 AM


Stupidity news (electoral-vote.com)

One of Kerry's electors in Ohio, Rep. Sherrod Brown, is a congressman. Unfortunately, the constitution forbids federal office holders from being electors.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:46 AM


Alleged Terror Tape Gives ABC Pause: News Division Delays Airing Video as FBI, CIA Evaluate (Howard Kurtz, October 28, 2004, Washington Post)

It has all the makings of an incendiary story: a chilling pre-election videotape featuring a supposed member of al Qaeda, declaring in English that "blood will run red in the streets of America."

The problem, say ABC News executives, is that they can't determine whether the tape, obtained by a producer, involves a real threat -- or even the identity of the figure on it, a man wearing an ammunition belt and a headdress that obscures his face. The network enlisted the aid of the FBI and CIA but still can't authenticate the 75-minute videotape.

"We're not quite there to broadcast something that would be quite frightening," investigative reporter Brian Ross said yesterday. "I'd love to have the exclusive, but first we'd like to get it right."

ABC was put in the awkward position of defending its insistence on fully checking out the story after the Drudge Report posted a huge online headline: "ABC News Holds Terror Warning Tape."

A network producer obtained the tape over the weekend from an intermediary in Pakistan -- who charged a $500 transportation fee -- and ABC's New York headquarters got a feed of the video Monday, network executives said. They said they sent copies to the FBI and CIA, which have been unable to identify the speaker -- who says he is an American and is brandishing automatic weapons -- after comparing his voice to those of known terrorists. ABC hired two linguists who concluded that English was not the speaker's native tongue. For example, he cited the country of Yemen as "the Yemen."

"The dilemma is that we have an individual identified only as 'Assam the American' -- we have no idea who that is," said Christopher Isham, ABC's chief of investigative projects. The unidentified man addresses his threats to "my fellow countrymen."

This makes it seem almost certain that Osama is dead--otherwise wouldn't he star in their big pre-election show?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 AM


Radical Bush vs. reactionary Kerry (Jeff Jacoby, October 28, 2004, Boston Globe)

BILL CLINTON was back on the campaign trail this week, a fine embodiment of the stakes in the 2004 election.

Still recovering from his open-heart surgery, the last Democratic president seemed a bit gaunt and not as boisterous as the shameless old rogue we got to know so well during the 1990s. But the familiar good humor was there, and so was the charisma and the engaging sunniness. A huge crowd turned out to see him in Philadelphia, where he cheerfully painted a picture of good times gone bad since the accession of George W. Bush. When he embraced John Kerry in a bear hug, the message could hardly have been clearer: Things were better under Clinton, and they can be better under Kerry. Return to the policies of the 1990s, and we'll all feel good again.

And there in a nutshell is the choice in this election: forward with Bush into a difficult future or backward with Kerry to the familiar ways of the past. It would be an easy decision, except for one thing: The familiar ways of the past led to Sept. 11.

Kerry is a liberal Democrat, but in this campaign he is running as a reactionary: one who wants to reverse course -- to go back to the attitudes and practices that guided US policy when Clinton and the elder George Bush were in office. The younger Bush may be a Republican, but he is running this year as a radical. Profoundly transformed by 9/11, he sees the old playbook as feckless and is set on a revolutionary new course.

More important is the domestic front, where Mr. Kerry is a throwback to the '70s, and Mr. Bush a reformer on a massive scale.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM


Resolving Kashmir with a Musharraf model: Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf's proposed Kashmir plan is receiving a lot of attention on both sides of the contentious Line of Control, including from worried Indians. Not only has Musharraf earned some brownie points in the international community, but he has forced New Delhi to do some thinking "outside the box". (Sultan Shahin, 10/29/04, Asia Times)

The Musharraf model has been almost universally denounced by the secular as well as fundamentalist opposition in Pakistan, viewed as a U-turn on Kashmir comparable to Pakistan's U-turn on the Taliban in Afghanistan following September 11, 2001. It has, however, received a cautious welcome from those among the separatist groups in the valley of Kashmir who favor independence. Some top functionaries of the Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, a coalition of several separatist organizations, described it as "path-breaking" and "positive". They are reported to have had an inkling of the formula being presented beforehand, as Pakistan's foreign minister had sought their opinion on the issue in his meetings with them during his trips to New Delhi for talks with the Indian officials in the last months. This also means that the proposals are well-thought out and well-deliberated in the Pakistani establishment as well as among the Kashmiri separatists backed by Pakistan.

What makes the Musharraf model so revolutionary? Essentially, the idea that all parts of the original pre-1947 Jammu and Kashmir state, including those at the moment held by Pakistan, should be demilitarized and their status changed in such a way that they do not belong to either India or Pakistan. Thus Pakistan has finally accepted the independence option for Kashmir without actually putting it in those terms.

This is just the first of the territories that will eventually be independent of India--they may as well accept it and get the ball rolling.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM


China plagued by rising social unrest (Qiu Xin, 10/28/04, Asia Times)

China has witnessed rising social unrest, mostly involving peaceful demonstrations stemming from anger over unfair government policies and illegal actions. Recent protests have been sparked by the near-fatal beating of a migrant worker, an illegal hike in taxi fees and low wages in an electronics plant - to name a few. These are but the tip of the iceberg in the nation of 1.3 billion people where the wealth gap is widening, corruption is widespread and the rule of law is far from entrenched. For those who know their Chinese history, this raises the specter of devastating peasant and other revolts over the ages, sometimes cataclysms that have toppled regimes.

In some cases, the situations even deteriorate into violent conflicts between protesters and police in a nation historically alarmed by mass protests that could threaten the regime's "mandate of heaven". These protests, just the tip of the iceberg, have sent shock waves through the highest echelons in Beijing, and the leadership now is grappling with the best means to curb - and defuse - the widespread simmering public outrage.

According to an informed source, Zhongnanhai - Beijing's government compound and the Middle Kingdom's power center - remains divided on strategy and tactics for dealing with social unrest.

Societies where almost every social force is centrifugal rather than centripetal don't have terrific track records, do they?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:52 AM


Faith, Hope and Clarity (ROBERT WRIGHT, 10/28/04, NY Times)

[T]here is a way to get a clearer picture of religion's role in this White House. Every morning President Bush reads a devotional from "My Utmost for His Highest," a collection of homilies by a Protestant minister named Oswald Chambers, who lived a century ago. As Mr. Bush explained in an interview broadcast on Tuesday on Fox News, reading Chambers is a way for him "on a daily basis to be in the Word." [...]

There's a kind of optimism in Chambers, but it's not exactly sunny. To understand it you have to understand the theme that dominates "My Utmost": committing your life to Jesus Christ - "absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will" - and staying committed. "If we turn away from obedience for even one second, darkness and death are immediately at work again." In all things and at all times, you must do God's will.

But what exactly does God want? Chambers gives little substantive advice. There is no great stress on Jesus' ethical teaching - not much about loving your neighbor or loving your enemy. (And Chambers doesn't seem to share Isaiah's hope of beating swords into plowshares. "Life without war is impossible in the natural or the supernatural realm.") But the basic idea is that, once you surrender to God, divine guidance is palpable. "If you obey God in the first thing he shows you, then he instantly opens up the next truth to you," Chambers writes.

And you shouldn't let your powers of reflection get in the way. Chambers lauds Abraham for preparing to slay his son at God's command without, as the Bible put it, conferring "with flesh and blood." Chambers warns: "Beware when you want to 'confer with flesh and blood' or even your own thoughts, insights, or understandings - anything that is not based on your personal relationship with God. These are all things that compete with and hinder obedience to God."

Once you're on the right path, setbacks that might give others pause needn't phase you. As Chambers noted in last Sunday's reading, "Paul said, in essence, 'I am in the procession of a conqueror, and it doesn't matter what the difficulties are, for I am always led in triumph.' " Indeed, setbacks may have a purpose, Chambers will tell Mr. Bush this Sunday: "God frequently has to knock the bottom out of your experience as his saint to get you in direct contact with himself." Faith "by its very nature must be tested and tried."

Some have marveled at Mr. Bush's refusal to admit any mistakes in Iraq other than "catastrophic success." But what looks like negative feedback to some of us - more than 1,100 dead Americans, more than 10,000 dead Iraqi civilians and the biggest incubator of anti-American terrorists in history - is, through Chambers's eyes, not cause for doubt. Indeed, seemingly negative feedback may be positive feedback, proof that God is there, testing your faith, strengthening your resolve.

This, I think, is Mr. Bush's optimism: In the longest run, divinely guided decisions will be vindicated, and any gathering mountains of evidence to the contrary may themselves be signs of God's continuing involvement. It's all good.

In addition, Mr. Bush's faith is precisely of the love thy neighbor kind. The combination of knowing what is commanded and having faith that things will work out in the long run if only you adhere to the command can't help but be sustaining and gives the President his unusual constancy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 AM


Decision 2004: Fear Fatigue vs. Sheer Fatigue (Frank Rich, 10/31/04, NY Times)

To Mr. Bush and his cronies, who see the world as an arena in which performance is all and circumspection is antithetical to manly decisiveness, Mr. Kerry is a farcical weakling. That's why they were so obsessed with smearing the senator's Vietnam record, the main refutation of that argument. What they didn't count on is that their man's "Top Gun" stagecraft carries its own baggage. When a real war goes wrong, a considered plan, as Mr. Kerry pedantically refers to his every policy prescription, can start to look preferable to a slam-dunk Jerry Bruckheimer stunt. While the mantra of this election season has it that Kerry voters are voting against Bush, not for Kerry, it's equally possible that some of them see their choice as a vote for mundane, nuances-and-all reality over a hyperbolic fantasy whose budget in blood and money has spiraled out of control. After three years of nonstop thrills, Americans will just have to decide on Nov. 2 whether there could be fates even worse than spending the next four years being bored.

This is certainly the strongest argument in Mr. Kerry's favor, that after four years of doing great things Americans deserve four years of doing nothing. However, the plea that we should be Europe is antithetical to the American spirit, so the candidate can't make it openly and it seems unlikely that America--or at least the Red portion thereof--is ready to decline into the senescence claiming the rest of the West.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:26 AM


When Home Buying By The Poor Backfires: For many families, a house can be a bad investment (Peter Coy, 11/01/04, Business Week)

Mildred Wilkins calls it "falling out the back door." It's what happens when low-income families who have bought their first houses are forced out because they can't keep up the mortgage payments. Says Wilkins, an Indianapolis consumer advocate who once worked for Fannie Mae (FNM ) selling foreclosed properties: "I don't care if you put five families in the front door if three families fall out the back door." [...]

The most important argument of those who advocate increasing homeownership among the poor is that instead of throwing away money on rent, they can automatically save money and build wealth by paying off their mortgages. [...]

On top of that, returns on housing tend to be lower than returns on stocks -- and the risk is high when the vast majority of a family's wealth is tied up in a single, undiversifiable asset. Economists William N. Goetzmann and Matthew Spiegel of Yale School of Management argue that low-income homeowners would do better investing in lower-risk, more-liquid assets such as stocks and bonds. In a 2001 paper, they wrote that "it seems likely that sometime in the next 20 years a substantial number of the 'beneficiaries' of this policy [of promoting low-income homeownership] may find their meager savings severely diminished, if not totally depleted." [...]

Advocates of wider homeownership correctly observe that a house is the only asset a family of limited means can buy with a big loan, which juices returns. "Because home buying is a highly leveraged investment, potential increases in the values of homes can bring rich returns," the HUD study notes. [...]

When congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977, it was because banks wouldn't make loans in poor areas. But the tide has turned. Now many banks and finance companies specialize in high-rate loans to low-income families -- generating so many loans that federal regulators are proposing to exempt small banks from the rules. Subprime lenders earn enough money on the loans that don't go bad to swallow some foreclosures. That would be fine if investors bore the full cost of those losses, but they don't. The most important losses are felt by the families who lose their homes and the neighborhoods they live in, says Paul Bellamy, executive director of the Lorain County Reinvestment Coalition in Ohio.

Homeownership does have some important social advantages. Economists such as Harvard's Edward L. Glaeser have found that homeowners are more likely to vote for measures that have short-term costs and long-term benefits, such as new roads. People also take better care of properties they own. Studies by Donald R. Haurin of Ohio State University and others have found that children of homeowners do better in school than children of renters, holding other factors constant.

We'll set aside for now Ms Watkins argument that she'd rather no one succeed than that some fail and the absurd notion that if these folks weren't buying homes they'd be buying stocks with what's left after they pay rent and that's a better deal--the most important point here is that at a fairly low failure rate such home ownership has exactly the social consequences that advocates promise, making the owners and their kids better citizens. No small feat that.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 AM


If Bush goes, I go
: Mark Steyn predicts a victory for the President — and says he will resign if his man is not re-elected (Mark Steyn, 10/23/04, The Spectator)

Usually after making wild predictions I confidently toss my job on the line and say, if they don’t pan out, I’m outta here. I’ve done that a couple of times this campaign season — over Wes Clark (remember him?) — but it almost goes without saying in these circumstances. Were America to elect John Kerry president, it would be seen around the world as a repudiation not just of Bush and of Iraq but of the broader war. It would be a declaration by the people of American unexceptionalism — that they are a slightly butcher Belgium; they would be signing on to the wisdom of conventional transnationalism. Having failed to read correctly the mood of my own backyard, I could hardly continue to pass myself off as a plausible interpreter of the great geopolitical forces at play. Obviously that doesn’t bother a lot of chaps in this line of work — Sir Simon Jenkins, Robert ‘Mister Robert’ Fisk, etc., — and no doubt I could breeze through the next four years doing ketchup riffs on Teresa Heinz Kerry, but I feel a period of sober reflection far from the scene would be appropriate. My faith in the persuasive powers of journalism would be shattered; maybe it would be time to try something else — organising coups in Africa, like the alleged Sir Mark Thatcher is alleged to have allegedly done; maybe abseiling down the walls of the Presidential palace and garroting the guards personally.

But I don’t think it will come to that. This is the 9/11 election, a choice between pushing on or retreating to the polite fictions of September 10. I bet on reality.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:05 AM


The Man Who Would be Kingmaker, Part I: George Soros is spending billions in the hope the American people are as easy to buy as left-wing politicians. (Rachel Ehrenfeld and Shawn Macomber, 10/29/04, FrontPage)

Soros has proven that with the vast resources of money at his command he has the ability to make the once unthinkable normal. His work as a self-professed “amoral” financial speculator has left millions in poverty. He has overthrown governments throughout the world, pumping so much cash into shaping former Soviet republics to his liking that he has bragged that the former Soviet Empire is now the “Soros Empire” (although that “Empire” did not last for very long; when he no longer served the former Soviets’ purposes, his Empire was taken away from him).

Now that “god” – Soros – has decided that George W. Bush has to go. The controversial billionaire has been proclaiming that defeating George W. Bush is the “central focus” of his life. He has written that he always “felt that modern society in general and America in particular suffer from a deficiency of values.” Only fundamental changes in our way of life will satisfy him, and he is spending millions to make those changes a reality.

With Soros’ pal Hillary Clinton promising the New York Post that the 2004 election, will be decided by “outside forces – something unforeseen that suddenly happens – that tilts the election one way or the other,” one wonders to what, or whom, she is referring.

“Of course what I do could be called meddling because I want to promote an open society,” he told Hemispheres magazine. “An open society transcends national sovereignty.” [emphasis added] And he has more tools at his disposal than you’d suspect. “Although I remain a champion of losing causes, how much closer I have come to realizing them than when I first started!” he wrote a few years ago.

Soros attempts at self-exposition can get pretty creepy at times, like in this passage from Underwriting Democracy: “I feel I must maintain a separation between myself and my persona. Without it I and my persona would be endangered…I hold my persona in high regard, from both a subjective and an objective point of view.”

When you hear folks talk about transcending our sovereignty you can't help but appreciate the 2nd Amendment.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:58 AM


Our not so distant relative
(Henry Gee, The Guardian, October 28th, 2004)

When Indonesian and Australian archaeologists started to excavate a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, they weren't prepared for what they found, the skeleton of an entirely new species of human, Homo floresiensis, that lived as recently as 18,000 years ago.

"When we first unearthed the skeleton, I was simultaneously gobsmacked, puzzled and amused," says geochronologist Bert Roberts of the University of Wollongong.

"We had been looking for the remains of the earliest modern humans in Indonesia, so when we found the skeleton of a completely new species of human, with so many primitive traits and that survived until so recently, it really opened up a whole can of prehistoric worms. The discovery of Homo floresiensis was sweet serendipity."

Peter Brown, an anthropologist from the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales, says: "I would have been less surprised if someone had uncovered an alien." The discovery at Liang Bua cave, described in Nature this week, could alter our outlook on our own place in nature.[...]

This isolation had its effects on the human inhabitants. One of the most surprising things about the skeleton is its size: in life, no more than a metre tall, about the same size as one of the giant rats. Living in a hole in the ground and chased by lizards of mythical proportions, the creature has, perhaps inevitably, been nicknamed "hobbit" by some of the researchers - a reference to the tiny hole-dwelling heroes of The Lord of the Rings. [...]

By the same token, evidence for the diversity of human species through time has been downplayed, first by the cultural inertia of stories of an upwards progression towards the human state; second, by the curious chance that Homo sapiens happens to be the only species of human around today - a situation probably unprecedented in 7m years. The evidence for the coexistence of humans and Neanderthals in Europe for at least 10,000 years until Neanderthals disappeared around 30,000 years ago, and the fact that anthropologists have known for years of the multiple lineages of prehumans living in Africa between 4-2m years -has done little to dent the robust idea that humans are so distinct from the rest of the animal world that they rule the earth by virtue of inherent perfection, or divine fiat.

The Flores finds could change all that with a single stroke.

For one thing, they underscore the fact of human diversity until very recent times. "Maybe little folk from Flores will hammer the point home more effectively because they are so different in anatomy but so close in time," says Tim White. "How will the creationists cope?"

For another, the evidence challenges the human-centric idea that humans characteristically modify their surroundings to suit themselves, rather than allowing natural selection to adapt them to their environment. If the Flores skeleton is evidence of the kind of evolutionary size change more associated with animals such as rats and elephants, this, says Brown "is a clear indicator" of human-like creatures "behaving like all other mammals in terms of their interactions with the environment".

"Darwin and Wallace would be pleased," adds Tim White. "What better demonstration that humans play by the same evolutionary rules as other mammals?"

Of perhaps more current concern to anthropologists is the degree to which Homo floresiensis, with its small stature and - especially - tiny brain, will force a redefinition of humanity, at least in terms of anatomy. "I think the discovery challenges the very notion of what it is to be human," says Stringer.

"Here is a creature with a brain the size of a chimpanzee's, but apparently a tool-maker and hunter, and perhaps descended from the world's first mariners. Its very existence shows how little we know about human evolution. I could never have imagined a creature like this, living as recently as this."

Russell Ciochon, a paleoanthropologist from the University of Iowa, says: "I suspect that creationists will act very negatively toward this discovery.

"It shows that humans were not alone. There may be other dwarfed species lurking in the caves of other isolated islands. Each new discovery will subtract some essence from the uniqueness of humans. I wonder if this discovery might even be discussed in our current political campaign? It is no secret that Bush is anti-evolution. If he is smart, he will not touch this one."

Here we have maybe the two millionth excited proclamation that scientists have put the final nail in the religious coffin. This one is indeed too funny for words. For centuries, men of the scientific enlightenment have scorned the tendency of ordinary people to spice up dry theology with tales of leprechauns, trolls, monsters, etc. Such things simply did not exist and were the figments of uneducated and overactive spiritual minds. Now we are treated to the spectacle of scientists sipping champagne to celebrate the imminent death of religious belief based upon the discovery of a secret tribe of dwarves in the Indonesian forest.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:23 AM


EU is growing into a country apart (The Telegraph, October 28th, 2004)

The collapse of the new European Commission might appear to be simply a row concerning the remarks of the Italian candidate about gays and women. But as we know from our own experience, such clashes can help shape history. In this case, it is a demonstration of the power steadily accumulating around an institution with a growing importance in the politics of an entire continent: the European Parliament.

Until now, the European Parliament has generally been a farcical body, best known for the ongoing scandal of MEPs' expenses, or the waste created by shuttling between separate buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg. There was one brief moment of glory when it ousted the corrupt Santer commission in 1999. Yesterday, however, it brought down a commission before it had even taken office. That is the sort of power that only a national assembly, such as the House of Commons, would normally expect to wield.[...]

...The EU is gradually taking on the style of a state, and one which enshrines values that tend to be politically correct and Leftish. It mutates old-fashioned liberal themes, such as separating church and state, into a sort of secular religion, to be policed from Brussels. These values inform its rapidly expanding institutional and legal structures, whether they be the Human Rights Act, which celebrates rights more than duties, or the deluge of regulations and directives that interfere in the discretion of both individuals and businesses. The EU's underlying values might seem rational, but they are quite often contrary to common sense. They are monolithic too, in defiance of the tolerant, diverse and cosmopolitan attitudes prevalent in European society for half a century or more.

But the most worrying thing is that they lack legitimacy. They are the creed of a new European political class, aloof from ordinary people but impatient for power and status. The European parliamentary elections in May are a good example of this. Turnout was down again across Europe and, in Britain, only 38 per cent of people voted in a ballot for which they have very little affection or respect. The paradox of yesterday's events is that they are a great victory for the European Parliament, but not for democracy.

The key to understanding the modern left is to realize that, by the 70's, they had pretty much abandoned advocating force and thuggery. The stick of physical coercion proved inefficient and upsetting to the squeamish, and it was largely replaced with the carrots of sex and social security. Today, their philosophical bedrock is not so much Marx as a cocktail of inaccessible science, psychobabble, deconstructionalism and an aggressive war on faith. Other than that, their goals remain essentially unchanged, particularly the destruction of democracy. But rather than trying to overthrow democracy directly and impose unabashed dictatorships, the modern left operates incrementally by taking more and more issues out of the democratic process through the expansion of vehicles like multilateralism, international law, judicial activism and the steady proclamation of new and original human rights. They dream of the day when legislators battle ferociously for the votes of the people, only to find when they win that there is nothing left for them to do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:30 AM


First Red Sox nation got the Babe Ruth monkey off its back--in less than a week the Bush clan gets its own redemption.

Red Sox Nation Rejoice (Jim Caple, 10/27/04, ESPN.com)

Prior to the game, Boston general manager Theo Epstein told reporters that should the Red Sox win, "I think it's awesome that Johnny Pesky will get to hold the trophy and ride in the parade. And we won't ever have to talk about him holding the ball again. There will be a lot of moments we can look back on without frowning.''

Pesky holding the ball, Bob Gibson shutting them down, Bill Lee throwing the Eephus pitch, the ball rolling between Buckner's legs ... those moments will never be forgotten -- in fact, they're hard-wired into the memories of everyone within the 617 area code -- but they'll be overshadowed now by far more pleasant memories.

David Ortiz showing the Yankees who was their Papi. Curt Schilling literally symbolizing the Red Sox by pitching with a blood-soaked sock. Mark Bellhorn homering off the Pesky Pole. And perhaps the sweetest moment of all -- Keith Foulke closing out Game 4 along with the ghosts and curses of the past.

Johnny Damon got the Red Sox started in Game 4 with a leadoff homer into the Cardinals bullpen in right field. It was the third game in the series Boston homered in the first inning and that lone run was enough for Derek Lowe.

Lowe saved Boston's season last week with his Game 4 start, won the clincher against the Yankees in Game 7 and in what was probably his last start in a Red Sox uniform, shut out the Cardinals on three hits for seven innings before handing it over the bullpen. After allowing nine runs in the series opener, Boston pitchers held the National League's most productive offense to four runs the final three games.

While Red Sox fans celebrate, St. Louis fans can start talking about the Curse of La Russa. The manager has been swept in his past two World Series appearances, hasn't won a game since the 1989 earthquake series and just presided over one of the worst performances in series history.

While the first three losses were due to poor pitching (no starter made it through five innings the first three games), poor hitting (the Cardinals had two baserunners in a stretch of 35 at-bats) and inexcusable baserunning (they missed bases and forgot how many outs there were), La Russa chipped in with a very questionable move in Game 4 that might have cost his team.

With St. Louis already trailing 1-0 in the first inning, La Russa had Larry Walker, who had two homers and two doubles in the first three games, sacrifice bunt Tony Womack to second base. Why he would play for one run so early in the game against a team that scored more runs than any other this season is very puzzling. It also didn't work.

Derek Lowe, relegated to the Sox bullpen by the end of the season, would be the #1 starter on the Yankees or Cardinals--in the end that's all that mattered. Does help that LaRussa is a horrific over-manager....

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:04 AM


Russia tied to Iraq's missing arms (Bill Gertz, 10/27/04, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation, The Washington Times has learned.

John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.

"The Russians brought in, just before the war got started, a whole series of military units," Mr. Shaw said. "Their main job was to shred all evidence of any of the contractual arrangements they had with the Iraqis. The others were transportation units."

Mr. Shaw, who was in charge of cataloging the tons of conventional arms provided to Iraq by foreign suppliers, said he recently obtained reliable information on the arms-dispersal program from two European intelligence services that have detailed knowledge of the Russian-Iraqi weapons collaboration.

Most of Saddam's most powerful arms were systematically separated from other arms like mortars, bombs and rockets, and sent to Syria and Lebanon, and possibly to Iran, he said.

Kind of nice to start the second term with a reason to regime-change Syria gift-wrapped by your foes.

October 27, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:44 PM


India Leans Toward Bush Re-Election, say Analysts (Anjana Pasricha, 27 October 2004, VOA News)

The relationship between India and the United States has improved significantly in recent years and analysts say New Delhi would like President Bush re-elected so warming bilateral ties will continue. But that opinion may not be reflected among common people.

In the corridors of power in New Delhi, smiling officials use a common cliché to describe India-U.S. relations: "ties have never been better." Indeed the distance that marked the Cold War years between the world's two largest democracies, and the chill that came in after New Delhi's 1998 nuclear tests, is now forgotten.

Indian analysts give much of the credit for that to the Bush administration. C. Raja Mohan, foreign affairs expert at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, says the Bush administration smoothed the path toward better relations by lifting sanctions imposed after the nuclear tests, and taking an even-handed approach toward South Asian rivals India and Pakistan.

"I think the sense is we have done more political business with the Bush administration in the last three years than in the previous 30 years and that is the big difference," he said. "On a whole range of issues the Bush administration is likely to give more space for India whether it is the nuclear issue or on the regional questions, India-Pakistan related issues, the Bush administration has been far more pragmatic and sympathetic in terms of dealing with India's concerns."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:40 PM


Egyptian Opposition Groups Try to Block Mubarak Run (Ursula Lindsey, 27 October 2004, VOA News)

A coalition of opposition groups in Egypt has launched a campaign to keep President Hosni Mubarak from seeking a fifth term in office next year.

The newly formed People's Campaign for Change is gathering signatures on a petition to prevent President Hosni Mubarak from seeking re-election.

About 700 professors, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and politicians have signed the statement, as well as 30 opposition members of parliament. Twenty-six organizations, including the Communist Party, the Labor Party and the banned, but tolerated, Muslim Brotherhood group have also endorsed it.

Farid Hassanein, a former member of Parliament and one of the signatories of the statement, says the campaign has gained unprecedented support from a wide spectrum of opposition groups.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:06 PM


Voter drive using kids draws fire: Coalition says effort is non-partisan; Republicans cry foul (MEG KISSINGER, Oct. 26, 2004, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Hundreds of public schoolchildren, some as young as 11, are taking time out of regular classes to canvass neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Madison and Racine in a get-out-the-vote effort organized by Wisconsin Citizen Action Fund - a group whose umbrella organization has endorsed John Kerry for president.

The coalition says the effort is non-partisan, but because the group is targeting minority neighborhoods and those with historically low voter turnout - overwhelmingly Democratic areas - Republican operatives are crying foul amid the highly charged political atmosphere in the state.

What's really sad is that Citizen Action is basically a Naderite front--how can they not be working for him?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:19 PM


Articles Highlight Different Views on Genetic Basis of Race (NICHOLAS WADE, 10/27/04, NY Times)

A difference of opinion about the genetic basis of race has emerged between scientists at the National Human Genome Center at Howard University and some other geneticists. At issue is whether race is a useful signpost to tracking down the genes that cause disease, given that certain diseases are more common in some populations than others.

In articles in the current issue of the journal Nature Genetics, scientists at Howard, a center of African-American scholarship, generally favor the view that there is no biological or genetic basis for race. "Observed patterns of geographical differences in genetic information do not correspond to our notion of social identities, including 'race' and 'ethnicity,' '' writes Dr. Charles N. Rotimi, acting director of the university's genome center.

But several other geneticists writing in the same issue of the journal say the human family tree is divided into branches that correspond to the ancestral populations of each major continent, and that these branches coincide with the popular notion of race. "The emerging picture is that populations do, generally, cluster by broad geographic regions that correspond with common racial classification (Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania, Americas)," say Dr. Sarah A. Tishkoff of the University of Maryland and Dr. Kenneth K. Kidd of Yale.

Although there is not much genetic variation between the populations of each continent, write Dr. Joanna L. Mountain and Dr. Neil Risch of Stanford University, new data "coincide closely with groups defined by self-identified race or continental ancestry." The data is based on DNA elements outside the genes with no bearing on the body's physical form.

Their contributions to eugenics and the Holocaust and the like give biologists good reason to deny that their science proves race, but it's obvious nonsense.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:01 PM


Historic Senate victory for PM (Tim Colebatch, October 28, 2004, The Age)

In a final twist to a drawn-out vote count, the preferences of 29,043 Fishing Party voters could clinch for the Coalition the most powerful parliamentary position of any federal government in more than two decades.

Electoral officials will flick a switch at 11am to make their computer distribute millions of Queensland Senate preferences. A job that used to take weeks will be over in an hour, almost certainly resulting in a landmark shift of power to the Howard Government.

A late surge of votes for former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson could mean she will fight out the final seat with National Party candidate Barnaby Joyce and the Greens' Drew Hutton.

But if so, the preferences of Fishing Party voters will become the key factor that delivers the Government the final seat. [...]

The Coalition will have 39 of 76 seats in the new chamber, a gain of four. It picked up seats from the Democrats in NSW and Queensland, One Nation in Queensland, and from departing independent Brian Harradine in Tasmania.

Victory in Queensland means it will not have to rely on the vote of Family First's new Victorian senator, Steve Fielding, who had briefly appeared likely to hold the balance of power. His vote would become important only if a disgruntled Government senator defected or crossed the floor.

The Fishing Party? Why does one flash to the outing in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?

Shake, rattled and rolled (Matt Price, October 28, 2004, news.com.au)

FORGET the reams of policy, the months of argument, the gazillions spent on advertising - the October 9 poll result may have been cemented in the split second when Flapper met Grabber on election eve.

Brian Loughnane, the Liberals' mild-mannered federal director, spoke yesterday of the single incident that produced more feedback to party HQ than anything else during the six-week campaign.

It was when Mark Latham emerged from an ABC radio studio to find John Howard waiting to take his place at the microphone. The ensuing handshake - a feisty grabfest with Latham towering over the PM, appearing to draw the smaller man toward him - attracted blanket coverage and commentary.

"I think it was a mistake," Mr Loughnane told the National Press Club. "It was one of those incidents that brought together all the doubts and hesitations that people had about Mark Latham."

Almost three weeks after polling day, Mr Latham is still justifying an encounter which to many projected the type of body language warranting a parental advisory sticker.

Wow, makes global tests and lesbidaughters seem less trivial, huh?

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:50 PM


'Bush knows Europe better' (News 24.com, October 27th, 2004)

Europe's top-selling newspaper, Germany's tabloid daily Bild, endorsed George W Bush for United States president on Tuesday, saying he would do a better job fighting terror and not ask Berlin to send troops to Iraq. Bild, in what a spokesperson said was likely the first US election endorsement in its 51-year history, said Bush was a known quantity in Europe and had a better sense than Democratic challenger John Kerry of what Washington could expect from its transatlantic partners.

"Bush knows that Europe and Germany do not have the military capacity for a significantly larger commitment of troops beyond their current deployments abroad," Bild journalist Hugo Mueller-Vogg said in the editorial.

"Thus he will not request a contribution. But Kerry would do just that and add a further burden to the already damaged German-American relationship." Mueller-Vogg, a former publisher of the respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, wrote.

Germany's centre-left government fiercely opposed the war in Iraq and has refused to send soldiers to lighten the load on the US-led coalition.

The conservative daily said the incumbent president now knew from his experiences in Iraq that he needed the support of a broad base of partners and would foster those alliances more than in his first term.

"Bush has learned that America can conquer any country militarily but cannot win the peace by going it alone. That is why he will focus more on international co-operation in his second term," he said.

The tabloid said that Kerry would wage a weaker war on terror than Bush and had done little to explain how he would lead the United States on the world stage.

"Bush has learned the lessons of history. Good words do not help against violent fanatics, only military strength. With him, as opposed to Kerry, there is no waffling," it said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:48 PM


Man Arrested For Assault Against Harris (TBO newswire, 10/27/04)

A 46-year-old man has been arrested in connection with an aggravated assault incident against U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Sarasota).

The incident happened when Harris and several supporters were campaigning on the northwest corner of the intersection at Fruitville Road and North Washington Boulevard Tuesday evening, according to Sarasota police. A vehicle headed toward them and swerved at the last moment and drove off.

Election season 2004 has seen a disturbing rise in incidents like this, including attacks on Republican headquarters across the country and calls for the assassination of President Bush.

But what's really astonishing is that the Left thinks this all well and good and is whipping up such deranged passions even further. The entire Democratic campaign to win back wavering black support is based on telling them that the GOP is stealing their votes, while the Kerry campaign's stated intention to simply declare victory on November 2nd and then fight it out in court reflects a total disregard for the democratic process. John Edwards wife even spouted some nonsense recently about how riots in PA would only be avoided in Mr. Kerry carried the state. And check out this essay, The Intensity Gap (E. J. Dionne Jr., October 26, 2004, Washington Post)

In the torrent of polling information released over the weekend, the most significant finding was this one: John Kerry's supporters are more likely than George W. Bush's to believe that this year's election is the most important of their lifetimes.

Rather than be alarmed at such obviously overblown passions Mr. Dionne thinks them rational, even healthy. Like late stage Weimar Germany, the Democrats seem to have lost faith in democracy. In their insistence that the system has to render what they want they're devolving to a kind of fanaticism that Erif Hoffer explained so well and which he contrasted to the more typically American attitude:
Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.

Similarly, in his terrific new book, The Case for Democracy, Natan Sharansky says the following:
[I]n the free world, the competition of ideas and of political parties flourishes, and allegiances are often based on a single common principle or purpose that struggles against a competing point of view.

Though generally healthy for a society, this competition can be quite dangerous if we lose sight of the fact that there is a far greater divide between the world of freedom and the world of fear than there is between the competing factions within a free society, If we fail to recognize this, we lose moral clarity. The legitimate differences among us, the shades of gray in a free society, will be wrongly perceived as black and white. Then, the real black-and-white line that divides free societies from fear societies, the real line that divides good and evil, will no longer be distinguishable.

While the President and his followers obviously see the divide between America, in its messy political totality, and the world's totalitarian regimes as black and white, we are approaching a danger point where the Democrats view the world as a mass of grays but see the divide between themselves and Republicans as black and white. This is a recipe for civil war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:33 PM


Vatican sees cultural 'Inquisition' in Europe (Jason Horowitz, October 19, 2004, The New York Times)

The Vatican said Monday that anti-Christian elements were ravaging Europe with a new Inquisition that had claimed a devout Roman Catholic Italian minister because he expressed his faith and called homosexuality a sin.

Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, the president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said that "a new holy Inquisition full of money and arrogance" had reduced the Catholic Church and Christians to defendants in a trial, and that against them "everything goes as long as it serves to silence their voices: from intimidation to public dishonor."

Cardinal Martino's comments were a thinly veiled reference to the nonbinding vote last week by the European Parliament's civil liberties committee rejecting Rocco Buttiglione, 56, an Italian and a conservative Catholic nominee to be the EU's justice, freedom and security commissioner.

Buttiglione had told the committee that he considered homosexuality a sin, though he made it clear that he did not consider it a crime and vowed to defend the rights of gays in Europe.

Some members of the European Parliament saw Buttiglione's stance as a potential threat to civil rights in what they hope will be a politically progressive union, but the Vatican saw the committee's rejection as further evidence of a continent in decay, where secularism runs rampant over Christian values.

Cardinal Martino echoed that complaint when he said Monday that the teachings of Pope John Paul II, who is a personal friend of Buttiglione's, were being diluted by "a cacophony orchestrated by powerful cultural, economic and political lobbies moved prevalently by prejudice against all that is Christian."

You'd think the Church would have more sense than to use the term "Inquisition" as a pejorative. Every coherent society has to have an orthodoxy and an Inquisition, formal or informal, to enforce it. Indeed, the original Inquisition was a popular and useful institution, though it made some mistakes. The real problem arises, as in this case, where the orthodoxy being enforced is detrimental to a healthy society.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:02 PM


Tracking poll shows Vitter getting 51 percent (John Hill, October 27, 2004, Lafayette Advertiser)

Republican U.S. Rep. David Vitter of Metairie crossed the magic line of a clear majority in the U.S. Senate race tracking polling released Tuesday.

Vitter had 51 percent through Monday night, said pollster Verne Kennedy of Pensacola-based Market Research Insight, who has been reporting night tracking data to his business clients daily since Oct. 15. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Kennedy projected that, had the election been held Monday, Vitter would have won with 54 percent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:50 PM


Yasser Arafat loses consciousness: Israeli public radio (AFP, 10/28/04)

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, 75, has lost consciousness, Israeli public radio reported, quoting Palestinian sources.

He lost consciousness "several hours ago", it said.

Arafat's senior adviser Nabil Abu Rudeina, meanwhile, confirmed that a team of doctors was examining the veteran Palestinian leader.

"A team of Tunisian and Palestinian doctors is examining the president," Abu Rudeina said in a statement read out to journalists in front of Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:33 PM


Bite partisan: A half-baked survey wants to know if Democrats and Republicans have different palates (Alison apRoberts, , October 27, 2004, Sacramento Bee)

Caterer Joan Leineke has been serving people on both sides of the aisle for some 30 years in Sacramento.

"The Democrats actually do higher-end stuff than the Republicans; the Republicans tend to be a little more grass roots, contrary to their reputation," Leineke says. [...]

"I think you find a lot more Republicans at chain restaurants - proven, stay-the-course restaurants," says Dan Weitzman, regional director of the California Democratic Party. "You show me a deli, I'll show you Democratic people; you show me a Denny's, I'll show you Republicans."

Election party recipes: Pick from each side of the kitchen (Alison apRoberts, October 27, 2004, Sacramento Bee)
"How To Eat Like a Republican: Or, Hold the Mayo, Muffy - I'm Feeling Miracle Whipped Tonight" by Susanne Grayson Townsend ($14.95; Villard Books) has it all: equal measures of recipes and political commentary, garnished with funny observations.

Townsend wants to set the record straight, right from the introduction: "No, Republicans don't go to the hospital for the food. They go to the country club. Or to fund-raisers. Or to their mothers' recipe files."

She describes conservative cuisine as traditional Midwestern cooking. Among specific GOP dietary preferences: Fish is out, seafood in; salads from the Eisenhower years are preferred over any fancy-pants variations with mesclun or extra-virgin olive oil; meat is a must; vegetables should be thoroughly cooked, no raw edamame allowed; ethnic foods are out except for some Mexican dishes (use Tabasco if you want to get exotic).

In a phone interview, she suggests pollsters might be wise to pay more attention to what's on the plate: "Anyone who is ordering grilled pompano - forget it - that's a vote for Kerry."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:18 PM

YOU CAN FOOL SOME OF THE PEOPLE... (via Matthew Cohen)

Report: Pregnant Julia Roberts in hospital (Reuters, 10/27/04)

Actress Julia Roberts, who is due to deliver twins in January, has been admitted to a Los Angeles hospital after experiencing early contractions, People magazine reported Tuesday.

Roberts' condition was not serious, People said, adding that her doctors plan to keep her under observation in hospital for the near future and have advised that she stay in bed until she gives birth.

Roberts, 36, accompanied by husband Danny Moder

We hope all is well, but, c'mon, Moder?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:59 PM


Satire and Elegy in Geoffrey Hill’s “De Jure Belli Ac Pacis” (Steve Harris, Alsop Review)

Geoffrey Hill’s long poem “De Jure Belli Ac Pacis” ("The Law of War and Peace") is based upon the same titled 1625 work by Hugo Grotius. In his treatise, Grotius emphasized the importance of moral laws and how such laws should rule both the individual and the state. Hill’s poem appears in his 1995 collection Canaan, and is one of the strongest poems in that critically acclaimed collection. With its emphasis on faith and martyrdom, along with a rightly rooted but spiritually infused national pride, “De Jure Belli Ac Pacis” brings together those traits that work best in Hill’s poetry. Also present, however, is the bitter voice of a satirist. The way the poet plaits both elegy and satire makes for an unusual, but accomplished, poem that aims for the highest stakes through both song and sneer.

Hans-Bernd von Haeften is the subject of the poem’s elegy. Haefton was part of the July 20, 1944, plot to kill Hitler. He was associated with the Kreisau group, whose own motivations for Hitler’s removal were multiple. Art, literature, religion and socialism were all topics of interest (and debate) for the group. Compared to other anti-Hitler groups (others were involved in the plot), the Kreisau group in particular embraced various utopian ideas of what they hoped would be a new Germany after the monster’s death. They were the dreamers. Whatever the Kreisau group’s differences, they were united in their disgust with Hitler and sought desperately some sort of deal with the Allies before their country was burned to a cinder. Some, such as Haefton, a member of the Confessing Church, instilled their mission to strike down Hitler with religious necessity. The plot failed, and most of the plotters were rounded up and executed — some in a horrible manner. Haefton was executed August 15th at Plotzensee Prison. He was hung with piano wire from an iron beam. The execution may, as with others, have been filmed for Hitler’s enjoyment. This flawed but real heroism is juxtaposed throughout the poem with Hill’s sense of where Europe, in all its current gray ambiguities, now finds itself.

Hill begins the poem with a compressed parody of Genesis - a sonorous proclamation from Europe’s new “assessors” that the “people moves” now as “one spirit.” The satiric play on the socialist and singular “people” is followed immediately by the verb “moves” which is hardly singular in the directions it suggests. Clearly, Hill sees hypocrisy at the moment of new creation, with creation here being the Europe of the Maastrict Treaty. Further compounding the satire, the use of “spirt” is meant to recall, through contrast, the Trinitarian God moving across the waters in the early part of Genesis. Hill concludes this inversion with “water is no longer found” in this New Europe. Hitler’s violent dream of a unified Europe has to some extent come into bland being - one that blurs borders and sucks away national identity:

The people moves as one spirit unfettered
claim our assessors of stone.
When the nations
fall dispossessed such conjurings possessed them,
elaborate barren fountains, projected
where water is no longer found.

Such bitterness and black humor over modern day politics is probably more in keeping with the savage, and equally allusive, spirit of a Donne satire. At the end of the section, Hill asks — with gallow’s humor (“high strung”) — the question which fuses together elegy and satire, forcing the reader throughout the poem to look outward to the historical and political landscape (past and present), but also inward to weigh within Time’s balance the recurring costs of discipleship:

Could none predict these haughty degradations
as now your high-strung
martyred resistance serves
to consecrate the liberties of Maastrict?

Sadly they martyred themselves for a West that then refused to pay the costs of discipleship.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:45 PM


FBI Official rushes from Islamabad to New Delhi: Indians Put Security Forces on Red Alert After Ben Laden Sighting in Laddakh (Arun Rajnath, October 25, 2004, South Asia Tribune)

Fugitive Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been spotted in the Tibet-Laddakh region, close to the North-Eastern tip of Pakistan, bordering India and China, Indian and US officials believe.

A high-ranking official of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) flew from Islamabad on Sunday to meet top Indian officials here in Delhi after reports of Bin Laden’s presence in the region.

According to sources, following the meeting between Indian security bosses and the FBI, the New Delhi Government has put its security forces in the North Western region, specially the Kashmir Valley, on 'red alert.'

Vigilance on the Kargil-Leh Highway and area along the Tibetan border has also been increased. Security forces are likely to undertake combing operations in the Laddakh region before the start of snowfall.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:14 PM


Illinois Senate Candidates Trade Insults (NICOLE ZIEGLER DIZON, 10/27/04, Associated Press)

The debate included a lengthy discussion of the role of government, with Keyes suggesting government generally should leave poverty and other social ills to religious organizations.

"I am not obsessed with government, and I think that's the difference between me and Barack Obama," said Keyes, a Republican and former ambassador to the United Nations.

But Obama, a Democratic state senator, maintained that government must do its best to help when it can.

"When a child doesn't have health insurance, they don't need a lecture. They need health insurance," he said.

For the first time in the three debates, Obama at times found himself on the defensive.

He struggled to explain what in his religious beliefs leads him to oppose gay marriage. Keyes hammered him over opposing school vouchers while sending his children to private school. Asked whether he opposes drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, Obama first said no, then laughingly corrected himself to make clear that he opposes drilling.

Given the situation he was asked to step into there was no way for Ambassador Keyes to win the Senate race, but he has conducted a virtual seminar on the meaning of the Constitution and the role of religious morality in public life and has demonstrated rather decisively that Mr. Obama is not ready for the primetime he'll be asked to take on after he wins this election by 40 points.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:03 AM


Lost in the Political Thicket: The Supreme Court should find something new to say about election law—or start letting others do the talking. (Heather Gerken, Legal Affairs)

THE SUPREME COURT'S MOST RECENT VOTING RIGHTS DECISION, Vieth v. Jubelirer, suggests that the court has reached an intellectual dead end in election law. The justices' inability to resolve the case cleanly is unwelcome news in light of the presidential election. With the last election marred by Bush v. Gore, one of the most controversial decisions in the court's history, the country is already aware of how risky it is for the court to intervene in the electoral process without the guidance of a workable analytic framework.

Both Bush v. Gore and Vieth are part of a story that began four decades ago. The court has long tried to use a conventional individual rights framework to resolve election-related claims that are really about the structure of the political process. An individual rights framework is suitable for addressing a concrete and personal harm, such as the disenfranchisement of a voter blocked from the polls by an illegal tax or a literacy test. But the framework does not provide adequate tools for resolving other types of election law cases, including the claim in Vieth challenging the fairness of a redistricting plan. As a result, the court now finds itself mired in a doctrinal holding pattern.

If the justices don't radically change course, we face two unappealing prospects. Either the court will withdraw from the field, leaving the fate of our democracy to self-interested legislators, or it will render more incoherent opinions that do as much harm as good. Fortunately, there are better options. Either the court should develop a new way to decide election law cases, or voters and their representatives should create nonpartisan institutions to regulate the electoral process, thus relieving the court of the need to police the politicians who now make the rules.

The fate of the Republic is supposed to be in the hands of self-interested legislators--why shouldn't the people's elected representatives determine voting districts? These are political questions in which courts have no place.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:50 AM


Vote for President Bush (Harry Binswanger, October 21, 2004, Capitalism Magazine)

At this late date, after the three debates, the nature of this campaign is set, and the meaning of this election has come into focus for me. The meaning is: independence vs. dependence. The Bush policies favor America retaining its sovereignty--cooperating with allies as and when they are willing--and America on the offensive. The Kerry program favors America surrendering that independence to curry favor with the bribed French and the America-hating despots at the U.N.

At a time when we are at war, after we have experienced an attack worse than Pearl Harbor, the main issue in this election has to be the war. And, appropriately, Bush has made it the main issue--both at the Republican convention and since.

The Bush doctrine, for all its timid, bumbling, and altruism-laced implementation, intends America to act, to use its military might offensively, even when half the world protests against it. Kerry's "instincts" are to negotiate, conciliate, and retreat. [...]

The main negative, is of course, Bush's religiosity. The growth of religion in America is alarming. And it can only get worse, whether or not Bush is re-elected. It is some consolation that Bush has not made his campaign center on religion: that means that a Bush re-election cannot be taken as a mandate for tearing down the church-state barrier.

But religion is growing in influence and will continue to grow because of its monopoly on morality. People need moral guidance, and if they can't find that guidance in any rational, secular philosophy, most of them will seek it from where it is being offered: religion.

Not only can one not find a rational, non-religious code of ethics in today's intellectual world, our intellectuals have long been proclaiming that a rational morality is impossible in principle. Back in 1964, the then chairman of the UCLA philosophy department summarized the party line in philosophy: "There are no ethical truths. . . . You are mistaken to think that anyone ever had any answers. There are no answers."

The entire "post-modern" and "deconstructionist" movements in philosophy are premised on the impossibility of objective values and objective truth. One of America's most prestigious philosophers, Richard Rorty, wrote: "Nothing grounds our practices, nothing legitimizes them, nothing shows them to be in touch with the way things are."

Religion will always win, in the long run, when people are forced to choose between religious answers and no answers, between mysticism and skepticism. These are, of course, false alternatives. The real alternative to both mysticism and skepticism is the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand. Objectivism defends reason, objectivity, and a morality of rational self-interest, with man's life as its standard of value. But Objectivism is as yet only a faint, flickering candle on the edge of our cultural darkness.

Except that morality is neither rational nor objective.

An open letter to libertarians (John Hospers, October 25, 2004, Enter Stage Right)

Dear Libertarian:

As a way of getting acquainted, let me just say that I was the first presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party back in 1972, and was the author of the first full-length book, Libertarianism, describing libertarianism in detail. I also wrote the Libertarian Party's Statement of Principles at the first libertarian national convention in 1972. I still believe in those principles as strongly as ever, but this year -- more than any year since the establishment of the Libertarian Party -- I have major concerns about the choices open to us as voting Americans.

There is a belief that's common among many libertarians that there is no essential difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties -- between a John Kerry and a George W. Bush administration; or worse: that a Bush administration would be more undesirable. Such a notion could not be farther from the truth, or potentially more harmful to the cause of liberty.

The election of John Kerry would be, far more than is commonly realized, a catastrophe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:31 AM

Word-A-Day (Wordsmith, 10/27/04)

sardoodledom (SAR-doo-duhl-duhm) noun

Plays having contrived melodramatic plot, concentrating excessively
on the technique to the exclusion of characterization.

[After Victorien Sardou (1831-1908), French playwright; coined
by playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950).]

"Most of Lubitsch's other plot sources are hackneyed representatives of
Gerald Mast; The Comic Mind: Comedy and the Movies; University of
Chicago Press; Aug 17, 2004.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:19 AM


The Cuban Missile Crisis Myth You Probably Believe (Sheldon M. Stern, 10/27/04, History News Network)

Several months after the publication of Averting ‘The Final Failure’: John F. Kennedy and the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Meetings (Stanford University Press, 2003), my narrative history of the Cuban missile crisis ExComm meetings, I received a call from a production company preparing a television program about letters by American presidents. They asked if I might be interested in discussing John F. Kennedy’s missile crisis letters to Nikita Khrushchev. I explained that these letters were not really JFK letters at all, since they had been composed by committee rather than by Kennedy himself. I suggested instead that we might discuss one of the most famous incidents relating to the Kennedy-Khrushchev correspondence: on the evening of October 26, the Soviet leader sent a letter offering to remove the missiles from Cuba if the U.S. pledged not to invade the island nation. But, early on October 27, Khrushchev demanded that the U.S. also withdraw its Jupiter missiles from Turkey. According to the traditional view, Robert Kennedy suggested accepting the proposal in Khrushchev’s first letter and simply ignoring the second message. This strategy, which presumably led to resolving the crisis, came to be called the “Trollope Ploy”—a reference to a plot device by nineteenth-century British novelist Anthony Trollope, in which a woman interprets a casual romantic gesture, such as squeezing her hand, as a marriage proposal.

The producer seemed interested in including a “revisionist” perspective in the program and we later did fifteen minutes of filming in which I carefully explained that the Trollope Ploy is a great story, but the ExComm tapes prove that it never really happened. When the program was broadcast, however, the editors cut quickly from my five seconds to actor Martin Sheen—who had played JFK in a 1983 dramatization of the missile crisis. Sheen recapitulated the standard account of the Trollope Ploy and praised its brilliance in helping the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. avoid nuclear war. The filmmakers apparently decided that the conventional explanation was less complicated and made a more dramatic story.

In fact, even among historians and ExComm participants the Trollope Ploy remains an all but immovable fixture in the legend and lore of the Cuban missile crisis. [...]

President Kennedy himself immediately seized on the political benefit in this explanation of the settlement of the crisis since the secret agreement to remove the U.S. missiles from Turkey was just that—top secret—and remained so for decades. Only hours after Khrushchev publicly agreed to remove the missiles, JFK phoned former Presidents Eisenhower, Truman and Hoover—and deliberately misinformed them. He accurately reported that Khrushchev, on Friday, had privately suggested withdrawing the missiles in exchange for an American promise not to invade Cuba; but, on Saturday, the Kremlin leader had sent a public message offering to remove the missiles if the U.S. pulled its Jupiter missiles out of Turkey. President Kennedy informed Eisenhower, “we couldn’t get into that deal;” assured Truman, “they … accepted the earlier proposal;” and told Hoover that Khrushchev had gone back “to their more reasonable [Friday] position.” Eisenhower, who had dealt personally with Khrushchev, asked skeptically if the Soviets had tried to attach any other conditions. “No,” Kennedy replied disingenuously, “except that we’re not gonna invade Cuba.” The former president, aware of only half the truth, concluded, “this is a very, I think, conciliatory move he’s made.” Such deceptions shaped the administration’s cover story and helped generate the notion of the Trollope Ploy—which was indelibly fixed in public consciousness by the 1974 television film, “The Missiles of October,” based on RFK’s book.

In fact, listening carefully to the recently declassified ExComm tapes proves conclusively that the notion of the Trollope Ploy was actually invented to conceal the real agreement to remove U.S. missiles from Turkey. It is a myth; it simply did not happen that way—much like the resilient fable that Lincoln dashed off the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope.

The problem isn't simply that the Kennedy brothers surrendered to nuclear blackmail, guaranteed Castro's regime, and emboldened the Soviets for the next twenty years but that they did so because they completely misunderstood how weak the USSR really was. Had they just chosen to juke it out right then millions of lives and trillions of dollars would have been saved and the social displacement of the 60s and 70s would have been avoided.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 AM


Kerry's religious references (Jeff Jacoby, 10/27/04, Jewish World Review)

Voters will have to judge for themselves whether Kerry's newly prominent religiosity is genuine or merely a facade adopted for political purposes. Those political purposes are certainly compelling - according to an August poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 85 percent of Americans say religion is important in their lives and 72 percent say it is important to them that a president have strong religious beliefs.

But there is something wrong, it seems to me, with Kerry's glib equation of higher public spending and more lavish government programs with fulfilling one's religious obligations. He cited Matthew 25:40 - ''Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me'' - and interpreted it to mean that ''the ethical test of a good society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.'' That would be a reasonable understanding if Kerry had meant that each of us individually is called upon to reach out to those in need.

But Kerry immediately turned Jesus' admonition into little more than a call for expanding the welfare state and increasing government regulation. ''That's why we have to raise the minimum wage, ensure equal pay, and finish the job of welfare reform,'' he said. He quoted an earlier verse in Matthew (''I was hungry and you fed me; thirsty and you gave me a drink'') and read it to mean that America must ''take action now to cut the cost of energy so that already overburdened seniors in the colder parts of our country can afford heat in the winter.''

I'm not an expert on Christian thought, but it seems unlikely to me that Jesus was taking a position on minimum wage laws or energy conservation when he called on his followers to do more for ''the least of these.''

It seems pretty clear He meant the Faith Based Initiative.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM



He's an Army veteran of three wars. Now he's working to help Iraq become a democratic model for the Middle East. And he's worried.

Not about terrorists or insurgents. He's afraid John Kerry will be elected president.

"Kerry's rhetoric is giving the bad guys a thread to hang on," he wrote. "They're hoping we lose our nerve. They're more concerned with the U.S. elections than with the Iraqi ones."

My pal has been involved in every phase of our Iraq operations — dating back to Desert Storm. And he's convinced that the terrorists have risked everything to create as much carnage as they can before Nov. 2. Our troops are killing them left and right. The terrorists are desperate. They can't sustain this tempo of attacks much longer.

But Sen. Kerry insists that we're losing — giving our enemies hope that we'll pull out. No matter what else John Kerry may say, the terrorists only hear his criticisms of our president and our war.

The reality, of course, is that both because he misunderstands the overall War and because he couldn't afford to be seen surrendering, a President Kerry would be forced to pursue combat more vigorously in Iraq and not trust to the political solution that the President has built into the process.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 AM


Osama and his Shi'ite nemesis: The Shi'ites of Pakistan and Afghanistan are on the hunt for their sworn enemies and they are unlikely to rest until they get them. At the top of their list are Osama bin Laden and his cohorts, whom they have mounted their own hunt against. If bin Laden is still alive, the Shi'ites, not the US, may prove to be his greatest nemesis. (B Raman, 10/27/04, Asia Times)

Since the beginning of 2003, there have been indications that sections of the Shi'ite community have been doing their own hunt for bin Laden and his No 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri. It was reported that the arrest at Rawalpindi, Pakistan in March 2003 of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who had allegedly orchestrated the September 11 terrorist strikes in the United States, was made possible by intelligence provided by some Shi'ites in Quetta, Balochistan province, where Khalid was living before fleeing to Rawalpindi.

After hearing these reports, the SSP and the LEJ, both members of bin Laden's International Islamic Front, retaliated by massacring a large number of Hazara Shi'ites in the Quetta area in July 2003. This was followed by many anti-Shi'ite incidents in Karachi and other parts of Pakistan.

