September 30, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:52 PM


The first thing to keep in mind about the debates is that even the most memorable ones didn't change elections--they are recalled because they crystallized what people thought of the candidates. Whoever leads on Labor Day consistently goes on to win the election, irrespective of the debates.

Second, in every open two-party election (those races without an incumbent) in modern memory the candidate perceived as less intelligent has won. So there is no percentage in being pronounced the technical winner of the debates, a de facto smarty-pants.

Third, people have been wondering why George Bush was content to play defense tonight. It's important to remember that this forced a Senator Kerry who many people still don't know and many of those who do know don't like to be the aggressor, a position from which it is difficult to seem like a nice guy at the same time. The President made effective use of a little bit of exasperation, even annoyance, in deflecting attacks, almost a physical version of: "There you go again." If you're well versed in John Kerry's career it probably looked like a pretty good night for him. If you don't know much about him or are put off by the little you do know, this kind of performance wouldn't make you like him.

Fourth, if part of John Kerry's task tonight was to seem more likable, and that was not achieved, he also had to reassure his own party that he isn't a complete disaster--and there he certainly succeeded, probably winning the debate in technical debating terms--and to try and clarify his muddled message. On that last he did not do himself much good, but it's hard to see how he could have. His message tonight was: "The war was a mistake because Saddam wasn't a threat but I voted for it because Saddam was a threat and though I disapprove of the war now, I'll prosecute it just as vigorously as the President who believes in it wholeheartedly." That just isn't a coherent position but it's one that he's trapped in after voting for the war.

Last, on a series of issues he came across as soft in exactly the ways that Republicans have been portraying him. The idea that our policies should pass a global test, that al Qaeda will attack us because of Iraq so we shouldn't have gone, that we should grant Kim Jong-il the bilateral talks he's seeking, that we should give Iran nuclear material and that we shouldn't develop the nuclear capacity to bust bunkers, even though Iran and North Korea are developing nukes, are all the kind of liberal pabulum that the GOP has been forcing back down Democrats throats for a quarter century now.

FINAL SCORE: a draw--Kerry on debating points, Bush on political

Close debate may not sway the undecided: While both candidates hammered home familiar points in a closely contested debate, undecided voters may need to look to future encounters for defining moments. (FRANK DAVIES, 10/01/04, Miami Herald)

If the first debate of the 2004 presidential campaign accomplished one sure thing, it was to dispel hopes from either camp for a clear victory.

Rarely during its 90 minutes did the event produce sparks or memorable lines, although there was plenty of friction between the two. On the plus side, clear differences emerged, which may have been a service to voters just tuning in to this campaign.

On the other side, however, the format enabled both candidates to relentlessly repeat some of their most-tested attack lines from stump speeches. As a result, the body language may have been more revealing than the verbal language. President Bush ranged from disgusted to folksy, from calm to nearly hyper. Sen. John Kerry -- often accused of being wordy and wooden -- came through as forceful, direct and able to keep his sentences short and punchy.

In the end, given that television is such a visceral medium, viewers are likely to end up where they began, leaving it to future encounters to produce the seismic change the candidates are looking for.

Both candidates proved expert at remaining relentlessly on message, hammering home the points each needed to prevent defeat, if not gain victory. [...]

Conventional wisdom holds that if there is no clear winner in a debate, that tends to favor the incumbent. But it also raises the stakes for the next debate Oct. 8 with a very different format -- a town hall forum with voters' questions on domestic issues.

''This was a tough debate to call,'' said Kathleen Kendall, a visiting professor at the University of Maryland who has watched every encounter since Kennedy-Nixon in 1960.

''Kerry hit at Bush's credibility, which was effective, but Bush never wavered from his themes,'' Kendall said. She predicted that the debate will help each candidate energize his base, but may not make sharp inroads on undecided voters.

If one key test of leadership separates the two, it is whether Bush's resolute confidence leads to stubbornness, and whether Kerry is too flexible, even opportunistic, in his positions.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:59 PM


Bush's Net strategy for debate spin (Frank Barnako, 9/30/2004, CBS.MW)

The Bush campaign has set up a network of Web sites to carry instant analysis of tonight's debate.

The "Debate Feed" will provide the GOP spin in real time to as many as 5,000 conservative Web outlets, according to Wired News. "Our rapid response effort is based on the premise that no attack or no misstatement will go unchallenged," Michael Turk, director of the Internet campaign, told the Web site. A "war room" is outfitted with 15 computers and two TVs, monitored by two dozen staffers, ready to send out a Republican response or comment, Wired added.

The Kerry campaign is not so well organized. It has e-mailed supporters who work with local newspapers and media, telling them the Kerry campaign will provide a response after the debate, Wired reported.

In case you were wondering what that is to the left of this page.

We'll also keep this post at the top of the page all night so folks can comment on the debate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:55 PM


Muslim freed by US issues terror threats (Julian Isherwood, 01/10/2004, Daily Telegraph)

Danish authorities said yesterday they might have to return a recently-released Guantanamo Bay prisoner to US custody after he said cabinet ministers were fair targets and vowed to travel to fight Russian forces in Chechnya.

"I'm going to Chechnya to fight for the Muslims," Slimane Hadj Abderahmane said in a television interview.

Earlier, Mr Abderahmane said the Danish prime minister and defence minister were targets.

"Denmark is the only country that hasn't realised that a country's leaders are legitimate targets of war in a war situation.

"If you're not prepared to accept those consequences, then don't go to war," said Mr Abderahmane, who added that he planned to go underground and would not appear in public again.

Lene Espersen, the justice minister, ordered a police investigation, particularly into whether Mr Abderahmane's plans to travel to Chechnya breached release agreements with the United States which would require his detention or return to American custody.

"I urge the government to pack him off back to the Americans," said Pia Kjaersgaard, the leader of the Danish People's Party, the minority government's coalition partner.

Hey, you wanted him back.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 PM


WRAL Poll: Race For U.S. Senate Almost Dead Heat (WRAL, September 30, 2004)

U.S. Senate candidates Erskine Bowles and Richard Burr are in a full court press. Two months ago, a WRAL News poll gave Bowles a commanding 10 point lead. After the latest poll, new numbers show only one point separates the two candidates with 11 percent undecided. [...]

More than 600 likely voters were interviewed for the latest poll before and after Monday's debate.

This one's over too.

Posted by David Cohen at 6:43 PM


TV exchange leaves Kerry in the mire: '11th position' on war (Sheldon Alberts, CanWest News Service, 9/30/04)

On the eve of a high-stakes presidential debate tonight that could help sink or save his quest for the White House, John Kerry opened himself to new accusations of inconsistency as he struggled to explain his position on the Iraq war. . . .

Republicans, who have hammered Kerry daily with charges that he is a flip-flopper, said it was the Massachusetts senator's "eleventh position" on the war. . . .

Despite escalating violence in Iraq and admissions by high-ranking administration officials that the situation is getting worse, most analysts say the pressure in tonight's debate is squarely on Mr. Kerry's shoulders.

"The debates are absolutely critical for Kerry," said Larry Sabato, director of the Centre for Politics at the University of Virginia. "Without the debates, I can't imagine Kerry winning. All Bush has to do is break even."

The stakes are higher for Mr. Kerry because "he has done a very poor job of running the campaign," said Timothy Lenz, a political scientist at Florida Atlantic University.

So, is the New York Times now officially the newspaper least in touch with American politics?

MORE: As an example, picked almost at random, of the distance between America and the Times, I submit the following:

"I ♥ Huckabees" is a comedy of dialectics, in which opposing dualities slug it out like wounded lovers, but it's nothing if not deeply sincere. Mr. Russell and his co-writer, Jeff Baena, are clearly furious about the state of things (you name it) but, like Jon Stewart, they slide in the knife with a smile. The film's Trojan horse strategy reaches its apotheosis in Tommy, a figure of both comedy and unexpected pathos. After turning to the existentialist detectives following Sept. 11, the firefighter peers through the keyhole opened by the catastrophe and discovers a world of sorrows (child labor, melting icecaps, the works), becoming a man who truly knows too much. Knowledge may be power, but as the history of the post-1968 left in this country suggests, it can also be an excuse for factionalism, impotence, despair.
On a Stroll in Angstville With Dots Disconnected: A review of "I ♥ Huckabees", Directed by David O. Russell (Manohla Dargis, New York Times, 9/30/04).

Posted by David Cohen at 5:25 PM


Kerry losing ground as talk turns to Iraq: Shift in focus from economy distances some Mich. voters (Chris Christoff, Detroit Free Press, 9/30/04)

With President George W. Bush gaining ground with women, Michigan and its 17 electoral votes are now up for grabs, a Free Press poll shows.

The slippage in Sen. John Kerry's advantage with that group occurred as his campaign changed its focus from the economy to criticism of the Iraq war in the last 10 days. . . .

The Free Press poll of 830 Michigan voters shows the race in a statistical tie, similar to two other polls released this week. Kerry leads, 48 percent to 46 percent, among registered voters; Bush leads, 50 percent to 48 percent, among likely voters with the election just five weeks away. [Emphasis added] . . .

While the new poll shows the economy is still the No. 1 issue for Michigan voters, it's the war in Iraq that divides them most, though more now support it. . . .

Allen Cichanski of Ann Arbor spoke of the presidential race with the zeal of the recently converted.

"I've never voted for anyone other than a Democrat since JFK, but I'm going to vote for my first Republican president," said Cichanski, 65, a retired geology professor who said he did some soul-searching to switch party allegiance. "I think the Democrats couldn't have picked a more horrible candidate than John Kerry. I think he's a fraud, particularly with the whole business of terrorists and Iraq.

"He scares the hell out of me. I don't think he wants to win." . . .

The whole point of becoming Dean Lite was to secure the base and avoid a blowout. Of course, that was the whole point of focusing on the economy early. The point of focusing on Vietnam was to show that Kerry was a fighter and to insulate him from criticism on the war. The point of this whole campaign? JFK was born to be president.

Nevertheless, I just know that John Kerry, an intellectual who deigns to be my senator only due to his noble character and concern for those of us less fortunate than himself, is going to mop the floor with the President. George Bush, though undoubtedly a great man who has led us through a perilous time, is an idiot. In this debate, Kerry will put the President away for sure.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:44 PM


Plan Would Let U.S. Deport Suspects to Nations That Might Torture Them (Dana Priest and Charles Babington, September 30, 2004, Washington Post)

The Bush administration is supporting a provision in the House leadership's intelligence reform bill that would allow U.S. authorities to deport certain foreigners to countries where they are likely to be tortured or abused, an action prohibited by the international laws against torture the United States signed 20 years ago.

The provision, part of the massive bill introduced Friday by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), would apply to non-U.S. citizens who are suspected of having links to terrorist organizations but have not been tried on or convicted of any charges. Democrats tried to strike the provision in a daylong House Judiciary Committee meeting, but it survived on a party-line vote.

The provision, human rights advocates said, contradicts pledges President Bush made after the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal erupted this spring that the United States would stand behind the U.N. Convention Against Torture. Hastert spokesman John Feehery said the Justice Department "really wants and supports" the provision.

Let us indulge our natural cynicism for a moment and propose that the GOP's inclusion of this provision and willingness to kick up the controversy indicates exactly what we all suspected: Abu Ghraib was simply not a negative with the American public.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:32 PM


DESPAIRING FOR DARFUR (Eric Reeves, 9/30/04, In These Times)

While there is growing attention to ongoing genocide in Darfur, this has not translated into either a meaningful international response or an accurate rendering of the scale and evident course of the catastrophe. [...]

Current humanitarian requirements for Darfur dictate that the international community provide 40,000 metric tons per month of food and critical non-food items such as medicine, shelter and water purification supplies. However, there isn't half the transport and logistical capacity to meet this monthly need, which is likely to grow for the foreseeable future. (Further, breaks are predicted in the food "pipeline" – a shortfall in food supplies can be predicted on the basis of present resources and projected need.) Rich nations such as France, Italy, Japan, Saudia Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have shamelessly failed to substantially support to the aid effort.

With a woefully inadequate AU force, a meaningless U.N. resolution, and much bombast from various nations trying to substitute unctuous talk for concrete action, the future of Darfur is bleak. As the catastrophe accelerates, the international community has yet to make a meaningful response and the news media has yet to comprehensively render the genocidal realities. Our failure could not be greater.

Noticeable here is the dog that's not barking--the complete absence of any mention of the Administration. This is, of course, a result of the fact that the Administration is leading the struggle the author calls for, a struggle which the Left has been shamefully quiet about rather than join with George Bush and justify the idea of humanitarian intervention. So they wait for France and the UN and the rest of the unreliables while people die in Darfur. There's an important lesson here, but it's being taught at too high a price.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:20 PM


The Vatican Deploys its Divisions in Iraq – Under the Banner of NATO: An interview with Cardinal Sodano and an editorial in "Avvenire" invoke greater military support for Allawi's government and for the emerging Iraqi democracy, through a heavy deployment of troops from the Atlantic Alliance (Sandro Magister, 9/30/04, Chiesa)

The pope and the leaders of the Roman Church did not say it themselves, but they conveyed an unmistakable message. They are strongly in favor of a massive NATO commitment in Iraq, to support the government of Iyad Allawi and to guarantee free elections.

Speaking on their behalf, on the front page of its Sunday, September 26 edition, was the newspaper "Avvenire," which is headed by the Italian bishops' conference and by the organization's president, the pope's cardinal vicar, Camillo Ruini.

In an editorial by the newspaper's leading expert on international policy, Vittorio E. Parsi, a professor at the Catholic University of Milan, "Avvenire" reminded Europe and the West of its "duty" to assure free elections in Iraq, by reinforcing their military presence in the country through "the only body with the necessary resources: NATO."

An editorial so strongly exhortatory, printed on a Sunday on the front page of the bishops' newspaper, cannot be the result of chance. It is born from a decision made at the highest levels of the Church.

That such a decision was brewing could be guessed from a growing number of indications during the days immediately beforehand.

The first indication came on September 20. Cardinal Ruini spoke to the permanent council of the Italian bishops' conference, and repeated the duty of the Christian West to "oppose organized terror with the greatest energy and determination, without giving the slightest impression of considering their blackmail and their impositions," and at the same time, to transform into "our principal allies" the elements of the Muslim world that desire liberty and democracy.

Ruini is known to have been one of the protagonists of the apparent turnaround in Vatican policy on Iraq, in the fall of 2003: from the condemnation and rejection of war to determined support for the presence of western "peacekeeping" troops in the country.

The second indication came on Tuesday, September 21. An appeal was made in the newspaper "Il Foglio" for the Italian government to become a promoter within NATO and the European Union of a massive deployment of the troops of the Atlantic Alliance, "for the time necessary to secure the right of the Iraqis to vote and to select for the first time their parliament, their constitution, and their government."

The appeal was signed by Marta Dassù, the director of the magazine of the Aspen Institute in Italy; Giuliano Ferrara, the director of "Il Foglio"; Piero Ostellino, the former director of "Corriere della Sera," the leading Italian daily; and Vittorio E. Parsi, for "Avvenire." This last name is the most intriguing. Observers of Vatican affairs wondered to what extent, in taking this step, he was reflecting the orientation of pontifical diplomacy.

And the third indication gives an initial response to the question. On Wednesday, September 22, the New York correspondent of the newspaper "La Stampa," Paolo Mastrolilli, published an interview with the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

Sodano was in New York at the time for an international conference on world hunger, as a guest of the Vatican observer at the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore. In the interview, he expressed admiration for the United States and biting criticism of an excessively anti-American and secularist Europe, and also against the "wearing down" of the UN.

He was silent on the theory of preventive war. But he asked that the UN Charter recognize the right to intervene militarily in countries that trample upon human rights.

The opposition of the Vatican and the U.N. to the humanitarian intervention in Iraq damaged the moral credibility of both, but they seem to have recognized that now.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 3:18 PM


Modern evil demands medieval response (John O’Sullivan, Chicago Sun-Times, September 28th, 2004)

Hostage-taking has been a staple tactic of Mideast terrorists since the airline hijackings of the early 1970s. The IRA employed it on both sides of the Irish border. In Latin America kidnapping was started by Marxist terrorists in the 1970s, but since then it has become a profitable commercial business. A hostage is taken every hour in Latin America. The hostage is often a son or daughter of the rich. And the victims are often brutally tortured either to encourage the payment of a ransom or as punishment if it is not paid on time.

Yet 40 years ago hostage-taking seemed a concept from the distant past -- something like slavery and piracy that Victorian imperialists had stopped in their old-fashioned self-righteous way. Like hostage-taking, however, piracy and slavery are making a comeback. Piracy flourishes in parts of southeast Asia, slavery in parts of Africa such as Sudan, and hostage-taking in the Middle East and Latin America.

In general they advance where terrorism has blazed the way by revealing the impotence of law and government when they are not backed by the self-confident application of lawful force. The post-modern world lacks self-confidence and shrinks from using force. It places its trust in treaties and conventions that it enforces only against those who agree in advance to be bound by them. Thus, in the week that its citizens were pleading for their lives in Iraq, the European Union was mainly concerned to prevent Turkey from making adultery a criminal offense -- a droll illustration of "European values."

This high-minded timidity permeates modern culture at high and low levels. For instance, a recent thriller about hostage-taking, "Man on Fire," directed by Tony Scott and based on a novel by A.J. Quinnell, received harsh critical reviews precisely because it seemed to approve of revenge and vigilantism. [...]

But as Bacon pointed out: "Revenge is a kind of wild justice." It will inevitably -- and arguably rightly -- become the resort of decent people when law and government fail to deliver justice. Post-modern governments fail in just that way. Humanitarian bodies such as Amnesty International are even worse: They practice a sort of unilateral civil libertarianism that holds governments to account for the smallest infraction of civil liberty but treats terrorism as a natural disaster. Transnational bodies like the U.N. and the EU are worse -- they seek to take the weapons of war and capital punishment from us in our struggles against terrorism, slavery, piracy and hostage-taking and to force us to rely instead on their own paper resolutions and elevated principles.

All these responses -- from the critical reactions to "Man on Fire" to the E.U.'s prohibition of capital punishment -- are overcivilized. That sounds almost like a compliment, as if it meant more civilized. In fact, to be overcivilized is to be less civilized because genuine civilization includes a robust willingness to enforce its order and truths on anarchy, violence, murder and superstition.

“Pale Ebeneezer thought it wrong to fight,
But Raging Bull, who killed him, thought it right.” (Hilaire Belloc)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:03 PM



Democratic candidate John Kerry's campaign demanded Thursday that the lights signaling when a speaker's time has expired during debates with President Bush be removed from the lecterns because they are distracting, but the commission hosting the debates refused.

An angry exchange between representatives of the Kerry campaign and the Commission on Presidential Debates took place just hours before the candidates were to meet at the University of Miami for the first of three debates, The Associated Press learned. Kerry's team threatened to remove the lights when they visit the debate site with Kerry later in the day.

"We'll bring a screwdriver," said a Kerry aide familiar with what several people called an angry exchange. The commission did not return a call seeking comment.

...sounds like the staff of thousands can't get Cicero to shorten his answers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:59 PM


Kerry under spotlight as his campaign glows to code orange (Caroline Overington, October 1, 2004, Sydney Morning Herald)

There is not a woman alive who will not sympathise with the Democrat John Kerry for doing what he did this week.

Who among us has not done the same thing? That is, made a stupid, stupid decision regarding our appearance right before a very important event.

Senator Kerry, who is trying to win the race for the White House, hit the bottle.

The fake tan bottle. Or perhaps the sun bed, nobody is sure. But whatever, the day before the first TV debate with President George Bush, Kerry turned orange.

Not a little bit orange. His face is like a Halloween pumpkin. Or, as the New York Post put it, Kerry - who is from icy Boston - suddenly has a tan "even George Hamilton would envy".

Everybody has noticed, of course. Talkback callers in the US jumped on the airwaves to have a good chuckle.

The comedian Jay Leno said that Kerry's face was, like a city faced with terrorism, on orange alert. Matt Drudge, who runs the Drudge Report website, wondered whether Kerry had been campaigning too much "in the rust belt".

The tan was so obvious that the Kerry camp - which wants to get back to debating the big issues, like war - was forced to explain it. It said Kerry got the tan by basking in the sun at a football match.

Yeah, the tanning dangers at Lambert Field are notorious...

Knowing that they could turn the Senator into a laughingstock demonstrates, yet again, how smart George Bush and Karl Rove are about politics.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:45 PM


Koreans Seek Regime Change: At a two-day conference, 2,000 pastors call for an end to public executions, concentration camps and starvation under North Korea's Kim Jong Il. (K. Connie Kang, September 29, 2004, LA Times)

With tearful prayers and thunderous singing of "The Battle Hymn of Republic" in Korean, 2,000 Korean pastors from throughout the United States and Canada met in Los Angeles this week to urge an end to the repressive regime of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

Pastors, human rights advocates and defectors from North Korea also prayed for passage of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004. The U.S. Senate late Tuesday passed a slightly amended version of the legislation, approved by the House in July. The measure would compel the United States to, among other things, broaden talks over North Korea's nuclear program to include discussions of human rights abuses. The bill will now return to the House for a final vote. [...]

Though many Korean churches and pastors have worked individually to improve conditions in North Korea by sending food, money and medicine, this was the first widely coordinated effort on the part of Korean Christians in the United States and Canada to focus on the goal, said the Rev. Hee-Min Park, pastor emeritus of Young Nak Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, one of the largest Korean churches in the country.

In the keynote speech, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) called North Koreans "the most helpless people in the world today … trapped in the most brutal system of government the world has ever seen."

No leader in the world is more reliably to be found on the side of the right and the good than Sam Brownback.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:39 PM


Sacred mysteries: Pope who defied liberal forces (Christopher Howse, 25/09/2004, Daily Telegraph)

At dawn on Sept 20, 1870, as the guns of enemy Italians opened up on the walls of Rome, Pope Pius IX invited the diplomatic corps to attend his early morning Mass. Afterwards they were given chocolate and ices as the Pontiff surrendered his army, if not his jurisdiction.

Pope Pius IX is famous for condemning as an error the proposition that: "The Roman Pontiff may and ought to reconcile himself to, and agree with progress, liberalism and modern civilisation."

Looking at the television schedules, one is tempted to say "hear, hear" but television, if he'd known about it, was not the sort of technology of modern civilisation he had in mind. While he still had control of the Papal States, railways were built, telegraphs linked the towns and factories were constructed. Pius IX's enemies were not things but systems of ideas. [...]

Socialism and Communism, which he had condemned as early as 1846, were in his eyes the sponsors of an idolatry that replaced God with human self-sufficiency. This lay behind his two great acts: the declaration of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 - 150 years ago this December - and of Papal Infallibility in 1870. Both are much misunderstood.

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception stated that Mary the Mother of Jesus was without sin from the first moment of her existence.

The day after its promulgation, Pius made a speech in which he stressed the terrible effects of Original Sin, from which Mary was exempt, and the need mankind had for God to reveal himself. This he contrasted to the false claims of rationalism, which saw no need for humanity to be healed.

As for Papal Infallibility, its terms were so restricted that it hardly meant more than that the Church itself was preserved from solemnly teaching erroneous doctrine.

For Pius IX, defining Infallibility meant combatting the third and most dangerous kind of liberalism that threatened the Church he had in his care.

The first had been the political liberalism, secularist republicanism rather than laissez-faire economics, whose armies prevailed. The second was the moral liberalism, sex and drugs, that remains with us.

The third was the emptying of Christian belief of its content. If, as Dr Edward Norman has argued in his latest books, the Catholic Church has retained a mechanism to preserve doctrinal integrity, it is thanks to Pius IX and his successors.

Opponents of progressivism always look bad in their own day but prescient and heroic in retrospect.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:27 PM


Think Again: God-phobic Jews (Jonathan Rosenblum, Sep. 23, 2004, THE JERUSALEM POST)

American Jews live in terror of religious Christians - the kind who tell their elected representatives that America will be judged by its treatment of Israel. (Well-heeled Presbyterians, who have, like most Jews, reduced religion to "good deeds," such as boycotting Israel, trouble them far less.) Every litany of the evils of George W. Bush includes his religiosity.

An August 12 op-ed by Eli Valley of the Steinhardt Foundation's Jewish Life Network perfectly captured American Jewry's anti-Christian phobia and general disdain for religion. The most frightening thing about President Bush, wrote Valley, is that he "has made no secret of his spiritual devotion."

Fundamentalist Christians hope for the conversion of all Jews and thus the end of Jewish religion, warns Valley, and that should make every Jew shudder. Even if the charge were true, it should cause no shudders: Given the phenomenal success of American Jews in ending the Jewish religion through intermarriage and assimilation, there is little left for Christian fundamentalists to do.

It makes no sense, alleges Valley, to fight Islamic fundamentalism with Christian fundamentalism. That would be true, however, only if Christian suicide bombers were seeking to spread the rule of Christendom around the globe. (Two weeks ago, Al Gore used the same clumsy "fundamentalist" brush to link radical Islamists, Orthodox Jews, and George W. Bush.)

Valley further claims that devout Christians, like Bush, are incapable of fact-based reasoning, and implies that their "longing for Apocalypse" leads them to make war. No doubt he believes that. His secular faith thereby spares him the trouble of having to engage the premises of Bush's foreign policy, of which Norman Podhoretz, not generally known as either a Christian fundamentalist or a seeker of Apocalypse, offers a spirited 38-page defense in the current edition of Commentary. Podhoretz cites numerous facts, and makes many rational-sounding arguments: he does not quote Scripture.

American Jews have become positively God-phobic. Pity hapless Cameron Kerry, who promoted his brother to a gathering of Orthodox Jews on the grounds that he would never appoint an attorney-general who begins his work day with prayer. No doubt that line was a surefire winner with secular Jewish groups. How was Kerry, a Reform convert, to know that Orthodox Jews begin and end their day in the same way?

For fear of aiding and abetting religion, major Jewish organizations, including the Reform movement, consistently adopt the most extreme positions on separation of state and religion.

Now on DVD: The Passion of the Bush (Frank Rich, 10/03/04, NY Times)
Of the many cultural grenades being tossed that day, though, the one must-see is "George W. Bush: Faith in the White House," a DVD that is being specifically marketed in "head to head" partisan opposition to "Fahrenheit 9/11." This documentary first surfaced at the Republican convention in New York, where it was previewed in tandem with an invitation-only, no-press-allowed "Family, Faith and Freedom Rally," a Ralph Reed-Sam Brownback jamboree thrown by the Bush campaign for Christian conservatives. Though you can buy the DVD for $14.95, its makers told the right-wing news service that they plan to distribute 300,000 copies to America's churches. And no wonder. This movie aspires to be "The Passion of the Bush," and it succeeds.

More than any other campaign artifact, it clarifies the hard-knuckles rationale of the president's vote-for-me-or-face-Armageddon re-election message. It transforms the president that the Democrats deride as a "fortunate son" of privilege into a prodigal son with the "moral clarity of an old-fashioned biblical prophet." Its Bush is not merely a sincere man of faith but God's essential and irreplaceable warrior on Earth. The stations of his cross are burnished into cinematic fable: the misspent youth, the hard drinking (a thirst that came from "a throat full of Texas dust"), the fateful 40th-birthday hangover in Colorado Springs, the walk on the beach with Billy Graham. A towheaded child actor bathed in the golden light of an off-camera halo re-enacts the young George comforting his mom after the death of his sister; it's a parable anticipating the future president's miraculous ability to comfort us all after 9/11. An older Bush impersonator is seen rebuffing a sexual come-on from a fellow Bush-Quayle campaign worker hovering by a Xerox machine in 1988; it's an effort to imbue our born-again savior with retroactive chastity. As for the actual president, he is shown with a flag for a backdrop in a split-screen tableau with Jesus. The message isn't subtle: they were separated at birth. [...]

"Will George W. Bush be allowed to finish the battle against the forces of evil that threaten our very existence?" Such is the portentous question posed at the film's conclusion by its narrator, the religious broadcaster Janet Parshall, beloved by some for her ecumenical generosity in inviting Jews for Jesus onto her radio show during the High Holidays. Anyone who stands in the way of Mr. Bush completing his godly battle, of course, is a heretic. Facts on the ground in Iraq don't matter. Rational arguments mustered in presidential debates don't matter. Logic of any kind is a nonstarter. The president - who after 9/11 called the war on terrorism a "crusade," until protests forced the White House to backpedal - is divine. He may not hear "voices" instructing him on policy, testifies Stephen Mansfield, the author of one of the movie's source texts, "The Faith of George W. Bush," but he does act on "promptings" from God. "I think we went into Iraq not so much because there were weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Mansfield has explained elsewhere, "but because Bush had concluded that Saddam Hussein was an evildoer" in the battle "between good and evil." So why didn't we go into those other countries in the axis of evil, North Korea or Iran? Never mind. To ask such questions is to be against God and "with the terrorists."

The propagandists of "Faith in the White House" argue, as others have, that the president's invocation of religion in the public sphere, from his citation of Jesus as his favorite "political philosopher" to his incessant invocation of the Almighty in talking about how everything is coming up roses in Iraq, is consistent with the civic spirituality practiced by his antecedents, from the founding fathers to Bill Clinton. It's not. Past presidents have rarely, if ever, claimed such godlike infallibility. Mr. Bush never admits to making a mistake; even his premature "Mission Accomplished" victory lap wasn't in error, as he recently told Bill O'Reilly. After all, if you believe "God wants me to be president" - a quote attributed to Mr. Bush by the Rev. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention - it's a given that you are incapable of making mistakes. Those who say you have are by definition committing blasphemy. A God-appointed leader even has the power to rewrite His texts. Jim Wallis, the liberal evangelical author, has pointed out Mr. Bush's habit of rejiggering specific scriptural citations so that, say, the light shining into the darkness is no longer God's light but America's and, by inference, the president's own.

It's not just Mr. Bush's self-deification that separates him from the likes of Lincoln, however; it's his chosen fashion of Christianity. The president didn't revive the word "crusade" idly in the fall of 2001. His view of faith as a Manichaean scheme of blacks and whites to be acted out in a perpetual war against evil is synergistic with the violent poetics of the best-selling "Left Behind" novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins and Mel Gibson's cinematic bloodfest. The majority of Christian Americans may not agree with this apocalyptic worldview, but there's a big market for it. A Newsweek poll shows that 17 percent of Americans expect the world to end in their lifetime. To Karl Rove and company, that 17 percent is otherwise known as "the base." [...]

The re-election juggernaut has not only rounded up the membership rosters of churches en masse but quietly mounted official Web sites like as well. (Evangelicals and Mormons have their own Web variants on this same theme, but not the Jews, who are apparently getting in Kerry just what they deserve.)

What's interesting about Mr. Rich's column is not its, typical for him, hysterical claim that evangelical Christianity is de facto anti-Semitism, but that the Times apparently finds his ravings important enough to be released several days early, as if he might affect our perceptions of the debate tonight or something.

-REVIEW: of George W. Bush: Faith in the White House (Mark Moring, 08/24/04, Christianity Today)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:58 PM


Kerry's myth making (Robert Novak, September 30, 2004, Townhall)

John Kerry in a press conference last week repeated his accusation that Gen. Eric Shinseki was "forced out" as U.S. Army chief of staff because he wanted more troops for Iraq. The trouble is that the Democratic presidential nominee was spreading an urban myth. The bigger trouble is that it was no isolated incident.

Sen. Kerry last week also said the Bush administration may push reinstatement of the military draft, when in fact that idea comes only from anti-war Democrats. At the same time, he said retired Gen. Tommy Franks complained that Iraq was draining troops from Afghanistan, when the truth is he never did. Over a week earlier, Kerry blamed Bush for higher Medicare premiums when in fact they are mandated by law (one that Kerry voted for).

Exaggeration is a familiar political staple, but presidential candidates usually are held to a higher standard. Kerry's recent descent into myth making may reflect the campaign's anxiety in the final weeks. The immediate questions are whether he will engage in misstatements during Thursday's first presidential debate, and whether he will be challenged if he does.

Wasn't this inevitable? After all, Senator Kerry has channeled every other disastrous Democratic candidate of the past 36 years, he had to get to Gore sooner or later.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:47 PM


Human populations are tightly interwoven: Family tree shows our common ancestor lived just 3,500 years ago. (Michael Hopkin, 29 September 2004, Nature)

The most recent common ancestor of all humanity lived just a few thousand years ago, according to a computer model of our family tree. Researchers have calculated that the mystery person, from whom everyone alive today is directly descended, probably lived around 1,500 BC in eastern Asia.

Douglas Rohde of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and his colleagues devised the computer program to simulate the migration and breeding of humans across the world. By estimating how different groups intermingle, the researchers built up a picture of how tightly the world's ancestral lines are linked.

The figure of 1,500 BC might sound surprisingly recent. But think how wide your own family tree would be if you extended it back that far. Lurking somewhere in your many hundreds of ancestors at that date is likely to be somebody who crops up in the corresponding family tree for anyone alive in 2004.

In fact, if it were not for the fact that oceans helped to keep populations apart, the human race would have mingled even more freely, the researchers argue. "The most recent common ancestor for a randomly mating population would have lived in the very recent past," they write in this week's Nature.

Presumably science will eventually figure out something that wasn't known by our ancestors millennia ago, but don't hold your breath. All the really big "breakthroughs" eventually end up back where we started--from the Big Bang, to Creation, to Geocentrism.

Posted by David Cohen at 12:12 PM


House votes to end D.C. gun ban: Bill's supporters cite 2nd Amendment rights; city officials fear rise in crime (Jim Abrams, AP, Chicago Tribune, 9/30/04)

The House voted Wednesday to end a 28-year ban on handgun ownership in the nation's capital, brushing aside pleas from city officials concerned about a surge in violence and more heavily armed criminals.

"The District of Columbia handgun ban has failed. It has failed miserably," said Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), sponsor of the bill that passed 250-171.

It is unlikely the Senate will take up the measure this year. . . .

"This is absolutely crazy," said Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), whose husband was killed and son wounded in 1993 by a gunman on a Long Island Rail Road train.

We may be stupid, but we're not crazy. This, on the other hand, is brilliant.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:11 AM


Why Bush Looks Good to Women (Margaret Carlson, September 30, 2004, LA Times)

Freud, on his deathbed, asked, "What do women want?" The improbable answer, it now seems, may be George W. Bush.

According to pollsters, the gender gap that usually helps Democrats is shrinking. The reason may be as simple as Bush himself: Post-9/11 pollsters say women prefer certitude and clarity to nuance and verbosity, staying alive to after-school programs. Democrats wail at the loss of their usual edge with women, at the irony of the National Guard slacker beating the Silver Star warrior on the issue of strength. But bluster and repetition have apparently prevailed, especially when John Kerry has said both so much and so little. Hard to read, Kerry has let Bush and his evil genius, Karl Rove — the architect of his political life — fill in the blanks.

I don't buy Bush's strength, but in a campaign it doesn't matter what is real and what is fake; it's what will fly. Tonight, Kerry has a chance to press his case with women, notoriously late deciders with a long attention span and good impulse control. Though errant female voters are gettable for Kerry, it won't be easy. There are some troublesome biographical points. Marrying one woman vastly wealthier than you are looks like good fortune in matters of the heart. Marrying a second one looks like a calculated career move. Kerry's hooded eyes make him look like a brooder, but not the strong, silent type. At a totally superficial level, that orange tan is troublesome. Across the political spectrum, women do not trust a primper.

As any good cabana boy knows, all women want the same thing: a good foot rub. Unfortunately for the Senator, there isn't time to get to every female pair of feet in America by November 2nd.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:28 AM


Colombia's president cites progress: The president of Colombia touted progress at a Miami trade fair that brought together potential American investors and Colombian ventures. (MICHAEL A.W. OTTEY, 9/30/04, Miami Herald)

Midway through his term in office, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Vélez says that his country still has some pressing internal challenges but that it has made great strides, particularly with the economy.

During remarks to reporters at a trade forum Wednesday in Miami, Uribe proudly cited an 18.6 percent increase in exports as a hallmark of Colombia's growth.

The trade conference, titled Proexport Colombia, brought together more than 600 Colombian business ventures and 250 potential American investors at the Hotel InterContinental.

Maurício Gómez, trade commissioner for the Colombian Government Trade Bureau, called the fair important for both countries' economies. A similar one was held in Cartagena, Colombia, earlier in the year. Gómez noted that such companies as JCPenney, Gap, Sysco, Kmart, Old Navy and Be, Bath & Beyond had expressed interest.

''There are many expectations from both countries, as they are targeting to exceed the amount of business from the last event,'' Gómez said in a statement.

Last year, the United States, Colombia's largest trading partner, took in 44 percent of the South American nation's exports and sent 38 percent of its goods there.

The United States is also Colombia's largest foreign investor, providing an estimated $5.7 billion in direct investment, according to the Colombian Government Trade Bureau in Washington.

Colombia exports coffee, cut flowers, oil and petroleum products, bananas and other goods. It imports from the United States electronics, machinery and such agricultural goods as wheat and corn.

But Colombia is also the conduit for most of the illicit drugs that reach the United States. According to the State Department, 75 percent of the world's cocaine production and 90 percent of the cocaine that enters the United States comes from there.

Even on that front, Uribe said, there have been reductions. With the crackdown -- with help from the United States -- even kidnappings have been reduced, he said.

There's still a long way to go but President Uribe, an unsung hero, is forging a success in both the war on drugs and the war on terror at one of the key points where they meet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 AM


Aeroflot ... we have take-off (CHRIS STEPHEN, 9/30/04, The Scotsman)

FOR years it was a symbol of the cold, grey face Russia showed to the outside world, with cramped planes, a terrible safety record and frowning stewardesses.

But now the Russian airline Aeroflot insists it has changed its spots - with a little help from a British PR firm.

In a makeover of ambitious proportions, the airline has spruced up its planes, service and reliability, and insists the old service-with-a-scowl is a thing of the past.

The task was not an easy one. Until now, Aeroflot has had a well-deserved reputation as a Communist-era theme park with clunky planes that nobody trusted to stay in the air.

It is often said that an airline’s personality reflects its country - think Lufthansa’s lumbering German efficiency or Alitalia’s maddening Italian chaos.

Aeroflot’s fate is to track Russia’s many changes. Bright and hopeful at its formation in 1923, its stagnation began soon afterwards and gave the airline the reputation it has struggled to shake off. [...]

With the nation’s economy, if not its politics, now on an even keel, tough new managers have joined the airline.

They have slashed dozens of unprofitable routes, kept open from the days of the Soviet Union to former satellite countries.

Passenger numbers are up, the airline is now in the black and it harbours hopes of luring foreigners deep into the largest country in the world. This summer, Aeroflot squeezed into the top ten index of the world’s most profitable airlines, and Air France has begun talks about forming an alliance.

By contrast, many western airlines are mired in debt and a few teeter on bankruptcy.

Mr Duffy is impressed. "I fly Aeroflot 25 to 30 times a year and I have noticed a huge difference," he said.

It was always amusing that folk who wouldn't fly Aeroflot at gunpoint were convinced the Soviets military machine was functional.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 AM

WE MIGHT EVEN WIN THIS ONE (via Michael Herdegen):

History Can Offer Bush Hope ... (Max Boot, September 23, 2004, LA Times)

Lest we be too hard on Bush, it's useful to recall the travails of the nation's two most successful commanders in chief, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.

Lincoln is remembered, of course, for winning the Civil War and freeing the slaves. We tend to forget that along the way he lost more battles than any other president: First and Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Chickamauga…. The list of federal defeats was long and dispiriting. So was the list of federal victories (e.g., Antietam, Gettysburg) that could have been exploited to shorten the conflict, but weren't.

As the Union's fortunes fell, opponents tarred Lincoln with invective that might make even Michael Moore blush. Harper's magazine called him a "despot, liar, thief, braggart, buffoon, usurper, monster, ignoramus." As late as the summer of 1864, Lincoln appeared likely to lose his bid for reelection. Only the fall of Atlanta on Sept. 2 saved his presidency.

Most of the Union's failures were because of inept generalship, but it was Lincoln who chose the generals, including many political appointees with scant military experience. He ultimately won the war only by backing Ulysses Grant's brutal attritional tactics that have often been criticized as sheer butchery.

Roosevelt had more than his share of mistakes too, the most notorious being his failure to prevent the attack on Pearl Harbor, even though U.S. code breakers had given him better intelligence than Bush had before Sept. 11. FDR also did not do enough to prepare the armed forces for war, and then pushed them into early offensives at Guadalcanal and North Africa that took a heavy toll on inexperienced troops. At Kasserine Pass, Tunisia, in 1943, the U.S. Army was mauled by veteran German units, losing more than 6,000 soldiers.

The Allies went on to win the war but still suffered many snafus, such as Operation Market Garden, a failed airborne assault on Holland in September 1944, and the Battle of the Bulge three months later, when a massive German onslaught in the Ardennes caught U.S. troops napping.

Though FDR bore only indirect responsibility for most of these screw-ups, he was more directly culpable for other bad calls, such as the decision to detain 120,000 Japanese Americans without any proof of their disloyalty. Like Lincoln, who jailed suspected Southern sympathizers without trial, Roosevelt was guilty of civil liberties restrictions that were light-years beyond the Patriot Act. And, like Bush, Roosevelt didn't do enough to prepare for the postwar period. His failure to occupy more of Eastern Europe before the Red Army arrived consigned millions to tyranny; his failure to plan for the future of Korea and Vietnam after the Japanese left helped lead to two wars that killed 100,000 Americans.

None of this is meant in any way to denigrate the inspired leadership of two great presidents. Both Lincoln and Roosevelt were brilliant wartime leaders precisely because they were able to overcome adversity and inspire the country toward ultimate victory with their unflagging will to win. That's what Bush is trying to do today.

Considering that the post-Civil War period resulted in blacks living in virtual servitude and true apartheid and that the post-WWII period ended with all of Eastern Europe, including half of supposedly liberated Germany, and much of Asia under Communism it's impossible to imagine that President Bush will fail as badly as did his predecessors.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 AM


How Would a Computer Pick the Prez? (Nelson Hernandez, Sr., 09/29/2004, Tech Central Station)

TCS contributor Douglas Kern's recent article ("President Elect - 2004") regarding the success of Commodore 64-era political game President Elect 1988 in predicting elections prompted a search by TCS staff for the designer/programmer of that game, Nelson Hernandez, Sr. We tracked him down. In this article, the man who banged out the original BASIC source code in 1981 on his Apple II+ computer explains who he thinks will win -- and why.

-- The editors

My comments on Doug Kern's experimentation with my game must be general; a detailed critique of his methodology would be an impenetrably esoteric discussion for most readers. But the main point I would like to make is that the game indeed projected the 1988 election with uncanny success well in advance, but it cannot be applied to the 2004 election.

In real life as well as in President Elect 1988, each presidential election takes place within a certain contextual background wherein the electorate subjectively evaluates the relative success or failure of the incumbent party, which is then politically rewarded or punished. In every election cycle the voting population arrives at a collective answer to candidate Reagan's famous 1980 debate question, "are you better off today than you were four years ago" well before the election takes place. PE 1988 knew the actual situation in 1984 with perfect hindsight and could quantify the incumbent party's relative success or failure in 1988 based on hypothetical economic/situational inputs using a fairly simple mathematical formula I created to compare the current overall "state of the union" to what it was in the previous election.

However using PE 1988 to project 2004 is problematic because the economic and national security/foreign situation inputs Kern was plugging for 2004 were being compared to the state of the union in 1984 instead of the one which prevailed in 2000. This mismatch alone renders his experiment moot.

Mr. Hernandez then sort of runs the experiment himself--interesting...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 AM


Waiting for Kerry's Big Finish to Start (Tina Brown, September 30, 2004, Washington Post)

On the eve of the debates people are so on edge in New York that every gathering has become like a visit to the dentist. In this town of Democrats, Karl Rove's real or imagined brilliance has got people dangerously psyched out. Someone in a group always produces some new vulnerability of Kerry's to drill down on, some fresh tactical error to palpitate about.

An expectation reversal has been going on that's strange to find among a candidate's own supporters. Even without the goring Bush has given him all summer, Kerry has lowered opinions of his campaigning skills so far that he now has to make a comeback tonight just to keep his own side happy. With George Stephanopoulos on ABC last Sunday, the usually fierce congressman and former Clinton switchblade Rahm Emanuel looked so distracted and unhappy defending Kerry's war positions against Republican mouth Stuart Stevens that I half expected him to excuse himself in the middle of the show and catch a flight back to Chicago.

With all the mythology about Kerry's gift of coming from behind, New Yorkers are watching and hoping like fundamentalists awaiting the rapture. "What will it be like?" they ask one another. A mysterious subtle transformation of will that suffuses Kerry with winner's luck? A defining moment when he soothes his wounded honor with a shaft of killing wit that at last unmasks Bush? If so, could it please happen in prime time tonight? (Maybe, just in case, Kerry should wear cowboy boots to reduce the president still further to the size of Dr. Ruth.)

Among the big-donor crowd, the good-closer cliche has worn out its welcome. They have had it with reading in the New York Times that the past two months of flubs were part of some weird subliminal strategy. Who does Kerry think he is? Bob Dylan? Enough already with the near-death experiences. Mr. Closer, give us closure.

On the bright side, Mr. Kerry has lowered expectations so far in advance of tonight's first debate that the only way he can really mess up is to be himself.

Meanwhile, it's easy enough to close as well as he did in '96. Bump Edwards and take his vp slot. Put Bill Clinton in the presidential slot. After you win have Clinton step down--to avoid the constitutional problem--and take back the top slot.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 AM


Old Democrat pick-up lines aren't working on women (Collin Levey, 9/30/04, The Seattle Times

If the Democrats are looking for a good campaign manual for the first presidential debate, they might consider Emily Post. The women's vote isn't behaving the way it's "supposed to." Maybe the problem's with the theory.

After weeks of watching President Bush's post-convention lead widen, John Kerry got his latest hint of rejection from the damsels Democrats have taken for granted for the past few elections: Across the country, the ballyhooed gender gap has narrowed and, in some places, disappeared.

So ladies are now set to get what you might call a thoroughly modern courtship from the Democrats — quick and dirty. "Sen. Romeo" from North Carolina has been dispatched to lunch with women's groups and, well, no one imagines Kerry acquired that sunny glow for the fellas. Minivan moms, start your engines.

Kerry has been going "Live with Regis and Kelly" and heading to a Redbook luncheon (cookie recipe forthcoming?). And Democrats like former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry have predicted that Kerry will aim for some nice soft tones in tonight's debate, since women don't like to see bullies like Al Gore wandering and huffing about.

Not to say it can't be done, but it takes a pretty deft hand to attack your opponent's record relentlessly and appear to be a nice guy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:44 AM


The Enthusiasm Gap: Also: The (Other) Great Divides; Poll Vault: A Hurricane Preparedness Tip (Richard Morin and Christopher Muste, September 30, 2004, Washington Post)

Forget the gender gap. The chasm that yawns the widest this election year is the Enthusiasm Gap.

Nearly two in three likely voters who support President Bush -- 65 percent -- said they were "very enthusiastic" about their candidate while 42 percent of Sen. John F. Kerry's supporters express similarly high levels of enthusiasm for their choice, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News Poll.

That's a 23-point difference in relative excitement. Although the polling record is incomplete for earlier elections, the available data suggest that the enthusiasm gap in the 2000 presidential campaign was negligible, at best.