The Shi'ites struck back by helping the Pakistani authorities arrest Massob Arooshi, described as Khalid's nephew, on June 13 this year following an unsuccessful attempt to kill the corps commander of Karachi on June 10. Arooshi was arrested at the house of one Abbas Khan, a former divisional engineer of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited, and reportedly the father of Javed Abbas, a serving deputy superintendent of police of Sindh.

According to the Daily Times, the prestigious Lahore daily, a Shi'ite cleric from Gilgit working in Karachi tipped off the police about Arooshi's presence in the house of Abbas Khan. The paper said it was another Shi'ite cleric who had tipped off the police in March last year about Khalid's presence in Rawalpindi.

Arooshi's arrest led to the arrest on July 12 of 25-year-old Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, a Pakistani national described as an al-Qaeda computer expert; the arrest on July 25 at the home of an LEJ member in Punjab of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian national born in Zanzibar and wanted by the US's Federal Bureau of Investigation in connection with the explosions near the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in 1998, and his Uzbeck wife; the arrest on August 6 of Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the amir of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and his subsequent deportation to Pakistan; and the death in an alleged encounter at Nawabshah in Sindh on September 26 of Amjad Hussain Farooqi, alias Mansur Hasnain, who, according to Pakistani authorities, was the mastermind behind two abortive attempts to kill President General Pervez Musharraf last December and in the kidnapping and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002.

One of the reasons some folks can't process the fact that we're winning the war on terror is that they haven't figured out yet that the Shi'ites are our allies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 AM


The Electoral College Does It Better: Forcing candidates to broaden their base reduces political extremism. (Benjamin Zycher, October 27, 2004, LA Times)

[T]he electoral college offers important benefits.

Once a candidate determines that he will be able to win a plurality in a state, thus getting all the electoral college votes, there is no point in campaigning further in that state. The candidate is then driven (by the pressure of the market, so to speak) to develop plurality support in additional states. Thus are candidates forced to broaden their geographic bases; those whose support is heavily regionalized are penalized implicitly.

This was particularly important in 2000: Al Gore piled up huge majorities on the West Coast and in the Northeast (hence his victory in the popular vote), but was not strong in the rest of the country (and so lost the electoral vote).

Because the plurality winner in a state gets all of that state's electoral votes, third and fourth parties have little hope of winning important numbers of electoral college votes (although they can deny a plurality to a candidate).

This means that the electoral college promotes the two-party system at the state level. The two-party system offers the important long-term benefit of forcing candidates and platforms toward the middle of the political spectrum, thus increasing consensus and compromise and reducing political strife.

A direct popular election under a plurality rule would tend to yield candidacies (and parties) with strong regional and ideological loyalties, with a goal of simply piling up more raw votes than anyone else. A runoff system would give disproportionate bargaining power to regional and ideological fringes. A system of allocating electoral college votes in proportion to the popular vote (now proposed for Colorado) would induce candidates to shift their efforts and resources to uncompetitive states, where there are large numbers of electoral college votes to be had.

Were you aware that they're still counting votes in Australia trying to determine whether John Howard controls the Senate outright or has to rely on a party with one Senator to do so?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:51 AM


Pants on Fire?: Reality to George W. Bush is not about facts, but about higher meta-truths. (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, 10/27/04, NY Times)

[I]'m convinced that Mr. Bush is not only smarter, but also a better man than his critics believe. Most important, he's not a panderer. While Mr. Kerry zigs and zags on trade and Middle East policy, Mr. Bush has a core of values and provides genuine leadership (typically, I believe, in the wrong direction, by trying to reshape America and the world according to a far-right agenda).

One example is Mr. Bush's determination since 9/11 to add to the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, even though this pushes up gasoline prices. Mr. Bush's approach is foolish economically, and it is crazy politically. Yet his grim willingness to raise gas prices during his re-election campaign underscores a solidity of character and convictions.

But that's also the problem with his administration: his convictions are so solid that they're inflexible and utterly impervious to reality. When Mr. Bush pumped up the intelligence on Iraqi W.M.D., his exaggerations reflected the overriding truth as he saw it - that Saddam Hussein was a menace. I think Mr. Bush considered himself truthful, even when he wasn't factual.

Oddly enough, or appropriately enough, what Mr. Kristof illustrates here is that facts aren't truths. The notion that because Saddam didn't have as much WMD as the CIA thought he did in March 2003 he wasn't a menace is lunatic on its face.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:41 AM


JOHN KERRY'S JOURNEY: 2 Kerry Votes on War and Peace Underline a Political
: Votes against the gulf war in 1991 and for using force against Iraq in 2002 seem like a metaphor for John Kerry's Senate career. (TODD S. PURDUM, 10/27/04, NY Times)
On Jan. 11, 1991, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts took the Senate floor to make a clear, impassioned speech against passage of a resolution authorizing the first President Bush to use force to eject Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

"Are we supposed to go to war simply because one man - the president - makes a series of unilateral decisions that put us in a box, a box that makes war, to a greater degree, inevitable?" Mr. Kerry asked.

On Oct. 9, 2002, Mr. Kerry rose in the Senate chamber to make a very different speech, a tortured, 45-minute argument reluctantly supporting George W. Bush's request for authority to disarm Mr. Hussein, almost certainly by force.

"By standing with the president, Congress would demonstrate our nation is united in its determination to take away" Iraq's arsenal, Mr. Kerry said, "and we are affirming the president's right and responsibility to keep the American people safe."

Those votes on war and peace, out of the thousands Mr. Kerry has cast over nearly 20 years, have come to seem a kind of metaphor for his career in the Senate, a study in the conflicts between conviction and calculation, clarity and confusion that have marked much of his public life.

There were many differences between those two moments, 11 years apart. In 1991, the United Nations had already voted to authorize military action; the Senate vote came four days before an international deadline for war. In 2002, the Bush administration was still awaiting U.N. support: the vote was seen as important leverage.
What's expedience a metaphor for? Hollowness?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 AM


National Democrats buying ads in state (Mike Madden, 10/27/04, Argus Leader)

The national Democratic Party is buying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of television ads in South Dakota, despite a pledge by Sen. Tom Daschle to keep outside allies off the airwaves.

He's as good as his word...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 AM


Bush, Kerry In Dead Heat In New Jersey, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Terrorism Concerns, Campaign Visit Help President (Quinnipiac.edu, 10/27/04)

President George W. Bush has closed a four-point gap with Democratic challenger John Kerry and the two candidates are locked in a 46 - 46 percent tie among New Jersey likely voters, with 2 percent for independent candidate Ralph Nader, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Six percent remain undecided.

According to Byron York, on Meet the Press this weekend, one of the reasons the President is contesting these states is to make sure he wins the popular vote as well as the electoral this time.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 AM


Getting 'Lost': Show pursues TV's most elusive genre -- mythology. Or maybe that's not it all. (Matthew Gilbert, October 27, 2004, Boston Globe)

On "Lost," 46 plane-crash survivors are stuck on a remote Pacific island. Or at least they might be survivors; they might also be souls in purgatory, hovering between heaven and hell, defending their lives on the sands of judgment. Or at least they might be on a sandy island; they might also be inside a "Truman Show" --like zoo, or on a planet where polar bears thrive in tropical climates. If indeed those beasts in the "Lost" forest are bears, and not emissaries of God, or grotesque alien creatures, or Mulder, Scully, and the Log Lady on a journey to the Hellmouth.

Feeling out to sea?

Then you're right where "Lost" creator J.J. Abrams wants you to be. You can't assume anything when it comes to his compelling new show, except that it's a big hit for ABC and that right now you're reading an article about it. It is a classic example of TV's most challenging and elusive serial format, the mythology show, a genre whose number includes "Twin Peaks," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Smallville," "Roswell," "Carnivale," Abrams's "Alias," and, of course, "The X-Files." "Lost" airs tonight at 8 on Ch. 5.

On a mythology show, everything you know is suspect -- a cigarette, as "The X-Files" made all too plain during its 1993-2002 run, is never just a cigarette. Mythology TV writers aren't in the business of selling certainty. They're all about pulling viewers into the guesswork and paranoia of a giant mystery, leading them on with a trail of cryptic clues. Abrams may have titled his series after the castaways, but he wants viewers to feel a little lost, too.

Okay, they convinced us, we'll wait for the First Season on DVD.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 AM


The End Of the 'Jewish Vote' (Peter Beinart, October 27, 2004, Washington Post)

[W]hile President Bush hasn't realigned the Jewish vote, he has done something even more intriguing: He has ended it.

The term "Jewish vote" implies a shared political perspective that binds Jews more to one another than to gentiles. In this sense, there has not been an "Episcopalian vote" or a "Catholic vote" for a long time. In the 1950s Christian denominations meant something at the polling booth. Catholics and Southern Baptists generally voted Democratic. Episcopalians and other main-line Protestants, especially in the North, voted Republican. But starting in the 1970s, religious denomination began to matter less -- and religious intensity to matter more and more. Catholics who went to Mass every week started voting more like Episcopalians who went to church every week than like Catholics who didn't. During the culture wars of the 1990s, the trend accelerated. This spring a study by the University of Akron's John Green for the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found "that religious traditionalists, whether Evangelical, Mainline Protestant or Catholic, hold similar positions on issue after issue, and that modernists of all these various traditions are similarly like-minded." With the critical exception of African Americans -- whose religiousness has not generally inclined them toward the GOP -- traditionalist Christians voted Republican while modernist Christians voted Democratic.

Jews, however, were different. As late as 2000, Al Gore and his Orthodox running mate, Joe Lieberman, didn't just win most of the Jewish vote, they won a large majority among Orthodox Jews -- the "traditionalists" whom sociologists might have expected to join their Christian counterparts. But it now appears that, like Jimmy Carter, who won the votes of his fellow evangelicals in 1976, Lieberman simply delayed his community's migration into the Republican Party. This year, for probably the first time, Orthodox Jews will vote like "traditionalist" Christians. Conservative, Reform and non-affiliated Jews, on the other hand, will vote like secular, or "modernist," Christians. And the Jewish vote, in a meaningful sense, will cease to exist.

George W. Bush deserves much of the credit.

George Bush certainly deserves credit for aggressively courting blacks, Jews, and Latinos, but hardly caused the secular vs. religious rift within such groups. Over time the Democrats will hold non-Jewish Jews and the GOP will win Jews who still have faith.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:17 AM


Elmasry remarks probed as hate crime (Marina Jiménez, Globe and Mail, October 27th, 2004)

Police are investigating whether comments by the president of the Canadian Islamic Congress constitute a hate crime.

Mohamed Elmasry said that all Israelis over 18 are fair targets for suicide bombers. He later recanted this view, saying he was trying to express a widely held Palestinian position, not his own.

His remarks and apology continue to cause outrage among Jewish and Muslim groups, which are calling for his resignation. The comments have sparked a probe by Halton Regional Police and by the University of Waterloo, where Mr. Elmasry is a professor of computer engineering.[...]

Mr. Elmasry did not return calls, but the CIC issued a statement on the weekend saying the group's president was trying to convey a widely held Palestinian view and regrets that his comments were misunderstood and caused offence.

But the Canadian Jewish Congress said a review of the television tape reveals it was his "personal, passionately held view" that all Israeli civilians over 18 are legitimate targets for suicide bombers.

The Canadian Muslim Congress and the Canadian-Arab Federation also reject the notion that Mr. Elmasry speaks for Palestinians, saying they do not uniformly endorse this position.

Yes, for example there is that little wet wimp, Abdul, who only wants to murder the men, but we’re working on him. In the meantime, we look forward to Mr. Elmasry’s months’ long trial, which we are confident will thoroughly exhaust the public and drown any civilized, visceral outrage in a cleverly deconstructed indictment of history.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:11 AM


The Myth of Al Qaeda (Radio Netherlands, undated)

According to the professor (Belgian terrorism expert, Rik Coolsaet) the current obsession with international terrorism is based on inaccurate assumptions.

Al Qaeda, Professor Coolsaet argues, no longer exists as a global terrorist organisation.

He draws parallels with previous hypes in history such as the one which gripped Europe around an international anarchist terrorist network at the end of the 19th century. That network existed mainly in peoplés minds, and the same is true of al Qaeda today, Professor Coolsaet believes. [...]

"Terrorism is of all ages. So why do we experience this angst, this deep-seated fear of a hydraheaded monster of mythological dimensions, constantly changing and adapting, always catching its opponents off guard? Today's obsession with terrorism and security comes and goes, in waves. It was there when the anarchist terrorists of the late 19th century made havoc. It was there when the fascist terrorists of the 1930s spread death and destruction. And it is here now. Each time, myth and reality become blurred. Underestimating terrorism is dangerous. But exaggerating the threat is just as dangerous – so is groupthink."

Now, here is a novel theory. The good professor seems to be arguing that overestimating the threat of fascist terrorism in the 1930's was a big problem. But maybe he has a point. Churchill and Roosevelt obviously pulled off a huge scam because, after Germany was defeated, the Allies couldn’t find a Nazi anywhere.

October 26, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:29 PM

WALL? (via The Mother Judd):

Why do we vote on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November? (Glad You Asked by Jeff Elder, 10/25/04, Jewish World Review)

Q: I'm a middle school teacher in North Carolina. One of the students asked why the general election is always held "on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November." - Stephen Sorrell

A: The Federal Election Commission gives these reasons for the timing of Election Day: [...]

—Why Tuesday? Since most residents of rural America had to travel a significant distance to the county seat in order to vote, Monday was not considered reasonable as many people would need to begin travel on Sunday. This would, of course, have conflicted with church services and Sunday worship.

—Why the first Tuesday after the first Monday? Lawmakers wanted to prevent Election Day from falling on the first of November for two reasons. Nov. 1 is All Saints Day, a holy day for Roman Catholics.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:25 PM


Reluctance (Robert Friost, 1913, A Boy's Will)

OUT through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question 'Whither?'

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:14 PM


CSI: Baker Street: a review of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Short Stories By Arthur Conan Doyle Edited by Leslie S. Klinger (Richard A. Posner, 10.11.04, New Republic)

Sherlock Holmes is not the first fictional character to give rise to a cult. But the others, such as Falstaff and Leopold Bloom, have tended to be likable, or at least lifelike, figures. Not icy, didactic, condescending, inhumanly self-sufficient, and therefore (the speculations concerning Irene Adler notwithstanding) sexless Sherlock--a social isolate, monologuist, and know-it-all, whose principal pleasure in life besides solving crimes is making a fool of his stooge, Dr. Watson. He treats Watson with no consideration, summoning him from his medical practice or his wife with a snap of the fingers to do drudge work, such as carrying a pistol. (Watson is Holmes's "muscle.") What is worse, Holmes assiduously endeavors to keep the poor man utterly clueless, so that, unable to close the intellectual chasm that yawns between them by even a hair's breadth, he shall remain ever abjectly worshipful of Holmes's genius. Rather than share insights with Watson as an investigation proceeds, so that Watson can play more than a flunky's role, Holmes keeps him in the dark until the very end of each story, when he reveals the solution to his awed companion. Holmes is God, Watson his congregation.

There is method in this from the author's standpoint: if Watson knew where an investigation was leading, this would not only dim Holmes's star but also help the reader to guess the solution to the crime puzzle. Doyle may also have misunderstood the nature of genius, specifically scientific genius; I will come back to that in a moment. My present point is only to register surprise, given Holmes's character, that there are so many Sherlock Holmes groupies and so many books, articles, and web pages dedicated to this absurd obsession.

There is a curious fracture in the Holmes stories. On the one hand, they are early and distinguished examples of the ingeniously plotted detective story--the genre perfected by Agatha Christie--where the point is to baffle the reader by scattering false clues and endowing the villain with fiendish cleverness. On the other hand, they are part of a recognizable Victorian-Edwardian genre of grown-up boys' books, the sort of thing one finds done to perfection in the best novels of H. Rider Haggard and John Buchan. Such books are written for men as well as older boys, but for men who have remained in touch, as it were, with their boyish selves. The heroes are physically strong, fearless and imperturbable, chivalrous, well-born, pure in heart (the young are idealistic), pitted against unmitigated evil (young people tend to see things in black-and-white terms), adept at disguises (which kids love), and homosocial (never homosexual--it's just that, like boys, the heroes of such books bond only with other males). All these are Sherlock Holmes's characteristics as well. His world-class antagonist, Moriarty, is a figure straight out of the boys' books: "He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order. He sits motionless, like a spider in the centre of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of them."

Unlike the Holmes stories, the boys' books tend to be set in exotic locales; but the exotic enters the Holmes stories in the form of the victims and the perpetrators of crime who come from abroad or are involved in the affairs of the British Empire, a distinct presence in the stories. The ratio of detection to action is of course higher, but still there is a deep affinity. (One critic has noted perceptively that the relationship between Holmes and Watson is modeled on that between the older and younger boys in English public schools.) This helps to explain the Holmes cult. Holmes is for the immature.

There goes the last chance of his ever making the Court.

Posted by David Cohen at 9:29 PM


Addicted to Polls: Parsing the political-numbers watch (Gwen Brown, National Review Online, 10/26/04)

I have a confession to make: I've become an addict. Every morning, I fly to the computer to check the latest news and opinion about the presidential campaign. What concerns me is that my first stop — after NRO, of course — is always RealClearPolitics.com, to which I return throughout the day. I neeeeeeeed to find out what the latest polls are indicating. Who is up or down in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll? CNN/USA Today/Gallup? Zogby? Fox News? Rasmussen? What's the average of all the latest polls? How is the race going in the battleground states? Florida? Ohio? Pennsylvania? Wisconsin? I'm such an addict that "Quinnipiac" now rolls easily off my tongue. In fact, my addiction has become so great that I fear I will need a twelve-step program starting on November 3.
Undoubtedly, there is someone in the country with a computer on his or her desk who is getting some work done this week.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:03 PM


Let liberty transform Palestinians, too: The possibility of elections is the one sliver of hope for many Palestinians. (Scott Atran, 10/27/04, CS Monitor)

A recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found 54 percent of the 1,300 adults surveyed would vote for Arafat as president again. But the center's polls also suggest that Arafat would be politically weakened, because voters would replace older leaders in the legislative assembly with a younger majority that supports curtailing presidential powers. The center's director, Khalil Shikaki, has warned that without a democratic outlet, Palestinians may fall into civil war and militants will continue attacking Israel to maintain political prominence. That was also the message I took away from interviews with senior Israeli counterterrorism strategists, Palestinian leaders, would-be suicide bombers, and the families of suicide "martyrs."

Life in the occupied territories has never been as bad. Northern Gaza is a charred battlefield and almost every West Bank town is ringed by guns, barbed wire, and concrete. The economy is lifeless, except for Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority's dysfunctional ministries - and the NGOs that bring some activity. Palestinians are convinced that Israeli army checkpoints - where people often wait for hours in shadeless no man's lands or long tunnels - are meant to break their will and drive them from the land. Israelis counter that they nab, on average, at least one suicide bomber a day at the checkpoints and that Palestinians confuse cause - suicide bombing - with effect - extreme vigilance to stop it.

The possibility of elections is the one sliver of hope many Palestinians cling to. This is exactly the sort of "peaceful means to achieve the rights of their people, and create the reformed institutions of a stable democracy" that President Bush touts as the only way to achieve peace. But instead of helping Palestinians prepare for elections, the US supports Israel's policy of assassinating Hamas leaders, isolating Arafat, and blocking elections.

Assassinating Hamas leaders and isolating Arafat--even assassinating Arafat himself--is hardly incompatible with democratizing the new nation of Palestine.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:47 PM


Last Words (H. L. Mencken, 1926)

[U]nder democracy the remotest and most fantastic possibility is a common-place of every day. All the axioms resolve themselves into thundering paradoxes, many amounting to downright contradictions in terms. The mob is competent to rule the rest of us—but it must be rigorously policed itself. There is a government, not of men, but of laws - but men are set upon benches to decide finally what the law is and may be. The highest function of the citizen is to serve the state - but the first assumption that meets him, when he essays to discharge it, is an assumption of his disingenuousness and dishonour. Is that assumption commonly sound? Then the farce only grows the more glorious.

I confess, for my part, that it greatly delights me. I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing. Does it exalt dunderheads, cowards, trimmers, frauds, cads? Then the pain of seeing them go up is balanced and obliterated by the joy of seeing them come down. Is it inordinately wasteful, extravagant, dishonest? Then so is every other form of government: all alike are enemies to laborious and virtuous men. Is rascality at the very heart of it? Well, we have borne that rascality since 1776, and continue to survive. In the long run, it may turn out that rascality is necessary to human government, and even to civilization itself - that civilization, at bottom, is nothing but a colossal swindle. I do not know: I report only that when the suckers are running well the spectacle is infinitely exhilarating. But I am, it may be, a somewhat malicious man: my sympathies, when it comes to suckers, tend to be coy. What I can't make out is how any man can believe in democracy who feels for and with them, and is pained when they are debauched and made a show of. How can any man be a democrat who is sincerely a democrat?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:18 PM


Governor going to Ohio to give boost to Bush: Schwarzenegger has close ties to the capital of the swing state. (Margaret Talev, October 26, 2004, Sacramento Bee)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger heads east later this week for a tradition he began as an actor: stumping for the Bush family in the final days of the presidential race, in Columbus, Ohio, a city that's adopted him as a favorite son in a state that could help decide the election. [...]

"It's going to be a ground war in this state, and that's why you bring a guy like Schwarzenegger," said Robert Adams, a political analyst at Wright State University in Dayton.

"He can get people excited and interested and maybe make a difference to Republicans," Adams said. "It can make a difference at the margins. But in a race like this, everything is at the margins."

As of Monday, the campaign had not released a formal schedule that included Schwarzenegger. But advisers familiar with the plans said Schwarzenegger likely would make one stop on behalf of Bush, in Columbus on Friday. The governor was expected immediately to return home to do his own campaigning, with a multicity bus tour scheduled for Saturday to promote his positions on policy measures on the California ballot.

They should have the President campaign with McCain, Guiliani, Miller & Koch too in these closing days.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:57 PM


Risk Management: WHY I AM SUPPORTING JOHN KERRY. (Andrew Sullivan, 10.26.04, New Republic)

His proposal to amend the constitution to deny an entire minority equal rights under the law is one of the most extreme, unnecessary, and divisive measures ever proposed in this country.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:47 PM


Syrian Behind Train Attack, Spain Says (RENWICK McLEAN, 10/26/04, NY Times)

A Syrian jailed since 2001 and thought to be a major operative for Al Qaeda has been identified as the prime mover behind the March 11 terror attacks in Madrid, a high-ranking intelligence official told the Spanish Parliament on Monday.

While Spanish officials have identified several different men as possible masterminds during the past few months, the remarks on Monday about the Syrian, Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah, represent the clearest statement of responsibility yet made by a senior investigator.

"It is very clear to me, that if by mastermind we mean the person who has put the group together, prepared the group, trained it ideologically, sent them to Afghanistan to be prepared militarily for terrorism," the investigator, Rafael Gómez Menor, said, "that man is Abu Dahdah, without any doubt."

Remember how when they tucked tail and ran from Iraq the new Spanish government swore to redouble its efforts against al Qaeda remnants, who are in Afghanistan/Pakistan (kind of like Senator Kerry says he'd do)? You don't read much about their successes, do you?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:36 PM


CBS Had Iraq Story, Just Not in Time: The network was the first to know about the missing explosives, but getting interviews on tape proved a problem. (Elizabeth Jensen, October 26, 2004, LA Times)

CBS News' "60 Minutes" landed a major story last week: the disappearance in Iraq of a large cache of explosives supposed to be under guard by the U.S. military. But the network nevertheless found itself in the journalistically awkward position of playing catch-up when it wasn't able to get the piece on the air as soon as its reporting partner, the New York Times, which made the report its lead story Monday.

Breaking the story would have been a welcome coup for CBS News as it seeks to emerge from the cloud cast by its use of unverified documents in reporting on President Bush's 1970s military service.

Instead, CBS was relegated to airing a report Monday evening, and "60 Minutes" merely got credit in the newspaper, which ran an unusual box noting that the article "was reported in cooperation with the CBS News program '60 Minutes.' '60 Minutes' first obtained information on the missing explosives."

Jeff Fager, executive producer of the Sunday edition of "60 Minutes," said in a statement that "our plan was to run the story on [Oct.] 31, but it became clear that it wouldn't hold, so the decision was made for the Times to run it."

Talk about bottom-feeding, the Times is stealing bogus stories from discredited CBS?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:15 PM


Why Conflicted Voters Will Go for Bush: Americans Don't Elect Sitting Legislators President
(TERRY MICHAEL, Oct. 26, 2004, ABC News)

Forget the tracking polls and micro-analysis of a handful of targeted states. Our political history provides a pretty clear clue as to why conflicted voters will break for Bush in the closing days of the 2004 campaign.

Americans almost never choose a sitting legislator as leader of the free world.

We've done it just three times: James A. Garfield in 1880, Warren G. Harding in 1920 and John F. Kennedy in 1960. They all died in office and combined served only five of 216 years of the presidency.

Three out of 43 is no historical fluke. But Washington insiders, both politicians and the press, never seem to get it.

Almost Guardianesque.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 12:28 PM


The Impact of Gun Laws: A Model of Crime and Self-Defense (Hugo Mialon, Dept of Economics, Emory Univ, and and Tom Wiseman, Dept of Economics, Univ of Texas)

Abstract: We develop a model of crime and self-defense that provides a rationale both for the right to bear arms and for regulating this right. It also suggests that a severe punishment for gun crime might best guarantee both the security and freedom of potential victims.

Steadily, academics keep coming over to the Republican Party platform.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:21 PM


Kerry in Boston, at Game 6 on same night (Darren Rovell, 10/26/04, ESPN.com)

In interviews with ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine, Kerry recalled his sufferings as a Boston Red Sox fan as Bill Buckner failed to field a ground ball hit by Mookie Wilson with two outs in the 10th inning. The Mets rallied to win that game, 6-5, and Game 7 two nights later, extending Boston's World Series drought that followed its title in 1918.

"Do I believe in it?" Kerry said in response to a question about the Red Sox's supposed Curse of the Bambino. "No, but it certainly makes a powerful argument from time to time. I mean, I don't believe in curses, but I do think that we've been under a cloud here and there. I was 30 yards away from Billy Buckner in that famous Shea Stadium game in '86. So I've been there in the heartbreaks. And I was screaming at the television set when Grady [Little] did not pull Pedro [Martinez] out."

Web bloggers point to a Boston Globe article from Oct. 26, 1986, the day after Game 6 of the World Series, in which Kerry was noted to have attended the Massachusetts Latino Democratic Committee banquet the night before at the World Trade Center in South Boston.

"Sen. Kerry attended a public event in [Massachusetts] in the early evening and hopped a shuttle flight from Boston to NYC. [Kerry] got to Shea with the game in progress," Michael Meehan, Kerry's senior campaign advisor, wrote to ESPN.com in an e-mail. [...]

Kerry had also claimed to have run in the Boston Marathon in the late 1970s or early '80s, though no records of his finish exist. Meehan said Kerry ran the race unofficially "as a bandit."

Brother Dryfoos played in a celebrity gold tournament yesterday with several former major leaguers, one of whom said he didn't care if the Senator actually is an intellectual and a wind-surfer-type, but did mind him pretending to be a Joe Sixpack.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:14 PM


Allawi blames US 'negligence' for massacre (Agencies, October 26, 2004)

Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, said today that "negligence" by US-led forces brought about the massacre of 49 Iraqi soldiers and warned of further "terrorist acts".

"There was great negligence on the part of some coalition forces, " Mr Allawi told Iraq's national assembly. "It was a heinous crime where a group of national guards were targeted."

About 50 newly recruited Iraqi soldiers were found dead at the weekend after being ambushed at a bogus checkpoint between Balad Ruz and Qazaniya in Diyala province, 50 miles (80km) north-east of Baghdad.

A senior defence ministry official, Brigadier Salih Sarhan, said the soldiers - who were unarmed and wearing civilian clothing - "were ordered from their buses by men in police uniforms, told to lie face down on the ground, and then shot in the back of the head".

Having the guys who are the primary target in Iraq travel unarmed and unescorted was indeed almost criminally negligent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:10 PM


Eating bushmeat 'linked to HIV-like virus' (Sydney Morning Herald, October 27, 2004)

A virus similar to the HIV strain which causes AIDS has passed from apes to humans as a result of eating "bushmeat" in central Africa, an expert has warned.

It is not yet known whether Simian Foamy Virus (SFV) is harmful to humans, but there are considerable concerns because this is the same route by which HIV is understood to have entered the human population.

Bushmeat - some of which is the flesh of jungle apes including protected species such as gorillas - is eaten by large numbers of people in Africa and has been found on sale in Britain.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:07 PM


Bush-Cheney '04 Launches New Radio Advertisement, "New York City Mayors" (georgewbush.com)

Today, Bush-Cheney '04 announced the release of the campaign's newest radio advertisement, "New York City Mayors." The ad highlights the fact that former New York City Republican Mayor Rudy Guiliani and former New York Democratic Mayor Ed Koch are putting aside political differences to support President Bush because of his decisive leadership after September 11 and clear strategy for winning the War on Terror. The ad will begin airing this week in select local markets and can be downloaded at http://www.georgewbush.com/VideoAndAudio/.

Script For "New York City Mayors"

Rudy Giuliani:
I'm Rudy Giuliani.

Ed Koch:
I'm Ed Koch.

I'm a former Mayor of New York City and a Republican.

I'm a former Mayor of New York City and a Democrat.

We don't always agree.

In fact we often disagree.

But we're both supporting George Bush for President.

That's right, even me Ed Koch, a life long Democrat. I've been impressed with President Bush and his response to the September 11th attacks and I know he has what it takes to win the war on terror.

President Bush is a leader who is willing to stick with difficult decisions even as public opinion shifts… and John Kerry, his record suggests a man who changes his position often even on matters as important as war and peace.

President Bush will go after the terrorists and the countries that harbor them. That's why for the first time in my life I'm voting for a Republican for President, I'm voting for George W. Bush… And I hope you will too!

Voice Over:
Paid for by Bush-Cheney '04, Inc.

President Bush:
I'm President Bush and I approve this message.

Local? Put that on in every Blue State.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:56 AM


Kerry sounds clarion call to Florida's black voters (ADAM C. SMITH and TAMARA LUSH, October 25, 2004, St. Petersburg Times)

But for all the anecdotal evidence of heavy African-American turnout, there are hints that Kerry might not be doing as strongly as he needs to be. At a John Edwards rally in St. Petersburg on Saturday, white people held "African-Americans for Kerry-Edwards" placards.

A St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald poll released Sunday showed Bush more than doubling his support from black voters since 2000, with 19 percent support.

Maybe they were Rhodesians?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM


Israelis living in Los Angeles overwhelmingly backing Bush (Tom Tugend, Oct. 21, 2004, JTA)

If it were up to the Israeli expatriate community in Los Angeles, President Bush apparently would win re-election not just by a landslide, but by an earthquake.

Take the middle-aged Israeli, waiting for his order of falafel and hummus at the Pita Kitchen restaurant.

Asked about his political choice, the man, who declined to give his name, burst out, “Bush, only Bush. He is a strong man, a man of his word.”

Did he or his adult children know of any Israelis voting for Sen. John Kerry? The man shook his head, pointed a finger to his forehead and delivered his response: “They would be crazy.”

Not all expats are as ardent as the Pita Kitchen patron, but Gal Shor, editor in chief of the Hebrew weekly Shalom LA, estimates that at least 65 percent of Israelis eligible to vote in American elections will cast their ballots for the president.

“First and last, we’re concerned about Israel and the war on terrorism, and on that Bush scores much higher,” said Shor, who left no doubt about his personal favorite.

“I came here 15 years ago from a kibbutz background as a lefty, but now I’m completely opposed to the Democrats on both foreign and domestic issues,” he said.

Shor’s story bears out the claim of another Israeli across the continent in New York City, who told JTA that “even the liberals” among Israelis in the U.S. — those who would vote for the left-wing Labor Party were they still in Israel — will vote for Bush in November.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:43 AM


Kerry ads canceled in Colorado (The Denver Post, 10/26/04)

John Kerry has canceled ads in Colorado through Election Day. With one weekend poll showing the Democratic nominee narrowly ahead in Colorado, but others showing him trailing, his campaign pulled dozens of spots starting today.

Kerry's national campaign staff wouldn't comment. Steve Haro, Kerry's Colorado spokesman, said that Democrats are focusing on mobilizing voters rather than persuading them with TV ads.

"Television commercials do not a campaign make," he said. "Right now, you have to question the return on the investment, and we did." [...]

Kerry, who campaigned in Colorado Saturday, scratched a potential trip to Colorado today Haro said the trip wasn't needed because "momentum is with us."

Bailing on NV can't be far behind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:29 AM


THE BELIEVER: Paul Wolfowitz defends his war. (PETER J. BOYER, 2004-10-25, The New Yorker)

On the night of October 5th, a group of Polish students, professors, military officers, and state officials crowded into a small auditorium at Warsaw University to hear Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, give a talk on the subject of the war in Iraq. [...]

He recounted the events of Poland’s darkest days, and the civilized world’s acquiescence to Hitler’s ambitions which preceded them. When Hitler began to rearm Germany, Wolfowitz said, “the world’s hollow warnings formed weak defenses.” When Hitler annexed Austria, “the world sat by.” When German troops marched into Czechoslovakia before the war, “the world sat still once again.” When Britain and France warned Hitler to stay out of Poland, the Führer had little reason to pay heed.

“Poles understand perhaps better than anyone the consequences of making toothless warnings to brutal tyrants and terrorist regimes,” Wolfowitz said. “And, yes, I do include Saddam Hussein.” He then laid out the case against Saddam, reciting once again the dictator’s numberless crimes against his own people. He spoke of severed hands and videotaped torture sessions. He told of the time, on a trip to Iraq, he’d been shown a “torture tree,” the bark of which had been worn away by ropes used to bind Saddam’s victims, both men and women. He said that field commanders recently told him that workers had come across a new mass grave, and had stopped excavation when they encountered the remains of several dozen women and children, “some still with little dresses and toys.”

Wolfowitz observed that some people—meaning the “realists” in the foreign policy community, including Secretary of State Colin Powell—believed that the Cold War balance of power had brought a measure of stability to the Persian Gulf. But, Wolfowitz continued, “Poland had a phrase that correctly characterized that as ‘the stability of the graveyard.’ The so-called stability that Saddam Hussein provided was something even worse.”

Finally, Wolfowitz thanked the Poles for joining in a war that much of Europe had repudiated, and continues to oppose. His message was clear: history, especially Europe’s in the last century, has proved that it is smarter to side with the U.S. than against it. “We will not forget Poland’s commitment,” he promised. “Just as you have stood with us, we will stand with you.”

Wolfowitz, who is sixty, has served in the Administrations of six Presidents, yet he is still regarded by many in Washington with a considerable measure of puzzlement. This is due partly to the fact that, although his intelligence is conceded by all, and his quiet bearing and manner suggest the academic that he used to be—at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies—he has consistently argued positions that place him squarely in the category of war hawk. He began his life in public policy by marshalling arguments, in 1969, on behalf of a U.S. anti-ballistic-missile defense system. Like his mentor at the University of Chicago, the late political strategist Albert Wohlstetter, Wolfowitz was skeptical of a U.S.-Soviet convergence, embraced a national missile-defense system, and argued for the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

But most puzzling to some, perhaps, is the communion that Wolfowitz seems to have with George W. Bush. How can someone so smart, so knowing, speak—and even apparently think—so much like George Bush? Except for their manner of delivery—Wolfowitz speaks in coherent paragraphs and Bush employs an idiom that is particular to himself—the language used by the two men when discussing Iraq is almost indistinguishable. It is the stark tone of evangelical conviction: evil versus good, the “worship of death” and “philosophy of despair” versus our “love of life and democracy.” Alongside Bush himself, Wolfowitz is, even now, among the last of the true believers.

You know you're in Blue Country when someone writes that there are only a couple of Americans left who believe in the efficacy of democracy and that the world pits good vs. evil.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:09 AM


Iraq's media in lively election mode (Kathleen Ridolfo, 10/27/04, Asia Times)

News of Iraq's January elections has dominated the pages of the country's major dailies in recent weeks, to some extent crowding out the more detailed coverage of the growing insurgency, the presence of multinational forces, and even the workings of the interim administration.

Newspapers in Iraq have been offering up a barrage of daily reports and opinion pieces over the past month on a variety of election-related subjects. Politicians and religious leaders "in the know" have commented on election developments, as the official Electoral Commission has detailed information on the mechanisms established to become a candidate and on voting. Articles have appeared on voter-education seminars being offered by political parties and organizations, the likelihood of whether or not expatriates will be allowed to vote from abroad, whether Sunnis will participate in the elections, as well as political maneuverings as the parties work to forge alliances and place their candidates on election lists that will meet the stringent requirements established by the commission.

But perhaps the most salient barometer of the "mood" in Iraq can be found on the editorial pages of Iraq's dailies. Commentaries overwhelmingly support the elections and offer intelligent and well-constructed viewpoints on a variety of election-related topics. Writers regularly demand that the Electoral Commission provide more information on the election process, and call on the Iraqi people to cast their ballots on election day.The diversity of opinions to be found on the pages of political dailies is encouraging and demonstrates a strong desire by Iraqis to make the nation's first elections as democratic as possible.

One need look no further for proof that men are ineducable than the ignorant refrain that Muslims are somehow going to be uniquely incapable of democracy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:04 AM

"People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them."
-Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 AM


Illness Adds to Urgency on Court's Direction (David G. Savage, October 26, 2004, LA Times)

Social conservatives like Gary Bauer and liberal advocates like Ralph Neas have found something to agree on this year. Both say the most important issue to be decided in the upcoming presidential election is not Iraq or the economy, but the future of the Supreme Court.

Their view was driven home forcefully by Monday's news that Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, 80, has thyroid cancer.

It has been a decade since a justice stepped down — the longest period of stability since the early 1800s — and now eight of the nine justices have passed the traditional retirement age of 65.

Some, including Rehnquist, are getting old even by the standards of the Supreme Court. Justice John Paul Stevens, the senior liberal, who has survived prostate cancer, will be 85 in the spring.

The prospect that one or more justices will step down in the next four years fires up — and also frightens — conservative and liberal activists.

Tilting the Court is very nearly the only damage a Kerry presidency would do at home.

Americans Are Electing a Supreme Court Too (John C. Yoo, October 26, 2004, LA Times)

Even one new justice could profoundly affect a court that is closely divided on important social issues. And two new justices could shift national policy dramatically.

Slim 5-4 majorities stand behind the decisions that have struck down prohibitions on partial-birth abortion, approved affirmative action programs in colleges and universities, allowed the use of vouchers at private religious schools and restricted use of the death penalty.

Only a one-vote margin has supported restricting Congress' regulatory power in favor of the states, which affects anti-discrimination, criminal and environmental laws.

A 5-4 majority last term agreed that the nation was at war after the Sept. 11 attacks and that the president and Congress could authorize the detention of "enemy combatants" in the war on terror.

A 6-3 margin defends the basic right to abortion first recognized in Roe vs. Wade and the expansion of gay rights in Lawrence vs. Texas that has spurred efforts for a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage.

With a closely divided Senate a certainty, Supreme Court confirmation hearings in the next four years could make the outrages of the Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas hearings look tame. And the filibuster, used by Democrats to block Bush's lower-court nominees, may be only the beginning of procedural shenanigans.

Just how bloody a battle might be, however, depends on which justice resigns and which candidate wins. A Bush nominee replacing the reliably conservative Rehnquist wouldn't change the court's status quo or draw a massive fight. If John Kerry wins, however, his choice to replace Rehnquist would mean major change and, most likely, a knock-down, drag-out struggle.

A more politicized nomination and confirmation process is the Supreme Court's own doing. Over the last half-century, it has arrogated power — weakening the role of states and even Congress — when it comes to many political and moral questions. The only way for interest groups and citizens to change policy on abortion, affirmative action or gay rights is to change the justices on the Supreme Court.

Despite bruising confirmation proceedings, however, history shows that it is the president who still makes the decisive choice when it comes to the court. In the last century, the Senate has confirmed 89% of the president's nominees to the Supreme Court. Twelve of the last 14 nominees have taken their seats on the court.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 AM


Iraq Explosives Become Issue in Campaign (DAVID E. SANGER, 10/26/04, NY Times)

The White House sought on Monday to explain the disappearance of 380 tons of high explosives in Iraq that American forces were supposed to secure, as Senator John Kerry seized on the missing cache as "one of the great blunders of Iraq" and said President Bush's "incredible incompetence" had put American troops at risk.

Gotta love the Times, which first invents the story and then disapassionately reports on it becoming part of the campaign.

Meanwhile, the gist of the story as even they report it suggests that the stuff was either WMD itself or WMD related and that it disappeared because we waited to long to attack Iraq:

On Monday evening, Nicolle Devenish, the spokeswoman for the Bush campaign, noted a section of the Times report indicating that American troops, on the way to Baghdad in April 2003, stopped at the Al Qaqaa complex and saw no evidence of high explosives. Noting that the cache may have been looted before the American invasion, she said Mr. Kerry had exaggerated the administration's responsibility.

"John Kerry presumes to know something that he could not know: when the material disappeared," Ms. Devenish said. "Since he does not know whether it was gone before the war began, he can't prove it was there to be secured."

While the White House sought to minimize the importance of the loss of the HMX and RDX - two commonly used military explosives that can also be used to bring down airplanes or to create a trigger for nuclear weapons - the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, took the unusual step on Monday of writing to the United Nations Security Council to report that the explosives were gone. He usually sends a report every six months, and his last was just a few weeks ago.

"He doesn't do that to report trivia," a European diplomat familiar with Dr. ElBaradei's views said. "It's something that is considered grave."

Haven't folks like the Times and Mr. Kerry just spent months telling us there was no grave danger in Iraq?

Report: Explosives already gone when U.S. troops arrived: NBC News says its crew was embedded with soldiers at time (CNN, 10/26/04)

The mystery surrounding the disappearance of 380 tons of powerful explosives from a storage depot in Iraq has taken a new twist, after a network embedded with the U.S. military during the invasion of Iraq reported that the material had already vanished by the time American troops arrived.

NBC News reported that on April 10, 2003, its crew was embedded with the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division when troops arrived at the Al Qaqaa storage facility south of Baghdad.

While the troops found large stockpiles of conventional explosives, they did not find HMX or RDX, the types of powerful explosives that reportedly went missing, according to NBC. [...]

[K]erry senior adviser Joe Lockhart fired back with a statement of his own, accusing the Bush campaign of "distorting" the NBC News report.

"In a shameless attempt to cover up its failure to secure 380 tons of highly explosive material in Iraq, the White House is desperately flailing in an effort to escape blame," Lockhart said. "It is the latest pathetic excuse from an administration that never admits a mistake, no matter how disastrous."

Lockhart did not elaborate on how the Bush campaign was distorting the NBC report.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:29 AM


REVIEW: of Defending Israel: A Controversial Plan Toward Peace by Martin L. Van Crevald (Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic)

Like all other honest assessments of Israel's strategic situation, this slim book offers no support to either hawks or doves, or to either the Israeli or the Arab positions, as conventionally defined. The best-known and arguably the most highly respected civilian commentator on Israel's military affairs, Van Creveld coolly analyzes the country's security policy and geostrategy. He concludes that Israel's military preponderance over its Arab neighbors is stronger than ever, and is in fact growing. He further shows that—providing Israel deploys sensing and surveillance technologies at its disposal—its withdrawal from the occupied territories will enhance, not vitiate, its security. But he also convincingly demonstrates that unless it builds a security wall (bolstered, again, by high-tech sensors, and roughly following the pre-1967 border), Israel "will almost certainly be destroyed" by Palestinian terrorism and the growth of its Arab population. (Palestinians, he points out, are in fact already exercising the "right of return" by marrying and having children with Israel's Arab citizens. Of course, even if a wall blocks a de facto right of return, Israel's Arab citizens already make up about 20 percent of its population. This large and rapidly growing hostile group within its pre-1967 borders represents a long-term and potentially catastrophic threat to the Jewish state's safety, to say nothing of its democracy. Van Creveld doesn't address this problem, but his response would almost certainly be typically grim: that the existence of a future dire threat is no reason not to forestall a more pressing one.) His strategic appraisal, which Israel's defense and intelligence establishment widely shares, demolishes the arguments of those who hold that a wall can't be effective, just as it renders ridiculous the propagandistic view of Israel as David surrounded by Arab Goliaths.

None of it matters unless Jews start having kids.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 AM


Hanoi Approved of Role Played By Anti-War Vets (THOMAS LIPSCOMB, October 26, 2004, NY Sun)

The communist regime in Hanoi monitored closely and looked favorably upon the activities of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War during the period Senator Kerry served most actively as the group's spokesman and a member of its executive committee, two captured Viet Cong documents suggest.

The documents - one dubbed a "circular" and the other a "directive" - were captured in 1971 and are part of a trove of material from the war currently stored at the Vietnam Archive at Texas Tech University at Lubbock. Originally organized by Douglas Pike, a major scholar who is now deceased, the archive contains more than 20 million documents. Many are available online at the Virtual Vietnam Archive and, as the election has heated up, have been the focus of a scramble for insights into Mr. Kerry's anti-war activities. The Circular and the Directive are listed as items numbered 2150901039b and 2150901041 respectively. Their authenticity was confirmed by Stephen Maxner, archivist at the Vietnam Archive.

The two documents provide a glimpse of the favorable way the Viet Cong viewed the activities in which Mr. Kerry was involved.

We were wrong, he does have some passionate supporters.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 8:20 AM


A Vatican-Watcher Goes Public -- With Her Conversion (Zenit, 10/25/2004)

"With New Eyes: Story of My Conversion," by journalist Alessandra Borghese, was recently published by Piemme in Italy, was presented last Wednesday in Rome in the Palazzo Ruspoli.

"This account of Alessandra has the rare quality of being a true story," Vatican spokesman Navarro Valls said at the meeting.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:16 AM


France eyes 'new alliance' with White House (Colin Randall, The Telegraph, October 26th, 2004)

The French government said yesterday that it would seek a "new alliance" with whomever won the US presidential election next week.

A diplomatic chill has characterised exchanges between Paris and Washington over the past two years as a result of French opposition to the war in Iraq. But the French foreign minister, Michel Barnier, said that the two countries needed to forge a new alliance. This alliance "must be based on mutual respect, which is not allegiance", he said.

Mr Barnier declined to express a preference between President George W Bush and his Democrat rival, Senator John Kerry. His brief remarks on French television indicated both the importance Paris attached to building a better understanding with America, and the likely limitations of any immediate improvement.[...]

The Left-wing newspaper Libération yesterday said that victory for Mr Bush would maintain America as an arrogant, imperialistic super-power guided by "a handful of ideologues hungry for adventure but deaf to the planet". Putting Mr Kerry in the White House would "perhaps" mean a more multilateral approach.

I was talking to the wife the other day and suggested we should forge a new alliance–one based upon mutual respect rather than those tiresome old promises of allegiance. Party time!!

Posted by Peter Burnet at 5:06 AM


Weekly Reader kids select Bush in poll (MSN KIDZ, October 26th, 2004)

The students who read Weekly Reader's magazines have made their preference for president known: they want to send President Bush back to the White House.

The results of this year's Weekly Reader poll have just been announced, and the winner is President Bush. Hundreds of thousands of students participated, giving the Republican president more than 60% of the votes cast and making him a decisive choice over Democratic Senator John Kerry.

Since 1956, Weekly Reader students in grades 1-12 have correctly picked the president, making the Weekly Reader poll one of the most accurate predictors of presidential outcomes in history.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:13 AM


France's first gay TV station launches with diet of porn, "Wonder Woman" (AFP: 10/25/2004)

France's first gay and lesbian television station was to go to air Monday, beaming a steady diet of homosexual porn, daily repeats of "Wonder Woman" and English language comedies into subscribers' homes.

You can tie me in that golden lasso and I'll still swear I only watch it to see the star-spangled Lynda Carter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:09 AM


Robert Merrill, star of opera and Yankee Stadium, dies at 85 (Elizabeth Lesure, October 25, 2004 , ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Acclaimed singer Robert Merrill, the opera baritone who felt equally comfortable on opening night at the Metropolitan Opera House or opening day at Yankee Stadium, has died. He was 85. [...]

Merrill's lifelong enthusiasm for baseball led to his long tenure at Yankee Stadium, where he sang the national anthem on opening day for three decades.

Merrill, who often appeared in a pinstriped shirt and tattered Yankees necktie, performed the same duty for the Yankees during the World Series, the playoffs and at Old-timers' Day.

He took the job seriously and once said he didn't appreciate when singers tried to ad lib with "distortions."

"When you do the anthem, there's a legitimacy to it," Merrill told Newsday in 2000. "I'm bothered by these different interpretations of it."

If you grew up in the Tri-State area you heard him sing it literally dozens of times and every time as if it was his big break.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Rarity: Presidential Campaigns Send Ads To Hawaii (The Hawaii Channel, October 25, 2004)

With the presidential campaign virtually tied in Hawaii, Democrats and Republicans have started to buy television-advertising time in the islands. It's a significant move, since presidential campaigns usually do not normally spend advertising money in Hawaii.

October 25, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:52 PM


Hope for Democracy in Iran (Emadeddin Baghi, October 25, 2004, Washington Post)

Many people in the West believe that the deadlock in Iran's domestic politics blocks any hope for societal reform. But from my viewpoint here in Iran, there is hope. Let me tell you why.

Society itself, not the government, creates change. And there are deep transformations occurring in Iran. Out of sight of much of the world, Iran is inching its way toward democracy.

The length of higher education in the country has been extended, absorbing the flow of job-seeking youths. This has hastened the transformation of thought and expectation in every corner of the country.

In military colleges, talk of human rights was, until very recently, totally unacceptable. Now courses on human rights have become part of the curriculum.

A 20 percent increase in the divorce rate is regrettable and worrisome, but it is also a sign that traditional marriage is changing as women gain equality. Other figures confirm this. Approximately 60 percent of university students are women, 12 percent of publishing house directors are women and 22 percent of the members of the Professional Association of Journalists are women.

In recent years some 8,000 nongovernmental organizations have been established throughout the country.

it would be helpful, post-election, for the President to start love-bombing the Iranian people--give a big speech noting that both sides have made mistakes, our coup, their hostage-taking, etc., but linking us to the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people as Reagan linked America to those of Eastern Europeans. Go over the mullahs heads.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:44 PM


New Poll Shocker: Thune 49%, Daschle 45% (John McLaughlin, October 25, 2004, McLaughlin & Associates)

John McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates conducted a tracking survey of 400 likely South Dakotan voters (MOE: +/- 4.9%) on Thursday, October 21st and Sunday, October 24th, for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). The key findings are as follows:

“If the election for U.S. Senate in South Dakota were held today, and the candidates were Tom Daschle, the Democrat candidate, and John Thune, the Republican candidate, for whom would you vote?”

Thune: 48.5% Daschle: 44.5% Undecided: 7.0%

Favorable 56.5%, Thune; 49.8%, Daschle Unfavorable 35.0%, Thune; 44.0% Daschle

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:40 PM


Strains with EU remain whoever wins White House (Daniel Dombey, October 26 2004, Financial Times)

George W. Bush's admin-istration has left a mark of its own on transatlantic relations. On that many US and European officials agree.

The Iraq war, Donald Rumsfeld's provocative talk of "old" and "new" Europe and fights over US steel tariffs and subsidies for Europe's Airbus have all commanded headlines and strained the most successful alliance in history.

But, no matter who wins next week's US presidential election, on many important issues basic differences are likely to remain. Many US priorities concern traditional power politics, while the European Union often seems to be groping after a more rule-governed world.

US officials are pushing for Turkey to become a member of the EU while public opinion in Europe on this issue is more hesitant. At the same time Washington wants to persuade the EU not to lift its arms embargo on China. The two sides of the Atlantic are also at odds over the Kyoto protocol on climate change and the International Criminal Court.

Prof Timothy Garton Ash, author of a recent book on the transatlantic relationship, believes an administration headed by John Kerry, Democratic challenger, would make a big difference to relations with Europe, but would still steer clear of signing up to the international institutions dear to the EU.

Sure, many Americans wish the Europeans liked us better right now, but do you want to be the politician who goes and tells the people that the Europeans are going to govern us?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:33 PM


House race unpredictable in wake of sex allegations (BRAD CAIN, 10/24/04, The Associated Press)

The Nov. 2 race between Democratic U.S. Rep. David Wu and GOP challenger Goli Ameri is one of the most expensive congressional contests in the country. It has also become one of the most bitterly fought — and one that's impossible to predict.

The Iranian-born Ameri has spent $1.4 million, much of it on TV ads attacking the three-term incumbent as a tax-and-spend liberal.

Wu, in turn, contends Ameri is too far to the right for the 1st District and is "in lockstep" with the Bush administration on issues such as the war in Iraq and the USA Patriot Act.

The race took an unexpected turn on Oct. 12, when The Oregonian published allegations that a former girlfriend accused Wu of attempted sexual assault while they were students at Stanford University in 1976. In response, Wu issued a statement saying he had a "two-year romantic relationship that ended with inexcusable behavior on my part," but didn't go into details.

Ameri has been using the issue in her latest TV ads against Wu.

Political observers say it has breathed new life into Ameri's campaign and stoked Republican hopes of winning back the House seat in the 1st District, which stretches from Portland's western suburbs to the north coast.

This is one of those races where a Bush upset victory in the state probably brings with it the House seat.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:40 PM


All bets are on (The Spectator, October 23rd, 2004)

Objectors to the Gambling Bill paint a grim picture of C1s and C2s hooked on gaming machines while the wife and kids go hungry. Yet how many of these great social improvers were campaigning 30 years ago for the closure of the Clermont Club in Berkeley Square, where Lord Lucan and his chums sat up to the small hours frittering away their inheritances?

The idea of wealthy buffoons ruining themselves at the baccarat table tends to be seen as a bit of a laugh. There was a time when the gaming table was even seen as a place of sophistication and style: the original James Bond film, Dr No, begins with Bond at the roulette table. Yet put a hooded 19-year-old with estuary English behind a one-armed bandit in a small-town shopping arcade and suddenly we have a serious social problem. The argument against the liberalisation of gambling isn’t a moral one; it is an aesthetic one. Shadowy London gambling clubs with tarts and Martinis were part of swinging London. Yet the mere mention of a casino in a run-of-the-mill town like Wolverhampton is to confirm Britain’s final, squalid descent into decadence.

The same arguments now being advanced against liberalising casinos were made against the 1960 Betting and Gaming Act, which allowed off-course betting shops for the first time. It was said that working men would gamble away their wage packets. Yet those rich enough to take out a credit account with a bookmaker had been free to place off-course bets for many years before 1960.

Forty-four years after the Betting and Gaming Act, who now views their local branch of Joe Coral as an engine of social decay? It is true that some people are predisposed to develop an addiction to gambling, and that these people may find the arrival of a casino on the end of their street a temptation too far. Yet equally there are those who cannot cope with the temptations of alcohol, fast cars or young children in bathing costumes. To attempt to prohibit things on the basis that it will save a section of the population from succumbing to their weaknesses is no way to run a country: something which the government to its credit is belatedly coming round to recognise.[...]

Opposition to the Gambling Bill is nothing but low protectionism, trade unionism and, in the case of the Daily Mail, knee-jerk reaction to absolutely anything the government does, dressed up as moral principle. When the working man is free to enjoy liberties that have long been the preserve of the rich, we will wonder what all the fuss was about.

This silly piece of libertarian cant is reminiscent of those who used to argue that adultery was no big deal because a lot of European aristocrats kept mistresses. Quite apart from the foolishness of basing an argument for egalitarianism on Lord Lucan, the argument that freedom means everyone should have equal access to the semi-licit indulgences of the idle rich is fatuous and dangerous. Gambling is not a liberty anymore than drinking and smoking are. It is a vice, and while prohibiting vice outright is often self-defeating, promoting and encouraging its spread and general availability can only bring serious harm. A healthy, resilient society demands a generous measure of individual self-denial and commitment to family and community . While the State is not the source of that ethos and should not appropriate the exclusive role of policing it, the least it could do is avoid openly undermining it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 PM

A FAILED STATE (via Robert Schwartz):

FBI: Violent Crime Off 3 Percent in 2003 (CURT ANDERSON, 10/25/04, Associated Press)

Violent crime fell last year, with only a slight uptick in murders marring the overall trend of fewer crimes across the country, the FBI (news - web sites) said Monday in its annual crime report.

There were just under 1.4 million crimes of murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault in 2003, 3 percent fewer than 2002 and a decline of more than 25 percent from 1994.

The 2003 figure translates to a rate of 475 violent crimes for every 100,000 Americans, a 3.9 percent decrease from the previous year, the FBI report said. Aggravated assaults, which make up two-thirds of all violent crimes, have dropped for 10 straight years.

Murder was the only violent crime that increased in 2003, with the 16,503 slayings reported by police to the FBI representing a 1.7 percent hike from the year before. Nearly eight in 10 murder victims last year were male and 90 percent were adults.

Note that these numbers represent improvements, yet Islamophobes consider the Muslim world uniquely depraved and Iraq's violence to speak to its capacity for self-governance.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 PM


Pro Choice: A DEMOCRATIC OWNERSHIP SOCIETY. (Andrei Cherny, 10.25.04, New Republic)

Four years ago, George W. Bush's fall campaign centered on a domestic agenda that he said would put trust in people rather than big government bureaucracies. He ran on ideas like Social Security privatization and school vouchers. But, since he took office, his virtual silence on these proposals has been so overwhelming as to make his vanished "compassionate conservative" agenda look like a Bush administration centerpiece.

Now, with the campaign racing toward Election Day, these ideas--reformulated as parts of Bush's much-vaunted "ownership society"--are again front and center in his campaign speeches and advertising. And it's not just because he has nothing else to say that can reasonably pass as a second-term domestic plan. It is because the ideas respond to a real hunger among Americans.

Columnists like David Brooks and Alan Murray have pointed to Bush's "ownership society" as a potential building block of a new conservative outlook now that the era of big tax cuts has ended (thanks to the budget deficit). With many Democrats still wandering in the political bewilderedness, searching for a guiding philosophy now that the era of big government has ended, the party needs to seize political ground that can and should be its twenty-first-century home.

Mr. Cherny appears to be the last Democrat left to not realize what George W. Bush has accomplished while they were calling him an idiot--public school vouchers snuck into NCLB; HSA's snuck into Medicare reform; the Faith-Based Initiative enacted by executive order; just to name a few of the major ones. Obviously the privatization of Social Security is the big enchilada, but for that reason required a wider margin in the Senate than he's yet enjoyed.

At any rate, were John Kerry to be elected but with Congress staying in GOP hands he could indeed pull a reverse Clinton and govern as a Third Way Democrat rather than the LBJ clone he's run as. The GOP wouuld be only too happy to pass major reforms like making the education vouchers private as well as public and universalizing them and getting a Social Security deal done. However, that would require the Senator to forsake his entire history in public life, his ideology, and all of the folks who put him in the White House. It would make him a great president, but he would be so profoundly alienated from his party base and his own soul that it is extraordinarily difficult to imagine it ever happening.

It's far more likely that he'd just be a time marker, holding things static until the next Republican president came in to finish the Bush Revolution. He could satisfy peoples' understandable desire for a period of do-nothing quietness, but would leave no mark on the nation other than having briefly delayed the inevitable.

That wouldn't matter much here, but his attempt freeze the world in place would be disastrous for the Middle East where the President has torqued the pressure up so high that almost every nation is reforming to one degree or another. The process would still continue, even if a President Kerry let the steam out, but it could slow things enough to cause an already blighted people more anguish than they need suffer.

The election is about up-shifting or down-shifting, but we're not going to stop or reverse.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 PM


Kerry strikes out as Boston Red Sox leave him red-faced (NEDRA PICKLER, 10/25/04, AP)

SENATOR John Kerry’s efforts to portray himself as "just a regular American guy" suffered a blow this weekend when he comprehensively messed up the scoreline at a game featuring his beloved Boston Red Sox.

Twice on Sunday, the Democrat said he was basking in the glory of Boston’s 10-9 win on Saturday night. The problem was, the Red Sox won 11-9.

"Ten-nine, the Sox did fabulous," Mr Kerry said with a big smile as he ducked into church on Sunday morning in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. [...]

Mr Kerry’s spokesman, David Wade, said the senator got the score wrong because 10-9 was the last update he got during his late-night flight to Florida.

The problem is, the score never was 10-9. The Sox won on a two-run homer, meaning they went from nine runs to 11. [...]

However, the confusion struck again within hours of his team’s second game.

Landing in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the Democratic candidate bounded off the plane wearing his Red Sox cap to exclaim:

"Seven-one Red Sox!"

The Red Sox were winning 6-1 at the time.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:38 PM

CUSTARD PIE CHARTS? (via Pat Hosier):

RWN's Ann Coulter Interview #2 (John Hawkins, RightWingNews)

John Hawkins: Why do you think USA Today hired you to write a column on the Democratic Convention and then killed your column?

Ann Coulter: I refused to include pie charts.

John Hawkins: What do you think of the claim made by people like Eric Alterman that the mainstream media is actually conservative?

Ann Coulter: Eric, they're called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and they're going to change your life. Ask your doctor if an S.S.R.I. is right for you.

John Hawkins: Has anyone approached you about doing a syndicated radio show or getting your own show on one of the Cable News Networks? I'd have to think somebody would be making an offer since you're almost guaranteed ratings.

Ann Coulter: Yes, but I refuse to wear a bow tie.

John Hawkins: When I last interviewed you back in late June of 2003, you were getting ready to start up your new blog "CoulterGeist" at Human Events. Whatever happened to your blog?

Ann Coulter: I decided that bloggers were just a bunch of losers with no audience and no credibility who sat around their living rooms in pajamas all day hatching crackpot theories that never pan out. They did a special about this on CBS News (on 60 minutes II) just the other night.

& she's just getting warmed up...

Posted by David Cohen at 6:58 PM



General Motors has adapted a HUMMER H2 SUT to run on hydrogen, and will share it with the office of the Governor of California. The HUMMER H2H will assist efforts to learn more about hydrogen storage and refueling infrastructure development. This experimental vehicle also illustrates how industry and government can collaborate to make fuel cell technology and California's Hydrogen Highway Network viable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 AM


Breyer Cites Doubt About Impartiality of Election Vote (Associated Press, October 25, 2004)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer said he is not sure he was being truly impartial when the high court was asked to settle the disputed 2000 presidential vote in Florida.

No one has accused him of being impartial, have they?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:54 AM


Four . . . More . . . Years?: The Left Contemplates the Unthinkable (Howard Kurtz, October 25, 2004, Washington Post)

The cover of the Washington Monthly asks the burning question: "WHAT IF HE WINS?"

The outcome of the race remains in doubt, of course, but there are huge implications for the media -- especially its openly liberal branch -- if President Bush is reelected next week. Some are already using apocalyptic terms. The New Yorker is backing John Kerry today in the first endorsement in its 80-year history.

"There will be a period of grieving," says Katrina van den Heuvel, editor of the Nation. "We will continue to fight the good fight during what we think is the dismantling of our democracy."

But her liberal magazine has grown from 100,000 in circulation to 170,000 in the past four years. "Bush has been bad for the nation but good for the Nation," she admits.

From the 36-day recount through the Iraq war and beyond, George W. Bush has been at the center of the political and media universe. He's had a testy relationship with the establishment press: the fewest news conferences of any president in more than four decades, an administration that thrives on secrecy and a vice president who has denounced the New York Times and barred its reporters from Air Force Two. Not to mention a special prosecutor who is threatening to put reporters in jail in the Valerie Plame case.

It's no secret that many journalists feel burned by the administration's WMD claims during the run-up to war and that their coverage has gotten tougher over the past year. Will attitudes harden on both sides if they have to coexist for another four years?

Well, it's odd to blame the Administration both for the Palme leak and for trying to plug it, but at any rate, it just seems terribly unlikely that this election ends with a narrowly divided Congress if the President wins or that Mr. Kerry could win without carrying at least the Senate too. If, as seems likely, this election boils down to a choice between change, as represented by Mr. Bush, and stasis or even retreat, as represented by Mr. Kerry, then aren't folks almost certain to vote the same way further down the ticket? And in either scenario the victor would have a pretty clear mandate from the people to do what he's said he'll do, or not do in Mr. Kerry's case.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 AM


The man behind the legend: a review of The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great By Steven Pressfield (Steven Martinovich, October 25, 2004, Enter Stage Right)

The novel, however, is not merely an account of the Macedonian army's successful battles. Pressfield elevates The Virtues of War by turning into a study of leadership. As talented at warfare that Alexander was, the challenges he faced two and a half millennia ago are little different from what a commander must grapple with today. Though Alexander was driven to take his army to the ends of the earth, he led ordinary men. While he seemed to know no limits to his abilities or endurance, he had to deal with an army that satiated with wealth and victory after years of campaigning eventually wanted to go home. After the defeat of the Persian king Darius, for example, Alexander is faced with an army encamped in Babylon that feels its job is complete.

"I cannot stay angry at my brothers and countrymen. But what can I do? ... The men like it here. They're getting a taste for the easy life. Many even prattle of turning back -- to Syria or Egypt, where they can throw their money around, or home, to pitch their yarns and set themselves up as petty lords."

Other pressures Alexander faced should resonate with military commanders today. Headquartered in what is today modern Iraq, Alexander must pacify a vast kingdom filled with corruption, violence and intrigue before he can move on to his next objective. Later, in Afghanistan, he is faced with savage guerilla warfare conducted by tribes who would rather die than live under the yoke of a foreign conqueror. His tactics must constantly be evolving to deal with new threats, particularly because Alexander practices maneuver warfare utilizing a smaller but faster force in comparison to the vast numbers his enemies bring to bear. The Virtues of War sometimes reads like a modern battlefield report from the Pentagon.

Pressfield humanizes Alexander by portraying him not as an inhumanely efficient killing machine, a Macedonian version of Achilles for example, but rather as a commander that eventually begins to question himself. Though he is always confident of his superlative abilities, thanks to an inhuman spirit that exists within him that drives him on a quest for more glory, Alexander is also aware of his limitations. He realizes that the 'daimon' that compels him to conquer the world also holds its own threat to him. Like all great men he realizes that he needs his daimon, that inhuman spirit, if he is to exist -- he will either be king of everything or nothing at all -- but that it will consume him in the process.

Of course, if you're unfamiliar with Mr. Pressfield you should start with his best, Gates of Fire.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:42 AM


Committed couples have better sex (LISA FRYDMAN, October 25, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

What would Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda say? After years of being told that guilt-free hookups are OK, single women are now having second thoughts.

In a recent Oprah.com survey of nearly 3,000 American women on how they feel about casual sex, 80 percent of those polled said they regretted hooking up. Sex without strings attached has left many women feeling empty and, in some cases, "slutty."

The findings amazed Alexa Joy Sherman, co-author with Nicole Tocantins, of The Happy Hookup: A Single Girl's Guide to Casual Sex, who conducted the online poll.

"What was truly surprising about the poll was that so many women had strong regrets about hooking up," Sherman says.

Imagine? Treating yourself with contempt makes you contemptuous of yourself.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:35 AM


India's irons in the Afghan fire: India couldn't be happier as Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai cruises toward victory, despite allegations of voter fraud. New Delhi has much at stake in the war-torn country, in terms of both security and economics. After all, the road to Central Asia leads right through Afghanistan. (Ramtanu Maitra, 10/25/04, Asia Times)

Four days after the Afghan presidential election was held, amid charges of voter fraud and irregularities by 15 of the 18 candidates, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarma called the polls a "historic milestone" in the country's "journey towards peace, stability and prosperity". Using phrases otherwise heard only in Washington, Sarma said: "The people of Afghanistan defied the threat of terrorism and came out in strength to exercise their right to vote." [...]

To begin with, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is destined to be the first president of Afghanistan - his main rival conceded defeat even before election workers began counting the final votes - spent years in India during his student days. As a result, not only does Karzai have many friends in India, but he himself has a strong affinity toward India. Since 2001, when the United States entrusted him with the power of running a highly fractious Afghanistan, formalizing the process through an international consensus called the Bonn Agreement, India has stayed in close touch with Karzai and provided him with some much-needed infrastructural support. Karzai's relationship with India remains vastly more cordial than his relationship with Pakistan.

Indians point out that under the previous Taliban regime Afghanistan had become a breeding ground for terrorists and Islamic jihadis, many of whom found their way to the Indian side of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, intensifying the violent campaign against New Delhi. It was also widely acknowledged that the Taliban government was working closely with Islamabad, creating the potential for Pakistan to exert influence in Central Asia. The Taliban-Pakistan nexus was wholly unacceptable to India, and the US invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban in the winter of 2001 was most cordially welcomed by New Delhi. India also welcomed the United States' efforts to break the Taliban-Pakistan alliance and install a non-fundamentalist Karzai, who belongs to the Pushtun-Afghan community.

Karzai's visit to India in 2003 and his interaction with New Delhi over the last three years are indicators that he trusts India. Recently, a few weeks before the presidential election, Karzai made it a point to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. According to New Delhi, the election of Karzai as the Afghan president would help not only to consolidate growing bilateral ties, but would also provide New Delhi an opportunity to broaden its vista in that part of Asia.

The interests of India and America coincide almost completely.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:29 AM


On Kerry, Bush and bin Laden: The still missing Osama bin Laden has become an issue in the battle for the US presidency, with just a week to go before the election. But was the Bush administration really at fault, as challenger John Kerry alleges, for losing bin Laden at Tora Bora by "outsourcing" the job of capturing him to Afghan warlords? Yes and no, notes B Raman, but other questions are far more important: Where is Osama now? Is he even alive? (B Raman, 10/25/04, Asia Times)

Before the start of the US-led invasion of Iraq last year and coinciding with the end of the Muslim fasting period, bin Laden issued a detailed message to the Iraqi people advising them as to how they should confront the Americans. In his message, which was broadcast by al-Jazeera on February 11, 2003, he described how al-Qaeda under his leadership had fought the Americans at Tora Bora and advised the Iraqis to emulate their example (see The new Iraq-bin Laden connection, Apr 1). Presuming what bin Laden stated was correct, a perusal of his message would show that the US military played an active role in the Tora Bora battle and that Kerry's contention is wrong. However, bin Laden did refer to the role of the Afghan warlords, whom he described as the "forces of the hypocrites, whom they prodded to fight us for 15 days non-stop".

The Tora Bora operation failed for two reasons. First, the warlords and the narcotics barons played a double game. While ostensibly helping the US forces, they kept bin Laden and his fighters informed of the US military movements. Second, Pakistan, on which too the US depended for sealing off its border with Afghanistan to prevent the escape of bin Laden and other jihadi terrorists into Pakistani territory, quietly let them pass.

In fact, bin Laden, who was incapacitated by a shrapnel injury at Tora Bora, was shifted to the Binori madrassa in Karachi, where he was under treatment until August 2002. Since then he has disappeared. He was keeping in touch with his followers through video and audio messages until this April. Since then, he has been observing even electronic silence.

He used to circulate at least three messages every year to his followers - on the anniversary of September 11, 2001, to pay homage to the terrorists who participated in the terrorist strikes in US territory; before the beginning of the Ramadan fasting period; and at the end of the fasting period. This year, he did not issue any message coinciding with September 11. Instead, there was a message from Ayman al-Zawahiri, his No 2. Nor was there a message before the start of the fasting period this Ramadan.

It seems most likely he died at Tora Bora, but even if he's alive somewhere what's the difference if he's been rendered this insignificant and al Qaeda is losing so badly?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 AM


Two Nations in One: A roundup of the past two weeks' good news from Iraq. (ARTHUR CHRENKOFF, October 25, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

There are two Iraqs.

The one we more often see and read about is a dangerous place, full of exploding cars, kidnapped foreigners and deadly ambushes. There, reconstruction is proceeding at a snail's pace, frustration boils over, and tensions--political, ethnic, religious--crackle in the air like static electricity before a storm.

The other Iraq is a once prosperous and promising country of 24 million, slowly recovering from the physical and moral devastation of totalitarianism. It's a country whose people are slowly beginning to stand on their own feet, grasp the opportunities undreamed of only two years ago, and dream of catching up on three decades of lost time.

Before he went into the witness protection program, John Edwards used to tell us there were two Americas--so we've succeeded in making Iraq just like us.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 9:17 AM


Canada's child care is failing, OECD says (Margaret Philp, Globe and Mail, October 25th, 2004)

Canada's child-care system is a fragmented, money-wasting patchwork of programs that provides babysitting for working parents but disregards a growing body of global research that shows educating preschool minds provides lifelong dividends, says a new OECD report.

At a time when other industrialized countries are pouring money into early-education systems for children younger than formal school age, Canada is languishing in terms of quality and investment in education and care for children, the OECD says. [...]

The review of Canada, one of 20 nations whose early-learning policies have come under OECD scrutiny, paints a picture of a child-care system adrift, with no overarching vision. It is underfunded, with pitiful staff salaries and subsidies inequitably doled out to a small number of the poorest families. The premises of child-care centres are often shabby, workers are poorly trained and frequently quit. Many centres catering to aboriginal families are low-quality with "tokenistic concessions to indigenous language." And waiting lists are long, with more than half of Canadian children stuck in unregulated care.

"Canada certainly would not be as energetic about young children and the development of young children as the Nordic countries, countries like Finland and Sweden," Dr. Bennett said.

"They are more concerned about young children and giving the best that a country can afford to young children. Even today, the U.K. is making huge investments in children that Canada is not matching, given the size of the population.

"There needs to be some sort of a policy agreement about the services for young children to give them as high a quality as possible." [...]

The report calls on the federal and provincial governments to draft a coherent vision for a publicly funded, universal system of early-childhood learning and care, based on the latest social science, with hard and fast steps, benchmarks, time frames and budgets for putting into place a program in every province that would be the cornerstone of Canadian family policy.

These days, it takes an uncommonly clear-thinking parent to overcome the neurotic fear that two-year old Johnny is underachieving and ask how a comprehensive policy on pre-school childcare can exclude any consideration of parental rights, duties and wishes. Those who do can expect to be told they are selfishly blocking the efforts of very important experts to serve their children through an overarching vision marked by hard and fast steps.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 AM


Security Council members deny meeting Kerry (Joel Mowbray, 10/24/04, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

U.N. ambassadors from several nations are disputing assertions by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he met for hours with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

An investigation by The Washington Times reveals that while the candidate did talk for an unspecified period to at least a few members of the panel, no such meeting, as described by Mr. Kerry on a number of occasions over the past year, ever occurred. [...]

"This president hasn't listened. I went to meet with the members of the Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I talked to all of them, to find out how serious they were about really holding Saddam Hussein accountable," Mr. Kerry said of the Iraqi dictator.

Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in December 2003, Mr. Kerry explained that he understood the "real readiness" of the United Nations to "take this seriously" because he met "with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about what they saw as the path to a united front in order to be able to deal with Saddam Hussein."

But of the five ambassadors on the Security Council in 2002 who were reached directly for comment, four said they had never met Mr. Kerry. The four also said that no one who worked for their countries' U.N. missions had met with Mr. Kerry either.

In all fairness to the Senator, no one thought he meant it when he said these things, did they? It was just good, old-fashioned hyperbole. The surprise here isn't that he didn't meet with all but that he met with any.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:58 AM


Crash Mystery Could Be Explained: Safety board is set to report on what brought down an Airbus three years ago. An SUV rollover may hold the answer, an expert says. (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, October 25, 2004, LA Times)

The hearing is expected to take place in an acrimonious atmosphere — rare for aviation investigations.

The airline and a former NTSB aviation safety chief have accused Airbus Industrie, the European manufacturer of the A300, of withholding information that might have helped prevent the accident. The top Airbus safety official has strongly rejected the charge.

What is not in question is what the copilot, who was flying the plane, did just before the catastrophic structural failure. Minutes after taking off without incident from John F. Kennedy International Airport, the copilot apparently reacted to turbulence, which shook the Airbus as it was hit by the invisible wake of a larger plane, by working the rudder controls back and forth in rapid sequence.

The rudder is a large movable flap on the rear of the tail fin. It is operated by a system of pedals, and normally pilots make little use of the rudder in flight.

The copilot's first rudder command might have been intended to help level the plane. But it jolted the big jet, and his subsequent back-and-forth action on the rudder is believed to have generated the destructive forces that doomed the plane.

The A300's tail cannot withstand the stress of that maneuver, manufacturers said. It ripped off, sending the plane crashing to earth.

The question at the heart of the investigation is whether the copilot could or should have known about the design limitations.

Airbus memos distributed to the NTSB and the airline well before the crash cautioned against moving the rudder back and forth during emergency maneuvers because it could cause stress on a plane's tail beyond safety limits. But the admonitions were in papers that dealt with a range of issues, and were not prominently noted.

The NTSB investigation has found that, prior to the crash, airline pilots were generally not aware of the potential for such a structural failure. Most pilots assumed that they could make full use of the rudder and other aircraft controls within normal operating speeds.

Now, new evidence in the investigation could help to explain the actions of copilot Sten Molin.

In a technical report commissioned by the NTSB, a UC Davis aeronautical engineering professor concluded that the accident was "consistent with" a phenomenon that is rare in civilian aviation, though it sometimes occurs with pilots in high-performance military planes.

What happens, according to the expert, Ronald A. Hess, is analogous to a driver rolling over a sport utility vehicle.

Hess said the driver of a top-heavy SUV might make a hard turn to avoid road debris, only to feel the vehicle tilting sideways at an unexpectedly sharp rate. That could prompt the driver to swerve in the opposite direction, only to get the SUV leaning even more. With another sharp turn, the vehicle could flip.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 AM


Of mice and moles: Brian Jacques's Redwall novels delight loyal young audience (David Mehegan, October 25, 2004, Boston Globe)

Ask most adults to name an author of British fantasy-adventures for kids, and the first name you'll hear is J.K. Rowling, or possibly J.R.R. Tolkien. But millions of kids would mention a name less widely known to adults: the swashbuckling Brian Jacques.

Brian Jacques (pronounced ''Jakes") of Liverpool is the author of the 17 (so far) action-packed Redwall novels, in which sword-wielding mice, badgers, squirrels, rabbits, and shrews defend the ancient Redwall Abbey of Mossflower Country against the depredations of evil stoats, rats, ermine, and suchlike villains. Unlikely as it sounds, these books have a fanatical following.

''There was always something about these books," said Betsey Detwiler, owner of Buttonwood Books in Cohasset. ''Kids were crazy to read them, they would struggle to read them on their own, and a lot of them would learn to read because of them." Redwall novels are long -- 350 to 400 pages -- and while critics marveled that kids would read the doorstop Harry Potter novels, it passed unnoticed that they have been reading Redwall since 1986.

The books are aimed at ages 9-15, though they appear to be about right for those 10-11. Translated into 16 languages, including braille, there are millions of Redwall books in print, according to publisher Philomel, a division of Penguin. ''Rakkety Tam," the newest in the series, hit number five on The New York Times children's bestseller list. There are audio versions, read by Jacques. An animated Redwall has been running recently on 'GBH Kids, a cable TV channel. There's even an opera, ''The Legend of Redwall Abbey," produced by OperaDelaware in 1998.

In style and content, the ''Redwall" novels combine elements of Patrick O'Brian, Homer's ''Illiad," J.R.R. Tolkien, and Kenneth Grahame's ''The Wind in the Willows." The mythical Mossflower country is closely modeled on rural England, with the flavor of North Wales, Scotland, and the borderlands -- full of castles, mountains, forests, and rivers. The characters speak in heavy dialect, such as Molespeak, and break into swatches of bardic poetry. (One proud mole says, ''Et bee's a gurt honner to bee ee moler, loike oi!")

If the problem with the Harry Potter books is you have to wait too long for the next, the problem with Redwall is every time you turn around there are more on the shelf.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:15 AM


Relativity passes latest test (Physics Web, Oct 20, 2004)

Ciufolini and Pavlis say the total uncertainty in their measurements is plus or minus 10% if they allow for unknown sources of error, and they hope to improve on this accuracy with a new satellite called Weber-sat. Meanwhile results with an accuracy of 1% are expected when the Gravity Probe B mission publishes its first results in early 2006.

"The work of Ciufolini and Pavlis is a relatively straight-forward test of frame-dragging, although it depends on error analyses that are difficult to verify," says John Ries of the University of Texas. "I would say I am cautiously optimistic about the results. However, a big danger in this experiment is that the analysts already know the answer they expect to get -- agreement with general relativity -- so there is a real possibility of a bias towards that result."

At least they have the decency to not even pretend they're doing science anymore--it's just jiggering numbers until they fit your faith.

Posted by David Cohen at 7:39 AM


Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3 (William Shakespeare)

Enter the KING

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
Make him a member of the gentry, even if he is a commoner.
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Before the Battle of Agincourt,
25 October 1415

October 24, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 PM


A Liberian's bittersweet journey back home: The UN predicts that 100,000 Liberians in West Africa will return home by year's end. (Mike Crawley, 10/25/04, CS Monitor)

Joe Geetoe's return to Liberia is part of a hopeful trend: the number of refugees worldwide is dropping, as more people are going home than are fleeing their countries anew. Led by Afghans returning from Pakistan and Iran, more than 3.5 million refugees have gone back to their country of origin since 2002, according to UNHCR.

Refugees have gone back to Liberia before, only to see their country collapse again and again into conflict. Twice in the 1990s, UNHCR organized similar voyages home for Liberians during lulls in the war. This time is different, UN officials say. The peacekeeping force is deployed, the warring factions are being disarmed, the former strongman Taylor is in exile, and elections are planned for next year, they argue.

But aid agency workers say they're worried that too little is being done to help Liberia rebuild its ruined infrastructure, kickstart its economy, and give its frustrated population job opportunities. Without such help, they say war could again envelop Liberia.

Liberia, like Haiti, is a place it would be better to get right this once than have to keep going back to every few years.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:36 PM


Tunisia opposition shows rare unity ahead of polls (Gulf News, October 24, 2004)

President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, in power for 17 years and accused by critics of seeking a presidency-for-life, is widely expected to win a fourth five-year mandate today.

More than 4.6 million voters in the small North African country will also elect 189 members of parliament, with the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally expected to keep a tight grip on the legislative house.

The rally, late on Friday night and into the early hours of yesterday in the capital Tunis, was the largest held by the opposition in years, witnesses said, and the first time the small and fragmented opposition presented a unified front.

"The enemies of transition to a genuine democracy are trembling now. With us staying together, Tunisia will not be the same the day after the election, whatever the results," Mohamed Harmel, head of the secular Attajdid party, told the crowd.

That's how democracy works--no reason it won't work there as well as anywhere else.

Bahrainis back family law plan (AMIRA AL HUSSAINI, October 24, 2004, Gulf Daily News)

THE majority of Bahrainis back the idea of a family law, according to a nationwide poll.

A written law would protect the rights of women and children and the family as a whole.

The new law should be in line with Islamic Sharia (law) and drawn up by a panel of religious scholars from the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam, as well as law-makers and experts in family issues, according to the field study.

The survey, commissioned by the Supreme Council for Women and conducted by the Bahrain Centre for Studies and Research, shows that the majority of the 1,300 people polled were strongly in favour of a family law.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:32 PM


Syria: U.S. Pressuring Nation on Israel (BASSEM MROUE, October 24, 2004, Associated Press)

The United States is increasing its pressure against Syria to force the Arab state to stop backing anti-Israeli resistance in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon, Syria's information minister said Saturday. [...]

The United States and United Nations have called on Syria to remove its troops from neighboring Lebanon. Washington has also accused Damascus of not doing enough to stop anti-coalition fighters from entering another Arab neighbor, Iraq, and supporting anti-Israeli militants, like Lebanon's Hezbollah.

"Washington wants Damascus to change its stance toward the Lebanese resistance, the Palestinian question and the just and comprehensive peace, which means ending (Israeli) occupation" of all lands captured during the 1967 Mideast war, said Dakhlallah.

Yes, and?

Syria's grip on Lebanon tested: The dominance of Damascus in Lebanese politics gives rise to a new opposition leader. (Nicholas Blanford, 10/25/04, CS Monitor)

Walid Jumblatt has always been an unconventional figure. A former ally of the Soviet Union despite his aristocratic lineage and feudal role as head of Lebanon's Druze community, he has survived assassination attempts and political marginalization, treading a path through the intrigue that colors Lebanon's turbulent politics.

And now Mr. Jumblatt has emerged as the most vocal opponent of Syria's long-running hegemony over Lebanon, at a time when Damascus is under mounting pressure from the United Nations and Washington to stop meddling in the affairs of its tiny neighbor.

With the resignation of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri last week and the slow progress in forming a new Syrian-backed government in Beirut, Lebanon is grappling with its gravest political crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990.

Almost a quarter of this country's 128-seat parliament has boycotted consultations to form the new government. And the deadlock comes as the US has criticized as "inappropriate" the decision to replace Mr. Hariri with Omar Karami, a 70-year-old former premier with close ties to Syria.

Jumblatt paints a bleak future for Lebanon in the coming months. "The indications are bad," he says, speaking in his sprawling ancestral home in this village deep in the forested Chouf mountains south of Beirut. "The security indications are bad, the economic indications are bad ... and now slowly but surely we are living in a police state in Lebanon, similar to Arab regimes. We don't want to be another Arab regime."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:23 PM


John Kerry will make his adoring anti-war groupies look like fools (Edward Luttwak, 24/10/2004, Daily Telegraph)

One of the more amusing spectacles of these less-than- amusing times is the emergence of a Kerry fan club among European anti-war enthusiasts. The letter-writing campaign of The Guardian to the voters of Clark County, Ohio, is especially silly, but is only one of many examples.

Of course many people support John Kerry for the next president of the United States for a variety of reasons - he is credible when he promises to cut the Federal deficit, for example. But to support him in the hope that he would make American military policy more doveish is absurd. All the evidence is that he will do the exact opposite.

Indeed, it was not for nothing that Bob Dole coined the term Democrat Wars too describe the conflicts of the 20th Century. Mr. Kerry, just in order to dispel the wimp factor, would have to put ground troops in Western Pakistan to hunt for Osama's corpse, which would certainly inflame a population that barely tolerates its own government. Likewise, Democrats have reserved their harshest rhetoric for the House of Sa'ud and it's easy to imagine them stumbling into at least diplomatic trouble there. And, of course, the only hope Yasir Arafat has of becoming relevant again is that the Democrats revive him--the Israelis are in no mood for such a turn of events. Combine all this with the Senator's unwillingness to promote democracy in the region, which will only leave it a festering fever swamp, and you've got a far greater likelihood of truly messy wars under a prospective Kerry administration than under President Bush.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:59 PM


Never Apologize, Never Explain: John Kerry's real record as an antiwar activist. (Joshua Muravchik, 11/01/2004, Weekly Standard)

JOHN KERRY SAYS HE IS "PROUD" of his activities in opposition to the Vietnam War. Why, then, have he and his spokesmen consistently misrepresented them? Indeed the Kerry camp has been so effective in obscuring this history that both the New York Times and the Washington Post were forced to run corrections on the subject recently because their reporters relied on misinformation that the Kerry camp had succeeded in putting into wide circulation.

When the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth unveiled the fourth in their series of television ads--this one accusing Kerry of having "secretly met with the enemy" in Paris--both papers went into full debunking mode. The Post ran 600 words under the headline: "Ad Says Kerry 'Secretly' Met With Enemy; But He Told Congress of It." The story explained that the Swifties were "referring to a meeting Kerry had in early 1971 with leaders of the communist delegation that was negotiating with U.S. representatives at the Paris peace talks. The meeting, however, was not a secret. Kerry . . . mentioned it in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April of that year."

The next morning the Post ran a correction. The previous day's story, it noted, "incorrectly said that John F. Kerry met with a Vietnamese communist delegation in Paris in 1971. The meeting was in 1970." The correction did not acknowledge, however, that this apparently minor error invalidated the entire point of the Post's impeachment of the Swifties' ad. Kerry's visit to Paris took place in or around May 1970, eleven months before his Foreign Relations Committee testimony. In other words, his meeting with the Communists (while he was still a reserve officer in the U.S. Navy) appears to have been kept secret for nearly a year. [...]

Why all the obfuscation from the Kerry camp? Because his activities were not as innocent as he would like them to be remembered. The antiwar movement, broadly speaking, had two wings. To one, the war was a tragedy: America's actions were well-intentioned but misguided. To the other, the war was a crime: America's motives were less worthy of sympathy than those of its enemies. Kerry sometimes sounded as if he were in the former camp, as when he warned against being "the last man to die for a mistake." More often, he was in the latter camp, as when he accused American forces of "crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command," a kind of language he never used about the behavior of Communist forces.

America had gotten so far off track that we needed a "revolution" to recapture our founding principles, Kerry said, while also suggesting that our enemies were more in tune with those principles. Ho Chi Minh, he declared, was "the George Washington of Vietnam" who was trying "to install the same provisions into the government of Vietnam" that appeared in the U.S. Constitution.

Which would make Zarqawi the George Washington of Iraq.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:51 PM


More blacks give GOP a closer look (Gregory Lewis, October 24, 2004, Orlando Sun-Sentinel)

The Rev. O'Neal Dozier recently spent a weekend knocking on doors in West Palm Beach's black community canvassing votes for President Bush.

"The results were very mixed," said Dozier, pastor of Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach. "At one house they'd tell you, `I'm not interested. I'm going to vote for Kerry.' But at the next house, they would sit and listen."

Dozier, who was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to Broward County's judicial nominating committee in 2001, said his pitch might emphasize the Republican Party's abolitionist roots. If the family regarded themselves as Christians, he would focus on the president's opposition to homosexual marriage and abortion.

Either way, Dozier is among a growing group of black leaders trying to bring African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans into the Republican fold.

Black Republicans are a demographic group often ridiculed by other African-Americans, who sometimes portray them as "sellouts." The late Buddy Watts, the father of former Republican Congressman J.C. Watts, once said, "A black person voting for a Republican makes about as much sense as a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders."

But in this age of White House faith-based initiatives and a growing black middle class, many blacks no longer view black Republicans as self-haters.

"Black people have gotten past the whole voodoo thing with black Republicans," said Michael Brady, co-chairman of the president's re-election committee in Palm Beach County.

We're still not convinced there's any fire here, but there's an awful lot of smoke.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:22 PM


Jakarta opens its doors on security (Mark Forbes, October 25, 2004, The Age)

The new Indonesian administration has opened the door to a security treaty with Australia and raised the prospect of unprecedented integration into the region.

In Indonesia's first response to Foreign Minister Alexander Downer tentatively floating a broad security pact a week ago, his counterpart, Hassan Wirayuda, has backed enhancing relations and said a security treaty would be important for strengthening ties.

Speaking exclusively to The Age, Mr Wirayuda also urged Australia to adopt a broader Association of South-East Asian Nations treaty of friendship and co-operation, suggesting Australia could become a full dialogue partner of ASEAN and possibly even join the prestigious ASEAN+3 grouping.

The comments are a significant breakthrough for Canberra's renewed push into Asia. They show a remarkable resurrection of the relationship with Indonesia following the 1999 East Timor crisis.

Every time a bomb goes off (outside Spain) we win.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:19 PM


No time for Kerry's Europhile delusions (MARK STEYN, October 24, 2004, Chicago SUN-TIMES)

There are legitimate differences of opinion about the war, but they don't include Kerry's silly debater's points. On the one hand, the Tora borer drones that Bush "outsourced" the search for Osama bin Laden to the Afghans, though at the time he supported it ("It is the best way to protect our troops," he said in December 2001. "I think we have been doing this pretty effectively."). But, on the other, he claims he's going to outsource Iraq to the French and the Germans, though neither of them wants anything to do with it.

As for this Bush-failed-to-get-bin-Laden business, 2-1/2 years ago I declared that Osama was dead and he's never written to complain. There's no more evidence for his present existence than there is for the Loch Ness monster, which at least does us the courtesy of showing up as a indistinct gray blur on a photograph every now and again. Osama is lying low because he's in no condition to get up. [...]

The war against the Islamists and the flu-shot business are really opposite sides of the same coin. I want Bush to win on Election Day because he's committed to this war and, as the novelist and Internet maestro Roger L. Simon says, "the more committed we are to it, the shorter it will be.'' The longer it gets, the harder it will be, because it's a race against time, against lengthening demographic, economic and geopolitical odds. By "demographic," I mean the Muslim world's high birth rate, which by mid-century will give tiny Yemen a higher population than vast empty Russia. By "economic," I mean the perfect storm the Europeans will face within this decade, because their lavish welfare states are unsustainable on their shriveled post-Christian birth rates. By "geopolitical," I mean that, if you think the United Nations and other international organizations are antipathetic to America now, wait a few years and see what kind of support you get from a semi-Islamified Europe.

So this is no time to vote for Europhile delusions. The Continental health and welfare systems John Kerry so admires are, in fact, part of the reason those societies are dying.

Mr. Kerry offers two quagmires for the price of one: a war in Western Pakistan and a European welfare state.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:19 PM


Safe no more (Shelley Page, Ottawa Citizen, October 24th, 2004)

Consider this: Ten billion condoms were required this year in the developing world -- but only 2.5 billion were available. And in sub-Saharan Africa, a man had access to only three. Other contraceptives are also as rare as gold. In Kenya, not even a drop of the preferred birth control, Depo Provera, is available.

Rural women walk for many hours to distant clinics and dispensaries, only to be turned away because the facilities don't have Norplant or birth control pills.

Countries such as Kenya, struggling to slow their birth rate and stop the spread of HIV, have been devastated by a global contraceptive shortage caused by circumstances, some of them beyond their control: United States policies that promote abstinence over contraception, the indifference of developed nations, corruption and inefficiencies within their own country, and the rise of HIV/AIDS.

Last month, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) predicted the acute shortage of family planning counselling and contraceptives in developing countries will cause a population explosion.

Already, there are more young people on the planet than any time in history. The latest figures show that half of the world's 6.4 billion people are under 25, while 20 per cent are aged 10 to 19.

"We are facing a disaster," says David Adriance, a Nairobi-based health care worker with EngenderHealth, a U.S.-based organization that provides reproductive health care services for the world's poorest women. "We have the largest cohort of young people that the world has ever known. These kids are hitting reproductive age and we have nothing in place for them. No sex education. No contraception. Few services."

There is something for everybody in this rambling, incoherent piece. It is definitely a challenge to figure out exactly what the population control industry is trying to say these days. It seems Africa is so poor it can’t make or buy condoms, so it needs billions of them donated from the West, but Africans don’t like to use them much, so it needs the pill and Norplant, which don’t prevent AIDS, which is spreading fast because of the lack of the condoms Africans won’t use, so the continent is being ravaged by death, but there this terrifying new population explosion....

Oh, heck, there are too many Africans and it’s Bush’s fault.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:09 PM


Decision Iraq: Would Kerry Have Done Things Differently? (Bob Woodward, October 24, 2004, Washington Post)

The role of commander in chief is clearly one of the president's most important jobs. But a presidential campaign provides voters little opportunity to evaluate how a candidate would handle that role, particularly if the candidate isn't an incumbent.

At the end of last year, during 3 1/2 hours of interviews over two days, I asked President Bush hundreds of detailed questions about his actions and decisions during the 16-month run-up to the war in Iraq. His answers were published in my book "Plan of Attack." Beginning on June 16, I had discussions and meetings with Sen. John Kerry's senior foreign policy, communications and political advisers about interviewing the senator to find out how he might have acted on Iraq -- to ask him what he would have done at certain key points. Senior Kerry advisers initially seemed positive about such an interview. One aide told me, "The short answer is yes, it's going to happen."

In August, I was talking with Kerry's scheduler about possible dates. On Sept. 1, Kerry began his intense criticism of Bush's decisions in the Iraq war, saying "I would've done almost everything differently." A few days later, I provided the Kerry campaign with a list of 22 possible questions based entirely on Bush's actions leading up to the war and how Kerry might have responded in the same situations. The senator and his campaign have since decided not to do the interview, though his advisers say Kerry would have strong and compelling answers.

Because the interview did not occur, it is not possible to do the side-by-side comparison of Bush's record and Kerry's answers that I had envisioned. But it seems to me that the questions themselves offer a useful framework for thinking about the role of a president who must decide whether to go to war.

Here are the 22 questions, edited only for clarity...

No one has done more over the last thirty years to advance the conservative cause than Bob Woodward, as this virtual endorsement of George W. Bush further demonstrates.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:41 PM

RED HAWAII (via mc):

Bush takes lead
in Hawaii poll
(Richard Borreca, 10/24/04, Honolulu Star Bulletin)

President Bush is now ahead of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, according to a new statewide Star-Bulletin and KITV 4 News poll.

The numbers show a shift in Hawaii voters towards the Republican president. The new poll of 612 registered voters who said they are likely to vote in the election has Bush with a one percent lead. In August, Kerry was leading by seven percentage points.

The margin of error is plus or minus four points. The poll was taken Oct. 17 to 20 by Hawaii-based SMS Research. [...]

Bush is winning 51 percent of the male vote in Hawaii, while Kerry is picking up 47 percent of the female vote. Bush also leads with more than half of the vote among those 35 to 44 and those 55 to 64. Kerry is strongest in Hawaii with younger voters. He has 60 percent of those 18 to 24 and 54 percent of those 25 to 34.

According to the poll's breakdown along ethnic lines, Caucasians equally support Bush and Kerry. But, Filipino-American voters are overwhelmingly in support of Bush, by a 56 to 36 percent margin. Half of Japanese-American voters support Kerry, while more than half of the Hawaiian and part-Hawaiian voters support Bush.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:52 PM


Chinese-American faces Iranian-born Republican (Patrick O'Connor, 10/24/04, The Hill)

Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.), who says he is the first and only Chinese-American to serve in the House, has raised funds from Chinese-Americans across the country. Now, his Iranian-born Republican challenger is using a similar tactic in her own fundraising.

Goli Ameri, a telecommunications consultant, has used her connections within the Iranian-American community to raise money for her campaign to unseat the third-term Democrat.

Ameri has raised over $550,000 from Iranian-Americans, according to her campaign.

Sit her next to Tancredo.

GOP Shifts, Pursues Immigrant Votes (Jill Stewart, 10/22/04, Jewish Journal of Los Angeles)

Kermanian, an Iranian Jewish immigrant, is still rawly aware of how people’s lives in his native Iran are under the strict control of Islamist radicals.

“We understand what the president is doing, and we support him strongly,” said Kermanian, who stepped down as chairman of the Iranian American Jewish Federation in Los Angeles to join the Bush ’04 campaign team. “Immigrants look at how the world really is, so they no longer support just the Democrats.”

It was no surprise, then, when Bush spoke several words of Spanish during his nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in New York City. The gesture went virtually unremarked by the media and caused nary a ripple of discernible backlash in his party.

Ten years ago, veering outside the English language to appeal to a special group of mostly Democratic voters would have been front-page news across the land, but today the imagery of the Republican leadership reaching out to heavily Democratic immigrants is not only commonplace, it’s indicative of a major shift in views and strategy.

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told his up-by-his-bootstraps tale at the RNC, it was not merely a personal story from the Republican Party’s most famous moderate. It was also a direct appeal to immigrants, using the GOP’s message of personal responsibility and eventual triumph.

These two RNC moments are indicative of an almost imperceptible change inside the Republican Party to not only reach out to immigrants but to target the message and explain the GOP philosophy as never before. There may be only minor dividends to show for it this November, but Republicans are energized about their chance to make inroads with traditionally Democratic immigrant voters.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:42 PM


Resting on their laureates: Kerry leads Bush in endorsements from Nobelists. But does expert opinion matter in politics? (Christopher Shea, October 24, 2004, Boston Globe)

In August, the Kerry campaign boasted that 10 Nobel laureates in economics -- ranging from the redoubtable 1970 laureate Paul Samuelson to 2001 winners George A. Akerlof and Joseph E. Stiglitz -- had endorsed their man's economic proposals. The gap between the candidates on economic issues is "wider than in any other Presidential election in our experience," the Nobelists declared, citing Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy and soaring deficits. Kerry, they contended, would "restore fiscal responsibility" and put Social Security and Medicaid back on solid footing.

Akerlof, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, reiterated in a recent interview that this year presented an unusually stark choice. "We are really appalled by Bush policies across the board," he said. "One can usually say there are good things about Democratic policy and good things about Republican policy. But you have to be extreme to support this administration."

Six other Nobel laureates in economics disagree, however. They include free-market icon Milton Friedman and this year's co-winner, Edward C. Prescott, of Arizona State University, who, together with 362 other American economists, signed on with Bush this year. "All in all John Kerry favors economic policies that, if implemented, would lead to bigger and more intrusive government and a lower standard of living for the American people," their statement read. [...]

Elliot Cohen, a military strategy specialist at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies who has been called more than once "the most influential neocon in academe," suggests that the Bushies could drum up academic support if they wanted it.

But perhaps there's a good reason they don't. "Professors are, for better or worse, a rather unimportant class of people politically," says Cohen, who insists he has no party affiliation. "This is a painful truth that they do not, for the most part, choose to face."

Would anyone who hasn't been comatose since the 1930s prefer the endorsement of the socialist Samuelson to the capitalist Friedman?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:23 PM


India Promotes Idea of Free Trade within East, South Asia (Anjana Pasricha, 24 October 2004, VOA News)

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wants East Asian and South Asian nations to create an integrated market spanning the region from the Himalayas to the Pacific Ocean.

Mr. Singh's call for closer economic integration in Asia came at the third business summit between India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, which was recently held in New Delhi. The call was echoed by several East Asian countries.

According to Mr. Singh, the ASEAN nations, along with China, Japan, South Korea and India, could create an economic community comprising nearly half the world's population. It would be larger than the European Union in terms of income, and bigger than the North American Free Trade Agreement in terms of trade.

Is the Democratic Party the last hideout of protectionism?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:14 PM


Is new media blogging out the old? (SHAWN MACOMBER, 10/24/04, Foster's Sunday Citizen)

"If postmodernism is dead, where are all the pieces?" Michael MacDonald wondered late one evening last week on his blog, A Year’s Subscription (www.ayearssubscription.com). "We are always in an age of postmodernism. It is how we must view the present. It is the lens through which we examine the past. And then we know that there is no past. There is no future. There is only you."

You want to know where all the pieces of postmodernism are? They’re scattered across the Internet, and you couldn’t pick them up and force them back into a single local paper if you wanted to. The inmates are running the asylum, and they don’t need your permission to validate their own opinions.

MacDonald, of South Berwick, who also teaches at the UNH writing center, has stumbled upon something here that thousands of reporters and pundits have missed entirely in this sudden explosion of interest in weblogs, or blogs. Blogs are essentially online diaries open to the world on any topic the writer chooses. The mainstream media, however, is obsessed with the idea that blogs are about Dan Rather and those questionable documents, about real-time fact checking and challenging the status quo. You know, ordinary people sitting at home in their pajamas all day tooling around the Internet, making life for real journalists harder.

MacDonald may not be a New York Times reporter or a CBS executive, but he knows better than that. He knows that blogs are really about "only you," the empowerment of individual voices to be heard to whatever end they choose.

Bloggers are not all unemployed political junkies. [...]

Orrin Judd’s blog, the right-leaning Brothers Judd (www.brothersjudd.com/blog/), began as a regular email to all his friends of interesting articles with his comments tagged on the end. The Brothers Judd simply serves as a version of that old mass email sent to anyone in the world interested in reading it.

"My own belief is that the success of blogs stems from the overflow of information that modern life brings us," Judd, of Hanover, said. "I suspect people use their favorite bloggers as filters, folks who will sift through a large number of stories for them and select out the better ones. This being the political season people are looking for political stories, but there are just so many that they don’t have time to read them all themselves, so bloggers can cull the herd for them."

Judd said he’s skeptical about the current media hype, up to and including suggestions that bloggers could sway the election.

"Their real influence, such that they have, is probably coming from the fact that journalists themselves are relying on blogs to keep abreast of stories," Judd said. "I think though that they generally don’t measure up to the hype. Bloggers have a tendency to want to make the blog be about themselves rather than about the world. The world is an interest the reader shares — the blogger’s life presumably isn’t. Even worse is when bloggers link to other bloggers to argue about picayune points each has made. The entire blogging universe becomes very claustrophobic at that point."

Here are the rules we try to follow:

(1) No profanity.

(2) Minimal self-reference (though none would be unnatural)

(3) Minimal linking to other blogs.

(4) Minimal reference to comments. (Folks who write comments don't get to do so on the front page, so we try not to write about them on the front.)

(5) Try--though I'm bad about this myself--to only quote about three paragraphs, or no more than a third, of any story you blog. We want folks to go read it at the site that owns it. But if you need to use more to make the excerpt make sense, no problem.

(6) Never let it interfere with real life.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:05 PM


Why Tony would vote for Dubya: His advisers have been telling Mr Blair he will be best served by regime change in Washington. The Prime Minister isn't convinced (Andrew Rawnsley, October 24, 2004, The Observer)

When George W Bush's poll ratings recently dipped, every Labour MP cheered. Correction: every Labour MP except one. The Prime Minister fretted to one close friend: 'Whenever Bush weakens in the polls, they start mucking about.'

Who are these 'they' whose 'mucking about' makes Tony Blair so anxious? They are Iran with its sponsorship of terrorism and its ambitions to go nuclear. They are Syria. They are the psychotic regime in North Korea along with the rest of the planet's rogue and risk states.

The mind of Mr Blair was summarised for me in vivid terms by someone who has an extremely good claim to know what is going on inside it: 'Tony thinks the world is a very dangerous and precarious place. Bush is the tough guy who keeps the bad guys under their rocks.'

In seeing virtue in the simplicities of George W Bush, it barely needs saying that Tony Blair is very much in a minority in the world, his country, his govern ment, his party and his cabinet. Every test of opinion tells the same story. Much of the world, many Britons and rather a lot of Americans believe that the planet's most risky rogue state is the United States under its current President. This goes much deeper than visceral anti-Americanism. Middle Britain, the constituency to which Mr Blair is usually most attentive, is overwhelmingly in favour of regime change in Washington. After Michael Howard's falling out with the White House, some Conservative MPs have openly branded this Republican President as a disaster who should be removed from the Oval Office.

Here too you see that it is their religion that binds Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, their shared belief that Evil and Good are at war in the world and that Western values are good.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:54 AM


Evil benign in Kerry's eyes (Jim Wooten, 10/24/04, Atlanta Journal Constitution)

John Kerry will lose the war on terrorism. He'll lose it because he'll abandon it at the first face-saving exit.

His party, and perhaps a majority of Americans, don't have the stomach for protracted war. Like British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, returning home from the Munich Conference in 1938 with an agreement signed by Adolf Hitler to promise "peace in our time," much of the nation, and certainly the political left, is desperate to grasp at the illusion of security — of anything that will allow us to return to the way we were on Sept. 10, 2001.

We yearn for the reassurance of Chamberlain, even the false assurance, that an understanding affirms "the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again."

In John Kerry's worldview, expressed in an interview with the New York Times Magazine, "We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance . . . We're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life."

Like Chamberlain, tranquilized by an inability to comprehend evil, Kerry looks into the face of evil and sees a nuisance, a law enforcement matter that can be held to the level of prostitution and gambling by the elusive international cooperation, as represented by the United Nations, France and Germany.

The catastrophic flaw of the secular is their inability to comprehend evil and to, therefore, believe that Man can be perfected by the application of Reason to politics. when folks whine about the President squandering the national--even global--unity that prevailed briefly after 9-11 what they are actually referring to is the Left reverting to form and forgetting that on that day even they'd been forced to confront the fact of Evil.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:40 AM


The Mystery Of Olga Chekhova by Antony Beevor (C-SPAN, 8 & 11 pm)

In 1920, young Olga Chekhova, the beautiful niece of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, fled Moscow for Berlin—taking only a smuggled diamond ring. Olga quickly won both celebrity as an actress and prominence in the ranks of Germany’s Nazi party, eventually becoming Hitler’s favorite actress. But was she really a sleeper agent recruited by her brother, Lev Knipper, to spy for the Russian NKVD?

Antony Beevor’s The Mystery of Olga Chekhova tells the extraordinary tale of how one family survived the Russian revolution, the civil war, the rise of Hitler, the Stalinist terror, and the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. In putting together this amazing story, Antony Beevor demonstrates how people survived under the terrible pressures of a totalitarian age. He reveals a confusion of courage, idealism, fear, self-sacrifice, opportunism, and betrayal. The most astonishing part of this truly epic tale is that both Olga and Lev would live through this most murderous era in modern history.

Mr. Beevor is one of those uncomfortable-making auithors who forces us to reckon with the fact that the Soviets were no better than the Nazis as they murdered thousands of their own soldiers who wanted no part in fighting to save a Bolshevik regime they hated and then systematically raped their way West.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:10 AM


There's Still Some History to Rewrite (Thomas Boswell, October 24, 2004, Washington Post)

Some well-meaning but silly people thought that the evil spells, bizarre mishaps and totally unaccountable brain cramps that have afflicted the Boston Red Sox since 1918 would suddenly disappear in the World Series just because they erased any and all remnants of such behavior in the American League Championship Series against the Yankees.

Presumably, after just one game of this World Series, such folk have been dissuaded from this romantic folly. On opening night of this installment of the interminable Red Sox quest, Kevin Millar made an unnecessary throw that went into the dugout as a run scored. Bronson Arroyo, for no reason, unleashed a throw into the box seats. And, in a blooper sequence for the ages, left "fielder" Manny Ramirez overran a trickling ground ball single to allow one run to score then, moments later, tried an unnecessary sliding catch on a routine fly ball and failed to glove it, allowing another run to score to tie the game at 9 in the eighth inning.

Sure, Mark Bellhorn won the game, 11-9, for Boston with a two-run homer -- off the right field foul pole -- in the bottom of that inning, his second home run off such a pole in two games. The lucky blow off the Pesky Pole came off Julian Tavarez, who would have been justified in punching a wall and breaking a few bones in his left hand. But he already did that last week.

Still, despite their wacky victory, the subtext of this victory was that the Red Sox played as though they were still a team that has not yet entirely freed itself of its historical baggage. The reason is simple: They haven't.

By the standards of Red Sox Nation that was a laugher--wait'll you see a nail-biter.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 AM


Fear Yields to Hope on This Big Board: Investors brave risks -- physical as well as financial -- at Iraq's reborn stock exchange. (Thomas S. Mulligan, October 24, 2004, LA Times)

When the exchange reopened in June after a name change and a 15-month hiatus for war, Abdul-Salam and other ISX officials were so afraid of attack that they admitted only 20 investors — and no reporters. Since then, holding their breath, they have allowed the crowd to expand to as many as 250 for each two-hour trading session. There's no telephone or computer trading, so if you want to play you have to come in person.

"We'd have 1,000 if I'd let them in," said Abdul-Salam, former research director for the ISX's predecessor, the Baghdad Stock Exchange.

The security fears are pushing the exchange's crash program to shift to a purely electronic marketplace, like the Nasdaq Stock Market, by year's end. In technological terms, it means leaping to the 21st century from the 19th, with its yelling crowd of Iraqi investors, trades scrawled on grease boards, mandatory hand-signed stock certificates and multiple paper records trailing every transaction.

It has to be done because it is too dangerous for the heart of the nation's investment community to be so exposed, even if for just two hours at a time.

"We're talking about the economy of Iraq," declared Mohammad Sadr, a financial consultant to the exchange.

Sadr's claim may sound overblown, considering that the total value of shares changing hands in an ISX session averages $1.5 million — about what the New York Stock Exchange turns over every three-quarters of a second.

Oil, public utilities, mining and other key sectors are a long way from being privatized, let alone forming companies and listing shares on the stock exchange. But to Sadr and other believers in free-market Iraq, the institutions and habits of capitalism ought to be in place when that day arrives.

And the day will arrive.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 AM


Daschle Faces Firmly Rooted GOP Rival
: John Thune has become the party's focus in an effort to unseat the Senate minority leader. Their hopes may rest with 'soft Republicans.' (David Kelly, October 24, 2004, LA Times)

Thune, a 43-year-old former U.S. congressman, is battling Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who is seeking a fourth term. Aside from the presidential contest, some political analysts say, this is the most significant race in the country — one likely to be settled by a thousand votes or less. And it's expected to cost $25 million by the time it's over.

Republicans here and on the national scene are eager to defeat Daschle, a longtime thorn in their side, saying it would be an enormous psychological victory over the Democrats. They have poured money into the state and bombarded the airwaves with commercials claiming the incumbent is two-faced for courting conservatives at home while voting with liberals in Washington. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) even traveled to South Dakota last spring to campaign for Thune.

Daschle "seems to have a split personality," said Randy Frederick, who heads the state GOP. "He attacks [President] Bush in Washington, then runs commercials here showing him hugging Bush."

Thune, who ran against U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat, in 2002 and lost by 524 votes, said Daschle's effort to woo conservatives was disconcerting.

"He's adopted so many conservative positions that I feel like I'm having a debate with myself," Thune said. "Now he won't even answer whether he's pro-choice or not."

Daschle, 56, was unavailable for comment.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:56 AM


HIGH PRICES: How to think about prescription drugs. (MALCOLM GLADWELL, 2004-10-18, The New Yorker)

The problem with the way we think about prescription drugs begins with a basic misunderstanding about drug prices. The editorial board of the Times has pronounced them much too high; Marcia Angell calls them “intolerable.” The perception that the drug industry is profiteering at the expense of the American consumer has given pharmaceutical firms a reputation on a par with that of cigarette manufacturers.

In fact, the complaint is only half true. The “intolerable” prices that Angell writes about are confined to the brand-name sector of the American drug marketplace. As the economists Patricia Danzon and Michael Furukawa recently pointed out in the journal Health Affairs, drugs still under patent protection are anywhere from twenty-five to forty per cent more expensive in the United States than in places like England, France, and Canada. Generic drugs are another story. Because there are so many companies in the United States that step in to make drugs once their patents expire, and because the price competition among those firms is so fierce, generic drugs here are among the cheapest in the world. And, according to Danzon and Furukawa’s analysis, when prescription drugs are converted to over-the-counter status no other country even comes close to having prices as low as the United States.

It is not accurate to say, then, that the United States has higher prescription-drug prices than other countries. It is accurate to say only that the United States has a different pricing system from that of other countries. Americans pay more for drugs when they first come out and less as the drugs get older, while the rest of the world pays less in the beginning and more later. Whose pricing system is cheaper? It depends. If you are taking Mevacor for your cholesterol, the 20-mg. pill is two-twenty-five in America and less than two dollars if you buy it in Canada. But generic Mevacor (lovastatin) is about a dollar a pill in Canada and as low as sixty-five cents a pill in the United States. Of course, not every drug comes in a generic version. But so many important drugs have gone off-patent recently that the rate of increase in drug spending in the United States has fallen sharply for the past four years. And so many other drugs are going to go off-patent in the next few years—including the top-selling drug in this country, the anti-cholesterol medication Lipitor—that many Americans who now pay more for their drugs than their counterparts in other Western countries could soon be paying less.