In an election in which turnout is key, keeping the faithful energized is one of the most critical challenges facing Kerry as he approaches the first presidential debate tonight. Not only must he convince the small number of persuadable voters who currently support Bush to switch their vote, but he also must re-energize his own supporters to ensure that they turn out on Election Day.

While the enthusiasm gap is apparent across most key voting blocks, nowhere is it more striking than in the way that political conservatives, moderates and liberals view their respective choices.

Bush's conservative base is broadly enthusiastic about the president while political liberals are noticeably cooler to Kerry.

And so, after years of stories about Bush's base problems, we get the: "nevermind."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:35 AM


Kerry's Shaky Take on the War: He's missing the big picture. (Max Boot, September 30, 2004, LA Times)

Now that he's decided to close the campaign as Howard-Dean-with-a-Silver-Star, John Kerry is claiming that the war he voted to authorize in Iraq is a "profound diversion" from the things that really matter — Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, even an alleged lack of firehouses in the United States. The implication is that if only we hadn't gotten involved in Iraq, the rest of the world would be in much better shape. This is a highly debatable proposition, and it is an area where President Bush should try to pin down his slippery adversary.

Part of what Kerry says is sheer demagoguery. He castigates Bush for spending $200 billion (actually $130 billion, but who's counting?) in Iraq and not spending it at home for schools, healthcare, firefighters and no doubt free treats for good little girls and boys. Yet in the next breath, Kerry attacks Bush for being profligate, period. Which is it? Is Bush spending too much or too little? It's hard to believe Kerry is serious in any case; this is merely pandering to leftist isolationism.

Kerry is on firmer ground when he suggests that Bush has allowed "the urgent nuclear dangers in North Korea and Iran … to mount on his presidential watch." True, and if one advocated a get-tough policy with Pyongyang and Tehran, the fact that 130,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq might be an impediment. (Or they might help boost the pressure on next-door Iran.) But Kerry doesn't advocate such a policy. He wants to sign a generous deal that would pay these rogue states not to produce nukes. Appeasement hardly requires military muscle.

What of Kerry's claim that Bush was so focused on Iraq that he let Al Qaeda run wild? Actually, two-thirds of Al Qaeda's senior leadership has been caught or killed. And the U.S. is getting more cooperation in fighting terrorism now than it did before 9/11, even from states that aren't fans of the Iraq war. Look at the big roundups of Al Qaeda suspects recently in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. As French Arabist Gilles Kepel argues in a new book, the jihadists are losing their war to gain control of the Muslim world.

What could be more delightful than the reliance of the War Party on a Frenchman?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:30 AM


Church's Clout Ascends in Russia: A political player again, and independent for the first time, the institution seeks its proper role. An art exhibit prosecution illustrates its muscle. (Kim Murphy, September 30, 2004, LA TImes)

When the well-known Sakharov Museum broached the subject of religion in an art exhibit, no one was surprised that an outcry followed.

After all, one work featured an icon into which viewers could insert their heads. Another superimposed Christ on a Coca-Cola logo with the words, "This is My Blood."

Followers of a local priest vandalized the exhibit with spray paint. The Russian parliament voted to condemn the display and urged the authorities to "take necessary measures." President Vladimir V. Putin's spiritual advisor, Father Tikhon Shevkunov, called the artists "disease-carrying bacteria" against whom "society is using antigens."

Ultimately, the power of the state was brought to bear against a museum that has stood as a symbol of challenge to Soviet-era repression and religious persecution. Sakharov Museum director Yuri Samodurov is scheduled today to go on trial in a Moscow courtroom, accused with two other exhibit organizers of "inciting ethnic or religious hatred."

The case has attracted only a smattering of controversy in Russia, where an attack on the Orthodox Church is seen by many as a body blow to the Russian polity.

Stripped of its assets and persecuted for 70 years under atheist Soviet rule, the church of the Russian czars has once again become a key political player in Russia — one of the few civil institutions able to claim a following across the nation's far-flung landscape.

In a survey this year, 71% of Russians identified themselves as Orthodox, and more than half said they considered their religion important or very important. The church sponsors its own magazine, its own radio station and until recently had its own program on state television.

It indirectly controls at least 40 deputies in the parliament, who this week successfully carried a bill that will guarantee the church the free use of tens of millions of dollars worth of state property on which church buildings stand.

Perhaps most important, the church has a believer in Putin, though his motives have been questioned. Unlike his predecessor, Boris N. Yeltsin, who was considered a poseur every time he clutched a candle and headed toward an altar for the TV cameras, Putin has his own Orthodox priest to whom he confesses.

If Putin is serious about strengthening countervailing institutions like the Church then his authoritarianism can be the basis for Russian revival.

September 29, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:18 PM


Syria 'to seal' border with Iraq (BBC, 9/29/04)

The US says Syria has agreed to tighten its border with Iraq to prevent militants from crossing the border. [...]

The US seems to have achieved its aim of moving on from political promises to specific practical measures Syria has agreed to take, the BBC's State Department correspondent Jill McGivering reports.

This follows directly from an apparent breakthrough last week at a meeting between Mr Powell and the Syrian foreign minister, our correspondent says.

Washington may feel it has some real leverage at the moment on Damascus, which currently appears particularly isolated, with new UN pressure over its presence in Lebanon, analysts say.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:59 PM


Italy debates the cost of freeing hostages: Some fear consequences of alleged ransom payment. (Sophie Arie, 9/30/04, CS Monitor)

Euphoria still lingers in the air after the triumphant homecoming of two Italian aid workers held hostage in Iraq. But concern intensified Wednesday that by saving the "two Simonas," Italy may have inspired a whole new phase of kidnapping in Iraq, sending a message to criminal gangs that western hostages are worth millions of dollars.

Amid reports that at least $1 million was paid for the release of Simona Pari and Simona Parretta after 21 days of agonizing negotiations with their captors, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said only that the government made "a very difficult choice."

But Gustavo Selva, chairman of parliament's foreign affairs committee, confirmed that the two women were saved by cash. "The lives of the girls was the most important thing," Mr. Selva said in an interview with France's RTL radio.

"In principle, we shouldn't give in to blackmail but this time we had to, although it's a dangerous path to take because, obviously, it could encourage others to take hostages, either for political reasons or for criminal reasons," he said.

The Europeans are so craven you can sometimes almost understand why al Qaeda thinks it could win. Imagine how bewildered they'll be though when George Bush easily wins a mandate to keep whupping up on them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:56 PM


Words matter: How Bush speaks in religious code (Bruce Lincoln , September 12, 2004, Boston Globe)

George W. Bush believes God has called him to be president. You won't hear him say so openly, of course, but he regularly conveys this to a core constituency -- the religious right. [...]

Twelve times Bush used the phrase "I believe," many more than any other. Sometimes it meant only "I hold this opinion," and sometimes it marked a profession of faith. But repetition hammered home the crucial point: Bush is a man who believes.

Two of these beliefs were meant to justify his wars as holy. The first -- "I believe that America is called to lead the cause of freedom in a new century" -- prompts a question: Called by whom? The second helps answer that query: "I believe freedom is not America's gift to the world, it is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman." And, a bit later: "Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom."

In the course of his speech, the president thus suggested he is a pious man, called to lead a righteous nation. Like the nation itself, he is committed to a sacred cause and is guided in all things by his Christian faith. His sole concern in Iraq -- so he insists -- is to spread freedom, and in doing this he serves the Almighty. If you heard that and can accept it, it must be terribly reassuring.

Rather less comforting is the realization that Bush is selling his dubious war to the base he has skillfully courted for years, which he knows to be credulous, fiercely patriotic, and enormously loyal.

What do you expect? Senator Kerry already has the cynical, unpatriotic, disloyal vote wrapped up.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:42 PM


Bush gains ground in Fla.; Kerry leads in Ohio (USA Today, 9/29/04)

Likely Voters

FL Sep 24-27 OH Sep 25-28 PA Sep 25-28

Kerry/Edwards (D) 43 47 46

Bush/Cheney (R) 52 49 49

Ahead in PA and FL isn't even competitive.

With Bush Advancing, Missouri May Be a Battleground All but Conquered (R. W. APPLE Jr., Sept. 29, 2004, NY Times)

Is Missouri a swing state that has already swung? So it seems to many people here on the eve of the first presidential debate.

John Kerry has not visited the state in nearly three weeks and may not be back, local Democrats say, until the second debate, scheduled for Oct. 8 at Washington University in St. Louis. This is no accident of scheduling.

Its 11 electoral votes are certainly a prize worth winning, and Missouri was listed as a battleground state by both parties as the campaign began. It has symbolic significance as well. In every presidential election over the last century, with the single exception of 1956, Missouri has gone with the winner, usually by a margin closely approximating the national figure.

-Bush's lead stronger, poll says: Kerry behind by 10 points in state, according to Harris (ALAN J. BORSUK, Sep. 29, 2004, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Evidence that President Bush has moved into a notable lead over Sen. John Kerry in the important Wisconsin presidential contest increased Wednesday with the release of a fresh poll.

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, a local think tank, released a poll it commissioned by Harris Interactive, a major national polling organization, that found the Republican incumbent with a 10 percentage point lead over his Democratic challenger, 50% to 40%, with Ralph Nader - whose presence on the actual Wisconsin ballot remains uncertain - with 6%. The poll was conducted between Sept. 22 and Sunday.

The poll results were in line with others released recently that showed Bush with a lead in Wisconsin, including a Badger Poll done in cooperation with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from Sept. 15 to 21 that had Bush up by 14 points and an ABC News poll from Sept. 16 to 19 that had Bush up by 10 points.

Double digits is trouble for Russ Feingold.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:31 PM


Why I will vote for John Kerry for President (JOHN EISENHOWER, 9/29/04, Manchester Union Leader)

As son of a Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, it is automatically expected by many that I am a Republican. For 50 years, through the election of 2000, I was. With the current administration’s decision to invade Iraq unilaterally, however, I changed my voter registration to independent, and barring some utterly unforeseen development, I intend to vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry. [...]

The Republican Party I used to know placed heavy emphasis on fiscal responsibility, which included balancing the budget whenever the state of the economy allowed it to do so.

Today's Republican Party is indeed not one that emphasizes green eyeshade budgeting. Rather it is devoted to the extension of liberty at home and abroad.

President Eisenhower inherited two great challenges to freedom when he ended the Democrats twenty year hammerlock on the presidency: the statist accretions of the New Deal and the massive Communist empire. He did nothing about either of them, choosing peaceful accommodation with both. In effect he pushed the final reckonings onto succeeding generations at a terrible cost in lives, money, and damage to our own society. His administration was merely the deceptive eye of the storm.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 PM


Cheney changed his view on Iraq: He said in '92 Saddam not worth U.S. casualties (CHARLES POPE, September 29, 2004, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER)

In an assessment that differs sharply with his view today, Dick Cheney more than a decade ago defended the decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power after the first Gulf War, telling a Seattle audience that capturing Saddam wouldn't be worth additional U.S. casualties or the risk of getting "bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."

Cheney, who was secretary of defense at the time, made the observations answering audience questions after a speech to the Discovery Institute in August 1992, nearly 18 months after U.S. forces routed the Iraqi army and liberated Kuwait.

President George H.W. Bush was criticized for pulling out before U.S. forces could storm Baghdad, allowing Saddam to remain in power and eventually setting the stage for the invasion of Iraq ordered by his son, President George W. Bush, in March 2003.

The comments Cheney made more than a decade ago in a little-publicized appearance have acquired new relevance as he and Bush run for a second term. A central theme of their campaign has been their unflinching, unchanging approach toward Iraq and the shifting positions offered by Democratic nominee John Kerry.

They're just figuring out now that Dick Cheney thinks he made a mistake leaving Saddam in power in '91?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 PM


Lynne Cheney Jokes About Kerry's Tan (AP, Sep 29, 2004)

Something about Sen. John Kerry's darker appearance has caught Lynne Cheney's eye.

During a campaign stop with her husband, a group of volunteers moved into the crowd with microphones for the question-and-answer period. Vice President Dick Cheney told supporters to look for the people with dark orange shirts.

When Cheney paused as if searching for the words to describe the shade of orange, Lynne Cheney said, "How about John Kerry's suntan?"

The remark drew a big laugh from the crowd and the vice president.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:18 PM


Louisville Slugger: The lumber that still powers our national pastime. (SCOTT OLDHAM, September 1999, Popular Mechanics)

This year, H&B will make 1.4 million wood Louisville Slugger bats for professional and amateur use (and over 1 million aluminum bats). That's 70 to 80 percent of the retail market. Each wood bat is made from white ash grown on 5000 acres of company-owned forest in Pennsylvania and New York. Why ash? Because it has just the proper amount of tensile strength and resiliency. And the weight of ash is also favorable. Hickory and maple have been tried over the years but they've proven too dense.

So how is a wood Louisville Slugger bat made? Pretty much the same as it was 115 years ago. First a tree, usually between 40 and 60 years old, is chosen and cut. Although Major League Baseball rules state that bat size is limited to 42 in. in length and 2 3/4 in. in diameter, nobody uses a bat that long. So the tree is cut into 40-in.-long sections that are then cut into several cylinder-shaped 3-in.-dia. billets. The billets are dried in kilns for six to eight weeks before they are shipped to one of the company's three wood bat factories–to the Louisville site where all the adult-size and professional bats are turned, or to Ellicottville, N.Y., or Troy, Pa., where the company makes its wood youth and softball bats.

At the factory, a billet is placed in one of three types of lathes–a tracer lathe (all professional bats), a backnife lathe (adult bats) or an automatic lathe (all youth and softball bats)–where it is cut down to the bat shape. In the case of the tracer lathe, a flat metal guide, or pattern, in the shape of the bat being made, is placed in the lathe. The cutting tool follows the shape of the pattern as it cuts the wood.

Major league players all have their own bat shape and weight preferences, so each player's bat is different. And most players use several different bats over the course of their careers–or even during the season. Each bat model is assigned a model number. For instance, Babe Ruth's bats, model No. R43, varied over the years from 35 to 36 in. in length and 36 to 47 ounces. The very heavy 47-ouncer was for spring training only. Lou Gehrig's bat, 34 in. long and a fairly heavy 39 ounces, was model No. G69. By contrast, today Tony Gwynn uses a featherweight 33-in., 30 1/2-ounce bat, model No. B276C (the C means it is cupped at the end). Each model number is kept on file forever.

Hand-turning bats without a pattern guide, once the only method used, is too time-consuming, expensive and imprecise. But guys like Danny Luckett still hand-turn occasionally to demonstrate the technique to tour groups visiting the Louisville plant.

Once a bat has taken shape, the bat maker sands down the nub on the bat's thin end with 80-grit sandpaper. Then it is passed on to the brander to burn in the Louisville Slugger logo. Next, the entire bat is sanded and then finished if the bat has been ordered with a natural or flame-burned finish.

Some players want a flashier look and order special finishes. Harry "The Hat" Walker, 1947 batting champion with the St. Louis Cardinals, liked two-tone bats. The treatment is now called "The Walker Finish." The black 34-incher used by New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter goes to the sander first, then to the hand dip line for the coloring and finally to the foil brander where it receives gold lettering. If a bat is ordered with a cupped barrel end, which lightens it, the cupping becomes the final touch.

Jeter, who has used Louisville Sluggers exclusively during his still-young career, sees no reason to try other bats. "I just don't care to switch to another brand," says the 25-year-old phenom. Jeter's teammate, power hitter Tino Martinez, also uses Louisville Sluggers. "I tried other bats," says Martinez between batting practice swings at Yankee Stadium. "But I haven't been able to find the balance I look for in a bat from any other company."

And finding that balance, finding a bat that feels good, is vital. According to Mickey Mantle, the most powerful switch-hitter of all time, "The first step to hitting is to find the right bat." A thought echoed by Ted Williams, a lifetime .344 hitter, when he said, "I'd have been a .290 hitter without Louisville Slugger." During his career from 1939 to 1960, Williams, a man many consider the greatest pure hitter in history, was a frequent visitor to the Louisville Slugger plant, where he hand-picked the timber for his bats.

But even with the perfect stick, hitting is far from easy. "Hitting a baseball is the single most difficult thing to do in sport," says Williams. "It's the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed just three times out of 10 and be considered a great performer."

It's those few times you succeed, however. You read the pitch perfectly, hit that ball right on the sweet spot, and hear that wonderful, crisp crack. That's as perfect a moment as life can offer. George Herman Ruth said, "There's nothing that feels so sweet as a good solid smash."

Some years ago they found a stash of Ruth bats and brought one to an All-Star game so guys could take a few hacks. It was so much heavier than what they use nowadays that they couldn't even swing it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:02 PM


The CIA's Insurgency: The agency's political disinformation campaign. (Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2004)

Congratulations to Porter Goss for being confirmed last week as the new Director of Central Intelligence. We hope he appreciates that he now has two insurgencies to defeat: the one that the CIA is struggling to help put down in Iraq, and the other inside Langley against the Bush Administration.

We wish we were exaggerating. It's become obvious over the past couple of years that large swaths of the CIA oppose U.S. anti-terror policy, especially toward Iraq. But rather than keep this dispute in-house, the dissenters have taken their objections to the public, albeit usually through calculated and anonymous leaks that are always spun to make the agency look good and the Bush Administration look bad.

Their latest improvised explosive political device blew up yesterday on the front page of the New York Times, in a story proclaiming that the agency had warned back in January 2003 of a possible insurgency in Iraq. This highly selective leak (more on that below) was conveniently timed for two days before the first Presidential debate.

This follows Joe Wilson, whose CIA-employee wife nominated the anti-Bush partisan to assess intelligence on Iraq. Then there's the book by "Anonymous," a current CIA employee who has been appearing everywhere to trash U.S. policy, with the approval of agency higher-ups. And now we have one Paul R. Pillar, who has broken his own cover as the author of a classified National Intelligence Estimate this summer outlining pessimistic possibilities for the future of Iraq.

That document was also leaked to the New York Times earlier this month, and on Monday columnist Robert Novak reported that it had been prepared at the direction of Mr. Pillar, the National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia.

One sphere in which it does seem fair to question the Administration's competence and its commitment to Reforming the Middle East is its failure to anticipate the counterinsurgencies from CIA and State and to put them down ruthlessly.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:28 PM


'Sandwich generation' stresses likely to grow (Oliver Moore, Globe and Mail, September 28th, 2004)

The stress of caring for both parents and children is taking its toll on the so-called “sandwich generation,” according to a report from Statistics Canada released Tuesday.

It is already a substantial group and it is likely to grow, the authors warn.

These 'sandwiched' workers were considerably more likely to feel generally stressed. About 70 per cent of them reported stress, about 15 per cent more than workers with neither child-care nor elder-care responsibilities.

It is not a small group, according to the report, which is based on the 2002 General Social Survey. Compiling the data on Canadians between 45 to 64, who had at least one unmarried child under 25 living in the home, researchers found that a bit less than 30 per cent were also caring for a senior. [...]

Although the overwhelming majority of felt satisfied with life in general (95 per cent), they admitted the sacrifices that caring for an elderly person can entail.

They may feel satisfied with life now, but once we psychologists and activists get through with them, they’ll be as bitterly unhappy as they should be!

Posted by Peter Burnet at 5:50 PM


Illarionov Says Kyoto Will Be Ratified (Greg Walters, Moscow Times, September 29th, 2004)

Andrei Illarionov, the country's fiercest opponent of the Kyoto Protocol, said Tuesday that Russia will ratify the international treaty to limit greenhouse gases even though he believes the move will destroy its chances of doubling GDP by 2010.

Illarionov, President Vladimir Putin's top economic adviser, said Russian officials do not believe in the treaty's scientific or economic merits but will ratify it anyway in a political gesture toward the European Union.

The EU has long been pressing Russia to move forward on Kyoto, which needs Russia's ratification to come into force.

Asked Tuesday whether Russia will ratify the Kyoto Protocol, Illarionov said simply, "I think so."

The move would be a purely political calculation for Russia, he said. But he declined to say what Russia might receive in return.

"It's not back-scratching," he said by telephone. "It's a gesture toward the European Union. Nothing more."

Illarionov said senior officials believe the treaty will not help the environment or boost the economy, contrary to claims by its supporters. He declined to comment on Putin's personal views.

"Nobody among Russian officials believes the protocol is good for Russia," Illarionov said. "Nobody sees any sense in the economic nature of this document. Nobody sees any scientific relevance in this document. Nobody sees any advantages for Russia in this document. It is just purely politics."

Isn't it reassuring to know that international law is based upon the best science available and a common altruistic resolve to make the world a better place?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:19 PM


Heinz Kerry still outspoken — but off center stage (Martin Kasindorf, 9/28/04, USA TODAY)

Famed for independent-mindedness, Teresa Heinz Kerry is taking a new tack during the final countdown to Election Day. She's subordinating herself to her husband's campaign strategists — but only in where she goes, not in her outspoken ways. [...]

"Teresa has disappeared, by and large," says Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a public policy analyst at the University of Southern California. That's the way Kerry's aides prefer it because she is prone to controversial outbursts, Jeffe says. "Every time they let her out, she says something that they don't like."

So they've disappeared their candidates for vice president and first lady, now if they just had sense enough to hide John Kerry himself they might avoid a blowout.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:10 PM


Iranian Citizens Trash Fahrenheit 9/11 (Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, September 29, 2004,

A few weeks ago, Mamoun Fandy, a media analyst, syndicated columnist and former professor of Arab Studies at Georgetown University, was interviewed on the subject of Michael Moore. Fandy stated that Iraqis who were familiar with the film found Moore’s portrayal of them to be exceedingly racist; he went on to say that Moore’s callousness to the plight of the Iraqi people and to the unbelievable human rights devastation in Iraq was outrageous.

And that was only the verdict of the Iraqis.

I have also been asked to express the judgment of a number of Iranians who saw the film in Iran. They sent e-mails, faxes and even phoned me to ask me to report their reviews.

First, other than David Lynch’s film, ‘The Straight Story’, Iranians have not really been exposed to any western films in their cinemas. The Mullahs’ film board forbids the display of women’s uncovered hair and all the other “corruption” Western filmmakers spread. For Iranians, therefore, viewing Michael Moore’s film was a tremendously novel experience.

After 25 years of living in a virtual concentration camp, Iranians have become exceedingly socio-politically savvy. Moore’s anti-American propaganda did not attract anywhere near as many viewers as the Mullahs had hoped for. Tehran’s despots had hoped the film would challenge the Iranian people’s favourable notion of President Bush and promote John Kerry.

But Iranians are too smart.

How can you follow a great film like Straight Story with this garbage?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:03 PM


U.S. to build 8 subs in deal with Taiwan (Sharon Behn, 9/29/04, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

The United States plans to build eight diesel-electric submarines for Taiwan as part of an $18 billion arms package, a decision likely to irritate China, which has opposed the sale of weapons to Taipei.

Taiwan's new representative to the United States, David Tawei Lee, said yesterday that the submarines would be built "probably in Mississippi, in [former Senate Majority Leader] Trent Lott's state."

Oh, that's why...

Meanwhile, wasn't it just months ago that the reflexive Right was claiming that the Bush Administration was selling out Taiwan to appease China?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:54 PM


Economy Grows at Weakest Rate in a Year (Martin Crutsinger, 9/29/04, AP)

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.3 percent in the spring, the government reported Wednesday. That was significantly better than a previous estimate but still the weakest showing in more than a year.

The Commerce Department said the April-to-June increase in the gross domestic product -- the country's total output of goods and services -- was revised upward by 0.5 percentage point from its estimate just a month ago that the economy expanded at a 2.8 percent pace in the second quarter.

A hilariously biased headline given that such a growth level, never mind its historical significance and that it's better than expected, is considered a good news quarter in Ray Fair's Presidential Vote Equation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:47 PM


Dems in Senate get no help from sharing ticket with Kerry (AP, 9/29/04)

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle hugged President Bush from one end of South Dakota to the other this summer. In his own campaign commercials.

The brief embrace might seem an odd claim on re-election for the man Republicans depict as obstructionist-in-chief for the president's congressional agenda. But Daschle is one of several candidates with a common political problem as Democrats nurse fragile hopes of gaining Senate control this fall.

From the South to South Dakota and Alaska, they are running in areas where Bush is popular — and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry not so much.

"The congressman is running his own race out here. ... He's not bringing any national people in," said Kristofer Eisenla, spokesman for Democratic Rep. Brad Carson in Oklahoma, where Bush won 60% of the vote in 2000.

"The presidential race is largely separate" from Inez Tenenbaum's campaign in South Carolina, said Adam Kovacevich, a spokesman for the Democratic candidate in another state Kerry has written off.

Of the eight states with the most competitive Senate races, Kerry is seriously contesting only Florida and Colorado, effectively conceding North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Alaska.

The irony of Mr. Kerry being such a drag on the lower portion of the ticket is, of course, that he's only still a Senator today because Bill Clinton carried him over the line in '96. And the real danger for Democrats is that he could prove such a drag--think Jimmy Carter in '80--that seats that seem safe today will be lost on November 2nd--a prime candidate for this effect would be Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:37 PM


'Osama Mama' Murray Fumes at GOP Rival's Use of Label (NewsMax, 9/29/04)

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., has ``a different view of Osama bin Laden,'' her campaign rival charged Wednesday in an attack ad that uses a picture of the al-Qaida leader and the senator's words to challenge her credentials in the war on terror.

"She did not praise Osama bin Laden and we should stop playing politics with the war on terror and get on with winning it,'' countered Alex Glass, a spokeswoman for Murray. [...]

The ad shows Murray telling an audience in 2002 that bin Laden had been at work in unnamed countries ``for decades building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities. And the people are extremely grateful,'' she says.

"He's made their lives better. We have not done that,'' she adds.

It's a low point in any public officials career when they're reduced to demanding that their opponent stop quoting them accurately.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:30 PM


Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse (Timothy J. Dailey, Ph. D., 9/29/04, Family Research Council)

Scandals involving the sexual abuse of under-age boys by homosexual priests have rocked the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time, defenders of homosexuality argue that youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts should be forced to include homosexuals among their adult leaders. Similarly, the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a homosexual activist organization that targets schools, has spearheaded the formation of "Gay-Straight Alliances" among students. GLSEN encourages homosexual teachers--even in the youngest grades--to be open about their sexuality, as a way of providing role models to "gay" students. In addition, laws or policies banning employment discrimination based on "sexual orientation" usually make no exception for those who work with children or youth.

Many parents have become concerned that children may be molested, encouraged to become sexually active, or even "recruited" into adopting a homosexual identity and lifestyle. Gay activists dismiss such concerns--in part, by strenuously insisting that there is no connection between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of children.

However, despite efforts by homosexual activists to distance the gay lifestyle from pedophilia, there remains a disturbing connection between the two. This is because, by definition, male homosexuals are sexually attracted to other males. While many homosexuals may not seek young sexual partners, the evidence indicates that disproportionate numbers of gay men seek adolescent males or boys as sexual partners. In this paper we will consider the following evidence linking homosexuality to pedophilia:

· Pedophiles are invariably males: Almost all sex crimes against children are committed by men.

· Significant numbers of victims are males: Up to one-third of all sex crimes against children are committed against boys (as opposed to girls).

· The 10 percent fallacy: Studies indicate that, contrary to the inaccurate but widely accepted claims of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, homosexuals comprise between 1 to 3 percent of the population.

· Homosexuals are overrepresented in child sex offenses: Individuals from the 1 to 3 percent of the population that is sexually attracted to the same sex are committing up to one-third of the sex crimes against children.

· Some homosexual activists defend the historic connection between homosexuality and pedophilia: Such activists consider the defense of "boy-lovers" to be a legitimate gay rights issue.

· Pedophile themes abound in homosexual literary culture: Gay fiction as well as serious academic treatises promote "intergenerational intimacy."

Homosexual apologists admit that some homosexuals sexually molest children, but they deny that homosexuals are more likely to commit such offenses. After all, they argue, the majority of child molestation cases are heterosexual in nature. While this is correct in terms of absolute numbers, this argument ignores the fact that homosexuals comprise only a very small percentage of the population.

The evidence indicates that homosexual men molest boys at rates grossly disproportionate to the rates at which heterosexual men molest girls.

What's especially troublesome is the willingness of even presumably well-intentioned folk to ignore this for their own political reasons--for example, the way opponents of Catholicism insist its paedophilia scandals are inherent to the Church rather than a function of the unwise recruitment of gay priests; or the way libertarians lionized Pim Fortuyn.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:20 PM


UN Human Rights Chief Seeks Greater International Presence in Darfur (Lisa Schlein, 28 Sep 2004, VOA News)

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Louise Arbour, is calling for a big increase in the number of United Nations peacekeepers, human rights monitors and aid agencies to ensure security in Darfur. Ms. Arbour, who has just returned from a five-day visit to Darfur, says the international community must redouble its efforts to protect the citizens of Darfur.

The U.N.'s top human rights official, Louise Arbour, says there is a great sense of insecurity and fear among the internally displaced people she met in Darfur camps. She describes conditions in the camps as miserable. While people told her they would like to go back home to a more normal life, she says they are too afraid to return to the villages they fled. She says they do not trust the government of Sudan to protect them.

Ms. Arbour says the people believe the government is in collusion with their attackers, the Arab militia known as the Janjaweed.

"They claim that when they attempt to leave the narrow perimeters of the camps, they are invariably attacked and their efforts to report these attacks to the authorities lead nowhere and that is prevalent in virtually all the camps we attended…." she said. "At this point, I think the core crisis is one of safety and security."

But Ms. Arbour also notes much progress has been made in getting food and other assistance to the approximately 1.5 million displaced people in Darfur. She says security now is the greatest crisis and it must be addressed with great urgency and seriousness.

If the U.N. isn't careful this kind of humanitarian intervention at U.S. behest could start to redeem it in our eyes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:06 PM


Yemen Court Sentences USS Cole Bombers to Death (Ursula Lindsey, 29 Sep 2004, VOA News)

A court in Yemen has sentenced two al-Qaida members to death for the 2000 bombing of the U.S. Navy destroyer Cole. The attack killed 17 U.S. sailors. This is the first time anyone has been sentenced to death in Yemen for an act of terrorism.

Jamal al-Badawi and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were sentenced to death Wednesday, as the masterminds of the attack in which a small boat loaded with explosives rammed into the American destroyer in the Gulf of Aden.

Mr. al-Nashiri is currently being held in the United States and was tried in absentia. Four other militants were also found guilty of belonging to al Qaida and carrying out the attack on the USS Cole, and received jail sentences of five to 10 years.

Khaled Al Mahdi is a correspondent for the Arab News newspaper in Sanaa and has been following the trial since it started in early July. He notes that this is the first time a Yemeni court has punished terrorism with the death sentence.

"It's the first convictions in this country in which terrorists were sentenced to death," he said. "Of course this country had long tolerated Muslim extremists, but after the September attacks in the United States in 2001, Yemen has allied itself closely with the United States in the war on terrorism and started a widescale campaign against suspected al- Qaida sympathizers."

Let's all pray that this long winning streak that John Kerry thinks al Qeada has been on doesn't end anytime soon.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:01 PM

AN ADVISOR TOO FAR? (via Tom Morin):

Jackson Joins Kerry Campaign As Adviser (AP, Sep 29, 2004)

Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson joined the campaign of Sen. John Kerry on Wednesday as a poll showed support for the presidential candidate slipping among black Americans, a critical Democratic constituency.

Demonstrates a lack of respect for Hymietown, no?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:59 PM


Remembrance of Contracts Past: Newt Gingrich and other Republicans look back at the Contract with America on its tenth anniversary. (David Skinner, 09/28/2004, Weekly Standard)

YESTERDAY, September 27, marked the ten-year anniversary of the historic signing of the Contract with America on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. And this fall marks the tenth anniversary of the subsequent (some would say consequent) election of a Republican majority in Congress. So far the celebrations have been pretty low-key, an unjust and probably unintended comment on the magnitude of the event. No matter. The Republican takeover with the midterm elections of November 1994 has become for conservatives a station of the cross in the progress of rightward ideas--on par with the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan in impact, a spiritual kin to the 1964 Barry Goldwater moment.

Furthermore, the Contract with America remains one of the most popular things Republicans ever did.

Still one forgets the breadth of strategist Newt Gingrich's campaign to win a majority. On a panel at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday morning with political consultant Joseph Gaylord, Rep. Jennifer Dunne of Washington, journalist Michael Barone, and former majority leader Dick Armey, the former House speaker emphasized that all but a couple of Republican candidates signed the Contract with America. The election yielded an additional nine millions votes for Republicans over 1992 and a pickup of 54 seats in the House of Representatives. [...]

Why the Contract with America worked so well was much discussed. Despite the image of the class of '94 as rabble-rousing radicals, all ten agenda items on the Contract enjoyed over 70 percent support of the American public, which was in fact required for their inclusion. The other criterion was that an item had to have been blocked from a floor vote by the Democrats. The contract's populist character was underlined by its marketing, including a national ad-buy in TV Guide, which set a record for "the most expensive political ad," Gingrich noted. Also, the language of the contract had to be positive and non-political. We were "consciously editing against the New York Times," said Gingrich.

To understand the decline of the Democratic party you need know no more than that the GOP could put together ten items that Democrats wouldn't even allow a vote on that polled at 70%-30% in the country. Today Democrats can only stop such ideas by filibustering in the Senate and perhaps not even that for long.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:45 PM

ONE LAST SCORE FOR THE GIPPER (via Robert Schwartz):

Study: Emission of smog ingredients from trees is increasing rapidly: Changes in forestry and agriculture affecting ozone pollution (Steven Schultz, 28-Sep-2004, Princeton University)

While clean-air laws have reduced the level of man-made VOCs (volatile organic compounds), the tree-produced varieties have increased dramatically in some parts of the country, the study found. The increase stems from intensified tree farming and other land use changes that have altered the mix of trees in the landscape, said Drew Purves, the lead author of the study that included scientists from four universities.

"There are seemingly natural but ultimately anthropogenic (human-caused) processes in the landscape that have had larger effects on VOC emissions than the deliberate legislated decreases," said Purves.

Although scientists knew that trees contribute substantial amounts of VOCs to the atmosphere, the rate of increase in recent decades was previously unrecognized. "If we don't understand what's going on with biogenic (plant-produced) VOCs, we are not going to be able to weigh different air-quality strategies properly," said Purves. "It's a big enough part of the puzzle that it really needs to go in there with the rest."

The study may help explain why ozone levels have not improved in some parts of the country as much as was anticipated with the enactment of clean-air laws, Purves said. Environmental technologies such as catalytic converters and hoses that collect fumes at gas pumps have substantially reduced human-produced VOCs. However, in some parts of the country -- particularly the area extending from Alabama up through the Tennessee Valley and Virginia -- these improvements may have been outweighed by increased VOC emissions from forests, mainly because of tree growth in abandoned farmland and increases in plantation forestry. [...]

Noting President Ronald Reagan's notorious 1980 reference to trees causing pollution (Reagan said: "Approximately 80 percent of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation."), the authors conclude: "The results reported here call for a wider recognition that an understanding of recent, current and anticipated changes in biogenic VOC emissions is necessary to guide future air-quality policy decisions; they do not provide any evidence that responsibility for air pollution can or should be shifted from humans to trees."

Somewhere he smiles.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:37 PM


High School Politics 101 (David Corn, 9/29/04,

I am haunted by a conversation I had the night of the Super Tuesday primary contest. John Kerry had just sealed the deal; he would be the Democrats’ presidential nominee. And I was speaking with one of his most senior advisers. The general election, this consultant told me, would turn on how “mature” the media and the electorate would be.

I now know what he meant, and I want to scream, “Grow up.” [...]

What’s discouraging is that Bush and his lieutenants have been so successful in framing much of the election in juvenile terms. And the mainstream media has hardly been able to act as hallway monitor, let alone a school principal. In my darker moments, I’ve often said that human interaction doesn’t evolve all that much past high school. In this campaign, the Bush clique is doing all it can to prove this theory correct. But it is the rest of the kids—I mean, the voters—who will determine if the politics of derision, big lying, fear mongering, simplicity and immaturity will work.

It's a month from Halloween and the Left is already haunted by their failure against George Bush? By November the offices of the Nation, the Times and the DNC are likely to look like Heaven's Gate headquarters after an unexpected return of Hale-Bopp.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:25 PM


Record shows Bush shifting on Iraq war: President's rationale for the invasion continues to evolve (Marc Sandalow, September 29, 2004, SF Chronicle)

President Bush portrays his position on Iraq as steady and unwavering as he represents Sen. John Kerry's stance as ambiguous and vacillating.

"Mixed signals are the wrong signals,'' Bush said last week during a campaign stop in Bangor, Maine. "I will continue to lead with clarity, and when I say something, I'll mean what I say.''

Yet, heading into the first presidential debate Thursday, which will focus on foreign affairs, there is much in the public record to suggest that Bush's words on Iraq have evolved -- or, in the parlance his campaign often uses to describe Kerry, flip-flopped.

An examination of more than 150 of Bush's speeches, radio addresses and responses to reporters' questions reveal a steady progression of language, mostly to reflect changing circumstances such as the failure to discover weapons of mass destruction, the lack of ties between Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network and the growing violence of Iraqi insurgents.

A war that was waged principally to overthrow a dictator who possessed "some of the most lethal weapons ever devised'' has evolved into a mission to rid Iraq of its "weapons-making capabilities'' and to offer democracy and freedom to its 25 million residents.

Regime change for regime change sake had actually been U.S. policy since the Clinton Administration, SENATE ESTABLISHING A PROGRAM SUPPORT A TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ (Congressional Record, October 7, 1998)
Mr. McCAIN: I ask unanimous consent that the Senate now proceed to the consideration of H.R. 4655, which is at the desk.

The PRESIDING OFFICER: The clerk will report. The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

A bill (H.R. 4665) to establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq.

The PRESIDING OFFICER: Is there objection to the immediate consideration of the bill, There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill. [...]

Mr. KERREY: Mr. President, I rise to urge the passage of HR. 4655, the Iraq Liberation Act. Thanks to strong leadership in both Houses of Congress and thanks to the commitment of the Administration toward the goals we all share--for Iraq and the region, this legislation is moving quickly. This is the point to state what this legislation is not, and what it is, from my understanding, and why I support it so strongly,

First, this bill is not, in my view, an instrument to direct U.S. funds and supplies to any particular Iraqi revolutionary movement. There are Iraqi movements now in existence which could qualify for designation in accordance with this bill. Other Iraqis not now associated with each other could also band together and qualify for designation. It is for Iraqis, not Americans to organize themselves to put Saddam Hussein out of power, just as it will be for Iraqis to choose their leaders in a democratic Iraq. This bill will help the Administration encourage and
support Iraqis to make their revolution.

Second, this bill is not a device to involve the U.S. military in operations in or near Iraq. The Iraqi revolution is for Iraqis, not Americans, to make. The bill provides the Administration a portent new tool to help Iraqis toward this goal, and at the same time advance America's interest in a peaceful and secure Middle East.

This bill, when passed and signed into law, is a clear commitment to a U.S. policy replacing the Saddam Hussein regime and replacing it with a transition to democracy. This bill is a statement that America refuses to coexist with a regime which has used chemical weapons on its own citizens and on neighboring countries, which has invaded its neighbors twice without provocation, which has still not accounted for its atrocities committed in Kuwait, which has fired ballistic missiles into the cities of three of its neighbors, which is attempting to develop nuclear and biological weapons, and which has brutalized and terrorized its own citizens for thirty years. I don't see how any democratic country could accept the existence of such a regime, but this bill says America will not. I will be an even prouder American when the refusal, and commitment to materially help the Iraqi resistance, are U.S. policy.

But when George W. Bush made the most important and explicit case for war--before the U.N.--he grounded it in simple legal justification, including Saddam's failure to perform regime change himself, as required by the U.N. resolutions that got him a truce in 1991, President's Remarks at the United Nations General Assembly (New York, New York, 9/12/02) :
Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime's forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped -- by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations.

To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq's dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear, to him and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations.

He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge -- by his deceptions, and by his cruelties -- Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.

In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities -- which the Council said, threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.

Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights, and that the regime's repression is all pervasive. Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation, and rape. Wives are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the presence of their parents -- and all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.

In his excellent new book looking at the relationship between Tony Blair and America generally but George W. Bush specifically, The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency, James Naughtie argues dispositively that for George Bush this was enough to justify the war, and even for Tony Blair it came close, but that the later justifications of WMD and ties to terror were added in order that Mr. Blair might sell the war to his reluctant party and nation and to try and overcome Security Council opposition. It is these tangential arguments in support of the war that have had a rough go since Baghdad fell, but the main justification--the liberation of Iraq--is unsullied and it's hardly surprising that the President returns to it again and again.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:55 PM


Norwegian pilots land plane after axe attack by passenger (AFP, 9/29/04)

A seemingly unstable passenger attacked two pilots aboard a Norwegian passenger plane with an axe but the aircraft was later able to land, amid concerns over lax security on the country's local flights and at regional airports. [...]

Shortly after the plane finally landed in Bodoe, police arrested the man, discovering a box-cutter in his pocket. Military sniffer dogs were then sent in to search the plane.

"He is from Algeria. He was born in 1970. This is an asylum-seeker who has been turned down ... As far as we can tell he is psychologically unstable," Vangen said, adding that the attacker had not spoken since his arrest and that he would soon undergo a medical examination.

Police first suspected that the man had used a security hatchet already onboard the plane in the attack, but by Wednesday afternoon it was clear that he had smuggled an axe onto the plane with him.

"At first we thought that it was the hatchet onboard but we are no longer of this opinion because that hatchet is still in its place in the cockpit," Vangen said.

According to Nils Rognli, who heads up the Narvik airport for the Norwegian civil aviation authority Avinor, it would not have been difficult for the attacker to smuggle an axe onto the plane.

"It would be very simple since we don't have any security control here in Narvik," he told AFP.

We have "the good, old fashioned system as it was in the past where you just get on the plane", he added, pointing out that he has the equipment needed for security screening, but that it has not yet been installed.

Free societies will justifiablt never make the kinds of changes that would be required to make things like flying safe, but you don't have to have exactly imposed a police state to avoid the series of mistakes here.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:47 PM


Canada's Prophets of Pessimism (Is It the Weather?) (CLIFFORD KRAUSS, 9/29/04, NY Times)

As one of Canada's pre-eminent historians, David Bercuson of the University of Calgary is not your average couch potato. But with beer in hand and feet up on the sofa, he watched the Olympics on television last month to cheer on the world champion hurdler Perdita Félicien to win a gold medal for Canada.

When Ms. Félicien inexplicably stumbled into the very first hurdle like a rank amateur, Mr. Bercuson dashed straight to his computer. He knocked out a screed declaring that her sad performance, and that of the entire Canadian Olympic team, was just another symptom of "the national malaise'' that is making Canada a second-rate, uncompetitive nation.

"It's not the individual performers whose shortcomings are on display for all the world to see,'' he wrote in an op-ed article for The Calgary Herald. "It is the very spirit of the nation and the sickness that now has hold of it that is at fault.''

His acidic commentary is characteristic of the view of a growing number of historians, foreign policy thinkers and columnists from some of the nation's top newspapers. Many see themselves as part of an informal school that has no name or single mentor, but all are writing the same assessment: Canada is in decline, or at the very least, has fallen short of their aspirations.

For these thinkers, Canada is adrift at home and wilting as a player on the world stage. It is dogged by not only uninspired leaders but also by a lack of national purpose, stunted imagination and befuddled priorities even as its economy prospers.

"I'm in almost total despair,'' Michael Bliss, a University of Toronto historian, said in an interview. "You have a country, but what is it for and what is it doing?''

In fairness to Canada, the idea of decline suggests that it once had a certain stature, a proposition that seems dubious.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:57 AM


Tony Blair's speech to the Labour Party conference in Brighton (9/28/04)

Someone showed me an article recently about how: "Tony Blair has marginalised the Tories."

I thought it's a change to read something nice.

Then I realised it was a criticism.

Like, after years in which people thought the Labour Party was unfit to govern, now they think the Tories are.

And I should be really sorry about it. [...]

For the wealthy few, every one of those challenges of the future can be overcome.

The third term mission is to overcome them for the many.

Changing Britain for better.

For good.

Not a society where all succeed equally - that is utopia; but an opportunity society where all have an equal chance to succeed; that could and should be 21st century Britain under a Labour Government.

Where nothing in your background, whether you're black or white, a man or a woman, able-bodied or disabled, stands in the way of what your merit and hard work can achieve.

Where hard working families who play by the rules are not going to see their opportunities blighted by those that don't.

And where if any of our citizens, no matter how poor, is in sickness or need, they get the best care available without any regard to their wealth.

Power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many, not the few.

Not our hands. But theirs.

Fairness in the future will not be built on the state, structures, services and government of times gone by.

Their values remain.

But the reality of life has changed.

The relationship between state and citizen has changed.

People have grown up. They want to make their own life choices.

Their expectations, their ambitions, their hopes are all different and higher.

The 20th Century traditional welfare state that did so much for so many has to be re-shaped as the opportunity society capable of liberation and advance, every bit as substantial as the past but fitting the contours of the future.

And this will be a progressive future as long as we remember that the reason for our struggle against injustice has always been to liberate the individual.

The argument is not between those who do and those who do not love freedom.

It is between the Conservatives who believe freedom requires only that government stand back while the fittest and most privileged prosper.

And we who understand, that freedom for the individual, for every individual, whatever their starting point in life, is best achieved through a just society and a strong community.

In an opportunity society, as opposed to the old welfare state, government does not dictate; it empowers.

It makes the individual - patient, parent, law-abiding citizen, job-seeker - the driver of the system, not the state.

It sets free the huge talent of our public servants and social entrepreneurs whose ability is often thwarted by outdated rules and government bureaucracy.

It changes how government works, to open up the means of delivery to every resource, public, private and voluntary, that can deliver opportunity based on need not wealth.

Sometimes I hear people describe "choice" as a Tory word.

It reminds me of when I first used to knock on doors as a canvasser and was told if they owned their own home they were Tories.

Choice a Tory word?

Tell that to 50 per cent of heart patients who have exercised it to get swifter operations and help bring cardiac deaths down 16,000 since we came to power.

Or to the parents who have made the new City Academy Schools so popular in areas of the greatest social disadvantage.

Or the people I met in Teesside a couple of weeks ago who have transformed their neighbourhood, yes with government money but most of all, by making their decisions, their choices about how it was spent and how their community was run.

Choice is not a Tory word.

Choice dependent on wealth; those are the Tory words.

The right to demand the best and refuse the worst and do so not by virtue of your wealth but your equal status as a citizen, that's precisely what the modern Labour Party should stand for.

So here are ten things a future Labour third term can do for Britain's hard-working families.

1 - Widen the circle of opportunity by low mortgage rates, rising living standards and more jobs in every region of the UK; special help for first time homebuyers and in a week where the Tories are advocating an inheritance tax cut which gives £2 billion to the richest five per cent of estates, Labour's priority will be tax relief for the millions of hard-working families, not tax cuts for the wealthy few.

2 - A society where we put the same commitment to quality vocational skills as we do academic education, with new vocational courses at school, every adult given skills free of charge up to level two and further support for level three, and 300,000 Modern Apprenticeships at the workplace.

3 - Every parent with the choice of a good specialist school, 200 new City Academies all in areas of deprivation, but with no return to selection at 11; new powers for heads to tackle disruptive pupils; all secondary schools part of the Building Schools for the Future programme, and as each wave of schools is rebuilt, modern sports facilities in every one, with a guaranteed number of hours of sport per week.