The second misconception about prices has to do with their importance in driving up over-all drug costs. In one three-year period in the mid-nineteen-nineties, for example, the amount of money spent in the United States on asthma medication increased by almost a hundred per cent. But none of that was due to an increase in the price of asthma drugs. It was largely the result of an increase in the prevalence of usage—that is, in the number of people who were given a diagnosis of the disease and who then bought drugs to treat it. Part of that hundred-per-cent increase was also the result of a change in what’s known as the intensity of drug use: in the mid-nineties, doctors were becoming far more aggressive in their attempts to prevent asthma attacks, and in those three years people with asthma went from filling about nine prescriptions a year to filling fourteen prescriptions a year. Last year, asthma costs jumped again, by twenty-six per cent, and price inflation played a role. But, once again, the big factor was prevalence. And this time around there was also a change in what’s called the therapeutic mix; in an attempt to fight the disease more effectively, physicians are switching many of their patients to newer, better, and more expensive drugs, like Merck’s Singulair.

Asthma is not an isolated case. In 2003, the amount that Americans spent on cholesterol-lowering drugs rose 23.8 per cent, and similar increases are forecast for the next few years. Why the increase? Well, the baby boomers are aging, and so are at greater risk for heart attacks. The incidence of obesity is increasing. In 2002, the National Institutes of Health lowered the thresholds for when people with high cholesterol ought to start taking drugs like Lipitor and Mevacor. In combination, those factors are having an enormous impact on both the prevalence and the intensity of cholesterol treatment. All told, prescription-drug spending in the United States rose 9.1 per cent last year. Only three of those percentage points were due to price increases, however, which means that inflation was about the same in the drug sector as it was in the over-all economy. Angell’s book and almost every other account of the prescription-drug crisis take it for granted that cost increases are evidence of how we’ve been cheated by the industry. In fact, drug expenditures are rising rapidly in the United States not so much because we’re being charged more for prescription drugs but because more people are taking more medications in more expensive combinations. It’s not price that matters; it’s volume.

This is a critical fact, and it ought to fundamentally change the way we think about the problem of drug costs. Last year, hospital expenditures rose by the same amount as drug expenditures—nine per cent. Yet almost all of that (eight percentage points) was due to inflation. That’s something to be upset about: when it comes to hospital services, we’re spending more and getting less. When it comes to drugs, though, we’re spending more and we’re getting more, and that makes the question of how we ought to respond to rising drug costs a little more ambiguous.

drugs have become consumer goods--largely discretionary rather than medically necessary--but in a system that doesn't have normal consumer pressures. A transformation to a Health Savings Account system will, in the first instance, encourage folks to question whether they really need the junk and, in the second, provide incentive for them shop for cheaper options.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:43 AM


Are Europeans Lazy?: No, just overtaxed. (EDWARD C. PRESCOTT, October 24, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans? The answer is important because it suggests policy proposals that will improve European standards of living (which should give a boost to its gross national happiness, by the way). However, an incorrect answer to that question will result in policies that will only exacerbate Europe's problems and could have implications for other countries that are looking for best practices.

Here's a startling fact: Based on labor market statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Americans aged 15-64, on a per-person basis, work 50% more than the French. Comparisons between Americans and Germans or Italians are similar. What's going on here? What can possibly account for these large differences in labor supply? It turns out that the answer is not related to cultural differences or institutional factors like unemployment benefits, but that marginal tax rates explain virtually all of this difference. I admit that when I first conducted this analysis I was surprised by this finding, because I fully expected that institutional constraints are playing a bigger role. But this is not the case. (Citations and more complete data can be found in my paper, at www.minneapolisfed.org.)

Let's take another look at the data. According to the OECD, from 1970-74 France's labor supply exceeded that of the U.S. Also, a review of other industrialized countries shows that their labor supplies either exceeded or were comparable to the U.S. during this period. Jump ahead two decades and you will find that France's labor supply dropped significantly (as did others), and that some countries improved and stayed in line with the U.S. Controlling for other factors, what stands out in these cross-country comparisons is that when European countries and U.S. tax rates are comparable, labor supplies are comparable.

And this insight doesn't just apply to Western industrialized economies. A review of Japanese and Chilean data reveals the same result. This is an important point because some critics of this analysis have suggested that cultural differences explain the difference between European and American labor supplies. The French, for example, prefer leisure more than do Americans or, on the other side of the coin, that Americans like to work more. This is silliness.

Again, I would point you to the data which show that when the French and others were taxed at rates similar to Americans, they supplied roughly the same amount of labor. Other research has shown that at the aggregate level, where idiosyncratic preference differences are averaged out, people are remarkably similar across countries. Further, a recent study has shown that Germans and Americans spend the same amount of time working, but the proportion of taxable market time vs. nontaxable home work time is different. In other words, Germans work just as much, but more of their work is not captured in the taxable market.

I would add another data set for certain countries, especially Italy, and that is nontaxable market time or the underground economy. Many Italians, for example, aren't necessarily working any less than Americans--they are simply not being taxed for some of their labor. Indeed, the Italian government increases its measured output by nearly 25% to capture the output of the underground sector. Change the tax laws and you will notice a change in behavior: These people won't start working more, they will simply engage in more taxable market labor, and will produce more per hour worked.

This analysis has important implications for policy--and not just for Europeans, but for the U.S. as well. For example, much has been made during this election season about whether the current administration's tax cuts were good or bad for the economy, but that is more a political question than a policy consideration and it misses the point. The real issue is about whether it is better to tweak the economy with short-lived stimulus plans or to establish an efficient tax system with low tax rates that do not change with the political climate.

What does this mean for U.S. tax policy? It means that we should stop focusing our attention on the recent tax cuts and, instead, start thinking about tax rates. And that means that we should roll back the 1993 tax rate increases and re-establish those from the 1986 Tax Reform Act. Just as they did in the late 1980s, and just as they would in Europe, these lower rates would increase the labor supply, output would grow and tax revenues would increase.

Steve Forbes for Treasury Secretary.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:34 AM


Cheney says if Kerry had been president, Soviet Union likely would still exist (MARK EVANS, October 23, 2004, Associated Press)

The Soviet Union might still exist and Saddam Hussein might control the Persian Gulf and possess nuclear weapons had Democrat John Kerry been president when the United States faced those regimes, Vice President Dick Cheney said Saturday.

"I think it's a good thing that he wasn't in charge," Cheney said.

Kerry asserted Friday that had he been president during the war

Harsh but fair given the Senator's opposition to everything from the Contras to missile upgrades in Europe to Star Wars.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:28 AM


Behind Candidates' Domestic Plans, an Ideological Gulf (DAVID E. ROSENBAUM and ROBIN TONER, 10/24/04, NY Times)

On social and economic policy, President Bush and Senator John Kerry present a philosophical contrast that is one of the starkest in modern presidential campaigns.

Mr. Bush would, in important ways, break with the underpinnings of the New Deal and the Great Society that have directed the government's domestic policies for generations.

He wants, for example, to allow workers to open private investment accounts with part of their Social Security taxes, so the retirement program would no longer be run entirely by the government.

He proposes giving commercial insurance companies a larger role in Medicare, the government health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.

He favors spending federal elementary and secondary education money, used almost entirely for the benefit of public school students for 40 years, on vouchers to help parents pay tuition at private and parochial schools.

Mr. Bush calls all this an "ownership society" that would rein in the government and give individuals more control over and responsibility for their financial lives, their health care, their children's education and their retirement.

Mr. Kerry promises to sustain and strengthen the government programs enacted under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, and to use government resources to ease the strain on retirees and middle class families caused by the changing economy and the soaring costs of health care and education.

But Mr. Kerry envisions no substantial overhaul of these programs.

That's the divide between the parties in a nutshell: do you support the failed socialist policies of the past that gave us the 1970's or do you want to move ahead into a sustainable future that provides the economic security people demand but by using the free market methods that are more compatible with our national traditions and actually work?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:22 AM


Secret Weapon for Bush? (JOHN TIERNEY, 10/24/04, NY Times)

To Bush-bashers, it may be the most infuriating revelation yet from the military records of the two presidential candidates: the young George W. Bush probably had a higher I.Q. than did the young John Kerry.

That, at least, is the conclusion of Steve Sailer, a conservative columnist at the Web magazine Vdare.com and a veteran student of presidential I.Q.'s. During the last presidential campaign Mr. Sailer estimated from Mr. Bush's SAT score (1206) that his I.Q. was in the mid-120's, about 10 points lower than Al Gore's.

Mr. Kerry's SAT score is not known, but now Mr. Sailer has done a comparison of the intelligence tests in the candidates' military records. They are not formal I.Q. tests, but Mr. Sailer says they are similar enough to make reasonable extrapolations.

Mr. Bush's score on the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test at age 22 again suggests that his I.Q was the mid-120's, putting Mr. Bush in about the 95th percentile of the population, according to Mr. Sailer. Mr. Kerry's I.Q. was about 120, in the 91st percentile, according to Mr. Sailer's extrapolation of his score at age 22 on the Navy Officer Qualification Test.

Linda Gottfredson, an I.Q. expert at the University of Delaware, called it a creditable analysis said she was not surprised at the results or that so many people had assumed that Mr. Kerry was smarter. "People will often be misled into thinking someone is brighter if he says something complicated they can't understand," Professor Gottfredson said.

After all, when he was trying to avoid fighting in Vietnam Mr. Kerry would have flown too if he was smart enough to qualify, no?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:19 AM

'80, '94, '04?

In This Climate, Victory's No Picnic, Either (ROBIN TONER, 10/24/04, NY Times)

THE long and bitter presidential campaign will (it is widely and devoutly hoped) be over in nine days. One man will win, and the voters will be rewarded with either George W. Bush's "ownership society," with sweeping change in Social Security and an overhaul of the tax system, or John Kerry's "stronger America," with a huge new health program and other assistance for the strained middle class.


Actually, probably not.

Theoretically, it could work that way, with a bitter campaign producing a robust mandate, functional control of the government for one party and a season of legislative accomplishment. But not many in Washington expect it to happen this time.

Folks who fret about the seeming closeness of the polls would do well to recall that Reagan upset Carter in 1980--and that was considered minor compared to capturing the Senate--and no one in the national media foresaw the GOP Revolution in 1994.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 AM


Calls to Reinvent a Party (ADAM NAGOURNEY, 10/24/04, NY Times)

In this of all elections, a defeat would have the makings of being especially debilitating for Democrats, given the depth of the party's bench, its continuing search for a unifying message, and the institutional challenges to the party's influence that emerged from independent 527 committees this year.

Most immediately, a large reason that Mr. Kerry captured his party's nomination is that Democratic primary voters concluded he could hold his own on national security. He is, after all, a Vietnam veteran who voted for the war on Iraq.

In this context, a Kerry loss would crystallize an excruciating question for the Democratic Party: Can it ever compete with the Republican Party on a threshold issue that seems likely to be central to American presidential elections for a long time to come?

"If we lose, we are going to have to find an answer to the question of how are we going to keep this country secure,'' said Al From, the head of the Democratic Leadership Council, a group of moderate Democrats who helped elect Bill Clinton president at a time when no one thought or talked about a domestic terrorist attack.

A Democratic consultant, who did not want to be quoted by name speculating on the possibility that Mr. Kerry might lose, said that if that happens, "Democrats will go back to 'What does it take to win?' - except this time, it will be, 'Oh my God! What does it take to win?'

"There will be a push from the left saying we weren't left enough. And there will be a push from the center saying we weren't center enough."

And there will, no doubt, be still another round of intraparty fighting over the war in Iraq, with some Democrats wondering if the party would have been better off nominating someone who opposed the war from the start - say, Howard Dean - as opposed to Mr. Kerry, whose initial vote for the war resolution has proved a constant complication for his presidential campaign.

The problem for Democrats is that they blew their shot at being the Third Way party during the Clinton years, and now George Bush's GOP has decisively claimed that turf. The only place left for them is really to return to a hard Left Second Way ideology--a kind of neo-socialism--which can keep them at 40% and a viable party but one that forfeits the possibility of having much say in the national agenda.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 AM


Netanyahu Gets Tough to Transform Israel's Economy (GREG MYRE, Oct. 24, 2004, NY Times)

As Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushes to reshape Israel's economy, he makes a similar warning to almost everyone: expect to feel some pain.

Mr. Netanyahu, a former prime minister and potentially a future one, has spared no one during his 19 months in his current post.

But he says an improving Israeli economy justifies his tough approach.

He considers it his duty to prod the poor to find jobs and to battle strike-prone unions that he says are dragging down the economy.

He tells middle-class Israelis they will have to live with reduced state benefits and warns the country's largest companies to brace themselves for a more competitive marketplace.

He is even calling for a modest cut in military spending despite the continuing struggle against the Palestinian uprising. [...]

[M]r. Netanyahu and his backers say his approach has contributed to an economic growth rate projected at 4 percent this year, compared with a growth rate of 1 percent in 2003 and declines of 1 percent in 2002 and 2001.

Supporters also give credit to Mr. Netanyahu for substantial tax cuts, a stable currency, a sustained effort to chip away at the large public sector and improved domestic and international confidence in the economy.

American Jews would oppose him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 AM


Cooking His Own Goose: George W. Bush needed to shock and awe to prove he was no wimp. John Kerry shot and ate. (MAUREEN DOWD, 10/24/04, NY Times)

In yet another attempt to prove to George W. Bush that he is man enough to run this country, John Kerry made an animal sacrifice to the political gods in a cornfield in eastern Ohio last week.

Four dead geese are not too high a price to pay for a few rural, blue-collar votes in a swing state. As long as Mr. Kerry doesn't slip and ask Teresa to purée the carcasses into foie gras.

Tromping about in a camouflage costume and toting a 12-gauge double-barreled shotgun that shrieked "I am not a merlot-loving, brie-eating, chatelaine-marrying dilettante," the Democratic nominee emerged from his shooting spree with three fellow hunters proclaiming, "Everybody got one, everybody got one," showing off a hand stained with goose blood.

One of my first presidential trips was going to Texas one weekend to cover Ronald Reagan hunting with James Baker at Mr. Baker's ranch. President Reagan came back proudly empty-handed. He didn't want to shoot any small animals.

Mr. Kerry did, to his credit, keep the polls close enough that he's only going to get a week of his side turning on him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 AM


Top doctors warn Scots face NHS disaster (EDDIE BARNES, 10/24/04, The Scotsman)

THE NHS in Scotland faces imminent "disaster" as a result of the government’s failure to recruit enough skilled medics, the country’s leading doctors warned last night.

Top surgeons, anaesthetists, consultants and GPs delivered a unanimous rebuke to ministers, revealing the massive extent of the shortfall in doctors’ numbers which they said was leading to an unprecedented crisis for the health service.

The criticism - contained in a hard-hitting report to be published this week - amounts to one of the most damaging assessments ever of Executive health strategy by the health profession.

In a series of dire warnings from doctors’ leaders, it is predicted that by 2012, Scotland will be short of 500 GPs, meaning almost one in eight posts will be vacant.

And as they start importing young Third Worlders they stop being Scottish at some point.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:56 AM


Innovative Tactics Scoring Against Insurgents North of Baghdad - for Now (DENIS D. GRAY, 10/23/04, Associated Press)

When U.S. civilian authorities were rooting out Saddam Hussein loyalists, Col. Dana J.H. Pittard recruited 41 of them as advisers and encouraged them to stay in contact with the very insurgents who were fighting his men.

Discovering that a respected Muslim cleric had been in prison for 10 months, Pittard and a small contingent helicoptered 300 miles to the lockup in full battle gear, and confronted military police guards, demanding that they free him. "We made it very clear we wouldn't leave without him," Pittard said. Otherwise, he added jokingly: "I think we would have kidnapped him."

Pittard, commander of an American infantry brigade in the once insurgency-rife province of Diyala, is outspoken and his tactics don't always follow the textbook. But he believes they have produced a "recipe for success" at Baghdad's vital northern gateway.

It includes everything from driving wedges between rebel factions to forbidding his troops to be rude to Arabs.

A Harvard-educated military aide to former President Clinton, the colonel from El Paso, Texas, also believes that contrary to what some military analysts think, a conventional U.S. Army unit with the right training, tactics and mind-set can defeat the rebellion.

While Pittard and others acknowledge the insurgency remains active and could again worsen, he points to evidence of a sharp decrease in attacks in the largely agricultural region of some 1.7 million people.

No other military has ever had a more consistent record of recovering from flawed tactics by innovating quickly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:32 AM


Somalia asks AU for peacekeepers (BBC, 10/23/04)

Somalia's newly elected president has asked the African Union to send 20,000 peacekeepers to help make his country secure and disarm militias.

Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed made his request at a meeting in Ethiopia with the chairman of the AU's Commission, Alpha Oumar Konare.

He also made an appeal for peacekeepers at his swearing-in ceremony last week.

Mr Abdullahi is expected to discuss a possible mission with the AU's Peace and Security Council on Monday.

"The president has formally asked the AU for a 20,000-strong peacekeeping force to help in collecting millions of small arms known to be owned by the Somali people," AU spokesman Adam Thiam said.

The European Union's foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who is also on a visit to Addis Ababa, said the EU would consider helping to train Somali security forces.

Here's another benefit from crushing al Qaeda, which had ties to Somali warlords, and Saddam, who Somalia's last leader was pulling for.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 AM


David Barton & the 'Myth' of Church-State Separation: The Bush campaign has hired a controversial activist who calls the U.S. a 'Christian nation' (Deborah Caldwell, Belief Net)

The Republican National Committee is employing the services of a Texas-based activist who believes the United States is a “Christian nation” and the separation of church and state is “a myth.”

David Barton, the founder of an organization called Wallbuilders, was hired by the RNC as a political consultant and has been traveling the country for a year--speaking at about 300 RNC-sponsored lunches for local evangelical pastors. During the lunches, he presents a slide show of American monuments, discusses his view of America’s Christian heritage -- and tells pastors that they are allowed to endorse political candidates from the pulpit.

Barton, who is also the vice-chairman of the Texas GOP, told Beliefnet this week that the pastors' meetings have been kept “below the radar.... We work our tails off to stay out of the news.” But at this point, he says, with voter registration ended in most states and early voting already under way, staying quiet about the activity “doesn’t matter.”

Barton’s main contention is that the separation of church and state was never intended by the nation’s founders; he says it was created by the Supreme Court in the 20th Century. The back cover of his 1989 book, “The Myth of Separation,” proclaims: “This book proves that separation of church and state is a myth.” Barton is also on the board of advisers of the Providence Foundation, a Christian Reconstructionist group that advocates America as a Christian nation.

Mr. Barton's point is historically accurate and can't be controverted.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:48 AM


Iran rejects EU nuclear proposal (ABC News, October 24th, 2004)

Iran today rejected a European Union proposal that it stop enriching uranium in return for nuclear technology, increasing the likelihood that it will be reported to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

Diplomats had said if Iran rejected the proposal drafted by Britain, Germany and France, most EU countries would back a US demand that Tehran be reported to the Security Council when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meets on November 25. [...]

Washington accuses oil-rich Iran of using its nuclear program as a veil for developing an atomic arsenal.

Diplomats said Iran's negotiating tactics may be an attempt to buy more time or squeeze more concessions from the Europeans.

"But they're in grave danger of miscalculating how resolved we are this time," said a European diplomat.

This time? Wow, it looks like Iran is going to be hit with Europe’s special doublegood resolve. No sign yet, though, that they are considering stern sanctions.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 AM


Left Good. Right Bad. It's Called Art.: A conservative hero in a movie? That'll be the day. (Andrew Klavan, October 18, 2004, LA Times)

Here's my new idea for a thriller. An ordinary guy wakes up one morning and his wife — who has joyfully devoted her life to him — has disappeared. His neighbor — a kind and intellectual Christian conservative — has become invisible. And his best friend — a peaceful man who supports the war in Iraq — has lost the power to speak. It's scary stuff, all right. I'm going to call it: "The Arts in America."

I don't like to make sweeping statements about the arts because there are always many exceptions. But I have a solid observational berth — I'm a novelist and screenwriter; I'm well read; I go to the movies often — and I can't help noticing that, in the last 25 years or so, large segments of the American population have practically vanished from our fictional landscape.

When was the last time you saw a conservative politician who was the hero of a movie — as opposed to the slavering villains of "The Manchurian Candidate," "The Contender" or "The American President"?

When was the last time you read a serious novel in which a full-time wife — not just a mother, but a wife — was happy with her life choice as opposed to being a Stepford robot or a trapped bird a la "The Hours"?

When was the last time — outside of pabulum like "Left Behind" or "Seventh Heaven" — you saw an intelligent Christian who wasn't a priest or a milquetoast or Mel Gibson?

It's not that I don't enjoy the stories being told by American artists — I do. And I'm not suggesting that the arts should be traditionalist in intent. I just think they should be more — pardon the word — inclusive.

To the contrary, all movie heroes are conservative--if the plots of their films weren't moralistic we wouldn't accept them as heroes. A case in point: watched XXX this weekend, in which the hero is a libertarian extreme sports type guy who becomes a secret agent. What's his mission?: to stop an anarchist group that is trying to destabilize the worlds governments and unleash complete "freedom." It was like a buff Bill Bennett vs. the Cato Institute.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 AM


Murkowski campaign tries to dump nepotism label: Charges fly hot and heavy in U.S. Senate race (TIMOTHY INKLEBARGER, 10/24/04, JUNEAU EMPIRE)

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's political career, unlike her Democratic opponent's, has been anything but charmed.

Her run for office to maintain her seat as Alaska's junior U.S. senator has been plagued by charges of nepotism because her father appointed her to the Senate. Murkowski took the place of her father, Frank Murkowski, after he was elected governor.

Many have claimed that the move constitutes a Murkowski political dynasty. Throughout the campaign she has distanced herself from her father, not showing up at any public appearances with the governor and not involving him in any public way in her campaign.

Lisa Murkowski, 47, has raised $3.7 million in the campaign and spent $2.6 million. She's more than $600,000 ahead of her opponent, Democrat Tony Knowles. Knowles, a former two-term mayor of Anchorage and two-term governor before her father, won most of his campaigns by razor-thin margins. Murkowski faced a tight race in 2002, when she was re-elected to a state House seat in Anchorage.

Hard to believe Mr. Knowles can win a statewide race when there's a presidential vote on the ballot too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM


The Necessary Amendment (Robert H. Bork, August/September 2004, First Things)

Within the next two or three years, the Supreme Court will almost certainly climax a series of state court rulings by creating a national constitutional right to homosexual marriage. The Court’s ongoing campaign to normalize homosexuality—creating for homosexuals constitutional rights to special voting status and to engage in sodomy—leaves little doubt that the Court has set its course for a right to marry. This is but one of a series of cultural debacles forced upon us by judges following no law but their own predilections. This one, however, will be nuclear. As an example of judicial incontinence, it will rival Roe v. Wade, and will deal a severe and quite possibly fatal blow to two already badly damaged but indispensable institutions—marriage and the rule of law in constitutional interpretation.

The wreckage may be subtler but more widespread even than that. Such a decision would ratify, in the most profound way, the anarchical spirit of extreme personal and group autonomy that is the driving force behind much of our cultural degradation. Call it what you will—moral chaos, relativism, postmodernism— extreme notions of autonomy already suffuse our culture, quite aside from any assistance from the courts. But judicial endorsement, which is taken by much of the public to state a moral as well as a legal truth, makes the anything-goes mentality even harder to resist. The principle undergirding radical autonomy is essentially unconfineable. Thus, Justice Byron White, Senator Rick Santorum, and William Bennett have all made the point that the rationale for same-sex marriage would equally support group marriage, incest, or any other imaginable sexual arrangement.

That surely is the meaning, insofar as it has a discernible meaning, of the imperialistic “mystery passage” first articulated by three justices in a case upholding the right to abortion and repeated in the majority opinion creating a right to homosexual sodomy:

[Our] law affords constitutional protection to . . . the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, [which] are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty [protected by the Constitution] is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.

Reading these words, it is hard to know what there is left for legislatures to do, since each individual is now a sovereign nation.

The only real hope of heading off the judicial drive to constitutionalize homosexual marriage is in the adoption of an amendment to the Constitution. The language of the amendment now before Congress is this:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any state shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

The amendment is intended primarily to stop activist courts from redefining marriage in any way they see fit, as the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has recently done. The first sentence, however, also limits legislatures by defining marriage as the people of the United States and of the West have known it.

The argument of some conservatives, which Judge Bork notes, that amending the Constitution is worse than allowing marriage to be destroyed, elevates means above ends. The Constitution is, as it states, devised to:
...form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Actions which instead attack the general Welfare must be fought by any means necessary.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:30 AM


The West ignores low birthrates at its peril (Philip Bowring, October 23, 2004, International Herald Tribune)

[W]hy, it must be asked, does the report just accept low fertility as a given and not consider birthrates as a factor susceptible to policy-making in the interests of society? Should we not consider why the fertility rate in Britain is just 1.7, compared with the 2.1 needed to ensure a naturally stable population, considering the consequences of a continual aging process and massive population shrinkage? Should we not consider the merits of policies that might reverse the trend? Should we not consider major rewards for those who invest in a new generation and produce the human factors of production necessary to ensure that any pensions are paid?

One can hear the outrage at the very suggestion that Western governments should try to influence free choice in parenthood. But governments have been doing so for years. It is implicitly racist for self-styled liberals to object to pro-natal policies now needed in rich countries while continuing to advocate policies in poor African and Asian countries aimed at raising living standards by lowering birthrates.

Population policies do not in themselves strike at free choice. Only China has made a habit of using force to reduce births through a state-imposed one-child policy. Elsewhere, people have responded to family planning education and availability.

What is now needed in countries with very low birthrates is to help families and individuals choose the numbers of their children by presenting them with the realistic economic consequences of those choices. In turn, those will be set by tax incentives and pension policies determined democratically and in the long-term interests of society.

High birthrates in the developing world have been associated with the need to provide social security for the old. Likewise today, very low birthrates are partly a consequence of the divorce of social security from parenthood. Extended family systems cannot be recreated in urban nuclear family societies. But that does not mean totally severing the link between parenthood and provision of security in old age. It means using tax and benefit systems to replicate its economic effect.

Unfortunately, the Ownership Society reforms are going to make it less necessary, not more, to have a family, so it will take the continuing moral regeneration of the nation to keep our population growing.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:20 AM


Violence ban (the Scotsman, October 22nd, 2004)

Puppeteer Reg Payn, from Cornwall, vowed last night to carry on performing his traditional Punch and Judy shows after a request by his local council that there should be no more scenes of violence in his children’s entertainment acts.

October 23, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:19 PM


Trail Bytes (Steve Chaggaris, 10/20/04, CBS News)

[A]s Election Day nears, Kerry has toughened up his criticisms of Bush, though he has also occasionally fallen back into his habit of being overly windy in his remarks. For instance, late last night upon arriving in Waterloo, Kerry kicked off a rally at the airport with a bang only to talk a bit too long.

"So 14 days from now, 14 days from this very moment, Americans will have been to the polls and I know that you came here tonight to give George W. Bush his two-week notice," exclaimed Kerry at the top of the rally.

Shortly thereafter, Kerry wound up drifting, even after promising 16 minutes into the event that he would wrap up his remarks as an audience member became woozy. While the man was being tended to, Kerry told the crowd he was going to "wind up ... because I don't want to keep everybody late." It eventually took him over six minutes of winding to finally "wind up," though several audience members wound up walking out, choosing not to wait for the end.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:12 PM


FBI chases new leads on election attack plot, as CIA source discredited (JENNIFER C. KERR, October 23, 2004, Associated Press)

FBI investigators have made new arrests and developed leads that reinforce concerns that terrorists plan to strike around the presidential election, officials said Saturday, even though the CIA has discredited a person who told its agents of such a plot involving al-Qaida.

A senior FBI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said some of the leads were culled from interviews with thousands of individuals that agents have conducted in the Muslim community.

The official would not be more specific, but said the FBI continues to have misgivings about possible al-Qaida intentions to launch an attack with the goal of affecting the elections.

Several people have been taken into custody recently on charges not related to terrorism, but officials are investigating whether they may have been involved in terror activities, said another law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

As for the person who warned the CIA, at least some of that individual's reporting no longer is seen as credible, said a U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official stressed, however, that a number of other sources point to terrorist activity around the election season.

Does that clear things up for you?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:50 PM


'I've waited for this moment for 50 years': A sublime pleasure, a stately game . . . Bill Bryson has loved baseball since childhood. Now his team, the Boston Red Sox, are in the World Series, starting tonight. Better still, he has a ticket (Bill Bryson, 10/23/04, Times of London)

Like most people brought up in the 1950s or before, I was taught to regard baseball as the pinnacle of human contrivance, a game in which every distance has been perfectly (one might almost suppose divinely) calibrated to provide a constant, unimprovable balance between pitcher and batter, fielder and runner, offence and defence. Uniquely among American team sports, baseball has no clock, and thus no conspicuous urgency. So baseball is elegant and intelligent and composed. And the games are played nearly always on exquisitely groomed lawns in stadiums of colossal beauty in the open air on warm summer evenings when the world seems nearly perfect anyway. Watching baseball is one of life’s sublimest pleasures, and once upon a time virtually everyone in America knew it.

In those days, baseball dominated the American sporting psyche in a way that can scarcely be imagined now. Professional football and basketball existed and were followed, but essentially as minor spectacles that helped to pass the colder months until the baseball season resumed. The Super Bowl was years from its invention. The only sporting event that gripped the nation — the one time in the year when even your Mom knew what was going on in the sporting world — was the World Series, the patently over-named (but we don’t care) annual showdown between the top teams in professional baseball’s two leagues, the American and National.

My father was a sportswriter for the Des Moines Register, a newspaper in Iowa, and every year for 35 years, from the 1940s to the 1970s, he got to go to the World Series. It was, by an immeasurably wide margin, the high point of his working year. Not only did he get to live it up for two weeks on expenses in some of the nation’s most cosmopolitan and exciting cities — and from Des Moines all cities are cosmopolitan and exciting — but he also got to witness many of the most memorable moments of baseball history: Al Gionfriddo’s miraculous one-handed catch of a Joe DiMaggio line drive in 1947, Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956, Bill Mazeroski’s series-winning homer of 1960. These mean nothing to you, I know — they would mean nothing to most people these days — but they were moments of near ecstasy that were shared by a nation.

In those days, World Series games were played during the day, so you had to bunk off school or develop a convenient chest infection (“Jeez, Mom, the teacher said there’s a lot of TB going around”) if you wanted to see a game.

Crowds would lingeringly gather wherever a TV was on display. Getting to watch any part of a World Series game, even half an inning at lunchtime, became a kind of illicit thrill. And if you did happen to be there when something monumental occurred, you would remember it for the rest of your life.

Now World Series games are played in the evening when everyone can watch them, but comparatively few do. Almost five times as many people watch the Super Bowl each year as watch any game of the World Series. Even the Super Bowl post-game show — a fiesta of exuberant inarticulacy — attracts 30 million viewers more than the final, climactic game of the World Series. So if something really big happens in a World Series game, it will never be a universally shared experience again.

My father disdained football and once memorably described it as a game played and watched by people for whom the invention of Velcro fastenings was a godsend.

Swine, baseball, unique among sports, is best enjoyed on the radio. The kids, who don't get to stay up for the games yet, were stunned this week when I told them that games used to start while we were still in school and you'd have every boy in class trying to hide the transistor radio in his desk at the pink earpiece snaking out of it. There's a special place in Heaven for the teachers who ignored the obvious and seat at His right hand for the ones who brought their own radio to class.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:06 PM


Kerry Vows Zealous U.S. Terror Hunt, Recalls Vietnam (Patricia Wilson, Oct 23, 2004, Reuters)

Democratic presidential nominee and Vietnam War veteran John Kerry tried to burnish his national security credentials on Saturday by vowing to hunt down terrorists with the same energy he used to pursue the Viet Cong.

If the GOP had said this is where the Senator's policy on terror would lead us--chasing futilely around Western Pakistan--they'd have been accused of negative campaigning.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:40 PM


Kerry and Bush in dead heat in Pa. (Associated Press, 10/23/04)

With just days to go until the election, Pennsylvania voters remain evenly split in their support for President Bush and Democrat John Kerry, according to a new poll conducted by The Morning Call of Allentown and Muhlenberg College.

The poll of 787 registered voters found 48 percent intended to vote for Kerry, while 46 percent supported Bush. The two-point difference was within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:34 PM


Hot on the heels of their disastrous attempt to meddle in Ohio comes this beauty, Dumb show (Charlie Brooker, October 23, 2004, The Guardian)

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?

A decent sort might note that Black Jack Pershing, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan were there when Britain needed them. Sadly, with the notable exception of their Prime Minister, Britain seems a mite short of the decent sort these days.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:19 PM

TOO NEW (via Danny Postel):

Yesterday's men, and tomorrow's: Is the neo-conservative moment over? (Lexington, Sep 16th 2004, The Economist)

The invasion of Iraq has a reasonable claim to be regarded as the
neo-conservative moment in American foreign policy. But is that moment now
over? Are the neo-conservatives destined to be sidelined even if Mr Bush is
re-elected in November? [...]

The neo-cons have three things going for them. The most important is Mr
Bush's unwavering support for the war. The Republican convention had one
over-arching message: that the war in Iraq was part of the wider war on
terror. John McCain argued that the sanctions regime in Iraq had been
failing. Dick Cheney asserted that war against Iraq had persuaded Libya to
abandon its nuclear-weapons programme. And Mr Bush reiterated the idealistic
case for spreading democracy in the Middle East. Such idealism hardly seems
to be justified by the daily news from Iraq, but so far John Kerry has made
a hash of both criticising the policy and advancing an alternative strategy
of his own.

The neo-cons also remain rich in intellectual creativity. At home, they have
taken the lead in everything from designing "big-government conservatism" to
opposing unbridled biotechnological research: witness the rather eloquent
report from the President's Council on Bioethics, "Beyond Therapy:
Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Human Happiness". An aspiring Republican is
still likely to get ideas out of the Weekly Standard, as opposed to merely
discovering that abortion is a bad thing yet again in the National Review.

Lastly, when it comes to conservative influence-peddling, the neo-cons still
have no rivals. The paleo-conservative dream of the world's only superpower
retreating within its own borders has not won over Mr Bush. Libertarians are
anathema to the religious right. Old-fashioned Rockefeller Republicans are
losing their political base in the north-east. Most other pressure groups
focus on a narrow range of issues, such as reducing taxes or protecting gun

Their move into the bio-tech question actually reflects the neocons greatest weakness, which is they aren't sufficiently social conservative to keep up with the theoconservative movement that the President leads. You'll note they got involved after their candidate, John McCain, went down in flames over social issues. Unfortunately for them, because they argue from reason their case is terribly weak. To have a long term influence in the GOP they'll need to return to faith.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:53 PM


Why More Blacks Support Bush This Year (Star Parker, 10/22/04, Scripps Howard)

According to two polls released over the week just passed, President Bush has picked up significant ground among black voters. A New York Times poll showed black support for the president at 17 percent. A poll of larger scope done by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, an organization specializing in studying black issues, showed 18 percent black support for Bush. Although black support at this level for Bush/ Cheney is still low, it nevertheless represents a doubling of the 8 percent of the black vote that the Republican ticket received in 2000.

In a race that seems to be shaping up as a neck and neck horserace, it can make all the difference for the president to pick up an additional 9 percent of the black vote.

Although some have expressed surprise that the president is notably picking up new support among black voters, those who have been reading my columns over the last several months will be less astonished by these results. I have been writing that traditionally Democratic voters in the black church going community are becoming disillusioned with the Democratic Party and that, in particular, the gay marriage issue has become a focal point of that disillusionment.

The results of the Joint Center poll, which was an extensive survey of current black political attitudes, bear out my observations. Support for Kerry among black Christian conservatives is now 49 percent, 20 points lower than the 69 percent that Al Gore received from this group in 2000. Bush's support among this same group, now at 36 percent, is more than triple what he received in 2000.

Let my people go...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:42 PM


New Ads Use Animal Theme (Edwin Chen and Nick Anderson, October 23, 2004, LA Times)

The Bush campaign also aired another new ad in Miami that accused Kerry of backing the interests of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

The 30-second spot, in Spanish, shows images of Castro and of Kerry as a narrator condemns the Massachusetts senator's vote against a 1996 law, the Helms-Burton Act, which tightened economic sanctions against the island nation at a time of heightened diplomatic tensions between Havana and Washington.

Kerry and the "liberals in Congress," the narrator charges, "don't understand what a dictator is." The spot, first seen Thursday, sought to tarnish Kerry's standing with the Cuban American community, a key voting bloc in Florida. Kerry was among 22 senators, including four Republicans, who opposed the legislation in March 1996.

In politics it's never a good idea to be on the 20% end of an issue.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:38 PM


Post-election purge, reform appears likely within CIA (Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay, 10/22/04, Knight Ridder Newspapers)

Porter Goss' initial moves as CIA director appear to herald a post-election purge at the already troubled spy agency, according to current and former top U.S. intelligence officials.

Goss, a former Republican congressman, has put at least four former Capitol Hill Republican staffers into top positions in his CIA office and has given them broad authority to make personnel and restructuring decisions, the current and former intelligence officials said.

One of the aides, whose identity Knight Ridder is not disclosing because he served under cover, has been "going around telling people they are to fire 80 to 90 people" in the Directorate of Operations, the CIA's covert arm, according to a former official.

The Second Term will be about big things.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:36 PM


He ranks as top Card: It's not easy to deal with Pujols at plate (Kevin Paul Dupont, October 23, 2004, Boston Globe)

Let's start with the only, which probably will be just the first of many onlys Albert Pujols carries with him as he barrels down the express E-ZPass lane to Cooperstown.

Four years into his major league career, the 24-year-old Cardinals first baseman has hit 160 home runs, and within that 40-homer-a-year average is the simple and astounding fact that no one else in big league history ever has hit 30 home runs in each of his first four seasons.

Not Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth. Not Mark McGwire or Mel Ott. Certainly not long-ago Red Sox favorite Tony Conigliaro (second youngest to reach 100 homers). Not Ted Williams or Barry Bonds or Eddie Mathews or even the great Joe DiMaggio. For starters, no one ever has come out swinging like Pujols, who Thursday night was crowned most valuable player of the National League Championship Series, after leading the Cardinals into the World Series with an august .500 batting average (14 for 28), 4 homers, and 9 RBIs against the Astros.

Easy to lose track of in all the Sox hysteria but Pujols is the best young hitter in the history of the game--as a chart in the print edition of the Globe shows--with only Babe Ruth trumping his first four full seasons, but the Babe's beginning at age 24 because he was a pitcher first.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:20 PM

DANCES WITH WOLVES (David Hill, The Bronx):

In Ad Battle, GOP Unleashes Wolves, Democrats Use Ostrich (Howard Kurtz, October 23, 2004, Washington Post)

By the time the dust settled, Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, had called the ad "despicable and contemptible," and the Democratic National Committee had rushed out an ad likening Bush to an ostrich.

Bush strategists tested the wolves ad with voters five months ago and, after receiving one of the most powerful reactions drawn by any of their commercials, decided to hold it until the campaign's final days. [...]

"Like the ostrich featured in our new ad," DNC Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe said, "George W. Bush has got his head buried in the sand."

As David wonders, who at the Kerry campaign thinks that George Bush is understating the terror threat?

When Is a Cut Not a Cut?: When it's a con. Bush's deceptive new ad. (Fred Kaplan, Oct. 22, 2004, Slate)

Have you seen George W. Bush's latest campaign ad—the one with the wolves? A shaky hand-held camera moves through a forest at twilight. Suddenly a wolf darts across the screen, then another, until finally we see a whole pack of wolves, rising from their slumber to come get us. Over a soundtrack of rustling leaves and spooky music, the narrator—a breathy woman—says:

In an increasingly dangerous world, even after the first terrorist attack on America, John Kerry and the liberals in Congress voted to slash America's intelligence operations. By $6 billion. Cuts so deep, they would have weakened America's defenses. And weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm.

The key phrase here is "after the first terrorist attack on America." At first viewing, I took this as a reference to the aftermath of 9/11. (Millions of other viewers probably did, too; no doubt the scriptwriters meant us to make the connection.) This puzzled me, because nobody proposed cutting intelligence after 9/11. On second viewing, though, I realized that the phrase was a veiled reference to the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.

Once this is clarified, the rest becomes plain. The Bush campaign appears to be repeating a falsehood that the Republican National Committee first propagated last March. We've been through this before, but now, with the "Wolves" ad, it's worth reciting again.

In 1995, several legislators, among them Sen. Kerry, did introduce amendments to cut the intelligence budget by $1 billion to $1.5 billion, which, spread out over several years, could have added up to $6 billion.

But these were not cuts in the sense that the term is usually understood.

Well, that's joyfully disingenuous. The Senator was right in policy terms to advocate intelligence cuts--even closing the CIA would have made sense--it just happens not to be politically defensible after 9-11.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 PM


Tony Blair is the original neocon: In domestic and foreign policy, he has always been ahead of Bush (Ben Rawlence, October 23, 2004, The Guardian)

On Radio 4 on Monday Irwin Stelzer defined neo-conservatism. On the domestic front, it supports a free market, but acknowledges a role for the welfare state. It is socially liberal. Blair, then, is a neocon at home.

The controversial part, though, is the role it envisages for a government on the world stage. The argument goes that democracies don't fight one another, and that if powerful nations can increase the number of democratic regimes in the world, then they should.

Up until 9/11 Blair's principal criticism of US foreign policy was that it wasn't engaged enough. When Bill Clinton prevaricated over ground troops for Kosovo in 1999, Blair complained: "Americans are too ready to see no need to get involved in affairs of the rest of the world."

George Bush did not share the neocon agenda when he took office. He proclaimed on the campaign trail that under him "America doesn't do nation-building". Since 9/11 it has been a different story. In his first major post-9/11 speech, at West Point in 2002, Bush declared: "Our nation's cause has always been larger than our nation's defence."

In almost identical terms to Bush's West Point speech, Blair was speaking of Britain's gift of values to the world, back in 1997 in his speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet: "In the end I am, simply, a patriot. I believe in Britain ... because, at its best, it does stand for the right values and can give something to the world."

It is the emphasis on "values" that links him to the neocons. Blair's formulation that, since the cold war, "our actions are guided by ... mutual self-interest and moral purpose in defending the values we cherish. In the end values and interests merge" is one that would be strongly supported by the neocons.

The distinction between values and interests is crucial. Interests are usually defended, values are promoted. Interests are material and can be defined, values are hard to pin down and know no limit. If we take the government's oft repeated mantra that "the best defence of our security lies in the spread of our values", British foreign policy at once becomes diffuse: our priorities are everywhere and nowhere.

Mr. Blair's 1999 Chicago Economic Club speech is especially prescient.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:32 PM


Is Iraq Better Off? Ask the Iraqis (Steven E. Moore, October 20, 2004, LA Times)

John Kerry is playing the prophet of doom in the most important foreign policy initiative of our generation. In Pennsylvania, Kerry described Iraq as "the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time." In New York, he opined that murderous cleric Muqtada Sadr "holds more sway in suburbs of Baghdad than Prime Minister [Iyad] Allawi." In Columbus, Ohio, the senator claimed to have a more accurate perspective on the situation in Iraq than did the interim prime minister, whose favorability rating of 73% among Iraqis, it's worth noting, is higher than Kerry's 48% favorability rating among Americans in the latest polls. Kerry, of course, has never set foot in Iraq.

I was there from July 2003 to April 2004, conducting about 70 focus groups and a dozen public opinion polls and advising L. Paul Bremer III, then the civilian administrator, on Iraqi public opinion. Whatever you might hear from Kerry, Michael Moore, the mainstream media and anyone else to whom defeating President Bush is more important than the fate of the Iraqi people, those who know best what's going on in Iraq — the Iraqis themselves — are optimistic about the future.

Iraqis consistently say in nationwide polls that the situation in their country is improving. In polls over the course of the summer, for example, more than half of Iraqis said their country was on the right track. The vast majority of Iraqis — 72% — see the same benefits in democracy as Americans do: the hope for peace, stability and a better life. Most polls show that 75% of Iraqis want to vote for their leaders rather than have clerics appoint them.

In a recent speech, Kerry charged that Saddam Hussein's brutality "was not, in itself, a reason to go to war." Iraqis disagree, as should any supporter of human rights. Nearly 55% of Iraqis say that toppling Hussein was worth the price of the current difficulties. These figures are easy to understand when you look at another set of numbers. In an Op-Ed article circulated this year among the more than 200 independent newspapers now published in Iraq, an Iraqi democratic activist observed that Hussein tortured and killed as many as 750,000 of his own people. Iraqis don't understand the debate about whether Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. To them, Hussein was a weapon of mass destruction.

Of course the Left can't imagine that anyone would choose to be liberated if they'd be indebted to George Bush for it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:51 AM


Hawai'i Poll: Bush, Kerry in dead heat (Derrick DePledge, 10/23/04, Honolulu Advertiser)

President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are deadlocked among likely voters in Hawai'i, a surprising boost for the Republican president in a state that many Democrats had considered safe for Kerry.

The findings of the Honolulu Advertiser Hawai'i Poll suggest that Hawai'i's four electoral votes are in play with just over a week to go before the election. Nationally, other opinion polls have found that Bush and Kerry are essentially tied for the popular vote.

The Hawai'i Poll, taken among 600 likely voters statewide between Oct. 13 and Monday, had Bush at 43.3 percent and Kerry at 42.6 percent. The margin of error was 4 percentage points. [...]

Nearly a third of the people who plan to vote for Bush described themselves as Democrats while only 5 percent of Republicans say they will vote for Kerry.

"I'm a Democrat but I strongly support what President Bush is doing," said Jun Elegino, a nursing student at Hawai'i Pacific University who serves in the Army National Guard. "He's my commander in chief."

Leilani Anderson-Kaisa, an educational assistant who lives in Wai'anae and has family in the military, said she had voted for Democrats in the past but believes Bush has done a solid job. "I just think he's been a very good president," she said.

Rebecca Ward, the president of Ward Research, which conducted the poll for The Advertiser, said the findings "do not look like traditional Hawai'i."

Hawai'i voters, since statehood, have only chosen Republican presidential candidates twice; Richard Nixon in 1972 and Ronald Reagan in 1984. Both Nixon and Reagan, like Bush this year, were running for re-election.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:46 AM


News poll: Bush leads in Michigan (Charlie Cain, and Mark Hornbeck, 10/23/04, Detroit News)

President Bush has moved ahead of Democratic challenger John Kerry in Michigan, according to a Detroit News poll, but hasn’t reached the critical 50 percent support plateau — suggesting the state remains in contention as the presidential race draws to a close.

In the initial installment of a poll that regularly will track voter sentiment in the final two weeks of the campaign, Bush held a 47 percent to 43 percent lead over the Massachusetts senator. The incumbent president’s lead is well within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. The statewide poll of 400 likely voters was taken Monday and Tuesday. [...]

The survey also shows state ballot Proposal 2 defining marriage as strictly between one man and one woman winning easily, with a 67 percent to 24 percent margin.

Is the Senator really going to run 30 points ahead of the ballot measure he opposes?

Kerry in the Lead, but Almost by Default (R. W. APPLE Jr., 10/21/04, NY Times)

It took John Kerry a long time to get rolling in Michigan, much longer than the handicappers in Washington had forecast. Not until the debates did his campaign finally get into gear in a state that had all along seemed likely to be his easiest target among all the Midwestern battlegrounds. [...]

Nevertheless, Mr. Kerry trailed in some polls late last month, and "his carrying the state was very much in doubt," said David W. Rohde, a professor of political science at Michigan State University.

If that is no longer the case - if "the probability of his carrying the state is now very high," as Professor Rohde said - it is not because the Democratic nominee has campaigned as hard here as he has in Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin. He has not visited the state since he spoke to the Detroit Economic Club on Sept. 15, and he is not expected back before Election Day.

In fact, Michigan does not feel all that much like a swing state, although its 17 electoral votes are an appealing target, the eighth-largest haul in the country.

The state's Republicans have mounted a big billboard campaign, with slogans like "Remember, It's Your Money," and "Boots, Not Flip-Flops." But Mr. Bush has not been here much lately, either, and the state lies far from the eye of the advertising storm that is engulfing Florida and Ohio. Only Grand Rapids makes the University of Wisconsin's authoritative list of 25 cities that have had the most television advertisements this fall, with a No. 9 ranking. (The city is third on the Bush campaign's advertising intensity list, however, and Republican officials concede that the president is not doing as well as expected in that conservative stronghold.) The second 25 includes Detroit, Flint, Lansing and Traverse City.

Michigan is more important to Mr. Kerry than to Mr. Bush, in the same sense that Ohio is more vital to the president. At least in "normal" political years, the Democrats carry Michigan; they have done so in the last three elections. No Republican has won the presidency without carrying Ohio.

"If Kerry ends up winning this state," said Bill Ballenger, editor of Inside Michigan Politics, a widely read newsletter, "he'll do it without working very hard for it or, in a sense, deserving it."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:35 AM

240 or BUST:

GOP Could Pick Up 5 House Seats (John Gizzi, Oct 22, 2004, Human Events)

With a week to go before Americans vote in all 435 congressional districts, Republicans look poised to expand their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, based largely on favorable redistricting since the 2000 census.

In the swing states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Republicans managed to dominate the redistricting process after the census, raising the number of safe Republican seats there.

In Texas, a masterful (if controversial and belated) redistricting is now almost certain to yield the bulk of national Republican gains in this election cycle.

In California, New Jersey, and Virginia, Democratic and Republican state legislators joined together to craft “incumbent protection plans” that made current House members of both parties invulnerable.

Because of this post-2000 redistricting process, the 2004 election cycle is likely to see fewer competitive House races than any in recent memory. Currently in the House, there are 227 Republicans, 205 Democrats, and 1 Independent (Bernie Sanders of Vermont) who votes with Democrats. There are also two vacant GOP seats that were created when Republican Rep. Porter Goss of Florida resigned to become CIA director and Doug Bereuter (Neb.) resigned to take a private sector job.

This election is too nationalized for only 5 seats to swing.

GOP takes money edge into ‘sprint until the end’ (Patrick O'Connor and Hans Nichols, 10/20/04, The Hill)

House Republican candidates posted a $5 million advantage in cash on hand over their Democratic opponents in the 25 most competitive races, a study of the Sept. 30 campaign-finance reports by The Hill shows.

At the end of the third quarter, on Sept. 30, those 25 Republicans had a total of $14.8 million on hand, compared to the Democrats’ $9.5 million, giving them a sizeable advantage for the homestretch of the campaign.

Republicans also outspent their Democratic rivals in the period from July 1 to Sept 30 by a similar $5 million spread, disbursing $30.8 million, compared to the Democrats’ $25.8 million. [...]

[R]epublicans were clearly eager to press their money advantage, though they noted that the cash-on-hand figures were already three weeks old.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:22 AM


Behind Bush's Rhetoric (E. J. Dionne Jr., October 22, 2004, Washington Post)

In the final days of this campaign, voters have to consider not just whom they should vote for but also how their votes will be used by those they elect. President Bush wants to win by twisting and distorting John Kerry's record on terrorism. Bush proposes to win by persuading the persuadable that in a time of danger, it's safest to stick with the guy in power.

But Bush also has a remarkably broad agenda to change the Social Security and tax systems. He's not big on the specifics. Yet if Bush is reelected, he will claim a domestic mandate that will come as a surprise to many who voted for him. We know this because Bush lacked a policy mandate in 2000 -- he didn't even win the popular vote -- and nonetheless pushed through two rounds of tax cuts tilted to the wealthy that have built those staggering long-term deficits. In 2004, voters should pay attention to the mandate behind the curtain.

Rather transparent curtain:
CHIEFFER: Mr. President, the next question is to you. We all know that Social Security is running out of money, and it has to be fixed. You have proposed to fix it by letting people put some of the money collected to pay benefits into private savings accounts. But the critics are saying that's going to mean finding $1 trillion over the next 10 years to continue paying benefits as those accounts are being set up.

So where do you get the money? Are you going to have to increase the deficit by that much over 10 years?

BUSH: First, let me make sure that every senior listening today understands that when we're talking about reforming Social Security, that they'll still get their checks.

I remember the 2000 campaign, people said: if George W. gets elected, your check will be taken away.

Well, people got their checks, and they'll continue to get their checks.

There is a problem for our youngsters, a real problem. And if we don't act today, the problem will be valued in the trillions.

And so I think we need to think differently.

We'll honor our commitment to our seniors. But for our children and our grandchildren, we need to have a different strategy.

And recognizing that, I called together a group of our fellow citizens to study the issue. It was a committee chaired by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, a Democrat. And they came up with a variety of ideas for people to look at.

I believe that younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own money and put it in a personal savings account, because I understand that they need to get better rates of return than the rates of return being given in the current Social Security trust.

And the compounding rate of interest effect will make it more likely that the Social Security system is solvent for our children and our grandchildren.

I will work with Republicans and Democrats. It'll be a vital issue in my second term. It is an issue that I am willing to take on, and so I'll bring Republicans and Democrats together.

And we're of course going to have to consider the costs. But I want to warn my fellow citizens: The cost of doing nothing, the cost of saying the current system is OK, far exceeds the costs of trying to make sure we save the system for our children.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry?

KERRY: You just heard the president say that young people ought to be able to take money out of Social Security and put it in their own accounts.

Now, my fellow Americans, that's an invitation to disaster.

The CBO said very clearly that if you were to adopt the president's plan, there would be a $2 trillion hole in Social Security, because today's workers pay in to the system for today's retirees. And the CBO said -- that's the Congressional Budget Office; it's bipartisan -- they said that there would have to be a cut in benefits of 25 percent to 40 percent.

Now, the president has never explained to America, ever, hasn't done it tonight, where does the transitional money, that $2 trillion, come from?

He's already got $3 trillion, according to The Washington Post, of expenses that he's put on the line from his convention and the promises of this campaign, none of which are paid for. Not one of them are paid for.

The fact is that the president is driving the largest deficits in American history. He's broken the pay-as-you-go rules.

I have a record of fighting for fiscal responsibility. In 1985, I was one of the first Democrats -- broke with my party. We balanced the budget in the '90s. We paid down the debt for two years.

And that's what we're going to do. We're going to protect Social Security. I will not privatize it. I will not cut the benefits. And we're going to be fiscally responsible. And we will take care of Social Security.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just stay on Social Security with a new question for Senator Kerry, because, Senator Kerry, you have just said you will not cut benefits.

Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, says there's no way that Social Security can pay retirees what we have promised them unless we recalibrate.

What he's suggesting, we're going to cut benefits or we're going to have to raise the retirement age. We may have to take some other reform. But if you've just said, you've promised no changes, does that mean you're just going to leave this as a problem, another problem for our children to solve?

KERRY: Not at all. Absolutely not, Bob.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:12 AM


If Bush loses, the winner won't be Kerry: it will be Zarqawi (Charles Moore, 23/10/2004, Daily Telegraph)

Earlier in the week, I was talking to a brisk, amusing, Toryish member of the Great and the Good. It had recently fallen to her to give away some prizes at a ceremony to do with helping the environment. Gripped with the desire to liven things up a bit, she said, she had dropped into her speech an aside about the "greatest human threat to the planet - Bush's re-election". There followed a moment's silence, and then a weird noise that it took her a second to recognise was tumultuous, orgasmic applause.

On the way home, she told me, she thought things over and felt uncomfortable. She did not repent of her dislike of the President of the United States, but she worried a little that people should feel so passionately, so certainly.

I think we should worry a lot. One of the criticisms thrown at George W Bush is that he is a menace because he believes that God is telling him what to do. A moral equivalence is set up, in which Osama bin Laden and Bush are presented as two sides of a fundamentalist coin. On Wednesday, a television programme tried to equate the Muslim Brotherhood, which advocates the violent destruction of all societies that do not conform to sharia law, with the American neo-conservative intellectuals who taught that people should revive their interest in Plato and the civilisation of the ancient Greeks. This is about as accurate as saying that the Nazi party and the Labour Party are the same, because both arose from the discontents of the working classes.

It is the critics themselves who are suffering from pseudo-religious certainty and superstition. Isn't there something self-righteous, slightly crazed, about directing such overwhelming anger at the man whose job it is to pick up the pieces of September 11 on behalf of the free world?

George W Bush as we see him today is a response to disorder, not its cause.

They are opposite sides of the coin.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 AM


Brainy Candidates Need Not Apply (Ariel Dorfman, October 22, 2004, LA Times)

Is John Kerry too intelligent to be president of the United States?

It was what I felt instinctively the first and only time I met him, at a lunch at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 1998. He was subtle, full of cultural and historical references, elaborating each fine argument at length, with perception and nuance. I commented to one of his aides afterward that I regrettably thought his brains could turn out to be the biggest impediment to a man like him ever occupying the White House.

All these years later, with most polls still showing George W. Bush ahead of his opponent after three debates in which Kerry proved himself more articulate and thoughtful and flexible and able to understand an increasingly dangerous world, I am afraid I may have been right. Yet it still seems inconceivable to me that someone as incompetent, incoherent and obtuse as Bush could possibly command almost half the votes of his fellow countrymen.

Is it that Americans actually like Bush's know-nothing effect? Or is it that Kerry strikes Americans as too highbrow? As pretentious? Do they see his complexity as excessive effeminate suppleness?

This anti-intellectualism has, unfortunately, a long history in the United States.

Unfortunate? That blessed anti-intellectualism--rejecting Rationalism, Secularism, Marxism, Darwinism, Freudianism, Nazism, Existentialism, etc.--is the single most important reason that America has avoided most of the damage that intellectuals have done to the rest of the West.

Mr. Dorfman is more right than he realizes when he speculates that Mr. Kerry is too much an intellectual to be elected--in every presidential election since at least the turn of the 20th Century (except where an incumbent was involved or a significant 3rd party candidate, and often even then) the candidate perceived as less intellectually gifted has won.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:55 AM


Backward (Ryan Lizza, 10/22/04, New Republic)

The final component of the strategy is unprecedented. One reason BC'04 risks using Bush to deliver its toughest attacks is that, at this point in the campaign, the volume of information bombarding voters is so overwhelming that it takes the power of words straight from the president's mouth to break through the clutter. But the White House has always relied on the press to convey Bush's message to readers and viewers in a relatively unmediated fashion. That has proved more difficult this year due to a surge in coverage that fact-checks what the candidates are saying. This development has hurt Bush more than Kerry because the president's strategy is to destroy his opponent's credibility, a tactic that, ironically enough, has relied disproportionately on false statements. The Bushies have become so frustrated by the fact-checking of the president's statements that a spokesman told The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, "The Bush campaign should be able to make an argument without having it reflexively dismissed as distorted or inaccurate by the biggest papers in the country."

In response to the media's new obsession with truth-squading the candidates, the Republican National Committee's opposition research department has started to do something remarkable: going negative on the press. "RNC Research Briefings," e-mailed to hundreds of reporters, now regularly target members of the media. On October 6, the RNC put "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, a former staffer for House Speaker Tip O'Neill, in its sights. "democrat chris matthews' selective 'analysis,'" read the headline on a three-page press release that accused Matthews of erroneously claiming Cheney had contradicted himself during the debate when he denied tying September 11 to Saddam Hussein. Accompanying the release, the RNC posted a video online attacking Matthews. A few days later, Republicans took issue with The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller's accurate statement that, despite Bush's claims, Kerry "essentially voted for one large tax increase, the Clinton tax bill of 1993." "the new york times shades the truth," read the headline of a press release the RNC quickly put out. Next up was Ron Suskind, who wrote a critical piece in The New York Times Magazine. "liberal democrat suskind has creativity but not facts," the RNC noted. A few days later Paul Krugman became the RNC's target. In Suskind's and Krugman's cases, the oppo was unusually personal and included unflattering pictures of the men, the kind that candidates dig up of their opponents, not of journalists.

The fact that the RNC is now devoting a good deal of its time to attacking reporters speaks volumes about how much Bush is relying on negative, unchecked distortions to secure a second term. And that means that, in its own way, the Ashley Faulkner ad--with its warm and fuzzy image of Bush--ultimately leaves voters with as false an impression as the Willie Horton ad did in 1988.

Here's a pretty fair indicator of the source of Democratic Derangement Syndrome--note how in Mr. Lizza's little world when the quite openly pro-Kerry press attacks George Bush they're just doing their jobs but when the GOP fact-checks the media it's "going negative." Imagine how massive your sense of entitlement has to be for you to think your partisanship is beyond reproach while that of your opponents is damning?

Posted by Peter Burnet at 10:43 AM


Group warns of earth's dwindling resources (Jonathan Fowler, Boston Globe, October 22nd, 2004)

Humanity's reliance on fossil fuels, the spread of cities, the destruction of natural habitat for farmland, and exploitation of the oceans are destroying earth's ability to sustain life, the environmental group World Wildlife Fund warned yesterday.

The biggest consumers of nonrenewable natural resources are the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Kuwait, Australia, and Sweden, who leave the biggest "ecological footprint," the group said in a report. Humans currently consume 20 percent more natural resources than the planet can produce, the report said.

"We are spending nature's capital faster than it can regenerate," said WWF chief Claude Martin, releasing the 40-page study.

"We are running up an ecological debt which we won't be able to pay off unless governments restore the balance between our consumption of natural resources and the earth's ability to renew them," he said.

But Fred Smith, president of the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute and an official of the US Environmental Protection Agency during the Nixon and Ford administrations, said he was skeptical. In a telephone interview, Smith said the WWF view is "static" and fails to take into account the benefits many people get from resource use.[...]

The study, the World Wildlife Fund's fifth since 1998, examined the "ecological footprint" of the planet's entire population.

Most of a person's footprint is caused by the space needed to absorb the waste from energy consumption, including carbon dioxide. WWF also measured the total area of cities, roads, and other infrastructure and the space required to produce food and fiber -- for clothing, for example.

"We don't just live on local resources," so the footprint is not confined to the country where consumers live, said Mathis Wackernagel, head of the Global Footprint Network, which includes WWF.

For example, Western demand for Asia's palm oil and South America's soybeans has wrecked natural habitats in those regions, so the destruction is considered part of the footprint of importing nations. The same applies to Arab oil consumed in the United States.

Here is a great example of how worthwhile charitable and activist efforts so often become corrupted by ideology. The WWF started out as a prestigious, somewhat stuffy group with a concrete mission to save wildlife and habitats. Nothing wrong with that---indeed, much right about that. Although never without controversy, it used it’s high-powered connections and influence to lobby for parks and preserves, halt the destruction of wildlife by poaching and wanton development, especially in Africa, and bring scientific rigour to wildlife management. It was a much respected organization of accomplishment.

Then came the eighties and the advent of environmental studies as a formal discipline. The concrete was out, the abstract in. Conservation became ecology. Mountains and deserts became eco-systems. Herds and schools became species and everybody sat around fretting about “spaceship earth” and how everything was related to everything else. Frightening warnings that we were losing species at a shocking rate issued without letting on they were little icky things no one knew about or had any use for. Pretty soon real environmentalists didn’t want to waste time protecting caribou and elephants. With Greenpeace on their fund-raising heels and the Club of Rome capturing the intellectual high ground, they began to preach the statist, "screw the wogs and blame the West" anti-progress creed of the new barbarians.

By 1986, according to its website “WWF had come to realize that its name no longer reflected the scope of its activities. WWF changed its name from World Wildlife Fund to the "World Wide Fund For Nature. The United States and Canada, however, retained the old name." This was presumably to justify spending millions donated by pensioners worried about eagles and rhinos on wanking about global warming, environmental footprints, unpayable ecological debts and how we are all going to die if we don’t turn our furnaces off.

Conservatives learned the hard way that conceding leadership to the left on issues that resonate widely with the general public’s sense of moral duty, like racism and child poverty, can take decades to reverse. It is time to start the slow climb back on conservation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 AM


A Diamond in the Rough: Iraqis Taking Up Baseball
(Ashraf Khalil, October 23, 2004, LA Times)

Yasser Abdel Hussein tugs his cap and unwinds with the smooth sidearm delivery that's made him the ace of the pitching staff. He looks like a prospect.

At home plate, however, Mohammed Khaled seems like he's still on chilly terms with his bat as he crouches, resplendent in a red (yes, red) New York Yankees hat, FUBU muscle shirt and tight bicycle shorts.

"It's a game of speed and concentration," Khaled says after widely missing most of Abdel Hussein's pitches. He connected just twice, and then only by abandoning all technique and swinging one-handed.

The 20 young men gathered on a patchy grass field behind Baghdad University's College of Sports Education may not look like much now. But organizers of Iraq's fledgling national baseball team have high hopes.

The Looney Left thinks it's all about oil; the paleocons and Europeans think it's all for the Jews; in fact, the President is controlled by Bud Selig.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:08 AM


Identity Issues in Mongolia: A nation that has been on a first-name basis for decades is going one better. Meet Cosmos, Lord God and the ubiquitous Borjigin. (Mark Magnier, October 23, 2004, LA Times)

School principal Baast chose the name "Nomad" in keeping with his wandering spirit. Defense Minister Gurragchaa — the only Mongolian to venture into space — settled on "Cosmos." And anthropology student Vanchigdash picked the Mongolian word for wisdom. "It makes me feel rather wise," he said. "I'm very proud of my new name."

Mongolians, long used to using only first names, are reshaping their identities under a government-led initiative to add surnames.

For those who didn't give it much thought, and even some who did, the most obvious choice for a surname was, is and always will be Borjigin, the clan name of Genghis Khan, the 12th-century warrior and native son who put this north-central Asian nation on the map.

"It seems like half the population is named after Genghis," said Ganaa, a 30-year-old mother whose family initially considered Borjigin before settling on Aldar, after their ancestral village. "It's good we're adopting surnames, because there's been lots of confusion. But with everyone choosing Genghis' name, that's also confusing."

The new hereditary system of surnames promises to create more historic continuity than the use of one name. So far, however, most Mongolians don't use them, except on the most formal of occasions.

"To tell you the truth, I can't remember mine," said Odonbayar, a tanned, 24-year-old herder from southwestern Mongolia.

What does Korea have, five surnames or something like that? And isn't there a people in India who all took English tradenames--Cooper, Sawyer, Fletcher, etc.?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:08 AM


Known causes of same-sex attraction: If genes are not the cause of same-sex attraction in some people, what is? (SUSAN BRINKMANN, May-June, 2004, Catholic Standard & Times)

Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons, a West Conshohocken psychiatrist and principal contributor to the Catholic Medical Association's book, Homosexuality and Hope, identifies the major causes of same-sex attraction disorder (SSAD) in men and women.

In his contribution to the book by Father John Harvey, The Truth About Homosexuality, Fitzgibbons writes: "Weak masculine identity is easily identified and, in my clinical experience, is the major cause of SSAD in men. Surprisingly, it can be an outgrowth of weak eye-hand coordination which results in an inability to play sports well. This condition is usually accompanied by severe peer rejection."

In a culture dominated by sports heroes, it's easy to understand how a young boy who can't play ball or run fast may not feel very good about himself — especially when this is accompanied by ridicule from his peers and perhaps even exclusion and isolation. He may escape the resulting loneliness with academics or by cultivating comfortable relationships with girls.

"The sports wound will negatively affect the image of himself, his relationships with peers, his gender identity, and his body image," Fitzgibbons writes. "His negative view of his masculinity and his loneliness can lead him to crave the masculinity of his male peers."

Another major cause for SSAD is when a father is perceived by a child as distant, critical, selfish, angry or alcoholic. This produces yet another crucial conflict in the development of a boy's masculine identity. "As children and adolescents, these men yearned for acceptance, praise and physical affection from their fathers," Fitzgibbons said, "but their needs were never met."

The latter contributes to atheism as well, for obvious reasons.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:59 AM


Two Visions, Two Styles in One Race to the Finish: For better or worse, stump speeches give way to ad-libs as he reaches out to the uncommitted. (Stephen Braun, October 23, 2004, LA Times)

For better and sometimes for worse, the Massachusetts senator keeps straying from script as he tries to energize Democrats, win over uncommitted voters and edge out President Bush in battleground states.

The inner perfectionist in Kerry seems compelled to fill in every empty minute and blank spot on a page. Then he crams in more minutes and more pages. The speechmaking prowess that led him into public life three decades ago remains the most daunting weapon in his personal arsenal.

Yet with everything on the line, Kerry, the celebrated strong finisher, has turned out to be an elusive and inconsistent word master in the final stretch — sometimes seeming incandescent and lyrical, at other moments baffling and uninspiring.

Democrats and the media convinced themselves of many silly things as regards the Senator, none sillier than that he's an effective speaker and a good closer.

Of course, even they never deluded themselves that he has so much as an ounce of self-discipline, which makes him the polar opposite of his opponent as a campaigner, Two Visions, Two Styles in One Race to the Finish: Passion and predictability are hallmarks of a campaign aimed to turn fans into foot soldiers. (Robin Abcarian, October 23, 2004, LA Times)

"Door knockers, this way!" a young woman yelled, directing some of the 17,500 people who were streaming into a local park on a faultless autumn Saturday. President Bush was due to arrive in three hours, and the "door knockers," folks who had volunteered to canvass neighborhoods in the afterglow of his visit, were eager to claim the prize for their work: VIP seats in their own special bleachers, next to the stage.

The coveted seats put Ashley Johnsen so close that Bush might have been able to read the hand-painted "I Love George W" T-shirt she had made the night before. Johnsen, 16, was already volunteering at Bush-Cheney headquarters in St. Paul, but for a VIP seat and a chance to see the president up close, she eagerly signed up to do more. After the rally, she would knock on neighborhood doors for the president.

"We just love George," she said. "These things need to be done. It makes a big difference in the campaign."

That, in a nutshell, is one point of a George W. Bush rally. News reporters on the campaign trail serve the nation the latest nuance in Bush's policies or his newest attack on his Democratic rival, Sen. John F. Kerry. But the president gives a second set of messages that rarely get reported — messages that could prove equally potent in the race.

They are the lines in his speech and the leader-of-the-free-world atmospherics that fire up his fiercely loyal base — and they are aimed at turning fans into foot-soldiers. A Bush rally is not filled with undecided voters; those people are not even invited. Instead, Bush speaks to the already decided, thanking them for what they have done and asking them for more.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:39 AM


The Body slams Bush: Former Gov. Jesse Ventura breaks his silence — sort of — to back Democrat John Kerry (TOM WEBB and JIM RAGSDALE, 10/23/04, Pioneer Press)

Former third-party Gov. Jesse Ventura — in his own unique and bristly way — endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president Friday, a move some analysts say signals trouble for the Bush-Cheney ticket in the Upper Midwest.

Wearing a Rolling Stones jacket and Navy cap, Ventura stood by silently at the state Capitol as his friend Angus King, the former independent governor of Maine, endorsed Kerry. Ventura refused to speak during the news conference.

The GOP should run ads with pictures of the Body, his candidate, and his own words, that religion is: "a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:33 AM


Air Force to Help Ferry Sudan Peacekeepers (JOHN J. LUMPKIN, 10/23/04, Associated Press)

The Air Force has sent three cargo planes to central Africa to provide transport and other help for African peacekeepers going to Darfur, the violent region of western Sudan where 70,000 people have died in 20 months of warfare. [...]

Without offering specifics, the White House released a statement Friday night saying President Bush had authorized $2.5 million in Defense Department commodities and services to be used "to support the transportation of African Union forces to Darfur, Sudan." Also Friday, officials in Brussels, Belgium, said the European Union will provide up to $125 million to support African peacekeepers in Darfur as the United Nations warned that crucial relief convoys are imperiled. Some 1.2 million people in Darfur rely on food from the World Food Program, a U.N. agency.

The African Union's Peace and Security Council agreed Wednesday to increase its peacekeeping force in Darfur from 390 to 3,320 troops and civilian police. The one-year operation is to cost $220 million, mainly paid for by the EU and the United States, according to council head Said Djinnit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:28 AM


President Bush Job Approval (Rassmussen Reports, October 22, 2004)

Fifty-four percent (54%) of American voters say they approve of the way George W. Bush is performing his role as President.

Forty-six percent (46%) of voters disapprove.

The President's Job Approval has not dipped below 51% since the Republican National Convention.

Election 2004 Reuters/Zogby Daily Tracking Poll (Zogby.com, 10/23/04)
President Bush continues to lead Democratic challenger John Kerry by two points (47%-45%), after a strong day of polling, according to a new Reuters/Zogby daily tracking poll. The telephone poll of 1206 likely voters was conducted from Wednesday through Friday (October 20-22, 2004). The margin of error is +/- 2.9 percentage points.

Pollster John Zogby: "Bush had a stronger single day of polling, leading Kerry 49% to 46%. For the first time, in the one-day sample Bush had a positive re-elect, 49% to the 48% who feel it's time for someone new. Also in the one-day sample, Undecideds were only 4%. Could Undecideds be breaking for Bush?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 AM


‘India could overtake China in 15 yrs’ (Indian Express, October 22, 2004)

The third Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) report by Goldman Sachs, projected that the share of the four nations in world growth could double from 20 per cent in 2003 to 40 per cent, in 2025. In fact, industrialisation in India and China could push the world growth rate to above 4 per cent over the next few years.

The report, published a week ago, points out that in the three big areas of market development: energy and oil, cars and market capitalisation, Bric have the potential to be a major source of growth within 10 years and perhaps a dominant one within 20. In the next decade, Bric will have a major impact on the oil and energy markets, which clearly are the pressure points for growth.

Bric will emerge as big consumer markets in the next phase to be followed by their prominence in the capital markets, where there could be a lag, the report states.

In the next three years itself, the number of people with incomes over $3,000 (middle class) could double and touch 800 million in a decade, which is higher than the combined population of the US, Western Europe and Japan. In India, the middle class is expected to increase 14 times in the next 10 years, compared to 10 times in China. By 2025, Bric could have over 200 million people with incomes of over $15,000.

As far as global oil demand is concerned, China’s contribution would remain high, but is likely to peak in 5-10 years and would decline steadily thereafter. India’s impact will become gradually more important and its contribution to global demand growth could overtake China’s in 15 years.

China's decline is more likely to be precipitous than steady.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 AM


U.S. Arrests Senior Al-Zarqawi Leader (AP, 10/23/04)

The U.S. military has arrested a "senior leader" in the network run by Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, along with five others during overnight raids in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, officials said Saturday. [...]

The 1:30 a.m. raid in southern Fallujah targeted a site being used as a safe haven by al-Zarqawi's inner circle, according to a military statement.

Intelligence sources said the man captured was previously thought to be a relatively minor member of the terror network. But because so many of al-Zarqawi's associates have been captured or killed, he moved up to take a more important role.

Iraqi tv should start running videos of Allawi holding up these guys heads.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 AM

CHAUNCEY'S GARDEN (via Mike Daley)

With Bush Trip, Blue New Jersey Is Flashing Red (Ben Smith, NY Observer)

New Jersey is starting to look like the red state next-door, as yet another poll shows President George W. Bush within striking distance of Senator John Kerry in the unlikelybattleground.

Deeply affected by Sept. 11, disgusted by their Democratic governor and
flush from Mr. Bush's tax cuts, likely voters in New Jersey preferred Mr.
Kerry to Mr. Bush by a margin of just 49 percent to 45 percent, according to
a Quinnipiac University poll released Oct. 19. The poll, which was taken
before the President made an unusual visit to South Jersey on Oct. 18, is
the latest in a series that show the Garden State as a tight race. Al Gore
won the state by 16 percentage points in 2000.

"Not only are we on your doorstep, but we've got a foot over the stoop,"
crowed Lewis Eisenberg, a co-chairman of Mr. Bush's New Jersey campaign and
one of his top national fund-raisers. "We're on our way in."

Here in New York, we know Mr. Eisenberg and a handful of well-heeled,
well-connected Republican insiders as the face of New Jersey's Republican
Party. They are sober suburbanites, people with high incomes and 212 office
numbers who may hold their nose at some of Mr. Bush's social positions but
love his tax cuts and support his foreign policy. Their leaders are members
of the party's liberal wing, like former Governors Thomas Kean and Christie
Todd Whitman. Later, after Mr. Bush's visit, this group would drive north to
a country road in Oldwick-a bit of New England in New Jersey-and follow a
torchlit path to Mrs. Whitman's spacious farm. There, they would meet with
First Lady Laura Bush and contribute $500,000 to her husband's re-election

But in the sunny afternoon, another of their number, lawyer David Norcross,
was leaning on a metal barrier outside the Evesham Recreation Center in
Marlton, N.J., standing out in his dark suit and college tie as the
red-white-and-blue clad crowd flowed past, copies of The Faith of George W.
Bush in hand. Mr. Norcross was talking about the surprising dynamics in his
state, which conventional wisdom had put in Mr. Kerry's camp-until polls
showed otherwise.

"I've never seen anything quite like it. It's a real bottom-up set of
locally driven things," said Mr. Norcross, who was chairman of the
Republican Party committee that oversaw the G.O.P.'s convention in New York.

The Party really needs to recruit a superstar to run for Governor.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:21 AM


High Court gives doctors right to let baby Luke die (Sally Pook, The Telegraph, October 22nd, 2004)

Doctors treating a terminally-ill baby with a rare genetic disorder won the right yesterday to deny him life-saving treatment.

Luke Winston-Jones, eight months, has never left hospital and cannot recover from his illness, but his mother asked the High Court to rule that doctors must resuscitate her son if his condition deteriorates. His doctors said he should be allowed to die.

Yesterday, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss said it was not in Luke's best interests to resuscitate him by putting him on a ventilator, although she said doctors should still try to revive the baby using heart massage if they believed it was right to do so.

She gave her judgment less than 10 minutes after the hearing ended, and told all the parties they should now "turn over a new leaf". In particular, she told Luke's mother, Ruth, that she must now accept the judgment of her son's doctors and try to reduce the areas of conflict between them.[...]

Dame Elizabeth, the president of the High Court family division, ruled yesterday that doctors were legally entitled not to put Luke on a ventilator. She said the procedure carried the risk of the baby then becoming dependent on a ventilator, which would deprive him of his close relationship with his mother during the last weeks or months of his life. His life "would not be worth living", the judge said.

As the judge can’t possibly know what Luke’s life would be like or what he might make of it, surely what she is really saying is that, if she were his mother, she can’t imagine how her life would be worth living. Rumpole used to recall bitterly how old-fashioned judges retired for “double muffins” after pronouncing a death sentence. The modern ones bask in the pride of having done the dead baby’s family such a big favour.

October 22, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:02 PM


Mixed mediaeval motives: a review of FIGHTING FOR CHRISTENDOM: HOLY WAR AND THE CRUSADES By Christopher Tyerman (Jonathan Sumption, The Spectator)

The crusades have had a bad press lately, for reasons which are not far to seek. They were characterised by the three things that the modern age has found most abhorrent about its own recent past: religious enthusiasm, racism and colonial settlement. More generally, they were inspired by a belief that there is a divine plan for the world, and that some people have been specially charged with executing it. This belief is not widely accepted today, outside the United States and parts of the Islamic Middle East. The 18th-century sceptic David Hume thought that the crusades were ‘the most signal and the most durable monument of human folly that has yet appeared in any age or nation’. Modern Europeans would add that they were wicked as well.

One may wonder why it matters. The crusades, after all, happened more than 500 years ago. Their perpetrators had moral values which were fundamentally different from our own. And anyway they are dead. What is the point of criticising historical events, simply because we would deplore them if they happened now?

There are at least two reasons why it may matter. One is that the modern world believes in collective and inherited guilt. This curious superstition was the basis on which mediaeval Christian societies once justified the persecution of Jews. But how else is one to explain the Pope’s recent decision to apologise for religious wars and persecutions wrought by Christians in past centuries? Secondly, the crusades have perceived analogies with more recent events in the Middle East, which have transformed them from historical curiosities into modern political slogans. A man’s attitude to the 11th-century crusades is one way of telling the 21st century what side he is on.

My favorite book as a kid was a tale of the Crusades and it never made any sense that we should acquiesce to folks who took our Holy Lands by force. What's wrong with fighting for them?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 PM


U.S. Senate race as close as ever (Ivan Moore Research , October 19, 2004, KTUU TV)

In the positive-negatives, Tony Knowles was at 59.6 percent positive, 35.7 percent negative. Now he's at 60.3 percent positive, 36.5 percent negative.

The positive is up a bit and the negative is up a bit, but continuing a pattern that goes back to July. Consistent numbers for Tony.

Two weeks ago, Lisa stood at an almost campaign low of 49.8 percent positive, 42.7 percent negative.

The difference between Lisa's positive of 49.8 percent and Tony's positive of 59.6 percent two weeks ago had risen to its highest point in the campaign, at just under 10 points.

But now, 57.3 percent positive, 38.5 percent negative. Lisa's positive rating up by 7.5 points, her negative down by four -- a huge change in just two weeks.

To the horserace. Right now it stands with Tony Knowles still in the lead with 46.9 percent, Lisa a little closer at 45.3 percent.

While the Democrats will certainly pick up IL, this is the only other current GOP seat where you'd have said they were favored. If Ms Murkowski can just keep it this close she may be able to ride the President's huge margin.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:29 PM


Poll: Voters Divided Along Marital Lines: New ABC News Poll Shows Gender Gap Replaced by Marital Gap (DALIA SUSSMAN, Oct. 22, 2004, ABC News)

The gender gap just might be passé. This year's electorate currently is divided more along marital lines than gender lines, a contrast from the last presidential election.

Men support George W. Bush over John Kerry by an eight-point margin in the latest ABC News tracking poll, while women are split between the candidates. In 2000 there was a bigger difference between the sexes: Bush +11 among men, Al Gore +11 among women.

Polls are not predictive and the final breakdown remains to be seen. But as of now, marital status tells more of a story. Married voters — men and women — are strong Bush groups: Married women support him by 19 points, 56-37 percent, and married men by 22 points, 59-37 percent. Kerry, though, is favored by six in 10 single men and women alike.

One difficulty for Kerry is that there are a lot more married voters than single ones.

Marriage--like tax paying and property ownership--should be a prerequisite for the vote.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 PM


TIME Poll: Bush Opens 5 Point Lead Against Kerry (TIME, Oct. 22, 2004)

President Bush has opened a 5 point lead against Senator John Kerry, according the latest TIME poll. If the 2004 election for President were held today, 51% of likely voters surveyed would vote for President George W. Bush, 46% would vote for Senator John Kerry, and 2% would vote for Ralph Nader, according to the TIME poll conducted by telephone from Oct. 19 – 21. Among all registered voters surveyed, Bush leads Kerry 50% to 43%.

Last week’s TIME poll found 48% of likely voters would vote for Bush, 47% would vote for Kerry, and 3% would vote for Nader. That poll was conducted Oct. 14-15 and included 865 likely voters.

Poll results will appear in the upcoming issue of TIME magazine, on newsstands Monday, Oct. 25. See methodology below for margin of error and sample size information.

Bush’s approval rating has risen to 53%, with 44% saying they disapprove of how he is handling his job.

One of the givens of polling in recent years is that the GOP does better among Likely's than Registered's, but that doesn't always hold this year for whatever reason.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:51 PM


Bush critics also hit at Reagan
(ALFRED BALITZER, 10/23/04, The Japan Times)

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry criticizes President George W. Bush for "going it alone in Iraq," for failing to build the support of the United Nations and for failing to build an international coalition of America's traditional allies.

Bush is not the first president to fill the sting of these accusations. America's elite media and intellectual class used them repeatedly to indict the foreign policies of his father and President Ronald Reagan.

Even as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stood at Reagan's side, Reagan was frequently accused of "going it alone." John Oakes, senior editor of The New York Times, pointed the finger at Reagan for substituting "a mindless militarism for a foreign policy . . . frightening our friends from Japan to West Germany." Strobe Talbott, a prominent foreign affairs columnist for Time Magazine who subsequently became deputy secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, criticized Reagan's "instinctive predilection for unilateral" efforts in foreign policy.

The similarities in the criticism of Reagan and Bush do not stop here. Detractors mocked Reagan as they do Bush now for his "swagger," accusing him of being a cowboy, a yahoo from the West, whose lack of intelligence and sophistication showed itself in the failure to grasp the subtleties of foreign policy.

In fact, both Reagan and Bush broke new ground in foreign policy, much to the chagrin of the elite media and left intellectual circles, whose liberalism masks a conservative bias when it comes to foreign policy.

Reagan horrified the media and the intellectual class by abandoning the decades-old policy of containing the Soviet Union for one that aimed at bringing it down, while Bush put shivers up their spines after 9/11 with the doctrine of preemptive action. Reagan acted with moral clarity, focused determination and boldness as does Bush. By contrast, the media and intellectual class emphasize "shades of gray" thinking, foreign-policy complexities and maintenance of the status quo.

Senator Kerry even made all those inane criticisms twenty years ago.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 PM


Trust me, I'm a Guardian reader: The reader's editor on... a word in the ear of a Clark County voter (Ian Mayes, October 23, 2004, The Guardian)

For more than a week the Guardian has been under an unprecedented email bombardment from the United States. The stimulus was an exercise mounted by G2, the tabloid second section of the paper, to put individual voters of undeclared party allegiance in the presidential election in Clark County, Ohio - narrowly balanced between Republicans and Democrats - in touch with individual Guardian readers. [...]

Having read through many of the emails, and while acknowledging the letters of thanks and support among them, my own view is that the paper in carrying out the exercise through the intrusive use of the voters' list, has prejudiced some of the goodwill it has built up in America and unnecessarily excited its enemies. It has sought to intervene in the US election, with unpredictable consequences.

In a poll I conducted among Guardian staff who had been following the story, of 71 respondents, 13 thought it a legitimate and worthwhile exercise, 14 were undecided and 44 were against it. Among the reasons given by the latter, reflecting complaints coming from the US, were that intervention in the democratic processes of another country was not "legitimate newspaper behaviour"; and that it was arrogant and self-aggrandising.

Several were dismayed that the internet effect had apparently not been anticipated, one saying that the speed with which links to the Guardian story spread showed that "this perceived insult has legs". Another commented: "It seems a shame that, in this interactive age, with email and weblogs all around, we rejected any attempt to have a real conversation with US voters." Several mentioned that the buoyant and jaunty nature of G2 journalism, marking a cultural distinction from the broadsheet, was not apparent on the website.

What good will? The Guardian has been attacking America every day since 9-11.

Fortunately, the Spectator reveals how we can get back at them, We want to see the back of Bush (Max Hastings, The Spectator)

The word ‘hate’ should be used cautiously, but most British people seem to hate George W. Bush. The Spectator’s YouGov poll this week — see panel opposite — suggests that only 11 per cent of British voters and about 13 per cent of MPs would welcome a Republican victory in the presidential election. A convincing 53 per cent say they would be either ‘unhappy’ or downright ‘miserable’ if the incumbent renews his tenancy of the White House.

Miserable sounds good.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 PM


9-11 panelist says U.S. knows where bin Laden is located (JIM MOHR, 10/21/04, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

The Pentagon knows exactly where Osama bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan, it just can't get to him, a member of the 9-11 Commission said Thursday.

Commissioner John Lehman's remarks echoed those made Tuesday by Secretary of State Colin Powell, who asserted the al-Qaida terror kingpin was alive and operating in the western part of that country.

Bin Laden is living in South Waziristan in the Baluchistan Mountains of the Baluchistan Region, Lehman said, after delivering a keynote speech on terrorism at Pitzer College in Claremont to kick off the university's three-day writer's festival.

In the exclusive interview, Lehman said, "There is an American presence in the area, but we can't just send in troops. If we did, we could have another Vietnam, and the United States cannot afford that right now."

When pressed on why the United States couldn't send troops into the region to capture the world's No. 1 terrorist, Lehman said the Baluchistan Region of the country is filled with militant fundamentalists who do not recognize the legitimacy of President Pervez Musharraf, a close ally of the United States.

"That is a region filled with Taliban and al-Qaida members" he said, acknowledging that Pakistan's security services also are filled with many who agree with bin Laden's beliefs and would aid him if U.S. Special Forces entered the region.

"Look," he said, "Musharraf already has had three assassination attempts on his life. He is trying to comply, but he is surrounded by people who do not agree with him. This is not like Afghanistan, where there was no compliance, and we had to go in. We'll get (bin Laden) eventually, just not now."

It seems unlikely that he's still alive, but whatever remains of al Qaeda ios certainly in Western Pakistan and that's where the War ends. It's preferable to have Musharraf deal with it, but if he's toppled we'll have to. If Senator Kerry is to be believed he'd have put our ground forces in there late in 2001, regardless of Pakistan being an ally. Saddam would still be in power and we'd still not be able to produce Osama's corpse.

Military pounds militants’ hideouts in Waziristan (Iqbal Khattak, 10/23/04, Daily Times)

Security forces attacked suspected Islamic militants’ hideout with helicopter gunships and mortars on Friday as a house-to-house search operation in the Spinkay Raghzai area was likely to begin on Saturday, military sources told Daily Times.

“There has been heavy fire in the area and security forces have arrested someone, though he is not Abdullah Mehsud,” said a security official who asked not to be named.

Military sources said the offensive began at 3:00am (2200 GMT Thursday) against a suspected militant hideout in Kotkai, 65 kilometres east of Wana.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:21 PM


India draws 'medical tourists'
Cheaper health care a powerful attraction
(John Lancaster, Oct. 21, 2004
, The Washington Post)

Three months ago, Howard Staab learned that he suffered from a life-threatening heart condition and would have to undergo surgery at a cost of up to $200,000 -- an impossible sum for the 53-year-old carpenter from Durham, N.C., who has no health insurance.

So he outsourced the job to India.

Taking his cue from cost-cutting U.S. businesses, Staab last month flew about 7,500 miles to the Indian capital, where doctors at the Escorts Heart Institute & Research Centre -- a sleek aluminum-colored building across the street from a bicycle-rickshaw stand -- replaced his balky heart valve with one harvested from a pig. Total bill: about $10,000, including roundtrip airfare and a planned side trip to the Taj Mahal.

"The Indian doctors, they did such a fine job here, and took care of us so well," said Staab, a gentle, pony-tailed bicycling enthusiast who was accompanied to India by his partner, Maggi Grace. "I would do it again."

Staab is one of a growing number of people known as "medical tourists" who are traveling to India in search of First World health care at Third World prices.

May as well, the doctor you see here will likely be Indian too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 PM

Jim Miller looks at the question of whether Undecideds do break for the incumbent President or Do Undecided Voters Break For The Challenger?

Posted by Peter Burnet at 5:44 PM


Iran nuclear deal 'tied to US election (Aljazeera, October 22nd, 2004)

Analysts have said Iran will wait until after the US elections to respond to a European offer to avoid possible UN sanctions by indefinitely suspending uranium enrichment.

The analysts added the deal had no chance of success if the United States did not back the British-French-German offer, which includes non-nuclear items such as supporting Iran's joining the World Trade Organisation.

According to a confidential document prepared by the Europeans in advance of the talks, Britain, France and Germany presented Iran on Thursday with a deal to receive valuable nuclear technology if it indefinitely suspended all uranium-enrichment activities.

The deal includes a light-water reactor which would produce less fissionable material than the heavy-water reactor Tehran wants to build.[...]

The United States wants the Vienna-based IAEA, which since February 2003 has been investigating Iran on US claims that the Islamic Republic has a covert nuclear weapons programme, to send Iran to the UN Security Council, which could impose punishing sanctions.

But the European trio have so far opposed this, favouring instead a policy of "constructive engagement" to get Tehran to cooperate. [...}

But David Albright, a former IAEA inspector and president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, said, he "can't believe Iran would turn down" the European trio's package, which includes a recognition of Iran's right to peaceful nuclear technology, measures to increase trade and backing of some of Iran's regional security concerns.

"If Iran turns this down, reasonable people would have to [conclude] the country wants nuclear weapons," Albright said.

Unreasonable people figured that out some time ago.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:34 PM

BUSH FIVE-0 (via mc):

Neglected Hawaii Emerges As Swing State (DAVID BRISCOE, 10/22/04, AP)

Often dismissed as too small, too isolated and too Democratic to worry about in presidential contests, Hawaii suddenly has a close race.

Democrats say Sen. John Kerry still has an edge over President Bush in the contest for Hawaii's four electoral votes, but the race has become awfully tight for their comfort. With late poll closings - 11 p.m. EST on Nov. 2 - and a slow count, Hawaii politicians are talking about offering a dramatic conclusion to what could be an ultra-close national election.

"We may make the difference," said Linda Chu Takayama, campaign manager for Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye, who is all but assured of victory in his own race for an eighth term. "Surprise, surprise. The polls I've seen show it up and down but always within the margin of error."

The George H. W. Bush anomaly has meant that we've gone twenty years without a landslide, so maybe folks just forget what they look like, but incumbent Republican presidents carry everything.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:45 PM


Laura Bush, Smiling but Tough: In Last Solo Tour, First Lady Is on the Attack -- Demurely (Mike Allen, October 22, 2004, Washington Post)

The beginning of the end looked a lot like the beginning of Bush's first presidential race in 1999: Laura Bush, smiling in a chaotic coffee shop in New Hampshire, making a fuss over choosing her blend, then pouring her own cream. New Hampshire is home to lots of independent voters, and the first lady brought Cindy McCain -- wife of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who beat Bush in the New Hampshire primary of 2000 -- along on her bus trip Thursday. "A few years ago, Cindy and I were on different buses -- and her bus nearly knocked ours off the road," Laura Bush said at a "W Stands for Women" rally at Hopkinton Town Hall.

Last time the first lady typically traveled with her husband, but this time the campaign recognized her as a separate asset -- one with an approval rating of about 80 percent, compared with the 50 he polls on a good day. So Laura Bush hit the campaign trail solo back in June 2003 and since then has traveled to 33 states -- battlegrounds, plus states with cities big enough for large fundraising events. She raised $5.5 million for the campaign and headlined 25 rallies, 15 luncheons, 13 evening receptions and 12 dinners. She has also given 13 campaign speeches, including several in the "W Stands for Women" series, and made countless television appearances.

Her value to the ticket has been underscored by the occasional controversies around statements by Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, who on Wednesday apologized for telling USA Today that she does not know whether Laura Bush -- who has a master's degree in library science -- has ever had "a real job."

"It doesn't matter to me," Laura Bush said. "It didn't hurt my feelings. It was perfectly all right, and she apologized. But she didn't even really need to apologize. I know how tough it is. And actually, I know those trick questions, too." Later, she said in an interview , "I think she was trying to talk about herself and not about me -- I really do." [....]

[O]n Iraq, her message is as unyielding as her husband's. "Building a democracy is not easy," she said. "But we know it's right."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:36 PM


Christopher Reeve appears in California stem call ad (KESQ, 10/22/04)

The paralyzed actor stars in a new T-V commercial supporting Proposition 71 -- the ballot measure that would devote three billion dollars to stem cell experiments.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 2:13 PM


Polite society anticipates Teresa's pizazz (Stephanie Mansfield, Washington Times, 10/22/2004)

The Bushes have been virtually incognito for the last four years. Harpers Bazaar recently referred to the first lady's style as "Marian the Librarian."

"Nobody's been to The White House," added Mrs. Pincus. "You don't know about them. There's no buzz." The president is a teetotaler and Laura Bush "doesn't even do lunches. It's like, 'Hello, is this 1958?'"...

Mrs. Wallop points out that the Bushes have only hosted "what, four or five state dinners in four years? These people don't understand that to get things done you have to have these stupid dinners."

If Mrs. Wallop is right that more cocktail lunches and social dinners are the key to getting the war on terror won, I might have to rethink my opposition to Kerry.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:49 PM


Religious Leaders Ahead in Iraq Poll: U.S.-Supported Government Is Losing Ground (Robin Wright, October 22, 2004, Washington Post)

In positive news for the administration, the poll found that 85 percent of Iraqis want to vote in the January election.

Despite the current strife, about two-thirds of Iraqis do not believe civil war is imminent, the poll found. Asked if their households had been hurt by violence, injuries, death or monetary loss over the past year, only 22 percent of those questioned said yes -- a figure that surprised pollsters and U.S. officials.

With voter registration due to begin Nov. 1, the poll found that 64 percent of Iraqis are still unwilling to align with any party, which U.S. officials attribute to the legacy of the Baath Party. The most valuable indicators, officials say, may be the data on Iraq's politicians.

The poll found the most popular politician is Abdel Aziz Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The group was part of the U.S.-backed opposition to Saddam Hussein and is now receiving millions of dollars in aid from Iran, U.S. officials say.

Hakim had 80 percent name recognition among Iraqis, with more than 51 percent wanting to see him in the national assembly, which will pick a new government.

Allawi had the greatest name recognition of any politician, with 47 percent of Iraqis supporting him for a seat in the new parliament. But rebel Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr came in a very close third, with 46 percent backing him for an assembly seat.

The most pleasant surprise of Afghanistan and Iraq continues to be the political maturity of their populations, far more ready for self-rule and the restoration of civil society than we thought they could be after years of totalitarian rule.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:41 PM


Sacrificing Israel (Charles Krauthammer, October 22, 2004, Washington Post)

The centerpiece of John Kerry's foreign policy is to rebuild our alliances so the world will come to our aid, especially in Iraq. He repeats this endlessly because it is the only foreign policy idea he has to offer. The problem for Kerry is that he cannot explain just how he proposes to do this. [...]

Think about it: What do the Europeans and the Arab states endlessly rail about in the Middle East? What (outside of Iraq) is the area of most friction with U.S. policy? What single issue most isolates America from the overwhelming majority of countries at the United Nations?

The answer is obvious: Israel.

In what currency, therefore, would we pay the rest of the world in exchange for their support in places such as Iraq? The answer is obvious: giving in to them on Israel.

The Senator has cast himself as a hard-headed Realist on foreign policy and at the heart of Realism lies selling other peoples out to serve your own national interest.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:27 PM


Iraq, 9/11, Al Qaeda and Weapons of Mass Destruction: What the Public Believes Now, According to Latest Harris Poll (The Harris Poll® #79, October 21, 2004)

If President George Bush is re-elected it will be because he succeeded in persuading most people that his sense of what happened in Iraq, and why, is more accurate than that of his critics.

Large majorities of the public accept many of the president’s positions:

* 90 percent of U.S. adults believe that Saddam Hussein would have made weapons of mass destruction if he could have.

* 76 percent believe that the Iraqis are better off now than they were under Saddam Hussein.

* 63 percent believe that history will give the U.S. credit for bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq.

* 63 percent believe that Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, was a serious threat to U.S. security.

* 62 percent believe that Saddam Hussein had strong links to Al Qaeda (a claim which Vice President Cheney has made more than President Bush).

The attempt by the Democrats to portray the war in Iraq as a waste, especially the unfortunate but minimal loss of American life, is simply a non-starter with all but their own little 30-40%.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:21 PM


Fire and Brimstone (Eric Krol, 10/232/04, Southtown Daily Herald)

A wild U.S. Senate debate spilled into living rooms Thursday night as Republican Alan Keyes and Democrat Barack Obama rocked each other with blistering attacks on religious faith, crime, gun control, abortion and sex education.

In a bid to jolt his long-shot candidacy, Keyes excoriated Obama for coddling gang members, proposing kindergartners learn about sex and using his faith disingenuously to get votes.

The choice of topics meant Obama, who holds a 40-percentage-point lead in polls, often found himself on the defensive during the hour-long debate on WLS-TV, Channel 7.

C-SPAN showed the debate and not only was Mr,. Obama reduced to stammering but several times he looked like Nancy Kerrigan when Tonya Harding enters the room.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:16 PM


Two Arrested for Hurling Pies at Columnist (Associated Press, 10/22/04)

Two men ran onstage and threw custard pies at conservative columnist Ann Coulter as she was giving a speech at the University of Arizona, hitting her in the shoulder, police said.

There's another sign of the relative status of the two parties these days--no straight male closes his eyes and imagines Helen Thomas smeared with custard.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:11 PM


BUSH SR.'S JOKE FEST (DEBORAH ORIN, October 22, 2004, NY Post)

President Bush's dad had them rolling in the aisles last night at the Al Smith charity dinner, telling how his wife, Barbara, is ready to clobber John Kerry for all his attacks on their son.

"Barbara gets her hands on Senator Kerry, he's going to need another Purple Heart," former President George H.W. Bush told the crowd at the dinner, sponsored by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York at the Waldorf.

It remained unclear, he added, "who was going to blow first — Barbara or Mount St. Helens."

The elder Bush also seemed to nod at the dinner sponsors' anti-abortion stance, wryly telling of what it's like to visit San Francisco "in a presidential car as a Republican."

He said he was greeted by "the ugliest group of people I had ever seen," including one, a woman, who brandished a sign saying, "Stay out of my Womb."

The ex-president brought the house down by quipping, "No problem, lady."

No president was ever worse served by the attempt to appear presidential rather than act like himself.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:07 PM

NO SINS, JUST GENES (via John Resnick)

Mary Cheney Outs John Kerry (Tammy Bruce, October 22, 2004, Mens News Daily)

Usually, nothing really new emerges from these ritualistic duals, but during the last Bush/Kerry debate, we got a real-time rare glimpse at what lies behind John Kerry’s Potemkin façade. These are the moments that make a debate truly worthwhile, as we watch hoping to see the man behind the talking points, prepared statements and usual spin. When John Kerry decided to speak for Mary Cheney, the curtain parted and we realized that Kerry does indeed have a very ugly portrait in his attic.

Most of the world now knows that Kerry, in this grand moment during that last debate, decided to make a singular point about his view of homosexuality, and used Mary Cheney, noting she was a lesbian, and then remarkably declaring what Mary would have to say about whether homosexuality is a choice—that she would say she was “ being who she was born as.” Wow, I had no idea he was so close to Mary, or could read the minds of lesbians. I better go think nice thoughts right now!

Reports from those in the auditorium indicated a general gasp from the mixed Republican and Democratic crowd. The gut instinct of the people in the room, and the millions watching, was that Kerry’s use of Cheney was more than inappropriate—it smacked of exploitation and an agenda based in something other than respect.

What may be most interesting about his comment is a supposed man of faith denying free will.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:58 PM


Extreme makeover: John Kerry a `guy's guy': Senator's hunting trip latest salvo in battle for voters: Campaign tries to emulate Bush's macho persona (TIM HARPER, 10/22/04, Toronto Star)

The chiselling, polishing and buffing of John Kerry's image has been under way for almost two months, but yesterday the millionaire windsurfer formally morphed into the baseball-loving, goose-hunting, "guy's guy."

A meticulous late-campaign overhaul appeared complete.

First, there was the Massachusetts senator, feet up on the coffee table, munching popcorn and holding a beer as he watched his beloved Boston Red Sox pull off a miracle on the diamond, beating the despised New York Yankees for the American League pennant after falling three games behind.

Unless that popcorn was drenched in sweet sticky caramel and there was a cheap trinket in the box he still don't get it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:53 PM


Bush Ad Uses Wolf Image to Attack Kerry (LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press)

Reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's Soviet "Bear" ad that was credited with helping frame the 1984 race, the commercial shows a dense forest from above. Scurrying is heard as the camera plunges deeper into the woods and pans sunlight-speckled trees. Shadows move through the brush before animals are seen amid the forest.

Then, the ad reveals the type of animal: A pack of wolves rest on a hill. As the commercial closes, the predators stir, moving toward the camera.

"In an increasingly dangerous world, even after the first terrorist attack on America, John Kerry and the liberals in Congress voted to slash America's intelligence budget by $6 billion," an ominous voice says in the ad. "Cuts so deep they would have weakened America's defenses. And weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm."

He really is Reagan's Son.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:44 PM


Unemployment Drops in Battleground States (LEIGH STROPE, 10/22/04, Associated Press)

Unemployment declined last month in eight of 10 states that are hotly contested in the presidential race, including Ohio where job losses and a struggling economy have boosted Democrat John Kerry's election hopes.

Friday's Labor Department report on regional and state employment in September was the last snapshot of the labor market before the election.

Ohio's unemployment rate declined to 6 percent in September from 6.3 percent the previous month. Employers' payrolls grew by 5,500, helping to send down the rate. But more jobseekers dropped out of the labor pool, too, contributing to the rate decline.

Among the closely contested states, unemployment rates declined last month in Pennsylvania, Florida, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Nevada and Colorado in addition to Ohio.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:41 PM


Iran's Nuclear Threat (NY Times, 10/22/04)

What is critical is for the winner of the presidential race, and for the three European nations, to make it urgently and abundantly clear to Iran's president, Mohammad Khatami, and his mullahs that the West will brook no further delays, and that it is serious and united about imposing stern sanctions if Iran won't abandon its nuclear fuel enrichment efforts.

Not just sanctions, stern sanctions...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:33 PM


Lies, damn lies and Chinese statistics: China has stunned the world with its economic miracle, reflected in its galloping GDP growth. But its figures are mostly pumped up by ambitious local bureaucrats who cook the books and waste money on infrastructure, making Chinese statistics inscrutable and often unreliable parameters of progress. (Florence Chan, 10/23/04, Asia Times)

Apart from overstatement, the GDP rocket is to a large extent fueled by costly but unproductive window-dressing projects throughout the country. Wang Huaizhong is a case in point. As mayor of Anhui province's Fuyang city, he successfully lobbied for a local airport that was started in 1995 and completed three years later, costing 320 million yuan. Though the airport mostly lies idle but demands substantial maintenance coupled with staff salaries from the Fuyang government, it still helped Wang climb up to the post of vice governor of Anhui. The airport, which recorded only 920 passengers in 2002, has become a financial burden, dragging the local government down into a debt of more than 2 billion yuan, almost five times its revenue. But Wang's Anhui reported an average annual GDP increase of 22%. He was, however, deposed for exaggeration before he was convicted of corruption and executed this month, as an example to ambitious party bureaucrats.

Another perfect example of window-dressing would be the airport of Zhuhai city, which cost close to 5 billion yuan. Although its passenger and freight traffic in an entire year is less than what the Hong Kong airport gets in five minutes, it is included into Zhuhai's GDP calculation.

Of course the folks who think that China's infrastructure spending is sensible also think the New Deal ended the Depression.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:19 PM


Afghanistan, Iraq: Two Wars Collide (Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer, October 22, 2004, Washington Post)

As the war on terrorism enters its fourth year, its results are sufficiently diffuse -- and obscured in secrecy -- to resist easy measure. Interpretations of the public record are also polarized by the claims and counterclaims of the presidential campaign. Bush has staked his reelection on an argument that defense of the U.S. homeland requires unyielding resolve to take the fight to the terrorists. His opponent, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), portrays the Bush strategy as based on false assumptions and poor choices, particularly when it came to Iraq.

The contention that the Iraq invasion was an unwise diversion in confronting terrorism has been central to Kerry's critique of Bush's performance. But this account -- drawn largely from interviews with those who have helped manage Bush's offensive -- shows how the debate over that question has echoed within the ranks of the administration as well, even among those who support much of the president's agenda.

Interviews with those advisers also highlight an internal debate over Bush's strategy against al Qaeda and allied jihadists, which has stressed the "decapitation" of the network by capturing or killing leaders, but which has had less success in thwarting recruitment of new militants.

At the core of Bush's approach is an offensive strategy abroad that Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said complements the defensive efforts he oversees at home. In an interview, Ridge said Bush's priority is to "play as hard and strong an offense as possible," most of it "offshore, overseas."

Published and classified documents and interviews with officials at many levels portray a war plan that scored major victories in its first months. Notable among them were the destruction of al Qaeda's Afghan sanctuary, the death or capture of leading jihadists, and effective U.S. demands for action by reluctant foreign governments.

But at least a dozen current and former officials who have held key positions in conducting the war now say they see diminishing returns in Bush's decapitation strategy. Current and former leaders of that effort, three of whom departed in frustration from the top White House terrorism post, said the manhunt is important but cannot defeat the threat of jihadist terrorism. Classified government tallies, moreover, suggest that Bush and Vice President Cheney have inflated the manhunt's success in their reelection bid.

Bush's focus on the instruments of force, the officials said, has been slow to adapt to a swiftly changing enemy. Al Qaeda, they said, no longer exerts centralized control over a network of operational cells.

Perhaps the reasons are psychological--that his father headed CIA and was an ambassador--or perhaps he's just smarter than even his supporters give him credit for, but whatever the cause, thank goodness that the President ignores the intelligence and diplomatic types or we'd be chasing around an al Qaeda which, as the authors note, we effectively destroyed two years ago.

The President instead has pursued a Reaganesque strategy of transforming the Middle East and assuming that as Islamic nations evolve into liberal democratic capitalist protestant societies like the rest of us the problem of Islamicism will take care of itself.

John Kerry, of course, would follow the CIA/State model and traipse commandos around in Western Pakistan while propping up the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East, as a billion Muslims became ever more disgusted with their lives and even with life.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:55 AM


George W. Bush For President (EDITORIAL BOARD, 10/20/2004, Jewish Press)

It was George W. Bush’s lot to have been elected president at a time when two defining developments were at work, fundamentally changing the world landscape. The European Union’s burgeoning determination to fill the international political void created by the collapse of the Soviet Union was one. And the unprecedented challenges presented by an international terror crusade on the move —underscored eight months into Mr. Bush’s presidency by 9/11 — was the other.

Both these developments required — and will continue to require — leadership not rooted in outdated geopolitical thinking; leadership cognizant of the reality that our ostensible friends do not necessarily share our interest in a strong United States and that our enemies do not risk as much as we do from confrontations gone seriously bad.

With this in mind, the choice Americans must make on November 2 should be an easy one. One can prattle about the significance of this or that difference between President Bush and Senator Kerry on the environment, Social Security, jobs, taxes and a whole slew of other domestic issues. But that avenue ineluctably ends up as a clash of partisan talking points about inherently insoluble problems. When it comes, however, to the war on terror — the overarching issue of our time — the choice of Mr. Bush over Mr. Kerry is a clear one from everything available in the public record. And for those with a special interest in Israel, the choice is even clearer.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 9:54 AM


Europe Seeking New Role in World Affairs (Robert Wielaard, The State, October 22nd, 2004)

The 25-member European Union - now comprising eight ex-communist nations and considering membership for Muslim-dominated Turkey - is busily crafting a "Wider Europe" as well.

It would stretch far beyond the EU's formal borders and aim to lock nearby lands into democracy and good neighborly relations through tailor-made programs of trade and assistance.

But the blueprint for a "ring of friends" making Europe's neighborhood safe, secure and prosperous comes with complications: There is Israel and its nuclear ambiguity and security morass. Russia, Ukraine and Belarus show creeping authoritarianism. Libya may be emerging from the cold, but it is still a dictatorship. The Balkans remain a scary doorstep.

In many ways, however, this may be the very point.

The EU's outreach program to sometimes dangerous places beyond its borders marks a dramatic shift in Europe's perception of how it can play a key - perhaps central - role in world affairs: The strategy is one of exploiting economic clout to both achieve influence on the world stage and shape the rim of Europe. Perhaps Europe might even school America - and its many Euro-cynics - in the merits of persuasion rather than force.

"We want to strengthen the instruments available to us to become a dynamic protagonist in the world. The EU has a leading role to play in securing human rights and democracy," said Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who is set to take over as the EU external relations commissioner on Nov. 1.

If the United States has in the post-Sept. 11 era become more willing to use its overwhelming military might as a stick to bring nations into line, the EU appears to be awakening to the possibility that the lure of "Old World" good life can be a comparably persuasive carrot in provoking change in areas of chaos and repression.

It’s a little confusing, but the idea seems to be that while the U.S. wastes its money on national defense, Europe will be protected by buffer states with declining populations discussing postmodernism in charming cafes over pate and fine wines. Shrewd.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:18 AM


Kerry lagging in 'blue' states won by Gore: A poll of battleground states showed John Kerry trails in must-win states. But undecideds could break in his favor. (STEVEN THOMMA, 10/22/04, Knight Ridder)

Sen. John Kerry has not yet locked up his base of swing states that voted Democratic four years ago, a new Knight Ridder-MSNBC poll showed Thursday.

Less than two weeks before Election Day, Kerry held a statistically insignificant 1 percentage-point lead in three of the key battleground states carried by Democrat Al Gore in 2000, was tied in a fourth and trailed President Bush in three others. All were within the poll's margin of error and remained toss-ups.

The detailed look at the political battleground underscores the challenge Kerry faces as he enters the campaign's final days. He likely has to win all of the ''blue'' states -- color coded on election maps for states that voted Democratic in 2000 -- and pick up at least some electoral votes from ''red'' states carried by Bush four years ago. That's because the blue states weren't enough for an Electoral College victory in 2000, and those states have seven fewer electoral votes after post-2000 redistricting to reflect population shifts to the South and Southwest.

If Kerry doesn't hold all of the blue states, he has to win away even more red states. That also is a challenge, as a second set of polls of seven red swing states this week showed Bush solidly ahead in one, Nevada, and leading in the rest -- Missouri, West Virginia, Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire and Ohio, though those six were so close they remained statistical toss-ups.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:15 AM


The Libya model: The United States and its allies managed to persuade Libya to renounce unconventional weapons. Rather than resort to rattling sabers, Washington should adopt a similar approach with Iran and Syria. (R Bruce St John, 10/23/04, Foreign Policy in Focus)

There is general agreement on the need for policy change in Damascus and Tehran. The contentious issue is how best to encourage and foster the desired change. Reminiscent of the build up to the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration has been strong on rhetoric but absent a comprehensive, coherent plan to shape future events in either Iran or Syria. The US has also failed, once again, to secure the full coordination and support of interested allies, like France, Germany, Great Britain and the Soviet Union.

The prolonged negotiations which eventually led Libya in December 2003 to renounce unconventional weapons of its own "free will" offer a more productive model for dialogue with Iran and Syria than the "take no prisoner" approach being pursued by the Bush administration. Talks with Libya began in mid-1999 at a time when the US was indicating it sought policy change but not regime change in Libya. In this initial stage, the involved parties agreed to tone down the rhetoric and begin a meaningful dialogue in pursuit of a step-by-step process.

These early negotiations with Libya were based from the outset on an explicit quid pro quo as ambassador Martin Indyk, the US assistant secretary of state who opened talks with Libya in mid-1999, later indicated in a Washington Post op-ed article. The talks aimed at Libya satisfying all of its obligations under applicable UN resolutions and were predicated on two conditions: Libyan agreement both to keep the negotiations quiet and to cease lobbying to have the UN sanctions permanently lifted. The Bill Clinton administration elected not to pursue the unconventional weapons question at this time because its priority remained resolution of the Pan Am flight 103 issue.

Tripartite talks opened between Great Britain, Libya and the US in January 2001 were also based on a "script" which indicated what Libya must say and do to resolve the Pan Am flight 103 issue and to cause the UN sanctions to be lifted. According to Flynt Leverett, senior director for Middle East Politics at the National Security Council in 2002-03, the final round of negotiations with Libya, which began in March 2003, also centered on an explicit quid pro quo. In this case, the US told Libya that, in return for a verifiable dismantlement of its unconventional weapons programs, Washington would lift its bilateral sanctions on Tripoli, perhaps before end 2004.

As the prolonged negotiations with Libya suggest, the US needs to engage Iran and Syria on a broad range of interrelated issues, taking one step at a time. Narrow contact on the highly charged nuclear issue in the case of Iran or Syria's occupation of Lebanon, tied to the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights and Israel-Syria peace talks, is unlikely to work. On the contrary, Washington needs to engage Tehran on a basket of related issues, like Iranian fears of regime destabilization, a regional security architecture that includes Iran and its neighbors, and Iranian support for radical groups in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. In turn, US talks with Syria need to expand to include border and water issues with Israel and support for militant Palestinian groups as well as alleged unconventional weapons programs, support in stabilizing Iraq, and ongoing cooperation in the "war on terrorism". [...]