And let's work to bring the Olympics to London in 2012 and have a sporting legacy not just for the capital but for the whole country.

4 - All patients able to choose their hospital, to book the time and date for treatment.

Maximum waiting times down from 18 months to 18 weeks.

100 new hospital schemes, 2,700 GP premises improved and modernised already with more to come, life expectancy up, cardiac and cancer deaths down.

The NHS safe in the patient's hands.

5 - Life made easier for families.

More choice for mums at home and at work.

Universal, affordable and flexible childcare for the parents of all three-14 year-olds who want it from 8am in the morning to six at night and a Sure Start Children's Centre in every community of Britain.

6 - Security and dignity for everyone in retirement.

Year by year we will work to increase the numbers who can move off benefit and into work, whether from Job Seekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or any other benefit, and with the money saved, design a pension system that has the basic state pension at its core; gives special help to the poorest and provides incentives to save for hard-working families whatever their wealth or income.

7 - Our country and its people prospering in the knowledge economy.

Increasing by £1 billion the investment in science, boosting support to small businesses and ending the digital divide by bringing broadband technology to every home in Britain that wants it by 2008.

8 - On the back of the success of the ASB legislation and record numbers of police, we will take a new approach to the whole of law and order.

By the end of the next Parliament, all communities with their own dedicated policing team ; and the local community as well as the police have a say how it is policed.

There will be a radical extension of compulsory drug testing for offenders; a doubling of investment in drug treatment; summary powers to deal with drug dealers and with the violence from binge-drinking; and those believed to be part of organised crime will have their assets confiscated, their bank accounts opened up and if they intimidate juries, face trial without a jury.

9 - We will introduce identity cards and electronic registration of all who cross our borders.

We have cut radically the numbers of failed asylum seekers.

By the end of 2005, and for the first time in Britain, we will remove more each month than apply and so restore faith in a system that we know has been abused.

But we will welcome lawful migrants to this country; we will praise, not apologise, for our multi-cultural society and we will never play politics with the issue of race.

10 - A fair deal for all at work.

An opportunity society is one in which we stop ignoring the lives of the millions of hard working low paid families who do the jobs that we all rely on.

The jobs that get overlooked, the workers who we too often see right through, walk straight past, take for granted.

The office cleaners who do the early morning shift, clearing away the mess before the office is filled.

The security guards staying vigilant through the night.

The dinner ladies, who cook meals for hundreds of kids in the school canteen five days a week.

The hospital porters who often do as much for patient care as the nurse.

For them, we offer not just the respect they deserve, but the guarantee of a decent income, a rising minimum wage, equal pay between men and women, four weeks paid holidays from now on, plus bank holidays.

There they are: ten pointers to what a third term Labour Government would do for Britain's hard-working families.

Don't tell me that's not worth fighting for.

A stronger, fairer, more prosperous nation.

And now we have to go out and win the trust of the people to do it.

An Opportunity Society for the Third Way folks, to parallel the Ownership Society here. And a messianic foreign policy
There was talk before this conference that I wanted to put aside discussion of Iraq.

That was never my intention.

I want to deal with it head on.

The evidence about Saddam having actual biological and chemical weapons, as opposed to the capability to develop them, has turned out to be wrong.

I acknowledge that and accept it.

I simply point out, such evidence was agreed by the whole international community, not least because Saddam had used such weapons against his own people and neighbouring countries.

And the problem is, I can apologise for the information that turned out to be wrong, but I can't, sincerely at least, apologise for removing Saddam.

The world is a better place with Saddam in prison not in power.

But at the heart of this, is a belief that the basic judgment I have made since September 11th, including on Iraq, is wrong, that by our actions we have made matters worse not better.

I know this issue has divided the country.

I entirely understand why many disagree.

I know, too, that as people see me struggling with it, they think he's stopped caring about us; or worse he's just pandering to George Bush and what's more in a cause that's irrelevant to us.

It's been hard for you.

Like the delegate who told me: "I've defended you so well to everyone I've almost convinced myself."

Do I know I'm right?

Judgements aren't the same as facts.

Instinct is not science.

I'm like any other human being, as fallible and as capable of being wrong.

I only know what I believe.

There are two views of what is happening in the world today.

One view is that there are isolated individuals, extremists, engaged in essentially isolated acts of terrorism.

That what is happening is not qualitatively different from the terrorism we have always lived with.

If you believe this, we carry on the same path as before 11th September.

We try not to provoke them and hope in time they will wither.

The other view is that this is a wholly new phenomenon, worldwide global terrorism based on a perversion of the true, peaceful and honourable faith of Islam; that's its roots are not superficial but deep, in the madrassehs of Pakistan, in the extreme forms of Wahabi doctrine in Saudi Arabia, in the former training camps of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan; in the cauldron of Chechnya; in parts of the politics of most countries of the Middle East and many in Asia; in the extremist minority that now in every European city preach hatred of the West and our way of life.

If you take this view, you believe September 11th changed the world; that Bali, Beslan, Madrid and scores of other atrocities that never make the news are part of the same threat and the only path to take is to confront this terrorism, remove it root and branch and at all costs stop them acquiring the weapons to kill on a massive scale because these terrorists would not hesitate to use them.

Likewise take the first view, then when you see the terror brought to Iraq you say: there, we told you; look what you have stirred up; now stop provoking them.

But if you take the second view, you don't believe the terrorists are in Iraq to liberate it.

They're not protesting about the rights of women - what, the same people who stopped Afghan girls going to school, made women wear the Burka and beat them in the streets of Kabul, who now assassinate women just for daring to register to vote in Afghanistan's first ever democratic ballot, though four million have done so?

They are not provoked by our actions; but by our existence.

They are in Iraq for the very reason we should be.

They have chosen this battleground because they know success for us in Iraq is not success for America or Britain or even Iraq itself but for the values and way of life that democracy represents.

They know that.

That's why they are there.

That is why we should be there and whatever disagreements we have had, should unite in our determination to stand by the Iraqi people until the job is done.

And, of course, at first the consequence is more fighting.

But Iraq was not a safe country before March 2003.

Few had heard of the Taliban before September 11th 2001.

Afghanistan was not a nation at peace.

So it's not that I care more about foreign affairs than the state of our economy, NHS, schools or crime.

It's simply that I believe democracy there means security here; and that if I don't care and act on this terrorist threat, then the day will come when all our good work on the issues that decide people's lives will be undone because the stability on which our economy, in an era of globalisation, depends, will vanish.

I never expected this to happen on that bright dawn of 1 May 1997.

I never anticipated spending time on working out how terrorists trained in a remote part of the Hindu Kush could end up present on British streets threatening our way of life.

And the irony for me is that I, as a progressive politician, know that despite the opposition of so much of progressive politics to what I've done, the only lasting way to defeat this terrorism is through progressive politics.

Salvation will not come solely from a gunship.

Military action will be futile unless we address the conditions in which this terrorism breeds and the causes it preys upon.

That is why it is worth staying the course to bring democracy Iraq and Afghanistan, because then people the world over will see that this is not and has never been some new war of religion; but the oldest struggle humankind knows, between liberty or oppression, tolerance or hate; between government by terror or by the rule of law.

Their differences are matters of the electorates they face and the cultures from which they arise, but their similarities are remarkable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:36 AM


Maybe His Watch Was Set on Paris Time (, 9/29/04)

Appearing on ABC's Good Morning America today, John Kerry offered yet another explanation for his trademark line "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it" (video clip here): it was late at night, and he was tired:

It was a very inarticulate way of saying something and I had one of those moments late in the evening when I was tired in the primaries and didn't say something clearly. But it reflects the truth of the position, which is, I thought, to have the wealthiest people in America share the burden of paying for that war. It was a protest. Sometimes you have to stand up and be counted.

Just one problem: Kerry made the statement at noon. See this Washington Post article from March:

"I actually did vote for his $87 billion, before I voted against it," he told a group of veterans at a noontime appearance at Marshall University.

This is John Kerry at the peak of his fighting powers, rested and prepared for his debate with George Bush.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 AM


Europe's armies 'still in cold war' warns EU arms chief (Richard Carter, 29.09.2004, EU Observer)

European armies have not adapted to modern warfare and need better technology, the head of the EU's arms agency has warned.

In an interview with French daily Le Figaro, Nick Witney, head of the European Defence Agency agency created in June this year to strengthen the EU's military capabilities, said, "European armies are not adapted to the modern world, to its conflicts, to its new threats. On the whole, they are still in the cold war period".

Rather than focusing on tanks, European armies need more high-tech equipment, such as effective communication tools and analytical equipment, urged Mr Witney.

Closing the gap with the US in terms of arms technology is not about spending more, but spending more efficiently, he said.

Mr Witney also called for greater liberalisation of the European armaments market if EU firms are to compete with their US rivals.

Describing himself as "very much in favour" of market liberalisation, Mr Witney said, "defence markets are essentially national at the moment, with significant state aid in many countries. But no member state has the means to keep its industries alive like this".

Okay, so they concede they won't spend what they need to but do they really think they'll spend more efficiently as they get more institutionalized and bureaucratic?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM


After Dark, the Stuffed Animals Turn Creepy (ANDREW JACOBS, 9/29/04, NY Times)

At 5:30 p.m., the canned announcement, a pleasant but firm female voice, echoes off the East African elephants, filters through the rib cage of a fossilized stegosaurus and briefly drowns out the chanted recording of the Mbuti Pygmy tribesmen: "Your attention please. Your attention please. The museum is now closed. Any security officer can direct you to an exit."

The Japanese tourists in sensible shoes, the whining, overstimulated children, the earnest art students with sketch pads trickle past glassy-eyed grizzlies and the indignant gorilla thumping its chest. They linger for a final snapshot beneath barosaurus as a towering set of bronze doors seal off the Asian Hall behind them. "Sir, the museum is closed," keeps the dawdlers moving, and by 5:45, the American Museum of Natural History has been largely drained of the living.

Depending on your point of view, this 135-year-old stone fortress is an edifying temple to life on earth or an eerie mausoleum for millions of stuffed and pickled creatures. To generations of schoolchildren who shrieked beneath that giant dangling squid, it is the site of a field trip that launched a thousand nightmares. At night, with the comforting buzz of the city blocked out by thick granite walls and the hum of air-conditioning the only aural distraction, the museum and its frozen inhabitants play tricks on the skittish, the superstitious and those with overactive imaginations.

Even after five years sweeping and mopping the exhibition halls late at night, Frank Saunders is occasionally unnerved on his lonely janitorial rounds. "Sometimes you feel like the animals are watching you," he said, unaware of the gargantuan centipede lurking behind him. "When I'm up on the third floor, with the totem poles and the Indians, you think you see the veins pulsating and the tendons moving."

Where better to find superstition than a temple of science?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:06 AM


Some Swing States Appear to Be Swinging to President (KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, 9/29/04, NY Times)

Days before the presidential debates begin, President Bush appears to be gaining in several swing states he lost in 2000.

Experts caution that the race is highly fluid, but Mr. Bush, for now at least, is surging ahead in several crucial states. Polls show Mr. Bush making headway in Iowa and Wisconsin, both of which he lost last time. He was also building leads in Ohio and West Virginia, states he won in 2000.

All four states have been hotly contested this year. And Senator John Kerry seems to have ceded Missouri to Mr. Bush.

The shocker in the last week was New Jersey, where three polls showed Mr. Bush pulling even with Mr. Kerry. The state, never on the battleground list, has voted Democratic since 1988 and comes with a sizable chunk of electoral votes, 15. Mr. Bush's strength there was a source of concern to Democrats.

If Democrats truly haven't figured out that they're going to have to fight a rearguard action just to hold a few core states--CA, IL, NY, MA, MD--and try to save some Senate seats--CA, OR, WA, AR, NV--then they're in even worse trouble than we all think they are. That they ever thought OH was a realistic battleground--with a Republican governor, two Republican senators, etc.--is not reassuring.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 AM



The Justice Department has charged that a veteran New York Times foreign correspondent warned an alleged terror-funding Islamic charity that the FBI was about to raid its office — potentially endangering the lives of federal agents.

The stunning accusation was disclosed yesterday in legal papers related to a lawsuit the Times filed in Manhattan federal court.

The suit seeks to block subpoenas from the Justice Department for phone records of two of its Middle Eastern reporters — Philip Shenon and Judith Miller — as part of a probe to track down the leak.

The Times last night flatly denied the allegation.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago charged in court papers that Shenon blew the cover on the Dec. 14, 2001, raid of the Global Relief Foundation — the first charges of their kind under broad new investigatory powers given to the feds under the Patriot Act.

"It has been conclusively established that Global Relief Foundation learned of the search from reporter Philip Shenon of The New York Times," Fitzgerald said in an Aug. 7, 2002, letter to the Times' legal department.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM


Rethinking free trade (Robert Kuttner, September 29, 2004, Boston Globe)

WHEN PAUL Samuelson, the dean of American economists, begins questioning the benefits of free trade, it is a bit like the pope having doubts about the virgin birth. [...]

Samuelson stops short of spelling out remedies. However, his blowing open of this debate has done a profound service.

But what, then, should Americans do to defend their living standard in the face of the ability of India and China to make almost anything we make at a fraction of the wage?

First, we might insist that everyone plays by the rules, which China emphatically doesn't. China both subsidizes and protects.

Second, we might try to get them to raise their domestic wages in proportion to their rising productivity and thus produce for a more affluent domestic market (which also might buy more of our products).

On the home front, the government could invest more in the creation of high-wage service jobs that America needs and that can't be exported -- like better-paid preschool teachers and nursing home workers -- and to raise the wages of all low-paid workers through higher minimum wage laws and enforcement of the right to unionize. We could also invest in advanced technologies that create lots of good domestic jobs and export winners, like universal broadband cable and energy independence.

Mr. Samuelson's track record on questioning economic orthodoxy isn't exactly one to be proud of, as witness the 1989 beauty: "The Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive." But what's priceless here is that Mr. Kuttner's proposed response to a world in which pretty much any Third World village can produce the same quality manufactured goods at a fraction of the artificially elevated wages of a unionized workforce in the West is to boost our own wages to even less competitive levels.

Where Did All the Jobs Go? Nowhere: In spite of the hoopla over outsourcing, it is not the great crisis that many believe it is. (DANIEL W. DREZNER, 9/29/04, NY Times)

The Government Accountability Office has issued its first review of the data, and one undeniable conclusion to be drawn from it is that outsourcing is not quite the job-destroying tsunami it's been made out to be. Of the 1.5 million jobs lost last year in "mass layoffs'' - that is, when 50 or more workers are let go at once - less than 1 percent were attributed to overseas relocation; that was a decline from the previous year. In 2002, only about 4 percent of the money directly invested by American companies overseas went to the developing countries that are most likely to account for outsourced jobs - and most of that money was concentrated in manufacturing.

The data did show that from 1997 to 2002, annual imports of business, technical and professional services increased by $16.3 billion. However, during that same half-decade, exports of those services increased by $20.5 billion a year. In 2002 alone, the United States ran a $27 billion trade surplus in business services, the sector in which jobs are most likely to be outsourced. The G.A.O. correctly stressed that it is impossible to compute exactly how many jobs are lost because of outsourcing, but unless its figures are off by several orders of magnitude, there's no crisis here.

Many companies moving jobs overseas have also received a bum rap. Lost in all the clamor about I.B.M.'s outsourcing plan was the company's simultaneous announcement that it would add 5,000 American jobs to its payroll. For the second quarter of this year, the company reported a 17 percent increase in earnings, allowing it to trim its outsourcing plan by a third and raise its overall hiring plans by 20 percent. The conclusion is obvious: I.B.M.'s outsourcing of some jobs helped it reduce costs, increase earnings and hire more American-based workers.

None of this is to dismiss the pain endured by those who lose their jobs to lower-paid workers abroad. But the magnitude of these job losses must be placed in the proper perspective. Technological innovation is responsible for a far greater number of lost jobs than outsourcing.

Aren't job protection schemes ultimately just attacks on technological innovation?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 AM


Green Day looks smart with 'Idiot': The band of bratty punks produces a powerful, defiant rock opera (Renee Graham, September 29, 2004, Boston Globe)

When word began to leak out that Green Day was planning a politically charged rock opera for its latest album, American Idiot, reactions ranged from sarcastic guffaws to abject horror. This, after all, was the same band of punk brats who, a decade ago, cranked out mosh-pit ditties about soul-numbing laziness and dismissive hookers and whose crowning close-up moment was a mud-flinging free-for-all at Woodstock '94.

The notion of a Green Day rock opera smacked of unearned pretentiousness and utter desperation from a band that hadn't released an album since 2000's commercially anemic but underrated "Warning." It also reeked of encroaching adulthood from these boys-to-men who suddenly seemed determined to leave childish things -- and what remained of their fans -- behind.

Yet Green Day has always been more than its signature three-chord barrage, and its members -- lead singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool -- have often invested unexpected intelligence, even poetry, into their tales of slacker ennui.

Like the reflective acoustic ballad "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" in 1997, "American Idiot" still manages to be defiantly punk by following no regimen or conventions other than the band's own ethos. Through 13 songs, including two nine-minute mini-operas, "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Homecoming," it's the sprawling story of an America staggering from terrorism and war and plagued by paranoia and disillusionment. Its main characters, Jesus of Suburbia and St. Jimmy, representing the punch-drunk masses, are raised on "a steady diet of soda pop and Ritalin," as well as lies and hypocrisy.

Since its release last week, "American Idiot" has often been compared to the Who's landmark 1969 rock-opera, "Tommy," and while such assessments are a little too facile, there are parallels to be found between Green Day's Armstrong and Pete Townshend, the Who's legendary guitarist and primary songwriter.

Good to see one of the better bands of the 90s make it into the aughts, though they should grow up at some point.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 AM


Why this May Be the Most Important Election Since 1860 (Martin Halpern, 9/27/04, History News Network)

[T]his is the most significant election since that of 1860. Then, as now, the very survival of a republican form of government is at stake.

We have to look back to James Buchanan, the fifteenth president of the United States, to find a president as reactionary as the current occupant of the White House. Serving on the eve of the greatest crisis in the country’s history, the Civil War, Buchanan sought to stop the noisy debate about slavery by making limits on the slaveholders’ power politically and constitutionally impossible. Bush, arriving in the White House at a time of growing criticism at home and abroad of corporate-dominated globalization, has attempted to tilt the government so far in the direction of the U.S. corporate elite that it will be unassailable in the future.

Buchanan, of course, was a Democrat, but, as students in U.S. history survey classes learn, the Republican party of our day has many similarities to the Democratic party of the pre-Civil War era. The Democratic party then fashioned itself as the “white man’s party” and chastised its opponents for appealing to blacks. The Republican party in recent years has opposed affirmative action and catered to white male racism and sexism. The pre-Civil War Democrats emphasized the ideal of limited government but did not shy away from restricting the civil liberties of those who opposed slavery. Bush’s Republicans likewise employ the rhetoric of limiting the size and intrusiveness of government while increasing spending on the military and simultaneously eroding basic civil liberties of those it deems suspect.

Both Bush and Buchanan rode into office with the electoral votes of all the Southern states. Newspaper readers today know how fond Bush is of his ranch; Buchanan was equally fond of his Pennsylvania estate known as Wheatland.

Each president is closely associated with one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in U.S. history.

You can guess where he's headed: yes, stopping the random recounts in Florida was every bit as bad as Dred Scott...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 AM


How to Debate George Bush (AL GORE, 9/29/04, NY Times)

In the coming debates, Senator Kerry has an opportunity to show voters that today American troops and American taxpayers are shouldering a huge burden with no end in sight because Mr. Bush took us to war on false premises and with no plan to win the peace. Mr. Kerry has an opportunity to demonstrate the connection between job losses and Mr. Bush's colossal tax break for the wealthy. And he can remind voters that Mr. Bush has broken his pledge to expand access to health care.

Senator Kerry can also use these debates to speak directly to voters and lay out a hopeful vision for our future. If voters walk away from the debates with a better understanding of where our country is, how we got here and where each candidate will lead us if elected, then America will be the better for it. The debate tomorrow should not seek to discover which candidate would be more fun to have a beer with. As Jon Stewart of the "The Daily Show'' nicely put in 2000, "I want my president to be the designated driver.''

The debates aren't a time for rhetorical tricks. It's a time for an honest contest of ideas. Mr. Bush's unwillingness to admit any mistakes may score him style points. But it makes hiring him for four more years too dangerous a risk. Stubbornness is not strength; and Mr. Kerry must show voters that there is a distinction between the two.

Accidental insight from Mr. Gore who if John Kerry had any ideas or a record of achievement he was running on would presumably have mentioned them. It is the absence of either, and the mistaken assumption that just being Anybody But Bush would be sufficient, that leaves the Democrats with a candidate who has nothing to say that's not negative.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


A Fast Finisher's Reputation Now Faces the Ultimate Test (TODD S. PURDUM, 9/29/04, NY Times)

In 1996, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts was struggling to keep his job in the face of a stiff challenge by his state's popular, aw-shucks Republican governor, William F. Weld, when midway through a series of televised debates, he began a confession that suddenly became a boast.

"I'm very well aware that when God made me, one of the debits he gave was sort of an overlevel of intensity, maybe an overlevel of earnestness," Mr. Kerry said that August in the fourth of eight debates. "I don't sort of wear every part of me on my sleeve as easily as some people do, and I know that. On the other hand, what I do know about myself is that when you have a fight, I'm a good person to be in a foxhole with, and I know that we're in a fight right now."

Eight years later, Mr. Kerry is in the fight of his political life, against President Bush, and he and his supporters are counting on the reputation he cemented in that 1996 campaign and again in the Democratic primaries this year as a candidate who runs best from behind, a political Seabiscuit who pulls ahead after from his anxiety-producing slow starts.

It's kind of sad that John Kerry's entire political reputation rests on an election where he could only get 52% of the vote while Bill Clinton was beating Bob Dole 61% - 28%.

September 28, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 PM


Cat Stevens was guest of Canadian Hamas front (Stewart Bell, September 28, 2004, National Post)

Yusuf Islam, the British singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, was the guest of honour at a Toronto fundraising dinner hosted by an organization that has since been identified by the Canadian government as a "front" for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

In a videotape of the 1998 event obtained by the National Post, Mr. Islam describes Israel as a "so-called new society" created by a "so-called religion" and urges the audience to donate to the Jerusalem Fund for Human Services to "lessen the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Palestine and the Holy Land."

He should be on the no-fly list for his music.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:12 PM


A different noise: US liberals have fought back against rightwing domination of the media since their 'goring' in 2000 (Markos Moulitsas, September 28, 2004, The Guardian)

It was the year 2000, and Democrats were running on a record of peace and prosperity stewarded by the capable, if morally imperfect, Bill Clinton. It was a race that should have been won by their candidate, Al Gore. In fact, it was won by Al Gore, but the Rightwing Noise Machine kept it close enough to be stolen by the Republicans and their allies at the supreme court.

What is the Rightwing Noise Machine? Conservatives in the United States have spent the last 30 years building a vast infrastructure designed to create ideas, distribute them, and sell them to the American public. It spans multiple think tanks and a well-oiled message machine that has a stranglehold on American discourse. From the Weekly Standard, Rush Limbaugh, Wall Street Journal, Drudge Report and Murdoch's Fox News, to (more recently) the mindless drones in the rightwing blogosphere, the right enjoys the ability to control entire news cycles, holding them hostage for entire elections.

Pity the poor Left, all they have is CBS, ABC, NBC, The NY Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times... Imagine the ruckus these guys would raise if one of the three broadcast networks decided it was sick of falling ratings and handed over the newsroom to conservatives instead of liberals for once?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:55 PM


An amendment to stop moral decay (Star Parker, September 28, 2004, Townhall)

Several weeks ago, black pastors from around the nation, under the sponsorship of my organization, CURE, gathered for a press conference at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to express support for President Bush's proposal for a constitutional marriage amendment. The amendment would define marriage as between a man and a woman.

The date and place for the event were selected to mark the 41st anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. The congregations of the pastors who participated in this event have a combined total of well over 40,000 members.

The gay marriage issue has struck a nerve in the black community and may well mark the beginning of a sea change in black voting behavior. Pastors who have voted Democratic all their lives have told me and others that this issue has lead them out of the Democratic Party.

A CBS/NY Times poll on the marriage amendment done last March shows blacks more aligned with Republicans than with Democrats. The poll showed 59 percent overall in favor of the marriage amendment. However, 77 percent of Republicans, 52 percent of Democrats, and 67 percent of African Americans were in favor.

These pastors are worked up over this issue because it touches fundamentally the core concerns they have for their communities. They know that the bedrock on which human lives and communities are constructed is made of spiritual and moral fiber. And they know that the profound social problems in their communities stem from the shattered state of that bedrock.

Dems attacked on some black radio stations (Liz Sidoti, September 28, 2004, AP)
One commercial claims Democrats support "abortion laws that are decimating our people," while another argues that Democrats "preach tolerance but practice discrimination."

Operating largely under the radar, Americas PAC, a little-known conservative group based in Overland Park, Kan., has been airing ads excoriating Democrats on black radio stations in five states this month. The spots have drawn the ire of Democrats who claim the commercials are designed to keep a crucial voting bloc for the party at home on Nov. 2.

Americas PAC says its ads -- on issues from taxes to school choice to the economy -- are designed to encourage blacks to go to the polls in support of President Bush and Republicans. The group denies that it's attempting to suppress the black vote to help Bush, as Democrats contend.

"That claim is attached to anything Republicans do in an attempt to mobilize blacks for Republicans," Richard Nadler, the head of the group, said Tuesday. "It's not true."

W's still not likely to even get 10% of the black vote, but given the potential magnitude of Democratic losses this Fall this is probably the last election where they can count on any of their constituencies voting for them in lock step--a coalition of the bought requires that you control the levers of government in order to pay them off.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 PM


Putin's Chechnya options narrow: On the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Chechnya, some say there are few alternatives to negotiations. (Scott Peterson, 9/29/04, CS Monitor)

Some argue that unofficial, secret meetings held in Europe in 2001 and 2002 created a foundation for peace that can be built upon today. Others say that the changing face of the conflict - one of deepening violence , corruption of federal forces enriching themselves through war, and the widening grip of Islamists - make a peace deal impossible.

"Ultimately it will require a decision at the top," says Frederick Starr, head of the Central Asia- Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, who helped mediate those secret meetings in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. "The [Liechtenstein] provisions do not imply a loss of face for anybody. [President Vladimir] Putin could have come out looking like a peacemaker. He still could, tomorrow."

Mr. Putin has vowed not to negotiate with "child-killers" and earlier this month compared demands from Washington to engage Chechen leaders to inviting Osama bin Laden to the White House.

Putin has also lumped together moderate Chechen leaders and warlords, putting a $10 million bounty on both Aslan Maskhadov, Chechnya's president elected in 1997 and militant Shamil Basayev, who claimed the Beslan attack.

The bounty is "absolutely counter-productive, as if [Putin] is systematically closing exit routes for himself, so that he has no one to deal with, except the head of the [Moscow-backed] puppet government," says Mr. Starr.

Mr. Maskhadov - who has often calls for talks - sought distance from Mr. Basayev Friday, vowing to punish the Chechen warlord in court. Russian officials allege the two worked in "close cooperation" over Beslan.

"All these [peace] discussions, blah, blah, blah, led to nothing," says Alexei Malashenko, a Caucasus expert at the Moscow Carnegie Center. "If there is a chance now, Putin should accept that Maskhadov is more moderate and the only guy to talk to. But they have completely gotten rid of this idea."

The brilliance of Ariel Sharon's security wall is that it has made him look like he's tough even as he's acceding to the Palestinian demand for a state. Mr. Putin needs to do something similar.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:45 PM


Are the Terrorists Failing? (David Ignatius, September 28, 2004, Washington Post)

Rather than waging a successful jihad against the West, the followers of Osama bin Laden have created chaos and destruction in the house of Islam. This internal crisis is known in Arabic as fitna: "It has an opposite and negative connotation from jihad," explains [distinguished French Arabist named Gilles] Kepel. "It signifies sedition, war in the heart of Islam, a centrifugal force that threatens the faithful with community fragmentation, disintegration and ruin." [...]

Rather than bringing Islamic regimes to power, the holy warriors are creating internal strife and discord. Their actions are killing far more Muslims than nonbelievers.

"The principal goal of terrorism -- to seize power in Muslim countries through mobilization of populations galvanized by jihad's sheer audacity -- has not been realized," Kepel writes. In fact, bin Laden's followers are losing ground: The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has been toppled; the fence-sitting semi-Islamist regime in Saudi Arabia has taken sides more strongly with the West; Islamists in Sudan and Libya are in retreat; and the plight of the Palestinians has never been more dire. And Baghdad, the traditional seat of the Muslim caliphs, is under foreign occupation. Not what you would call a successful jihad.

Kepel argues that the insurgents' brutal tactics in Iraq -- the kidnappings and beheadings, and the car-bombing massacres of young Iraqi police recruits -- are increasingly alienating the Muslim masses. No sensible Muslim would want to live in Fallujah, which is now controlled by Taliban-style fanatics. Similarly, the Muslim masses can see that most of the dead from post-Sept. 11 al Qaeda bombings in Turkey and Morocco were fellow Muslims.

A perfect example of how the jihadists' efforts have backfired, argues Kepel, was last month's kidnapping of two French journalists in Iraq. The kidnappers announced that they would release their hostages only if the French government reversed its new policy banning Muslim women from wearing headscarves in French public schools. "They imagined that they would mobilize Muslims with this demand, but French Muslims were aghast and denounced the kidnappers," Kepel explained to a Washington audience. He noted that French Muslims took to the streets to protest against the kidnappers and to proclaim their French citizenship.

And this understates the case; in addition to democratic Afghanistan, Westernizing Libya, a Sudan that's already given in to Christian insurgents under pressure from the U.S. and now faces intervention on behalf of black Muslims in the West, a free Kurdistan, a democratizing Shi'astan in a grateful Iraq, the Sa'uds reforming, etc., you've got:
Morocco: a king committed to political reform and a free trade arrangement with the U.S.--which follows the one with Jordan and precedes the one with Bahrain and negotiations with 8 other Muslim states.

Tunisia: pro-American and largely untroubled by fundamentalism

Algeria: indigenous Islamicists on their last legs

Egypt: even Hosni Mubarak is encouraging open talk of the reforms that will follow him, while at the same time helping Israel crush terror groups.

Djibouti: is an American anti-terror base

Somalia: actually becoming governable and aiding with peacekeeping in Africa.

Lebanon: the U.S. is forcing Syria out and siding with the Shi'a, as Hezbollah evolves into a normal political party.

Palestine: as the U.S. and Israel force statehood upon and unwilling PLO, the Third Intifada is an intrafada, with Palestinians fighting their own corrupt leaders for the future of the country.

Syria: Baby Assad can't appease the U. S. fast enough in his desperate attempt to avoid being the next Saddam.

Turkey: though it is a tragic mistake, the Turks are making major alterations to their legal system in order to join the EU.

Yemen and Eritrea: have both been very cooperative in the war on terror

Qatar: reformist emir and used as the American base for the Iraq war.

Kuwait: the Kuwaitis are firm allies and reform apace

Iran: already facing an existential challenge from its many pro-Western young people and from the empowerment of orthodox Shi'ism in Iraq its pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens to isolate the regime even from its European friends and has made regime change U.S. policy

Pakistan: General Musharraf is not only establishing the infrastructure for a return to democracy and waging an aggressive war on al Qaeda but is reaching a rapproachment with India aimed at defusing Kashmir.

Chechnya: extremist acts like Beslan have not only delegitamized one of Islam's best cases of grievance against a Western nation but have repulsed Muslims across the world

Malaysia: Secularists trounced Islamists in recent voting.

Indonesia: is just a run of the mill democracy

Bangladesh: ditto.

The Sunni Triangle in Iraq is the navel of the effort to Reform the Islamic world and critics of the President will pick at it until every last bit of lint has been extracted, unraveled, and examined, but in the meantime the rest of the body is thriving. In particular, by comparison to the expenditure in lives and money that were required to defeat the other isms--Nazism and Communism--this final battle in the Ending of History is going unimaginably well, quite rapid and almost bloodless.

(via Tom Corcoran):
A Time for Choosing: Muslims face a moral challenge. (John F. Cullinan, 9/28/04, National Review)

The latest Islamist terror outrage — the September 3 mass murder of at least 350 students, teachers, and parents in a Russian primary school — prompted this remarkable acknowledgment of an undeniable reality: "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims."

These are the words of a prominent Saudi journalist and observant Muslim, Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, general manager of al Arabiya, the Dubai-based Arabic satellite news network that is al Jazeera's chief competitor. His bitter reflections — which deserve to be read in their entirety — are a rare and welcome departure from the Muslim world's usual pattern of post-atrocity responses: silence, denial, equivocation, or lies.

"The majority of those who manned the suicide bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and buildings, all over the world, were Muslim," he writes. "What a pathetic record. What an abominable 'achievement.' Does this tell us anything about ourselves, our societies, and our culture?"

"We cannot clear our names," Rashed admonishes fellow Muslims, "unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women." Rashed rightly places the unspeakable atrocity in Beslan squarely within the larger pattern of similar outrages perpetrated in the name of militant political Islam since 9/11. For it is the exact same ideology of jihad at work in the most recent mass murders in Indonesia, Israel, Iraq, and elsewhere that animated the Beslan child killers — who shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is most great) under the banner of the Islambouli Brigades (named for Anwar Sadat's assassin, not for some local Chechen martyr or grievance). [...]

Who exactly is responsible for this totalitarian ideology? Rashed rightly singles out clerical exponents of militant political Islam — the "Neo-Muslims." "Our terrorist sons," Rashed writes, are "the sour grapes of a deformed culture." Muslims as a whole, now reaping what their most prominent clerics have sown in the name of Islamism, must "confront the Sheikhs who thought it ennobling to reinvent themselves as revolutionary ideologues, sending other people's sons and daughters to certain death [e.g., as suicide bombers], while sending their own children to European and American schools and universities."

Let the confrontation over the "theology" of kidnapping and executing hostages begin.

-Indonesia at peace at the polls: An army of election observers and volunteers has played a decisive role in ensuring relatively clean legislative and presidential elections in Indonesia. It's clear that the country's democracy - at least of the electoral kind - is on a roll. (Phar Kim Beng, 9/29/04, Asia Times)
-Losing Faith in the Intifada: As uprising enters fifth year, some Palestinians call it a political and economic disaster. (Laura King, September 28, 2004, LA Times)
Among Palestinians from all walks of life, there is a quiet but growing sentiment that their intifada, or uprising — which broke out four years ago today — has largely failed as an armed struggle, and lost its character as a popular resistance movement.

Moreover, many Palestinians fear that what has been, in effect, their military defeat at the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has left them without leverage to extract political and territorial concessions that would help lay the groundwork for their hoped-for state.

The official Palestinian line is that the struggle continues. Veteran leader Yasser Arafat and old-line members of his Fatah faction insist that ordinary Palestinians are unbowed by the overwhelming degree of force that Israel has brought to bear in cities and towns all over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which have been responsible for more than 100 suicide bombings over the past four years, also insist that they will continue to hit Israeli targets with all their strength.

But relentless Israeli strikes at the militant groups' leaders and field operatives, together with the partial construction of a security barrier meant to seal off the West Bank, are credited with reducing such attacks inside Israel by 80%.

For some time now, influential figures in Palestinian society — intellectuals, lawmakers, analysts, professionals and well-regarded local officials — have been asserting, almost matter-of-factly, that the violent confrontation with Israeli forces has reached a dead end and their people must look to the future.

"We have witnessed the destruction of Palestinian society — its civil institutions, its economy, its infrastructure," said Zuhair Manasra, the governor of Bethlehem. "The result has been a complete disaster for the Palestinians, at all levels. Now we must think how to rebuild."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 PM


Bush Probes Kerry's Weakest Issue -- Clarity (Andrew Ferguson, Sept. 28 , 2004, Bloomberg)

It's become plain what the election is really about, the issue that underlies all others: clarity. Which candidate knows how to explain to voters what it is he wants to do?

This unexpected turn in what political hacks call the "issue landscape" is good news for Bush, bad news for Kerry. And it is certain to arise Thursday evening when the two rivals face each other in Florida for the first of three presidential debates.

Having lost his slim but solid summertime lead, Kerry now trails Bush in most polls. The latest CBS News poll contains one set of numbers that illustrates Kerry's clarity problem.

To the question, "Does George W. Bush say what he believes most of the time?" 55 percent said yes. Forty-two percent said he "says what people want to hear."

And Kerry? Only 30 percent said he says what he believes most of the time. A large majority -- 65 percent -- agreed he says only what people want to hear.

The Kerry camp has presumably been working assiduously to get the Senator to pare his answers down to bare bones, but then they run into another problem: he has no new ideas and the old ones he's defending were unpopular when Bill Clinton ran away from them twelve years ago.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:36 PM


Sikh Group Finds Calling in Homeland Security (LESLIE WAYNE, 9/28/04, NY Times)

At the end of a dusty road, behind a barbed-wire fence, is the Sikh Dharma of New Mexico, a religious compound with a golden temple of worship, a collection of trailers used for business and a quiet group of people wandering the grounds wearing flowing white robes and turbans.

In the New Age culture here, the Sikh Dharma community, founded in the early 1970's, provides a place where admirers of Yogi Bhajan, a Sikh spiritual leader and yoga master, can live in harmony and follow their beliefs in vegetarianism, meditation and community service. Except for Yogi Bhajan, who was born in India and came to the United States in 1969, most members of the Sikh Dharma are American-born converts who moved here to pursue their way of life.

The compound is also home to Akal Security, wholly owned by the Sikh Dharma and one of the nation's fastest-growing security companies, benefiting from a surge in post-9/11 business. With 12,000 employees and over $1 billion in federal contracts, Akal specializes in protecting vital and sensitive government sites, from military installations to federal courts to airports and water supply systems.

Despite Akal's unusual lineage, Sikh Dharma members say they are following an ancient Sikh tradition of the warrior-saint - as well as showing deftness at the more modern skill of landing federal contracts. [...]

For all the group's unusual ways, government officials have few complaints about Akal. "Our people have done checks on them years ago and we have no issues with them," said John Kraus, a contracting officer for the Department of Justice. "Last I've checked, we've had freedom of religion."

One high-profile contract Akal recently garnered, beating 20 other companies, was for $250 million to provide security guards at five Army bases and three weapons depots. The Army has turned to the private sector to replace soldiers sent to Iraq.

Competition was based on ability, past performance and price, according to an Army official, who added that Akal's religious ties were not a factor, nor did Akal benefit as a religious group.

"We do not discriminate based on race, creed, religion or national origin," the official said. "It was never really a factor."

Because of that open approach, Akal has almost exclusively gone after government contracts.

"The federal government has created the fairest acquisition system in the world," Mr. Khalsa said. He added that with the company's low overhead - Mr. Khalsa, its top executive, earns a modest $90,000 - Akal is "very price-competitive" in the eyes of government agencies on tight budgets.

We could use some ghurkas too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 PM


It’s About Abortion, Stupid: And other moral issues. Why John Kerry has trouble making the moral argument (Melinda Henneberger, Sept. 24, 2004, Newsweek)

The Democrats are likely to lose the Catholic vote in November—and John Kerry could well lose the election as a result. It’s about abortion, stupid. And “choice,” make no mistake, is killing the Democratic Party.

A recent Zogby poll shows that in key battleground states including Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, Catholic voters are far more likely than the general public to vote for President George W. Bush over Kerry. In Minnesota, for instance, 60 percent of Catholics say they’ll go for Bush, versus 44 percent of all Minnesotans.

Zogby's Fritz Wenzel told the Catholic News Service he sees these numbers as a reflection of Catholic “concern about the legitimacy of the war in Iraq being overridden by ongoing discomfort with Kerry’s stand on abortion.”

It’s telling that the numbers only started to break that way in midsummer, after heavy news coverage of the debate over whether pro-choice Catholics (John Kerry, for instance. Oh, and John Kerry) were fit to receive communion.

Catholics overwhelmingly disagreed with the idea of turning anyone away from the communion rail. But the whole wafer watch, as one priest I know called it, did serve a purpose. The handful of bishops who raised the issue reminded voters that Kerry is “personally opposed” to abortion, whatever that means, but votes in favor of abortion rights. And that, of course, was the whole point.

Had to be the same geniuses who thought that being a vet would insulate the Senator from his anti-American national security record who thought that being a putative Catholic would get him the Catholic vote.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:07 PM


Bush's latest tax cuts seal legacy: His annual 'relief' puts Bush in the pantheon of big tax cutters. (Gail Russell Chaddock, 9/29/04, CS Monitor)

As pure politics, the Bush tax cuts are a textbook study in how to muscle bills through Congress. "It's unprecedented, the amount of tax-cutting Bush has done: Four tax cuts, four years in a row," says Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute.

A key to the Bush success: Close coordination with business and conservative groups and allies on the Hill. In addition to controlling both the House and Senate, the Bush team and conservative activists rallied the business community around annual tax cuts, even in years when business tax breaks were not included. Some business groups opposed the 1981 Reagan tax cuts, because cuts for them were not included. It's a pattern that conservatives scrambled to avoid in the Bush years.

"The goal in the first year was pro-family tax cuts and rate reduction. Business said, 'There's nothing in it for us.' We said, 'Wait until next year... Don't ever think you have to push someone off the train to make place for yourself, because there is another coming down the track," says Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. He organized a business working group, including major trade associations, to lobby for the Bush tax cuts.

If Republicans pick up two Senate seats, "We will be able to make the death tax cut permanent," he adds, referring to the elimination of estate taxes. Other conservative goals in a second Bush term include reducing the capital gains tax, ending "double taxation" of dividend income, and moving toward a flat tax. Another big priority in the second term: cutting government spending. "It's a huge issue for us."

The grand slam.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:49 PM


A Personal Message from George Soros: Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush (Prepared text of speech delivered at the National Press Club, Washington, DC, September 28, 2004)

I grew up in Hungary, lived through fascism and the Holocaust, and then had a foretaste of communism. I learned at an early age how important it is what kind of government prevails. I chose America as my home because I value freedom and democracy, civil liberties and an open society. [...]

The war in Iraq was misconceived from start to finish -- if it has a finish. It is a war of choice, not necessity, in spite of what President Bush says. The arms inspections and sanctions were working. In response to American pressure, the United Nations had finally agreed on a strong stand. As long as the inspectors were on the ground, Saddam Hussein could not possibly pose a threat to our security. We could have declared victory but President Bush insisted on going to war.

We went to war on false pretences. The real reasons for going into Iraq have not been revealed to this day. The weapons of mass destruction could not be found, and the connection with al Qaeda could not be established. President Bush then claimed that we went to war to liberate the people of Iraq. All my experience in fostering democracy and open society has taught me that democracy cannot be imposed by military means. And, Iraq would be the last place I would chose for an experiment in introducing democracy - as the current chaos demonstrates.

Of course, Saddam was a tyrant, and of course Iraqis - and the rest of the world - can rejoice to be rid of him.

This is a spectacularly moronic essay. Exactly how does Mr. Soros think the Holocaust was halted and fascism disposed of if not by the resort to military means to impose democracy? And is there anything more despicable than someone who had to flee Nazism and communism and now casts himself as an advocate of "open society" proclaiming that the Iraqi people should have been left subject to a completely closed society?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:35 PM


Teresa Heinz: Why John Kerry needs some of his wife's sauce. (Julia Turner, Dec. 11, 2003, Slate)

From the outset, Kerry's advisers kept a wary eye on Teresa Heinz. As the widow of Pennsylvania senator and ketchup heir John Heinz, who died in 1991 when his plane collided with a helicopter, she inherited around $500 million and responsibility for the billion-dollar Heinz family endowment. As she waded into state politics, she demonstrated a knack for the salty comments that make for riveting copy: She denounced Rick Santorum as "Forrest Gump with an attitude" when the conservative Republican ran for her more moderate first husband's seat. When she married Kerry in 1995, her association with the two ambitious senators—and speculation that the fortune of the first might bankroll the presidential ambitions of the second—made her even more intriguing than your average workaday heiress.

Journalists began sizing up Heinz when Kerry was still just "considering" a presidential run. In June 2002, the Washington Post's Mark Leibovich interviewed Heinz and Kerry and delivered a dishy take on their relationship, insinuating that Heinz was still very much in love with her first husband and prone to walking all over the second. Leibovich noted that Heinz still referred to John Heinz as "my husband" and that his photo hung alongside Kerry's in the hall. In conversation with Kerry, though, Heinz "snaps," "raises her voice," works up "a full head of rage," and "mimics Kerry having a Vietnam nightmare," just moments after he denies having any.

If Garry Trudeau were still doing Doonesbury he could revive that whole "manhood in trust" jibe that he never got to stick to George Bush Sr. and easily pin it on Cabana Boy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:37 PM


The Insurgency Buster (DAVID BROOKS, 9/28/04, NY Times)

Conditions were horrible when Salvadorans went to the polls on March 28, 1982. The country was in the midst of a civil war that would take 75,000 lives. An insurgent army controlled about a third of the nation's territory. Just before election day, the insurgents stepped up their terror campaign. They attacked the National Palace, staged highway assaults that cut the nation in two and blew up schools that were to be polling places.

Yet voters came out in the hundreds of thousands. In some towns, they had to duck beneath sniper fire to get to the polls. In San Salvador, a bomb went off near a line of people waiting outside a polling station. The people scattered, then the line reformed. "This nation may be falling apart," one voter told The Christian Science Monitor, "but by voting we may help to hold it together."

Conditions were scarcely better in 1984, when Salvadorans got to vote again. Nearly a fifth of the municipalities were not able to participate in the elections because they were under guerrilla control. The insurgents mined the roads to cut off bus service to 40 percent of the country. Twenty bombs were planted around the town of San Miguel. Once again, people voted with the sound of howitzers in the background.

Yet these elections proved how resilient democracy is, how even in the most chaotic circumstances, meaningful elections can be held.

They produced a National Assembly, and a president, José Napoleón Duarte. They gave the decent majority a chance to display their own courage and dignity. War, tyranny and occupation sap dignity, but voting restores it.

The elections achieved something else: They undermined the insurgency. El Salvador wasn't transformed overnight. But with each succeeding election into the early 90's, the rebels on the left and the death squads on the right grew weaker, and finally peace was achieved, and the entire hemisphere felt the effects. [...]

As we saw in El Salvador and as Iraqi insurgents understand, elections suck the oxygen from a rebel army. They refute the claim that violence is the best way to change things. Moreover, they produce democratic leaders who are much better equipped to win an insurgency war.

Of course, Mr. Kerry opposed our efforts in El Salvador and Nicaragua as well.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:16 PM


Edwards to rally Jersey (MICHAEL SAUL, 9/28/04, NY DAILY NEWS)

Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards will campaign for the first time today in New Jersey, a clear sign that the campaign is worried about losing the historically Democratic state to President Bush.

"New Jersey is a critical battleground state. At this point, it's pretty close," conceded Juanita Scarlett, a spokeswoman for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. "We certainly want to shore up our support."

While just last month Kerry was leading Bush by as much as 10 points in New Jersey, a flurry of recent polls show the two are now statistically tied. The state has 15 electoral votes.

Get out while you're young, Mr. Edwards.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 1:30 PM


Flirting With Disaster (Christopher Hitchens, Slate, September, 27th, 2004)

What will it take to convince these people that this is not a year, or a time, to be dicking around? Americans are patrolling a front line in Afghanistan, where it would be impossible with 10 times the troop strength to protect all potential voters on Oct. 9 from Taliban/al-Qaida murder and sabotage. We are invited to believe that these hard-pressed soldiers of ours take time off to keep Osama Bin Laden in a secret cave, ready to uncork him when they get a call from Karl Rove? For shame.

Ever since The New Yorker published a near-obituary piece for the Kerry campaign, in the form of an autopsy for the Robert Shrum style, there has been a salad of articles prematurely analyzing "what went wrong." This must be nasty for Democratic activists to read, and I say "nasty" because I hear the way they respond to it. A few pin a vague hope on the so-called "debates"--which are actually joint press conferences allowing no direct exchange between the candidates--but most are much more cynical. Some really bad news from Iraq, or perhaps Afghanistan, and/or a sudden collapse or crisis in the stock market, and Kerry might yet "turn things around." You have heard it, all right, and perhaps even said it. But you may not have appreciated how depraved are its implications. If you calculate that only a disaster of some kind can save your candidate, then you are in danger of harboring a subliminal need for bad news. And it will show. What else explains the amazingly crude and philistine remarks of that campaign genius Joe Lockhart, commenting on the visit of the new Iraqi prime minister and calling him a "puppet"? Here is the only regional leader who is even trying to hold an election, and he is greeted with an ungenerous sneer.

The unfortunately necessary corollary of this--that bad news for the American cause in wartime would be good for Kerry--is that good news would be bad for him. Thus, in Mrs. Kerry's brainless and witless offhand yet pregnant remark, we hear the sick thud of the other shoe dropping. How can the Democrats possibly have gotten themselves into a position where they even suspect that a victory for the Zarqawi or Bin Laden forces would in some way be welcome to them? Or that the capture or killing of Bin Laden would not be something to celebrate with a whole heart?

Once again, Mr. Hitchens makes an artful, impassioned case that will resonate with many Americans. Yet it is hard to believe this old savvy trotskyite who argued that Mother Theresa was a contemptible fraud and Henry Kissinger a war criminal is as scandalized as he makes out. From Lenin onwards, the recognition that war, depression and other disasters are to be wished for and welcomed as useful in promoting political ends is introductory political re-education stuff for the cadres. Is Mr. Hitchens shocked by the fact that some people would ever think this way or by the realization that marxist analytical tools have become so mainstream they now roll blithely off the tongues of even the horsey set?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:27 PM



Mr. McCAIN: I ask unanimous consent that the Senate now proceed to the consideration of H.R. 4655, which is at the desk.

The PRESIDING OFFICER: The clerk will report. The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

A bill (H.R. 4665) to establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq.

The PRESIDING OFFICER: Is there objection to the immediate consideration of the bill, There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill. [...]

Mr. KERREY: Mr. President, I rise to urge the passage of HR. 4655, the Iraq Liberation Act. Thanks to strong leadership in both Houses of Congress and thanks to the commitment of the Administration toward the goals we all share--for Iraq and the region, this legislation is moving quickly. This is the point to state what this legislation is not, and what it is, from my understanding, and why I support it so strongly,

First, this bill is not, in my view, an instrument to direct U.S. funds and supplies to any particular Iraqi revolutionary movement. There are Iraqi movements now in existence which could qualify for designation in accordance with this bill. Other Iraqis not now associated with each other could also band together and qualify for designation. It is for Iraqis, not Americans to organize themselves to put Saddam Hussein out of power, just as it will be for Iraqis to choose their leaders in a democratic Iraq. This bill will help the Administration encourage and
support Iraqis to make their revolution.

Second, this bill is not a device to involve the U.S. military in operations in or near Iraq. The Iraqi revolution is for Iraqis, not Americans, to make. The bill provides the Administration a portent new tool to help Iraqis toward this goal, and at the same time advance America's interest in a peaceful and secure Middle East.

This bill, when passed and signed into law, is a clear commitment to a U.S. policy replacing the Saddam Hussein regime and replacing it with a transition to democracy. This bill is a statement that America refuses to coexist with a regime which has used chemical weapons on its own citizens and on neighboring countries, which has invaded its neighbors twice without provocation, which has still not accounted for its atrocities committed in Kuwait, which has fired ballistic missiles into the cities of three of its neighbors, which is attempting to develop
nuclear and biological weapons, and which has brutalized and terrorized its own citizens for thirty years. I don't see how any democratic country could accept the existence of such a regime, but this bill says America will not.
I will be an even prouder American when the refusal, and commitment to materially help the Iraqi resistance, are U.S. policy.

Speech at New York University (John Kerry, 9/20/04)
Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.

They nominated the wrong Kerr[e]y.

Posted by David Cohen at 12:48 PM


Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry (A movie by George Butler, theatrical release 10/1/04)


Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry is a feature length documentary about character and moral leadership during a time of national crisis. Loosely based on the best-selling book Tour of Duty by Douglas Brinkley, Going Upriver examines the story of John Kerry and the key events that made him a national figure and the man he is today. The film places particular emphasis on his bravery during the Vietnam War and his courageous opposition to the war upon his return.

The film traces Kerry’s early life as a young man who chooses to enlist in the Navy and to go to Vietnam. The film reveals intimate, first person accounts of Kerry’s war service through his own private letters, his eloquent journal, and the vivid memories of the men who served at his side. When Kerry came home disillusioned by the war, he and his fellow Vietnam Veterans challenged Congress and the Nixon administration. As Kerry became a nationally known anti-war activist, the Nixon White House plotted to discredit his leadership, but significantly could find “nothing on him,” as Colson reveals via Watergate tapes. Despite Nixon’s attempt to undermine John Kerry’s political career during his 1972 unsuccessful run for US Congress, Kerry persevered, eventually winning election to the Senate and receiving the Democratic nomination for president in 2004.

Every once in a while, I go cruise through Democratic Underground because, first, I'm just slightly sadistic and, second, I want to make sure that I'm not the one with blinders on. The other day, I noticed a thread with the heading "October Surprise", leading to a discussion of this movie. Apparently, John Kerry was a war hero in Vietnam and then came back home to courageously oppose the war. Once the American people learn that, well, Katie bar the door, it's a Kerry landslide.

Obviously, the last thing the Kerry campaign (as opposed to the candidate) wants or needs right now is more time being spent on Vietnam. And yet its friends (Butler is apparently a good friend of Kerry's) and allies won't shut up about it. Mickey Kaus has pointed to this type of mixed message as one of the benefits of McCain-Feingold: Rather than being beholden to contributers who allow him to craft his own message, Kerry is more likely to be annoyed at uncoordinated attacks that step on his message. The problem is that, if Kaus is right, this ought to be symmetrical. Bush should be having the same problem. But the Bush campaign is self-evidently in control of its message and is simply not engaging with hostile or friendly 527s. The difference is that John Kerry doesn't have a message; he has only a muddle.

The real lesson of this campaign is that McCain-Feingold is irrelevant: voters see a consistent message coming from the well-run campaign and confusion from the campaign that has lost its way. If McCain-Feingold is irrelevant, why are we limiting political speech?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:33 PM


Losing Faith in the Intifada: As uprising enters fifth year, some Palestinians call it a political and economic disaster. (Laura King, September 28, 2004, LA Times)

When Abu Fahdi joined a Palestinian militant group and took up arms against Israel, he thought he was serving his people. Now he believes he did them only harm.

"We achieved nothing in all this time, and we lost so much," said the baby-faced 29-year-old, who, because of his status as a fugitive, insisted on being identified by a nickname meaning "father of Fahdi." "People hate us for that and wish we were dead."

The young militant, a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, is not alone in such thinking. Among Palestinians from all walks of life, there is a quiet but growing sentiment that their intifada, or uprising — which broke out four years ago today — has largely failed as an armed struggle, and lost its character as a popular resistance movement.

Moreover, many Palestinians fear that what has been, in effect, their military defeat at the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has left them without leverage to extract political and territorial concessions that would help lay the groundwork for their hoped-for state.

The official Palestinian line is that the struggle continues. Veteran leader Yasser Arafat and old-line members of his Fatah faction insist that ordinary Palestinians are unbowed by the overwhelming degree of force that Israel has brought to bear in cities and towns all over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which have been responsible for more than 100 suicide bombings over the past four years, also insist that they will continue to hit Israeli targets with all their strength.

But relentless Israeli strikes at the militant groups' leaders and field operatives, together with the partial construction of a security barrier meant to seal off the West Bank, are credited with reducing such attacks inside Israel by 80%.

For some time now, influential figures in Palestinian society — intellectuals, lawmakers, analysts, professionals and well-regarded local officials — have been asserting, almost matter-of-factly, that the violent confrontation with Israeli forces has reached a dead end and their people must look to the future.

"We have witnessed the destruction of Palestinian society — its civil institutions, its economy, its infrastructure," said Zuhair Manasra, the governor of Bethlehem. "The result has been a complete disaster for the Palestinians, at all levels. Now we must think how to rebuild."

Which makes the following speech resemble nothing so much as Reagan's Westminster address, President Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership (The Rose Garden, 6/24/02)
For too long, the citizens of the Middle East have lived in the midst of death and fear. The hatred of a few holds the hopes of many hostage. The forces of extremism and terror are attempting to kill progress and peace by killing the innocent. And this casts a dark shadow over an entire region. For the sake of all humanity, things must change in the Middle East.

It is untenable for Israeli citizens to live in terror. It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation. And the current situation offers no prospect that life will improve. Israeli citizens will continue to be victimized by terrorists, and so Israel will continue to defend herself.

In the situation the Palestinian people will grow more and more miserable. My vision is two states, living side by side in peace and security. There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror. Yet, at this critical moment, if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope. Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born.

I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.

In the work ahead, we all have responsibilities. The Palestinian people are gifted and capable, and I am confident they can achieve a new birth for their nation. A Palestinian state will never be created by terror -- it will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change, or veiled attempt to preserve the status quo. True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions, based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism.

Today, the elected Palestinian legislature has no authority, and power is concentrated in the hands of an unaccountable few. A Palestinian state can only serve its citizens with a new constitution which separates the powers of government. The Palestinian parliament should have the full authority of a legislative body. Local officials and government ministers need authority of their own and the independence to govern effectively.

The United States, along with the European Union and Arab states, will work with Palestinian leaders to create a new constitutional framework, and a working democracy for the Palestinian people. And the United States, along with others in the international community will help the Palestinians organize and monitor fair, multi-party local elections by the end of the year, with national elections to follow.

Today, the Palestinian people live in economic stagnation, made worse by official corruption. A Palestinian state will require a vibrant economy, where honest enterprise is encouraged by honest government. The United States, the international donor community and the World Bank stand ready to work with Palestinians on a major project of economic reform and development. The United States, the EU, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund are willing to oversee reforms in Palestinian finances, encouraging transparency and independent auditing.

And the United States, along with our partners in the developed world, will increase our humanitarian assistance to relieve Palestinian suffering. Today, the Palestinian people lack effective courts of law and have no means to defend and vindicate their rights. A Palestinian state will require a system of reliable justice to punish those who prey on the innocent. The United States and members of the international community stand ready to work with Palestinian leaders to establish finance -- establish finance and monitor a truly independent judiciary.

Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure. This will require an externally supervised effort to rebuild and reform the Palestinian security services. The security system must have clear lines of authority and accountability and a unified chain of command.

America is pursuing this reform along with key regional states. The world is prepared to help, yet ultimately these steps toward statehood depend on the Palestinian people and their leaders. If they energetically take the path of reform, the rewards can come quickly. If Palestinians embrace democracy, confront corruption and firmly reject terror, they can count on American support for the creation of a provisional state of Palestine.

With a dedicated effort, this state could rise rapidly, as it comes to terms with Israel, Egypt and Jordan on practical issues, such as security. The final borders, the capital and other aspects of this state's sovereignty will be negotiated between the parties, as part of a final settlement. Arab states have offered their help in this process, and their help is needed.

I've said in the past that nations are either with us or against us in the war on terror. To be counted on the side of peace, nations must act. Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media, and publicly denounce homicide bombings. Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel -- including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah. Every nation actually committed to peace must block the shipment of Iranian supplies to these groups, and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq. And Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations.

Leaders who want to be included in the peace process must show by their deeds an undivided support for peace. And as we move toward a peaceful solution, Arab states will be expected to build closer ties of diplomacy and commerce with Israel, leading to full normalization of relations between Israel and the entire Arab world.

Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine. Permanent occupation threatens Israel's identity and democracy. A stable, peaceful Palestinian state is necessary to achieve the security that Israel longs for. So I challenge Israel to take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian state.

As we make progress towards security, Israel forces need to withdraw fully to positions they held prior to September 28, 2000. And consistent with the recommendations of the Mitchell Committee, Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop.

The Palestinian economy must be allowed to develop. As violence subsides, freedom of movement should be restored, permitting innocent Palestinians to resume work and normal life. Palestinian legislators and officials, humanitarian and international workers, must be allowed to go about the business of building a better future. And Israel should release frozen Palestinian revenues into honest, accountable hands.

I've asked Secretary Powell to work intensively with Middle Eastern and international leaders to realize the vision of a Palestinian state, focusing them on a comprehensive plan to support Palestinian reform and institution-building.

Ultimately, Israelis and Palestinians must address the core issues that divide them if there is to be a real peace, resolving all claims and ending the conflict between them. This means that the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended through a settlement negotiated between the parties, based on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognize borders.

We must also resolve questions concerning Jerusalem, the plight and future of Palestinian refugees, and a final peace between Israel and Lebanon, and Israel and a Syria that supports peace and fights terror.

All who are familiar with the history of the Middle East realize that there may be setbacks in this process. Trained and determined killers, as we have seen, want to stop it. Yet the Egyptian and Jordanian peace treaties with Israel remind us that with determined and responsible leadership progress can come quickly.

As new Palestinian institutions and new leaders emerge, demonstrating real performance on security and reform, I expect Israel to respond and work toward a final status agreement. With intensive effort by all, this agreement could be reached within three years from now. And I and my country will actively lead toward that goal.

I can understand the deep anger and anguish of the Israeli people. You've lived too long with fear and funerals, having to avoid markets and public transportation, and forced to put armed guards in kindergarten classrooms. The Palestinian Authority has rejected your offer at hand, and trafficked with terrorists. You have a right to a normal life; you have a right to security; and I deeply believe that you need a reformed, responsible Palestinian partner to achieve that security.

I can understand the deep anger and despair of the Palestinian people. For decades you've been treated as pawns in the Middle East conflict. Your interests have been held hostage to a comprehensive peace agreement that never seems to come, as your lives get worse year by year. You deserve democracy and the rule of law. You deserve an open society and a thriving economy. You deserve a life of hope for your children. An end to occupation and a peaceful democratic Palestinian state may seem distant, but America and our partners throughout the world stand ready to help, help you make them possible as soon as possible.

If liberty can blossom in the rocky soil of the West Bank and Gaza, it will inspire millions of men and women around the globe who are equally weary of poverty and oppression, equally entitled to the benefits of democratic government.

I have a hope for the people of Muslim countries. Your commitments to morality, and learning, and tolerance led to great historical achievements. And those values are alive in the Islamic world today. You have a rich culture, and you share the aspirations of men and women in every culture. Prosperity and freedom and dignity are not just American hopes, or Western hopes. They are universal, human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of the Middle East, America believes those hopes have the power to transform lives and nations.

This moment is both an opportunity and a test for all parties in the Middle East: an opportunity to lay the foundations for future peace; a test to show who is serious about peace and who is not. The choice here is stark and simple. The Bible says, "I have set before you life and death; therefore, choose life." The time has arrived for everyone in this conflict to choose peace, and hope, and life.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:15 PM


House Odds (Charlie Cook, Sept. 28, 2004, National Journal)

In this polarized political environment, many insiders predict fewer ticket splitters, putting House incumbents who sit in the "wrong"
district in jeopardy. Think of Republicans in Connecticut or Democrats
in South Dakota.

This summer, House Democrats saw Kerry's lead in polls as an opportunity
to link blue-state GOP incumbents with an unpopular president.
Democratic challengers wanted to make races referenda on Bush, while
Republican incumbents in marginal districts focused on local issues. [...]

So where does this leave House Democrats going into the final month
before the election?

At this point, Democrats have just seven seats in serious jeopardy: five
Texas incumbents -- Reps. Martin Frost, Charles Stenholm, Max Sandlin,
Nick Lampson, and Chet Edwards -- and open seats in northern Kentucky's
4th District and southern Louisiana's 7th District. Even if Democrats
lose only four of those races, they will need to find 17 GOP-held seats
just to get to a bare majority. Republicans start with a one-seat
pick-up in Texas because Democrats are not competing for a newly created
district. [...]

Bottom line: The scenario today suggests that Republicans could gain or
lose as many as three seats. That would give Republicans a majority of
as many as 233 seats or as few as 227 seats.

So, if there's more straight party voting and few or no Blue States then what happens?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:07 PM


Anti-Bush Voters Seek Reasons to Back Kerry (Vanessa Williams, September 28, 2004, Washington Post)

Denise Mulle said she started out the election season more anti-Bush than pro-Kerry. But she read newspapers and Kerry campaign literature that helped her understand the Democratic presidential nominee's positions on the issues.

"It's not good enough to say that Bush is so horrible that I'd vote for Bozo before I'd vote for Bush -- even though that's what first brought me to the Kerry campaign," she said.

Mulle, 52, who runs a nursing home consulting business with her husband, Ken, said she wanted to do her part to help the Massachusetts senator, who she agrees has struggled to get his message out.

Using a list of undecided voters supplied by the Kerry campaign, Mulle sent out 100 invitations and called 80 other wavering voters to attend a reception at her home in this tony suburb of St. Louis on Sunday. About a half-dozen showed up.

As the guests sipped wine, the discussion was more a Bush-bashing session than a Kerry pep rally. "You've told us why we should not vote for President Bush," one woman said, "now tell us why we should vote for Kerry." Campaign workers rushed to answer the question, but it symbolized one of the biggest hurdles John F. Kerry faces.

This could be one of the epic achievements in the history of politics--an "anybody but fill-in-the-blank" candidate who is so unappealing that he can't capture the "anybody but fill-in-the-blank" voters. This is why it was a mistake for John Kerry to make any appearances after he secured the nomination. He was most attractive as a blank slate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:11 AM


Brown widens Labour divide (JAMES KIRKUP AND FRASER NELSON, 9/28/04, The Scotsman)

TONY Blair was last night urged by his allies to crush Gordon Brown’s leadership ambitions and signal a new era where challenges to his authority will no longer be tolerated.

The Prime Minister’s confidantes pressed him to use his conference speech today to make clear that the Treasury can no longer be an alternative political power base.

But 10 Downing Street was last night preparing to offer yet another peace deal to Mr Brown, with Mr Blair praising his accomplishments and focusing instead on explaining the Iraq conflict to delegates and the country.

In the first full day of the Labour Party conference in Brighton, Mr Brown delivered an impassioned and personal speech where he praised the "public sector ethos" and laid out a personal manifesto for the third term.

While it drew a standing ovation from delegates, it infuriated Mr Blair’s allies who said the Chancellor was sending an anti-privatisation message to his supporters and must be dealt with firmly today.

If Britain only had a mildly competent conservative party, this is the moment to steal the Third Way back from Labour and recast themselves as compassionate conservatives eager to help Tony Blair pass real reforms. It would break Labour in two.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 AM


On 'Mind,' Joss Stone soulfully stretches out (Renee Graham, September 28, 2004, Boston Globe)

It would be natural to talk about how much Joss Stone's voice has matured since her 2003 debut, "The Soul Sessions," except that this teenager has always had the seasoned, lived-in pipes of a singer decades older.

A 16-year-old blonde from rural England with a voice marinated in classic Stax soul might have seemed like a gimmick. And with "The Soul Sessions," primarily a collection of obscure R&B songs, such as Joe Simon's "The Chokin' Kind," some gently dismissed Stone as a vocalist with enough of an ear to mimic soulfulness, but without the emotional ability to plumb the rich truths within the songs.

Of course, such sniping completely missed a very vi- tal point -- regardless of age or upbringing, Stone has a smashing voice, resonant with passion, power, and sass. That's even more apparent with her new album, "Mind, Body & Soul," due in stores today. Freed from the dusty grooves of her debut's old soul records, Stone gets to show off more of her own, still-developing, musical personality, as well as display her deepening confidence and grace as a singer.Go to to hear clips from "Mind, Body & Soul." Stone co-wrote most of this album's tracks, and reassembles many of her debut's R&B stalwarts, including her mentor, singer-songwriter Betty Wright, guitarist Willie "Little Beaver" Hale, organist Timmy Thomas, and pianist Benny Lattimore. On various tracks she also gets assistance from Nile Rodgers (guitar on "You Had Me,") and ?uestlove (drums on "Sleep Like a Child.") Stone is the sparkling centerpiece, and it's her voice that propels this album through its 14 tracks.

Dusty Springfield wasn't built in a day.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:49 AM


Iraq too unsafe for polls, says Abdullah (Dawn, September 28th, 2004)

Iraq is far too unsafe to hold elections as scheduled in January and extremists would do well in the poll if Baghdad tried to hold it, Jordan's King Abdullah said in an interview to be published on Tuesday.

Excluding troubled areas from the nation wide poll would only isolate Iraq's Sunnis and create deeper divisions in the country, he told the Paris daily Le Figaro, according to a text distributed in advance.

The United States and Iraq's interim government insist the vote should go ahead as scheduled despite the worsening security situation. But The New York Times quoted US Secretary of State Colin Powell as saying: "We've got a tough road ahead of us."

"It seems impossible to me to organize indisputable elections in the chaos we see today," said the king, who was due to meet French President Jacques Chirac in Paris on Tuesday.

But then hereditary absolute monarchs tend to set the bar high for safe elections.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 AM


Reporters Put Under Scrutiny in C.I.A. Leak (ADAM LIPTAK, September 28, 2004, 9/28/04, NY Times)

Leak investigations are often halfhearted and one-sided enterprises. Suspected leakers are questioned, not always vigorously or under oath, and the source of the disclosure is seldom found. The journalists who could say for sure are almost never subpoenaed.

The Plame case is different. This is largely because, unlike most leaks, the disclosure of an undercover intelligence agent's identity is a felony. The disclosure of Ms. Plame's identity, moreover, may have been motivated by politics. And the investigation inside the government, in which the president, the vice president and many other officials have been questioned, seems to have been both exhaustive and inconclusive.

Mr. Liptak seems ton accept as a given that which, so far as we've seen, no one has established, that the disclosure in this case would be a felony, The Bush Administration Adopts a Worse-than-Nixonian Tactic: The Deadly Serious Crime Of Naming CIA Operatives (JOHN W. DEAN, Aug. 15, 2003, Find Law)
The Act primarily reaches insiders with classified intelligence, those privy to the identity of covert agents. It addresses two kinds of insiders.

First, there are those with direct access to the classified information about the "covert agents." who leak it. These insiders - including persons in the CIA - may serve up to ten years in jail for leaking this information.

Second, there are those who are authorized to have classified information and learn it, and then leak it. These insiders - including persons in, say, the White House or Defense Department - can be sentenced to up to five years in jail for such leaks.

The statute also has additional requirements before the leak of the identity of a "covert agent" is deemed criminal. But it appears they are all satisfied here.

First, the leak must be to a person "not authorized to receive classified information." Any journalist - including Novak and Time - plainly fits.

Second, the insider must know that the information being disclosed identifies a "covert agent." In this case, that's obvious, since Novak was told this fact.

Third, the insider must know that the U.S. government is "taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States." For persons with Top Secret security clearances, that's a no-brainer: They have been briefed, and have signed pledges of secrecy, and it is widely known by senior officials that the CIA goes to great effort to keep the names of its agents secret.

A final requirement relates to the "covert agent" herself. She must either be serving outside the United States, or have served outside the United States in the last five years. It seems very likely that Mrs. Wilson fulfills the latter condition - but the specific facts on this point have not yet been reported.

It's not clear from the reporting that's been done so far that any one of these conditions was met.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:36 AM


Sleep study touts therapy over pills (Scott Allen, September 28, 2004, Boston Globe)

A handful of therapy sessions does more to help chronic insomniacs get to sleep than the top-selling sleeping pill, according to a new Harvard Medical School study, suggesting that doctors are relying too heavily on medications to treat Americans' increasingly restless nights.

A quarter of adults take sleeping pills at some point during the year, according to a National Sleep Foundation survey, reflecting the difficulty that more than half of Americans have sleeping at least a few nights a week. But the Harvard study found that among people who chronically struggle with insomnia, advice from a therapist is more likely to produce a normal night's rest than Ambien, the top-selling sleep aid, with sales of $1.5 billion for 2003.

"The first line of treatment should be cognitive behavior therapy, not drugs, and in 75 percent of patients, that is going to be more effective," said Gregg Jacobs of the Sleep Disorders Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, lead author of the study.

Jacobs said sleeping pills should be prescribed mainly for people whose insomnia is caused by an event or illness, such as jet lag from a long trip or the side effects of chemotherapy. Other insomniacs, he said, are staying awake in part because of bad sleep habits that a behavior therapist can best help to change.

Therapists' advice typically includes such basics as going to bed only when drowsy and getting up at the same time every day, even after a poor night's sleep. The objective is to get insomniacs to unlearn bad habits such as paying bills in bed, worrying instead of sleeping, and keeping themselves awake at night with coffee and strenuous exercise.

It's all about sleep hygiene.

September 27, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:25 PM


Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (October 31, 1998)

An Act

To establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Iraq Liberation Act of 1998'.


The Congress makes the following findings:

(1) On September 22, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, starting an 8 year war in which Iraq employed chemical weapons against Iranian troops and ballistic missiles against Iranian cities.

(2) In February 1988, Iraq forcibly relocated Kurdish civilians from their home villages in the Anfal campaign, killing an estimated 50,000 to 180,000 Kurds.

(3) On March 16, 1988, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurdish civilian opponents in the town of Halabja, killing an estimated 5,000 Kurds and causing numerous birth defects that affect the town today.

(4) On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded and began a 7 month occupation of Kuwait, killing and committing numerous abuses against Kuwaiti civilians, and setting Kuwait's oil wells ablaze upon retreat.

(5) Hostilities in Operation Desert Storm ended on February 28, 1991, and Iraq subsequently accepted the ceasefire conditions specified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 (April 3, 1991) requiring Iraq, among other things, to disclose fully and permit the dismantlement of its weapons of mass destruction programs and submit to long-term monitoring and verification of such dismantlement.

(6) In April 1993, Iraq orchestrated a failed plot to assassinate former President George Bush during his April 14-16, 1993, visit to Kuwait.

(7) In October 1994, Iraq moved 80,000 troops to areas near the border with Kuwait, posing an imminent threat of a renewed invasion of or attack against Kuwait.

(8) On August 31, 1996, Iraq suppressed many of its opponents by helping one Kurdish faction capture Irbil, the seat of the Kurdish regional government.

(9) Since March 1996, Iraq has systematically sought to deny weapons inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) access to key facilities and documents, has on several occasions endangered the safe operation of UNSCOM helicopters transporting UNSCOM personnel in Iraq, and has persisted in a pattern of deception and concealment regarding the history of its weapons of mass destruction programs.

(10) On August 5, 1998, Iraq ceased all cooperation with UNSCOM, and subsequently threatened to end long-term monitoring activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and UNSCOM.

(11) On August 14, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-235, which declared that `the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations.'.

(12) On May 1, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-174, which made $5,000,000 available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition for such activities as organization, training, communication and dissemination of information, developing and implementing agreements among opposition groups, compiling information to support the indictment of Iraqi officials for war crimes, and for related purposes.


It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.


(a) AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE- The President may provide to the Iraqi democratic opposition organizations designated in accordance with section 5 the following assistance:


(A) Grant assistance to such organizations for radio and television broadcasting by such organizations to Iraq.

(B) There is authorized to be appropriated to the United States Information Agency $2,000,000 for fiscal year 1999 to carry out this paragraph.


(A) The President is authorized to direct the drawdown of defense articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense, defense services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training for such organizations.

(B) The aggregate value (as defined in section 644(m) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961) of assistance provided under this paragraph may not exceed $97,000,000.

(b) HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE- The Congress urges the President to use existing authorities under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide humanitarian assistance to individuals living in areas of Iraq controlled by organizations designated in accordance with section 5, with emphasis on addressing the needs of individuals who have fled to such areas from areas under the control of the Saddam Hussein regime.

(c) RESTRICTION ON ASSISTANCE- No assistance under this section shall be provided to any group within an organization designated in accordance with section 5 which group is, at the time the assistance is to be provided, engaged in military cooperation with the Saddam Hussein regime.

(d) NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENT- The President shall notify the congressional committees specified in section 634A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 at least 15 days in advance of each obligation of assistance under this section in accordance with the procedures applicable to reprogramming notifications under section 634A.


(1) IN GENERAL- Defense articles, defense services, and military education and training provided under subsection (a)(2) shall be made available without reimbursement to the Department of Defense except to the extent that funds are appropriated pursuant to paragraph (2).

(2) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS- There are authorized to be appropriated to the President for each of the fiscal years 1998 and 1999 such sums as may be necessary to reimburse the applicable appropriation, fund, or account for the value (as defined in section 644(m) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961) of defense articles, defense services, or military education and training provided under subsection (a)(2).


(1) Amounts authorized to be appropriated under this section are authorized to remain available until expended.

(2) Amounts authorized to be appropriated under this section are in addition to amounts otherwise available for the purposes described in this section.

(g) AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE- Activities under this section (including activities of the nature described in subsection (b)) may be undertaken notwithstanding any other provision of law.


(a) INITIAL DESIGNATION- Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall designate one or more Iraqi democratic opposition organizations that the President determines satisfy the criteria set forth in subsection (c) as eligible to receive assistance under section 4.

(b) DESIGNATION OF ADDITIONAL ORGANIZATIONS- At any time subsequent to the initial designation pursuant to subsection (a), the President may designate one or more additional Iraqi democratic opposition organizations that the President determines satisfy the criteria set forth in subsection (c) as eligible to receive assistance under section 4.

(c) CRITERIA FOR DESIGNATION- In designating an organization pursuant to this section, the President shall consider only organizations that--

(1) include a broad spectrum of Iraqi individuals, groups, or both, opposed to the Saddam Hussein regime; and

(2) are committed to democratic values, to respect for human rights, to peaceful relations with Iraq's neighbors, to maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity, and to fostering cooperation among democratic opponents of the Saddam Hussein regime.

(d) NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENT- At least 15 days in advance of designating an Iraqi democratic opposition organization pursuant to this section, the President shall notify the congressional committees specified in section 634A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 of his proposed designation in accordance with the procedures applicable to reprogramming notifications under section 634A.


Consistent with section 301 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993 (Public Law 102-138), House Concurrent Resolution 137, 105th Congress (approved by the House of Representatives on November 13, 1997), and Senate Concurrent Resolution 78, 105th Congress (approved by the Senate on March 13, 1998), the Congress urges the President to call upon the United Nations to establish an international criminal tribunal for the purpose of indicting, prosecuting, and imprisoning Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi officials who are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide, and other criminal violations of international law.


It is the sense of the Congress that once the Saddam Hussein regime is removed from power in Iraq, the United States should support Iraq's transition to democracy by providing immediate and substantial humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, by providing democracy transition assistance to Iraqi parties and movements with democratic goals, and by convening Iraq's foreign creditors to develop a multilateral response to Iraq's foreign debt incurred by Saddam Hussein's regime.


Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or otherwise speak to the use of United States Armed Forces (except as provided in section 4(a)(2)) in carrying out this Act.

The Iraq Liberation Act (October 31, 1998)


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

October 31, 1998


Today I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998." This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers.

Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are: The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.

The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.

My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership.

In the meantime, while the United States continues to look to the Security Council's efforts to keep the current regime's behavior in check, we look forward to new leadership in Iraq that has the support of the Iraqi people. The United States is providing support to opposition groups from all sectors of the Iraqi community that could lead to a popularly supported government.

On October 21, 1998, I signed into law the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, which made $8 million available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition. This assistance is intended to help the democratic opposition unify, work together more effectively, and articulate the aspirations of the Iraqi people for a pluralistic, participa--tory political system that will include all of Iraq's diverse ethnic and religious groups. As required by the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for FY 1998 (Public Law 105-174), the Department of State submitted a report to the Congress on plans to establish a program to support the democratic opposition. My Administration, as required by that statute, has also begun to implement a program to compile information regarding allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes by Iraq's current leaders as a step towards bringing to justice those directly responsible for such acts.

The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 provides additional, discretionary authorities under which my Administration can act to further the objectives I outlined above. There are, of course, other important elements of U.S. policy. These include the maintenance of U.N. Security Council support efforts to eliminate Iraq's weapons and missile programs and economic sanctions that continue to deny the regime the means to reconstitute those threats to international peace and security. United States support for the Iraqi opposition will be carried out consistent with those policy objectives as well. Similarly, U.S. support must be attuned to what the opposition can effectively make use of as it develops over time. With those observations, I sign H.R. 4655 into law.



October 31, 1998.

So, I'm confused about something: the same Senator Kerry who voted for that act, which made regime change official U.S. policy, recently said that:
Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.

By his own current lights, in voting to effect regime change in Iraq wasn't he choosing chaotic democracy for Iraq over an American security that required the brutal repression of the Iraqi people by Saddam? At what point did he switch sides?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:51 PM


Homestate Crowd Walks Out on Edwards (NewsMax, 9/27/04)

Half the audience who showed up last week to see John Edwards' first South Carolina appearance since he won his home state's primary in February walked out before he arrived - two hours late.

And in another sign of trouble in paradise, the state's Democratic Senate candidate - whose campaign the Edwards visit was supposed to boost - declined to be seen on the same stage with him.

Democrat U.S. Senate hopeful Inez Tenenbaum "has gone to great lengths to distance herself from the national party," reports the South Carolina newspaper, The State.

Edwards "is about as close as she’s going to allow herself to get to the national party," the paper added, noting, "Tenenbaum didn’t appear on the platform with him" at either the rally or a fund-raiser scheduled for later that day.

Aides said she would have skipped the event altogether if John Kerry had been the guest of honor.

They're sending John Edwards, who was quitting the Senate rather than be defeated for re-election, to campaign in a state where they don't have a prayer and the Senate candidate doesn't want them showing up, and he's two hours late to boot? These guys couldn't pour ketchup out of a windsurfing boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 PM


He feels Democratic but votes Republican: I'm in a political battle for my own soul. (Brian Kantz, 9/28/04, CS Monitor)

Entirely appropriate since Democratic policies derive from feelings and Republican from thought.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 PM


If Howard Dean Were the Candidate ...: Flip-flops wouldn't be the issue; Iraq would. A look at what might have been (PETER BEINART, 9/27/04, TIME)

Political punditry is harder than it looks. That's what a lot of Democratic voters must be thinking right about now. Last winter Democratic-primary voters played political consultant. They tried to step inside the minds of swing voters and figure out which Democratic presidential candidate could beat George W. Bush. With an eye cast coldly on November, they rejected the man who had first won their hearts, Howard Dean, and flocked to the more "electable" choice, John Kerry. Among New Hampshire voters who said beating Bush was their biggest concern, Kerry beat Dean by a whopping 52 points.

Democratic voters should stick to their day jobs. With just five weeks until Election Day, there's reason to believe they guessed wrong — that Dean would be doing better against Bush than Kerry is. Yes, it's too late for Democrats to switch horses, but imagining how Dean might have done sheds light on what's going on now.

Given the robust economy, an incumbent president and a re-conservatizing America, there was no way the Democrats were ever going to win this election, however Howard Dean would have been a better nominee because he's got the necessary executive experience, doesn't have the deadly Senate voting record, and has a much more palatable personal demeanor. It is an indicator of how weak the Democrats are though that the best candidate they had on offer was another Northeastern liberal who'd not have been able to contend in any state south of Maryland.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 PM


Al Qaeda's Uzbek bodyguards: As Pakistan rounds up more Al Qaeda operatives in its cities, hundreds of Uzbek fighters remain in the tribal hills. (Owais Tohid, 9/28/04, CS Monitor)

Hundreds of Uzbek militants now form the bulwark of Al Qaeda's defenses in South Waziristan. The Central Asians are filling the ranks left by Arab fighters who left the region for the Middle East on the orders of Mr. bin Laden months ago, say tribal sources.

"The Arab militants hardly participate in the [South Waziristan] fight as they have handed over control of the battlefield to these Uzbeks. This saves their ranks from losses," says tribesman Mohammad Noor. "They are using the Uzbeks cleverly here. Many locals are now unhappy with the Uzbeks" for drawing attacks from Pakistani forces.

With Al Qaeda's leadership focused on broad planning, command of the day-to-day fighting in the tribal region has been delegated to Qari Tahir Yaldashev. Mr. Yaldashev, who is directly linked to Al Qaeda's leadership, was a founding member of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). He was the deputy of IMU's founder, Juma Naghanmani, who was killed in Afghanistan by US bombings following Sept. 11, 2001.

After suffering casualties from US forces in the Shah-e Kot mountains of Afghanistan, Yaldashev and some 250 families of Central Asian militants fled to South Waziristan. They joined hordes of Al Qaeda militants of Arab and African origins who escaped the US and its allies at the battle of Tora Bora.

Most of these militants found South Waziristan a haven; local mujahideen and staunch Islamist tribesmen were both ideological counterparts and fellow veterans of the US-sponsored fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Thus emerged a new anti-US triangle made up of core Al Qaeda militants, Central Asian fighters from Uzbekistan and Chechnya, and local force of tribesmen.

In the past, "Al Qaeda never let militants from other regions enter the inner circle, which is purely of Arab origin. But Al Qaeda leadership is aware of the qualities of Uzbek militants and their women.... Both are known as staunch jihadis," says Peshawar-based analyst, Mohammad Riaz.

Hard to believe that if Osama were alive and/or al Qaeda had any options they'd rely on non-Arabs. But, hey, all news in the war on terror is bad news, right?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 PM


New Health Savings Accounts Only Favor Savers (John Wasik, 9/27/04, Bloomberg)

If you are relatively young, healthy and a disciplined saver, the new Health Savings Account is like a super-sized Individual Retirement Account.

On the other hand, if you are a poor saver and have chronic health
problems, the new account may be an expensive shell game that mocks the
claim of the White House and lawmakers who say it's the bright future of
U.S. health care.

Touted as an "ownership" solution to health care, the HSA shifts more
medical expenses to individuals in exchange for a tax-sheltered savings
or investment account.

The point of course is to start them at birth so that you have them during the years when almost all of us are relatively healthy. If you're unfortunate enough not to be so blessed it will obviously make sense for you to get a less attractive but more comprehensive form of coverage.

Meanwhile, an added benefit of the accounts is that they may tend to make people better savers generally. Even people who are not good savers will presumably prefer to keep money for themselves than squandering it on needless medical procedures and treatments, no?

At any rate, you don't design universal systems for the exceptions, but for the rule.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:26 PM


Town at war over 'peace monument' (Bruce Hutchinson, National Post, September 27th, 2004)

Fox News producers learned of a local plan, hatched this month, to celebrate and memorialize thousands of U.S. draft dodgers and war objectors who ran to Canada during the war in Vietnam. Dozens are said to have settled here, in this bucolic, mountainside community 700 kilometres east of Vancouver.

The Fox crew arrived last week, and its story was broadcast internationally.

Nelson's city hall was immediately flooded with angry phone calls, e-mails and letters, most of them from furious Americans vowing never to set foot here again.

The dodgy celebration is the brainchild of a small group with an excruciatingly long name, and an equally cumbersome acronym: the Reunion Committee to Reunite War Resisters and Those Who Assisted Them during the Vietnam War, or RCRWRTWATDVW.

Leading the group is Isaac Romano, a local child therapist who moved here from Seattle five years ago. He envisions a ''spectacular'' weekend of discussion, and the premiere of a feature- length documentary about American war objectors in Canada.

What really seemed to rankle Fox viewers, however, is RCRWRTWATDVW's plan to unveil a metal sculpture meant to honour male and female war objectors, and Canada's role in welcoming them from the U.S. The work will depict a trio of people holding hands.

''If you think a monument to yellow belly cowards is going to somehow give a sense of respectfulness to these shameful Americans, who turned their backs on their country, you are sadly mistaken,'' one angry American wrote in an e-mail to city hall. ''I for one will never visit your town and spend a thin dime ever again, if this thing is built.''

That was among the milder comments the city received.

Contrary to popular belief, the Canadian component of RCRWRTWATDVW was not motivated by anti-Americanism. They were on a purely humanitarian mission. Somebody had to teach those guys macrame fast or they would have starved.

Posted by David Cohen at 8:20 PM


No French or German turn on Iraq (Jo Johnson, Betrand Benoit and James Harding, Financial Times, 9/26/04)

French and German government officials say they will not significantly increase military assistance in Iraq even if John Kerry, the Democratic presidential challenger, is elected on November 2.

Mr Kerry, who has attacked President George W. Bush for failing to broaden the US-led alliance in Iraq, has pledged to improve relations with European allies and increase international military assistance in Iraq.

"I cannot imagine that there will be any change in our decision not to send troops, whoever becomes president," Gert Weisskirchen, member of parliament and foreign policy expert for Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party, said in an interview.

The French and the Germans are not willing to fight for American principles. Senator Kerry should understand that if anyone does.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:14 PM


Free to Clone (BRIAN ALEXANDER, 9/26/04, NY Times Magazine)

This election year, the debate over cloning technology has become a circus -- and hardly anybody has noticed the gorilla hiding in the tent. Even while President Bush has endorsed throwing scientists in jail to stop ''reckless experiments'' (and has tried to muscle the U.N. into adopting a ban on all forms of cloning, even for research), it's just possible the First Amendment will protect researchers who want to perform cloning research.

Dr. Leon Kass, the chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics and a cloning foe, would like to keep that a secret. ''I don't want to encourage such thinking,'' he said during the council's July 24, 2003, session. But the notion that the First Amendment creates a ''right to research'' has been around for a long time, and Kass knows it.

In 1977, four eminent legal scholars -- Thomas Emerson, Jerome Barron, Walter Berns and Harold P. Green -- were asked to testify before the House Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space. At the time, there was alarm in the country over recombinant DNA, or gene splicing. Some people feared clones, designer babies, a plague of superbacteria. The committee wanted to know if the federal government should, or could, restrict the science.

''Certainly the overwhelming tenor of the testimony was in favor of protecting it,'' Barron, who now teaches at George Washington University, recalls. ''I did say scientific research comes within the umbrella of the First Amendment, and I still feel that way.''

Berns, a conservative political scientist who is now at the American Enterprise Institute, was forced to agree. He didn't like this conclusion, because he feared the consequences of tinkering with nature, but even after consulting with Kass before his testimony, he told Congress that ''the First Amendment protected this kind of research.'' Today, he believes it protects cloning experiments as well.

Research may be protected in some general way by the First Amendment--certainly some aspects would--but the idea that just because you claim that you are engaged in science you have the absolute right to fiddle with the integrity of another person or even kill them is too bizarre to be countenanced. The exact argument that Mr. Alexander is making would protect those who conducted the Tuskeegee experiments and the eugenicists who applied Darwinism on innocent and helpless victims. We've run the experiment of giving science free reign over humans once, with disastrous results. There's no excuse for making the same mistake again.

Posted by David Cohen at 7:28 PM


Kerry appeals for end to election advertising war (afp, 9/27/04)

Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry appealed for an end to the TV advertising war that has marked his election battle against President George W. Bush.

Kerry said the avalanche of negative television spots and attacks being shown on US screens was scaring off voters.

"Americans need a real conversation over our future," Kerry said in a speech at a school in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

"What they don't need is all these trumped up advertisements, they just make people curl up and walk away," added the Massachusetts senator.

"I'm calling them 'misleadisments,'" Kerry said of the adverts. "It's all scare tactics ... because (Bush) has no record to run on."

The Democrats have complained bitterly about a new advertisement that shows Osama bin Laden, September 11 hijack leader Mohamed Atta, Saddam Hussein and the ruins of the World Trade Center, and questioned whether Kerry was up to dealing with them.

There's so much here my head is going to explode.

1. "Hey, George, it's John. You know those vicious attack ads that have devastated my campaign, while not touching you? Why don't we call them off?"

2. I'm sure that makes sense to Agence France-Presse.

3. This is the perfect campaign. They haven't missed a single item on the loser's checklist.

4. How far up inside the bubble are these guys stuck? No matter how much the Democrats assure each other otherwise, the American people just don't hate the President. Showing up is not enough to elect JFK II.

5. "Misleadisments"? That's just pathetic.

6. (From Kay) Saying that the President doesn't have a record to run on doesn't actually make it so.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:12 PM


EU constitution a threat to freedom: Czech president (TurkishPress, September 27th, 2004)

Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Monday dubbed the embryonic EU constitution a potential threat to freedom which would not resolve the problems facing the 25-nation bloc.

"It is a radical text with wide-ranging consequences for freedom and for the well-being and future of the nation state", Klaus said as he wrapped up the first day of a two-day visit to Spain.

The Czech leader, a dyed-in-the-wool Eurosceptic, told a conference on "European problems and their non-solutions" that the EU constitution as drawn up by former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing "does not resolve Europe's real problems."

He slammed the blueprint for dealing with what he called "narrow" issues, such as how many EU commissioners each member country should have or what voting weight each country should be afforded.

Casting doubt on the wisdom of foisting a single monetary policy on the union, Klaus told his hosts: "I am not sure that economic and monetary union can exist long term."

Klaus, who earlier lunched with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia at the royal Pardo Palace, earlier told El Pais daily that despite EU efforts to unite the continent "a European identity does not exist."

Klaus told El Pais that Europe was merely a "geographical abstraction," and later warned that any idea borders could be done away with "could end up destroying Europe."

He insisted it was a fallacy to regard Europe as having ever had a "collective identity" and excoriated the idea that "big is beautiful."

He told El Pais that in his view "European countries should be good partners but their differences should not be sacrificed on the altar of a united Europe, something which has never existed and which, I hope, will never exist."

They must just love him in Paris and Berlin.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:51 PM


A national retail sales tax? GREAT IDEA!: Aim for goals of liberty (HERMAN CAIN, 09/24/04, Atlanta Journal Constitution)

The most popular of the various national retail sales tax plans is called the FairTax. It is in both houses of Congress today as HB 25 and SB 1493. It is a replacement, not an add-on, for the federal income tax and for federal payroll taxes collected to fund Social Security and Medicare.

The FairTax provides a dollar-for-dollar replacement of all revenues now collected through such taxes and eliminates the need for annual and quarterly income tax filings, the surveillance by the federal government of wages and investment income and the need for anyone to hire an expert in order to comply with federal tax laws.

The FairTax is a progressive tax. The biggest-spending wealthy will pay an effective tax of $23 for every $77 they spend on new products and services. The poorest get money back. American families would receive a monthly refund equaling the amount of sales tax a poverty-level family would normally pay.

Here's your chairman of the President's tax reform commission.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:25 PM


Alaska's votes belongs to Bush, but the Senate is up for grabs (Mike Bradner, 9/26/04, Alaska Journal of Commerce)

The big question for Alaskans in the November general election is our choice in the U.S. Senate race: Republican Lisa Murkowski vs. Democrat Tony Knowles. This race will be a close one despite our general political colors.