Where a process of engagement with Tripoli led to its renouncing unconventional weapons and rejoining the international community with no loss of life, Washington's belligerent policy of isolation is provoking the opposite reaction in Damascus and Tehran. Both states have hunkered down under the verbal onslaught from the White House and shown little inclination or ability to cooperate on Washington's terms. Unfortunately, if such pre-election antics prove a reliable guide, meaningful dialogue with either Damascus or Tehran would also appear unlikely in a second Bush administration.

Actually, Libya presents a strong argument in favor of regime change, as all its recent reformist moves have came as a result of the influence of Saif al Islam Qaddafi, the Colonel's Westernized son. There was initial hope that Baby Assad would be likewise a modernizer--he seems not to have the courage. And there's reason to believe the mullahs can not control Iran for much longer--they appear to be trying to trade economic reform for political repression, a la China. In the meantime, regime change should be our official policy in both places. That could certainly be an element of negotiations.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:57 AM


Mixed Results for Bush in Battles Over Judges: After more than three years of appointment battles, President Bush's ambitions for the courts are clear, but his record is mixed. (NEIL A. LEWIS, 10/22/04, NY Times)

Soon after President Bush took office, two events set in motion what has become an extraordinary battle between the White House and Senate Democrats over the appointment of federal judges.

First, the new president and his aides turned to the Federalist Society, a conservative lawyers' group, to help select candidates. Of Mr. Bush's first batch of nominees, 8 of 11 were proposed by the society. There could have been no clearer signal that Mr. Bush intended to follow the pattern set by his father and President Ronald Reagan of shifting the courts rightward and reaping the political benefit of pleasing social conservatives.

Then, at a weekend retreat in April 2001, Democratic senators adopted an aggressive new strategy in dealing with judicial candidates. Under Mr. Bush's Republican predecessors, the Democrats believed they could block only candidates with egregious faults. But that weekend, two prominent law professors and a women's rights lobbyist urged the senators to oppose even nominees with strong credentials and no embarrassing flaws, simply because the White House was trying to push the courts in a conservative direction.

Now, after more than three years of battles over judicial appointments, Mr. Bush's ambitions for the courts are clear, but his record is mixed. He has succeeded in placing staunch conservatives on the bench in many cases but has been foiled in others by Senate Democrats like Charles E. Schumer of New York who charge him with trying to "create the most ideological bench in history."

It would be best to get to 60 votes, but the GOP should also rewrite the Senate rules in the next Congress to at least do away with the filibuster on presidential appointments and guarantee an up or down vote.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:51 AM


Demos pounce on Vitter's house deed: Front-runner calls wording abhorrent (Bill Walsh, October 22, 2004, New Orleans Times Picayune)

U.S. Senate race front-runner David Vitter is under attack from Democrats for buying a house in Old Metairie in 1996 with a deed that specified it could only be sold "to people of the white race," a decades-old provision Vitter said he didn't know about.

Vitter said he never saw the exclusion. He condemned the use of such covenants, once relatively common on residential properties in the New Orleans area, and said they would be illegal anyway.

Can't remember off-hand which Reagan appointee to the Court was similarly attacked until it turned out that Ted Kennedy and six of the sitting Justices had similar deed provisions--they're apparently almost impossible to excise.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 AM


Havel, his memories and the world (Judy Dempsey, October 22, 2004, International Herald Tribune)

In his dissident years, he cherished the vision of the Czechs joining a united Europe. The country joined the European Union on May 1; there is more than a tinge of disappointment over the EU's ability to set out its priorities.

"The problem is that we don't think very much about Europe's identity," said Havel. "We worry about the bureaucratic rules, about endless regulations and economic issues. But we debate very little about the issue of identity, about the spiritual heritage of Europe and the relationship with the rest of the world." He paused. "I, for one, do not share the emotional anti-Americanism that is very current these days in Europe. That does not mean I cannot be critical of some aspects of American policy."

The bells from the church of St. Nicholas rang out. It was noon.

"I think the Europeans should define its relationship not just towards America but towards Russia and other parts of the world," said Havel.

"Historically, Europeans played a role as an exporter of ideas, as a conqueror and as exploiter. I think in these days Europe could serve as an inspiration for other parts of the world in order to counter the dangers of globalization."

Asked how Europe might do this, Havel pondered. "I don't understand why the most important deity is the increase of gross domestic product. It is not about GDP. It is about the quality of life, and that is something else."

Havel admits he does not envy leaders, particularly President George W. Bush of the United States.

"I sometimes feel very sorry for President Bush, who is being criticized by everybody for his various decisions. If you make a decision to spend $200 billion on a war, while combating AIDS in Africa would perhaps need the same amount, how do you make that decision?" asked Havel.

He was warming to his other big issue: the United States. Never one to hold his tongue, Havel said that whoever wins the race to the White House next month should consider shifting his attitude.

"I think that the more powerful the U.S. is and the more responsibility it feels, rightfully, for the future of the world, the more careful and cautious it should be in exercising that power, because sometimes, inadvertently, Americans may act in ways that are seen as arrogant and bullying.

"I do understand that Americans are very proud of their freedom and independence and that throughout their history they escaped being occupied or dictated to by another country. I understand, too, that sometimes they are in no mood to listen to the United Nations, where many obscure countries have a say in the decision-making. But just the same, I think Americans should realize that somehow they should cope with the reality of international organizations."

Still, Havel's criticism of the United States was tempered by a kind of gratitude for what Washington did for Europe during the past century.

"You see in places where Americans helped the most, it is there where the most frequent expressions of anti-Americanism have occurred. There exists something like the phenomenon of the hatred by the saved towards the savior. We can see this very well in Europe, where twice in its recent history, the U.S. had to come in and save Europe, and again, in a nonmilitary way, during the cold war. Maybe this anti-Americanism in Europe is a part of this hatred of the saved towards its savior."

In a 20th Century that produced rather too few heroes, Mr. Havel stands very near the top of the short list--along with Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, the Pope, Ronald Reagan, and Natan Sharansky.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM


On the stump, Bush slows pace to his liking (Anne E. Kornblut and Rick Klein, October 22, 2004, Boston Globe)

The presidency may be hard work, as President Bush said several times during the first debate. But his campaigning these days appears much less so, with a relatively moderate travel schedule and an unusually narrow list of targeted travel states.

Always fond of returning to his own bed at the end of the day, Bush has spent six out of the last seven nights at the White House, stepping off the campaign trail some days in time to catch the baseball playoffs. This weekend -- less than two weeks before the election, typically a time for frenzied barnstorming -- Bush is planning to spend two consecutive nights far from any battleground, at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Until Election Day, he is making some curious stops for an incumbent locked in such a close race -- traveling to the largely Democratic state of Pennsylvania three times in two weeks, for example, while avoiding the close battleground of Ohio, except for making a stop today, his first since Oct. 2.

According to some Republicans, the odd schedule, which does not quite match the states where Bush's prospects are best, is reminiscent of his campaign travel four years ago, when Bush stopped in California and New Jersey in the final days of what turned out to be a closely contested race.

Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts holds roughly the same number of campaign events each day as does Bush (between two and four), but Kerry has spent most nights on the road and is planning to campaign both weekends before Nov. 2. Given the intensity of the campaign so far and the neck-and-neck nature of opinion polls, the lack of urgency in the Bush campaign is remarkable.

Bush's pace is almost certain to intensify next week, but for the moment the Bush calendar seems to reflect a high level of confidence among his campaign officials that the president is striking just the right note, at the right speed -- bolstered by his consistent if narrow lead in national polls over the last three weeks.

If you've ever worked on a campaign you'll be aware that where you make your appearances is pretty much a function of the psychology of that campaign rather than of some tactical necessity. This is particularly true in a national campaign where you'd get blanket press coverage even if you just went goose hunting. The great myth of 2000 is that if only George W. Bush had campaigned in FL more he'd have won it by more or that Al Gore could have won TN if he'd visited more--the only thing that mattered in the closing days of that race was that they were dominated by Mr. Bush's DUI arrest. The one thing the President could and should do is hit some of the states where he could help in Senate races by generating press and excitement for the candidates.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:04 AM


Ideology vs. Practicality - A Hamiltonian GOP? (Adam Yoshida, September 10, 2004, Insight)

One of the things we've witnessed over the past decade or so is
nothing less than the birth of an entirely new ideology in modern

As anyone who watched the Republican National Convention last week can attest, the modern Republican Party is not exactly the party of Barry Goldwater or even, quite, that of Ronald Reagan.

While this is in some ways a lamentable development (I shuddered inwardly every time someone started talked about increased funding for some social program) it is also probably a necessary one.

The conservatism that Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and Newt Gingrich campaigned upon was a very admirable political ideology, but not a functioning governing philosophy.

It's nice to talk about throwing out the New Deal, banning abortion, or junking the Department of Education: but, short of a violent revolution, it isn't going to happen.

This is to be lamented, of course, but it is also something that must be accepted. Reagan himself governed far less conservatively than he campaigned (both when he was Governor of California and when he was President) because government-by-absolute-ideology is impossible in a democracy.

This is one reason I very rapidly lose patience with those so-called 'conservatives' who are prepared to abandon President Bush over this or that issue. [...]

Absolutist social conservatism and anti-government rhetoric are very appealing to some voters, but they aren't principles which you can effectively govern upon. You might win an election on that platform, if you find a perfect storm, but the odds are that you'd win exactly that one and then see all of your reforms overturned in less than two years.

This is not to counsel defeatism: real change is possible and real
action, real conservative action, remains the goal: but it cannot be achieved overnight and victory cannot be gained without sacrifice.

Because, over a number of generations, the Republican Party has become America's majority party it has had to transform its philosophy from that of an opposition to that of a government. When you're in opposition you can scream about whatever you like, you can tar the governing party for everything that goes wrong, and you can subsist on the twin illusions that both there can be a perfect government and that you can provide that government.

Such moral clarity, however, fades quickly once one is handed the actual task of governing. This pertinent fact is fully recognized by Newt himself, as he's made clear in recent years as a commentator. In fact, I suspect it may have been what he had in mind all along.

A sign of maturity is making peace with the world as it is. You need not be happy with how things are, but you must accept that things cannot be changed overnight and that man cannot be altered by fiat.

The new conservatism is the old conservatism after it graduated from college, got married, bought a house, and had two kids. It still doesn't like big government, but understands that it has to be accommodated to a reasonable degree. It doesn't like to see America, in Robert Bork's memorable phrase, "slouching towards Gomorrah" but understands that mere screaming will do nothing to change it and will, in fact, render the forces of conservatism incapable of achieving even half of what they sought to do in the first place.

Now, some people have suggested that the present Republican Party is similar to the Democratic Party of the Truman Era. I reject that suggestion, and here's why: the goal of the Democrats of that era in using government was to assist the people. The goal of the new Republicans is to use the government to strengthen the nation. These are fundamentally different concepts.

You can call it "Compassionate Conservatism" or "Bush Conservatism" or "Neo-conservatism": all of those names apply to some degree. To put it most simply, it is a mature conservatism.

The name I prefer is "Hamiltonian Conservatism", in honor of the man whose vision made him the true father of modern America and whose ideas, in which a strong and effective central government was to be used to make the nation stronger, are seemingly the basis of this new (and old) ideology.

The reason this election matters so much to Democrats that it's causing them to become deranged is because the compassionate conservativism of George Bush is indeed the kind of practical governing philosophy that can make the GOP a permanent majority.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 AM


-EXCERPT from Football Physics: The Science of the Game by Timothy Gay

How Helmets Work

After the football, the next most important piece of equipment on the field is the helmet. Unlike some of their predecessors, which were little more than leather skullcaps, today's technological marvels are remarkably successful in preventing serious head injuries. Basically, the modern helmet is a molded plastic shell that fits over the head, with a face mask and an interior lining of compressible material. The advent of face masks, and the replacement of leather with plastic, were both developments of the early 1940s.

Consider the hit that Buffalo Bills defensive back Mark Kelso put on Houston Oilers receiver Curtis Duncan in the incredible 1992 AFC Wild Card game. Duncan is in the end zone drawing a bead on what would be Warren Moon's third touchdown pass. Duncan himself, meanwhile, is being targeted by Kelso, who has built up a considerable head of steam. The ball arrives, and a split second later Kelso bashes his helmet into Duncan's, causing Duncan's head to fly back like a limp doll's. Fortunately, Duncan is able to pick himself up following the hit and celebrate the touchdown, his head still attached. (Unfortunately for the Oilers, they were about to blow the game in unforgettable fashion. Trailing by 32 points in the third quarter, the never-say-die Bills, again led by backup quarterback Frank Reich, put on a dazzling display of offensive fireworks to not only get back in the game but ultimately pull out the victory in overtime, 41-38, on a Steve Christie field goal. It would go into the books as the greatest comeback in NFL history -- although the Oilers and their fans surely can be excused if they don't see it that way.)

Nothing could protect Duncan from the emotional whiplash he would soon suffer, but how did his helmet manage to protect him from physical injury? We can answer this question by considering two physical quantities associated with a hit: pressure and impulse. We've talked briefly about impulse before, and we'll return to it in detail in a moment, but let's first consider pressure.

Pressure is caused when a force is applied to a given area. The actual value of the pressure is the force divided by that area: P = F/A. That's why we talk about pressure in units of pounds per square inch (psi). Remember that in chapter 5 we blew up a football to a regulation pressure of 13 psi. Things can get tricky here, though, because usually when we talk about pressure in this context, we really mean pounds per square inch as read by the gauge (psig), as opposed to an absolute pressure (psia). Absolute pressure is the pressure of the ambient atmosphere plus whatever the gauge reads. Atmospheric pressure, in turn, is what we feel as a result of the force of all the molecules in the air hitting our body. This pressure at sea level is roughly 15 psi. As the altitude increases, there are fewer molecules to hit a given area of our skin within a given time. The force per unit area is less, so the pressure decreases. If a football is blown up to 13 pounds, there are 28 (13 + 15) pounds of force pushing outward on every square inch of the inner surface of the ball.

When Kelso slams Duncan's head with his helmet, we can calculate the force of the hit by again using Newton's Second Law. In this case, Duncan's head and helmet, with a mass of roughly 20 pounds, accelerates to a speed of about 25 feet per second. The collision that causes this takes place in something like a tenth of a second. This corresponds to an average force during the hit of about of 160 pounds, but the instantaneous force can be much higher than the average value.

Now think about what would have happened if Kelso had kept his helmet on but Duncan had removed his.

Bad game, good book.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 AM

VALUE SHOPPERS (via Michael Herdegen):

An election all about values (Mortimer B. Zuckerman, 10/25/04, US News)

[T]he Democratic Party saw its leadership shifting away from its working-class and middle-class roots, away from moral traditionalists, especially families that go to church, away from those who live in unfashionable tract suburbs and even in working-class neighborhoods. The Democratic Party was increasingly identifying more with the rising elites of the information and entertainment age--what commentator Joel Kotkin calls the "hip-ocracy" of well-educated people, high-tech tycoons, Hollywood moguls and celebrities, Wall Street financiers, and an academic world of people with graduate degrees--a new social elite, much more liberal than the country at large. Bill Clinton's "I feel your pain" and "It's the economy, stupid!" reflected the need to reconnect with the traditional Democratic middle-class constituencies, but then he exacerbated the concern over moral values and family issues with his personal behavior.

This new elite is voting Democratic too. The Democratic vote has risen in the 261 wealthiest townships in America, in every election over the past two decades, to the point where it has gone from 25 percent in 1980 to a majority in the year 2000. This is no small number, for we now have a mass upper class of some 9 million households, or 15 percent of American families, with incomes over $100,000, roughly half of whom have a net worth in excess of $1 million, many of them big Democratic givers. For example, lawyers gave about $80 million to Democratic candidates by July 2004, dwarfing the $15 million given by the entire oil and gas industry. So much for the image that the rich support only the Republicans.

Rich and liberal. In this, John Kerry was a godsend for the Republicans. His image and persona were such that he lacked the common touch and had difficulty connecting to the experiences or values of middle- and working-class people. As with George W. Bush's father, also accused of lacking the common touch, Kerry sees the need to assume a middle-class awareness but can't do it convincingly. The photos of Kerry windsurfing or playing other elite sports have played into all these stereotypes of someone out of touch with the average man. Ironically, it was Bush who rejected many of his family's patrician ways, who seems comfortable in casual clothes and with chopping wood rather than yachting.

Middle America saw these educated liberals as a ruling elite, a collection of snobs who looked down upon ordinary people from the heights of their multiple academic degrees--an upper class that believed it knew better and was more sophisticated than the average folks who live in the heartland. The Republicans, with populist support, tagged the liberals as "latte-drinking, Volvo-driving, school-busing, fetus-killing, tree-hugging, gun-fearing, morally relativist and secular humanist," as Jason Epstein summarized it in the New York Review of Books , and portrayed their elders as soft on communism, soft now on the new war on terrorism, and opposed to capital punishment.

The poor Democrats still think they're the populist party even though they're on the 30-40% side of every issue.

Posted by David Cohen at 7:05 AM


A Survivor of Palestinian Tyranny Defends Israel (Brigitte Gabriel, FrontPageMagazine.com, 10/15/04)

(Below is Brigitte Gabriel's speech delivered at the Duke University Counter Terrorism Speak-Out, held Thursday, October 14, 2004. The video of Brigitte's much longer speech may be viewed at Phyllis Chesler's website www.phyllis-chesler.com -- The Editors)

I’m proud and honored to stand here today as a Lebanese speaking for Israel -- the only democracy in the Middle East. As someone who was raised in an Arabic country, I want to give you a glimpse into the heart of the Arabic world.

I was raised in Lebanon where I was taught that the Jews were evil, Israel was the devil, and the only time we will have peace in the Middle East is when we kill all the Jews and drive them into the sea.

When the Muslims and Palestinians declared Jihad on the Christians in 1975, they started massacring the Christians city after city. I ended up living in a bomb shelter underground from age 10 to 17 without electricity eating grass to live and crawling under sniper bullets to a spring to get water.

It was Israel that came to help the Christians in Lebanon. My mother was wounded by a Muslim’s shell and was taken into an Israeli hospital for treatment. When we entered the emergency room I was shocked at what I saw. There were hundreds of people wounded, Muslims, Palestinians, Christian Lebanese and Israeli soldiers lying on the floor. The doctors treated everyone according to their injury. They treated my mother before they treated the Israeli soldier lying next to her. They didn’t see religion. They didn’t see political affiliation. They saw people in need and they helped.

For the first time in my life, I experienced a human quality that I know my culture would never have shown to its enemy. I experienced the values of the Israelis -- who were able to love their enemy in their most trying moments. I spent 22 days at that hospital. Those days changed my life and the way I listen to the media. I realized that I had been sold a fabricated lie by my government about the Jews and Israel that was so far from reality. I knew for a fact that if I was a Jew standing in an Arab hospital, I would be lynched and thrown over to the grounds as shouts of joy of “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) would echo through the hospital and the surrounding streets.

I became friends with the families of the Israeli wounded soldiers, one in particular Rina, her only child was wounded in his eyes.

One day I was visiting with her and the Israeli army band came to play national songs to lift the spirits of the wounded soldiers. As they surrounded Rina’s son’s bed playing a song about Jerusalem, Rina and I started crying. I felt out of place and started waking out of the room, and this mother holds my hand and pulls me back in without even looking at me. She holds me crying and says: “It is not your fault”. We just stood there crying holding each other’s hands.

What a contrast between her, a mother looking at her deformed 19 year old only child, and still able to love me -- the enemy, and between a Muslim mother who sends her son to blow himself up to smithereens just to kill a few Jews or Christians.

The difference between the Arabic world and Israel is a difference in values and character. It’s barbarism versus civilization. It’s dictatorship versus democracy. It’s evil versus goodness.

Once upon a time, there was a special place in the lowest depths of hell for anyone who would intentionally murder a child. Now, the intentional murder of Israeli children is legitimized as Palestinian “armed struggle”. However, once such behavior is legitimized against Israel, it is legitimized everywhere in the world, constrained by nothing more than the subjective belief of people who would wrap themselves in dynamite and nails for the purpose of killing children in the name of God.

Because the Palestinians have been encouraged to believe that murdering innocent Israeli civilians is a legitimate tactic for advancing their cause, the whole world now suffers from a plague of terrorism, from Nairobi to New York, from Moscow to Madrid, from Bali to Beslan , a plague of terror which has been authored and perfected by the Palestinians for the last half century .

They blame suicide bombing on "desperation from occupation." But let me tell you the truth. The first major terror bombing committed by Arabs against the Jewish state occurred ten weeks before Israel even became independent. On Sunday morning, February 22, 1948, in anticipation of Israel’s independence, a triple truck bomb was detonated by Arab terrorists on Ben Yehuda Street in what was then the Jewish section of Jerusalem. Fifty-four people were killed and hundreds were wounded. It is obvious that Arab terrorism is caused not by the “desperation from occupation”, but by the VERY THOUGHT of a Jewish state.

So many times in history in the last 100 years, citizens have stood by and done nothing, allowing evil to prevail. As America stood up against and defeated communism, now it is time to stand up against the terror of religious bigotry and intolerance. It’s time for all of us to stand up and support and defend the state of Israel, which is the front line of the war against terrorism.

October 21, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:39 PM


Last chance for the Democrats?: The presidential election says a lot about the unequal state of America's two parties (Lexington, Oct 14th 2004, The Economist)

It is generally agreed that the big prize this year will go to whichever party does the better job of getting its supporters to the polls. To this end, the Republicans have reinvented the traditional political party for the age of suburban sprawl. The party boasts an elaborate hierarchy of activists—state chairmen, county chairmen, precinct captains, local volunteers—who all have a pre-assigned role in a plan laid down in the Bush-Cheney headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. By contrast, the Democrats—ironically, given their opposition to outsourcing—have handed over most of the grunt work of registering and mobilising voters to independent groups such as MoveOn.org and America Coming Together.

This difference is partly a function of campaign-finance law: the Democrats have been much busier exploiting loopholes in the McCain-Feingold legislation to form nominally independent organisations, known as 527s (after part of the tax code). But it has much deeper roots: the Republicans are now much more interested than the Democrats in building up their party.

Mr Bush is one of the most enthusiastic party-builders to have occupied the White House. Several earlier presidents deliberately snubbed their parties: Richard Nixon pursued a strategy of “lonely victory” in 1972, while Bill Clinton adopted a policy of “triangulation”, adopting whatever Republican ideas seemed likely to win votes. George Bush senior didn't so much snub his party as ignore it. But his son threw all the prestige of his post-September 11th presidency behind campaigning for congressional Republicans in 2002. He has worked closely with other party-builders on Capitol Hill, particularly Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay in the House and Bill Frist in the Senate.

Meanwhile, the Democrats' party organisation is fraying. For decades the labour unions have provided both shoe leather and organisational glue for the Democrats. But the proportion of the workforce belonging to unions has shrunk from 30% in 1950 to 13% today. Trial lawyers have replaced trade unionists as the party's main paymasters, but they are too few in number (and too busy) to hold the party together in the same way. Women and black groups are also too focused on their own interests. The party was losing ground to single-issue pressure groups even before the 527s came along. [...]

[One] reason why the Republicans have more to gain from a victory in November is that they think they can use a second Bush term to turn themselves into America's de facto ruling party. Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, may be exaggerating when he says that “the Democratic Party is toast” if Mr Bush wins. But the Republicans have put emasculating the Democrats at the very heart of their second-term agenda. They plan to reduce its footsoldiers by contracting out hundreds of thousands of federal jobs, to reduce its income through tort reform (which may slim down the lawyers' wallets) and right-to-work laws (which will allow workers to opt out of union dues). And they plan to boost the number of people who own shares—and hence a stake in the success of the capitalist system—by beginning to privatise Social Security.

The Republican aim is to do to the Democrats what Mr Blair has so successfully done to the Tories in Britain: marginalise them so completely that they degenerate into a parody of a political party. No wonder the Democrats are fighting so hard this year. And no wonder they hate the party-builder in the White House with such a furious passion.

What makes all this even more remarkable is how open the President and Karl Rove have been about their intention to do just such epochal things with this presidency and how little attention most on the Left or the far Right have paid until the past few weeks.

Heck, there are still folks who haven't figured out that the Democrats got sandbagged on No Child Left Behind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:10 PM


Guardian calls it quits in Clark County fiasco (David Rennie, 22/10/2004, Daily Telegraph)

The Guardian yesterday ran up the white flag and called a halt to "Operation Clark County", the newspaper's ambitious scheme to recruit thousands of readers to persuade American voters in a swing state to kick out President George W Bush in next month's election.

The cancellation of the project came 24 hours after the first of some 14,000 letters from Guardian readers began arriving in Clark County. The missives led to widespread complaints about foreign interference in a US election.

It also prompted a surge of indignant local voters calling the county's Republican party offering to volunteer for Mr Bush.

The paper said it had closed the website where readers collected an address to write to and had abandoned plans to take four "winners" to visit voters in Clark County.


Posted by David Cohen at 7:46 PM


My eleven year old just looked up from his homework and asked how to spell "Hitler."

I asked why.

"We're supposed to give an example of cause and effect, and I want to write, 'Because people thought that Hitler wasn't a threat, he became a threat.'"

I'm kvelling.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:09 PM


While we’re at it
(Richard John Neuhaus, First Things, September, 2004)

There’s an outfit called the Rainbow Sash Movement whose purpose is to encourage lesbians and gays to don a rainbow sash and present themselves for Communion at Catholic cathedrals on Pentecost Sunday. The idea, of course, is to protest the allegedly oppressive homophobia of the Catholic Church. In some places, Chicago for instance, priests are instructed to politely deny the sacrament, and they wave the protesters by, sometimes adding a blessing and a prayer for the reordering of sadly disordered lives. The point is, according to the Archbishop of Chicago, that those who would exploit the Eucharist by turning it into a political protest are manifestly not rightly disposed to receive the Body of Christ. In Chicago, Rainbow Sash succeeded in getting a few news stories about their being turned away at the altar. Other places, Los Angeles for instance, took a different tack. The cardinal archbishop there is on record as being opposed to politicizing the Eucharist by imposing sanctions on notoriously pro-abortion politicians. Los Angeles is also known to be, as it is delicately said, a gay-friendly place. The archdiocese not only announced that it would not turn away protesters but sent a message to the Rainbow Sash Movement saying that they would be warmly welcomed at the altar of the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Nobody with sashes showed up. What’s the point of going to Mass if you’re going to be denied a confrontation? I would not be surprised if some gay activists in L.A. are upset about the archdiocese depriving them of their right to be rejected. And just imagine the hurt feelings of an ever-so-welcoming archdiocese scorned. In the theater of gay agitprop, players should stick to their designated roles. In Chicago, the archdiocese had the satisfaction of being Catholic, and gay activists the satisfaction of being oppressed. It was a win-win proposition. In Los Angeles, it seems that everybody lost.

You have to scroll down a ways to find this nugget, but take your time, as everything along the way is worth a read. The piece on Barbara Ehrenreich is worth the price of admission.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:54 PM


Laser weapons prove their worth in guarding against mortar attacks (John Keller, October 2004, Military & Aerospace Electronics)

A laser weapon from the Northrop Grumman Corp. Space Technology sector in Redondo Beach, Calif., showed its ability to destroy incoming mortar rounds, strongly suggesting that laser weapons could be applied on the battlefield to protect against mortars artillery shells, and other tactical weapons.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:33 PM


Dowd: Dems Already Looking Past Kerry to Hillary (NewsMax, 10/21/04)

While they still intend to vote for John Kerry, many Democrats are already resigned to his defeat and are looking forward to Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy in 2008, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said Thursday.

"I know a lot of Democrats I've talked to are really resigned," Dowd told radio host Don Imus. "They've sort of moved on in their heads to Hillary in 2008."

I'm goin' to Chappaqua in my mind...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:43 PM

NY DIDN'T SEEM THAT COLD (via Jim Siegel):

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:56 PM


In Japan, foreigners need not apply: Traditional, conservative and culturally insular Japan is graying; the workforce is shrinking, unskilled labor is in short supply and the nation desperately needs more doctors, nurses and caregivers. Yet many Japanese reject foreign workers for anything but low-end manual labor. (Jamie Miyazaki, 10/22/04, Asia Times)

Officially, Japan has maintained a tough line on foreign workers dividing them into two categories: specialized professionals with technical skills, and unskilled laborers. While the door to professionals is open, the government is not handing out visas to unskilled laborers, at least not publicly. The rationale is that unskilled immigrants could trigger a deterioration in labor conditions and a rise in crime.

The Japanese government has begun to acknowledge, though, that changes in the workforce will be inevitable. At the beginning of October a Foreign Ministry panel urged the government to accept more unskilled labor from abroad.

Today foreign workers account for only 1% of the Japanese workforce, compared with 10% in the United States. However, this might change over the coming years. Japan's graying population is facing a swelling deficit of workers. A report last year by Keidanren, the influential Japanese business lobby, forecast a labor shortfall of 6.1 million workers in the next decade, with agriculture and nursing being hit especially hard.

All this has the business community worried, and with the brutal and dismal taskmaster of economics hanging over it, Keidanren has repeatedly urged the government to ease restrictions on unskilled foreign laborers. In April it released a report calling for the creation of a minister of foreigners' affairs in an effort to make Japan more receptive to foreign workers.

The Japanese public, however, remains cautious, especially to the prospect of any influx of unskilled workers. While the public may acknowledge the gestating worker shortage crisis, it isn't willing yet to grasp the nettle.

Problems frequently get better if you deny them until the very last desperate minute.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:48 PM

Power Politics

The Christian Science Monitor is proud to make available "Power Politics III", the third version of the award-winning presidential election simulation game developed and owned by Kellogg Creek Software, Inc. This free online game lets you act as a campaign manager for any of the past and present 2004 presidential candidates.

Unfortunately it's not Mac compatible, so I can't test drive it, but it looks like it'd be fun.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:45 PM


Dying for the United Nations: Why is John Kerry no Clinton-Lieberman Democrat? Easy. His obeisance to the U.N. (William Kristol, 10/20/2004, Weekly Standard)

WHO WOULD HAVE EXPECTED the Washington Post to inflict real damage on John Kerry's faltering presidential campaign? Yet they have.

Here is the third paragraph from today's front-page article by Helen Dewar and Tom Ricks on Kerry's foreign policy record:

Kerry's belief in working with allies runs so deep that he has maintained that the loss of American life can be better justified if it occurs in the course of a mission with international support. In 1994, discussing the possibility of U.S. troops being killed in Bosnia, he said, "If you mean dying in the course of the United Nations effort, yes, it is worth that. If you mean dying American troops unilaterally going in with some false presumption that we can affect the outcome, the answer is unequivocally no."

When the Bush campaign talks about John Kerry's wanting a "permission slip" from the U.N., many commentators dismiss it as rhetorical excess. But Kerry really does believe that the United Nations is a fundamental, legitimizing body for the use of U.S. force. One hears this deference to the U.N. all the time in European capitals, but it is rare to hear it even among mainstream American liberals. In this respect, as in others, Kerry really is a throwback. He still shares the McGovernite distrust of U.S. force and suspicion of the judgments that are arrived at by the American body politic.

Mr. McGovern too had to go back to the Senate after his drubbing, but he at least got to be in the majority. Mr. Kerry will still be a junior senator in a decidedly Republican body.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:18 PM


Hunt Gives Voters Different Image of Kerry (NEDRA PICKLER, 10/21/04, AP)

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said he bagged a goose on his swing-state hunting trip Thursday, but his real target was the voters who may harbor doubts about him.

Kerry returned after a two-hour hunting trip wearing a camouflage jacket and carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, but someone else carried the bird he said he shot.

"I'm too lazy," Kerry joked.

Don't must of us have the bearers carry the kill?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:59 PM


Kerry Supports Anti-Terror Act, Shifting Stance (Sean Higgins, 10/20/04, Investor's Business Daily)

As John Kerry barnstorms swing states in the election's final days, he has harsh words for President Bush on the Patriot Act: It doesn't go far enough.

Kerry and other Democrats who once called the law, which gives the federal government sweeping powers to fight terrorism in the U.S., a threat to the Constitution are now praising it.

The shift is likely because the act remains popular. A Gallup poll earlier this year found 64% said the act was "about right" or "didn't go far enough."

One of the problems with running a campaign that's geared exclusively towards Democrats has been that the Senator routinely attacks things that are popular with 60-70-80% of the country. His criticism of the Patriot Act at the third debate was especially ill-advised.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:46 PM


New battleground polls
keep Bush 'in the red'
(Tom Curry, Oct. 20, 2004, MSNBC)

A new round of MSNBC/Knight Ridder polling in five battleground states that President Bush carried four years ago shows the president with the upper hand in West Virginia, Missouri, and Colorado over his Democratic challenger John Kerry, and very slim leads in Ohio and New Hampshire.

And another survey in Nevada found Bush with a strong 10-point lead over Kerry. [...]

The Ohio poll found Bush clinging to a statistically insignificant lead over Kerry in the Buckeye State, 46 percent to 45 percent, with a large number of respondents, eight percent, saying they were still undecided.

The MSNBC/Knight Ridder surveys, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, interviewed 625 likely voters in each state. The polls had a margin of error of four percentage points.

The longer John Kerry thinks he can win OH the uglier the final results of this election get.

The Blue States poll is embargoed until 6:30pm tonight, but if those states are at all close it's difficult to justify Mr. Kerry playing offense, unless Democrats hate George Bush so much they're willing to get creamed down-ticket.

OOPS: RedState.org got the Blue States numbers and they're very ugly for the Senator. Apparently he is paying attention though, as witness this hastily added trip into MI. Looking back folks may well consider that scheduling decision to be the moment the race officially ended.

News poll: Bush leads in Michigan (Charlie Cain, and Mark Hornbeck, 10/21/04, Detroit News)

President Bush has moved ahead of Democratic challenger John Kerry in Michigan, according to a Detroit News poll, but hasn’t reached the critical 50 percent support plateau — suggesting the state remains in contention as the presidential race draws to a close.

In the initial installment of a poll that regularly will track voter sentiment in the final two weeks of the campaign, Bush held a 47 percent to 43 percent lead over the Massachusetts senator. The incumbent president’s lead is well within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. The statewide poll of 400 likely voters was taken Monday and Tuesday.

Most recent polls have shown Kerry with a narrow lead in Michigan. A Detroit News poll in June had the candidates virtually tied, with Bush at 44 percent and Kerry at 43 percent.

-Bush Opens Up Lead in Wisconsin (United Press International, 10/21/04)
U.S. President George W. Bush appeared to have opened up a lead in Wisconsin, a 2004 battleground state, according to Thursday's Gallup Poll.

Among likely Wisconsin voters, the poll said, Bush has taken a 6-point lead, 50 percent to 44 percent over Sen. John F. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee.

-Bush still leads Kerry in Colorado (Adam Schrager, 10/21/04, 9NEWS)
President George W. Bush is holding onto his lead over Sen. John Kerry in the latest 9News poll conducted by Survey USA.

The survey was conducted Tuesday through Thursday and included 597 likely Colorado voters. The results show if the election were held today, 52 percent of those surveyed would vote for Bush and 45 percent would vote for Kerry. Two percent chose other candidates and 1 percent remain undecided. The poll's margin of error is 4.1 percent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:35 PM


Clinton eyes U.N. post (ROLAND FLAMINI, Oct. 20, 2004, UPI)

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has set his sights on becoming U.N. secretary-general. A Clinton insider and a senior U.N. source have told United Press International the 56-year-old former president would like to be named leader of the world body when Kofi Annan's term ends early in 2006.

"He definitely wants to do it," the Clinton insider said this week.

A Clinton candidacy is likely to receive overwhelming support from U.N. member states, particularly the Third World. Diplomats in Washington say Clinton would galvanize the United Nations and give an enormous boost to its prestige. But the former president's hopes hang on a crucial question that will not be addressed until after the presidential elections: can he get the support of the U.S. government -- a prerequisite for nomination?

The political wisdom is that a second George W. Bush presidency would cut him off at the pass.

I was under the impression that the UN Charter forbade an American--or anyone from any Security Council country--from being Secretary General, but this would serve the purposes of Tony Blair, George Bush, and John Howard brilliantly. Mr. Clinton demonstrated in the Balkans that he has low regard for those who would seek to limit our unilateral humanitarian interventions. With him wielding the whip the next couple might even have UN support. Were he to make the UN, at last, an integral part of the fight for democracy and human rights in the world it would be as significant as anything any president has ever done and would redeem him in history.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:18 PM


Thune: D.C. tax break shows Daschle out of touch (Jon Walker, 10/21/2004, Argus Leader)

Republican candidate John Thune said Wednesday that Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle's participation in a tax break on housing in Washington, D.C., shows that his opponent has lost touch with South Dakota.

"It ties in to the very theme of the campaign all along," Thune said in a phone interview from Garretson. "Tom Daschle is a lot more about Washington than he is about South Dakota. He's willing to declare Washington his principal place of residence for a $288 tax break."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:44 PM

FRY WILLIE (via Raoul Ortega):

Appeals court: Whales have no standing to sue to stop sonar (KIM CURTIS, 10/20/04, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A federal appeals court decided Wednesday that marine mammals have no standing to sue to stop the U.S. Navy from using sonar.

In upholding a lower court decision, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the world's cetaceans - whales, porpoises and dolphins - have no standing under the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act or the National Environmental Policy Act.

If lawmakers "intended to take the extraordinary step of authorizing animals as well as people and legal entities to sue, they could, and should, have said so plainly," said Judge William A. Fletcher, writing for the panel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:40 PM


Cuban President Castro Breaks Leg, Arm (VOA News, 21 October 2004)

The Cuban government has confirmed that President Fidel Castro broke his left arm and right knee after falling during a graduation ceremony late Wednesday in the city of Santa Clara.

Oh Lord, had you only given us a Red Sox victory that would have been enough.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:35 PM


Pakistani Troops Besiege Suspected Militants' Hideout (VOA News, 21 October 2004)

Hundreds of Pakistani troops backed by helicopter gunships have besieged a suspected hideout of al-Qaida-linked militants in the northwestern tribal region of South Waziristan.

The militants Thursday used heavy weapons to return fire against the security forces, who began the assault near the mountainous town of Spinkai Raghzai on Wednesday.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:23 AM


U.S. reports Taliban rift over failure to sabotage Afghan elections (STEPHEN GRAHAM, 10/20/04, Associated Press)

Fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has fallen out with some of his lieutenants, who blame him for the rebels' failure to disrupt the landmark Afghan presidential election, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

Election officials, meanwhile, said U.S.-backed interim President Hamid Karzai could all but seal a victory Thursday as vote counting proceeds from an Oct. 9 ballot that came off largely peacefully.

A U.S. military spokesman, Maj. Scott Nelson, said intelligence reports from Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan indicated the Taliban's failure to mount major attacks during the election had demoralized the rebels. [...]

The U.S. military, which has 18,000 soldiers hunting al-Qaida and Taliban holdouts in Afghanistan, has hailed the election as a body blow to the rebels because their threats to sabotage the vote proved hollow.

An estimated 8 million Afghans turned out to vote, and Karzai appears set to become the country's first directly leader after a quarter-century of conflict.

With half the ballots counted Wednesday, Karzai had 59.8 percent of the vote and held a 42-point lead over his nearest challenger, former Education Minister Yunus Qanooni.

Having overrun al Qaeda's training camps and the Taliban military installations we now know that they were nowhere near developing WMD and folks assure us that Osama is alive and kicking in western Pakistan. Americans and Afghans have died for no other reason than that 28 million people might live free. Don't we all feel ashamed?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:59 AM


Jobless Claims Dip; Labor Recovery Growing (JEANNINE AVERSA, 10/21/04, Associated Press)

The number of new people signing up for jobless benefits fell sharply last week, offering a dose of encouraging news that the recovery in the labor market may be strengthening a bit.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that new filings for unemployment insurance declined by a seasonally adjusted 25,000 to 329,000 for the week ending Oct. 16. That marked the lowest level since early September. In the prior week, claims had climbed by 16,000.

The latest snapshot of the layoffs climate was better than economists were expecting. They were forecasting claims to total in the 345,000 range.

No one switches the man on a white horse in the middle of a boom.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:51 AM

LET US REASON TOGETHER (via Robert Schwartz):

Twin Tyrants, Imposing Their Separate Visions in Strikingly Similar Ways: a review of THE DICTATORS: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia By Richard Overy (WILLIAM GRIMES, NY Times Book Review)

The parallels, both chronological and political, are striking. Both Stalin and Hitler rose to power in an atmosphere of extreme crisis created by World War I and its aftermath. Possessed, almost literally, by a sense of historical mission, and using remarkably similar tactics, they neutralized their political opponents, turned the state into an instrument of the ruling party and transformed the economy into a mighty war machine. Historians are still counting the dead. [...]

Toward the end of "The Dictators," Mr. Overy, in a provocative but frustratingly brief argument, points his finger at a culprit for the murderous ferocity that characterized Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia. Both ideologies, he maintains, derived legitimacy and passion from the cult of science. Germany would triumph because, in the Darwinian struggle for supremacy, the strong are destined to crush the weak. The Soviet Union marched forward into the future supremely confident that the iron laws of history and economics were on its side. There was no room for doubt, for compromise, or mercy toward opponents in either society. In this respect, Stalin and Hitler were, indeed, the bloodiest of brothers.

Choosing which is the worst form of Rationalism, Applied Darwinism or Applied Marxism, seems a singularly unfruitful enterprise--Reason is the enemy in both instances.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 AM


Reasons of hope in Israel (Shimon Peres, October 21, 2004, Boston Globe)

WINDS OF change are sweeping across the world. Science, technology, democracy, and feminism are transforming our world at a rapid pace. We may look at our world and find cause for fear. We should take a closer look and find much cause for hope. A battle between tradition and modernity is being waged in the Middle East.

This battle is not a clash of civilizations. Rather, it is a clash within a civilization. It is the clash between those who offer only a past and those who call upon free people to seize the future and find their own route to liberty, prosperity, and peace. Witness the bombings and killings in the Middle East and you make think that change is only for the worse. But look at Turkey, Libya, Afghanistan, Egypt, even Syria, and a different story emerges.

Turkey is embarking on a promising path that will serve to consolidate its gains in liberalizing its society and economy following the recommendation of the European Commission to open negotiations with Turkey on its admittance to the European Union. What is more remarkable is that this process is being led by a Muslim political party, which is proving to the world that there is no inherent contradiction between Islam and modernity.

Libya, until recently a black hole in the Middle East, a country bent on sponsoring terrorism and acquiring nuclear weapons, has made a remarkable turnabout and is dismantling its weapons programs.

Afghanistan has experienced mostly calm elections and an enthusiastic electorate. Syria's president is speaking of peace, and Egypt is slowly searching for a path to modernity. Even in Iraq, recent small successes are suggesting the possibility of a different future.

Throughout the Middle East, voices calling for openness and democracy are slowly and tentatively being heard. These voices cannot but triumph. Terrorists and extremist fundamentalists have nothing to offer their people. There is no place in the future for countries that live almost exclusively on agriculture. There is no place for countries where women are oppressed, and there is no place for countries that stifle free scientific inquiry, thought, creativity, and speech.

This is the process that John Kerry and the Left's other New Realists want to stop in favor of the security they believe authoritarian oppression provides.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 AM


In Bush's Vision, a Mission to Spread Power of Liberty: Talking about "the transformational power of liberty" is President Bush's way of infusing the storyline of his presidency with a sense of a larger vision. (DAVID E. SANGER, 10/21/04, NY Times)

In the last, frenetic two weeks of the campaign, there comes a moment at every rally, every town hall meeting, when President Bush starts talking about what he calls "the transformational power of liberty.''

It usually happens toward the end of his speech, after Mr. Bush accuses Senator John Kerry of seeking to beat a hasty retreat from Iraq and of surrendering American sovereignty by creating a "global test'' for the use of military power. It almost always starts with Mr. Bush's description of his warm relationship with Junichiro Koizumi, the Japanese prime minister, and his sense of wonder that he sits down "at the table with the head of a former enemy'' whom his father fought in the Second World War.

Yet it moves quickly to a vision democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then to "free governments in the broader Middle East that will fight the terrorists, instead of harboring them.'' It is Mr. Bush's way of infusing the storyline of his presidency with a sense of mission, one as great as the liberation of Asia and Europe a half-century ago, one with the promise of turning the region into what Japan has become: wealthy, peaceful and its own distinctive form of democracy.

It is deliberately far more Reagan than Bush 41, a sparkling symbol of "the vision thing'' that Mr. Bush's father lacked, with disastrous electoral results, a dozen years ago. And while the president's riff rarely shows up on the evening news, it is the uplifting moment in his daily message. It is artfully crafted to get his audiences to look beyond the daily headlines of beheadings and suicide bombers, of an insurgency that has defied American military might, and to focus Americans' attention on the fact that Afghans have just gone to the polls and that Iraqis are trying to do the same.

One of the great canards of the Bush era, pimped about by neocons like David Frum as well as by the Left, is that this presidency was floundering about without great plans or themes until 9-11 saved it and gave it a direction. Mr. Sanger writes here as if the President suddenly realized this Summer that he had a "vision thing" problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. To an astounding degree, Mr. Bush's global vision is unchanged from the day he took his office. Few presidents have ever given an acceptance speech at their re-election convention that so precisely jibed with their first inaugural address, President George W. Bush's Inaugural Address (January 20, 2001):
I am honored and humbled to stand here, where so many of America's leaders have come before me, and so many will follow.

We have a place, all of us, in a long story--a story we continue, but whose end we will not see. It is the story of a new world that became a friend and liberator of the old, a story of a slave-holding society that became a servant of freedom, the story of a power that went into the world to protect but not possess, to defend but not to conquer.

It is the American story--a story of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals.

The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born.

Americans are called to enact this promise in our lives and in our laws. And though our nation has sometimes halted, and sometimes delayed, we must follow no other course.

Through much of the last century, America's faith in freedom and democracy was a rock in a raging sea. Now it is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations.

Our democratic faith is more than the creed of our country, it is the inborn hope of our humanity, an ideal we carry but do not own, a trust we bear and pass along. And even after nearly 225 years, we have a long way yet to travel.

While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice, of our own country. The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth. And sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country.

We do not accept this, and we will not allow it. Our unity, our union, is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation. And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity.

I know this is in our reach because we are guided by a power larger than ourselves who creates us equal in His image.

And we are confident in principles that unite and lead us onward.

America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them. And every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.

Today, we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation's promise through civility, courage, compassion and character.

America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness.

Some seem to believe that our politics can afford to be petty because, in a time of peace, the stakes of our debates appear small.

But the stakes for America are never small. If our country does not lead the cause of freedom, it will not be led. If we do not turn the hearts of children toward knowledge and character, we will lose their gifts and undermine their idealism. If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most.

We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos. And this commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment.

America, at its best, is also courageous.

Our national courage has been clear in times of depression and war, when defending common dangers defined our common good. Now we must choose if the example of our fathers and mothers will inspire us or condemn us. We must show courage in a time of blessing by confronting problems instead of passing them on to future generations.

Together, we will reclaim America's schools, before ignorance and apathy claim more young lives.

We will reform Social Security and Medicare, sparing our children from struggles we have the power to prevent. And we will reduce taxes, to recover the momentum of our economy and reward the effort and enterprise of working Americans.

We will build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge.

We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors.

The enemies of liberty and our country should make no mistake: America remains engaged in the world by history and by choice, shaping a balance of power that favors freedom. We will defend our allies and our interests. We will show purpose without arrogance. We will meet aggression and bad faith with resolve and strength. And to all nations, we will speak for the values that gave our nation birth.

Posted by David Cohen at 9:57 AM


News poll: Bush leads in Michigan:State still up for grabs since president's support remains below critical 50 percent (Charlie Cain and Mark Hornbeck, Detroit News, 10/21/04)

President Bush has moved ahead of Democratic challenger John Kerry in Michigan, according to a Detroit News poll, but hasn’t reached the critical 50 percent support plateau — suggesting the state remains in contention as the presidential race draws to a close.
For months now, the broad polls have been showing a tight head-to-head race with bad approval and "wrong way" numbers for the President, while more narrow polls have shown the President making inroads into every traditionally Democrat constituency: Jews, blacks, women and certain blue states. Predictions as to who will win now come down to whether the predicter thinks that the voters will more nearly resemble the electorate in 2002 (Bush wins) or the electorate in 2000 (Kerry wins). I predict that Bush wins walking away, but the polls are useless between now and Halloween.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:51 AM


Debate Lingering on Decision to Dissolve the Iraqi Military: The U.S.-led occupation authority's disbanding of the Iraqi Army over a year ago casts a shadow over the occupation. (MICHAEL R. GORDON, 10/21/04, NY Times)

When Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus flew to Baghdad on June 14, 2003, he had a blunt message for the American-led occupation authority. As the commander of the 101st Airborne Division, General Petraeus had been working tirelessly to win the support of Iraqis in Mosul and the neighboring provinces in northern Iraq.

But the authority's decree to abolish the Iraqi Army and to forgo paying 350,000 soldiers had jolted much of Iraq. Riots had broken out in cities. Just the day before, 16 of General Petraeus's soldiers had been wounded trying to put down a violent demonstration.

Arriving at the huge Abu Ghraib North Palace for a ceremony, General Petraeus spied Walter B. Slocombe, an adviser to L. Paul Bremer III, who headed the authority. Sidling up to him, General Petraeus said that the decision to leave the soldiers without a livelihood had put American lives at risk.

More than a year later, Mr. Bremer's disbanding of the Iraqi Army still casts a shadow over the occupation of Iraq. The American military had been counting on using Iraqi soldiers to help rebuild the country and impose order along its borders. Instead, as a violent insurgency convulsed the nation, United States forces found themselves deprived of a way to put an Iraqi face on the occupation.

While Mr. Bremer soon reversed himself on paying salaries to the ex-soldiers, his decision to formally dissolve the Iraqi military and methodically build a new one, battalion by battalion, still ranks as one of the most contentious issues of the post-war.

Given the controversy and recriminations that still echo from Operation Paperclip, it seems unrealistic to argue that, as a purely political matter, it would have been possible to rely on the Ba'athist state structures. Regardless of whether the transition would have been a bit smoother on the ground in Iraq the hysteria in the U.S. would have been even more cacophonous than it is now. Combine that political consideration with the moral discomfort that would be caused by relying on Ba'athists and the point seems moot.

However, the aftermath of the war in Iraq provides an opportunity to rethink what appear to be some mistaken assumptions about what form our occupations should take as we go forward. Unlike WWII, where the Nazi and Imperial Japanese regimes were genuinely popular, Saddam appears to have been exactly as unpopular as we'd thought he must be. This means that we should have handed over sovereignty to Iraqis far quicker than we did, because they (like the Afghans) were eager to make a break with the past and because they viewed themselves as having been oppressed by Saddam could justifiably see us as oppressors too when we replaced his rule with ours. The import of this lesson is obvious: if we do effect regime change in a Syria or an Iran we should move speedily to restore legitimate popular government.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:20 AM


New England Rejoices In Boston Uncommon (Thomas Boswell, October 21, 2004, Washington Post)

The hero of the night, even more than ALCS MVP David Ortiz and winning pitcher Derek Lowe, was Johnny Damon, the hair-down-the-back free spirit who symbolizes the wacky Red Sox clubhouse. Damon, the epitome of all the Boston anti-Yankees, had the game of a lifetime in this game for the ages: two homers and six RBI.

His first homer, a grand slam, left the park at 9:11 p.m. for a 6-0 lead. However, as Damon's second blast flew directly over my head into the upper deck of Yankee Stadium, a.k.a. headquarters of the Evil Empire, it was time to call Sheik on the cell phone.

"The Red Sox have exploded," said Sheik, relishing the word as the Boston lead stood at 8-1 in the fifth inning. "All of New England is going crazy."

Then he paused, because it has been so, so ridiculously unjustly long -- literally a lifetime in his case without a single Red Sox championship or even one truly glorious humiliation of the Yankees franchise that has lorded over the Red Sox with all their babbling about "curses" as they've bought 26 titles since 1920.

"Let's just hope we can hold the lead," said Sheik.

They held it, 10-3. Just this once, a huge lead was actually enough. Between innings, the Yankees boomed their center field scoreboard with every conceivable highlight from their glorious past, trying to incite their fans and intimidate their guests. But this time it didn't work. And there is a reason why this season was different.

Finally, Red Sox familiarity with the Yankees has bred a healthy contempt.

In Hype-Happy World, One Rivalry Measures Up (GEORGE VECSEY, 10/21/04, NY Times)
They came through, both teams. They lived up to the hype. They justified all the talk about the greatest rivalry in American sports.

The Red Sox and the Yankees undermined the health of people who forced their eyes open in the midnight hours. They made people care, one way or the other.

The exhibition season began in March with Boston fans shouting vile things at Alex Rodriguez, the newest Yankee. The two teams jostled each other in a scrum in late July. And the Yankees' season ended last night as the Red Sox finally shrugged off their ancient tormentors with a 10-3 victory to win the American League pennant.

In true Red Sox fashion, they even survived a Grady Little moment, the death-wish insertion of Pedro Martínez into the game by Terry Francona, which roused Yankees fans out of their sullen stupor. Until the final out, any Boston fan would have sourly insisted that something dreadful could still ruin this huge lead.

Red Sox fans had seen too many dismal reverses, too many bad bounces, since the last pennant in 1986, since Babe Ruth was sold in 1920, since the Sox last won a World Series in 1918. Jerry Coleman. Bucky Dent. Aaron Boone. Pick a generation. Pick a disaster.

But you did not have to be steeped in the various myths and curses and legends that have accrued in this rivalry to know that something deep and genetic was going on. This went beyond the contemporary he-hate-me bravado of athletes. This was in the blood.

One thing that made the victory especially sweet was that Visa commercial where George Steinbrenner has a sore arm from signing so many checks. Next time better try buying some starting pitching.

A Date That Will Always Be Remembered (DAN SHAUGHNESSY, 10/21/04, The Boston Globe)

FOREVERMORE, the date goes into the New England calendar as an official no-school/no-work/no-mail-delivery holiday in Red Sox Nation.

Mark it down. Oct. 20. It will always be the day Sox citizens were liberated from eight decades of torment and torture at the hands of the Yankees and their fans.

Boston Baseball's Bastille Day.

The 2004 Red Sox won the American League pennant in the heart of the Evil Empire last night. In the heretofore haunted Bronx house, raggedy men wearing red socks embarrassed and eliminated the $180 million payroll Yankees, 10-3, in the seventh game of their American League Championship Series.

On the very soil where the Sox were so cruelly foiled in this same game one year ago, the Sons of Tito Francona completed the greatest postseason comeback in baseball history. No major league team had recovered from a 3-0 series deficit.

Red Sox fans now have a stock answer for those clever chants of "1918!'' They'll always be able to cite the fall of 2004, when the Big Apple was finally and firmly lodged in the throats of men wearing pinstripes. This time it was the gluttonous Yankees who choked.

ARTICLES FROM TODAY'S SPORTS SECTION A World Series party | Sox complete comeback, oust Yankees for AL title
-- By Dan Shaughnessy, Globe Staff

Story is too good for words
-- By Bob Ryan, Globe Columnist

Miracle workers | Resurgent Red Sox storm into World Series, leaving stunned Yankees behind
-- By Bob Hohler, Globe Staff

It's the high point for Lowe
-- By Jackie MacMullan, Globe Columnist

Red Sox chase history | Near finish of four-game comeback against N.Y.
-- By Dan Shaughnessy, Globe Staff

Red Sox notebook: MVP Ortiz shouldered the load | Ace's extra effort may pay dividends
-- By Bob Hohler, Globe Staff

On baseball: Victory was redemption for all
-- By Gordon Edes

Damon finds hitting groove
-- By Reid Laymance, Globe Staff

Morgan magic | Team doctor works wonders for Schilling
-- By Bob Hohler and Raja Mishra, Globe Staff

Boston bats put hurting on Brown | Postseason experience didn't help righthander
-- By Peter May, Globe Staff

Fans keeping watchful eye

Newest Yankees fail to deliver
-- By Peter May, Globe Staff

Martinez gets chance to help
-- By Reid Laymance, Globe Staff

Series proves baseball in October has no rival
-- By Dave Anderson, New York Times

Giving up was never in this group's nature
-- By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff

Ace's gritty performance won't soon be forgotten
-- By Jackie MacMullan, Globe Staff

Foulke's closing act deserving of ovation
-- By Reid Laymance, Globe Staff

New York Yankees coverage from around the Web:

New York Times:
A wise decision brings Boston home

New York Post:
A-Rod now face of failure

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 AM


Paul Nitze, 97; Key Player in U.S. Foreign Policy During Cold War (Claudia Luther, October 21, 2004, LA Times)

Paul Nitze, who played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign and arms control strategy from the 1940s through the end of the Cold War, has died. He was 97.

Nitze died of pneumonia Tuesday night at his home in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., according to his son, William.

Nitze, a dashing East Coast aristocrat sometimes referred to as "the silver fox," first entered public service in Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency and retired six decades later at the start of the first Bush administration. He was among a small group of patricians that included Dean Acheson, W. Averill Harriman, John McCloy, Robert A. Lovett, George F. Kennan and Charles E. (Chip) Bohlen who influenced nearly every major national security decision from World War II through the Korean and Vietnam wars.

It was Nitze who drafted a document that first laid out the military framework for containing the Soviets, which put in place the Cold War strategy in effect until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the arms race subsided.

He held a number of official titles in the State and Defense departments and was secretary of the Navy from 1963 to 1967. But even when not an official part of any administration, he was at the center of power, cajoling, criticizing, shaping and commenting.