The recent primary election results don't necessarily tell us much, not with closed primaries and their restricted ballots. As we went to the polls in August, Alaska voter rolls showed 115,104 registered Republicans and 69,182 Democrats. Compared with the 2002 primary election Democratic registration was down about 2,000, while Republicans were up about 1,000.

However, both party registrations are dwarfed by a huge pool of roughly 238,000 registered voters who declare themselves "no party or undeclared," plus another 35,000 voters who declare to be Libertarians, Greens, Republican moderates, members of the Alaska Independence Party and so on. This is a sizable independent quantum of voters. In many respects, this is the "independent jury" of the public, those to which partisan candidates must appeal in the general election. However, only about 50 percent of those registered in political parties or otherwise are likely to vote in the November election.

We also have just finished a contentious primary election on the Republican side in the U.S. Senate race. While the survivor, Murkowski, marshaled 45,477 votes, her challenger, Mike Miller, garnered an impressive 29,176. There are some unhappy voters among Miller's group, and Miller himself has seemed a reluctant endorser of Murkowski.

Despite the imbalance in party registration, we have a horse race between incumbent Sen. Murkowski and former Gov. Tony Knowles. Murkowski is the Republican appointed to the U.S. Senate seat by her father, Gov. Frank Murkowski, who resigned the senate seat in 2002 to become governor. Knowles served two terms as governor and is a former mayor of Anchorage.

Even Bob Dole got 58% in Alaska and W 59% last time, so you figure he's over 60% easy. Send Dick Cheney to make the case for how badly the GOP needs that seat in the Senate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:52 PM


Hardly seems fair to Flipper

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:26 PM


Disgraceful: The disgraceful behavior of John Kerry and his team is sufficient grounds for concern about his fitness to be president (William Kristol, 10/04/2004, Weekly Standard)

[K]erry and his advisers have behaved disgracefully this past week. That behavior is sufficient grounds for concern about his fitness to be president.

[K]erry was asked about Kofi Annan's description of the war in Iraq as an "illegal" invasion. Kerry answered: "I don't know what the law, the legalities are that he's referring to. I don't know." So the U.S. government is accused of breaking international law, and Kerry chooses not to defend his country against the charge, or to label it ridiculous or offensive. He is agnostic.

Then Kerry continued: "Well, let me say this to all of you: That underscores what I am saying. If the leader of the United Nations is at odds with the legality, and we're not working at getting over that hurdle and bringing people to the table, as I said in my speech yesterday, it's imperative to be able to build international cooperation." It's our fault that the U.N. is doing almost nothing to help in Iraq. After all, according to Kerry, "Kofi Annan offered the help of the United Nations months ago. This president chose to go the other way."

Leave aside the rewriting of history going on here. The president of the United States had just appealed for help from the United Nations and its member states to ensure that elections go forward in Iraq. Kerry could have reinforced that appeal for help with his own, thereby making it a bipartisan request. He chose instead to give the U.N., France, Germany, and everyone else an excuse to do nothing over these next crucial five weeks, with voter registration scheduled to begin November 1. If other nations prefer not to help the United States, the Democratic presidential candidate has given them his blessing. [...]

Two days later, Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi spoke to a joint meeting of Congress. Sen. Kerry could not be troubled to attend, as a gesture of solidarity and respect. Instead, Kerry said in Ohio that Allawi was here simply to put the "best face on the policy." So much for an impressive speech by perhaps America's single most important ally in the war on terror, the courageous and internationally recognized leader of a nation struggling to achieve democracy against terrorist opposition.

But Kerry's rudeness paled beside the comment of his senior adviser, Joe Lockhart, to the Los Angeles Times: "The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips."

Is Kerry proud that his senior adviser's derisive comment about the leader of free Iraq will now be quoted by terrorists and by enemies of the United States, in Iraq and throughout the Middle East? Is the concept of a loyalty to American interests that transcends partisan politics now beyond the imagination of the Kerry campaign?

John Kerry has decided to pursue a scorched-earth strategy in this campaign. He is prepared to insult allies, hearten enemies, and denigrate efforts to succeed in Iraq. His behavior is deeply irresponsible--and not even in his own best interest.

There is some chance, after all, that John Kerry will be president in four months. If so, what kind of situation will he have created for himself?

The same kind he left Richard Nixon in Vietnam and tried to create for Ronald Reagan in Nicaragua?

Flirting With Disaster: The vile spectacle of Democrats rooting for bad news in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Christopher Hitchens, Sept. 27, 2004, Slate)

Ever since The New Yorker published a near-obituary piece for the Kerry campaign, in the form of an autopsy for the Robert Shrum style, there has been a salad of articles prematurely analyzing "what went wrong." This must be nasty for Democratic activists to read, and I say "nasty" because I hear the way they respond to it. A few pin a vague hope on the so-called "debates"—which are actually joint press conferences allowing no direct exchange between the candidates—but most are much more cynical. Some really bad news from Iraq, or perhaps Afghanistan, and/or a sudden collapse or crisis in the stock market, and Kerry might yet "turn things around." You have heard it, all right, and perhaps even said it. But you may not have appreciated how depraved are its implications. If you calculate that only a disaster of some kind can save your candidate, then you are in danger of harboring a subliminal need for bad news. And it will show. What else explains the amazingly crude and philistine remarks of that campaign genius Joe Lockhart, commenting on the visit of the new Iraqi prime minister and calling him a "puppet"? Here is the only regional leader who is even trying to hold an election, and he is greeted with an ungenerous sneer.

The unfortunately necessary corollary of this—that bad news for the American cause in wartime would be good for Kerry—is that good news would be bad for him. Thus, in Mrs. Kerry's brainless and witless offhand yet pregnant remark, we hear the sick thud of the other shoe dropping. How can the Democrats possibly have gotten themselves into a position where they even suspect that a victory for the Zarqawi or Bin Laden forces would in some way be welcome to them? Or that the capture or killing of Bin Laden would not be something to celebrate with a whole heart?

Because they hate George W. Bush more than Islamicism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:06 PM


A Leak Probe Gone Awry: The year-old investigation into who named a covert C.I.A. agent has devolved, as we feared, into an attempt to compel journalists to reveal their sources. (NY Times, 9/27/04)

The focus of the leak inquiry has lately shifted from the Bush White House, where it properly belongs, to an attempt to compel journalists to testify and reveal their sources. In an ominous development for freedom of the press and government accountability that hits particularly close to home, a federal judge in Washington has ordered a reporter for The New York Times, Judith Miller, to testify before a grand jury investigating the disclosure of the covert operative's identity and to describe any conversations she had with "a specified executive branch official."

The subpoena was upheld even though neither Ms. Miller nor this newspaper had any involvement in the matter at hand - the public naming of an undercover agent. Making matters worse, the newly released decision by Judge Thomas Hogan takes the absolutist position that there is no protection whatsoever for journalists who are called to appear before grand juries.

This chilling rejection of both First Amendment principles and evolving common law notions of a privilege protecting a reporter's confidential sources cries out for rejection on appeal, as does the undue secrecy surrounding the special prosecutor's filings in the case.

Mr. Novak has refused to say whether he received a subpoena. But other journalists have acknowledged getting subpoenas and some have testified about their contacts with I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. They say they did so based on his consent, but consent granted by government employees under a threat of dismissal hardly seems voluntary. Once again, none of these journalists were involved in the central issue: the initial public identification of Mr. Wilson's wife.

Setting aside for the moment the question of whether there should be any privileges, the central issue is not that the information was revealed but whether it was illegal to reveal.

If the communication of information was in and of itself a crime then it can not, or should not, be privileged.

However, such communication would not even be illegal if Ms Plame was not covered by the statute because not a covert operative operating outside the United States in the last five years--which seems entirely likely--or if the CIA was not concealing that she had been covert--her identity seems to have been open knowledge in Washington--or if the revealer would not have known she had been covert--again quite likely.

If it wasn't illegal to reveal that she worked at CIA then the probe should end. If it was then the reporters should reveal details of the crime they unwittingly participated in.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:27 PM


Hamas: Arab state may have helped Israel with assassination (Amos Harel, Yoav Stern, and Arnon Regular, Haaretz Correspondents, and news agencies, 9/27/04, Ha'aretz)

Hamas said on Monday an Arab country might have helped Israel assassinate one of its leaders in Damascus, an act it called "treason."
Senior Hamas official Iz a Din al-Sheikh Khalil was killed by a car bomb in the Syrian capital on Sunday.

"We were not convinced initially, this would be treason for an Arab security apparatus to be involved in this," Hamas Lebanon head Osama Hamdan said of a report in the Al-Hayat daily.

The Arabic daily said an Arab country had given the Israeli spy agency Mossad information about the movements and habits of Hamas leaders abroad. [...]

Syria's response to the assassination was one of weakness and confusion. The government's official news agency released a short statement from an interior ministry source saying Khalil "did not carry out any activities on Syrian soil," and that various authorities were investigating the incident.

"He is one of the Palestinian citizens who was expelled by the occupation authorities to Lebanon, and he was not allowed to return to the Palestinian territories," the statement said. No details as to how the operation was carried out or who is suspected to be behind it were given.

"Our response will be civilized and sensible," said Ahmed al-Haj Ali, an aide to Syria's information minister. "It needs to be made clear that Damascus is not open to these criminals. "

If al Qaeda's aim was to provoke weakness, confusion, and charges of treason in the Arab world then you could say they're winning--or they would be if there were any of them left alive and out of jail.

Alleged Top al-Qaida Man in Lebanon Dies (AP, 9/27/04)

The alleged top al-Qaida operative in Lebanon, who was captured in a security operation that broke up a terrorist network, died of a heart attack Monday, hospital and security officials said.

Ismail Mohammed al-Khatib was taken from his prison cell to the Bahanes Hospital, 18 miles outside Beirut, after suffering a heart attack, but doctors were unable to save his life, hospital officials said.

Lebanese security officials confirmed al-Khatib's death of a heart attack.

Al-Khatib was one of two top operatives of al-Qaida organization captured by Lebanese authorities Sept. 17 along with 10 other suspects. The other one was Ahmed Salim Mikati.

Mr. Mikati is probably looking a little peaked too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:16 PM


Pawlenty pushes plan to double ethanol in gasoline (Associated Press, September 27, 2004)

Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed on Monday to double the portion of ethanol sold in every gallon of gasoline in the state, from 10 percent to 20 percent. [...]

He said that increasing the use of renewable fuels was one way to lessen the country's dependence on foreign oil. [...]

Pawlenty also announced plans to reduce the use of gasoline in state government vehicles by 50 percent by 2015. That would be done by using more alternative fuels, adding hybrid vehicles to the state fleet, and other measures.

The plan would also encourage the sale of hybrid vehicles to the public by allowing those cars to drive in express lanes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:12 PM


Is CIA at war with Bush? (ROBERT NOVAK, September 27, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

A few hours after George W. Bush dismissed a pessimistic CIA report on Iraq as ''just guessing,'' the analyst who identified himself as its author told a private dinner last week of secret, unheeded warnings years ago about going to war in Iraq. This exchange leads to the unavoidable conclusion that the president of the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency are at war with each other.

Paul R. Pillar, the CIA's national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, sat down Tuesday night in a large West Coast city with a select group of private citizens. He was not talking off the cuff. Relying on a multi-paged, single-spaced memorandum, Pillar said he and his colleagues concluded early in the Bush administration that military intervention in Iraq would intensify anti-American hostility throughout Islam. This was not from a CIA retiree but an active senior official. (Pillar, no covert operative, is listed openly in the Federal Staff Directory.)

For President Bush to publicly write off a CIA paper as just guessing is without precedent. For the agency to go semi-public is not only unprecedented but shocking. George Tenet's retirement as director of Central Intelligence removed the buffer between president and agency. As the new DCI, Porter Goss inherits an extraordinarily sensitive situation.

Pillar's Tuesday night presentation was conducted under what used to be called the Lindley Rule (devised by Newsweek's Ernest K. Lindley): The identity of the speaker, to whom he spoke, and the fact that he spoke at all are secret, but the substance of what he said can be reported. This dinner, however, knocks the Lindley Rule on its head. The substance was less significant than the forbidden background details.

What did Mr. Novak think was the point when his White House source told him that the Joe Palme Niger trip had been a CIA scam?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:03 PM

THE COMMON TOUCH (via David Cohen):

No Assault Rifle for Kerry, After All (JODI WILGOREN, 9/27/04, NY Times)

Senator John Kerry's campaign said yesterday that Mr. Kerry did not own a Chinese assault rifle, as he was quoted as saying in Outdoor Life magazine, but a single-bolt-action military rifle, blaming aides who filled out the magazine's questionnaire on his behalf for the error.

Here's the thing, someone on the Kerry campaign thinks it's better for him to be seen as the kind of guy who mistakes a flintlock, or whatever they're pretending it is now, for an assault rifle than the kind of guy who keeps his favorite gun in defiance of a government ban.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:35 PM


Report: Top Bin Laden deputy caught in Pakistan (THE JERUSALEM POST, Sep. 27, 2004)

Top Bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahri has been caught in Pakistan, according to a report from the region quoted on Israel Radio Monday.

Pakistani forces operating against al Qaida strongholds in the country report capturing the Egyptian national, who was formerly the head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which operated in the past against the Egyptian regime.

The Kerry campaign denounced this as a distraction from the war on the War on Terrorism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:27 PM


Campaigns leave red state Arizona behind (The Associated Press, 9/27/2004)

The presidential campaign has left Arizona behind. Democratic Sen. John Kerry made four visits and spent nearly $4 million on television commercials in an attempt to make the state competitive. But polls this fall show President Bush with a comfortable lead, and Kerry has tabled plans for advertising in the first week of October.

The Bush campaign responded by pulling down its commercials Friday. Kerry has not ruled out airing Arizona ads in late October, but advisers say privately it would take a significant shift in the race to put the state back in play.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:02 PM

STILL EARLY INNINGS (via Michael Herdegen):

Taking stock of GOP's revolution (John Aloysius Farrell, September 26, 2004, Denver Post)

With pomp and celebration, Republicans here are marking the 10th anniversary of the "Gingrich Revolution." [...]

What hath Newt wrought? When citing their accomplishments, the Republicans can claim just credit for reforming America's welfare system.

GOP congressional leaders joined with moderate Democrats and put a welfare reform bill on Bill Clinton's desk that fulfilled his campaign pledge to "end welfare as we know it" and gave him no choice but to sign it.

The new law's work requirements kicked in during the dot-com boom - an opportune moment of low unemployment and high economic growth. All sorts of social indicators soon signaled success. The poverty rate dipped, as did the percentage of teenage mothers and the number of children living in poverty.

An underappreciated skill of governing is recognizing when a wink is as good as a shove. The Republicans can claim credit for nudging along some favorable trends that, for largely demographic and sociological reasons, have continued to improve on their watch.

Crime is down, including violent crime. The rate of home ownership is at a record high. The mean net worth of American families was $245,000 in 1995 and $395,000 in 2001.

The Bush tax cuts may have shifted more of the overall federal tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class, but the Republican-controlled Congress also expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, raised the child tax credit and created a new 10 percent tax bracket that gives a break to the working poor.

Indeed, there are several positive trends in post-revolution America that don't fit the political stereotypes of Republicans as heartless, greedy polluters.

Hunger is down in America. Our air is cleaner. The death rate from AIDS fell from 16.3 per 100,000 in 1995 to 5.2 per 100,000 in 2000.

The immigrant dream is alive: The percentage of American children who speak another language at home has risen from 14.1 to 16.7.

And how's this for a sign of a strong social fabric? Under Republican rule, the number of interracial married couples has continued its climb - to 1.7 million in 2002. And African-Americans made significant gains in educational attainment and college degrees.

The GOP's economic record, it must be said, is middling. The party of business has presided over less-than-stellar growth, even with Republican Alan Greenspan chairing the Federal Reserve Board. Thanks mainly to the recession of 2001, the growth in gross domestic product since 1994 (an average of 5.16 percent) has not matched that of the preceding 10 years (6.9 percent) or the 10 years before that (10.2 percent).

If Mr. Gingrich was the shover, Mr. Bush is the winker par excellence.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:55 PM


Could Philip Roth's forthcoming novel tip the scales IN FAVOR of Bush?: Out next week, and right before what seems now to be a close presidential election, the book is sure to draw all sorts of contemporary comparisons and analogies. (Abe Novick, 9/27/04, Jewish World Review)

For many Jews going to the polls in November, they must wonder if the same long-standing enemies of Israel, are also the enemies of The United States due to its support of The Jewish State.

It will be interesting to see the debate swirl over Roth's corrosive satire.

But what will be even more fascinating, is the novel will be appearing during a nastily contested presidential election. One with many Jewish voters torn between President Bush's War on Terror and his support for Israel, and their longstanding, traditional loyalty to leftwing ideals personified by The Democratic Party.

The Wife's response upon hearing Mr. Roth interviewed on NPR: "I don't get it. If Lindbergh was an isolationist, isn't Kerry more like Lindbergh?"

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:49 PM


Bench mark: Election winner will have lasting impact (Greg Gordon, September 27, 2004, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

With one or more Supreme Court justices inching toward retirement, the November election could reshape the court and dramatically affect laws covering everything from abortion to civil rights to environmental regulation, legal experts say.

If President Bush wins, his appointments are expected to give conservatives a vise grip on the nation's highest courts for years to come. If Democrat John Kerry prevails, he is expected to swing the high court to the left of center.

"Clearly, the next president will be able to shape the course of justice in this country not just for four years, but for 40 years," said Nan Aron, president of the liberal-leaning Alliance for Justice.

If a Bush victory were followed by the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, widely viewed as the court's pivotal swing vote, "then I think rights and protections that we Americans cherish will be gravely threatened, particularly in the areas of [abortion] choice, civil rights and gay rights," Aron said.

Glenn Lammi, chief counsel for legal studies at the conservative-leaning Washington Legal Foundation, agrees that the election's effects on the courts could be huge, but he doesn't expect drastic change. He said that the Republican-appointed majority on the current court has issued no "outrageous" opinions.

And it's unlikely that Bush would choose nominees seeking "radical change," Lammi said, because they would almost assuredly provoke a fierce confirmation battle with Senate Democrats.

What's really exciting is that the President will have the opportunity to nominate qualified young conservatives who just happen to play to political constituencies. Here's a trifecta for you: Janice Rogers Brown, Miguel Estrada, and Viet Dinh.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:39 PM


Strong Charges Set New Tone Before Debate (ADAM NAGOURNEY and ROBIN TONER, 9/27/04, NY Times)

A senior Kerry adviser, Joe Lockhart, laid out what Democrats said would most likely be another major theme for Mr. Kerry leading up to the debate, as he accused Mr. Bush of "using the war on terror as a political tool and a political weapon" in seeking to silence dissent. [...]

"There used to be a time when aiding and abetting the enemy was a treasonous offense," Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said in an interview. "Now it's become a routine political charge."

If liberals had a sense of humor you'd swear this whole campaign was some kind of absurdist prank. First you have the spokesman for a major party presidential candidate telling the leading paper in the world that dissent is being stifled. Then you have Senator Durbin wondering not why aiding and abetting has become but why the charge has. Unfortunately, but necessarily, they appear not to get their own jokes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:20 PM


Bush Offends Sophisticates’ Pieties (John Zvesper, September 2004,

Journalists the world over have written off President Bush’s speech at the United Nations this week as a performance addressed more to his domestic electoral needs than to an international audience. [...]

What really offended the assembled delegates of the world’s governments and the watching journalists is that Bush presented this call for enhanced human dignity in the context of his call for widening the circle of liberty and democracy. As he said, "no other system of government has done more to protect minorities, to secure the rights of labor, to raise the status of women, or to channel human energy to the pursuits of peace." Though Bush—as always when discussing this topic—made it clear that the development of liberal democracy takes time and cannot be imposed from without, his discussion was offensive for several reasons.

First of all, the most immediate opportunities for this widening are located in the Middle East, with Iraq naturally at the top of the list. This suggestion—in addition to offending the anti-Israeli thinking of many UN member states—provoked the ill will that many UN representatives still feel towards Bush’s defiance of the non-decisions of the UN with regard to Iraq in 2003. Because the war in Iraq continues, this ill will is now accompanied by not a little feeling that having made its bed, the United States (and its often forgotten coalition partners) must lie in it. The prim told-you-so pronounced after Bush’s speech by the Swiss president, Joseph Deiss, has been frequently quoted in the European press: "In hindsight, experience shows that actions taken without a mandate which has been clearly defined in a security council resolution are doomed to failure." (In fact, previous experience would seem to suggest that very often it is such mandates that precede failure. As for the present case, we shall see.)

Another reason that Bush’s words fell on stony ground is that no one’s call for more liberal democracy is likely to please the majority of governments in the UN, who are neither liberal nor democratic, and could hardly be expected to rally to the cause of human liberty. As Bush did not hesitate to note, it is not only terrorists but also "their allies" who "believe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Bill of Rights, and every charter of liberty ever written, are lies, to be burned and destroyed and forgotten."

However, there was also (at best) a tepid response to Bush among the representatives of liberal democratic regimes, and this needs further explanation. What most offended these sophisticated UN delegates was Bush’s rejection of their postmodern pieties, their unwavering faith in the dogmas of pragmatism and moral and cultural relativism. Bush justified his call for the expansion of liberty by asserting that "the dignity of every human life" is "honored by the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, protection of private property, free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance." Many of these traditional liberal principles have become suspect in pragmatic, "progressive" circles. But especially grating to the postmodern mentality that dominates sophisticated minds in liberal democracies is Bush’s claim that "we know with certainty" that "the desire for freedom resides in every human heart," and that therefore the "bright line between justice and injustice—between right and wrong—is the same in every age, and every culture, and every nation." Recognition of such self-evident truths is completely inadmissible in the postmodern faith, in which the only certainty is that nothing is certain.

It's entirely appropriate for other nastions to hate George W. Bush more than Osama bin Laden because our ideas are transforming the world, not al Qaeda's.
The only way that Senator Kerry could hope to reconcile us to our former allies and varied enemies is to deny the self-evidence of the truths upon which our Republic stands. That would make him popular in Paris, Berlin, Beijing, Havana, Damascus, and Pyongyang, but despised at home.

Bush's UN speech, de-mythologized (Stephen Zunes, 9/27/04, Foreign Policy in Focus)

Commentators in the mainstream US media seem genuinely perplexed over the polite but notably unenthusiastic reception given to President George W Bush's September 21 address before the United Nations General Assembly. Why wasn't a speech that emphasized such high ideals as democracy, the rule of law, and the threat of terrorism better received?

The answer may be found through a critical examination of the assumptions underlying the idealistic rhetoric of the US president's message. Below are a number of examples: [...]

"The dictator [Saddam Hussein] agreed in 1991, as a condition of a ceasefire, to fully comply with all Security Council resolutions - then ignored more than a decade of those resolutions. Finally, the Security Council promised serious consequences for his defiance. And the commitments we make must have meaning. When we say 'serious consequences', for the sake of peace, there must be serious consequences. And so a coalition of nations enforced the just demands of the world."

First of all, the majority of member states that voted in favor of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 - which warned of "serious consequences" for continued Iraqi non-compliance - explicitly stated that this was not an authorization for the use of force and that a subsequent resolution would be needed. The two times in its history that the UN Security Council has authorized the use of military force to enforce its resolution - in response to the North Korean invasion of South Korea in 1950 and to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 - such authorization was quite explicit.

Second, if one were to accept Bush's interpretation of "serious consequences" as simply another term for a foreign invasion of a sovereign nation, it is downright Orwellian to claim that such "serious consequences" must be inflicted "for the sake of peace".

Finally, at the time the US launched its invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi government had allowed United Nations inspectors back in with unfettered access to wherever they wanted to go whenever they wanted to, and they were in the process of confirming the fact that Iraq had indeed dismantled, destroyed, or otherwise rendered inoperable its proscribed weapons, delivery systems, and WMD programs. Therefore, the US-led invasion did not "enforce the just demands of the world" since the demands were already being enforced without the use of military force.

Except that the just demands delineated in the Security Council resolutions included liberalizing Iraq. In effect, failure to change the regime himself put Saddam in violation of international law and required regime change from without. It's such a radical notion that folks don't seem able to wrap their minds around it, but the President has made it quite clear.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:05 PM

CLARIFY THE LINES (via Robert Schwartz):

What if America Just Pulled Out? (ROGER COHEN, 9/26/04, NY Times)

A decision to withdraw would focus the minds of Iraqis, and perhaps their neighbors, on the need to grapple seriously with establishing security and an inclusive political system. It would also remove a chief target of the insurgents - American infidels in uniform - and so presumably undermine their cause.

"A withdrawal plan says to the Iraqis: you want this to be your country, you must make the deals to keep it together," said Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. "If we are there to fight, they won't do this. So a timetable should be established."

But the counterarguments are also powerful. Withdrawal in the absence of stability would amount to a devastating admission of failure and a blow to America's world leadership. The credibility of the United States, already compromised, would be devastated. More than 1,000 young lives would appear to have been blotted out for naught.

Iraq might descend into all-out civil war and split into three pieces, one Kurdish, one Shiite, one predominantly Sunni.

The important thing here is that both the best case scenario--the Sunni triangle quieting down once we leave--and the worst case--open civil war between Shi'a and Sunni--are favorable to us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 PM


From Role Model to International Bully in Three Short Years: In September 2001, Europe wept for us. Now it won't even play baseball. (Frederic Morton, September 27, 2004, LA Times)

"How is your baseball team doing?" I asked my young bank teller friend in Vienna recently.

A small pause. "Tomorrow is our final game."

"Finished for the season?"

"Well, not just for the season," he said, looking down to count again, rather unnecessarily, the dollar bills he had just counted. "Uh, it's in view of what's been happening. I mean, I guess we're over that phase. We're going back to soccer."

Here lies:
(600 B.C.-August 1914 A.D.)
"Back to soccer."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:40 AM


The New Deal Debunked (again) (Thomas J. DiLorenzo, September 27, 2004,

Macroeconomic model builders have finally realized what Henry Hazlitt and John T. Flynn (among others) knew in the 1930s: FDR's New Deal made the Great Depression longer and deeper. It is a myth that Franklin D. Roosevelt "got us out of the Depression" and "saved capitalism from itself," as generations of Americans have been taught by the state's educational

This realization on the part of macroeconomists comes in the form of an
article in the August 2004 Journal of Political Economy entitled "New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General Equilibrium Analysis" by UCLA economists Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian. This is a big deal, since the JPE is arguably the top academic economics journal in the world.

"Real gross domestic product per adult, which was 39 percent below trend at
the trough of the Depression in 1933, remained 27 percent below trend in
1939," the authors write. And "Similarly, private hours worked were 27
percent below trend in 1933 and remained 21 percent below trend in 1939."

This should be no surprise to anyone who has studied the reality of the
Great Depression, for U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that the official
unemployment rate was still 17.2 percent in 1939 despite seven years of
"economic salvation" at the hands of the Roosevelt administration (the
normal, pre-Depression unemployment rate was about 3 percent). Per capita
GDP was lower in 1939 than in 1929 ($847 vs. $857), as were personal
consumption expenditures ($67.6 billion vs. $78.9 billion), according to
Census Bureau data. Net private investment was minus $3.1 billion from

Cole and Ohanian write as though they were surprised--even shocked--to
discover these facts, not so much because they were bamboozled by The Myth
of the New Deal, but because of their devotion to "neoclassical model
building" as opposed to the study of economic reality. They label as
"striking" the fact that the recovery from the Great Depression was "very
weak" (a dramatic understatement). And why is it so striking? Because
"[t]hese data contrast sharply with neoclassical theory . . ." [...]

[V]irtually every single one of FDR's "New Deal" policies made things even worse and prolonged the Depression. Austrian economists have known this for decades, but at least the neoclassical model builders have finally caught on--we can hope.

Cole and Ohanian apparently emerged from the rarified world of macroeconomic
model building for a long enough period of time to discover that the
so-called First New Deal (1933-34) was one giant cartel scheme, whereby the
government attempted to enforce cartel pricing and output reductions in
hundreds of industries and in agriculture. This of course was well
documented in John T. Flynn's book, The Roosevelt Myth, first published in 1948. Henry Hazlitt had also written about it some fifteen years earlier. "New Deal cartelization policies are a key factor behind the weak recovery, accounting for about 60 percent of the difference between actual output and trend output," the authors write.

The fact that it has taken "mainstream" neoclassical economists so long to
recognize this fact is truly astounding. For generations their own
neoclassical textbooks have taught that cartels "restrict output" to raise
prices. It has also been no secret that the heart and soul of the First New
Deal was to use the coercive powers of government to prop up wages and
prices by cartelizing the entire economy.

FDR and his advisors mistakenly believed that the Depression was caused by
low prices, therefore, high prices--enforced by threats of violence, coercion and intimidation by the state--would be the "solution." Moreover, it is hardly a secret that if less production takes place, fewer workers will be needed by employers and unemployment will subsequently be higher. Thus, the First New Deal could not possibly have been anything but a gigantic unemployment-producing scheme according to standard neoclassical economic theory.

It is our great misfortune that the War came along to bail him out before the New Deal could be thoroughly discredited.

MORE (via Mike Daley):
: A review of Rethinking the Great Depression, by Gene Smiley (Richard Vedder, August 31, 2004, Claremont Review of Books)

Over the last 60 years or so, there have been four kinds of explanations concerning why the Depression occurred. The first is the underspending hypothesis, the Keynesian favorite, which dominated discussion for several decades. According to this view, the Depression arose from underspending on consumer durables and housing in the very late '20s, which, in turn, may have been a byproduct of the maldistribution of income during that roaring decade (a twist favored by John Kenneth Galbraith). The stock market crash had a profoundly negative psychological impact, leading both consumers and investors to be cautious in their spending habits. Underinvestment and underconsumption following the stock market crash led to a need for "fiscal stimulus" in the form of government-induced increases in aggregate demand, preferably from government spending increases, but also from tax reductions. In the Keynesian view, that stimulus was not provided, at least not in sufficient doses. Smiley thinks, correctly in my judgment, that this explanation is fundamentally faulty, and largely ignores it.

A second explanation, which grew in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, focuses on the money supply and the failure of the Federal Reserve to stem a sharp decline in it, which induced significant deflation, leading to bank failures and the subsequent paralysis of business. This monetarist
explanation, championed by Milton Friedman and others, is respected by
Smiley, who believes that bank failures and related happenings played a
major role in the big economic descent after 1929.

A third explanation builds on old neoclassical notions of the determinants
of employment and unemployment, and on the Austrian theory of Ludwig von
Mises and Friedrich Hayek. It argues that excessive monetary creation by the
Federal Reserve in the 1920s led to artificially low interest rates, which
induced a spending boom that set the stage for the 1929 stock market crash.
Subsequently, Hoover's and Roosevelt's coercion of American business
prevented appropriate wage adjustments from being taken to alleviate
unemployment. Other interferences in markets (e.g., price-fixing under the
National Industrial Recovery Act) helped prolong the downturn as well.
Smiley likes this perspective, and draws on works by Murray Rothbard, Lowell
Gallaway, and me in his account of it. For example, he provides rich detail
on how the High Wage policy worked in practice, both during the Hoover
downturn and the tepid Roosevelt recovery.

The final explanation emphasizes the international dimensions of the
downturn, a perspective stressed by Herbert Hoover himself and numerous
scholars since. The Federal Reserve's fixation on the maintenance of the
gold standard led to policies that were wholly inappropriate, such as in
1931 increasing the discount rate (interest rate) that banks had to pay to
borrow from the Fed at precisely the time when appropriate monetary policy
(from the domestic standpoint) would have been the opposite. Add to that the
folly of the Smoot-Hawley tariff, enacted in 1930, and its subsequent
disastrous impact on imports to the U.S., and you have the basis of a severe
and prolonged downturn. Smiley loves this explanation, advanced in modern
times by Barry Eichengreen and others, and gives it prime billing.

The three types of explanation that Smiley emphasizes focus on failures of
public policy-poor Federal Reserve decisions, inappropriate tariffs (not to
mention higher income taxes), government-induced manipulation of wages and
prices by presidential "jawboning," laws like the National Industrial
Recovery Act, and so forth. The modern literature, well-interpreted by
Smiley, has moved dramatically away from the traditional Keynesian story of
market failure-of the inability or unwillingness of individuals and
businesses to spend enough money to get us out of the Depression. A major
intellectual rationalization for modern big government-that it must play an
activist role to overcome market-induced spending deficiencies, thereby
preventing major downturns-stands largely discredited, not by right-wing
ideologues but by scholars of every political stripe investigating nearly
every aspect of the Depression. Perhaps unexpectedly, and certainly without
much public acknowledgement, the Depression's use as a laboratory to
evaluate economic theories has contributed to a sharp decline in Keynesian
influence in the economics profession. By masterfully summarizing most of
the research and making it accessible to the lay reader in a compelling
manner, Smiley provides a great public service.

Posted by David Cohen at 11:12 AM


Carter fears Florida vote trouble: Carter has monitored more than 50 elections worldwide Voting arrangements in Florida do not meet "basic international requirements" and could undermine the US election, former US President Jimmy Carter says (BBC, 9/27/04)

In an article in the Washington Post newspaper, Mr Carter, a Democrat, said that he and ex-President Gerald Ford, a Republican, had been asked to draw up recommendations for changes after the last vote in Florida was marred by arguments over the counting of ballots.

Mr Carter said the reforms they came up with had still not been implemented.

He accused Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood, a Republican, of trying to get the name of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader included on the state ballot, knowing he might divert Democrat votes.

He also said: "A fumbling attempt has been made recently to disqualify 22,000 African Americans (likely Democrats), but only 61 Hispanics (likely Republicans), as alleged felons."

Mr Carter said Florida Governor Jeb Bush - brother of the president - had "taken no steps to correct these departures from principles of fair and equal treatment or to prevent them in the future".

"It is unconscionable to perpetuate fraudulent or biased electoral practices in any nation," he added.

"With reforms unlikely at this late stage of the election, perhaps the only recourse will be to focus maximum public scrutiny on the suspicious process in Florida."

Leaving to one side the idiocy of the arguments from the man who blessed the Venezuelan election, does anyone in their right mind think that this is at all helpful to John Kerry? If I didn't know better, I'd suspect that President Carter is preparing to explain why the President's reelection isn't legitimate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:43 AM


Angry Brown attacks Blair over Labour's true values (FRASER NELSON AND JAMES KIRKUP, 9/27/04, The Scotsman)

GORDON Brown has rejected the olive branch offered by Tony Blair over his demotion in the coming general election campaign, and today will launch a robust defence of his role as the guardian of Labour’s core values.

The Chancellor will tell Labour’s annual conference that they must be "based on more than a set of individual policies announced by politicians" - a remark that will be seen as a direct jibe at the Prime Minister and his allies.

He will also raise the issue of "trust", a delicate point for Mr Blair, who is now facing a vote on Iraq after delegates forced the issue as a topic for debate at a conference already overshadowed by the fate of hostage Kenneth Bigley. [...]

[M]r Brown will go on to challenge the assumption - championed by Mr Milburn - that campaigning on the economy is a vote-losing cliché that cost Labour dear at the European Parliament elections last June.

"With the economy central to people’s concerns at the election, as at every election, that is the way to maintain, entrench and retain the trust of the people and pay for the much-needed reform and investments in public services," Mr Brown will say.

He will launch a coded attack on the idea - popular among Mr Milburn and his aides - that the best strategy for the election is to forge a list of individual promises, spelling out to voters what a third Labour term will do for them individually.

He will say: "I want us to build a shared national purpose, a British progressive consensus much more than a set of individual policies announced by politicians, but a set of beliefs that come to be shared by the British people."

Bring back Clause IV!

Tony Blair needs a big idea. Adam Smith can provide it: No need to return to old Labour thinking to combat inequality (Gareth Stedman Jones, September 25, 2004, The Guardian)

[L]abour is terrified of the E-word because it fears the reaction to higher taxation for the rich. This would be understandable if it were simply a tactical concern. But it seems more basic. For the evidence suggests New Labour agrees with the new right critique that greater equality could only be at the expense of a free-enterprise economy, and that its pursuit would consequently lead back to an ever more entrenched public sector. In short, a return to Old Labour. Therefore, giving up "socialism" means abandoning the goal of greater equality as well.

This is a fallacy. It is based upon a foreshortening of history, in which the intellectual origins of neo-conservative laissez-faire are dated back to Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, of 1776. Omitted from the story is the fact that Smith's original reputation was that of a progressive whose work provided the foundation of the radical critique of aristocratic monopoly and of the bellicose state that protected it.

It also forgets that the first thinkers and activists to build on Smith's work were libertarians of the left. They included people such as the English radical Tom Paine and the French revolutionary Condorcet, both of whom believed growing inequality was not the inevitable price of a free-enterprise economy, but could be remedied by science and "the social art". They were the first to propose universal pensions and schooling, death duties and tax-based systems of social insurance as remedies for poverty and ignorance. For them, two obstacles confronted social advance: "force" (aristocratic or oligarchic rule and the laws that protected it); and "fraud" (unreasoning superstition and prejudice born of ignorance). Unshackled from this legacy of injustice and oppression, capitalism went together in their minds with scientific progress, increasing equality, free trade, feminism, anti-slavery, anti-colonialism and anti-racism.

This was not the founding moment of neo-conservatism. That came a few years later at the end of the 18th century with the frightened reaction to the French revolution. In England, loyalists burned Paine's effigy. In France, Condorcet died in prison. In this climate, anti-revolutionaries such as Edmund Burke and Thomas Malthus denied the radical implications of Smith's work, ridiculed Paine and Condorcet and set in motion the long-term association between liberal economics and conservative politics.

But an accurate account of this period shows that the pursuit of equality can be conceived in terms quite other than those of socialism. The language of Paine and Condorcet was that of the coming together of commercial society and the modern democratic republic elaborated in the era of American and French revolutions. Greater equality with a minimal state, universal education, moderate redistributive taxation and social security belonged together in a language of reason and citizenship. As little reliance as possible was to be placed upon the state, since it was associated with a legacy of tyranny and corruption.

Instead, the inequality and uncertainty constantly generated by a modern exchange economy was to be curtailed by a democratic constitution in which a framework of law was maintained by a combination of voluntary associations and local authorities - in modern terms, mutual associations, friendly societies, cooperatives, elected local boards, ethically oriented companies and trade unions.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, this new language of citizenship and democratic enlightenment was increasingly pushed aside by opposing extremes: on the one side, laissez-faire individualism and a language of markets; on the other side, socialism and the language of worker and capitalist.

Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and George W. Bush have tried to thread this needle with varying levels of success, but because it does involve departing from the respective parties traditional core values the effort can apparently not withstand, at least in the early stages of the process, any situation where the leader has to lean upon his base. They end up being able to dictate terms to him and demanding a return to orthodoxy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 AM


The Contender
Melvin Bilal is an attorney, a Republican, and a Muslim, and might be the next 6th District City Council representative—if he can beat incumbent Stephanie Rawlings Blake (Christina Royster-Hemby, Baltimore City Paper)

[R]awlings Blake is being challenged for her seat by Republican Baltimore attorney Melvin Bilal, who has been running ads on local radio stations to introduce himself to city voters. He says that accountability in local government is important to his campaign.

“I want people to hold me accountable,” Bilal says. “If in four years I don’t do what I say I’m going to do, then kick me out. This is what we should do for all politicians. If they’re not doing their job, they should go. And that is true for Stephanie Rawlings Blake.”

Bilal is an African-American man, who happens to be a Muslim and a Republican. He was the Maryland Republican Party’s nominee for lieutenant governor in 1986.

When asked how he reconciles being a Muslim and also a conservative, Bilal is quick to correct: “You assume that I’m a conservative Republican, I didn’t say that,” says Bilal, who was a staunch Democrat while growing up in the predominantly Republican town of Greenburg, N.Y., in the late ’60s. During that time, he says, he championed the Democratic cause tirelessly.

“At that time, Republicans fought a lot of civil-rights battles in the ’60s,” he says. “We had what we called ‘liberal Republicans.’ Now the party has changed.”

He says that these days being a black Republican makes good sense.

“People get too emotional about these parties,” Bilal says. “They should be used to benefit the constituents and individuals that join the party and those that they are concerned about.”

As an African-American, he says, “there’s no guarantee that either party will benefit us. No black [Democrat] has been elected [to statewide office] in Maryland, nor have they even run. The Democrats in that sense haven’t helped us.”

Bilal’s résumé is as diverse as his views: He owned and served as president and chief executive of a security firm called Security America Services for 22 years, and today he is an attorney who practices personal-injury and general-practice law for men who have been in prison. He also volunteers his legal services for Baltimore drug-treatment organization I Can’t, We Can. He’s chaired the foundation board of Coppin State College, been an assistant professor at Catonsville Community College, was a first lieutenant and military police officer in the U.S. Army, and currently sits on Provident Bank’s board of directors.

Today Bilal is focusing on the city’s needs, especially those of the 6th District. He says he’s most concerned about education, vacant homes, and instilling pride in the community.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 AM

9-11 CAN'T EXPLAIN 1994:

Bush Benefiting From Divided Nation's Unity on Security (Ronald Brownstein, September 27, 2004, LA Times)

Has Sept. 11 tipped the 50-50 nation toward the GOP?

Less cryptically, is a political environment centered on national security issues allowing the Republican Party to break the partisan deadlock that has characterized U.S. politics for the last decade?

That's the ominous question facing Democrats as Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and President Bush prepare for a debate on foreign policy Thursday night that could represent Kerry's best opportunity to regain the initiative in a presidential race defined primarily by war and terrorism.

For the last decade, the parties have been as evenly balanced as at any time since the late 19th century. In 2000, Bush won the second-narrowest electoral college victory ever. Voters in 2000 returned a Senate divided exactly in half. Probably not since 1880 had a national election, measured from all angles, finished so close to a tie.

Our recent partisan standoff was built on a political landscape shaped almost entirely by economic and cultural concerns. National security was probably less relevant to the elections of the 1990s than any since the 1930s.

In an environment where cultural and economic views drove most decisions, neither party had a clear or lasting advantage. The unusual Republican gains in the 2002 congressional elections, and Bush's lead now, raise the possibility that when security looms largest, the balance may tilt slightly toward the GOP. Or at least it does if Democrats can't convince voters they will do as good a job safeguarding the country.

Security was the Democrats' downfall in 2002, when Bush became only the second president since the Civil War to see his party win both House and Senate seats in the first midterm election of his White House tenure.

As much of a comfort as it is to the Left (and neocons) to think that GOP dominance is exclusively a function of 9-11, that's a fanciful notion given that the congress has been Republican for ten years now and the long term drift of statehouses from the Democrats to the GOP. The authoratative study on this can be read here: Terror, Terrain, and
Turnout: Explaining the 2002 Midterm Elections

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 AM


October Surprises: Five weeks and counting. (John J. Miller, 9/27/04, National Review)

Karl Rove insists that Republicans will pick up Senate seats this year, and Democratic senator Jon Corzine of New Jersey says control of the chamber is up for grabs. We'll know the truth in five weeks. Here's the latest rundown on the races, updating a previous report filed during the GOP convention.

Though his own analyses appear to indicate as much as a 6 seat pickup, Mr. Miller is sticking with 2. The question occurs: who was the last presidential candidate who had to return to a job in the Congress after losing? If Mr. Kerry doesn't resign to try and give his campaign a badly needed boost, he'll head back for the lame duck session in November as a junior senator of the minority party, a minority that conceivably won't even have the filibuster anymore. Does the widow Heinz really want to be married to a senator that badly?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:41 AM


Kerry Can't Take Oregon for Granted (Sam Howe Verhovek, September 27, 2004, LA Times)

Democrats have not lost a presidential election in Oregon since Ronald Reagan's landslide reelection two decades ago. And it would seem relatively safe territory for Sen. John F. Kerry: Anti-Iraq war sentiment runs strong here, and the state has had the nation's highest unemployment rate for parts of President Bush's term.

Yet the double-digit lead Kerry rode in polls here earlier this summer has narrowed sharply, reflecting his general slide in national polls but also the unease many Oregonians express about Kerry's credentials as a commander in chief.

Now, just a month after Kerry drew 40,000 to a boisterous waterfront rally in Portland, Oregon's seven electoral votes are in play. The Democrat will have to spend time and money to hold onto this state, which Al Gore narrowly won in 2000. And based on the nationwide political landscape, carrying Oregon appears vital to Kerry's presidential hopes.

Bush's Oregon prospects could get a boost from a conservative turnout for a ballot measure that would amend the state's constitution to ban gay marriage. Current polls indicate the initiative is headed for passage by a wide margin. [...]

Of the four most recent statewide polls, two showed Kerry with a modest lead, one put Bush up slightly, and the fourth had the race at a statistical tie.

"I think overall, Kerry has a lead here, but it's precarious, and he's going to have to work to keep it," said Bill Lunch, the political science department chairman at Oregon State University in Corvallis and a radio analyst for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

OR is the kind of state that would seem a better target for the Bush campaign than NJ because they might pick up House seats and Ron Wyden's Senate seat behind a strong enough showing for the President and the turnout for the ballot measure.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:06 AM


The Genesis Project (CHARLES SIEBERT, 9/26/04, NY Times)

One morning, a little more than a year from now, a group of scientists, members of what is known as the Stardust mission, will be standing around on a remote stretch of salt flat in the Utah desert, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a very special package. It will, if all goes as planned, enter our atmosphere much like a meteorite, plunging earthward until the final stage of re-entry, when a small parachute will open. The object, about the size and overall appearance of a large metal cephalopod mollusk, better known as the nautilus, will drift harmlessly to the ground, its belly filled with the dust and debris gathered from the comet Wild 2, which scientists now expect may offer significant clues about life's origins here on earth.

''These comets are thought to contain some of the most primitive material in the solar system, more or less unchanged since its formation,'' Scott A. Sandford, a NASA research astrophysicist and co-investigator of the Stardust mission, told me one afternoon this past spring. We sat talking in the dining area of a huge white plastic tent pitched in the middle of the NASA Ames Research Center campus in Moffett Field, Calif., a tree-dotted, 440-acre sprawl of tan brick laboratory buildings.

''Among the things we'll want to know about the material we've collected,'' continued Sandford, a stout, rugged-looking man with a way of talking about even the most far-flung, wondrous endeavors as though he were a plumber discussing your bathroom pipes, ''is what fraction of it is organic, what kinds of organics they are and what possible role they may have played in life's emergence on earth.''

Searching for the origins of life in the dust of a comet might sound like a bit of cosmically cockeyed indirection, something straight out of a New Age sci-fi novel. The Stardust mission, however, is typical of a number of projects to divine life's origins, all part of a $75-million-a-year scientific enterprise now being financed by NASA. It is known as astrobiology.

Do they study ESP too?

September 26, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 PM


'Ownership society': why the US can't buy in (David R. Francis. 9/27/04, CS Monitor)

Many Americans - perhaps most of them - aren't ready for President Bush's "ownership society." The idea sounds good. Employees could shift a portion of what they pay into Social Security and put it into individual accounts that might gain higher returns in, say, the stock market.

They could also reduce their tax bill by starting Health Savings Accounts, Retirement Savings Accounts, and Lifetime Savings Accounts.

These options reflect a certain conservative logic. Rather than having the government or your company decide how much retirement money or healthcare you get, you can decide for yourself.

"If you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of our country," Mr. Bush explains. "The more ownership there is in America, the more vitality there is in America."

The flaw in this logic is Americans' lack of financial sophistication. For example: Less than one-quarter of working-age people characterize themselves as "knowledgeable investors," according to surveys by John Hancock Financial Services. Even this minority shows "considerable confusion." For example: Many surveyed thought money-market funds included stocks and bonds.

That doesn't mean Americans are stupid. They just have better things to do.

That's why such a system has to be mandatory and have default settings, and only then a few choices available to those who pay attention. So, for example, anyone below the age of 50 or whatever would just have their contributions automatically directed to an S&P 500 index fund.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 PM


Israel sends Syria tough message with Hamas strike: The killing of a Hamas operative Sunday underscores Israel's intolerance for radicals in Syria. (Ben Lynfield, 9/27/04, CS Monitor)

In Damascus, a neighbor of Khalil who identified himself only as Nabil said, "He said good morning to us like he did everyday and walked to his car. He got into his car and then the phone rang. When he took the call we heard the explosion. We rushed toward his car and found pieces in the back seat." [...]

Ghazi Hamed, editor of the Hamas-affiliated al-Risala weekly, faults Washington for the bombing. "Israel would not do this without American permission," he says. "The United States is threatening Syria that 'Israel will attack you if you don't do what we want.' " [...]

Damascus, according to Mr. Paz, is no longer a safe place for Hamas not only because of Israeli military action but because of American pressure on Syria to oust radical groups headquartered there.

"Regimes like the Syrian regime might think that they are next after Iraq," he says. "And maybe [President] Bashar Assad would like to renew peace negotiations with Israel. He could easily sell out the Hamas leadership to improve his situation with the US or Israel."

Iraq worked.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:17 PM


Egyptians talk democratic reform: Egypt's ruling party conference yielded no major changes. But formerly taboo issues are being aired. (Dan Murphy, 9/27/04, CS Monitor)

Mr. Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP) provocatively called its annual conference last week "New Thought and Reform Priorities." Speaker after speaker, from the president's telegenic son Gamal Mubarak to Mohammed Kamal of the NDP's policy committee, addressed the theme of change and renewal.

"One-party rule is over,'' Mr. Kamal told reporters at the start of the conference. "All the doors are open," he says. And even President Mubarak said in his closing speech he would "spread the culture of democracy."

That and other declarations set off a buzz among Egypt's weak and generally demoralized democratic opposition, who reasoned the government would have to do something concrete - perhaps easing the restrictions on political parties - to at least give its promises a gloss of legitimacy.

The conference left Egyptians with only a few proposals and no real change to the political and emergency laws that have allowed the NDP to rule unchallenged since 1978. But a combination of US pressure and a faltering economy are allowing previously taboo subjects in Egypt to come to the fore.

Should the constitution be amended with presidential term limits to prevent Mubarak from taking a fifth five-year term next fall? If the ruling party is admitting past mistakes, why shouldn't it be removed from power? And why are emergency laws enacted after Anwar Sadat's assassination in 1981 - which allow for indefinite detention without trial and cast a pall of fear over political activists - still in place?

While democratic gains are still a long way off in Egypt, the simple fact that the government is addressing the issue - which amounts to a tacit admission that it hasn't performed either in building democracy or in improving the lives of average Egyptians - gives opposition groups an opening.

Here's the frightening thing about Senator Kerry, he not only doesn't understand that this is integral to the war on terror but has said he'd remove the kind of pressure we're putting on Egypt, preferring "stability" to messy liberalization.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 PM


End the Genocide Now (William Kristol and Vance Serchuk, September 22, 2004, Washington Post)

The U.S. government has done everything it can diplomatically to resolve the crisis. For nearly six months Bush, Powell and other senior officials have urgently and publicly demanded that the Sudanese government pull back the militia. The U.S. government has repeatedly threatened "consequences" if Sudan failed to do so. In this, the Bush administration has the support, indeed the encouragement, of a bipartisan, right-left, "never again" consensus.

Now it's time for the threats to end and the consequences to begin. After all, in addition to the humanitarian imperative, the United States has a strategic interest in Sudan. Khartoum is one of seven regimes on the U.S. government's list of state sponsors of terrorism, and Sudan's dictatorship has had ties with almost every significant terrorist organization in the broader Middle East. Al Qaeda was based in Sudan during the 1990s, and other terrorist groups continue to operate there freely. This month Die Welt reported that Syria and Sudan have been collaborating in developing chemical weapons and may have used them against civilians in Darfur. Thus, in moving against Khartoum for its human rights abuses, we will also be striking a blow in the war on terrorism.

For months it has been obvious that stopping Sudan's campaign in Darfur will require putting several thousand foreign troops on the ground. It has also been obvious that some of these troops will have to be American. As in the case of the Balkans, Rwanda and Iraq, U.S. policymakers have waited for the United Nations to take the lead in authorizing such a force. But after Saturday's Security Council vote, it is clear that at least two members of the council -- China and Russia -- will veto any genuine action against Sudan. Khartoum enjoys a strategic relationship with Beijing, which is hungry for Sudanese oil and doesn't worry about human rights or, for that matter, genocide. The Kremlin has a robust weapons trade with Sudan, having just this summer shipped an order of the very MiG warplanes that have been implicated in strafing civilians in Darfur. (The Sudanese ambassador in Moscow reports that his government is "very pleased" with the purchase, which the Russians delivered five months ahead of schedule.)

Of course, U.S. policymakers might wish that the problem of Darfur could be outsourced to our allies in the region, and some African nations have indicated that they would be willing to contribute troops. But that contingent will need to be backed up by the United States. If the regime in Khartoum is going to be forced to accept foreign intervention on its territory, or if that regime is going to be changed, Washington must be a leader in the effort.

So, as is so often the case, the coalition of the willing that goes into Sudan is going to have to be largely organized, sustained and financed by the United States, most likely without a U.N. mandate.

It's a great American tadition--show folks starving kids at Thanksgiving and Christmas and they'll approve intervention alomst anywhere.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:05 PM


U.S. Bombings Kill 100 Guerrilla Suspects in Fallujah, Military Says (Jim Krane, 9/26/04, Associated Press)

A month of U.S. airstrikes on rebel-held Fallujah has killed more than 100 suspected insurgents, taking a heavy toll on the terror network of Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, senior U.S. military officials said on Sunday.

The strikes have stopped attacks elsewhere in Iraq while setting off deadly feuds among insurgent groups holed up in the city west of Baghdad, said Air Force Brig. Gen. Erv Lessel, deputy operations director for U.S.-led forces here.

"We're confident that, through these airstrikes, we have been able to thwart many large-scale attacks and suicide bombings that were in the planning process," Lessel said in a briefing with reporters. "We've gotten some of his associates and emerging leadership in his organization."

How can you hope to win a war where anytime and anywhere you cluster we bomb?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:00 PM


Al-Qaida Suspect Killed in Pakistan Raid (ZARAR KHAN, 9/26/04, AP)

Paramilitary police killed a suspected top al-Qaida operative Sunday in a four-hour gunbattle at a house in southern Pakistan that also led to the arrest of two other men, the information minister said.

Amjad Hussain Farooqi had been wanted for his alleged role in the kidnapping and beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002 and two assassination attempts against President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in December 2003.

"I as chief spokesman for the government of Pakistan confirm that our forces have killed Amjad Hussain Farooqi," Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told The Associated Press by phone from Amsterdam, where he has gone on an official trip with Musharraf.

Ahmed said "two or three other people were also arrested during a big gunfight." He declined to identify them but said they were still being questioned by authorities and were "very important."

"This is the work of our security agencies, and they have done a great job," Ahmed said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:57 PM


Plans: Next, War on Syria? (Mark Hosenball , 10/04/04, Newsweek)

Deep in the Pentagon, admirals and generals are updating plans for possible U.S. military action in Syria and Iran. The Defense Department unit responsible for military planning for the two troublesome countries is "busier than ever," an administration official says. Some Bush advisers characterize the work as merely an effort to revise routine plans the Pentagon maintains for all contingencies in light of the Iraq war. More skittish bureaucrats say the updates are accompanied by a revived campaign by administration conservatives and neocons for more hard-line U.S. policies toward the countries.

A neocon koan: what is the sound of Assad's bung puckering?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:52 PM


Al Hayat: Arab country assisting Israel against Hamas: London based Arab daily claims Arab intelligence service providing the Mossad with vital information.
(Itamar Inbari and Maariv International, 9/26/04, Ma'ariv)

The respected London based Arabic daily Al Hayat reports that an Arab intelligence agency has been cooperating with the Mossad, providing it with significant and sensitive information about Hamas, especially its international activities.

According to the report, the Mossad requested the assistance, as it was unable to obtain the required information by itself, and has had little luck in penetrating Hams and other Islamic terror organizations, due to their effective counter-intelligence operational capabilities.

The information provided to the Mossad has given it detailed information on Hamas leaders, especially its leader Haled Mashal, who Israel attempted to assassinate in Jordan several years ago, and his deputy Mussa abu Marzouk. In addition the Arab intelligence agency has also furnished Mossad with detailed information on Hamas bureaus in Damascus, Beirut, Teheran and the Persian Gulf.

A western intelligence source hints that the Arab country in question may be Egypt. It claims that President Mubarak is gradually putting an audacious new strategy into place, which, if successful could provide credible foundations for a new Middle East power structure.

According to the intelligence source, the strategy is based on the assumption that Cairo can initially wean Damascus and the Palestinian terrorist organization from their alliance with Iran. The second stage is then to get Iran itself on board, after isolating it and leaving the Shiite Persians with no allies of any significance in the Sunni-Arab world.

Success of his endeavor would make the region a much friendlier place for the United States. Failure, he fears, would bring about the untimely withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and significantly weaken America’s status as a superpower.

If fears of U.S. wobbliness are fueling this, maybe we should elect John Kerry.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:10 PM


Sending in the 'Shahwanis': U.S. Marines build their own Iraqi militia to help them go against the insurgents (Ilana Ozernoy, 10/04/04, US News)

On the outskirts of this U.S. Marine base in hostile Anbar province west of Baghdad, an Iraqi military chant in Arabic cuts through the hazy stillness of the afternoon. "I'm a bayonet, and my strike is hard! I'm ready for death, not for shame!" shout a group of Iraqi men in military garb, their arms swinging and knees pumping to the beat of the song as they march in haphazard formation. "We're the Iraqi marines!" declares one of their officers, a 39-year-old man calling himself Major Haidr. "We're the Specialized Special Forces."

What makes this force really special is not that they are trained to rappel from helicopters or shoot with sniper precision, but that they are, effectively, an Iraqi militia under American command. U.S. Marine commanders hope the Iraqi force will bolster their units' strength in an area where the key to finding the enemy may be simply knowing whom to ask. "We're up against a country where we don't speak their language and don't know their culture," says U.S. Marine Capt. Jason Vose, 31, who works with the new Iraqi militia. These Iraqis, he says, "can go and identify the problems and the bad guys. They're sent into mosques that we can't go into. We've had them on the border; we've had them in Fallujah. And they just perform." [...]

The Marines call their allied Iraqi militiamen "Shahwanis," after their founder, Gen. Mohammed Shahwani, the recently appointed head of Iraqi intelligence, who fled Iraq in 1990 and was a key figure (along with current Prime Minister Ayad Allawi) in the unsuccessful 1996 CIA-backed coup against Saddam Hussein. After then occupation chief Paul Bremer disbanded the Iraqi Army--a decision now widely viewed as a mistake that left a large pool of angry, disaffected Iraqis--Shahwani rounded up a few ousted Army generals and a group of former special forces instructors and last spring united them with U.S. Marines looking for a creative solution to handling the violent Anbar province. Now 700 strong, this force falls under the command of the U.S. Marines, not Iraq's Defense Ministry. "A lot of guys," Vose says, "see them as the Marine Corps's militia."

Vietnamization worked--there's no reason Iraqification won't.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 PM


Shouldn't we get a vote?: The truth is, Washington's decisions affect us more than those taken in Canberra. (Jonathan Freedland, September 27, 2004, The Age)

There's a reason every newspaper in the world will have the same story on its front page on November 3. The American presidential election will be decisive not just for the US but for the future of the world.

Anyone who doubts this need only look at the past four years. The war against Iraq, the introduction of the doctrine of pre-emption, the direct challenge to multilateral institutions - chances are, not one of these world-changing developments would have happened under a President Al Gore. It is no exaggeration to say that the actions of a few hundred voters in Florida changed the world.

So perhaps it's time to make a modest proposal. If everyone in the world will be affected by this presidential election, shouldn't everyone in the world have a vote in it?

It may sound wacky, but the idea could not be more American. After all, the country was founded on the notion that human beings must have a say in the decisions that govern their lives. The rebels' slogan of "No taxation without representation" endures two centuries later because it speaks about something larger than the narrow business of raising taxes. It says that those who pay for a government's actions must have a right to choose the government that takes them.

How about European gets a few electoral votes as soon as they repay us what we've spent saving and covering them in WWI, WWII, the Cold War and the War on Terror?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:54 AM


Protesters outnumber Neo-Nazis at own rally (Associated Press, 9/26/04)

About 100 white supremacists rallied at Valley Forge National Historical Park on Saturday as nearly twice as many opponents heckled them from a hillside.

Both groups were outnumbered by federal law enforcement officers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:03 AM


Battling for Iraq (David H. Petraeus, September 26, 2004, Washington Post)

Helping organize, train and equip nearly a quarter-million of Iraq's security forces is a daunting task. Doing so in the middle of a tough insurgency increases the challenge enormously, making the mission akin to repairing an aircraft while in flight -- and while being shot at. Now, however, 18 months after entering Iraq, I see tangible progress. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up.

The institutions that oversee them are being reestablished from the top down. And Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously in the face of an enemy that has shown a willingness to do anything to disrupt the establishment of the new Iraq.

In recent months, I have observed thousands of Iraqis in training and then watched as they have conducted numerous operations. Although there have been reverses -- not to mention horrific terrorist attacks -- there has been progress in the effort to enable Iraqis to shoulder more of the load for their own security, something they are keen to do. The future undoubtedly will be full of difficulties, especially in places such as Fallujah. We must expect setbacks and recognize that not every soldier or policeman we help train will be equal to the challenges ahead.

Nonetheless, there are reasons for optimism. Today approximately 164,000 Iraqi police and soldiers (of which about 100,000 are trained and equipped) and an additional 74,000 facility protection forces are performing a wide variety of security missions. Equipment is being delivered. Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired. Command and control structures and institutions are being reestablished.

Most important, Iraqi security forces are in the fight ...

Rick Atkinson of the Post has written extensively about General Petraeus one of the more fascinating characters of the Iraq War.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:54 AM



IS the growing scandal at Fannie Mae about to become the Democrats' Enron?

That's the hot question in Washington this week as regulators painted a scary picture of the huge home lender, detailing accounting shenanigans, including "cookie jar" reserves that smoothed out volatile results and paved the way for tens of millions of dollars in executive bonuses.

For those, including Alan Greenspan, who have warned that this government-sponsored lender is a ticking time bomb, the revelations seem to indicate that Fannie's own management believed its operations are a lot riskier than they let on.

That's just one reason this story has Washington and Wall Street buzzing. There are many others — starting with Fannie's chairman and CEO Franklin Raines.

Raines is not your average CEO, mind you. The Harvard educated exec, who pocketed $20 million from Fannie Mae last year, is just one of a handful of Democrats who easily bridges the Washington-New York power axis.

Raines was widely believed to be Senator John Kerry's first choice for Treasury Secretary in a Kerry administration, and was even mentioned as a potential Kerry running mate.

So, if, as Paul Krugman assures us, Enron is destined to be a bigger story than 9-11 and Fannie Mae is a bigger scandal than Enron it must be the biggest story since the Virgin Birth, eh?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 AM


Quick. Change the Brand. In Five Weeks. (JOHN TIERNEY, 9/26/04, NY Times)

By sticking to their theme of Mr. Kerry as flip-flopper, Republicans have put him in a bind: he could use a new message to move up in the polls, but any new message leaves him vulnerable to accusations of inconsistency. How do you reposition a candidate whose commonly perceived weakness, fairly or not, is his penchant for repositioning? And how do you do it so late in the campaign?

Democrats say that a turnaround is still possible in five weeks, and so do some experts who may have a more realistic view of the job - advertising executives experienced in reviving troubled brands. But Madison Avenue's masters of image makeover say it will take a simple, emotionally appealing message, the kind that has eluded the Kerry campaign so far.

Mr. Kerry might take comfort from Bill Clinton's repositioning in 1992, after being battered by scandals and rivals during the primary season.

"Clinton reinvented himself as the boy from Hope, a political Horatio Alger," said Stephen Wayne, the author of the "The Road to the White House 2004" and a history professor at Georgetown University. "He was also helped by the fact, and this is important for Kerry, that the election was less about him and more on the incumbent's absence of leadership."

In the same way, Mr. Kerry's new combativeness on Iraq could reinvigorate his campaign and shift the debate away from his character to Mr. Bush's record.

Kerry is a bad spokesman, but it's the brand that's in trouble--permissive Great Society Realpolitik liberalism--not just the pitch. When Bill Clinton jiggered his campaign it was to make himself seem a better advocate than George Bush Sr. or Ross Perot for the conservative positions all three shared.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:35 AM


Israel kills Hamas leader in Syria (AP, September 26, 2004)

A car bomb killed a leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Damascus on Sunday and Israel claimed responsibility.

Police at the scene were seen retrieving pieces of the body of Izz Eldine Subhi Sheik Khalil. His death was also reported on the official Hamas Web site and by Israeli security sources.

Earlier, the local Palestinian media center reported that Khalil, 42, had been wounded and rushed to a hospital.

The bomb went off at 10:45 a.m. in the al-Zahraa district of the Syrian capital, the center told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. A member of the Hamas political bureau, Mohammed Nazzal, told the AP in Cairo that a bomb had been planted in Khalil's car and it exploded as he tried to start it.

Nazzal accused Israel of assassinating Khalil, 42, who used to work for Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 AM


Taliban Fighter Said Dead in Afghanistan (NOOR KHAN, 9/26/04, Associated Press)

Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar, a former inmate at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, died in a gunbattle Saturday night in Pishi village in the southern province of Uruzgan, said Jan Mohammed Khan, governor of Uruzgan.

Khan said authorities had received intelligence that Ghaffar was hiding in the village and was planning an attack against the government. Security forces launched a raid after surrounding a house, and three men, including Ghaffar, were killed in gunfire. None of the security forces was hurt.

The governor said Ghaffar had been a senior Taliban commander in northern Afghanistan and was arrested about two months after a U.S.-led coalition drove the militia out of power in late 2001. After being held for eight months in Guantanamo, he was released and returned to Afghanistan.

Khan said Ghaffar was then appointed as the leader of Taliban fighters in Uruzgan, a rugged region believed to be a stronghold of the hardline Islamic militia.

Let them out and shoot them--sounds like a plan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 AM


38% of teachers pick private school (MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA, September 26, 2004, Chicago Sun Times)

More than a third of Chicago Public School teachers send their children to private schools, a new report finds.

They are not alone in snubbing the system where they work. Nationwide, urban public school teachers are more likely than other parents to enroll their kids in private schools, according to the report by the Washington, D.C.-based Fordham Institute and based on 2000 Census data.

CPS ranks third among the 50 largest school systems in the proportion of teacher households that send the kids to private school -- 38.7 percent.

That compares to 22.6 percent of non-teacher households in Chicago that send children to private schools.

"That's a pretty scary statistic," said parent Idida Perez, local school council member at Kelvyn Park and Prosser high schools. "What comes to mind is, 'What's wrong with my school that my school's not good enough for your kids?' "

The teachers sure aren't leaving their own kids behind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 AM


Operation Human Rights: How evangelicals got outside their comfort zone to help the oppressed overseas.: a review of Freeing God's Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights by Allen D. Hertzke (David Neff, 09/22/2004, Christianity Today)

Evangelical Protestants have had an unusually high global consciousness ever since the 19th-century blossoming of the missions movement. For a century and a half, missionaries' support letters kept North American churchgoers aware of countries and people groups they rarely read about in newspapers. Because of connections to missionaries and relief organizations, we hear about life in places like Mozambique, Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Rwanda. And when trouble starts brewing in such places, we often hear about it through these connections first.

But while missionaries and relief workers have been a great source of global connectivity—long preceding other factors in the much-ballyhooed phenomenon of globalization—they have often been slow to engage and resist the forces of oppression in the countries where they worked. It makes sense: Missionaries and relief workers serve at the discretion of their host governments. Criticizing political leaders would imperil their ministry.

Allen Hertzke's Freeing God's Children tells the story of how evangelical Protestants in the United States moved from reluctance and ambivalence about confronting persecution to passionate engagement and action. It also tells the story of unlikely alliances—as evangelicals linked arms with Roman Catholics, Jews, secularists, and feminists to address an array of human-rights issues. [...]

Secularist thinking has long been dominated by one or another variety of historical determinism. In the Marxist version, for example, history is determined by the inexorable clash and succession of economic classes. But Hertzke's tale is woven around the necessity of human action and its potential for changing history. That antideterministic thinking drove the Reagan-era confrontation with communism, and it also fueled Horowitz's passionate crusade for religious freedom.

But complementing Hertzke's antideterminism is the concept of Providence. Providential appears repeatedly in this book, suggesting (though only suggesting) a sense of divine blessing on human effort. One chapter title that illustrates this sense of history is chapter six, "The Hand of Providence in Congress." The chapter recounts the strategic decision to sponsor congressional legislation. After the initial burst of enthusiasm, the incipient movement needed a focus for its energies and "a tangible way for American Christians to exercise their citizenship on behalf of their coreligionists." The first piece of legislation to emerge was tough and offered the government only a blunt instrument with which to respond to religious persecution.

But not everyone was happy with the approach of the Wolf-Specter bill, and looked for a more calibrated, diplomatic approach. That was to be found in alternative legislation sponsored by Senators Nickles and Lieberman. Within evangelical ranks, the clash between advocates of the different approaches was fierce, and Hertzke offers glimpses of the bruising fight. He concludes that the struggle "suggests a pluralism in the born-again world not always appreciated outside the community." The outcome was the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, which blended the strengths of each approach.

Hertzke suggests "there is a theological lesson here: that partisans had to suffer through the [acrimonious] process to ensure unanimity." The sense of success and accomplishment that was in the end shared by both factions gave confidence to the fledgling movement and allowed them to continue to tackle new issues: prison rape, sex trafficking, Sudan, North Korea.

The process by which conservative Evangelicals became practical about politics, which began in earnest with Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority and the election of Ronald Reagan, is probably the most important development in not just our own politics but, as illustrated here, in world affairs, where it is driving human rights intervention.

-B uilding Alliances to Save Lives: Why evangelicals' partnership with others to fight persecution worked—and where the coalition is heading.: An interview with Allen D. Hertzke (Christianity Today, 09/22/2004)
-Falwell says evangelicals control GOP, Bush's fate (Scott Shepard, September 25, 2004, Cox News Service)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM


How to Pick a War President: Time to debate: This is the first foreign-policy election in a quarter century. Voters are scared; they want to know who will be the best commander in chief. Here's what to look for (Fareed Zakaria, 10/04/04, Newsweek)

The candidates should face three tests that help reveal their strengths and weaknesses as leaders in war. First, how do they define this conflict? Second, how do they define success? Finally, how do they think victory can be achieved? As we watch the debate this week, we should bear these questions in mind, listen for answers and judge the candidates accordingly.

The first test is potentially the most important, because all else follows from it. What kind of conflict are we in? The Bush administration has striven to make the case that we are in a war much like World War II. Both the president and Vice President Cheney have repeatedly implied this. Cheney has often made specific analogies to it. The president's supporters explain that in a life-and-death struggle with a mortal foe, you have to fight anywhere and everywhere. Things don't always go well. Churchill and Roosevelt made many mistakes during the second world war. But they kept pressing forward. Looking back today, who knows if the North African invasion was worthwhile? Sometimes you take the wrong hill. That's war.

It's a powerful interpretation because, if accepted, it gives the administration a virtual carte blanche. All errors are forgiven, all blunders swept aside, all excesses dwarfed by the overarching conflict. Iraq may have been badly handled, but it is just one front in a many-front war. Abu Ghraib may have been appalling, but consider the pressures. During World War II, the United States interned Japanese-American civilians. It wasn't right, but it was war.

An alternative interpretation would hold that we are not in a classic war with a powerful and identifiable country. Rather, this new war is really much more like the cold war. It has a military dimension, to be sure, but in large part it's a political, economic and social struggle for hearts and minds. In such a conflict, as in the cold war, the question of where and how military force is used is crucial. Its battlefield successes always have to be balanced against political effects. An understanding of culture and nationalism becomes key because the goal is more complex than simple military victory. It is creating like-minded societies. Thus, if you are not sophisticated in your application of power, you can find yourself in a situation like Vietnam where you win every battle but lose the war.

One can argue that this is precisely the situation in Iraq, where America could easily crush the insurgency but at a political price that would make victory utterly counterproductive. And beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, of course, the conflict becomes even more complex and less military. In Iran and North Korea, the military option is more bluster than fact. And how does one defuse militant extremism in, say, Indonesia, Morocco and Egypt? By working with those governments to find terrorists, and with those societies to help modernize them. And if this is the bulk of the task going forward, does it really resemble a war?

The second challenge for the candidates is to explain what would constitute success. Here Bush has been clear. Success requires victory in Iraq, which is "the central front in the war on terror." Bush seeks to establish democracy in Iraq as a way of breaking the tyrannical status quo in the Middle East that has bred repression and terror. Kerry has argued that the war in Iraq was justifiable but disastrously botched. More recently he's said that it has been a distraction from the war on terror. Though both are defensible positions, Kerry will have to choose one of them. [...]

Bush's central problem is with the third factor: the path to success. His goals are clear and effectively stated. But he appears unaware of the situation on the ground in Iraq. He says he is "pleased with the progress" so far and speaks of a "handful of terrorists" disrupting democracy in Iraq. Contrast this picture with the one painted two weeks ago by a team from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a hawkish think tank, that conducted an extensive survey of Iraq. They concluded that in every dimension, from security to reconstruction to economics, Iraq was slipping backward. This is also the view of the CIA and almost all journalists in Iraq. Bush risks coming across not as visionary but as someone disconnected from reality.

Mr. Zakaria, though often insightful, makes a significant mistake here when he notes that the President has cast this as a war of containment and transformation but compares that to WWII rather than the Cold War. WWII was easy enough because all you had to do was defeat a couple of discrete fascist regimes and you'd achieved all of FDR's goals (the disaster of setting such meager goals is another question). It was in the Cold War that we fought everywhere and anywhere, sometimes using our own troops, sometimes leading allies, often just funding insurgencies or counter-insurgencies that others fought for us. Meanwhile we spent money propping up rotten democracies in Europe and fostering nascent ones elsewhere, but at the same time defended authoritarian allies so long as they maintained liberalization as their ultimate goal. Similarly, in the War on Terror, where there is no one enemy state we can defeat, we sent our troops to Afghanistan (with many allies, at least rhetorical) and Iraq (with far fewer), are helping governments from the Philippines to Colombia to Pakistan to take on internal insurgencies, are aiding reform movements in Syria, Iran and the like, and are tolerating the Sa'uds and Musharraf and others so long as they keep moving in the right direction.

Given this more appropriate context it seems clear that Mr. Zakaria drifts further and further off course as he goes along. Iraq is not an end in itself in this case nor is a complete victory necessary. It would be most desirable if the entire country could be democratized, but a situation where the Kurdish north and Shi'a south were relatively liberalized and only a rump Sunni triangle stayed wartorn but surrounded would be a satisfactory intermediate outcome while we turned our attention elsewhere. After all, saving South Korea but leaving North Korea under communist control was sub-optimal but hardly meant the Cold War was lost.

Mr. Zakaria is so blinded by his focus on Iraq, as earlier intellectuals were by their focus on Vietnam, that he ignores the broader reality of rapid reform and democratic normalization in the rest of Islam--from orderly and regular elections in places like Turkey and Indonesia to Libya coming in from the cold to intrafada in Palestine to democratic evolution in places like Morocco and so on. Even our most likely next target in the broader war, Bashir Assad of Syria, seems hellbent on appeasing our demands in order to avoid being deposed militarily.

If you wanted just one test for picking a wartime president, you could do worse than this: Do you believe the war in Iraq to be the War on Terror incarnate, just one battle in a larger war, or a distraction from the criminal investigation of al Qaeda? The candidates' respective answers are revealing and should be determinative.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 AM


Saddam, the Bomb and Me (MAHDI OBEIDI, 9/26/04, NY Times)

Iraq's nuclear weapons program was on the threshold of success before the 1991 invasion of Kuwait - there is no doubt in my mind that we could have produced dozens of nuclear weapons within a few years - but was stopped in its tracks by United Nations weapons inspectors after the Persian Gulf war and was never restarted. During the 1990's, the inspectors discovered all of the laboratories, machines and materials we had used in the nuclear program, and all were destroyed or otherwise incapacitated.

By 1998, when Saddam Hussein evicted the weapons inspectors from Iraq, all that was left was the dangerous knowledge of hundreds of scientists and the blueprints and prototype parts for the centrifuge, which I had buried under a tree in my garden.

In addition to the inspections, the sanctions that were put in place by the United Nations after the gulf war made reconstituting the program impossible. During the 1980's, we had relied heavily on the international black market for equipment and technology; the sanctions closed that avenue.

Another factor in the mothballing of the program was that Saddam Hussein was profiting handsomely from the United Nations oil-for-food program, building palaces around the country with the money he skimmed. I think he didn't want to risk losing this revenue stream by trying to restart a secret weapons program. [...]

So, how could the West have made such a mistaken assessment of the nuclear program before the invasion last year? Even to those of us who knew better, it's fairly easy to see how observers got the wrong impression. First, there was Saddam Hussein's history. He had demonstrated his desire for nuclear weapons since the late 1970's, when Iraqi scientists began making progress on a nuclear reactor. He had used chemical weapons against his own people and against Iran during the 1980's. After the 1991 war, he had tried to hide his programs in weapons of mass destruction for as long as possible (he even kept my identity secret from weapons inspectors until 1995). It would have been hard not to suspect him of trying to develop such weapons again. [...]

In addition, the West never understood the delusional nature of Saddam Hussein's mind. [...]

So what now? The dictator may be gone, but that doesn't mean the nuclear problem is behind us. Even under the watchful eyes of Saddam Hussein's security services, there were worries that our scientists might escape to other countries or sell their knowledge to the highest bidder. This expertise is even more valuable today, with nuclear technology ever more available on the black market and a proliferation of peaceful energy programs around the globe that use equipment easily converted to military use.

Hundreds of my former staff members and fellow scientists possess knowledge that could be useful to a rogue nation eager for a covert nuclear weapons program.

Syria brokers secret deal to send atomic weapons scientists to Iran (Con Coughlin, 26/09/2004, Sunday Telegraph)
Syria's President Bashir al-Asad is in secret negotiations with Iran to secure a safe haven for a group of Iraqi nuclear scientists who were sent to Damascus before last year's war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. [...]

A group of about 12 middle-ranking Iraqi nuclear technicians and their families were transported to Syria before the collapse of Saddam's regime. The transfer was arranged under a combined operation by Saddam's now defunct Special Security Organisation and Syrian Military Security, which is headed by Arif Shawqat, the Syrian president's brother-in-law.

The Iraqis, who brought with them CDs crammed with research data on Saddam's nuclear programme, were given new identities, including Syrian citizenship papers and falsified birth, education and health certificates. Since then they have been hidden away at a secret Syrian military installation where they have been conducting research on behalf of their hosts.

Growing political concern in Washington about Syria's undeclared weapons of mass destruction programmes, however, has prompted President Asad to reconsider harbouring the Iraqis.

Whoever's holding these guys when the music stops gets deposed first.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 AM


America the Conservative: Europe is in the 21st century, but we remain locked in the 18th (Edward L. Glaeser, September 26, 2004, LA Times)

Whether President Bush is reelected or Sen. John F. Kerry prevails, the United States will be the most conservative developed nation in the world. Its economy will remain the least regulated, its welfare state the smallest, its military the strongest and its citizens the most religious. According to data taken from the World Values Survey in the last decade, 60% of Americans believe that the poor are lazy (only 26% of Europeans share that view), and 30% believe that luck determines income (54% of Europeans say so). About 60% of Europeans say the poor are trapped, while only 29% of Americans believe they are. And roughly 30% of Europeans declare themselves to be left wing, but only 17% of Americans do.

Why is the U.S. such an exceptionally conservative nation?

It's tempting to think that American conservatism is the natural result of exceptional economic mobility in the country, but the odds of leaving poverty in Europe are higher than those in the United States, in part because European social democrats enacted national education policies that do a better job of looking after the poor than local schools in the U.S. Instead, American conservatism stems from political stability and ethnic heterogeneity. [...]

The nation's racial heterogeneity also partly explains its conservatism. U.S. heterogeneity sharply contrasts with the much greater homogeneity in Canada, Britain and continental Europe. People are much less likely to support income redistribution to people who are members of different racial or ethnic groups. Ethnic divisions make it easier for the enemies of welfare to vilify the poor, by making them seem like parasites who could be rich but prefer to live on the public dollar. The pro-redistribution populists were defeated in the South in the 1890s by politicians who stressed that populism would help blacks (which was true) and that blacks were dangerous criminals (which was not.) The enemies of Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society also employed racial messages that conveyed the idea that welfare recipients were dangerous outsiders who should not be helped. The sharp racial division that runs through American society makes it possible to castigate poor people in a way that would be impossible in a homogeneous nation like Sweden, where the poor look the same as everyone else.

Across countries, ethnic heterogeneity strongly predicts a smaller welfare state. The U.S. states with larger populations of blacks have historically been less generous to the poor (even controlling for state per capita income). Work by Erzo Luttmer, professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, shows that people who live around poor people of their own races say they want the government to spend more on welfare. But people who live around poor people of another race say they want the government to spend less on welfare. Sympathy for the poor appears to be muted when the poor are seen as outsiders.

Increased immigration to Europe is making those societies more heterogeneous, and we have already seen opponents of social welfare, such as Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, Joerg Haider in Austria and Pim Fortuyn in the Netherlands, use inflammatory anti-immigrant rhetoric to discredit generous welfare payments. We may like to believe that human beings are colorblind, but the reality is that American diversity has always made redistribution less popular here than in more ethnically and racially homogeneous places.

Yet another reason that nativism is the enemy of conservatism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:41 AM


The Big Mahatma: Laurence Tribe and the problem of borrowed scholarship (Joseph Bottum, 10/04/2004, Weekly Standard)

In 1985, Harvard University's Laurence H. Tribe, the most famous and widely cited constitutional law professor in the United States, signed his name to a book called God Save This Honorable Court that now appears--how shall we say it?--perhaps "uncomfortably reliant" on a 1974 book called Justices and Presidents by the University of Virginia's Henry J. Abraham.

POOR HARVARD seems to be going through a spate of such incidents. A national news cycle was generated in 2002 when THE WEEKLY STANDARD broke the story that Doris Kearns Goodwin--a member of Harvard's Board of Overseers and a former professor of government at the school--had done some serious copying for her 1987 book, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, and then bought off one of the authors from whom she lifted her material.

Next, in a more complicated case, Harvard law school's Alan Dershowitz was accused of overusing a single secondary source for his 2003 book, The Case for Israel.

Finally, just a few weeks ago, on September 3, Charles J. Ogletree, Harvard's Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, admitted on the university's website that the assistants who'd actually prepared his new All Deliberate Speed:

Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown v. Board of Education lifted six consecutive paragraphs from a 2001 book by Yale's Jack M. Balkin.

ODDLY ENOUGH, Laurence Tribe plays a role in two of these stories. (And peripherally touches the third, if one counts the thanks he offers Dershowitz, his "friend and colleague," in the preface to God Save This Honorable Court.)

When the Goodwin incident prompted Harvard's undergraduate newspaper, the Crimson, to call for her scalp--"Goodwin's plagiarism of sentences, nearly verbatim, from source materials is inexcusable. . . . [S]he should recognize that her action is unbecoming an Overseer and resign her post immediately"--Tribe wrote a letter in the next issue expressing "great sadness" at how "mindlessly" the students' editorial had attacked her.

Goodwin "had not the slightest intention to deceive, to claim originality for thoughts that were unoriginal, or to appropriate another's deathless prose in hopes that she might be credited with a literary gift that belongs in truth to someone else," Tribe insisted. Oh, he admitted, she had "erred in following her own paraphrased handwritten notes without checking back in every last one of the 300 or so books she cited." But Goodwin's work was "documented with something like 3,500 footnotes," which according to Tribe proved both her commitment to scholarship and her "personal integrity."

Then, this year, Tribe initially appeared willing to excuse Charles Ogletree's plagiarism altogether, telling the Boston Globe: "It clearly represents the fact that because he so often says yes to the many people all over the country who ask for his help on all kinds of things, he has extended himself even farther than someone with all that energy can safely do."

Challenged about this apparent absolution, however, he later offered a rather different analysis. In an email posted on a blog about legal topics run by Lawrence R. Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, Tribe wrote, "What I told the Boston Globe about the way in which [Ogletree] has overextended himself was not intended to be a complete explanation or justification." And there is more to say, he allowed: "The larger problem"--the "problem of writers, political office-seekers, judges and other high government officials passing off the work of others as their own"--is "a phenomenon of some significance" and worth exploring.

THAT SEEMED a little rich for one reader of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, a law professor who suggested we take a look at Tribe's own God Save This Honorable Court if we wanted to explore the "problem of writers . . . passing off the work of others as their own."

And so we did, and the result is . . . well, what? It's awkward to name what Laurence Tribe has done in God Save This Honorable Court. In his letter to the Crimson about Doris Kearns Goodwin, Tribe proudly called himself a "scholar who values his own integrity and reputation for meticulous attribution as much as anyone could."

But even Goodwin's discredited book, by Tribe's own account, contained "something like 3,500 footnotes" citing "300 or so" other works; God Save This Honorable Court, by unflattering contrast, contains no footnotes at all--nor any other sort of "meticulous attribution." Instead, at the end of God Save This Honorable Court, we find a two-page "Mini-Guide to the Background Literature," which lists Henry Abraham's Justices and Presidents as merely the twelfth of fifteen books (including two of Tribe's own previous works) that "an interested reader might wish to consult."

The decline of the Democratic Party makes it a moot point, but so much for ever making the Court.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:32 AM


THE NEW FACE OF AL QAEDA: Al Qaeda Seen as Wider Threat: The network has evolved into a looser, ideological movement that may no longer report to Bin Laden. Critics say the White House focus is misdirected. (Douglas Frantz, Josh Meyer, Sebastian Rotella and Megan K. Stack, September 26, 2004, LA Times)

Authorities have made little progress worldwide in defeating Islamic extremists affiliated with Al Qaeda despite thwarting attacks and arresting high-profile figures, according to interviews with intelligence and law enforcement officials and outside experts.

On the contrary, officials warn that the Bush administration's upbeat assessment of its successes is overly optimistic and masks its strategic failure to understand and combat Al Qaeda's evolution.

Even before the Sept. 11 attacks, Al Qaeda was a loosely organized network, but core leaders exercised considerable control over its operations. Since the loss of its base in Afghanistan and many of those leaders, the organization has dispersed its operatives and reemerged as a lethal ideological movement.

Osama bin Laden may now serve more as an inspirational figure than a CEO, and the war in Iraq is helping focus militants' anger, according to dozens of interviews in recent weeks on several continents. European and moderate Islamic countries have become targets. And instead of undergoing lengthy training at camps in Afghanistan, recruits have been quickly indoctrinated at home and deployed on attacks.

The United States remains a target, but counter-terrorism officials and experts are alarmed by Al Qaeda's switch from spectacular attacks that require years of planning to smaller, more numerous strikes on softer targets that can be carried out swiftly with little money or outside help.

It's lost Osama, much of the rest of its leadership, its bases and friendly regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving it with largely untrained foot soldiers. As a result, it is no longer strong enough to attack America or much of any hard target. The war is heavily focussed in one region of one country where we just happen to have a heavy troop presence on hand to kill them whenever they appear. Yet this isn't progress? What would progress look like?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:24 AM


President Lindbergh in 2004 (Frank Rich, 9/26/04, NY Times)

PHILIP ROTH is one of America's great novelists, but you don't expect him to be barreling up the best-seller list with a book that hasn't even been published yet. "Literary fiction," as it is now stigmatized in the cultural marketplace, no longer flies off the shelves unless struck by the TV lightning of Oprah or the "Today" show. And yet there was "The Plot Against America" in the top 25 at this week, at one point the only serious contemporary American novel on the list, sandwiched between Clay Aiken's memoir and "The South Beach Diet." It ascended without benefit of a single author's interview on TV or anywhere else and with only the first few reviews, not all of them ecstatic.

Since the book isn't officially published until Oct. 5, online shoppers are quite literally judging it by its cover image, a one-cent stamp of the 1930's crisply postmarked with a swastika, and the bare bones of its story. The plot of "The Plot" belongs to a low-rent genre, "alternate history," in which novelists of Mr. Roth's stature rarely dwell. It spins a what-if scenario in which the isolationist and anti-Semitic hero Charles Lindbergh runs for president as a Republican in 1940 and defeats F.D.R. "Keep America Out of the Jewish War" reads a button worn by Lindbergh partisans rallying at Madison Square Garden. And so he does: he signs nonaggression pacts with Germany and Japan that will keep America at peace while the rest of the world, six million European Jews included, burns.

Where "The Plot Against America" fits into the hierarchy of Mr. Roth's canon, which I and so many others have followed for our entire reading lifetimes, may be beside the point over the short haul. Sometimes the public, acting on instinct, just picks up the scent of something it craves without regard for the aesthetic niceties. Whether it's major or minor Roth, this novel is on a trajectory to match the much-different "Portnoy's Complaint" in its anomalous permeation of the larger culture. That's because "The Plot Against America," set from 1940-1942, is on its face linked to the wartime of 2001-2004. It's going to be read by those who don't otherwise read Roth novels, or novels at all, as well as by those who do. Not for nothing does it sit on a best-seller list dominated, low carbs notwithstanding, by a single subject, George W. Bush.

Never mind George W. Bush, it's vile enough to reduce Lindbergh to an anti-Semitic caricature.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:05 AM


Mussolini's tone: a review of The Anatomy of Fascism by Robert O. Paxton (Martin Clark, Times Literary Supplement)

Paxton regards Fascism as a five-stage process. The first stage is simply one of grievances or threats to established interests or groups, and of normal democratic processes being unable or unwilling to resolve them. Often this is because the old political system or parties have collapsed, leaving a political vacuum or at least much instability. Paxton tends to blame irresponsible intellectuals for this: they undermine liberal regimes with their constant criticism, and they have a nasty habit of apologizing for violence. At any rate, instability is common enough, and hence there have been and still are a large number of "fascist" movements in temporary agitation. We learn, in this book, about the travails of the Greyshirts in Iceland and of the Blueshirts in Ireland. However, most of these agitators progress no further, and are of academic interest at most. The second stage, "taking root", is more serious. The "fascist" movements become not only spokesmen but also organizers for the disaffected, and start tackling the grievances themselves, illegally but effectively, and with some official connivance. Paxton is right to stress the importance of this development. It was not Mussolini, sitting in Milan and sounding off about Italy's rights on the Adriatic, who made Fascism a mass movement in Italy; it was the youthful "squads" of armed vigilantes in the Po Valley, destroying socialist labour unions and throwing out newly elected socialist mayors. They then founded their own unions and ran local government themselves. Much the same happened in Schleswig-Holstein. In these regions, populist vigilantism enjoyed the support of all right-thinking, or Right-thinking men, including policemen and judges. Elsewhere, however, it did not, and Fascism progressed no further. "Taking root" is more difficult than might appear, since the movement is bound to be local, there are always rivalries and splits, and governments can usually buy off the militants or take over the agitation themselves.

The third stage, "getting power", is the most vital of all. Paxton, who made a notable contribution to Franco-American relations in 1972 by pointing out, in Vichy France: Old guard and new order 1940-1944, that the Vichy regime was run not so much by Fascist zealots as by the French Establishment, argues that Fascists do not seize power, they have it thrust upon them. They make a "historic compromise" with existing state authorities, who are anxious to absorb the crude provincials into the official system and who of course assume that they themselves will continue to decide everything. The key to understanding how Fascists came to power in Italy and Germany lies, therefore, not so much with the manoeuvres of Mussolini or Hitler but with those of king or president, top army officers and a handful of others. Paxton's argument here is not novel, nor altogether convincing. Certainly both Mussolini and Hitler were appointed in a more or less constitutional manner, and certainly existing elites thought they would retain most of their power and status; but the two leaders' manoeuvres in the few months before they won office, and indeed their very personalities and their unwillingness to compromise, were vital to the outcome in both cases. They may not have needed to use much force, but they certainly had the threat of it available and they made sure everyone knew it. The existing authorities may have manoeuvred too, but the point is that they were outmanoeuvred. They did not "compromise" so much as surrender.

Paxton's fourth stage is the "exercise of power", but he has to admit that the two leaders behaved very differently once in office. Both of them, of course, got rid of their more obstreperous followers, and both managed to keep the Establishment fairly happy and to provide some rapid economic benefits. Both ended up trying to transform everything. However, Mussolini governed essentially through the state machinery, supplemented by ad hoc "parallel bureaucracies" run by state technocrats. The Party was for propaganda; also to distribute favours and to mobilize the young. Hitler was far more reliant on the Party and its parallel bureaucracies, although he too, of course, used the State. These differences were hugely important. It was not just that Mussolini had to put on a bowler hat and visit the King twice a week; it was that he did not control the armed forces, judiciary, or Senate, and that he might eventually be dismissed like any other Prime Minister when he lost the confidence of the King, that is, of the political and military elite. Hitler had no such worries. Moreover, in his later years Mussolini tried to run everything himself and allowed his colleagues little initiative; Hitler, far more idle, permitted competitive leeway. Paxton does not explain these politico- administrative contrasts, which clearly owed more to personality differences than to anything else. At any rate, generalizations about how the Fascists "exercised power" rather break down when there are only two examples, which differed as wildly as this.

Paxton's final stage is "radicalization or entropy?". He argues that both Mussolini and Hitler had to keep up the Fascist muscle tone (Paxton's phrase) by becoming ever more radical both at home and, particularly, abroad; otherwise their regimes would simply have become flabby. This looks very much like a psychological explanation, hitherto taboo. The fact is that any modern government, Fascist or no, needs to fight campaigns and proclaim resounding victories, or else the citizenry becomes restless. Perhaps Fascist governments are more liable to become extremist, but there is not much evidence: Mussolini had been in office thirteen years before he attacked Ethiopia, and only became noticeably radical at home three years after that -- by which time "entropy" had already set in. Hitler's regime also became more radical as Germany began losing. Radicalization and entropy were not alternatives, they went together.

It's a pretty good book, though in the attempt to keep Nazism inside the tent of fascism he basically has to force every other seemingly fascist movement out. He would have done better to treat all the others as fascism and Nazism as what it was, a weird hybrid of fascism and applied Darwinism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 AM


'Hurt' Brown battles Blair over future of Labour (BRIAN BRADY, 9/26/04, Scotland on Sunday)

A WOUNDED Gordon Brown was last night preparing for a titanic struggle over the heart and soul of the Labour party, as the simmering tensions between the Chancellor and Tony Blair threatened to overshadow the start of its annual conference.