"Wise men come and wise men go, but decade after decade there is Paul Nitze," President Reagan's Secretary of State George P. Shultz said on the occasion of Nitze's 80th birthday, two years before Nitze stepped out of the public spotlight.

Mr, Nitze was a patriot who served his country to the best of his ability, but Containment, the Marshall Plan, and arms control negotiations were all mistakes that we're still paying for.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:55 AM


British intervention in poll backfires (David Rennie, 21/10/2004, Daily Telegraph)

Dan Harkins, a political activist in the vital swing state of Ohio, was excited when he first heard that the Guardian newspaper was recruiting readers to write to voters in his state in the hopes of giving foreigners a voice in the American election.

Yesterday, the first of about 14,000 Guardian readers' letters started arriving in the mailboxes of Clark County, Mr Harkins's home region - chosen by the British paper as a pivotal election district where President George W Bush and Senator John Kerry are neck and neck.

The first letters to be made public all urged Clark County voters to reject Mr Bush. As he watched the reaction of friends and neighbours, Mr Harkins was delighted.

He is the chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, and his neighbours' reaction was outrage. "It's hysterical," laughed Mr Harkins, showing off sheaves of incensed e-mails and notes from local voters.

The Republicans' delight compares with the gloom among local Democrats, who fear that "foreign interference" is hurting Mr Kerry.

There's nothing more damaging for a campaign than when a concrete event confirms the caricature of the candidate. This whole episode confirms Mr. Kerry as the candidate of transnationalism vs. the candidate of liberal democracy, George W. Bush.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:46 AM


‘Radical chic’ and the hip hustle (Suzanne Fields, 10/21/04, Jewish World Review)

The hottest of the hot buttons on the body politic of the New York liberal is George W.'s faith. Ron Suskind, writing in the New York Times Sunday magazine, leads with a quotation comparing the president's mainstream Methodist faith with that of the Islamist fundamentalists who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center. [...]

The skeptics who complain about the president's faith are people of faith, too - but usually faith in real estate, from the snazzy lofts in SoHo to the gentrified Upper West Side condos with monthly fees that could dent the federal deficit. But there's another New York made up of immigrants, especially Latinos and Asians, who exude energy and hustle (and often faith much like the president's).

When a young man I know bought a television set at 7 on Saturday night, he asked if it could be delivered immediately. He lived 10 blocks away, but up five floors in a building without an elevator. If he could pay cash, the clerk knew two enterprising Latinos who would pick up and deliver for $60. When the young man arrived at his apartment a half-hour later, the young men were waiting at the door with the TV set.

Two grocery stores on the street below are owned by Koreans, open around the clock, with fresh vegetables, flowers and nearly everything else. They're friendly and chatty as though they've taken a course at a reputable charm school. Indians across the street serve kosher and vegan, and don't see anything weird in faith, by a president or anyone else. What a city. What a country.

Ms Fields is a bit behind the times--the new argument of the Left is not that the President is too religious but that he isn't religious at all. The funniest bit in that article is the notion that because Jimmy Carter made personal witness to his foreign guests he was more of an evangelist than the President, whose every major speech is a sermon, whose policies are transfering government funds to churches, and whose foreign and domestic policies are the mandatum novum lived by the nation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:32 AM


Downer blasts hostage over comments (The Age, October 21, 2004)

Kidnapped Australian journalist John Martinkus was attacked today by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and former hostage Steve Pratt for appearing to say that Iraqi terrorists had a reason to kill some hostages.

Mr Martinkus, who was kidnapped and interrogated for more than 20 hours in Baghdad before being freed last weekend, sparked outrage when he said of his captors:"(From their perspective) there was a reason to kill (British hostage Ken) Bigley, there was a reason to kill the Americans; there was not a reason to kill me (and) luckily I managed to convince them of that."

Mr Downer said today it was pretty much the most appalling thing any Australian had said about the Iraq war.

He accused Mr Martinkus of giving comfort to terrorists by saying that their actions were understandable.

Mr. Martinkus would hardly have missed his head.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 AM


Senator Kerry--I kid you not--is going goose hunting today.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 AM


Nasty politics? Puhleez! Get a historic grip.: Politics for our parents' generation was just as boisterous, nasty, and over the top as it is today for Americans. (William Schambra, 10/21/04, CS Monitor)

[C]oncern about the baseness of American political discourse grew to a fever pitch at the turn of the 20th century. That era's "Progressive Movement" aimed to shift political power out of the hands of corrupt local political machines, into the hands of newly emerging national professional elites - university and think-tank scholars, philanthropists, enlightened federal administrators, and journalistic intellectuals. Their training and status, they argued, enabled them to take a detached, objective, superior view of the public good. A new "enlightened few" had emerged with a claim to rule, albeit in the best interests of the unwashed masses.

Over the past century, this spirit prompted innumerable reforms in the way we select presidential candidates, always in the name of fine-tuning popular rule, always with the effect of further enhancing the influence of the worthy. Yet modern-day heirs of progressivism in universities, think tanks, and journalism continue to punctuate each new election cycle with complaints about a politics that is debased, trivial, and simplistic. They prefer a politics that soberly, rationally, calmly discusses the "real issues." Some "deliberative democrats" now even suggest that we set aside a nationwide "deliberation day" a week before the presidential election, when all Americans would gather in small groups at local community centers for enlightened discussion.

Deliberative democrats tell us that "simplistic" partisan politics is no longer sufficient, because our problems - global warming, nuclear proliferation, the growing gap between rich and poor - have become complex, cosmic, and difficult to grasp. To a citizen more likely to be concerned about the quality of that school down the street, the abstract, distant, but apparently urgent problems identified by experts mysteriously, but inevitably, turn out to be comprehensible and solvable only by the experts themselves. They frame the range of reasonable options to be made available for public consideration, which are then to be discussed in the staid, dispassionate, professorial manner at which professionals excel. Ironically, for all their disdain for the Founders' politics of self-interest and ambition, today's progressives still practice it, only now concealed beneath the nonpartisan mantle of objective public-spiritedness.

Is incivility a new and growing threat to American politics? No. American politics has always been robust, edgy, overstated, and "simplistic." Today's much-bemoaned 30-second attack ads are surely no more irrational, emotionally provocative, or unfair than posters of elephants stomping on Communism and New Dealism, which are meant to be viewed as two peas in a pod, according to the postermaker.

Only in the eyes of certain elites is our politics today more than ordinarily nasty. And the solutions to that nastiness just happen to augment the influence of those very elites.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:27 AM


What the polls are telling us (Michael Barone, 10/20/04, US News)

One week after the third and final presidential debate, there are enough post-debate polls to tell us where the election stands today. Here the results are gathered together by realclearpolitics.com. These are for the three-way pairings, plus the two-way pairings by Rasmussen, which doesn't ask a three-way question. Bush's percentages are listed first.

Fox News 49-42
Washington Post/ABC 51-46
Zogby 45-45
TIPP 48-46
CBS News 47-45
CNN/USAT/Gallup 52-44
Time 48-47
Newsweek 50-44
Rasmussen 48-47

Average 49-45

Note that George W. Bush's percentages range from 45 to 52 percent while John Kerry's percentages range from 42 to 47 percent. In only one poll does Bush fall below 47 percent, which is Kerry's highest percentage.

It seems highly likely that Bush emerged from the debates a little bit ahead. Some Kerry backers argue that voters who are still undecided are likely to end up voting against the incumbent.

Actually, at the presidential level undecideds tend to break towards the incumbent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 AM


The jaded, seamy side of peace: For the three authors of a graphic memoir, U.N. work was an exercise in futility. (Maggie Farley, 10/17/04, LA Times)

Andrew Thomson, a doctor, wanted to save lives. Kenneth Cain, a human rights lawyer, wanted to save the world. Heidi Postlewait, a secretary, just wanted to save some money and leave her broken marriage behind.

The three U.N. staffers came together at a rooftop party in Phnom Penh in 1993, during the heady days when the world body was organizing democratic elections in Cambodia. Fired up by a marijuana and rum combo called the space shuttle, they began to think maybe the U.N. really could change the world.

But amid the euphoria were glimpses of the chaos ahead. First came the wild contingent of peacekeepers from Bulgaria, allegedly recruited from prisons and mental hospitals to fill the U.N. quota. "A battalion of criminal lunatics arrive in a lawless land," Cain observes in a book the three have written on their experiences. "They're drunk as sailors, rape vulnerable Cambodian women and crash their U.N. Land Cruisers with remarkable frequency."

Six years later, after stints in Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda and Liberia, the three came to believe that not only is the U.N. unable to keep pace with its grand ideals in the new world order, it actually allowed two genocides. They cope by immersing themselves in their work, alcohol, faith and "emergency sex."

Thomson, who spent two years pulling bodies out of mass graves in Rwanda and the Bosnian town of Srebrenica — corpses of people who had sought safety with the U.N. — concludes: "If blue-helmeted U.N. peacekeepers show up in your town or village and offer to protect you, run. Or else get weapons. Your lives are worth so much less than theirs."

The three chronicled their precipitous slide from buoyant idealism to hard-bitten cynicism in "Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures," a bestseller published this summer by Miramax that has outraged U.N. officials and nearly cost Thomson and Postlewait their jobs. (Cain had already quit.)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:37 AM


I got you, Babe (KEN DAVIDOFF, October 21, 2004, Newsday)

Home to so many memorable moments, Yankee Stadium added a shocking page to its scrapbook last night:

The greatest collapse in baseball history.

October 20, 2004

Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:14 PM


Goosestepping Germans a British myth (Reuters, October 20th, 2004)

No one in Germany knows the goosestep any more, but German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer says anyone wanting lessons in the military march used by the Nazis could get them from Britain.

Fischer, born three years after World War Two ended, said in an interview with BBC radio on Wednesday that he was amazed at the lingering portrayal of Germany in the British media as a nation of Nazis and said the image of Germany was half a century out of date.

"My children are 20 and 25, and when they watch Germany in some of the British media, they think this is a picture they have never seen in their whole lifetimes," said Fischer, 56.

"Germany has changed in a democratic, positive way," he added. "Today this is a democracy. Two or three generations have grown up as real democrats.

"If you want to learn how the traditional Prussian goosestep works, you have to watch British TV because in Germany in the younger generation, even my generation, nobody knows how to perform it," Fischer said.

Okay, okay. Germany has made great strides in confronting its difficult past--blah, blah, blah. It has undergone the wrenching transition from an autocratic to a democratic state--blah, blah, blah. It is now a member in good standing of the community of tolerant, civilized nations--blah, blah. But what long term hope is there for any people congenitally incapable of appreciating John Cleese?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:32 PM


THE MONEY MAN: Can George Soros’s millions insure the defeat of President Bush? (JANE MAYER, 2004-10-11, The New Yorker)

On August 6th, a week after the Democratic Convention, a clandestine summit meeting took place at the Aspen Institute, in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. The participants, all Democrats, were sworn to secrecy, and few of them will discuss the event. One thing that is certain, however, is that the guests formed a tableau that not many people would associate with the Democratic Party of the past. Five billionaires joined half a dozen liberal leaders in a lengthy conversation about the future of progressive politics in America. The billionaires were not especially close socially, nor were they in complete agreement about politics or strategy. Yet they shared a common goal: to use their fortunes to engineer the defeat of President George W. Bush in the 2004 election.

“No one was supposed to know about this,” an assistant to one participant told me, declining to be named. “We don’t want people thinking it’s a cabal, or some sort of Masonic plot!” His concern was understandable: the prospect of rich men concentrating their wealth in order to sway an American election was an inflammatory one, particularly given the Democratic Party’s populist rhetoric. This private meeting of plutocrats was an unintended consequence of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance-reform law of 2002. Previously, wealthy donors had contributed “soft money” to the political parties, which controlled how the funds were spent. The reform legislation had banned such gifts, forcing donors to find new ways of influencing the political process.

Imagine for just a moment how the hysterical Left would be reacting if these guys were backing George Bush? They'd be shrieking coup from the rooftops.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 5:24 PM


I've been trying throughout the day to see the new Bush campaign ad, "Risk", but georgewbush.com has been unavailable.

I would guess the hacktivists have stepped up the denial of service attacks they began at the Republican National Convention, but I haven't seen an attack reported. Can anyone else get through?

UPDATE: Site is now available.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:19 PM


Claims That President Bush's Policies Increased Abortion Numbers Baseless (Dr. Randy O'Bannon, Laura Hussey, October 20, 2004, Life News)

Since no national abortion data have been reported since 2000, Stassen looks at abortion figures for 16 states over 2001, 2002, and in some cases, 2003.

Stassen confidently claims that abortions increased in 11 of those 16 states during the Bush administration and asserts that this reflects a larger national upward trend in abortions. Yet Stassen never demonstrates that his 16 states are representative of the 50 states. Even worse for Stassen's case is that some of his statistics are just flat wrong, while others are of ambiguous origin.

Some of the states Stassen cites showed increases or decreases of a couple of percent or less over the two to three year period. This is to be expected. Even when overall trends are up or down, there are fluctuations that go a couple of percentage points above or below the curve in any given couple of years. Figures have to be followed for a number of years to identify a clear directional pattern. Seven of the 16 states Stassen cites, Pennsylvania (+1.9%), Illinois (+0.9%), Missouri (+2.5%), South Dakota (+2.1%), Wisconsin (+0.6%), Florida (-0.7%), and Washington (-2.1%), appear to fall into this category. These smaller short term fluctuations are not be sufficient for us to establish a trend.

Illinois provides a case in point. While published counts do show the number of abortions increasing from 46,546 in 2001 to 46,945 in 2002, accounting for the 0.9% increase Stassen mentions, more recent figures show a substantial decrease for 2003, down to 42,228. That represents a drop of 10%, and the lowest full-year figure Illinois has seen since 1973. Taken as a whole, this latest drop appears to be part of a larger long term downward trend, with 2002 being a short term deviation.

Sometimes, Stassen's figures are just plain wrong. Stassen says abortions in Wisconsin increased by 0.6% from 2001 to 2002. The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services says there were 436 fewer abortions performed in Wisconsin in 2002 that in 2001. Stassen counts South Dakota as one of the states in which abortions have increased since George W. Bush became president, pointing to what he says is a 2.1% increase from 2001 to 2002. In fact, figures from the state health agency for that period show a decrease of 9.7% during that time frame. Stassen appears to have been looking at the number of births, which did increase by 2.1 percent over these years.

When one shifts Wisconsin and South Dakota to the decrease column, and adds in Illinois after its dramatic 2003 drop in abortions, Stassen's claim that abortions have increased in 11 out of 16 states now turns into a 8 to 8 tie, with as many states decreasing as increasing. Hardly anything definitive.

The large increases that Stassen cites for four of the 16 states – Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, and Michigan – raise other questions. Do these really represent sudden, big one-time increases or is some other explanation more plausible? There is reason to believe these may be unrepresentative aberrations attributable to changes in the gathering of statistics rather than to massive behavioral changes.

Look at Arizona, where Stassen reports a 26.4% increase occurring in a single year between 2001 and 2002. While admitting that its figures did show abortions increasing from 8,226 in 2001 to 10,397 in 2002, yielding the enormous 26.4% increase Stassen cites, Arizona's Department of Health Services cautioned in its report that "It is unclear whether this increase in the number of reported abortions represents a true increase in the actual number of abortions performed, or, perhaps, a better response rate of providers of non-surgical (so called medical) terminations of pregnancy."

It was, of course, Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush, who was responsible for the approval of RU486, the abortion pill, which went on the market in late 2000. While the impact of that decision, and the massive marketing campaign mounted by the abortion industry, has yet to be fully determined, increases triggered by that decision surely lay at the doorstep of that administration rather than the current one.

Other local factors may be at play. New clinics may open, release of state funds may pump fresh cash into "family planning" agencies which offer abortion "on the side" (Missouri), state health departments may get numbers from clinics which did not previously report (reporting is often voluntary, not required).

The upshot of all this is that there really aren't enough data to clearly determine where the national trend is going at this point, and certainly no evidence of an nationwide abortion increase to lay at the doorstep of the Bush administration.

Here's a more informed analysis (okay, demolition job) of that inane abortion piece from this weekend.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 4:54 PM


Belgian waffling (Anne Dawson, Ottawa Citizen, October 20th, 2004)

Prime Minister Paul Martin scoffed at Conservative leader Stephen Harper's national unity plan to make Canada more like Belgium, while Conservative MPs revealed yesterday they were not consulted on the controversial scheme.

And while Mr. Harper's top aides downplayed his Belgian proposal, saying it is at an "embryonic stage" and "may not even go anywhere," their leader went full-steam-ahead to promote his idea.

"I think the role of the prime minister of Canada is not to build a better Belgium, it's to build a stronger Canada," Mr. Martin told reporters.

He later joked about Mr. Harper's newfound preoccupation with Belgium during question period after answering the Conservative leader's question about the sponsorship scandal.[...]

In Quebec City, Mr. Harper promoted the Belgian model, where federal authority is divided among linguistic communities as well as geographic regions.

Mr. Harper said rather than just giving away more powers to the provinces, the federal government should consider working with the provinces, particularly Quebec, to establish francophone and anglophone community institutions in areas such as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CBC, the Francophonie, the Commonwealth, and UNESCO.

Our conservatives are stupider than your conservatives. Much stupider.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:11 PM


Are We All Behaviorists Now? (Stephen Bainbridge, 10/20/2004, Tech Central Station)

The [efficient capital markets hypothesis]'s fundamental thesis is that, in an efficient market, current prices always and fully reflect all relevant information about the commodities being traded. As applied to stock markets, the ECMH thus has two principal implications. First, stock prices follow a random walk. Put another way, the ECMH predicts that price changes in securities are random. Randomness does not mean that the stock market is like throwing darts at a dart board. Stock prices do go up on good news and down on bad news. Randomness simply means that stock price movements are serially independent: future changes in price are independent of past changes. In other words, investors can not profit by using past prices to predict future prices.

Second, the ECMH posits that current prices incorporate not only all historical information but also all current public information. This form predicts that investors can not expect to profit from studying publicly available information about particular firms because the market almost instantaneously incorporates information into the price of the firm's stock.

The ECMH assumes investors are rational actors whose behavior is consistent with that predicted by the rational choice model. Over the last decade or so, behavioral economists (such as Thaler) have drawn on experimental economics and cognitive psychology to identify systematic departures from rational decisionmaking, even in market settings. Put another way, behavioral economics claims that humans tend to make decisions in ways that systematically depart from the predictions of rational choice. [...]

There is considerable evidence that markets adapt to investor irrationality over time. If investor irrationality produces pricing errors, it becomes possible to profit by taking advantage of them. At one time, for example, the capital markets showed a systematic bias against small cap firms. As a result, it was possible to earn abnormal returns by investing in a portfolio weighted towards small caps. Over time, many investors did so, including a substantial number of mutual funds that specialized in small cap investing. As a result, the small cap anomaly gradually faded to the point at which it was no longer possible to systematically beat the market by investing in them. We have observed much the same with respect to other anomalies. Hence, there is considerable evidence that experienced traders can learn their way out of the irrational behavior patterns that lie at the bottom of so many market anomalies.

Accordingly, while the ECMH may not be perfect, it still probably does a better job of predicting market behavior over time than any of the behavioral theories.

Note that Professor Bainbridge works some sleight of hand here: he goes from the ECMH talking about "current pricing" being accurate to the ECMH being vindicated because over long enough periods of time the inaccuracy of every given moment may produce corrective effects.

As all human institutions, markets are irrational and inefficient, but they do seem, as Mr. Bainbridge says, more efficient than the alternatives. That's as much as Man can hope to achieve.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:39 PM


Robertson: I warned Bush on Iraq casualties: President's response: 'We're not going to have any' (CNN, October 20, 2004)

The founder of the U.S. Christian Coalition said Tuesday
he told President George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq that he should
prepare Americans for the likelihood of casualties, but the president told
him, "We're not going to have any casualties."

Pat Robertson, an ardent Bush supporter, said he had that conversation with
the president in Nashville, Tennessee, before the March 2003 invasion
U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. He described Bush in the meeting as "the most self-assured man I've ever met in my life."

Harsh as it may seem at first thought, the President was right.

We mourn the loss of every human life, particularly of men and women serving the nation and the cause of freedom, but casualties in the War on Terror have been so minimal as to be insignificant by the standards of any previous global conflict against totalitarianism. They were stunningly low in the regime change of Iraq--lower than anyone, besides the President and his allies, dreamt possible. There are barely more KIA today--even after we've stayed in country an additional 18 months to help deal with Iraq's domestic insurgency--than we lost in just the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during WWII.

We've obviously become more casualty averse as our victories have come to rely more on technological superiority than on set piece clashes, but we mustn't lose all perspective or we'll become as paralyzed and trivial as the Europeans.

Here are the >names and short profiles of some of those who've died that Iraq might be free and America safe.

Posted by David Cohen at 2:12 PM


Slate is in the bag for John Kerry, but Chris Suellentrop has been traveling with the Kerry campaign and is getting frustrated by what a bad campaigner John Kerry is. In today's dispatch, he compares a Kerry speech as written to the same speech as delivered:

On the trail, dispatches from Campaign 2004: Kerry vs. His Script: Why can't the man read a simple speech? (Chris Suellentrop, Slate, 10/19/04)

Kerry's Script: I will work with Republicans and Democrats on this health care plan, and we will pass it.

Actual Kerry: I will work with Republicans and Democrats across the aisle, openly, not with an ideological, driven, fixed, rigid concept, but much like Franklin Roosevelt said, I don't care whether a good idea is a Republican idea or a Democrat idea. I just care whether or not it's gonna work for Americans and help make our country stronger. And we will pass this bill. I'll tell you a little bit about it in a minute, and I'll tell you why we'll pass it, because it's different from anything we've ever done before, despite what the Republicans want to try to tell you.

This is all funny stuff, but I was surprised by the extent to which Kerry argues that his plans are not Republican or Democrat, but just good ideas that he will execute competently. In other words, he is channeling Mike Dukakis' 1988 "technocracy" campaign. Now, the idea of anyone using the Dukakis campaign as a template is astonishing. Even stranger, though, is that the Democrats have claimed since 1988 that the take-away lesson from that campaign is that Dukakis started to close with GHWB when, a few weeks before the election, Bob Shrum convinced him to abandon technocracy as a platform and campaign on, you guessed it, "the people v. the powerful." If only, the Democrats say, Dukakis had started the progressive schtick a few days earlier, he would have won the presidency.

So, why is John Kerry, another Shrum candidate, executing a reverse-Dukakis?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:51 PM


Pakistani Forces Pound Alleged Hideout (AHSANULLAH WAZIR, 10/20/04, Associated Press)

About 1,000 Pakistani soldiers backed by helicopter gunships, mortars and artillery Wednesday pounded a mountainous region near the Afghan border where a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers is believed to be hiding.

The assault targeted the village of Spinkai Raghzai in South Waziristan, a tribal region where the Pakistani army has been hunting Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida associates. But the top military commander in the region said Tuesday it was unlikely bin Laden was hiding in the area, as U.S. authorities suspect.

The strategy of secretly implanting GPS transmitters in these guys at Gitmo and then releasing them appears to be working.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:45 PM


John Kerry: The Rolling Stone Interview (JANN S. WENNER, 10/20/04, Rolling Stone)

If you send troops into Iraq, how will you be able to tell them they're not risking their lives for a mistake?

Because I'm going to make it a success, 'cause we're going to win. We're going to do what we need to do to get this job done. And I'm committed to doing that -- and I know how to do it. I'll put a foreign-policy team together that talks the truth to the American people.

What do you mean when you say you know how to do it?

I've spent thirty-five years dealing with these kinds of issues. When I came back from fighting in a war, I fought against the war here in America. As a senator, I led the fight to stop Ronald Reagan's illegal war in Central America.

If Nicaragua is the parallel he chooses, where he sided with the Sandanistas against the forces of democracy, is he saying he'd support the insurgency against democracy in Iaq too?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:35 PM


STAR POWER: Schwarzenegger plans Ohio trip to boost Bush (Carla Marinucci, John M. Hubbell, October 20, 2004, SF Chronicle)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans a high-profile trip to the presidential battleground state of Ohio on the weekend before the Nov. 2 election -- an effort aimed at pumping up GOP voters and leveraging the governor's star power to boost President Bush's chances of success.

Though the governor downplayed the idea Tuesday of campaign appearances for Bush, insiders said plans are under way for a trip the weekend of Oct. 29 -- enabling the former Mr. Olympia to maximize his influence in Ohio, where he has real estate holdings and a following thanks to his annual Columbus- based Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition. [...]

Schwarzenegger acknowledged that he has suggested a Columbus campaign trip to the Bush team "simply because I introduced his father there in 1988 and also in 1992 -- and it's a place where we do business, it's kind of a second home for me, you know.''

If the race continues to move his way, the President would do well to finish the campaign with a West Coast run, and a bid for HI, WA, OR & CA. He and Arnold would be on the front page of every paper in America on Election Day.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:29 PM


Jewish Voters, Reliably Democratic, Rethink Bush: The president's support for Israel and his response to Sept. 11 may be striking a chord. (Johanna Neuman, October 20, 2004, LA Times)

WYNNEWOOD, Pa. — Joseph Lubeck is a neurologist in this suburban Philadelphia town who has supported Democratic presidential candidates since, as an 18-year-old in 1972, he "relished the ability to vote for George McGovern."

Now he is wondering what his liberal neighbors would think if he were to put a sign on his lawn signaling his choice in this year's race: President Bush.

Herb Denenberg is a 74-year-old Democrat in nearby Radnor, Pa., who was appointed state insurance commissioner by a Democratic governor and almost won the party's nomination for Senate in 1974. This year, he too plans to vote for Bush.

Encouraged by signs that Lubeck and Denenberg may be part of a trend, Republicans are making a strong play for one of the nation's most reliably liberal and Democratic constituencies: Jewish voters.

Bush has much room for improvement — surveys showed he got 19% of the Jewish vote nationally in 2000, while Democrat Al Gore won 79%. But the president's firm support for Israel and his aggressive response to the Sept. 11 attacks — and concerns about the Democratic commitment to these causes — have earned Bush a second look from some Jewish voters.

"The Democrats don't have the stomach for this fight," said Denenberg, referring to the threat from Islamic terrorists.

Luckily Pat Buchanan isn't on the ballot this time to siphon off Jewish votes in Florida.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:27 PM


'Hub fans bid Kid Adieu' (John Updike, Oct. 22, 1960, The New Yorker)

Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidian determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities. Its right field is one of the deepest in the American League, while its left field is the shortest; the high left-field wall, three hundred and fifteen feet from home plate along the foul line, virtually thrusts its surface at right-handed hitters. On the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 28th, 1960, as I took a seat behind third base, a uniformed groundkeeper was treading the top of this wall, picking batting-practice home runs out of the screen, like a mushroom gatherer seen in Wordsworthian perspective on the verge of a cliff. The day was overcast, chill, and uninspirational. The Boston team was the worst in twenty-seven seasons. A jangling medley of incompetent youth and aging competence, the Red Sox were finishing in seventh place only because the Kansas City Athletics had locked them out of the cellar. They were scheduled to play the Baltimore Orioles, a much nimbler blend of May and December, who had been dumped from pennant contention a week before by the insatiable Yankees. I, and 10,453 others, had shown up primarily because this was the Red Sox's last home game of the season, and therefore the last time in all eternity that their regular left fielder, known to the headlines as ''Ted, Kid, Splinter, Thumper, TW, and most cloyingly, MisTer Wonderful,'' would play in Boston. ''What Will We Do Without Ted? Hub Fans Ask?'' ran the headline on a newspaper being read by a bulb-nosed cigar smoker a few rows away. Williams' retirement had been announced, doubted (he had been threatening retirement for years), confirmed by Tom Yawkey, the Red Sox owner, and at last widely accepted as the sad but probable truth. He was forty-two and had redeemed his abysmal season of 1959 with a - considering his advanced age - fine one. He had been giving away his gloves and bats and had grudgingly consented to a sentimental ceremony today. This was not necessarily his last game; the Red Sox were scheduled to travel to New York and wind up the season with three games there.

I arrived early. The Orioles were hitting fungos on the field. The day before, they had spitefully smothered the Red Sox, 17-4, and neither their faces nor their drab gray visiting-team uniforms seemed very gracious. I wondered who had invited them to the party. Between our heads and the lowering clouds a frenzied organ was thundering through, with an appositeness perhaps accidental, ''You maaaade me love you, I didn't wanna do it, I didn't wanna do it ...''

The affair between Boston and Ted Williams was no mere summer romance; it was a marriage composed of spats, mutual disappointments, and, toward the end, a mellowing hoard of shared memories. It fell into three stages, which may be termed Youth, Maturity, and Age; or Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis; or Jason, Achilles, and Nestor. [...]

The afternoon grew so glowering that in the sixth inning the arc lights were turned on - always a wan sight in the daytime, like the burning headlights of a funeral procession. Aided by the gloom, Fisher was slicing through the Sox rookies, and Williams did not come to bat in the seventh. He was second up in the eighth. This was almost certainly his last time to come to the plate in Fenway Park, and instead of merely cheering, as we had at his three previous appearances, we stood, all of us, and applauded. I had never before heard pure applause in a ballpark. No calling, no whistling, just an ocean of handclaps, minute after minute, burst after burst, crowding and running together in continuous succession like the pushes of surf at the edge of the sand, It was a sombre and considered tumult. There was not a boo in it. It seemed to renew itself out of a shifting set of memories as the Kid, the Marine, the veteran of feuds and failures and injuries, the friend of children, and the enduring old pro evolved down the bright tunnel of twenty-two summers toward this moment. At last, the umpire signalled for Fisher to pitch; with the other players, he had been frozen in position. Only Williams had moved during the ovation, switching his bat impatiently, ignoring everything except his cherished task. Fisher wound up, and the applause sank into a hush.

Understand that we were a crowd of rational people. We knew that a home run cannot be produced at will; the right pitch must be perfectly met and luck must ride with the ball. Three innings before, we had seen a brave effort fail. The air was soggy, the season was exhausted. Nevertheless, there will always lurk, around the corner in a pocket of our knowledge of the odds, an indefensible hope, and this was one of the times, which you now and then find in sports, when a density of expectation hangs in the air and plucks an event out of the future.

Fisher, after his unsettling wait, was low with the first pitch. He put the second one over, and Williams swung mightily and missed. The crowd grunted, seeing that classic swing, so long and smooth and quick, exposed. Fisher threw the third time, Williams swung again, and there it was. The ball climbed on a diagonal line into the vast volume of air over center field. From my angle, behind third base, the ball seemed less an object in flight than the tip of a towering, motionless construct, like the Eiffel Tower or the Tappan Zee Bridge. It was in the books while it was still in the sky. Brandt ran back to the deepest corner of the outfield grass, the ball descended beyond his reach and struck in the crotch where the bullpen met the wall, bounced chunkily, and vanished.

Like a feather caught in a vortex, Williams ran around the square of bases at the center of our beseeching screaming. He ran as he always ran out home runs - hurriedly, unsmiling, head down, as if our praise were a storm of rain to get out of. He didn't tip his cap. Though we thumped, wept, and chanted ''We want Ted'' for minutes after he hid in the dugout, he did not come back. Our noise for some seconds passed beyond excitement into a kind of immense open anguish, a wailing, a cry to be saved. But immortality is nontransferable. The papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he refused. Gods do not answer letters.

Thaw out Teddy Ballgame for this one.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:16 PM

RUNNING RIGHT (via Robert Schwartz):

Schumer Casts a Wide Net, Campaigning for His Immediate Future and the Long Run (MICHAEL SLACKMAN, 10/19/04, NY Times)

While national Democratic leaders have been busy pummeling President Bush, New York's senior senator, Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat, spent part of a campaign debate on Sunday aligning himself with the president, saying he voted with Mr. Bush "to extend the child income tax credit,'' and that he "voted with the president for authorization to go into Iraq."

With those comments, Mr. Schumer underscored a strategic reality as he seeks re-election: He is not just content to win a second term in the United States Senate, but he is looking to win big. And to do that, he must attract more conservative voters.

The strategy is all the more noteworthy, political strategists and pollsters said, because Mr. Schumer refused during the debate to rule out a run for governor in 2006. Should he make such a run, firming up support among conservative upstate and suburban Democrats can only help that effort if he finds himself in a primary race against New York's attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, who is also considering running for governor.

Are any of the Democratic Senatorial candidates endorsing John Kerry, or are they all pro-Bush?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:04 PM


Scholastic Election Poll Has Mirrored Outcome of Every General Election Except Two Since 1940 (PRNewswire, 10/20/04)

Scholastic, the global children's publishing and media company, today announced the results of the 2004 Scholastic Election Poll, an educational activity that gives children too young to go to the polls themselves the opportunity to participate in the political process. More than half a million students in first through eighth grades from across the country participated in the poll, choosing George W. Bush as the next President of the United States.

Since 1940, Scholastic Classroom Magazines have given students the
opportunity to cast their vote for president in the Scholastic Election Poll
(online voting was added in 2000). In every election, but two, the outcome of
the Scholastic Election Poll mirrored the outcome of the general election.

The exceptions were in 1948 when students chose Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman and in 1960 when more students voted for Richard M. Nixon than John F. Kennedy. In 2000, student voters chose George W. Bush, mirroring the
Electoral College result but not the result of the popular vote.

In the 2004 Scholastic Election Poll, George W. Bush received 52 percent
of the votes and the Democratic contender, John F. Kerry, received 47 percent.
Rounding out the vote, 1 percent of students voted for other candidates.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:00 PM


Blessed New Hampshire, where the elementary school sing-along began today with one hymn, America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee) (Samuel F. Smith, 1808-1895)

1. My country,' tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;
land where my fathers died,
land of the pilgrims' pride,
from every mountainside let freedom ring!

2. My native country, thee,
land of the noble free, thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
thy woods and templed hills;
my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.

3. Let music swell the breeze,
and ring from all the trees sweet freedom's song;
let mortal tongues awake;
let all that breathe partake;
let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.

4. Our fathers' God, to thee,
author of liberty, to thee we sing;
long may our land be bright
with freedom's holy light;
protect us by thy might, great God, our King.

and ended with another, Take Me Out to the Ball Game! (1908) (Jack Norworth & Albert Von Tilzer)
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the Red Sox,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:00 AM


We Hold This Dirt to Be Self-Evident (Michael Kinsley, October 17, 2004, Washington Post)

The people running the Bush campaign are political alchemists: They can take anything and turn it into dirt.

Still naive, even after Swift boats and everything else, I couldn't believe that Bush's "nuisance" salvo would work. In fact, when I first heard the accusation (on a right-wing radio talk show), I couldn't even understand it. John Kerry, quoted in a New York Times Magazine profile a week ago, said that he hopes to see the threat of terrorism reduced some day to the level of a minor nuisance. The Bush campaign immediately launched a big offensive on the theme that Kerry thinks terrorism is merely a nuisance.

Huh? Isn't there a difference between hoping that something will happen and thinking that it has happened already? Do you have to be mired in logic to suspect that these two states of mind are pretty much the opposite of each other?

What's most interesting about this next in a series of hysterical ravings by sometimes thoughtful Democrats is that in order to fuel his attack Mr. Kinsley not only has to mischaracterize Senator Kerry's own words:Kerry's Undeclared War (MATT BAI, 10/10/04, NY Times Magazine)
''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,'' Kerry said. ''As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''

...but the entire premise of his two year old candidacy, Clash of the titans: Will an Al Gore–Richard Gephardt presidential-primary fight ruin the Democrats in 2004? (SETH GITELL, Boston Phoenix)
Massachusetts senator John Kerry, who’s certain to run, has been content to define the war on terrorism as a law-enforcement and intelligence effort.

There's a perfectly coherent, maybe even compelling, case to be made for ditching the effort to democratize the Middle East and just focussing on preventing any more attacks on our own soil--that Mr. Kerry has made the case poorly and that it is unpopular with the American voter is the Senator's fault, not that of the Republican attack machine.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:12 AM


Boston Cashes In On Half-a-Schilling (Thomas Boswell, October 20, 2004, Washington Post)

We wanted drama to equal any Red Sox-Yankees series ever played. We wanted history, something that had never happened before in the annals of baseball. We wanted to be amazed, mesmerized, exhausted and, heading into Game 7 of the American League Championship Series with a trip to the World Series at stake, we also wanted to have absolutely no idea who would win.

Of course, no sane person actually thought that any such combination of events could possibly happen after last year's seven-game extravaganza of brawls, suicidal managerial decisions and, finally, a walk-off homer by Aaron Boone to end the whole battle.

But now we've got it all after a 4-2 Boston win in Game 6, plus extra plot threads and improbabilities that no one could possibly have guessed. Even though Game 7 won't arrive until Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox have become the first team in 101 years of postseason baseball to come back from a three-games-to-none deficit to force a Game 7. And at the Yankees' expense.

What are the stakes now? If the Red Sox, the team synonymous with collapses, misfortune and despair, win Game 7, then, in a blink, the blackest mark in Yankees history will actually be darker than any disgrace in all Boston annals.

As a wise man counseled a distraught brother-in-law during Saturday night's debacle: "No sweat, they're a team of destiny."

Posted by David Cohen at 9:26 AM


A surprising black 'bump' for Bush (Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune, 10/20/04)

I suspect Bush's high-level black Cabinet appointments--like Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice-- make him more palatable among African-Americans, even among those who disagree with him on many social and economic issues. A little symbolism can go a long, long way.

Posted by David Cohen at 7:57 AM


Right Wing News has a good collection of Kerry Campaign quotes. I'll add just one more, from Kerry's speech to the Democratic Convention, which sheds new light on a quote RWN has from 1971.

I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President. -- John Kerry, 2004.

"To attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom...is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy." -- John Kerry, 1971

Do any of us dislike John Kerry as much as the John Kerry of '71 would?

Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:13 AM


While we’re at it (Richard John Neuhaus, First Things, September, 2004)

Many, many years ago I wrote In Defense of People (1971), the first book-length critique of environmental extremism. It was provoked, in significant part, by Paul Ehrlich, he of the “population bomb,” who predicted in 1968: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines—hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.” In subsequent books, Ehrlich predicted that by the 1980s “mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity” in which “accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion.” In fact, the world’s food supply has tripled and key minerals are available in greater abundance than ever. Reviewing Ehrlich’s latest book, One with Nineveh, Ronald Bailey writes, “Naturally, Mr. Ehrlich has won a MacArthur Foundation genius award and a Heinz Award for the environment.” (Teresa Heinz Kerry, chairman.) “So why pay him any notice?” asks Bailey. In Greek mythology “the prophetess Cassandra makes true predictions and no one believes her; Mr. Ehrlich makes false predictions and they are widely believed. The gloomier he is and the faultier he proves to be as a prophet, the more honored he becomes, even in his own country.” That puts it very nicely. What provoked me about Ehrlich, and also suggested the title of my book, is that he sees people, and especially poor people, as the enemy. Way back when Jesse Jackson was pro-life, he spoke about LBJ’s war on poverty being replaced by a war on poor people. Paul Ehrlich was and is among the chief propagandists for that war. The chilling thing is that he and those who lionize him seem to want his predictions to come true. It is a disposition that is at the heart of the darkness of what is aptly called the culture of death.

Whereas a hundred years ago, progressives were motivated by a Judeo-Christian-inspired belief in human progress and improvement, especially in the lives of the poor, their descendants preach a pagan-like creed that scorns practical efforts to solve real problems. Instead, they focus on wild doomsday scenarios and circling the wagons to stave off disaster. The funny thing is that many of them have developed a kind of “Stockholm Syndrome” attraction to the very disasters they profess to fear. Nothing so unsettles (and enrages) the modern left than good news. If world poverty and hunger were decreasing, increasing populations were fed, the seas were not rising, AIDS could be prevented, terrorism were defeated and democracy took hold in the Middle East, they would be shattered. That is why they do all they can to ensure NGO’s and bodies like the UN never really get serious about these matters and why they scorn those, like the current U.S. Administration, who do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:18 AM


Sox are back and better than ever: Schilling win shocks NY, forces Game 7 (Jeff Horrigan, October 20, 2004, Boston Herald)

Brace yourself, New England, because here we go again.

All but written off just a matter of days ago, the Red Sox are now on the verge of rewriting baseball history, thanks to the heroic effort of Curt Schilling [stats, news] last night at Yankee Stadium.

The major league wins leader during the regular season, who was thought to be done for the postseason after suffering a serious ankle injury, provided just the kick the Sox needed after three exhausting days at Fenway Park, sending them to a 4-2 victory over the New York Yankees to even the American League Championship Series at three wins apiece and force a decisive Game 7 tonight.

Keith Foulke came on and nailed down the win in the ninth inning but not without plenty of drama. He sandwiched two walks around two outs before whiffing former Sox Tony Clark on a 3-2 fastball.

A win tonight would make the Sox the first team in baseball to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series. No club had ever forced a Game 7 after falling behind 3-0.

-- By Bob Hohler, Globe Staff

Magnificent Schilling gave them a strong foothold
-- By Bob Ryan, Globe Columnist

On to a Game 7 showdown
-- By Dan Shaughnessy, Globe Staff

A-Rod a bigger villain in one swipe
-- By Peter May, Globe Staff

On baseball: A team with verve suddenly on the verge
-- By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff

Roberts's rule: Use his speed
-- By Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff

Red Sox: It looks like Lowe for Game 7
-- By Bob Hohler, Globe Staff

Yankees notebook: Torre not ready to name starter
-- By John Powers, Globe Staff

Momentum shifted, and pressure is on
-- By John Powers, Globe Staff

Little things meant a lot in this nail-biter
-- By Peter May, Globe Staff

For bullpens, it was a relief
-- By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff

Game 5 marathon rated highly with viewers
-- By Bill Griffith, Globe Staff

New York Yankees coverage from around the Web:

New York Times:
For Schilling, a premier pitching line

New York Post:
Yanks fail to seal the deal

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:17 AM


Bush is key to Senate race in N.C. (Albert Eisele, 10/20/04, The Hill)

Republicans call it the “three-B” hurdle — Bush, Burr and Ballantine. President Bush is still popular in North Carolina, where he beat Al Gore, 56 to 43 percent, in 2000, and not even Bill Clinton was able to carry the state in either of his races.

Helen Worthy, who chairs the New Hanover County Democratic Party, called the Bowles-Burr race “neck and neck” but said the local outcome may depend on how long Bush’s coattails are here, and which party does a better job of getting out the vote.

At least Dan Quayle brought Indiana with him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM

VEEP PREP (via Mike Daley):

Rice Hitting the Road to Speak: National Security Adviser's Trips to Swing States Break Precedent (Glenn Kessler, October 20, 2004, Washington Post)

In the weeks leading up to the Nov. 2 election, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice has traveled across the country making speeches in key battleground states, including Oregon, Washington, North Carolina and Ohio. In the next five days, she also plans speeches in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida.

The frequency and location of her speeches differ sharply from those before this election year -- and appear to break with the long-standing precedent that the national security adviser try to avoid overt involvement in the presidential campaign. Her predecessors generally restricted themselves to an occasional speech, often in Washington, but counting next week's speeches, Rice will have made nine outside Washington since Labor Day.

Rice frequently supplements her speeches with interviews with local media, generating positive coverage -- including a Page One news story in Portland's largest newspaper. Although she does not mention Democratic challenger John F. Kerry and avoids answering overtly political questions, the target of her speeches is not lost on local audiences. The Seattle Times, reporting on a Sept. 7 speech to the University of Washington, said, "Rice sounded at times like a candidate" as she received "rousing ovations" in defending the administration's handling of the war on terrorism.

I'm officially declaring that I completely overestimated what kind of man John Kerry was and now acknowledge that he won't be demonstrating his seriousness about the presidential race by resigning from the Senate.

However, within the next few days we'll begin our Dick Cheney Resignation Contest and, he being a better man, we're certain there'll be such an event this time.

October 19, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:39 PM


Faith against reason: The US election has exposed a growing conflict between two world views. Can they co-exist in one country? (Jonathan Freedland, October 20, 2004, The Guardian)

Bush is a subtle enough politician not to make his campaign an overt religious crusade. But he communicates, through nods and winks, to his evangelical base: they know the mission he is on. He uses their language, answering a question on abortion by referring to a "culture of life", one of their favoured phrases, or nodding to a 19th-century supreme court ruling often cited in their own literature.

This is a revolutionary shift for a country that was founded on the separation of church and state. If Bush wins on November 2, the chances are strong that the shift will accelerate, perhaps even towards permanence. [...]

The campaign has hardly been fought on this ground. If anything, John Kerry has had to go along with the intrusion of religion into politics - insisting on his own Catholic credentials, telling audiences that he was once an altar boy. But the tension is there. [...]

[T]he clash under way now is about more than Bush v Kerry, right v left. It seems to be an emerging clash of tradition against modernity, faith against reason. The true believers pitted against the "reality-based community".

That leaves two questions, one for the future, one for November 2. For the future: how long can these two competing world views, so far apart from each other and so sharply divided, co-exist in the same country? For November 2: which of these two camps is going to be absolutely determined to win?

The contest is between Faith and Reason but there's one key difference between the two that does make it an existential confrontation: for the faithful Reason is one of the gifts God gave man in order that we might better comprehend Creation, while for the Rational there can be no legitimate place for Faith in public discourse. In Europe we see the triumph of Reason, in America the triumph of Faith. Mr. Kerry offers a summons to the America of the 70s, when Reason had the upper hand even here. Mr. Bush seeks to continue the restoration begun by Ronald Reagan and continued by Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress. The choice is indeed simple and stark.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:20 PM


Time to step aside (Leader, October 20, 2004, The Guardian)

In a balanced, multi-party parliamentary democracy, Ralph Nader would have been a candidate for secular sainthood. He forced consumer protection - physical and financial - on to the public agenda in the 1960s, saving thousands of lives and billions of dollars. He championed freedom of information laws that declared that public records belong to the people, not to those who compile them. His focus on corporate kleptocracy led to reforms - albeit temporary - in political campaign finance.

Instead, Mr Nader has become a nominee for villainy. His country is balanced all right. It hangs on the threshold of becoming a one-party state ruled by a clique of radical religious reactionaries. If Republicans succeed in this election, the Democratic party cannot survive, as rightwing field marshal Grover Norquist put it last month without hyperbole. [...]

Mr Nader owes it to his supporters, his principles and himself to withdraw from the race and throw his weight behind John Kerry.

Does it get any better than the Guardian, which thinks it a grotesque injustice for George Bush and Tony Blair to have meddled in Iraq's internal affairs, telling America's political leaders what their obligations are?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:15 PM


Kerry unable to gain ground in NJ, poll shows (AP, October 19, 2004)

With two weeks left until Election Day, John Kerry has not been able to gain ground among New Jersey's likely voters, a Quinnipiac University Poll released Tuesday showed.

Of likely voters, the poll showed that 49 percent favored Kerry, with 45 percent choosing President Bush. The poll surveyed 786 likely voters from Oct. 14-17 _ after the third and final presidential debate _ with a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

An Oct. 6 poll showed likely voters opted for Kerry 49-46 percent _ that poll had a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

"Kerry just cannot seem to seal the deal," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "It was supposed to be a slam dunk and he's only got a precarious four-point lead."

With OH, and therefore the race, moving out of his reach the question becomes when Senator Kerry switches to defense and whether the President has the fortitude to make a play for Senate seats at that point.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:05 PM


MURPHY AT THE BAT (Ben McGrath, 2004-10-18, The New Yorker)

It is one thing to be locked out of one’s apartment, and to be forced to perform that cumbersome Manhattan ritual of window entry via fire escape. It is quite another to discover that there isn’t any fire escape, and consequently, while impersonating Spider-Man, to slip and fall from five stories up, as one man on Cornelia Street did recently. His fall was broken, fortunately, by the awning of a restaurant below, and then, rather unfortunately, by the table at which two women were eating. Shards of glass lodged in the customers’ hair, and although there appeared to be no serious injuries, all nearby diners were dismissed free of charge, thus depriving the restaurant of part of its haul on one of the last fine evenings of the alfresco season.

That unlikely event, reported in the Villager, occurred just a few days before a minor plumbing catastrophe over at the Times shut down most of its toilets. Nonetheless, the paper still managed to print an account, the next day, of a tractor-trailer collision on the Jersey Turnpike (Exit 3), which loosed hundreds of live chickens. The chickens’ roadside wanderings, in turn, caused traffic to be diverted for three and a half hours. (Recently, the flow on the Turnpike has also been affected by spilled crabs, pasta, cake mix, and frozen turkeys.)

The pessimists and Red Sox fans among us will tend to shrug, and perhaps, when pressed, to mutter something about Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will. (Actually, the common formulation is a slight distortion of Ed Murphy’s initial axiom, which stipulated, of an assistant, “If there is a wrong way to do it, he will,” but whatever.) And it may be that they’re right. A new study commissioned by British Gas goes so far as to demonstrate that Murphy’s Law (or Sod’s Law, as it’s known in the U.K.) is not only a legitimate phenomenon but a measurable one.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:59 PM


Bush Receives Endorsement From Iran (ALI AKBAR DAREINI, 10/19/04, Associated Press)

The head of Iran's security council said Tuesday that the re-election of President Bush was in Tehran's best interests, despite the administration's axis of evil label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions over the country's nuclear ambitions.

Historically, Democrats have harmed Iran more than Republicans, said Hasan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body.

"We haven't seen anything good from Democrats," Rowhani told state-run television in remarks that, for the first time in recent decades, saw Iran openly supporting one U.S. presidential candidate over another.

The rise of a series of Shi'a republics depends on American might.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 PM


Japan's population shrinks for first time in history (Japan Times, 10/20/04)

Japan's population has grown so little since last year that an exodus of travelers abroad during the holiday season in May triggered the first-ever fall in the country's year-on-year monthly population, according to government data obtained this week.

The final estimated population on May 1 was down 50,000 from a year earlier to 127.56 million, marking the first decrease since the government began compiling monthly population counts in 1950, according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

Under the ministry's calculations, travelers who leave Japan for overseas sightseeing trips are also counted as having moved abroad and are thus deducted from the total population.

First of many months of decline.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 PM


'Hardball with Chris Matthews' for Oct. 18 Guest: Jimmy Carter (MSNBC)

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you the question about—this is going to cause some trouble with people—but as an historian now and studying the Revolutionary War as it was fought out in the South in those last years of the War, insurgency against a powerful British force, do you see any parallels between the fighting that we did on our side and the fighting that is going on in Iraq today?

CARTER: Well, one parallel is that the Revolutionary War, more than any other war up until recently, has been the most bloody war we‘ve fought. I think another parallel is that in some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war.

Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial‘s really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely, and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a nonviolent way.

I think in many ways the British were very misled in going to war against America and in trying to enforce their will on people who were quite different from them at the time.

To compare the Sunni insurgency and al Qaeda terrorists is the act of an ignoramus, but he's right about the Revolutionary War being a mistake.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:05 PM


The Rise and Fall and Rise Of TV's David E. Kelley (Nicholas Stix, October 16, 2004, A Different Drummer)

A year or two ago, Chi McBride, then starring in the Fox TV series Boston Public (2001-2004), said that we needed a new phrase to describe the world of Boston Public creator-producer-writer, David E. Kelley: “Kelleyvision.” Though McBride meant the term as a compliment, it is a double-edged sword. “Kelleyvision” embraces the absurd, the magical, and the love of love. Unfortunately, it also embraces the politically correct, hatred of the law, talking heads drama, the limited attention span of the MTV generation and the reduction of even the absurd and the magical to paint-by-the-numbers hackery.

Well, Kelleyvision is back. October 3 saw the premiere of Kelley’s newest show, on ABC at 10 p.m. Sundays. Boston Legal (an earlier title was Fleet Street) stars James Spader and William Shatner. A spin-off of The Practice (1997-2004), Boston Legal is the story of relatively new attorney “Alan Shore,” an acerbic, effete, self-loathing, apparently amoral saint in sinner’s clothing, who works in a high-powered, Boston law firm specializing in civil cases. Playing “Alan” with a sardonic, supercilious mien, James Spader does a pretty fair job, channeling the spirit of Clifton Webb. The firm is run by the flamboyant, narcissistic, yet irresistible “Denny Crane” (Shatner). Crane likes to say, portentously, “Denny Crane,” as if his mere name carried weight – which it does. Crane’s looniness and Shore’s criminality (blackmailing opponents) in the pursuit of winning cases for deserving clients are yet two more variations on Kelley’s theme, “The law is an ass.”

Boston Legal is the third series Kelley has set in a Boston law office. (Boston Public was set in a Boston high school.) I wonder if the title Boston Legal is an in-joke, since every one of Kelley’s Boston lawyer shows could have been called, Boston Law. (Or Hollywood Law, since not only are they all shot at Kelley’s Manhattan Beach, California studios, but none has any Boston flavor.)

The creator-producer-writer of The Practice, Ally McBeal (1997-2002), Picket Fences (1992-1996) and Boston Public, among the eleven shows he has written and/or produced and/or created, and winner of nine Emmy awards, David E. Kelley is a TV legend. While only 48 years old, Kelley already belongs to the pantheon of broadcast TV drama writer-producers, along with such luminaries as Reginald Rose (12 Angry Men, The Defenders); John Hawkesworth. (Upstairs, Downstairs); Richard Levinson and William Link (Columbo); Steven Bochco and David Milch (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue); Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz (Family, thirtysomething, Once and Again); Joshua Brand and John Falsey (St. Elsewhere); William Broyles Jr., John Wells, and John Sacret-Young (China Beach); Tom Fontana (St. Elsewhere, Homicide: Life on the Street); Cris Carter (Millennium); Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing); and the gold standard, Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone, Requiem for a Heavyweight, Patterns, The Rack, and every anthology drama series on 1950s’ and early 1960s’ TV).

For our money, he should have quit after the first season of LA Law.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:04 PM

IT'S PART OF THE CURRICULUM, ISN'T IT? (via Robert Schwartz):

British Boarding School Walls Hid Abuse (SARAH LYALL, 10/11/04, NY Times)

Tom Perry had not seen his old friend for some 35 years when he called him out of the blue with an urgent question about the boarding school they attended together. "Just as a matter of interest," he asked, "did you like the place?"

It was a deliberate provocation. "Hell, Tom, the conversation bowls happily along, and then you ask me a question like that,'' Mr. Perry said his friend protested. But Mr. Perry, a businessman who turned 50 this year, invited him over to continue the conversation.

"There's no point in prating about," Mr. Perry said he told his friend. "I must tell you that when I was at Caldicott, I was sexually abused.''

So began a long process of facing up to the past for Mr. Perry, his friend and at least half a dozen other men who say they were molested by teachers at the Caldicott School, in Buckinghamshire, between 1964 and 1970. But it has been a bumpy and frustrating road. While one of the teachers pleaded guilty to abuse, the case against another, the school's former headmaster, was thrown out of court by a skeptical judge who said the accusations involved events that had happened so long ago that a fair trial was impossible.

The judge's apparent lack of sympathy, the former students say, is consistent with the general attitude of the British establishment, still disproportionately made up of men of a certain age and class who went to prep schools like Caldicott. Such men may be sympathetic about accusations of sexual misconduct in institutions like the Catholic Church, but acknowledging the abuse that took place at many boarding schools not so long ago is another matter.

The subject is often played for laughs, as it was in the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral," where an obnoxious banker drunkenly recalls being sodomized by an older boy at his former school. "Still," he adds, "taught me a thing or two about life."

The common view, many former students say, is that if it happened, you are not expected to whine about it.

Hid? Outside of Ancient Sparta, are there any human institutions where pederasty has been more openly acknowledged than the British Navy, the Catholic Church & boarding schools?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 PM


Wider openings for Boy Scouts: The US Department of Education is likely to grant the Boy Scouts even more access rights to public schools. (Randy Dotinga, 10/20/04, CS Monitor)

Three years after the federal government ordered public schools to keep their doors open to the Boy Scouts of America, the US Department of Education is poised to revisit its rules regarding "patriotic youth groups" - a move likely to grant the Boy Scouts even more access rights.

In recent years, some public schools across the country have tried to limit or eliminate their ties with the Boy Scouts and affiliated organizations, including the Cub Scouts, because they exclude homosexuals and atheists. The National Education Association, a teachers' union, reported in 2003 that at least 14 school districts - including New York City's - had cut off their sponsorships of the Boy Scouts.

In response to the threat of campus lockouts, Congress in 2001 voted to cut federal funding from any school that banned the Boy Scouts or any similar group from "open forum" access. "We simply ask that if other groups are meeting in school rooms or gymnasiums or school facilities, we want the same kind of treatment," says Gregg Shields, spokesman for the Boy Scouts. [...]

So why add more regulations to the books three years after the initial rule went into effect? "What we're doing now is proposing to the public the specific details of how we intend to enforce it," says Marcus.

Naomi Gittins, senior staff attorney for the National School Boards Association, says the proposed new policies could grant youth groups even more access to campuses by expanding the definition of a "public forum."

A school that allows the public to use its property only for education-related events, for example, may have to open its doors to the Boy Scouts too, she says. "It takes away the school's prerogative to say whether the Boy Scouts fit in with their parameters."

Manuevering themselves into a position where they oppose the Boy Scouts is only the clearest indication that all the social wedge issues are disastrous for Democrats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:54 PM


Oklahoma murder case may set precedent (Associated Press, October 17, 2004)

The prosecution of an Oklahoma County woman for murder in the death of her stillborn son could be a precedent-setting case, according to legal analysts.

Theresa Lee Hernandez is jailed without bail, accused of poisoning her unborn son by using methamphetamine.

Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane filed the charge against Ms. Hernandez, 28, saying the baby had enough meth in his system to kill two normal adults.