Brown, who admits he was "hurt" by Blair’s decision to place Alan Milburn at the heart of formulating Labour election strategy, is privately battling to ensure his stewardship of the economy remains at the heart of the party’s bid for a historic third term.

The Chancellor’s allies fear Milburn and his fellow modernisers will ‘hijack’ the election campaign by emphasising Blairite reform of the public services.

And in another clear indication of the struggle to come, Brown’s followers last night insisted Blair was leading a party of ‘ins’ and ‘outs’, while the Chancellor was a "team player" who held out the promise of party unity. [...]

Renewed signs of tension with Brown will also make it difficult for the Prime Minister to convince his party - and voters - that he can finally deliver radical reform in a third term.

Though he's obviously achieved far more, the ultimate failure of Tony Blair seems certain to be that of Bill Clinton, the inability to reform his own party and make it genuinely believe in his Third Way, rather than just back him reluctantly for expedience sake. Mr. Blair leads the wrong party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:16 AM


A Huge Opportunity Is Brewing (Donald Luskin, September 24, 2004, Smart Money)

THERE HAS BEEN a stock-market crash this year. You didn't know that? That's because it's invisible.

Think about this: So far in 2004, earnings for the S&P 500 have grown by 19%. Yet as of Thursday's close, the S&P 500 is virtually unchanged, having fallen by 1/3 of one percent before considering dividends.

With earnings up by that astonishing amount in just nine months, and the market unchanged — that's a crash. But it's not a crash you can measure in prices. It's a crash you have to measure in value. That's why it's invisible. But it's still very real.

All else equal, with earnings up 19%, the market should also be up by 19%. In fact, I think the market should be up even more than that, because at year-end 2003, stocks were already cheap.

Put it all together, and stocks are so cheap now that my valuation model says that the S&P 500 could rise by almost 35% from here and still be only fairly valued. [...]

I don't know exactly what the news catalyst will be to send the market higher. Maybe the oil price will drop dramatically — either falling of its own weight (because there's really no reason for it to be this high in the first place), or perhaps because of the Bush administration's decision to tap the nations' Strategic Petroleum Reserve (which the Clinton administration did before the 2000 election).

Or maybe a clear victor will emerge in the first presidential debate, now scheduled for Sept. 30. The strong lead that George Bush has established in the polls already should be a major boost for the market, because it goes a long way to eliminating the enormous uncertainty of which of two very different economic visions will guide the country for the next four years. If Bush emerges victorious in the first debate, it will make him unbeatable in November — and the last of the electoral uncertainty restraining stock prices will be gone.

At the moment, it truly is still an uncertainty.

That's the great mystery dragging on the economy. If 9-11 was, for good reason, enough to create this mood of uncertainty, what can break it? What would a positive equivalent to 9-11 look like? Would an election landslide suffice?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Kerry as the Boss: Always More Questions (ADAM NAGOURNEY and JODI WILGOREN, 9/26/04, NY Times)

For 15 minutes in Milwaukee the other day, Senator John Kerry pummeled his staff with questions about an attack on President Bush, planned for later that morning, that accused the White House of hiding a huge Medicare premium increase.

Talking into a speakerphone in his hotel suite, sitting at a table scattered with the morning newspapers, Mr. Kerry instructed aides in Washington to track down the information he said he needed before he could appear on camera. What could have slowed down the premium increase? How much of it was caused by the addition of a prescription drug benefit? What would the increase cost the average Medicare recipient?

Mr. Kerry got the answers after aides said they spent the morning on the telephone and the Internet, but few of those facts found their way into his blistering attack.

The morning Medicare call was typical of the way Mr. Kerry, a four-term senator with comparatively little management experience, has run his campaign. And, his associates say, it offered a glimpse of an executive style he would almost surely bring to the White House.

Mr. Kerry is a meticulous, deliberative decision maker, always demanding more information, calling around for advice, reading another document - acting, in short, as if he were still the Massachusetts prosecutor boning up for a case.

How can a guy who's not competent to run an even mildly effective campaign hope to convince people he's competent to run their country? Who would let the guy run anything? Has anyone ever?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Pinpointing Battlegrounds Amid Debate Preparations (Mike Allen and Lois Romano, September 26, 2004, Washington)

President Bush will consider making an expensive run for New Jersey's electoral votes and is likely to spend more money in Washington state if his leads in heartland swing states hold up after the opening presidential debate Thursday night, Republican officials said Saturday. [...]

Officials said Bush aides feel that they have locked up Missouri and West Virginia, are confident about Florida and Ohio, and have barely had to fight for Arizona, Arkansas and North Carolina. Republican officials said that White House senior adviser Karl Rove and others in Bush's inner circle are laying plans to expand a potential victory well beyond the states he won in 2000, and into additional Democratic strongholds.

The campaigns were startled by recent news organization polls showing Bush tied with Kerry in New Jersey, which he lost by 16 points in 2000 and which has gone Democratic in the past three elections. Bush aides are debating whether they should reallocate final-days television money to the costly New York City market, which is needed to reach northern New Jersey. Bush has advertised from the beginning in Washington state, where he fell five points short last time, and Republicans said they are prepared to move staff and money there if other swing states become secure.

While NJ would be fun to win, it wouldn't seem to have enough side benefits to be worth a major effort, unlike WA, where the GOP could add a governor and a senator with a big night.

September 25, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:41 PM


A Very, Very Thin Thread (H.D. Miller, 9/25/04, Travelling Shoes)

Friend Miller tracks down and then savages today's obligatory Nazi reference.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 PM


Britain first: Tony Blair and George W. Bush are perfect partners — Christian soldiers armed with Bibles and bazookas — but Britain now has more in common with Europe than with the United States (Niall Ferguson, 9/25/04, The Spectator)

[A]s the slow grind of détente gave way to the breakneck disarmament of the Gorbachev years, the last really compelling incentive for Anglo-American solidarity — the Soviet menace — fell away. With the benefit of hindsight, the political romance between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher was nothing more than a flicker of an old flame, sparked more by their shared preoccupations at home than by real common interests abroad. Indeed, had the Anglophobes won the argument in Washington, American support for the Falklands war might never have been forthcoming; few Republicans relished helping the British to salvage those last vestiges of South American empire.

By 1990, then, nothing meaningful remained of the special relationship at the level of geopolitics; the big decisions that ended the Cold War had been taken by the superpowers; on German reunification Mrs Thatcher had simply been overruled. All that remained were those specialised relationships I have already mentioned between the military, financial and academic elites. There was therefore a compelling logic to the European orientation of British foreign policy under the Major government. Neither Douglas Hurd nor Malcolm Rifkind paid much more than lip service to Anglo-American amity. They had seen through the special relationship for the fiction that it had become; with light hearts they accepted Britain’s post-imperial destiny to be ‘at the heart of Europe’. Too bad for them that its heart turned out to be so horribly diseased.

Mr Blair’s fervid Atlanticism therefore marks a discontinuity — a break in the longer-term deterioration of Anglo-American relations. It only makes sense as a backlash against the dismal failures of the Major government’s European strategy, in particular its hopelessly miscalculated responses to the break-up of Yugoslavia and the civil war in Bosnia. For it was Blair’s conversion to the American view of the Balkan problem — that the problem was Slobodan Milosevic — that led him to favour war against Serbia in 1999. And it was the success of that war, opposed as it was by so many of Mr Blair’s critics on both the Left and the Right, that led him in turn to favour war in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The road from Pristina to Baghdad led through Kabul.

As he has made clear repeatedly, and most obviously in his speech to the Labour party conference in October 2001, Mr Blair relishes the American penchant to inject morality into foreign policy. Indeed, to him, war has become an instrument not of policy but of morality — a weapon to be used against wicked dictators in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘humanity’. When he talks in these terms, he can sometimes sound like an Anglicised Woodrow Wilson. But on closer inspection, Blair’s foreign policy has its roots in Gladstone’s idiosyncratic blend of High Church exaltation and evangelical fervour. It is, of course, precisely this that has enabled the Prime Minister to connect so successfully with two such different American presidents. For practically the only thing Bill Clinton and George Bush have in common is their Christianity.

Donald Rumsfeld once said that Americans don’t ‘do’ empire, rather as Alastair Campbell once said that Downing Street didn’t ‘do’ God. Yet Mr Bush’s tacit imperialism — so much more resolute than that of his predecessor — has found its staunchest support in Mr Blair’s private faith. On they march, these two Christian soldiers, each with a Bible in one hand and a bazooka in the other.

The trouble is that while a majority of Americans are receptive to what might be called a faith-based foreign policy, very few Britons are. The Americans are still a deeply Christian people. The British ceased to be some time ago. Consider the following results from a recent BBC/ICM poll. Over half of Americans agree with the statement ‘My God is the only true god’ compared with fewer than a third of Britons. An even higher proportion of Americans (53 per cent) regularly attend an organised religious service, compared with barely a fifth of Britons. Two thirds of Americans pray regularly; just 28 per cent of Britons do. More than 70 per cent of Americans agree with the statement ‘I would die for my God or beliefs’; fewer than a fifth of Britons do.

This is just part of a fundamental divergence in popular culture which increasingly makes a nonsense of the special relationship. Combining as it does religious fundamentalism, economic individualism and red-blooded patriotism, the American conservatism so vividly described by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge in their book The Right Nation simply has no counterpart in this country. British Tories are a beleaguered minority, vainly trying to preserve a few picturesque pastimes and landscapes from the depredations of New Labour’s corrupt and cynical party apparat.

The decline of Christianity not only helps to explain the crisis of conservatism in Britain. It also forms part of the wider process of covert Europeanisation. Many of us still fondly imagine that we have more in common with ‘our American cousins’ than with our Continental neighbours. It may have been true once (though I find it hard to say exactly when). But it is certainly not true now. Travel to the United States and then to the other European Union states, and you will see: the typical British family looks much more like the typical German family than the typical American family. We eat Italian food. We watch Spanish soccer. We drive German cars. We work Belgian hours. And we buy second homes in France. Above all, we bow before central government as only true Europeans can.

And perhaps nothing illustrates more clearly how very European we are becoming than our attitudes to the United States. Asked in a recent poll to choose between the two candidates for the presidency, 47 per cent of us favoured John Kerry, compared with just 16 per cent who backed George Bush — at a time when Bush was more than 10 per cent ahead in the American polls. On the legitimacy of the Iraq war, too, the British public is now closer to Continental opinion than to American.

All this suggests that Tony Blair’s devout Atlanticism may actually represent the special relationship’s last gasp. For a strategic partnership needs more to sustain it than an affinity between the principals and the self-interest of a few professional elites. It requires a congruence of national interests. It also needs some convergence of popular attitudes. By both those criteria, the Anglo-American alliance is surely living on borrowed time.

This is all true except for one thing, the wisdom for Britain of switching from an Anglospheric orientation to Europeanization. The various pathologies that Mr. Ferguson cites above that make it a more natural fit with Europe than with America should be attacked, rather than blithely accepted, otherwise Britain has no meaningful future. You'd think continued existence would be any nation's paramount self-interest.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:57 PM


The doomed defeatist: John Kerry is a loser and a bore and the only thing he is consistent about is his opposition to the projection of US power in America’s interests (Mark Steyn, 9/25/04, The Spectator)

Kerry has spent two months doing everything wrong, beginning with his choice of running mate. His Vietnam nostalgia-night ‘reporting for duty’ convention speech was described by yours truly in the Telegraph as ‘verbose, shapeless, platitudinous, complacent, ill-disciplined, arrogant and humourless’. But most observers seemed to think it was a stroke of genius, and attributed the unprecedented lack of a post-convention poll bounce to the fact that Kerry was so good and so ahead of the game he’d gotten his post-convention bounce before the convention. This is an example of a phenomenon I’ve noted for a couple of years: the principal effect of America’s so-called ‘liberal media bias’ is that the Democratic party and the pro-Democrat press sustain each other’s delusions.

It happened again a week after the convention. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth began their anti-Kerry campaign. The senator’s people assured the media that the charges were all false, the media assured the senator’s people that nobody in the press was going to go near the story. Partly as a result of this insulation from reality, by the end of August the underfunded veterans had driven Kerry’s numbers down, extracted crucial retractions of many of his most celebrated war stories, and forced the candidate into hiding, unable to risk giving an interview even to sympathetic TV softballers.

Desperate for payback for his month of SwiftVet hell, the thin-skinned Kerry demanded that his campaign went on the attack about Bush’s fitful National Guard service back in the Vietnam era. Nobody cares. But Dan Rather and CBS did a big story on whether Bush failed to show up for a physical in the War of 1812, and the Kerry campaign promptly lost most of September because Dan’s case had been built on laughably fake memos supplied as part of a convoluted deal involving the network, a man of dubious mental stability and key Kerry campaign contacts including Joe Lockhart, the former Clinton press secretary who was brought on board to get Kerry out of last month’s mess, not land him in this month’s.

In normal circumstances, you’d send the vice-presidential nominee out to serve as your attack dog and savage your detractors. But because Kerry is aloof and cold, he chose a running mate to supply all the warmth and charm and feel-good fluffiness he himself lacks. Whatever John Edwards’s strengths, he’s no attack dog. While Dick Cheney went around the country snarling devastating cracks about Senator Flip-Flop, Edwards was reduced to pleading for Bush to call off the SwiftVet ads. He looked as though he was about to burst into tears.

There is an attack dog on the Kerry team. Unfortunately, it’s his wife, and folks don’t like that in a prospective First Lady. Teresa Heinz Kerry dismisses her husband’s critics as ‘idiots’ and ‘scumbags’, and Kerry’s new advisers seem eager to limit her visibility. I’ve lost count of the number of Democrat women who’ve said to me that they can’t stand her.

So that was the state of play in mid-September: a candidate in hiding, a lightweight running-mate way out of his league, and a motor-mouth wife duct-taped and tossed into the cellar.

Other than a bad candidate, a bad wife, a bad vp pick, a bad staff, and a bad strategy, this has been about as good a campaign as the Democrats could run at this point in their decline.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:41 PM


In the Shadow of the Wall
: As it enters its fifth year, Foreign Editor David Pratt makes an emotional return to Jerusalem to find out the effect of Israel’s security barrier on its divided populace (David Pratt, 9/26/04, Sunday Herald)

[A]s the intifada enters its fifth year, many on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide are growing ever more concerned as to where it is leading them. According to recent Israeli Defence Force (IDF) estim ates, the coming year will be a critical period for the Palestinian people and the conflict.

“This year will be the year that will shape the Palestinian struggle. The Palestinian leadership will have to decide whether to aim towards a peace agreement with Israel or to continue with the armed resistance,” says one senior IDF officer.

But what of the Palestinians themselves? As Israel’s security wall daily encroaches into their territory and lives, do they also sense that a make or break showdown is fast approaching?

In the past, particularly in the years 1987 to 1993, following the first intifada or “war of the stones,” as it was known, anniversaries of the uprising were often opportunities for Palestinians to endorse resistance to the occupation through street demonstrations or an escalation of attacks on Israeli targets.

But this year the mood is different. While much of the fight against occupation by ordinary Palestinians remains heroic, these are unheroic times. Suicide bombings like that by a woman in the busy French Hill suburb of Jerusalem last week has lost the intifada some of its outside worldwide sympathy.

Meanwhile, a leadership crisis has led some to predict that what really preoccupies Palestinians these days is an “intra-fada” – an uprising not against Israel but against elements of Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority (PA), long perceived to be corrupt and politically out of touch.

Then there is the wall. It’s hard to overemphasise the sheer injustice of this concrete scar that gouges its way across olive tree orchards, family homes, grazing areas, places of work, schools and anything else that, frankly, the state of Israel decides to confiscate. Its sheer physical presence bears down when you are near it. Walking beside it, on either side, you can see Palestinians trying to live their lives under its weight. Like the South African regime during apartheid, the Israelis are well on the way with their policy of containment to creating the equivalent of the infamous Bantustans, where most black South Africans were forced to live.

“This used to be a beautiful place, now I live in the shadow, no sun, no light, even the air seems bad,” one local Abu Dis farmer tells me, struggling to make himself heard against the deafening sound of bulldozers working on the next stretch of wall nearby.

The degradation and humiliation of Palestinians is made all the worse by the employment of some of their men by private Israeli security firms to guard other Arab labourers who work on the wall’s construction.

“I know they blame us for this,” says one guard when asked what he thinks of the Palestinian villagers who stand nearby watching as a bulldozer digs up their back garden to lay cables used for high-powered security lights and electrified fencing.

Elsewhere, other Palestinian labourers can be seen daily running the gauntlet of army patrols to cross gaps in the wall before being picked up by Israeli employers to work in a variety of “dirty jobs” inside Israel itself. A useful source of cheap labour, few of these Israeli employers seem concerned by the security risk involved, or that one of their workers just might be a suicide bomber.

In these desperate economic times, most Palestinians have no choice but to take what they can that offers them a living. Even sometimes at the risk of being called a “collaborator”.

Why, most ordinary Palestinians ask, has the outside world been so quiet in its condemnation of the security wall despite the International Court’s ruling that its construction is illegal? Why is it called a “security” wall at all, when instead of just separating Israel from the West Bank it separates Arab from Arab?

Indeed, how can a people whose history is full of terrible ghettos, now themselves be building one?

Didn't he answer his own question just above when he wrote: "[T]hese are unheroic times. Suicide bombings like that by a woman in the busy French Hill suburb of Jerusalem last week has lost the intifada some of its outside worldwide sympathy.

Meanwhile, a leadership crisis has led some to predict that what really preoccupies Palestinians these days is an “intra-fada” – an uprising not against Israel but against elements of Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority (PA), long perceived to be corrupt and politically out of touch."

The wall is working, not least by changing an Israeli ghetto into a nation where folks are more concerned with what's happening within than attacking those without.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 PM


Language clash opens old wounds: Rwanda’s new elite wants English to replace French as the official language as Paris is probed over its role in the genocide (Fred Bridgland, 9/26/04, Sunday Herald)

Most of the guerrillas had French names – such as Jean-Jacques and Christophe – but they had already lost many Gallic customs because of their long exile in Anglophile states. They didn’t sing French songs, and certainly not the Marseillaise, as they advanced past villages dotting Rwanda’s green hills where boys drove herds of long-horned cattle through tree-shaded valleys. Instead, Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind was much favoured.

Not only had the imminent victors become Anglicised, but they loathed the French government, which had supported the Hutu regime of Juvenal Habyarimana, an ally of Paris and a great supporter of the French-speaking world.

When President Habyarimana was killed in a mystery plane crash in April 1994, Mille Collines, the French-language radio station, began inciting Hutus to “eliminate Tutsi cockroaches”. Announcers said: “The graves are half full. Who will fill them? In truth, all Tutsis will perish. They will vanish from this country.”

The Tutsi victory was a huge shock for Paris. The RPF accused French soldiers of training the Hutu genocide militias, known as the Interahamwe (“those who fight together”) and of protecting the militias when they retreated before advancing RPF troops.

Now President Kagame – infuriated with France and President Jacques Chirac – has signalled that Rwanda, whose strongest relations are with English-speaking countries, is poised to supplant French – the official language since independence was won in 1962 – with English, backed by Kinyarwanda.

English is growing in dominance despite only 3% of the population speaking the language fluently against the 8% who speak French. Already, the country’s three main newspapers are published in English and a decree has been issued that all laws be made in both French and English. Anyone applying to enter university must speak both , as classes are taught in the two tongues .

Kagame has ordered that all cabinet ministers and civil servants must speak English as well as French, a language he has not yet mastered.

This blow to French cultural pride comes as Kagame has ordered the formation of a commission to scrutinise France’s role in the genocide.

And there's no DeGaulle to cleanse the record this time.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 PM


Why This Is A Crime Against Islam (Ayman Gomaa, of Al Akhbar in Cairo, 9/26/04, Sunday Herald)

Moderate Muslims are united in believing that the taking and killing of hostages is forbidden by the teachings of Islam.

Almost 150 foreigners have been seized in Iraq since April, in the name of Islam and under the pretext of a jihad (holy war) against infidels.

But the majority in the Islamic world describes such operations as a “grave crime which contradicts Islam and its teachings”. In fact, such teachings also forbid Muslims to kill unarmed soldiers in wartime.

Some radical Muslim clerics have scoured Islam’s sacred texts for justifications of violence and found them, but they remain a small yet very vocal minority within Islam. Safwat Hegazy, one of the most popular sheikhs in the Arab world, says: ‘‘Prior to the rise of this minority no-one ever spoke about the taking and maltreatment of hostages.

‘‘Unfortunately, some of the western media rarely give a balanced presentation of Islamic thought; they tend to over-emphasise the extreme radical fundamentalist element and largely ignore moderates within Islam.

"It should be clear that Islam maintains the protection of life and does not sanction any violation against it, irrespective of the people’s religion, race or sect.’’

It is perhaps safe to assume that the Islamophobes who say no Muslims ever denounces these acts don't read Al Akhbar.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 PM


John Kerry: Comfortable with format, but television won't help (SCOTT SHEPARD, 09/25/04, Cox News)

As the debates approach, Bush campaign officials have tried to portray John Kerry as a modern-day Cicero, unequaled in his command of political rhetoric.

But while few presidential candidates have come to the debates with the experience of Kerry, the four-term senator from Massachusetts has a distinct disadvantage.

"Television is not a great friend of John Kerry's," said Tobe Berkovitz, the assistant dean of the communications department at Boston University, who has studied Kerry's debating talents for years.

Kerry is "an exceedingly confident debater [with] an unusual command of facts and specifics that makes him almost impossible to stump," Berkovitz said. But "television turns him into a caricature of himself, aloof and patrician," sometimes preventing him from connecting with viewers, he added.

The point is not to debate him, just let him talk and thereby alienate people.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:03 PM


New Jersey, a Blue State, May Be Trying on Shades of Purple (DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI, 9/26/04, NY Times)

To those who view this year's presidential race as a battle between politically polarized red and blue states, New Jersey has usually been viewed as so unquestionably Democratic that it could be colored somewhere between midnight and navy.

But after trailing Mr. Kerry by 10 points in New Jersey as recently as late August, President Bush has sustained a bounce he received after the Republican convention, and three surveys released within the past 10 days suggest that the race for New Jersey's 15 electoral votes is now a statistical dead heat.

No one is certain whether Mr. Bush's surge represents a lasting shift or a momentary blip during a period when the presidential race has veered erratically between fierce personal attacks and withering exchanges about foreign policy. But the varying explanations for the tightening race offer a glimpse of the challenges facing Mr. Kerry as the campaign enters its final weeks.

As Republican strategists predicted earlier this year, the message of their convention in Manhattan, which portrayed Mr. Bush as an unflinching avenger in the war on terror, seems to have resonated in New Jersey, which lost 700 people in the 9/11 attacks, and where the gaping absence on the New York skyline is a backdrop of daily life. The state's Democrats, meanwhile, have spent the past two months buried in an avalanche of bad news: sordid corruption investigations involving Gov. James E. McGreevey's aides and contributors and Mr. McGreevey's resignation amid a sex scandal.

Beyond those local factors, Mr. Kerry's struggles in New Jersey seem to mirror national trends, in which he has lost ground among swing voters, independents and soft Democrats after the Republican National Convention.

Not only did Ronald Reagan win NJ twice but its last three Democratic governors have been despised while its Republican governors have been quite popular. Meanwhile, Senator Toricelli actually had to driop out of his re-election race two years ago to avoid losing. It's an entirely winnable state for the President.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 PM


In Magazine Interview, Kerry Says He Owns Assault Rifle (JODI WILGOREN, 9/26/04, NY Times)

Senator John Kerry, a hunter who supported the recently expired assault weapons ban, frequently tells audiences he has never met anyone who wanted to use an AK-47 to shoot a deer. But it is not clear what Mr. Kerry does with the Chinese assault rifle he told Outdoor Life magazine he kept in his personal collection.

In interviews appearing in the October issue of Outdoor Life, Mr. Kerry and President Bush were asked whether they were gun owners, and, if so, to identify their favorite gun.

Mr. Bush named the Weatherby 20 gauge (although he gave a slightly different answer in a separate chat with Field and Stream magazine.) Mr. Kerry's answer was more complicated.

"My favorite gun is the M-16 that saved my life and that of my crew in Vietnam," Mr. Kerry told the magazine. "I don't own one of those now, but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle."

Mr. Kerry's campaign would not say what model rifle Mr. Kerry was referring to, where he got it and when, or how many guns he owned. A spokesman for the senator, Michael Meehan, said Mr. Kerry was a registered gun owner in Massachusetts. On Thursday morning, Mr. Meehan said he had not been able to ask Mr. Kerry about the rifle because of Mr. Kerry's hoarse voice; he did not respond to further inquiries.

Couldn't he scribble an answer on a piece of paper?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:47 PM


For Edwards and Kerry, an Evolving Partnership With Awkward Moments (RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD, 9/26/04, NY Times)

The two had few things in common, beyond a friendship with Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, and had never worked closely together in the Senate, though their voting records on significant legislation are comparable.

In the heat of the primary campaign they had exchanged only a few barbs, most pointedly when Mr. Kerry said during a campaign stop in Iowa: "When I came back from Vietnam in 1969, I don't know if John Edwards was out of diapers then. Well, I'm sure he was out of diapers.''

Mr. Edwards bristled and responded almost immediately, saying: "In 1969, I was sitting around a kitchen table with my parents trying to figure out how we would pay for college like so many Iowans do every single day. And that is a difference between me and Senator Kerry.''

Mr. Kerry called that same night to apologize.

After he had lost the nomination to Mr. Kerry, Mr. Edwards confided in a number of associates his feelings about Mr. Kerry's limitations as a candidate.

Never worked closely in the Senate? Neither has a single piece of legislation that they're responsible for.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:24 PM


Upper Midwest Crucial to Kerry's Hopes (MIKE GLOVER, 9/25/04, Associated Press)

In 2000, political pundits summed up the race in three words: Florida, Florida, Florida. Here's three words to consider this fall: Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. President Bush is targeting their combined 27 electoral votes - the same total as Florida, where a bitterly contested recount settled the last election.

The trio of upper Mississippi River states narrowly backed Vice President Al Gore in 2000 and are, if anything, slightly more Republican four years later, raising the possibility that Democratic Sen. John Kerry could lose one or two of them.

"They are states we lost last time, but if we can carry one or more of them, it puts Kerry's ability to win the Electoral College in serious jeopardy," said Bush strategist Matthew Dowd.

Interviews throughout the upper Mississippi region - from a diner in Austin, Minn., to a farmer's market in Dubuque, Iowa, to a mayor's office in a Wisconsin river town - revealed a mix of emotions and an anxious mood among voters.

They are worried about the economy, though not as much as Rust Belt voters to the East, and the war in Iraq is a constant source of concern - even anger. But more people approve of the president's performance than disapprove, polls show, and there is significant ambivalence toward Kerry.

Presidents carry states where their approval numbers are higher than their disapprove.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:16 PM


Crossing the piety divide (Hillel Halkin, Jerusalem Post, September 25th, 2004)

Yo'eli is a lovely young fellow, if you can call someone "young" who is already the father of several children. He's friendly and intelligent and I'm fond of him. He lives in one of the most isolated settlements in the Gaza Strip, in a house that - so he told me at the wedding - has been hit five times by Palestinian mortar fire. (No one, baruch hashem, has been hurt.) He grinned to see me look aghast at that. There is a gulf, perhaps indeed humorous, between those who do and those who don't count on God to protect their wives and children from mortar shells.

I asked Yo'eli what he thought of the Gaza disengagement plan. He was, of course, against it. As a member, he said, of the central committee of the Likud, he would do his best to prevent it.

"Fine," I said to him. "You're against it. You want to hold on to the Gaza Strip because it's part of the Land of Israel, and seven or eight thousand Jews have the right to go on living there in the midst of close to a million-and-a-half Palestinian Arabs. I understand the principle. I even sympathize with it. But what do you propose to do with all those Arabs?"

What did he propose to do with the additional two-and-a-half-million Arabs of Judea and Samaria who, together with the Gazans and the Palestinian citizens of Israel, are already half of the total population west of the Jordan and will soon, because of their far higher birthrate, be a clear and steadily growing majority?

"Don't let the numbers scare you," Yo'eli said. "When Zionism started out in this country, we Jews were barely 10%."

Yes, I answered. But there were then millions of Jews living in precarious circumstances in the Diaspora to whom Zionism offered a way out. And Zionism was then, in any case, a desperate gamble that had started with nothing and therefore had nothing to lose. Today a Jewish state is on the line.

"What happened then will happen again," Yo'eli said. "Millions more Jews will come. Millions of Arabs will leave."

"Come from where? Leave to where? You're dreaming," I said. "There are no countries left in the Diaspora that Jews are going to leave in droves - and even if anti-Semitism gets bad enough to make some Jews want to leave some places, say France, most have and will prefer other options, like the Jews emigrating from South Africa and Argentina. And since the Palestinians have no such options, every country in the world being closed to them, they will stay right here no matter what."

Yo'eli didn't try to argue with that. He couldn't because he had no arguments. He still had his grin, though. He said, "Your problem is that you have no faith. If you did, you'd leave it to God."

Now I was really aghast. [...]

I have no particular quarrel with those who see the hand of God in history. Give "God" a generous enough interpretation, and I might even agree with them. But I expect them to be consistent. You can't count some fingers of the hand of God and not others. The God that gave us the undivided land of Israel in the Six Day War is also the God that gave us the destruction of the First Temple, the destruction of the Second Temple, Auschwitz. And if Yo'eli and his friends are asking us to put our faith in the God of Auschwitz, they are asking us to commit a supreme act of folly, not because the God of Auschwitz does not necessarily exist but because His calculations are not the same as ours.

The belief in God can be a form of piety. But the belief that God is in one's pocket and will perform His duties like a trustworthy valet is a form of impiety.

Perhaps Christian comedian Brad Stine is trying to make the same point when he asks those sporting “God is my Co-pilot” bumper stickers whether, if God really is in the car, it might not perhaps be more respectful to let Him drive.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:44 PM


Romney's baaack, and with vengeance (Thomas Keane Jr., September 22, 2004, Boston Herald)

There's a ``be careful what you wish for'' aspect to the recent exploits of Gov. Mitt Romney [related, bio]. Mocked for his many absences from the state, he has returned with a vengeance, vowing to go all-out to defeat Democratic state reps and senators in November. Democrats, understandably, are cringing. Maybe he should have stayed away.

Many others are cringing as well. Mitt's a new kind of Massachusetts Republican: harsh, partisan and aggressive. We remember Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift with affectionate nostalgia. Romney, on the other hand, looks more and more like, well, a Tom Delay - a take-no-prisoners kind of fellow who would just as soon kick sand in your face as build castles together. [...]

A recent Boston Globe poll suggested as much, with Romney's favorable rating falling from 61 percent in the spring to 54 percent today. That's not much of a drop, and it's hardly a surprise - is there any other state that has such a great animus against George W. Bush? Still, the governor's political team couldn't let it stand.

So Romney returned, vowing to wage war on Democratic incumbents. This has been a long-standing plan and, with 134 contested races (a 14-year high) and a promise to spend millions, it has put Democrats on edge. The talking points are familiar: rolling back the state income tax rate, pushing for structural reforms and beating up on the Democratic establishment, which means taking on Senate President Robert Travaglini and House Speaker Thomas Finneran.

In truth, I'm not sure Democratic incumbents should worry too much. Many have noted that the GOP candidates aren't, as a group, particularly strong, and Romney almost seems to be conceding in advance when he says it would be ``a victory'' to pick up even one seat. Still, facing a challenger is never a pleasant experience. Moreover, it is yet another sign that Romney is far different from the Republicans to which Massachusetts is accustomed.

To a degree, most of those who follow state politics keep trying to put Romney into the Weld box, thinking him another version of that genial governor's centrist politician. But Romney is the opposite. Despite campaigning against State House leaders, Weld worked effectively with them. That comity, legislators say, is now gone. There is little communication and little compromise. On both sides, politics have turned acrimonious.

All of which makes for some uncomfortable times. Yet as uncomfortable as it may be, Romney may be on to something. The old model - of GOP acquiescence to the Democratic hegemony - kept state Republicans on the sidelines, trading off real power for minor influence. Romney, plainly, is no longer willing to do that. Whether it's for reasons of national ambition, personal belief or mere tactics, he's adopted a new model, the confrontational approach so effectively used by national Republicans. He doesn't want compromises; he wants wins. And whether it's campaigning for Bush or governing the state day-to-day, the only way he wins is when Democrats lose.

MA Democrats much preferred guys like Bill Weld who even John Kerry could beat. EWhat seems most significant here is that if you accepot the premises of the essay then 54% of MA voters approve of a more hard-edged Republican conservatism. The column, even down to its headline, reminds of the recently cited polling on Arnold Schwarzenegger that shows him maintaining his popularity even as he comes to be seen as a partisan Republican.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:34 PM


Modern philosopher of tradition: a review of Michael Oakeshott by Paul Franco (Noel Malcolm, 29/08/2004, Daily Telegraph)

Asked to name the most important British political philosopher of the 20th century, most people with an interest in the field would probably hesitate for a while, and then come up with the name of Isaiah Berlin. Only a minority, I suspect, would nominate Michael Oakeshott; and yet, as time goes by, his claim to that title is arguably emerging as the stronger of the two. [...]

[F]ranco has produced a short but masterly introduction to the whole range of Oakeshott's writings, not only placing his thought in the context of earlier British philosophy, but also making illuminating comparisons with contemporary or later thinkers such as John Rawls, Richard Rorty and (inevitably) Isaiah Berlin.

The discussion of the earlier context of British "Idealism" (those followers of Hegel) is especially helpful. Many of the things that now seem so modern about Oakeshott - his insistence that all our knowledge and experience is by its very nature interpretative; his claim that an individual person is constituted by his social world almost in the same way that the meaning of an English word is constituted by the English language - can be seen to derive from that earlier philosophical approach.

Similarly, Oakeshott's famous defence of "tradition" as a basis for political life is shown to be not a piece of reactionary obscurantism (as his critics on the Left always claimed) but a subtle extension of his theory of man's social nature, exploring the ways in which social values can develop and change over time. Franco also explains how and why Oakeshott's later thinking moved away from this emphasis on tradition, towards a more formal analysis of the nature of freedom under the rule of law.

What's most interesting, and a sad commentary on the decline of philosophy in the modern era, is that the two are remembered for just one essay apiece, not even for at least one book apiece, as novelists might be. In fairness though, you could be recalled for worse than Berlin's The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy's View of History (1951) and Oakeshott's Rationalism in Politics (1962) and it is certainly significant that both are brilliant statements of conservative positions.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:21 PM


World War II In The West's Political Imagination (Christopher Caldwell, 18 Sept. 2004, Financial Times)

For two weeks, German newspapers have been charting an approaching storm. Earlier this month, the ruling Social Democratic party saw its vote collapse to 31 per cent in regional elections in the Saarland, where scarcely a decade ago it was winning absolute majorities. More ominous still, the far-right German National party (NPD), which had won no measurable allegiance there since the late 1960s, narrowly missed winning seats in the state parliament, with 4 per cent of the vote. Clearly, many Saarlanders were outraged by the welfare reform package advanced by Gerhard Schroder, the chancellor. And some lurched to the xenophobic parties of the right.

In eastern Germany, where two more state elections take place on Sunday, the outrage is more severe and the lurch will be larger. According to Forschungsgruppe Wahlen, a German election-polling firm, the NPD is registering 9 per cent in pre-election polls in Saxony, while the equally hard-line German People's Union looks set to take 6 per cent in Brandenburg - both levels that would translate into ample parliamentary representation. This is leaving aside the Party of Democratic Socialism - the successor to the Communist party - which stands to win 27 per cent and overtake the SPD. Nothing is more novel about the upsurge of the right in Germany than the equanimity with which it is being received. In 1968, when the NPD took several dozen seats in a handful of regional parliaments, European observers anguished over the crisis. This year, the possible entrenchment of rightist parties in eastern Germany is taken seriously but not that seriously. In Germany, politicians themselves invoke the right's effect on employment as readily as they do the country's history. Mr Schroder was quoted in the Suddeutsche Zeitung as saying: "Anything linked to the brown (fascist) muck harms us, harms Germany and really harms us with foreign investors." Everywhere else, the German elections are fighting a losing battle for news space with the elections in the US.

If the world can take such an electoral realignment in its stride, part of the credit is due to the achievements of German democracy since the second world war. But there is a larger development at work: the war is losing its grip on the western moral imagination. Until very recently - and certainly as late as the Kosovo war - the second world war supplied European and American thinkers with their benchmark for the progress of civilisation, their criteria for acceptable and unacceptable statecraft and their rationales for military intervention.

It seems worth considering exactly the opposite possibility, that Germans are untroubled by the rise of extremist parties because they'd welcome a return of exterminationism, this time directed at Turks and other Muslims.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:15 PM


Indian Country: America's military faces the most thankless task in the history of warfare. (ROBERT D. KAPLAN, September 25, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

An overlooked truth about the war on terrorism, and the war in Iraq in particular, is that they both arrived too soon for the American military: before it had adequately transformed itself from a dinosaurian, Industrial Age beast to a light and lethal instrument skilled in guerrilla warfare, attuned to the local environment in the way of the 19th-century Apaches. [...]

The American military now has the most thankless task of any military in the history of warfare: to provide the security armature for an emerging global civilization that, the more it matures--with its own mass media and governing structures--the less credit and sympathy it will grant to the very troops who have risked and, indeed, given their lives for it. And as the thunderous roar of a global cosmopolitan press corps gets louder--demanding the application of abstract principles of universal justice that, sadly, are often neither practical nor necessarily synonymous with American national interest--the smaller and more low-key our deployments will become. In the future, military glory will come down to shadowy, page-three skirmishes around the globe, which the armed services will quietly celebrate among their own subculture.

The goal will be suppression of terrorist networks through the training of--and combined operations with--indigenous troops. That is why the Pan-Sahel Initiative in Africa, in which Marines and Army Special Forces have been training local militaries in Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad, in order to counter al-Qaeda infiltration of sub-Saharan Africa, is a surer paradigm for the American imperial future than anything occurring in Iraq or Afghanistan.

In months of travels with the American military, I have learned that the smaller the American footprint and the less notice it draws from the international media, the more effective is the operation. One good soldier-diplomat in a place like Mongolia can accomplish miracles. A few hundred Green Berets in Colombia and the Philippines can be adequate force multipliers. Ten thousand troops, as in Afghanistan, can tread water. And 130,000, as in Iraq, constitutes a mess that nobody wants to repeat--regardless of one's position on the war.

In Indian Country, the smaller the tactical unit, the more forward deployed it is, and the more autonomy it enjoys from the chain of command, the more that can be accomplished. It simply isn't enough for units to be out all day in Iraqi towns and villages engaged in presence patrols and civil-affairs projects: A successful forward operating base is a nearly empty one, in which most units are living beyond the base perimeters among the indigenous population for days or weeks at a time.

Much can be learned from our ongoing Horn of Africa experience. From a base in Djibouti, small U.S. military teams have been quietly scouring an anarchic region that because of an Islamic setting offers al Qaeda cultural access. "Who needs meetings in Washington?" one Army major told me. "Guys in the field will figure out what to do. I took 10 guys to explore eastern Ethiopia. In every town people wanted a bigger American presence. They know we're here, they want to see what we can do for them." The new economy-of-force paradigm being pioneered in the horn borrows more from the Lewis and Clark expedition than from the major conflicts of the 20th century.

In Indian Country, as one general officer told me, "you want to whack bad guys quietly and cover your tracks with humanitarian-aid projects." Because of the need for simultaneous military, relief and diplomatic operations, our greatest enemy is the size, rigidity and artificial boundaries of the Washington bureaucracy.

It seems utterly implausible that anyone could have transformed the sceloric Pentagon bureaucracy in the fashion required without the impetus of a shooting war. This was the Administration's vision but the going would have been terribly slow as the turf wars would have been far worse than any real war we've ever fought.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:46 PM


Kerry's Unlikely Detractors (Colbert I. King, September 25, 2004, Washington Post)

Two weeks later, another e-mail arrived on the same topic. It was from a Howard University classmate, a friend of 47 years, former assistant secretary of the Air Force Rodney Coleman. A Democrat, Coleman has local roots, having worked for the D.C. Council and later the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corp.

Bill Clinton appointed Coleman to the Pentagon post, in which he served from 1994 to 1998. Somehow, despite our running into each other over the years at various social occasions, Vietnam was never a serious topic of conversation between us. Until now. [...]

"I vividly recall Kerry's antiwar testimony in April 1971. I was a White House fellow at the time, on a leave of absence from active duty, as were five of the 17 fellows selected. Two of them had Vietnam experience with Silver and Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts awarded for their heroism. In early April 1971, I volunteered to go to Vietnam after my year as a White House fellow. I could have very easily taken steps to forgo a tour in 'Nam, but as an Air Force captain committed to the ideals of the oath of office I took, Vietnam was the only game in town."

The oath of office was a serious matter for products of Howard's ROTC programs. I know. I was commissioned in the Army; Coleman joined the Air Force. Unlike some college campuses, Howard's ROTC programs were a source of pride, having produced, according to the school, more African American general officers than any other university in the country.

"When Kerry made those critical statements of the war," Coleman wrote, "my parents, God bless them, went ballistic about their son going in harm's way. My military colleagues in the fellows program who had been there and were shot up were incensed that a so-called military man would engage in such insubordinate actions. At the time Kerry made those unfortunate remarks, America had POWs and MIAs, among them my friend, Colonel Fred Cherry, the longest-held black POW of the Vietnam War. How could a true American fighting man throw away his medals, while thousands he fought alongside of were in the midst of another example of man's inhumanity to man?"

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:37 PM


Elián remark provokes fury: A comment by Senate candidate Mel Martinez about the return of Elián González to Cuba produces an angry response. (MARC CAPUTO AND BETH REINHARD, 9/25/04, Miami Herald)

Calling the federal agents who seized Elián González ''armed thugs,'' the campaign of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mel Martinez chided Democratic opponent Betty Castor on Friday for campaigning with the U.S. attorney general who sent the shipwrecked boy back to Cuba four years ago.

The language provoked outrage from Castor's campaign and from the national union that represented the immigration officers who took Elián from his Miami relatives and returned him to his father at the behest of then-Attorney General Janet Reno.

''Those were law enforcement officers doing their jobs, risking their lives,'' Castor spokesman Dan McLaughlin said of the ''armed thugs'' comment. 'Regardless of anyone's politics, I think it is outrageous to think someone would call police officers working under those conditions `thugs.' ''

Seizing a child whose mother died winning his freedom and shipping him back to a totalitarian gulag is obviously thuggish, but it was Clinton officials, like Ms Reno, who were the thugs, not the officers who just carried out orders.

Kerry Taps Controversial Elian Attorney (News Max, 9/25/04)

The Elian Gonzalez controversy was the single most critical factor giving George Bush the presidency in 2000.

It may prove to be a critical factor this year as well – thanks to John Kerry who just tapped a key figure in the Elian controversy for his campaign.

Kerry must have forgotten that after the Elian brouhaha record numbers of Cuban Americans in Florida voted against Al Gore – ceding the closely contested Florida race – and the presidency to George Bush.

The Miami Herald reported Saturday that "a lawyer unpopular with many Cuban Americans for his role in the Elián González case will help prepare John Kerry for the upcoming presidential debate to be held at the University of Miami.”

That lawyer’s name is Gregory Craig, a well-connected Washington attorney who represented Elian Gonzalez’s father.

Craig worked closely with the Cuban government and Attorney General Janet Reno to gain custody of little Elian.

In the end, armed federal immigration officers stormed the home of Elian’s uncle and seized the boy. With the help of Reno and the Clinton White House, Craig successfully returned Elian to Castro’s custody.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:29 PM


Keyes' unpolished candor will be his undoing (THOMAS ROESER, September 25, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

See here, Alan Keyes. You're breaking the rules of correct political discourse. You are giving the people what they say they want but don't.

While they complain about candidates pandering to special-interest groups, 217 years of this republic have shown that down deep people want candidates who strive to be all things to all men. People say they want office-seekers who are candid, frank, straightforward, genuine, who tell the truth even when it hurts. Who are on the up-and-up, guileless, unartful, undesigning, unequivocal. But nobody has won running on that platform, including Lincoln, FDR and Reagan, and you will be no exception.

Voters elect only candidates who are deceptive, duplicitous, bluffers, cunning, crafty and Machiavellian. That's because voters want politicians like themselves. The media agree. So why are you out of step?

Thus, you've botched your campaign. You're going to lose by a landslide. I accuse you of being politically pure, clean, pristine, impeccable and untarnished. Your very presence embarrasses the system because you don't play by the historic rules. Now I will cite certain statements you have made that are outside the boundaries of the political game -- statements that are filled with veracity, validity and are sober and unvarnished. No candidate would be caught dead being associated with these characteristics.

If you're going to lose in a blowout anyway, why not go with style? How many political candidates run campaigns that burnish their images?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:15 AM


Live From Miami, a Style Showdown (ALEX WILLIAMS, 9/26/04, NY Times)

IN boxing terms, you could say a matchup between John Kerry and George W. Bush is a classic case of a dancer vs. a puncher: Mr. Kerry flicks around the periphery of issues; Mr. Bush pounds right through them.

The matchup on Thursday at the University of Miami, site of the highly anticipated first presidential debate, can be expected to pit the two men against each other, trading punches over Iraq and job creation. But if previous debates are any guide, the candidate who voters perceive as the winner will probably be chosen not on the substance of what he says, but on the cut of his jib.

The subtle style cues of gesture, posture, syntax and tone of voice account for as much as 75 percent of a viewer's judgment about the electability of a candidate, said Bill Carrick, a political consultant who ran Richard A. Gephardt's presidential campaign this year. In a word, he said, the mano a mano is about style — those nonverbal messages that speak to hearts, not heads.

"I think they're both aware that this is more about your `Q factor' than about scoring a debate," Mr. Carrick said. "It's much more like being a host of a television show."

Experts in body language, linguistics and personal grooming who have watched the candidates in recent weeks offered a cheat sheet to home viewers about how each is likely to come across: his strengths, weaknesses and the color of his neckties.

How did the Senator trick the President into three opportunities to decide which of them is more likable?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:49 AM


U.S. Health Plans Include One With Catholic Tenets (MILT FREUDENHEIM, 9/25/04, NY Times)

The Bush administration has broken new ground in its "faith-based" initiative, this time by offering federal employees a Catholic health plan that specifically excludes payment for contraceptives, abortion, sterilization and artificial insemination.

The new plan, announced last week, combines two White House priorities. It is part of a $1 billion project seeking to involve religious organizations in all types of federal social programs. At the same time, the plan is a new form of coverage - a health savings account combined with high-deductible coverage - that is being promoted as a centerpiece of President Bush's health care policy.

The plan, which will begin enrolling federal workers in 31 Illinois counties in November, is sponsored by OSF Health, a unit of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, which runs the St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria and five Roman Catholic hospitals in Illinois and Michigan. [...]

Kay Coles James, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, said last week that the new additions to federal employees' health benefits would "empower" workers to control their medical spending. Ms. James, a former spokeswoman for the National Right to Life Committee, which advocates anti-abortion policies, added that the program gave federal employees "more opportunities to make choices in the private sector."