"I will not tolerate any parent murdering their child so they can get their next drug fix," he said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 PM


At odds: very different worldviews: Both candidates have settled on foreign policy as their primary means of distinguishing themselves from each other. (Howard LaFranchi, 10/20/04, CS Monitor)

When George W. Bush accused John Kerry this week of approaching the world with a pre-Sept. 11 mind-set, it was - to the president's way of thinking - the ultimate put-down. But in many ways that view captures the stark differences separating the two men, not only in how they define themselves, but also in their visions for America's role in the world.

Both candidates have settled on foreign policy as their preferred campaign workhorse for distinguishing themselves from each other. It is Sept. 11, 2001, and the broad issues emanating from that day - national security, terrorism, religious extremism, weapons proliferation, American relations with the world - that provide the line of demarcation.

Mr. Bush, whose sense of mission in the presidency was transformed by that day, not only sees everything in terms of Sept. 11, but considers as dangerous anyone who does not. Senator Kerry sees such a view of the world as promoting a "vision of fear," and espouses a more traditional foreign policy emphasizing multilateral cooperation. [...]

Bush's vision is one of a new world of danger, driven home by the events of Sept. 11, the antidote to which is freedom for individuals in the image of American individual freedoms. He sees America leading the world best by sticking to principles and working with movable and ad hoc alliances that fit a situation rather than with static international institutions that constrain the United States. [...]

Kerry's world vision is more in line with the post-World War II, internationalist approach followed by presidents before Bush - including Bush's father - where national security is more tightly anchored to collective arrangements and international cooperation.

Even when they are, Americans never see themselves as pursuing an amoral Realist foreign policy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:12 PM


GOP and black voters: A shaky courtship: For blacks, suspicion of Republican Party runs deep (Michael E. Ross, 10/19/04, MSNBC)

In a poll released Tuesday, the [Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank concentrating on African American and minority issues] found that Kerry enjoys a 4-1 margin of support among blacks, down slightly from the backing then-Vice President Al Gore received in 2000.

In the center's new poll, Bush enjoys stronger support now than in 2000 from those black voters 50 and older, and those who consider themselves “Christian conservatives.”

That has helped Bush narrow the still sizable gap with Kerry among black voters, who preferred the senator over Bush, 69 percent to 18 percent. The group’s poll before the 2000 election found Gore with 74 percent support, compared to 9 percent for Bush.

Could someone whose math isn't lousy explain how a ratio of 4-1 for John Kerry is only slightly worse than one of 9-1 for Al Gore?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:15 PM


The secret dam: China begins huge project in World Heritage Site, displacing up to 100,000 people and devastating unique tribal societies (Jasper Becker in Beijing and Daniel Howden, 16 October 2004, Independent)

In the shadow of the Jade Dragon Snow Peak, deep inside the Tiger Leaping Gorge, Chinese developers are operating in secret to push through a massive dam project that will wash away the section of the Yangtze river valley thought to have been the real location for the fictional Shangri-La. [...]

The dam is being pushed by the Yunnan government as a way of dealing with the consequences of earlier environmental disasters. Water from the reservoir is to be diverted to dilute the heavily polluted lake which supplies the provincial capital of Kunming.

The industrial centre of the province is being strangled by water shortages despite sitting next to one of the largest fresh-water lakes in Asia. Decades of mismanagement have shrunk the lake and the remaining water is too dirty to drink.

Yunnan's forests have all been chopped down in the past 50 years so not only has Dian Chi lake silted up but so have several reservoirs constructed to solve Kunming's water shortage. The danger posed by silt to the Three Gorges Dam has already forced Yunnan to dam the upper reaches of the Yangtze specifically designed to trap soil that would otherwise wash into the Three Gorges reservoir.

It never ceases to amaze that people think China's infrastructure boondoggles are a sign of progress.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:09 PM


Kerry fails to convince middle classes his tax plans are good for them (Christopher Swann, October 19 2004, Financial Times)

For many international observers, John Kerry's tax proposals seem like an easy sell - roll back the tax cuts on the richest 2 per cent to fund new tax breaks for the middle class.

In the final two televised presidential debates the Democratic candidate once again tried to remind American voters that some 98 per cent of them would be better off under his plans.

But when Americans are asked whom they trust to handle tax policy, they consistently opt for George W. Bush over Mr Kerry. So what accounts for Mr Kerry's failure to persuade a majority of Americans that his tax plans would benefit them?

Academics say part of the answer lies in widespread delusions among Americans about where they fit in the income pecking order, combined with a lack of knowledge of the tax system.

In presenting his plans on tax, Mr Kerry has been forced to tiptoe through a cultural minefield. Americans traditionally respond negatively to tax systems that appear to take from the rich to give to the poor.

A key reason may be that many Americans believe they are rich. In a US survey by Time Magazine in 2000, 19 per cent of respondents thought they were in the top 1 per cent of earners and another 19 per cent believed they would be one day.

There's the epitaph for the Democratic Party (1932-2000): If only appeals to class envy worked in America, we'd still be running things today.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:05 PM


DRAFTS AND DYKES: Kerry’s scare tactics: Who pays the price? (Russ Smith, 10/19/04, NY Press)

IN THE EVENT John Kerry is elected president on Nov. 2—or in the weeks to follow—it may not be immediately revealed which one of his countless advisers suggested he allude to Mary Cheney's homosexuality in the final debate a week ago. A victory washes away all the goofs any candidate, especially a national one, inevitably commits during a protracted campaign. However, if Kerry's rep as an indomitable "closer" falls short, the fingers will be pointing in all directions.

Who authorized, for example, the media photo-op showing Kerry windsurfing or riding an $8000 bicycle, at a time when the patrician was trying desperately to prove that he's a champion of the middle class, a hunter and former farmhand who milked the cows each morning? And the insistence of the Kerry team to base his qualifications for commander-in-chief on his service in Vietnam, which induced narcolepsy among those living in the 21st century and outrage from some vets, is bound to become the subject of a lucrative tell-all book. As is the selection of lightweight John Edwards as Kerry's running mate, a politician with limited experience (who probably won't even carry his home state for the Democrats).

Edwards forced his way onto the ticket by sheer persistence. Although Kerry didn't like the son of a mill worker very much, the media's spin that the North Carolinian possessed more charisma than any pol since Bill Clinton and John McCain—despite the fact that Edwards was trounced by Kerry in the primaries—he gave into pressure against his better instincts. Does anyone believe that Dick Gephardt or Evan Bayh would've said, as Edwards did on the Oct. 4 Nightline, "I'd say if you live in the United States of America and you vote for George Bush, you've lost your mind"? That kind of sweet talk isn't likely to ingratiate legitimately undecided voters: Is John-John suggesting that once he and Kerry take the White House they'll hunt down Bush voters and send them off to an undisclosed loony bin? Oh, probably not, just another example of Edwards' effort to appear like a rough and tough guy.

More egregiously, last week in Newton, Iowa, Elmer Gantry Edwards exploited the death of Kerry's friend Christopher Reeve, saying, "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again." Pass the snake oil, votive candles and voodoo dolls and say amen, Brother John!

We're just waiting for the book that explains how the Democrats reached the point where they could convince themselves thot John Kerry was their most electable candidate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:19 PM


Bush vs. the Laureates: How Science Became a Partisan Issue (ANDREW C. REVKIN, 10/19/04, NY Times)

Why is science seemingly at war with President Bush?

For nearly four years, and with rising intensity, scientists in and out of government have criticized the Bush administration, saying it has selected or suppressed research findings to suit preset policies, skewed advisory panels or ignored unwelcome advice, and quashed discussion within federal research agencies.

Administration officials see some of the criticism as partisan, and some perhaps a function of unrealistic expectations on the part of scientists about their role in policy debates. [...]

Dr. Jesse H. Ausubel, an expert on energy and climate at Rockefeller University, said some of the bitterness expressed by other researchers could stem from their being excluded from policy circles that were open to them under previous administrations. "So these people who believe themselves important feel themselves belittled," he said.

Indeed, much of the criticism has come from private groups, like the Union of Concerned Scientists and many environmental organizations, with long records of opposing positions the administration favors.

The 20th Century gave us some considerable experience with allowing scientists to make public policy about science, Medical Science Under Dictatorship (Leo Alexander, M.D., July 14, 1949, The New England Journal of Medicine)
There is no doubt that in Germany itself the first and most effective step of propaganda within the medical profession was the propaganda barrage against the useless, incurably sick described above. Similar, even more subtle efforts were made in some of the occupied countries. It is to the everlasting honor of the medical profession of Holland that they recognized the earliest and most subtle phases of this attempt and rejected it. When Sciss-Inquart, Reich Commissar for the Occupied Netherlands Territories, wanted to draw the Dutch physicians into the orbit of the activities of the German medical profession, he did not tell them" You must send your chronic patients to death factories" or "You must give lethal injections at Government request in your offices," but he couched his order in most careful and superficially acceptable terms. One of the paragraphs in the order of the Reich Commissar of the Netherlands Territories concerning the Netherlands doctors of 19 December 1941 reads as follows: "It is the duty of the doctor, through advice and effort, conscientiously and to his best ability, to assist as helper the person entrusted to his care in the maintenance, improvement and re-establishment of his vitality, physical efficiency and health. The accomplishment of this duty is a public task." The physicians of Holland rejected this order unanimously because they saw what it actually meant—namely, the concentration of their efforts on mere rehabilitation of the sick for useful labor, and abolition of medical secrecy. Although on the surface the new order appeared not too grossly unacceptable, the Dutch physicians decided that it is the first, although slight, step away from principle that is the most important one. The Dutch physicians declared that they would not obey this order. When Sciss-Inquart threatened them with revocation of their licenses, they returned their licenses, removed their shingles and, while seeing their own patients secretly, no longer wrote death or birth certificates. Sciss-Inquart retraced his steps and tried to cajole them—still to no effect. Then he arrested 100 Dutch physicians and sent them to concentration camps. The medical profession remained adamant and quietly took care of their widows and orphans, but would not give in. Thus it came about that not a single euthanasia or non-therapeutic sterilization was recommended or participated in by any Dutch physician. They had the foresight to resist before the first step was taken, and they acted unanimously and won out in the end. It is obvious that if the medical profession of a small nation under the conqueror's heel could resist so effectively the German medical profession could likewise have resisted had they not taken the fatal first step. It is the first seemingly innocent step away from principle that frequently decides a career of crime. Corrosion begins in microscopic proportions.

The Situation in the United States

The question that this fact prompts is whether there are any danger signs that American physicians have also been infected with Hegelian, cold-blooded, utilitarian philosophy and whether early traces of it can be detected in their medical thinking that may make them vulnerable to departures of the type that occurred in Germany. Basic attitudes must be examined dispassionately. The original concept of medicine and nursing was not based on any rational or feasible likelihood that they could actually cure and restore but rather on an essentially maternal or religious idea. The Good Samaritan had no thought of nor did he actually care whether he could restore working capacity. He was merely motivated by the compassion in alleviating suffering. Bernal states that prior to the advent of scientific medicine, the physician's main function was to give hope to the patient and to relieve his relatives of responsibility. Gradually, in all civilized countries, medicine has moved away from this position, strangely enough in direct proportion to man's actual ability to perform feats that would have been plain miracles in days of old. However, with this increased efficiency based on scientific development went a subtle change in attitude. Physicians have become dangerously close to being mere technicians of rehabilitation. This essentially Hegelian rational attitude has led them to make certain distinctions in the handling of acute and chronic diseases. The patient with the latter carries an obvious stigma as the one less likely to be fully rehabilitable for social usefulness. In an increasingly utilitarian society these patients are being looked down upon with increasing definiteness as unwanted ballast. A certain amount of rather open contempt for the people who cannot be rehabilitated with present knowledge has developed. This is probably due to a good deal of unconscious hostility, because these people for whom there seem to be no effective remedies have become a threat to newly acquired delusions of omnipotence.

Hospitals like to limit themselves to the care of patients who can be fully rehabilitated, and the patient whose full rehabilitation is unlikely finds himself, at least in the best and most advanced centers of healing, as a second-class patient faced with a reluctance on the part of both the visiting and the house staff to suggest and apply therapeutic procedures that are not likely to bring about immediately striking results in terms of recovery. I wish to emphasize that this point of view did not arise primarily within the medical profession, which has always been outstanding in a highly competitive economic society for giving freely and unstintingly of its time and efforts, but was imposed by the shortage of funds available, both private and public. From the attitude of easing patients with chronic diseases away from the doors of the best types of treatment facilities available to the actual dispatching of such patients to killing centers is a long but nevertheless logical step. Resources for the so-called incurable patient have recently become practically unavailable.

There has never in history been a shortage of money for the development and manufacture of weapons of war; there is and should be none now. The disproportion of monetary support for war and that available for healing and care is an anachronism in an era that has been described as the "enlightened age of the common man" by some observers. The comparable cost of jet planes and hospital beds is too obvious for any excuse to be found for a shortage of the latter. I trust that these remarks will not be misunderstood. I believe that armament, including jet planes, is vital for the security of the republic, but adequate maintenance of standards of health and alleviation of suffering are equally vital, both from a practical point of view and form that of morale. All who took part in induction-board examinations during the war realize that the maintenance and development of national health is of as vital importance as the maintenance and development of armament.

The trend of development in the facilities available for the chronically ill outlined above will not necessarily be altered by public or state medicine. With provision of public funds in any setting of public activity the question is bound to come up, "Is it worth while to spend a certain amount of effort to restore a certain type of patient?" This rationalistic point of view has insidiously crept into the motivation of medical effort, supplanting the old Hippocratic point of view. In emergency situations, military or otherwise, such grading of effort may be pardonable. But doctors must beware lest such attitudes creep into the civilian public administration of medicine entirely outside emergency situations, because once such considerations are at all admitted, the more often and the more definitely the question is going to be asked, "Is it worth while to do this or that for this type of patient?" Evidence of the existence of such an attitude stared at me from a report on the activities of a leading public hospital unit, which stated rather proudly that certain treatments were given only when they appeared promising: "Our facilities are such that a case load of 20 patients is regularly carried . . .in selecting cases for treatment careful consideration is given to the prognostic criteria, and in no instance have we instituted treatment merely to satisfy relatives or our own consciences." If only those whose treatment is worth while in terms of prognosis are to be treated, what about the other ones? The doubtful patients are the ones whose recovery appears unlikely, but frequently if treated energetically, they surprise the best prognosticators. And what shall be done during that long time lag after the disease has been called incurable and the time of death and autopsy? It is that period during which it is most difficult to find hospitals and other therapeutic organizations for the welfare and alleviation of suffering of the patient.

Under all forms of dictatorship the dictating bodies or individuals claim that all that is done is being done for the best of the people as a whole, and that for that reason they look at health merely in terms of utility, efficiency and productivity. It is natural in such a setting that eventually Hegel's principle that "what is useful is good" wins out completely. The killing center is the reductio ad absurdum of all health planning based only on rational principles and economy and not on humane compassion and divine law. To be sure, American physicians are still far from the point of thinking of killing centers, but they have arrived at a danger point in thinking, at which likelihood of full rehabilitation is considered a factor that should determine the amount of time, effort and cost to be devoted to a particular type of patient on the part of the social body upon which this decision rests. At this point Americans should remember that the enormity of a euthanasia movement is present in their own midst. To the psychiatrist it is obvious that this represents the eruption of unconscious aggression on the part of certain administrators alluded to above, as well as on the part of relatives who have been understandably frustrated by the tragedy of illness in its close interaction upon their own lives. The hostility of a father erupting against his feebleminded son is understandable and should be considered from the psychiatric point of view, but it certainly should not influence social thinking. The development of effective analgesics and pain-relieving operations has taken even the last rationalization away from the supporters of euthanasia.

The case, therefore, that I should like to make is that American medicine must realize where it stands in its fundamental premises. There can be no doubt that in a subtle way the Hegelian premise of "what is useful is right" has infected society, including the medical portion. Physicians must return to the older premises, which were the emotional foundation and driving force of an amazingly successful quest to increase powers of healing if they are not held down to earth by the pernicious attitudes of an overdone practical realism.

What occurred in Germany may have been the inexorable historic progression that the Greek historians have described as the law of the fall of civilizations and that Toynbee has convincingly confirmed—namely, that there is a logical sequence from Koros to Hybris to Atc, which means from surfeit to disdainful arrogance to disaster, the surfeit being increased scientific and practical accomplishments, which, however, brought about an inclination to throw away the old motivations and values by disdainful arrogant pride in practical efficiency. Moral and physical disaster is the inevitable consequence.

Science is always a partisan issue. Senator Kerry believes, along with the Science establishment, that: "what is useful is right." Republicans oppose such mere utilitarianism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:01 PM


Catholic Dining with Bush and Kerry (Catholic Voting Project)

short flash animation: "Catholic Dining with Bush and Kerry", a lighthearted look at Catholic doctrine and the race for the U.S. Presidency. This animation uses the US Catholic Bishops statement on voting, Faithful Citizenship, to explore how both Presidential candidates measure up to Catholic teaching.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:51 PM


War of Words (TOMMY FRANKS, 10/19/04, NY Times)

Contrary to Senator Kerry, President Bush never "took his eye off the ball" when it came to Osama bin Laden. The war on terrorism has a global focus. It cannot be divided into separate and unrelated wars, one in Afghanistan and another in Iraq. Both are part of the same effort to capture and kill terrorists before they are able to strike America again, potentially with weapons of mass destruction. Terrorist cells are operating in some 60 countries, and the United States, in coordination with dozens of allies, is waging this war on many fronts.

As we planned for potential military action in Iraq and conducted counterterrorist operations in several other countries in the region, Afghanistan remained a center of focus. Neither attention nor manpower was diverted from Afghanistan to Iraq. When we started Operation Iraqi Freedom we had about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, and by the time we finished major combat operations in Iraq last May we had more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan.

We are committed to winning this war on all fronts, and we are making impressive gains. Afghanistan has held the first free elections in its history. Iraq is led by a free government made up of its own citizens. By the end of this year, NATO and American forces will have trained 125,000 Iraqis to enforce the law, fight insurgents and secure the borders. This is in addition to the great humanitarian progress already achieved in Iraq.

Many hurdles remain, of course. But the gravest danger would result from the withdrawal of American troops before we finish our work. Today we are asking our servicemen and women to do more, in more places, than we have in decades. They deserve honest, consistent, no-spin leadership that respects them, their families and their sacrifices. The war against terrorism is the right war at the right time for the right reasons. And Iraq is one of the places that war must be fought and won. George W. Bush has his eye on that ball and Senator John Kerry does not.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:17 PM


October surprise (Harry R. Jackson Jr., 10/19/04, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

This year's October surprise will be a critical mass of the black, Christian community standing up for biblical concepts of righteousness and justice. These courageous black voters will attempt a risky, but important strategy.

They will attempt to act as the conscience of the party that currently seems, to many, so insensitive to the plight of the poor and needy. They will vote for President Bush and hope for major policy adjustments in six vital areas: protection of biblical marriage; wealth creation opportunities for minorities; educational reform, which emphasizes urban change as a priority; African relief that stops genocide in the Sudan by placing trade sanctions on that nation; prison reform that rehabilitates inmates with spiritual solutions; and health care for the poor.

No, I did not say that the majority of blacks will vote for Mr. Bush. But a critical mass of 20 percent or more will break the dead heat we are observing today.

How about a geometric progression: 16% this time and 32% in '08.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:53 PM


The End of Democracy: Losing America's birthright, the George Bush way (Rick Perlstein, October 19th, 2004, Village Voice)

Once upon a time, not too long ago, the president of the United States declared that the war on terrorism was the most important issue in this year's presidential campaign.

Then every time his opponent brought up this most important of issues, George W. Bush cried foul, accusing John Kerry of hindering the war on terrorism. (America might be a democracy, but that doesn't mean the Democrat has a right to campaign.)

The president's campaign enlisted the taxpayers' servants as agents of his re-election, with Secret Service officers submitting attendees at Bush rallies to ideological X-rays, and election officials systematically suppressing the franchise of groups most likely to vote Democratic. Meanwhile the president, who earned some 500,000 votes less than his opponent, busied himself ramming through a radical legislative program as if he had won by a landslide—his congressional deputies all but barring deliberative input from the opposition party in order to do it and gaming the legislative apportionment system in ways, as the counsel to one Texas representative bragged in an e-mail to colleagues, that "should assure that Republicans keep the House no matte[r] the national mood."

In Washington, it has turned some once calm souls into apocalyptics.

Thomas Mann is a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, noted for his deliberateness of manner, his decency, and his near religious devotion to the ideal of bipartisan comity. Now, he says, "I see the damage to our system and our sense of ourselves as a democratic people as really quite substantial. . . . The consequences of both the policies and the processes have been more destructive of our national interest and our democratic institutions than any president I know." When someone as level-headed as Tom Mann begins to worry for the future of our democracy, that's news.

Friend Perlstein continues in this vein for quite awhile, the gist of his argument being that Republicans, and only Republicans, play political hardball (well, actually he'd say they stage beerhall putsches); that his thesis is proven by the opinion of impartial commentators like Mr. Mann (who has been widely regarded as a partisan shill for the Left, along with his frequent fellow guest Norm Ornstein, since the Reagan administration); that Democrats have been intimidated into silence (though what he thinks that makes his essay, never mind the Kerry campaign, is beyond us); and, of course, that this all furthers the Christian conspiracy to establish a theocracy in America.

When you see a previously sensible liberal reduced to such ravings by the reality that power has shifted from Democrats to Republicans you can get a sense of why Father Coughlin's similar conspiratorial dementia won 30 million listeners when power switched to Democrats in the first place, 70 years ago. The realization that your political viewpoint, which used to be on the 60% side of the equation, is now on the 40% side appears to drive folks over the edge.

Here's the kind of thing Mr. Perlstein insists his side would never do, manufacture a draft scare for partisan political advantage, Feeling the Draft (PAUL KRUGMAN, 10/19/04, NY Times). You'll also note that instead of appearing on some obscure website or in some minor direct mail campaign, this Big Lie is coming from the nation's leading daily paper.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:21 PM


Iraq's separate peace (ANNIE SWEENEY, 10/19/04, Chicago Sun-Times)

On a Saturday afternoon in Iraq, between Baghdad and Camp Anaconda, the countryside looks a little like Wisconsin. There are farmers tilling fields and women walking on roads. Freight trains and major highways.

This wasn't exactly what I expected when I left for the war-ravaged country the first week of September. And initially, it made me feel lousy.

Here in Chicago I tend to cover breaking crime stories where the action is intense -- grieving victims, burned-out buildings, angry neighbors.

I expected this type of human drama in Iraq, and apparently others did, too. When I came back after three weeks, all everybody wanted to know was how scared I was.

Iraq was hot and smelly. It was dirty and dusty. Mortars sometimes boomed in the distance.

But I can't describe it as scary. I didn't see the hard-core stuff, and a lot of soldiers who live and work there don't, either.

That's not to say the kidnappings, bombings and airstrikes from U.S. planes aren't wreaking havoc on both Iraqis and American troops.

It's just there's another side -- a side where the ebb and flow of the day-to-day is so normal, it's almost jarring.

Chicago has 600 murders a year--does John Kerry think we should give up on it?

Posted by at 12:07 PM


Prediction Market
(October 19, 2004, www.StrategyPage.com)

By 8pm EDT on Wednesday, November 3rd, the winner of the US Presidential election will still be unknown or in dispute.

Pro Futures: 551 Con Futures: 351

By 8pm EDT on Wednesday, November 3rd, the winner of the US Presidential
election will still be unknown or in dispute. Will the election be close enough for recounts and lawsuits to affect it? And will those recounts and lawsuits go forward? Choose according to how close you think the result will be, and which party or parties will be prepared to follow the 2000 precedent to its logical conclusion.

The business of futures markets at places such as StategyPage,
Tradesports, and Iowa Electronic Markets has been burgeoning. The idea that
markets have a better (though still imperfect) capability to predict than do
individuals has caught on in a big way. Interestingly, there is divergence
of opinion. StrategyPage is predicting with a fair amount of confidence
that (1) Bush will win; (2) Kerry will lose (an obvious deduction, but there
are 2 separate contracts traded) and; (3) There will be tumult and turmoil
about the result. Tradesports (www.tradesports.com) has Bush at 58.2 as of
this writing. It would seem that the bigger the certainty of a victory, the
smaller the chance of a lengthy resolution of the outcome. Given the 2002
claim that "10,000 lawyers are ready" to clog the courts, the markets just
might be right.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:03 PM

ON TO AFRICA (via Tom Morin):

Is China Running Out Of Workers?: As farmers stay home, factories scramble for employees. It's all putting pressure on wages (Business Week)

Back in 1989, Taiwanese businessman Hayes Lou moved his bicycle and motorcycle helmet factory from Superior, Mont., to the city of Dongguan, in Guangdong province, China. Over the past 15 years he and his partners have added another helmet factory in Jiangmen, and opened a second facility in Dongguan to make plastic packaging materials. The rapid growth of Lou's business has been made possible largely by one factor: plentiful, dirt-cheap labor, fed by the constant influx into Guangdong of millions of migrant workers from the countryside. Now, much to the surprise of Lou and tens of thousands of other factory owners across China, the endless supply of new workers can no longer be taken for granted. Lou's packaging factory, for instance, is running well below capacity because he has only been able to find 170 of the 300 workers he needs. And even though he has jacked up wages some 30% since the beginning of the year, to an average of $85 a month, turnover is getting worse. "Even when you get an order, you can't produce and ship it," says Lou, who is deputy director of the Dongguan Taiwan Business Assn. "Everyone in every kind of factory is short of workers."

It's not just Dongguan that's experiencing a labor shortage. A recent survey by the Labor & Social Security Ministry found that the Pearl River Delta of which the city is a part needs 2 million more laborers. Other major export manufacturing regions, including parts of Fujian province, across from Taiwan, and Zhejiang, bordering Shanghai, are also facing shortages. "It's a serious situation if you're a manufacturer, because now you have got to compete on wages," says Jonathan Anderson, Chief Asia Economist at UBS Securities (UBS ) in Hong Kong. "You can't just put up a sign and expect workers to come knocking. That game is over."

The implication of the labor shortage: sharply rising wages that could push up an inflation rate that already tops 5% on the mainland. That could translate into higher prices for Chinese exports that would push up inflation around the world.

There's always more cheap labor the next country over.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at 11:13 AM


When the Man Comes Around (Bommer, via lgf)

Verges on idolatry, but what a great song from Johnny Cash.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:52 AM


In praise of premature war: Rarely has the West suffered by going to war too soon. On the contrary: among the wars of Western history, the bloodiest were those that started too late. The West, therefore, should be thankful that it has in US President George W Bush a warrior who shoots first and tells the CIA to ask questions later. (Spengler, 10/18/04, Asia Times)

The West should be thankful that it has in US President George W Bush a warrior who shoots first and tells the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to ask questions later. Rarely in its long history has the West suffered by going to war too soon. On the contrary: among the wars of Western history, the bloodiest were those that started too late. Why should that be the case? The answer, I believe, is that keeping the peace requires prospective combatants to maintain the balance of power, for example between Athens and Sparta in the 5th century BC, between Catholic and Protestant states in the 17th century AD, and between the Central Powers and the Allies at the turn of the 20th century. Once powers truly are balanced, however, neither side can win, except by a devastating war of attrition. Postponing war therefore creates equally matched opposing blocs who eventually will annihilate each other.

More than ever does this principle apply to the present race for nuclear weapons. It brings to mind the old joke about the housewife in Hertfordshire who telephones her husband and says, "Dear, be careful driving home. The news report says that there is a maniac driving in the wrong direction on the motorway." He replies, "What do you mean, one maniac? Everyone is driving in the wrong direction!"

Whether or not Saddam Hussein actually intended or had the capacity to build nuclear weapons is of trifling weight in the strategic balance. Everyone is planning to build nuclear weapons. They involve 60-year-old technology no longer difficult to replicate. It hardly matters where one begins. "Kill the chicken, and let the monkey watch," as the Chinese say. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, the theocrats of Iran, the North Koreans and soon many other incalculable reprobates have or will have such plans. It hardly matters which one you attack first, so long as you attack one of them.

Except, of course, that it was late even this time, though we are rather early by historical standards. His old man should have helped the Shi'a and Kurds topple Saddam in '91. And we all should have realized that Islamic liberalization had to be a priority right after the Cold War. Without in any way minimizing the tragedy, we must recognize that 9-11 did concentrate our minds wonderfully.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:42 AM


The Stain on a Speck in the Sea: Tiny Pitcairn, home to descendants of Bounty mutineers, is in turmoil as Britain charges that raping girls has become part of the culture. (Richard C. Paddock, October 19, 2004, LA Times)

When Fletcher Christian and his crew of Bounty mutineers landed 214 years ago on tiny Pitcairn Island, its remote location halfway between New Zealand and Peru made it the perfect place to hide. Its isolation has protected the little colony's customs — some quaint and some sinister — ever since.

Now the Pitcairn way of life is being challenged by a modern world that believes basic legal standards, including laws against rape, sex with underage girls and child molestation, should be enforced in even the most inaccessible places on Earth.

One of the better tests of whether you're preternaturally conservative is that you root for Captain Bligh as a kid.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 AM


Bush Changes Context for War: He has accused Kerry of 'mixed messages' on Iraq, but the president's rationale has shifted too. (Ronald Brownstein and Kathleen Hennessey, October 19, 2004, LA TIMES)

In the campaign debate over Iraq, one constant has been the divide between the presidential candidates on the issue of inconsistency.

President Bush has stressed his resolve while accusing Sen. John F. Kerry of sending "mixed messages" on the war in Iraq. He pounded that point on Monday in his latest sharp attack on Kerry, saying, "For three years, depending on the headlines, the poll numbers and political calculation, he has taken almost every conceivable position on Iraq."

Yet an analysis of Bush's statements on Iraq show that he also has sent differing, if not necessarily conflicting, signals on a key war-related question.

Bush's shifts have come not on the decision to overthrow former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, but why that action was justified.

Both before and after the invasion, Bush built his case for war on basically the same set of elements. But the prominence placed on each element has clearly shifted.

Before the war, the major chord was security and terrorism.

That last bit is, of course, wrong. In his major speech on the reason for the war Mr. Bush quite explicitly justified the removal of Saddam on the basis of his refusal to abide by the UN resolutions he'd agreed to in order to win a ceasefire in 1991. However, there were obviously many other reasons to remove him, as even the Kerry people demonstrated with their list of 24. The difference between the President and Mr. Kerry is that Mr. Bush thinks every one of the 24 is sufficient while Senator Kerry now says none are.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:40 AM


The Unshakable Tony Blair (James Naughtie, October 18, 2004, LA Times)

Americans are often puzzled by Blair, but so are the British. He is a leader who remains an enigma even after seven years in power. Though he is the most written-about prime minister of recent times, he still carries a cloak of mystery with him. It conceals, above all, the story of his alliance with President Bush, which is the most unlikely — and probably the most powerful — transatlantic partnership since Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill first spoke of a "special relationship" during World War II. [...]

Blair's critics at home, where his political reputation has gone through a mincing machine in the last year, ask what he has got in return from Bush for his loyalty. In practical political terms, very little. He still seems likely to win a third term the next election but with a much lower parliamentary majority than before, and with the stain of the unpopular war still on him. The answer lies deep in his character. [...]

Blair's story is an epigram of the age of moral politics. His conviction took him to war with a president of whom his party — and a majority of the British public — was, and remain, intensely suspicious. Despite worsening violence, even chaos, in Iraq he appears content with his judgment. Even in a country that remembers the Margaret Thatcher years, Blair's single-mindedness is remarkable.

For Americans too he is notable. Without him could the case for war have been so easily made? His critics say he was Bush's lap dog. As so often with Blair, the criticism underestimates him. Bush does not value him for his smile alone, but for a loyalty that matters.

Mr. Naughtie is wrong about Americans not understanding Tony Blair--we recognize his type easily, a conviction politician driven by his Christian faith. It's why he's so popular here--he's one of us. Indeed, the best received speech of his career was likely the one he gave the Joint Session of Congress--well received here anyway, folks at home were appalled:
Members of Congress, I feel a most urgent sense of mission about today's world.

September the 11th was not an isolated event, but a tragic prologue, Iraq another act, and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it's over.

There never has been a time when the power of America was so necessary or so misunderstood; or when, except in the most general sense, a study of history provides so little instruction for our present day. We were all reared on battles between great warriors, between great nations, between powerful forces and ideologies that dominated entire continents. And these were struggles for conquest, for land or money. And the wars were fought by massed armies, and the leaders were openly acknowledged; the outcomes decisive.

Today, none of us expect our soldiers to fight a war on our own territory. The immediate threat is not conflict between the world's most powerful nations. And why? Because we all have too much to lose. Because technology, communication, trade and travel are bringing us ever closer together. Because in the last 50 years, countries like yours and mine have trebled their growth and standard of living. Because even those powers like Russia, China or India can see the horizon of future wealth clearly and know they are on a steady road toward it. And because all nations that are free value that freedom, will defend it absolutely, but have no wish to trample on the freedom of others.

We are bound together as never before, and this coming together provides us with unprecedented opportunity, but also makes us uniquely vulnerable.

And the threat comes because in another part of our globe, there is shadow and darkness, where not all the world is free, where many millions suffer under brutal dictatorships, where a third of our planet lives in a poverty beyond anything even the poorest in our societies can imagine, and where a fanatical strain of religious extremism has arisen that is a mutation of the true and peaceful faith of Islam; and because in the combination of these afflictions, a new and deadly virus has emerged. The virus is terrorism, whose intent to inflict destruction is unconstrained by human feeling and whose capacity to inflict it is enlarged by technology.

This is a battle that can't be fought or won only by armies. We are so much more powerful in all conventional ways than the terrorists. Yet even in all our might, we are taught humility. In the end, it is not our power alone that will defeat this evil. Our ultimate weapon is not our guns, but our beliefs. (Applause.)

There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia's savior. Members of Congress, ours are not Western values. They are the universal values of the human spirit, and anywhere -- (applause) -- anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.

The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defense and our first line of attack.

And just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify around an idea. And that idea is liberty. (Applause.)

We must find the strength to fight for this idea and the compassion to make it universal. Abraham Lincoln said, "Those that deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."

And it is this sense of justice that makes moral the love of liberty.

In some cases where our security is under direct threat, we will have recourse to arms. In others it will be by force of reason. But in all cases, to the same end, that the liberty we seek is not for some, but for all, for that is the only true path to victory in this struggle. (Applause.) But first we must explain the danger.

Our new world rests on order. The danger is disorder. And in today's world, it can now spread like contagion. The terrorists and the states that support them don't have large armies or precision weapons. They don't need them. Their weapon is chaos. The purpose of terrorism is not the single act of wanton destruction, it is the reaction it seeks to provoke: economic collapse, the backlash, the hatred, the division, the elimination of tolerance, until societies cease to reconcile their differences and become defined by them. Kashmir, the Middle East, Chechnya, Indonesia, Africa -- barely a continent or nation is unscathed.

The risk is that terrorism and states developing weapons of mass destruction come together, and when people say that risk is fanciful, I say we know the Taliban supported al Qaeda. We know Iraq, under Saddam, gave haven to and supported terrorists. We know there are states in the Middle East now actively funding and helping people who regard it as God's will in the act of suicide to take as many innocent lives with them on their way to God's judgement. Some of these states are desperately trying to acquire nuclear weapons. We know that companies and individuals with expertise sell it to the highest bidder. And we know that at least one state, North Korea, lets its people starve while spending billions of dollars on developing nuclear weapons and exporting the technology abroad. This isn't fantasy. It is 21st century reality and it confronts us now. (Applause.)

Can we be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together? Let us say one thing: If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that, at its least, is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive. But if our critics are wrong, if we are right, as I believe with every fiber of instinct and conviction I have that we are, and we do not act, then we will have hesitated in the face of this menace when we should have given leadership.

That is something history will not forgive. (Sustained applause.)

But precisely because the threat is new, it isn't obvious. It turns upside-down our concepts of how we should act and when, and it crosses the frontiers of many nations. So just as it redefines our notions of security, so it must refine our notions of diplomacy. There is no more dangerous theory in international politics today than that we need to balance the power of America with other competitor powers, different poles around which nations gather. Such a theory may have made sense in 19th century Europe. It was perforce the position in the Cold War. Today, it is an anachronism, to be discarded like traditional theories of security. And it is dangerous, because it is not rivalry, but partnership we need, a common will and a shared purpose in the face of a common threat. (Applause.)

And I believe any alliance must start with America and Europe. If Europe and America are together, the others will work with us. If we split, the rest will play around, play us off, and nothing but mischief will be the result of it.

You may think after recent disagreements it can't be done.

But the debate in Europe is open. Iraq showed that when, never forget, many European nations supported our action. And it shows it still when those that didn't, agreed Resolution 1483 in the United Nations for Iraq's reconstruction. Today, German soldiers lead in Afghanistan. French soldiers lead in the Congo, where they stand between peace and a return to genocide.

So we should not minimize the differences, but we should not let them confound us either.

You know, people ask me, after the past months, when, let's say things were a trifle strained in Europe, "Why do you persist in wanting Britain at the center of Europe?" And I say, "Well, maybe if the U.K. were a group of islands 20 miles off Manhattan, I might feel differently. But actually, we're 20 miles off Calais and joined by a tunnel." We are part of Europe, and we want to be. But we also want to be part of changing Europe.

Europe has one potential for weakness, for reasons that are obvious: we spent roughly a thousand years killing each other in large numbers. The political culture of Europe is, inevitably, rightly based on compromise. Compromise is a fine thing, except when based on an illusion, and I don't believe you can compromise with this new form of terrorism. (Applause.)

But Europe has the strength. It is a formidable political achievement.

Think of the past and think of the unity today. Think of it preparing to reach out even to Turkey, a nation of vastly different culture, tradition, religion, and welcome it in. But my real point is this: now Europe is at a point of transformation.

Next year 10 new countries will join. Romania and Bulgaria will follow. Why will these new European members transform Europe? Because their scars are recent, their memories strong, their relationship with freedom still one of passion, not comfortable familiarity. They believe in the transatlantic alliance. They support economic reform. They want a Europe of nations, not a superstate. They are our allies, and they are yours. So don't give up on Europe; work with it. (Sustained applause.)

To be a serious partner, Europe must take on and defeat the anti- Americanism that sometimes passes for its political discourse. And what America must do is show that this is a partnership, built on persuasion, not command. (Applause.) Then the other great nations of our world, and the small, will gather around in one place, not many, and our understanding of this threat will become theirs.

And the United Nations can then become what it should be, an instrument of action as well as debate. The Security Council should be reformed. We need a new international regime on the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. (Applause.)

And we need to say clearly to United Nations members: If you engage in the systematic and gross abuse of human rights in defiance of the U.N. Charter, you cannot expect to enjoy the same privileges as those that conform to it. (Sustained applause.)

I agree; it is not the coalition that determines the mission, but the mission the coalition. But let us start preferring a coalition and acting alone if we have to, not the other way round. True, winning wars is not easier that way, but winning the peace is. (Applause.) And we have to win both.

And you have an extraordinary record of doing so. Who helped Japan renew or Germany reconstruct or Europe get back on its feet after World War II? America.

So when we invade Afghanistan or Iraq, our responsibility does not end with military victory. (Applause.) Finishing the fighting is not finishing the job.

So if Afghanistan needs more troops from the international community to police outside Kabul, our duty is to get them. (Applause.) Let us help them eradicate their dependency on the poppy, the crop whose wicked residue turns up on the streets of Britain as heroin, to destroy young British lives as much as their harvest warps the lives of Afghans.

We promised Iraq democratic government; we will deliver it. (Sustained applause.) We promised them the chance to use their oil wealth to build prosperity for all their citizens, not a corrupt elite, and we will do so. We will stay with these people so in need of our help until the job is done. (Applause.)

And then reflect on this: How hollow would the charges of American imperialism be when these failed countries are and are seen to be transformed from states of terror to nations of prosperity; from governments of dictatorship to examples of democracy; from sources of instability to beacons of calm? And how risible would be the claims that these were wars on Muslims if the world could see these Muslim nations still Muslim, but with some hope for the future, not shackled by brutal regimes whose principle victims were the very Muslims they pretended to protect? (Applause.)

It would be the most richly observed advertisement for the values of freedom we can imagine.

When we removed the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, this was not imperialism. For these oppressed people, it was their liberation.

And why can the terrorists even mount an argument in the Muslim world that it isn't? Because there is one cause terrorism rides upon, a cause they have no belief in, but can manipulate.

I want to be very plain. This terrorism will not be defeated without peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. (Applause.) Here it is that the poison is incubated. Here it is that the extremist is able to confuse in the mind of a frighteningly large number of people the case for a Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel, and to translate this, moreover, into a battle between East and West, Muslim, Jew and Christian. We must never compromise the security of the state of Israel. (Sustained applause.)

The state of Israel should be recognized by the entire Arab world, and the vile propaganda used to indoctrinate children not just against Israel but against Jews must cease. (Applause.) You cannot teach people hate and then ask them to practice peace. But neither can you teach people peace except by according them dignity and granting them hope. (Applause.)

Innocent Israelis suffer; so do innocent Palestinians. The ending of Saddam's regime in Iraq must be the starting point of a new dispensation for the Middle East: Iraq free and stable; Iran and Syria, who give succor to the rejectionist men of violence, made to realize that the world will no longer countenance it, that the hand of friendship can only be offered them if they resile completely from this malice, but that if they do, that hand will be there for them and their people; the whole of the region helped towards democracy; and to symbolize it all, the creation of an independent, viable and democratic Palestinian state side by side with the state of Israel.

(Applause.) What the president is doing in the Middle East is tough, but right.

And let me at this point thank the president for his support, and that of President Clinton before him and the support of members of this Congress, for our attempts to bring peace to Northern Ireland. (Applause.)

You know, one thing I've learned about peace processes: they're always frustrating, they're often agonizing, and occasionally they seem hopeless; but for all that, having a peace process is better than not having one. (Applause.)

And why has the resolution of Palestine such a powerful appeal across the world? Because it embodies an even-handed approach to justice, just as, when this president recommended and this Congress supported a $15 billion increase in spending on the world's poorest nations to combat HIV/AIDS, it was a statement of concern that echoed rightly round the world.

There can be no freedom for Africa without justice and no justice without declaring war on Africa's poverty, disease and famine with as much vehemence as we remove the tyrant and the terrorist. (Applause.)

In Mexico in September, the world should unite and give us a trade round that opens up our markets. I'm for free trade, and I'll tell you why: because we can't say to the poorest people in the world, "We want you to be free, but just don't try to sell your goods in our market." (Applause.) And because ever since the world started to open up, it has prospered.

And that prosperity has to be environmentally sustainable, too. (Applause.) You know, I remember at one of our earliest international meetings a European prime minister telling President Bush that the solution was quite simple: just double the tax on American gasoline.

(Light laughter, applause.) Your president gave him a most eloquent look. (Laughter.)

It reminded me of the first leader of my party, Kier Hardie, in the early part of the 20th century. And he was a man who used to correspond with the Pankhursts, the great campaigners for women's votes. And shortly before the election in June 1913, one of the Pankhurst sisters wrote to Hardy, saying she'd been studying Britain carefully, and that there was a worrying rise in sexual immorality linked to heavy drinking. So she suggested he fight the election on the platform of votes for women, chastity for men, and prohibition for all. (Laughter, applause.) He replied, saying, "Thank you for your advice, the electoral benefits of which are not immediately discernible." (Laughter.) We all get that kind of advice, don't we? (Laughter.)

But frankly, we need to go beyond even Kyoto. And science and technology is the way. Climate change, deforestation, the voracious drain on natural resources cannot be ignore. Unchecked, these forces will hinder the economic development of the most vulnerable nations first, and ultimately all nations. So we must show the world that we are willing to step up to these challenges around the world and in our own backyards. (Sustained applause.)

Members of Congress, if this seems a long way from the threat of terror and weapons of mass destruction, it is only to say again that the world's security cannot be protected without the world's heart being (one/won? ). So America must listen as well as lead. But, members of Congress, don't ever apologize for your values. (Applause.) Tell the world why you're proud of America. Tell them when "The Star-Spangled Banner" starts, Americans get to their feet -- Hispanics, Irish, Italians, Central Europeans, East Europeans, Jews, Muslims, white, Asian, black, those who go back to the early settlers, and those whose English is the same as some New York cab drivers I've dealt with -- (laughter) -- but whose sons and daughters could run for this Congress. Tell them why Americans, one and all, stand upright and respectful. Not because some state official told them to, but because whatever race, color, class or creed they are, being American means being free. That's why they're proud. (Cheers, sustained applause.)

As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible, but in fact, it is transient. The question is, what do you leave behind? And what you can bequeath to this anxious world is the light of liberty. That is what this struggle against terrorist groups or states is about. We're not fighting for domination. We're not fighting for an American world, though we want a world in which America is at ease. We're not fighting for Christianity, but against religious fanaticism of all kinds. And this is not a war of civilizations, because each civilization has a unique capacity to enrich the stock of human heritage. We are fighting for the inalienable right of humankind -- black or white; Christian or not; left, right or merely indifferent -- to be free -- free to raise a family in love and hope; free to earn a living and be rewarded by your own efforts; free not to bend your knee to any man in fear; free to be you, so long as being you does not impair the freedom of others.

That's what we're fighting for, and it's a battle worth fighting. And I know it's hard on America. And in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I've never been to but always wanted to go -- (laughter) -- I know out there, there's a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, "Why me, and why us, and why America?" And the only answer is because destiny put you in this place in history in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do. (Sustained applause.)

And our job -- my nation, that watched you grow, that you fought alongside and now fights alongside you, that takes enormous pride in our alliance and great affection in our common bond -- our job is to be there with you. You're not going to be alone. We will be with you in this fight for liberty. (Sustained applause.)

We will be with you in this fight for liberty. And if our spirit is right and our courage firm, the world will be with us.

How often has any foreign leader ever referred to himself and the legislative body of another country as "us?"

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:54 AM


Cross-border prescriptions threaten Canadian supply, health groups warn (Cassandra Szklarski, Canadian Press, October 19th, 2004)

Cross-border Internet pharmacies threaten to drain precious supplies needed to treat sick Canadians and could lead to a "full-scale disaster" for the health system, a coalition of groups representing seniors, pharmacies and patients warned Monday.

A number of groups claiming to represent 10 million Canadians called on Ottawa to ban the export of prescription drugs, arguing that Canada cannot afford to continue to address U.S. drug shortages and soaring prescription costs with its own stock.

"It is completely untenable to think that Canada could supply their needs and our own for even one month, let along on an ongoing basis," said Louise Binder of the Canadian Treatment Action Council and Best Medicines Coalition.

"Our system would quickly be overwhelmed and Canadians would pay the price for our government allowing the U.S. to raid our medicine cabinet."

Betcha didn’t know ten million Canadians track Brothersjudd.

October 18, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:19 PM


Joyous Cursing: Was Dale Earnhardt Jr. right about profanity? (Frederica Mathewes-Green, 10/18/2004, Christianity Today)

As four-letter words become an ever more popular form of communication, it's hardly surprising that athletes might use them, or that one might slip out in a TV interview. NBC's Matt Yocum had just asked Dale Earnhardt Jr. how it felt to win a race at the Talladega Superspeedway for the fifth time, and he replied modestly that his famous dad, Dale Earnhardt Sr, had won there ten times. "It don't mean s---," he said.

The sky fell in. Earnhardt was fined $10,000 and docked points, knocking him out of first place in the Nextel Cup series. But what's interesting is Earnhardt's defense of his naughty word.

"It was in jubilation," he said. "When you're happy and joyous about something and it happens, it's different than being angry and cursing in anger. Of course, we don't want to promote that. But if a guy's in Victory Lane, jumping up and down, and lets a 's---' slip out, I don't think that's something we need to go hammering down on."

Is he right? Does it make a difference whether the word is used in anger or exuberance? Does it matter whether it's literal or figurative? Is there a distinction among different types: obscenity, profanity, cursing, and blasphemy? [...]

English is unusually rich language, with over half a million words, about five times the size of French. If there's something you want to say, you can probably find a way to say it. Naughty words become a blank token we can stick in any sentence as a substitute for really thinking through what we're trying to say. If Earnhardt hadn't been in the habit of using this word casually, he could have come up with something equally eloquent for the occasion. I'm not particularly offended that he used this word, though I regret that such words are becoming more common while so many thousands of other words get used rarely or not at all. Our vocabulary is becoming more and more narrow, until one day the English spoken in the streets will be reduced to a few grunts and hand gestures.

But Earnhardt is right about this: it's one thing to let a word slip out in a moment of exuberance, and another to use it in anger. If the intention is to convey hatred, contempt or violence, there's a much bigger problem than just that earthy little word. (This is true even when the user is a "rebel" or "artist" and his targets are "squares.") No matter what language you use, self-righteousness and hate should be questioned, not indulged. Count to ten, and if you still feel inclined to unleash your withering scorn, here's a handy four-letter word for you: don't.

Like all ministers' sons, the Brothers grew up swearing like dockworkers. Now we both have kids and have to watch our foul mouths. fascinating thing though, swearing less often you find that you really savor the well placed cuss word. Used less they mean more.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:06 PM


Red Sox 5, Yankees 4, 14 innings (RONALD BLUM, October 18, 2004, AP)

After the game that seemed like it would never end, Boston's season goes on.

David Ortiz hit the 472nd pitch of the game with two outs in the 14th inning Monday night to cap a second straight amazing comeback and give the Red Sox a 5-4 victory over the New York Yankees and send the AL championship series back to New York.

Boston had been three outs from a humiliating sweep in Game 4 before Ortiz's two-run homer in the 12th inning ended a 5-hour, 2-minute marathon at 1:22 a.m. Monday.

Now, after a 5:49 game that was the longest by time in postseason history, the Red Sox are just one win from climbing out of a 3-0 deficit and forcing an anything-can-happen Game 7.

Bittersweet theology of Red Sox faithful: In a city of Calvinism and a so-called curse, being a baseball fan means tragedy, then ecstasy, then.... (Mark Sappenfield, 10/19/04, CS Monitor)
The drama of this year is only a taste of a story and a tradition built over generations. In a time when sports seems to be usurping its own sphere - becoming a cultural influence far beyond its actual import - the Beantown Nine's connection to the people of New England remains a unique phenomenon in American sport.

The Red Sox are at once the symbol of spring renewal after the cold and dark of a Maine winter and a Puritanical sermon of brimstone in autumns of failure. They are the muse of angst-ridden Harvard lit majors and the milk of Vermont dairy farmers.

Perhaps no team so perfectly represents more than itself - indeed, the outlook and ethos of an entire region. The Sox are New England, as much as blushing fall maples or rubber-booted fishermen, and this season - regardless of the conclusion - has only tightened the ties. "They never let you down," says Ed Boulos, a native Mainer attending one of the games. "You can always expect drama."

Drama, of course, makes for a good story - even if the ending has always tended toward the tragic.

Tragic? It's comic.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:01 PM


Chinese work ethic tires Spanish: Losing business to immigrants, Spanish shoe workers in Elche recently set fire to Chinese warehouses. (Geoff Pingree, 10/19/04, CS Monitor)

As Spain struggles to become an economic power in Europe, immigrant laborers are increasingly coming into conflict with native workers who approach work and the workplace with very different attitudes.

Although the first Chinese immigrants arrived here in the early 20th century, their numbers have grown rapidly over the past two decades. Today it is estimated that there are between 50,000 and 100,000 living in Spain.

They may be causing resentment, however, not because of their numbers (there are far more North African and Latin American immigrants), but because many Spaniards feel that their economic practices threaten age-old social customs, employment norms, and labor relations in Spain.

Europe, where the work ethic makes you the enemy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:10 PM


A Sovereign Nation?: Jeremy Rabkin Makes the Case for American: a review of The Case for Sovereignty: Why the World Should Welcome American Independence by Jeremy A. Rabkin (Adam Wolfson, September 8, 2004, The Weekly Standard)

Today, because the United States failed to win U.N. authorization for its use of force, the Iraq war is widely viewed among both European and American liberals as an illegal, immoral war. It's tempting to chalk this up to mere politics or resentment against American power. Yes, France wants to serve as the great counterweight to the American "hyperpower," and Democrats long for a Kerry victory in November. But, as Rabkin demonstrates, deeper forces are at play. A moral revolution has taken place over the last several decades, one that rejects the notion of national sovereignty. What's needed, Rabkin believes, is not merely a political argument in favor of Bush's foreign policy, but a moral defense of the idea of sovereignty, as such. Only then will America's recent actions be seen in their proper context and thus become intellectually respectable and morally defensible.

This is the service Rabkin's book performs. The Case for Sovereignty provides us with a historical and intellectual genealogy of the idea of sovereignty, as well as its would-be replacement, global governance. Today, as Rabkin concedes, national sovereignty is widely thought to be a selfish concept and, worse, the cause of conflict among nations. It is also thought to be antidemocratic and chauvinistic. Yet, by means of several forays into intellectual history, Rabkin shows this to be utterly mistaken. Sovereignty is the friend of democracy, human rights, and political pluralism, while global governance is the abettor of dictatorship, lost rights, and a worldwide political monoculture.

In the history of political thought, sovereignty is a relatively new idea. It emerged only with the Enlightenment. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Europe was wracked by unlimited wars. Crusading, transcendent faiths--religious and other--demanded universal allegiance. Borders were of no consequence. It was to impose order on this dire situation that the idea of sovereignty was first invented by such early thinkers as Grotius and Bodin, among others. They viewed it as a way of consolidating and confining political power and thereby limiting the reach and effects of war. Thus, in their treatises, these political philosophers attempted to identify what was essential to the proper exercise of sovereignty: the power to make laws, the power to tax, and the power to declare war as well as to terminate hostilities. The lists were long and varied, but as Rabkin recounts, the attributes of sovereignty were neatly summarized hundreds of years later by Abraham Lincoln when, in defense of the rights of the Union, he declared sovereignty must mean at the very least "a political community, without a political superior."

The acceptance of the idea of sovereignty led over time to the formation and spread of nation-states--which are powerful political units indeed and not always to the good, as nationalism is a sword that a variety of dictators and adventurers would find useful. But sovereignty has worked, Rabkin argues, most of all as the handmaiden of many of our most cherished liberal democratic ideals. It encouraged the growth of democracy, particularly by enforcing the notion that consent of individuals is the ultimate source of political authority. It allowed political pluralism to flourish. It cultivated the ideal of religious toleration, with citizenship open to all consenting individuals regardless of faith. And it has been the friend of limited government, since sovereignty begins with the rights of individuals.

Rabkin calls this "the moral argument for sovereignty," and the alternative mode of organizing political life, he argues, has always been a "crusading faith"--as demonstrated, most recently, in the liberal dream of global governance.

Even as we defend American sovereignty from transnationalist threats we need to acknowledge that America itself is the greatest threat to traditional sovereignty in the world today. The Taliban and Saddam Hussein, after all, were deposed for no other reason than that they violated our standards of democratic legitimacy. Our own crusading faith emboldened us to completely ignore the sovereignty of Afghanistan and Iraq--and we're not done yet...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:32 PM


Poll: Candidates Neck and Neck: As Election Looms, Bush Has a Slight Edge in Some Underlying Issues (GARY LANGER, Oct. 18, 2004, ABC News)

The 2004 campaign moves into its last two weeks with a close race, but one in which President Bush holds the advantage in a range of underlying measurements.

Most likely voters, 53 percent, approve of Bush's job performance overall. Most, 52 percent, have a favorable opinion of him personally. His supporters are more enthusiastic than John Kerry's. Bush easily leads in three of four personal attributes — leadership, clarity and honesty. He's stronger on terrorism, Iraq and — a recent gain — taxes. And, echoing Bush's latest line of attack, more likely voters see Kerry as too liberal than see Bush as too conservative.

54% appears to be the President's current number. If you assume there's a 3 or 4 point swing coming in the closing days of the campaign we're headed for either a nail-biter or a blowout, with the two possibilities about equally likely. How can anyone not love politics?

Bush Emerges From Debates With a Slim Lead Over Kerry, Poll Shows (Richard Morin and Dan Balz, October 18, 2004, Washington Post)

Bush's job approval -- another significant barometer of an incumbent's political health -- stands at 54 percent, compared to 53 percent in late September. In the modern era, all incumbent presidents with approval ratings above 50 percent have won their reelection bids. Similarly, Bush's personal standing with voters remains exactly where it was before the debates: 53 percent of all likely voters say they have a favorable impression of the president.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:06 PM


Remember Abu Ghraib? (Washington Post, October 15, 2004)

IN THE PAST few weeks the presidential candidates have debated almost every aspect of the war on terrorism save one: the handling of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is a remarkable omission, if only because the shocking photographs of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and reports of hundreds of other cases of torture and homicide in Iraq and Afghanistan, have done grave damage to the United States' ability to combat extremism in the Muslim world. There is, too, something important to debate: whether the United States will return to adhering to the Geneva Conventions and other international rules governing the treatment of foreign prisoners, or whether the war on terrorism justifies the violation of international law in certain cases. President Bush clearly intends to preserve the current, exceptional policies he adopted after Sept. 11, 2001, despite the abuses to which they led. Sen. John F. Kerry has criticized the abuses but hasn't made clear whether he would change the policies. [...]

The record of prisoner abuse stands as a principal count in any indictment of the Bush administration's handling of Iraq and the war on terrorism. Yet Mr. Kerry, who has devoted much of his campaign in the past month to criticizing how Mr. Bush has handled the war, has barely mentioned Abu Ghraib.

Okay, let's all pretend we're at the Post's editorial board meeting and brainstorm a little to see if we can figure out why the Kerry camp--which in recent days has said the Senator would make dead quadraplegics walk and that the President would reinstate the draft and cut Social Security checks by a half--wants no part of Abu Ghraib?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:46 PM


American readers respond to the Guardian's attempt to meddle in our election, we just can't print any of the reponses.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:34 PM


Kerry Seeks to Connect to B