But some critics expressed concern that this trend in health care might grow into a wider phenomenon. Is this "explicit denial" the first step in "denying federal employees a normal benefit that has been traditional for 30 years?" asked Philip R. Lee, a professor of social medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and a former assistant secretary for health in the Clinton administration. "Is this simply the opening wedge?"


Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:43 AM


California Backs Plan for Big Cut in Car Emissions: If the plan survives legal challenges, it would force automakers to increase sharply the fuel efficiency of millions of vehicles. (DANNY HAKIM, 9/25/04, NY Times)

Industry officials said the plan would lead them to restrict sales of large sport utility vehicles and high- performance sports cars in the state. Regulators, including the state's staff of engineers, sharply disputed that and said the industry already had much of the technology to comply on the shelf or, in the case of gas-electric hybrid cars, on the road.

With seven other states in the East following California's lead on air quality regulations, the plan could potentially affect about 30 percent of the market. That would present automakers with tough choices about whether to build different vehicles for different markets or develop a unified nationwide strategy to meet the demands of California and the other states.

A representative from New York reiterated on Thursday the state's support for California's measure.

But the plan still faces an expected legal challenge on multiple fronts from automakers and could also be blocked by the Bush administration. For years, the industry has tied up previous state efforts to regulate air quality, but regulators say that they have learned from those battles and that they believe they will prevail in court.

Automakers, in sometimes combative testimony, strongly opposed the measure, saying it would be far more expensive than the state projected and that regulators are straying far beyond their traditional role of curbing local air pollution.

The industry also dismissed as unproved the board staff's presentation of a broad overview of scientific evidence on the health effects of global warming.

The regulation would require the industry to cut roughly 30 percent of the carbon dioxide and other emissions scientists have linked to climate change trends. The standards would phase in from the 2009 to the 2016 model years, with each automaker's annual new car and truck offerings required to meet increasingly stringent limits.

But the industry said critics sharply underestimated the costs of meeting the standard. The board's staff projected that the regulation would add about $1,000 to the initial cost of an average new vehicle but that gasoline savings over time would more than make up for that. The industry said it would cost an extra $3,000, much more than the potential fuel savings.

The board's staff gave some ground, but not much, modifying its cost savings projections to $2,142 from $2,691 - fuel savings minus higher upfront costs.

Anyone wanna bet they sell the same number of SUV's just making them lighter and more efficient by using composites to replace steel? It'll be more expensive initially but we've got more money than we know what to do with, which is why we're all driving SUVs in the first place and they'll save money in the long run.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 AM


Saga of Dr. Zawahri Sheds Light On the Roots of al Qaeda Terror: How a Secret, Failed Trip to Chechnya Turned Key Plotter's Focus to America and bin Laden (ANDREW HIGGINS and ALAN CULLISON, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

On a winter night five years ago, Ayman al-Zawahri slipped into Russia across a narrow wedge of land between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains. Dr. Zawahri, now America's most wanted man after Osama bin Laden, was on a risky clandestine mission as head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a militant group that was scattered, battered and nearly bankrupt after years on the run. His purpose: to scope out Chechnya as a possible sanctuary for his wounded cause. Traveling in a minivan with two confederates, he came equipped with $6,400 in cash, a fake identity as a businessman, a laptop computer, a satellite phone, a fax machine and a small library of medical textbooks.

His plans quickly unraveled. After a night of furtive travel, the Egyptian trio ran into a Russian roadblock on the outskirts of this ancient walled city. Police, seeing they had no visas, handed them over to the Federal Security Service, the post-Soviet version of the KGB. Dr. Zawahri spent the next six months in a crumbling jail, fretting that the Russians would discover his true identity and lock him up for years or send him back to Egypt to face likely execution.

In the end, his cover held, and he was freed. Still, Dr. Zawahri's brush with disaster, previously known to only a few Islamist chieftains, forced a critical change in his lethal planning. It also set the stage, ultimately, for Sept. 11 and the global war now under way between America and terrorists under the banner of al Qaeda. Instead of Chechnya, Afghanistan began the locus of his terrorist plotting. And America, not Egypt, became the target.

The Wall Street Journal has pieced together the story of how this happened from interviews with Islamist activists and investigators, court files and documents contained on an al Qaeda computer found in the Afghan capital of Kabul. It illuminates the evolution, motives and also weaknesses of what is today America's principal enemy.

Through apocalyptic violence and a cult of secrecy, Islamic militants torment the West with the specter of a highly disciplined and unshakably united foe. In reality, they have regularly been torn by venomous policy disputes, personal feuds and repeated failures. The Sept. 11 cataclysm both masked and flowed from militant Islam's truest feature: disarray and an inability to take and hold power in almost any Islamic country since Iran in 1979. Islamists preaching revolution in Egypt and elsewhere were in retreat, not ascendancy. Attacking America, Dr. Zawahri hoped, would reinvigorate and unite their cause. His story shows from the inside how the down-on-his-luck Egyptian Jihad leader came to link up with Osama bin Laden and contribute a critical arsenal of terrorist skills and manpower to the cause.

They can't ever take power anywhere, because, as Afghanistan and Iraq showed, we can remove an unfriendly government in days or weeks. Indeed, we'd welcome them gathering in one place where they'd be easier to kill, instead of hiding out in caves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:19 AM


Latino Vote Still Lags Its Potential: The Southwest influx leans Democratic but is not registering fast enough to help Kerry. (Ronald Brownstein and Kathleen Hennessey, September 25, 2004, LA Times)

In miniature, the experience of Auyb and Rodriguez shows how the continuing influx of Latinos is reshaping the partisan balance across the desert Southwest — and why the transformation may not arrive fast enough to help Sen. John F. Kerry erase President Bush's advantage in the region this November.

Slowly but inexorably, activists across the region are moving more Latinos to the polls; even with the difficulties experienced by Auyb, Rodriguez and other canvassers, their group, the Citizenship Project, has registered 3,000 new Latino voters in Las Vegas this year.

Such progress is gradually strengthening Democratic prospects not only in Nevada and New Mexico, swing states in recent presidential elections, but also in Colorado and Arizona, which the GOP has dominated. In all four states, Latinos make up a larger share of voters today than in 1992. And they are a reliably Democratic block.

Experts in both parties agree that eventually, this demographic trend could give the Southwest the largest concentration of tossup states outside of the industrial Midwest.

But Latinos are still not registering and voting in numbers large enough to maximize their influence. As a result, in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona, Latinos represent a smaller share of the vote — in some cases much smaller — than their share of the population, according to exit polls on election days.

Although Latinos are growing more important with each election, they are unlikely to become a decisive factor in these states until they overcome the barriers to political participation that plagued the canvassers in Las Vegas.

"The pool of potential voters lags way behind the growth in the Hispanic population," said Maria Cardona, director of the Latino outreach project at the New Democratic Network, a centrist Democratic group.

That gap means that Latinos, who could tip any of the Southwest's four battleground states to Kerry, are more likely to play a supporting rather than starring role in this year's fight for the region's 29 electoral votes.

"The longer-term implications for Latino empowerment in what we are seeing are great," said Louis DeSipio, a political scientist at UC Irvine who specializes in Latino politics. "But they aren't necessarily in this election."

The GOP can and must appeal to these voters with social issues, school choice, and the Ownership Society.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 AM


Bush Twists Kerry's Words on Iraq (JENNIFER LOVEN, 9/24/04, Associated Press)

President Bush opened several new scathing lines of attack against Democrat John Kerry, charges that twisted his rival's words on Iraq and made Kerry seem supportive of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein. [...]

Campaigning by bus through hotly contested Wisconsin on Friday, Bush sought to counter recently sharpened criticism by Kerry about his Iraq policies:

He stated flatly that Kerry had said earlier in the week "he would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today." The line drew gasps of surprise from Bush's audience in a Racine, Wis., park. "I just strongly disagree," the president said.

But Kerry never said that. In a speech at New York University on Monday, he called Saddam "a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell." He added, "The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure."

Or more fully, he said:
Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.

Then, just in case anyone from AP couldn't follow even such a simple construction, he was asked about the war and answered:
''If you had been elected president in 2000, in November of 2000, would we be in Iraq now?" Letterman asked the Democratic presidential nominee.

"No," Kerry replied...

Given the totality of Mr. Kerry's numerous positions and contradictory statements it's understandable if Ms Loven got confused, but it is indeed she who is twisting the truth here.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 AM


Man who swore Bush into Air Guard speaks out (Lance Coleman, 2004-09-24, The Daily Times)

Ed Morrisey Jr. has his opinion about rumors President Bush received preferential treatment when he was allowed into the Texas Air National Guard in the late 1960s.

The Blount Countian also has firsthand knowledge.

The 75-year-old Jackson Hills resident is a retired colonel with Texas Air National Guard. He swore Lt. George W. Bush into the service in May 1968.

On Thursday, Morrisey said the argument that Bush got off easy by being in the National Guard doesn't take into consideration the context of the 1960s.

``Bush and the others were flying several flights day or night over the Gulf of Mexico to identify the unknown,'' he said. ``The Cold War was a nervous time. You never knew. There were other things going on equally important to the country, and the Air National Guard had a primary role in it.''

Morrisey said the commander he worked for at the unit in Texas was sent there to rebuild the image of the unit. There were only two to four pilot training slots given to them per year, he said. Individuals questioned by an evaluation board and then chosen by the commander had to be the best.

"Bush was selected and he turned out just fine,'' he said.

According to Morrisey, after Bush began working as a fighter pilot, he became regarded as one of the best pilots there. Unit commander Col. Maurice Udell considered Bush to be one of his top five pilots, Morrisey said.

"The kid did good,'' he said.

Mr. Bush chose the tougher course of service.

September 24, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:00 PM


Speech at Temple University: Remarks of John Kerry (John Kerry, 9/24/04)

My fellow Americans, the most urgent national security challenge we face is the war against those who attacked our country on September 11th, the war against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. As president, I will fight a tougher, smarter, more effective war on terror. My priority will be to find and capture or kill the terrorists before they get us.

The differences between the President and the Senator on Iraq have been well covered of late, but you don't see much about how significant a retreat Mr. Kerry is calling for in the overall war on terror. After all, Osama is most likely buried in the rubble of Tora Bora and al Qaeda is pretty well crushed. Their lack of any compelling vision for the kind of society that would appeal to people and the impossibility of their ever taking the reigns of government anywhere always made them a minor strategic threat, though obviously an intermittently dangerous one that had to be dealt with.

So, from the very first, President Bush determined to raise the bar and both transform the Middle East so that it would no longer breed poverty, misery and extremism and thereby terrorist. In his Address to a Joint Session of Congress, on September 20, 2001, he was already thinking in terms of a global response to terrorism of all types as well as to regimes that harbored terrorist or themselves practiced terror:

On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars -- but for the past 136 years, they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war -- but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning. Americans have known surprise attacks -- but never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day -- and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.

Americans have many questions tonight. Americans are asking: Who attacked our country? The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are the same murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and responsible for bombing the USS Cole.

Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money; its goal is remaking the world -- and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere.

The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics -- a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinction among military and civilians, including women and children.

This group and its leader -- a person named Osama bin Laden -- are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries. They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction.

The leadership of al Qaeda has great influence in Afghanistan and supports the Taliban regime in controlling most of that country. In Afghanistan, we see al Qaeda's vision for the world.

Afghanistan's people have been brutalized -- many are starving and many have fled. Women are not allowed to attend school. You can be jailed for owning a television. Religion can be practiced only as their leaders dictate. A man can be jailed in Afghanistan if his beard is not long enough.

The United States respects the people of Afghanistan -- after all, we are currently its largest source of humanitarian aid -- but we condemn the Taliban regime. (Applause.) It is not only repressing its own people, it is threatening people everywhere by sponsoring and sheltering and supplying terrorists. By aiding and abetting murder, the Taliban regime is committing murder.

And tonight, the United States of America makes the following demands on the Taliban: Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land. (Applause.) Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, you have unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers in your country. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, and hand over every terrorist, and every person in their support structure, to appropriate authorities. (Applause.) Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps, so we can make sure they are no longer operating.

These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. (Applause.) The Taliban must act, and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate.

I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. (Applause.) The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. (Applause.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By his State of the Union just four months later he was declaring that--with al Qaeda's base in Afghanistan gone and its members dead or on the run--the focus of the war would turn to the world's worst states:
Our cause is just, and it continues. Our discoveries in Afghanistan confirmed our worst fears, and showed us the true scope of the task ahead. We have seen the depth of our enemies' hatred in videos, where they laugh about the loss of innocent life. And the depth of their hatred is equaled by the madness of the destruction they design. We have found diagrams of American nuclear power plants and public water facilities, detailed instructions for making chemical weapons, surveillance maps of American cities, and thorough descriptions of landmarks in America and throughout the world.

What we have found in Afghanistan confirms that, far from ending there, our war against terror is only beginning. Most of the 19 men who hijacked planes on September the 11th were trained in Afghanistan's camps, and so were tens of thousands of others. Thousands of dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder, often supported by outlaw regimes, are now spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs, set to go off without warning.

Thanks to the work of our law enforcement officials and coalition partners, hundreds of terrorists have been arrested. Yet, tens of thousands of trained terrorists are still at large. These enemies view the entire world as a battlefield, and we must pursue them wherever they are. (Applause.) So long as training camps operate, so long as nations harbor terrorists, freedom is at risk. And America and our allies must not, and will not, allow it. (Applause.)

Our nation will continue to be steadfast and patient and persistent in the pursuit of two great objectives. First, we will shut down terrorist camps, disrupt terrorist plans, and bring terrorists to justice. And, second, we must prevent the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world. (Applause.)

Our military has put the terror training camps of Afghanistan out of business, yet camps still exist in at least a dozen countries. A terrorist underworld -- including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-i-Mohammed -- operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in the centers of large cities.

While the most visible military action is in Afghanistan, America is acting elsewhere. We now have troops in the Philippines, helping to train that country's armed forces to go after terrorist cells that have executed an American, and still hold hostages. Our soldiers, working with the Bosnian government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy. Our Navy is patrolling the coast of Africa to block the shipment of weapons and the establishment of terrorist camps in Somalia.

My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own. Many nations are acting forcefully. Pakistan is now cracking down on terror, and I admire the strong leadership of President Musharraf. (Applause.)

But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will. (Applause.)

Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.

Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.

Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. (Applause.) And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.

We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons. (Applause.)

Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch -- yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch.

We can't stop short. If we stop now -- leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked -- our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight.

A few months later a democratic state of Palestine had been incorporated into the war:
For too long, the citizens of the Middle East have lived in the midst of death and fear. The hatred of a few holds the hopes of many hostage. The forces of extremism and terror are attempting to kill progress and peace by killing the innocent. And this casts a dark shadow over an entire region. For the sake of all humanity, things must change in the Middle East.

It is untenable for Israeli citizens to live in terror. It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation. And the current situation offers no prospect that life will improve. Israeli citizens will continue to be victimized by terrorists, and so Israel will continue to defend herself.

In the situation the Palestinian people will grow more and more miserable. My vision is two states, living side by side in peace and security. There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror. Yet, at this critical moment, if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope. Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born.

I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.

In the work ahead, we all have responsibilities. The Palestinian people are gifted and capable, and I am confident they can achieve a new birth for their nation. A Palestinian state will never be created by terror -- it will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change, or veiled attempt to preserve the status quo. True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions, based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism.

And by 2003 he was regularly speaking of liberalizing the entire Middle East, hastening its rendezvous with the end of history:
Our commitment to democracy is also tested in the Middle East, which is my focus today, and must be a focus of American policy for decades to come. In many nations of the Middle East -- countries of great strategic importance -- democracy has not yet taken root. And the questions arise: Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom, and never even to have a choice in the matter? I, for one, do not believe it. I believe every person has the ability and the right to be free. (Applause.)

Some skeptics of democracy assert that the traditions of Islam are inhospitable to the representative government. This "cultural condescension," as Ronald Reagan termed it, has a long history. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, a so-called Japan expert asserted that democracy in that former empire would "never work." Another observer declared the prospects for democracy in post-Hitler Germany are, and I quote, "most uncertain at best" -- he made that claim in 1957. Seventy-four years ago, The Sunday London Times declared nine-tenths of the population of India to be "illiterates not caring a fig for politics." Yet when Indian democracy was imperiled in the 1970s, the Indian people showed their commitment to liberty in a national referendum that saved their form of government.

Time after time, observers have questioned whether this country, or that people, or this group, are "ready" for democracy -- as if freedom were a prize you win for meeting our own Western standards of progress. In fact, the daily work of democracy itself is the path of progress. It teaches cooperation, the free exchange of ideas, and the peaceful resolution of differences. As men and women are showing, from Bangladesh to Botswana, to Mongolia, it is the practice of democracy that makes a nation ready for democracy, and every nation can start on this path.

It should be clear to all that Islam -- the faith of one-fifth of humanity -- is consistent with democratic rule. Democratic progress is found in many predominantly Muslim countries -- in Turkey and Indonesia, and Senegal and Albania, Niger and Sierra Leone. Muslim men and women are good citizens of India and South Africa, of the nations of Western Europe, and of the United States of America.

More than half of all the Muslims in the world live in freedom under democratically constituted governments. They succeed in democratic societies, not in spite of their faith, but because of it. A religion that demands individual moral accountability, and encourages the encounter of the individual with God, is fully compatible with the rights and responsibilities of self-government.

Yet there's a great challenge today in the Middle East. In the words of a recent report by Arab scholars, the global wave of democracy has -- and I quote -- "barely reached the Arab states." They continue: "This freedom deficit undermines human development and is one of the most painful manifestations of lagging political development." The freedom deficit they describe has terrible consequences, of the people of the Middle East and for the world. In many Middle Eastern countries, poverty is deep and it is spreading, women lack rights and are denied schooling. Whole societies remain stagnant while the world moves ahead. These are not the failures of a culture or a religion. These are the failures of political and economic doctrines.

As the colonial era passed away, the Middle East saw the establishment of many military dictatorships. Some rulers adopted the dogmas of socialism, seized total control of political parties and the media and universities. They allied themselves with the Soviet bloc and with international terrorism. Dictators in Iraq and Syria promised the restoration of national honor, a return to ancient glories. They've left instead a legacy of torture, oppression, misery, and ruin.

Other men, and groups of men, have gained influence in the Middle East and beyond through an ideology of theocratic terror. Behind their language of religion is the ambition for absolute political power. Ruling cabals like the Taliban show their version of religious piety in public whippings of women, ruthless suppression of any difference or dissent, and support for terrorists who arm and train to murder the innocent. The Taliban promised religious purity and national pride. Instead, by systematically destroying a proud and working society, they left behind suffering and starvation.

Many Middle Eastern governments now understand that military dictatorship and theocratic rule are a straight, smooth highway to nowhere. But some governments still cling to the old habits of central control. There are governments that still fear and repress independent thought and creativity, and private enterprise -- the human qualities that make for a -- strong and successful societies. Even when these nations have vast natural resources, they do not respect or develop their greatest resources -- the talent and energy of men and women working and living in freedom.

Instead of dwelling on past wrongs and blaming others, governments in the Middle East need to confront real problems, and serve the true interests of their nations. The good and capable people of the Middle East all deserve responsible leadership. For too long, many people in that region have been victims and subjects -- they deserve to be active citizens.

Governments across the Middle East and North Africa are beginning to see the need for change. Morocco has a diverse new parliament; King Mohammed has urged it to extend the rights to women. Here is how His Majesty explained his reforms to parliament: "How can society achieve progress while women, who represent half the nation, see their rights violated and suffer as a result of injustice, violence, and marginalization, notwithstanding the dignity and justice granted to them by our glorious religion?" The King of Morocco is correct: The future of Muslim nations will be better for all with the full participation of women. (Applause.)

In Bahrain last year, citizens elected their own parliament for the first time in nearly three decades. Oman has extended the vote to all adult citizens; Qatar has a new constitution; Yemen has a multiparty political system; Kuwait has a directly elected national assembly; and Jordan held historic elections this summer. Recent surveys in Arab nations reveal broad support for political pluralism, the rule of law, and free speech. These are the stirrings of Middle Eastern democracy, and they carry the promise of greater change to come.

As changes come to the Middle Eastern region, those with power should ask themselves: Will they be remembered for resisting reform, or for leading it? In Iran, the demand for democracy is strong and broad, as we saw last month when thousands gathered to welcome home Shirin Ebadi, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The regime in Teheran must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy. (Applause.)

For the Palestinian people, the only path to independence and dignity and progress is the path of democracy. (Applause.) And the Palestinian leaders who block and undermine democratic reform, and feed hatred and encourage violence are not leaders at all. They're the main obstacles to peace, and to the success of the Palestinian people.

The Saudi government is taking first steps toward reform, including a plan for gradual introduction of elections. By giving the Saudi people a greater role in their own society, the Saudi government can demonstrate true leadership in the region.

The great and proud nation of Egypt has shown the way toward peace in the Middle East, and now should show the way toward democracy in the Middle East. (Applause.) Champions of democracy in the region understand that democracy is not perfect, it is not the path to utopia, but it's the only path to national success and dignity.

As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics, or parliamentary systems. And working democracies always need time to develop -- as did our own. We've taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice -- and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey.

There are, however, essential principles common to every successful society, in every culture. Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military -- so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite. Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selecting applying -- selectively applying the law to punish political opponents. Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions -- for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media. Successful societies guarantee religious liberty -- the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution. Successful societies privatize their economies, and secure the rights of property. They prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people. They recognize the rights of women. And instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people. (Applause.)

These vital principles are being applies in the nations of Afghanistan and Iraq. With the steady leadership of President Karzai, the people of Afghanistan are building a modern and peaceful government. Next month, 500 delegates will convene a national assembly in Kabul to approve a new Afghan constitution. The proposed draft would establish a bicameral parliament, set national elections next year, and recognize Afghanistan's Muslim identity, while protecting the rights of all citizens. Afghanistan faces continuing economic and security challenges -- it will face those challenges as a free and stable democracy. (Applause.)

In Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council are also working together to build a democracy -- and after three decades of tyranny, this work is not easy. The former dictator ruled by terror and treachery, and left deeply ingrained habits of fear and distrust. Remnants of his regime, joined by foreign terrorists, continue their battle against order and against civilization. Our coalition is responding to recent attacks with precision raids, guided by intelligence provided by the Iraqis, themselves. And we're working closely with Iraqi citizens as they prepare a constitution, as they move toward free elections and take increasing responsibility for their own affairs. As in the defense of Greece in 1947, and later in the Berlin Airlift, the strength and will of free peoples are now being tested before a watching world. And we will meet this test. (Applause.)

Securing democracy in Iraq is the work of many hands. American and coalition forces are sacrificing for the peace of Iraq and for the security of free nations. Aid workers from many countries are facing danger to help the Iraqi people. The National Endowment for Democracy is promoting women's rights, and training Iraqi journalists, and teaching the skills of political participation. Iraqis, themselves -- police and borders guards and local officials -- are joining in the work and they are sharing in the sacrifice.

This is a massive and difficult undertaking -- it is worth our effort, it is worth our sacrifice, because we know the stakes. The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. Iraqi democracy will succeed -- and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran -- that freedom can be the future of every nation. (Applause.) The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution. (Applause.)

Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo. (Applause.)

Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace. (Applause.)

The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom -- the freedom we prize -- is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind. (Applause.)

Working for the spread of freedom can be hard. Yet, America has accomplished hard tasks before. Our nation is strong; we're strong of heart. And we're not alone. Freedom is finding allies in every country; freedom finds allies in every culture. And as we meet the terror and violence of the world, we can be certain the author of freedom is not indifferent to the fate of freedom.

That all adds up to a pretty tall order, one at least akin to the transformation we wrought upon the Iron Curtain nations in finally expunging Communism and this time combined with a religious Reformation. It's hugely ambitious and although it's moving far more rapidly and succeeding far better than anyone could have dreamed just three years it is understandably daunting to folks.

So now John Kerry proposes to reduce the effort back to a kind of police action against al Qaeda remnants and, as he's said, chuck the notion of championing democracy in the Middle East in favor of the kind of authoritarianism that provides greater stability, at least temporarily. To a degree one would not have thought possible after the rebuke they were dealt in the 70s and 80s, Senator Kerry and his fellow liberals have returned to the Realism of Nixon/Kissinger/Ford/Carter and the idea that detente with the totalitarians of the Middle East serves our interests better than the liberationism that Ronald Reagan:

We're approaching the end of a bloody century plagued by a terrible political invention -- totalitarianism. Optimism comes less easily today, not because democracy is less vigorous, but because democracy's enemies have refined their instruments of repression. Yet optimism is in order, because day by day democracy is proving itself to be a not-at-all-fragile flower. From Stettin on the Baltic to Varna on the Black Sea, the regimes planted by totalitarianism have had more than 30 years to establish their legitimacy. But none -- not one regime -- has yet been able to risk free elections. Regimes planted by bayonets do not take root.

The strength of the Solidarity movement in Poland demonstrates the truth told in an underground joke in the Soviet Union. It is that the Soviet Union would remain a one-party nation even if an opposition party were permitted, because everyone would join the opposition party.

America's time as a player on the stage of world history has been brief. I think understanding this fact has always made you patient with your younger cousins -- well, not always patient. I do recall that on one occasion, Sir Winston Churchill said in exasperation about one of our most distinguished diplomats: ``He is the only case I know of a bull who carries his china shop with him.''

But witty as Sir Winston was, he also had that special attribute of great statesmen -- the gift of vision, the willingness to see the future based on the experience of the past. It is this sense of history, this understanding of the past that I want to talk with you about today, for it is in remembering what we share of the past that our two nations can make common cause for the future.

We have not inherited an easy world. If developments like the Industrial Revolution, which began here in England, and the gifts of science and technology have made life much easier for us, they have also made it more dangerous. There are threats now to our freedom, indeed to our very existence, that other generations could never even have imagined.

There is first the threat of global war. No President, no Congress, no Prime Minister, no Parliament can spend a day entirely free of this threat. And I don't have to tell you that in today's world the existence of nuclear weapons could mean, if not the extinction of mankind, then surely the end of civilization as we know it. That's why negotiations on intermediate-range nuclear forces now underway in Europe and the START talks -- Strategic Arms Reduction Talks -- which will begin later this month, are not just critical to American or Western policy; they are critical to mankind. Our commitment to early success in these negotiations is firm and unshakable, and our purpose is clear: reducing the risk of war by reducing the means of waging war on both sides.

At the same time there is a threat posed to human freedom by the enormous power of the modern state. History teaches the dangers of government that overreaches -- political control taking precedence over free economic growth, secret police, mindless bureaucracy, all combining to stifle individual excellence and personal freedom.

Now, I'm aware that among us here and throughout Europe there is legitimate disagreement over the extent to which the public sector should play a role in a nation's economy and life. But on one point all of us are united -- our abhorrence of dictatorship in all its forms, but most particularly totalitarianism and the terrible inhumanities it has caused in our time -- the great purge, Auschwitz and Dachau, the Gulag, and Cambodia.
Historians looking back at our time will note the consistent restraint and peaceful intentions of the West. They will note that it was the democracies who refused to use the threat of their nuclear monopoly in the forties and early fifties for territorial or imperial gain. Had that nuclear monopoly been in the hands of the Communist world, the map of Europe -- indeed, the world -- would look very different today. And certainly they will note it was not the democracies that invaded Afghanistan or supressed Polish Solidarity or used chemical and toxin warfare in Afghanistan and Southeast Asia.

If history teaches anything it teaches self-delusion in the face of unpleasant facts is folly. We see around us today the marks of our terrible dilemma -- predictions of doomsday, antinuclear demonstrations, an arms race in which the West must, for its own protection, be an unwilling participant. At the same time we see totalitarian forces in the world who seek subversion and conflict around the globe to further their barbarous assault on the human spirit. What, then, is our course? Must civilization perish in a hail of fiery atoms?

Must freedom wither in a quiet, deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil?

Sir Winston Churchill refused to accept the inevitability of war or even that it was imminent. He said, ``I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines. But what we have to consider here today while time remains is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries.''

Well, this is precisely our mission today: to preserve freedom as well as peace. It may not be easy to see; but I believe we live now at a turning point.

In an ironic sense Karl Marx was right. We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis, a crisis where the demands of the economic order are conflicting directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West, but in the home of Marxist-Leninism, the Soviet Union. It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens. It also is in deep economic difficulty. The rate of growth in the national product has been steadily declining since the fifties and is less than half of what it was then.

The dimensions of this failure are astounding: A country which employs one-fifth of its population in agriculture is unable to feed its own people. Were it not for the private sector, the tiny private sector tolerated in Soviet agriculture, the country might be on the brink of famine. These private plots occupy a bare 3 percent of the arable land but account for nearly one-quarter of Soviet farm output and nearly one-third of meat products and vegetables. Overcentralized, with little or no incentives, year after year the Soviet system pours its best resource into the making of instruments of destruction. The constant shrinkage of economic growth combined with the growth of military production is putting a heavy strain on the Soviet people. What we see here is a political structure that no longer corresponds to its economic base, a society where productive forces are hampered by political ones.

The decay of the Soviet experiment should come as no surprise to us. Wherever the comparisons have been made between free and closed societies -- West Germany and East Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, Malaysia and Vietnam -- it is the democratic countries what are prosperous and responsive to the needs of their people. And one of the simple but overwhelming facts of our time is this: Of all the millions of refugees we've seen in the modern world, their flight is always away from, not toward the Communist world. Today on the NATO line, our military forces face east to prevent a possible invasion. On the other side of the line, the Soviet forces also face east to prevent their people from leaving.

The hard evidence of totalitarian rule has caused in mankind an uprising of the intellect and will. Whether it is the growth of the new schools of economics in America or England or the appearance of the so-called new philosophers in France, there is one unifying thread running through the intellectual work of these groups -- rejection of the arbitrary power of the state, the refusal to subordinate the rights of the individual to the superstate, the realization that collectivism stifles all the best human impulses.

Since the exodus from Egypt, historians have written of those who sacrificed and struggled for freedom -- the stand at Thermopylae, the revolt of Spartacus, the storming of the Bastille, the Warsaw uprising in World War II. More recently we've seen evidence of this same human impulse in one of the developing nations in Central America. For months and months the world news media covered the fighting in El Salvador. Day after day we were treated to stories and film slanted toward the brave freedom-fighters battling oppressive government forces in behalf of the silent, suffering people of that tortured country.

And then one day those silent, suffering people were offered a chance to vote, to choose the kind of government they wanted. Suddenly the freedom-fighters in the hills were exposed for what they really are -- Cuban-backed guerrillas who want power for themselves, and their backers, not democracy for the people. They threatened death to any who voted, and destroyed hundreds of buses and trucks to keep the people from getting to the polling places. But on election day, the people of El Salvador, an unprecedented 1.4 million of them, braved ambush and gunfire, and trudged for miles to vote for freedom.

They stood for hours in the hot sun waiting for their turn to vote. Members of our Congress who went there as observers told me of a women who was wounded by rifle fire on the way to the polls, who refused to leave the line to have her wound treated until after she had voted. A grandmother, who had been told by the guerrillas she would be killed when she returned from the polls, and she told the guerrillas, ``You can kill me, you can kill my family, kill my neighbors, but you can't kill us all.'' The real freedom-fighters of El Salvador turned out to be the people of that country -- the young, the old, the in-between.

Strange, but in my own country there's been little if any news coverage of that war since the election. Now, perhaps they'll say it's -- well, because there are newer struggles now.

On distant islands in the South Atlantic young men are fighting for Britain. And, yes, voices have been raised protesting their sacrifice for lumps of rock and earth so far away. But those young men aren't fighting for mere real estate. They fight for a cause -- for the belief that armed aggression must not be allowed to succeed, and the people must participate in the decisions of government -- [applause] -- the decisions of government under the rule of law. If there had been firmer support for that principle some 45 years ago, perhaps our generation wouldn't have suffered the bloodletting of World War II.

In the Middle East now the guns sound once more, this time in Lebanon, a country that for too long has had to endure the tragedy of civil war, terrorism, and foreign intervention and occupation. The fighting in Lebanon on the part of all parties must stop, and Israel should bring its forces home. But this is not enough. We must all work to stamp out the scourge of terrorism that in the Middle East makes war an ever-present threat.

But beyond the troublespots lies a deeper, more positive pattern. Around the world today, the democratic revolution is gathering new strength. In India a critical test has been passed with the peaceful change of governing political parties. In Africa, Nigeria is moving into remarkable and unmistakable ways to build and strengthen its democratic institutions. In the Caribbean and Central America, 16 of 24 countries have freely elected governments. And in the United Nations, 8 of the 10 developing nations which have joined that body in the past 5 years are democracies.

In the Communist world as well, man's instinctive desire for freedom and self-determination surfaces again and again. To be sure, there are grim reminders of how brutally the police state attempts to snuff out this quest for self-rule -- 1953 in East Germany, 1956 in Hungary, 1968 in Czechoslovakia, 1981 in Poland. But the struggle continues in Poland. And we know that there are even those who strive and suffer for freedom within the confines of the Soviet Union itself. How we conduct ourselves here in the Western democracies will determine whether this trend continues.

No, democracy is not a fragile flower. Still it needs cultivating. If the rest of this century is to witness the gradual growth of freedom and democratic ideals, we must take actions to assist the campaign for democracy.

Some argue that we should encourage democratic change in right-wing dictatorships, but not in Communist regimes. Well, to accept this preposterous notion -- as some well-meaning people have -- is to invite the argument that once countries achieve a nuclear capability, they should be allowed an undisturbed reign of terror over their own citizens.

We reject this course.

As for the Soviet view, Chairman Brezhnev repeatedly has stressed that the competition of ideas and systems must continue and that this is entirely consistent with relaxation of tensions and peace.

Well, we ask only that these systems begin by living up to their own constitutions, abiding by their own laws, and complying with the international obligations they have undertaken. We ask only for a process, a direction, a basic code of decency, not for an instant transformation.

We cannot ignore the fact that even without our encouragement there has been and will continue to be repeated explosions against repression and dictatorships. The Soviet Union itself is not immune to this reality. Any system is inherently unstable that has no peaceful means to legitimize its leaders. In such cases, the very repressiveness of the state ultimately drives people to resist it, if necessary, by force.

While we must be cautious about forcing the pace of change, we must not hesitate to declare our ultimate objectives and to take concrete actions to move toward them. We must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings. So states the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which, among other things, guarantees free elections.

The objective I propose is quite simple to state: to foster the infrastructure of democracy, the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities, which allows a people to choose their own way to develop their own culture, to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means.

This is not cultural imperialism, it is providing the means for genuine self-determination and protection for diversity. Democracy already flourishes in countries with very different cultures and historical experiences. It would be cultural condescension, or worse, to say that any people prefer dictatorship to democracy. Who would voluntarily choose not to have the right to vote, decide to purchase government propaganda handouts instead of independent newspapers, prefer government to worker-controlled unions, opt for land to be owned by the state instead of those who till it, want government repression of religious liberty, a single political party instead of a free choice, a rigid cultural orthodoxy instead of democratic tolerance and diversity?

Since 1917 the Soviet Union has given covert political training and assistance to Marxist-Leninists in many countries. Of course, it also has promoted the use of violence and subversion by these same forces. Over the past several decades, West European and other Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, and leaders have offered open assistance to fraternal, political, and social institutions to bring about peaceful and democratic progress. Appropriately, for a vigorous new democracy, the Federal Republic of Germany's political foundations have become a major force in this effort.

We in America now intend to take additional steps, as many of our allies have already done, toward realizing this same goal. The chairmen and other leaders of the national Republican and Democratic Party organizations are initiating a study with the bipartisan American political foundation to determine how the United States can best contribute as a nation to the global campaign for democracy now gathering force. They will have the cooperation of congressional leaders of both parties, along with representatives of business, labor, and other major institutions in our society. I look forward to receiving their recommendations and to working with these institutions and the Congress in the common task of strengthening democracy throughout the world.

It is time that we committed ourselves as a nation -- in both the pubic and private sectors -- to assisting democratic development.

When we buried President Reagan recently there was one compliment heard over and over again, with a mixture of awe and envy, that he had seen the possibility of a better world when the vision of other men was clouded by defeatism and exhaustion, and that because he could so clearly see what others did not he could make them too believe in the possibility and so summoned the West to realize that better world.

The John Kerry of the 70s and 80s was one of those whose vision was dim, who, for whatever reason, counseled surrender to and accommodation with totalitarian evil. And it would appear that when the John Kerry of today sees in the Middle East much the same thing he saw when he looked at the Eastern Europe of Iron Curtain days and still thinks democracy such a fragile flower that it can not thrive in foreign soil. Age has not improved his perceptive powers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:55 PM


Photographs Do Lie: Why his Pulitzer-winning picture of a South Vietnamese general haunted Eddie Adams for the rest of his life. (Duncan Currie, 09/24/2004, Weekly Standard)

PHOTOJOURNALIST Eddie Adams died last Sunday at age 71, but his place in history is secure. Indeed, Adams made history with his famous picture of South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan. Taken in Saigon on February 1, 1968, the picture showed Gen. Loan's point-blank execution of a Viet Cong captain named Bay Lop. The images were searing: Loan's cold grimace; a snub-nosed .38 revolver held inches from Lop's terrified face; the fiercely clenched teeth of an officer standing nearby.

It won a Pulitzer Prize for the Associated Press in 1969, and was one of the most influential still photos of the 20th century. But until the day he died, Eddie Adams regretted having taken it.

Actually, that's an understatement. Adams blamed himself for ruining Loan's life. "The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera," was how he put it. His picture told one story; but his contrition for that picture told quite another. [...]

The AP subsequently assigned Adams to follow Loan around Vietnam. Then, a strange thing happened. As Adams later recalled on National Public Radio, "I . . . found out the guy was very well loved by the Vietnamese, you know. He was a hero to them . . . and it just saddens me that none of this has really come out."

Among other things, Adams learned that Loan spent considerable time lobbying for new hospitals in South Vietnam. "It's just a sad statement," Adams said on NPR, "of America. He was fighting our war, not their war, our war, and every--all the blame is on this guy." [...]

Loan died in July 1998, at age 67, from cancer. Torn up by regret, Adams penned a moving eulogy in Time magazine. It was part remembrance, part mea culpa for his 1968 picture. "Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world," he wrote. "People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn't say was, 'What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?' General Loan was what you would call a real warrior, admired by his troops. I'm not saying what he did was right, but you have to put yourself in his position."

Adams also sent the Loan family flowers and a card. "I'm sorry," he wrote. "There are tears in my eyes."

The South Vietnamese paid a terrible price for our squeamishness. Hopefully the Iraqis won't.

-The Myth Behind the Famous Eddie Adams 'Execution' Photo (David D. Perlmutter, September 22, 2004, Editor & Publisher)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:19 PM


More conservative? (Daniel Weintraub, 9/24/04, California Insider)

This new LA Times Poll says Schwarzenegger is still getting the approval of 66 percent of California voters, but more people are starting to see him as a conservative.

Doesn't that just suggest there's room to the Right in CA?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:13 PM


Hiding Behind Anonymity: `Background Briefings' Increase Under Bush (LIZ HALLORAN, September 24, 2004, Hartford Courant)

Though common practice in past administrations, many Washington reporters and editors say the Bush White House has taken the use of anonymous briefings to the extreme, compromising the media's credibility, shielding officials from accountability and transforming briefings into little more than spin zones.

"I've covered administrations since the Reagan years, and the prevalence has just grown and grown and grown, and for no good reasons," says Susan Page, USA Today's Washington bureau chief. "It's now become kind of a reflex on the part of a number of government agencies."

Says Sandy Johnson, Washington bureau chief for the Associated Press: "The problem is insidious."

And often ridiculous: national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, insisting on anonymity, once briefed White House reporters about the president's meetings with foreign leaders, then proceeded directly to give an "exclusive" on-camera interview with CNN during which she imparted exactly the same information. (Protests resulted in her earlier briefing being put on the record.)

But such victories are rare, says USA Today White House reporter Judy Keen, who has joined the AP in taking the lead in routinely protesting anonymous briefings.

"They have the power, they set the ground rules and they know that we have little choice but to accept the ground rules because none of us can walk out" for competitive reasons, says Keen, adding that the protests have been "utterly ineffective."

It's one thing that we don't respect them but do they really have this little respect for their own profession? If journalism today is about nothing more than money driven competition then why continue to provide it exceptional constitutional protection?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:05 PM


It's always annoying when a jerk achieves greatness, so a pleasure that Jeff Brokaw takes Barry Bonds down a peg.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 PM


Howard now has God on his side (Michelle Wiese Bockmann, September 25, 2004,

JOHN HOWARD has personally brokered a deal with the Family First party that would see the Coalition consult over policy with the Assemblies of God-backed party in exchange for preferences for most lower house candidates across Australia.

With the Coalition keen to counter the Labor Party's dominance of the preference flows in a tight election, the Liberals signed off on the deal after a series of conversations between the Prime Minister and Family First chairman Peter Harris.

While the preference flows of the socially conservative minor party may have limited effect in most states, they will be crucial in the three marginal South Australian seats held by the Liberals.

It is almost a political mirror image to the sweeping preference deal between Labor and the left-leaning Greens for Senate and 26 lower house seats reached last week.

Somehow it seems like the plot of a Star Trek episode--the religious vs. the pagans.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:02 PM


Yom Kippur, 5765 (George W. Bush, 9/24/04)

"the Lord, the Lord God Is Gracious and Compassionate, Patient, Abounding in Kindness and Faithfulness, Assuring Love for a Thousand Generations, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, and granting pardon."

Exodus: 34:6-7

On Yom Kippur, Jews around the world gather to mark the holiest day of the year, the Sabbath of Sabbaths. Jewish tradition teaches that on this day, we receive God's mercy through acts of atonement, prayer, and charity. During this season of prayer and intense reflection, may you find comfort in God's promise, which has never been broken and which is renewed in our time.

Our trust in God gives all Americans great purpose. As we are called to acts of compassion and mercy, we come closer to God and serve a cause greater than ourselves. May you trust God's faithfulness to all people, and may you be blessed with a good and happy New Year.


Letter from George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport (c. August 1790)

While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:53 PM


U.S. to sell 'bunker busters' to Israel (International Herald Tribune, September 22, 2004)

The United States will sell Israel nearly 5,000 bombs in one of the largest weapons deals between the allies in years, the Haaretz newspaper reported Tuesday.

The $319 million sale will include 500 "bunker busters" that could be effective against Iran's underground nuclear facilities, Israeli security sources said.

Just in case the President should lose, it's always good to make sure that John Kerry would be dragged into the next war even if unwillingly.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 12:14 PM


A Life less Hectic (Radio Netherlands, September 24th, 2004)

Stressed, burnt-out and broken-down workers are the collateral damage of the modern industrialised world and their numbers are rising.

This body count of zombified employees is as high as 30 percent in rich countries, according to the International Labour Organisation. Once stressed, people run increased risk of heart disease, cancer and mental illness.

In the Netherlands some 300,000 people are out of work, long-term sick due to stress and psychologically related problems and in the US stress levels are also soaring.

People in the US work as much as three months longer in hours each year than we do in Europe and they receive far fewer holidays.

In fact, employers in the US aren't legally obliged to provide for paid leave at all.
This week the Amsterdam Forum talked to two campaigners trying to tackle this workplace epidemic. [...]

(Panelist) Ineke Setz runs the Dutch organisation Slowlife.

"Slowlife stands for things like enjoyment, living with the seasons, spontaneous meetings, sumptuous cooking, working with pleasure, dreaming, taking the time for the really important things, a love, a dream, a charity, people."

Stressed, burnt-out and broken-down workers are on the rise? That will be news to mothers, farmers, miners and steelworkers from previous generations. However, there may be something to the implied suggestion that low-grade mental illness and emotional distress are increasing. When you believe you are entitled to a life composed of dreams, sumptuous meals, pleasurable work and endless romance, the human condition may leave you a little stressed.

Posted by David Cohen at 12:03 PM


"We know we can't count on the French. We know we can't count on the Russians," . . . "We know that Iraq is a danger to the United States, and we reserve the right to take pre-emptive action whenever we feel it's in our national interest."
It's actually not at all surprising [registration required].

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:52 AM


Truth Be Told, the Vietnam Crossfire Hurts Kerry More (JODI WILGOREN, 9/24/04, NY Times)

The war over who did what in the Vietnam era rages on in the 2004 campaign. But it has inflicted more wounds on the candidate who saw combat, Senator John Kerry, than the one who did not, President Bush, analysts across the political spectrum say.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 AM


Networks Praise Kerry, Fox News Buries Him (Press Release, September 9, 2004)

The broadcast TV networks and weekly news magazines favor John Kerry over George W. Bush, according to a new study released by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA). But the study also finds that Fox News Channel was far more negative towards Kerry than Bush.

These results come from the 2004 Election NewsWatch project, conducted by CMPA, an affiliate of George Mason University , and in cooperation with Media Tenor. [...]

Major Findings:

• Evaluations of John Kerry were positive by a two-to-one margin, while evaluations of George W. Bush were over 60 percent negative

• Among non-partisan sources, Kerry's evaluations were almost three-to-one positive; Bush's were over two-to-one negative.

• Among the networks, the gap between the candidates was largest on NBC; the coverage was most balanced on ABC.

• Kerry's proportion of good press declined in August, but he still fared far better than Bush until the GOP convention.

• Bush got better than Kerry only during the GOP convention, which also was the only time he received a majority of positive evaluations.

• Based on CMPA's previous studies of primary and general election coverage, Kerry has gotten the best press on network news of any presidential nominee since we began tracking election news in 1988.

And the press wonders why no one trusts them?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:50 AM


Tying Kerry to Terror Tests Rhetorical Limits (Dana Milbank, September 24, 2004, Washington Post)

President Bush and leading Republicans are increasingly charging that Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry and others in his party are giving comfort to terrorists and undermining the war in Iraq -- a line of attack that tests the conventional bounds of political rhetoric.

Appearing in the Rose Garden yesterday with Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, Bush said Kerry's statements about Iraq "can embolden an enemy." After Kerry criticized Allawi's speech to Congress, Vice President Cheney tore into the Democratic nominee, calling him "destructive" to the effort in Iraq and the struggle against terrorism.

It was the latest instance in which prominent Republicans have said that Democrats are helping the enemy or that al Qaeda, Iraqi insurgents and other enemies of the United States are backing Kerry and the Democrats. Such accusations are not new to American politics, but the GOP's line of attack this year has been pervasive and high-level.

And accurate, as attested to by this outrageous, ally-subverting, comment by Joe Lockhart, about Ayad Allawi: "The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips." So Mr. Kerry's top aide set out to do the very thing which he himself said was the last thing anyone would want to have happen. What is that if not working against our interests? or not sharing our interests?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:39 AM


The Political Sidelining of Blacks (Mike Davis, 9/24/04, Tom Dispatch)

The evacuation of New Orleans in the face of Hurricane Ivan looked sinisterly like Strom Thurmond's version of the Rapture. Affluent white people fled the Big Easy in their SUVs, while the old and car-less -- mainly Black -- were left behind in their below-sea-level shotgun shacks and aging tenements to face the watery wrath.

New Orleans had spent decades preparing for inevitable submersion by the storm surge of a class-five hurricane. Civil defense officials conceded they had ten thousand body bags on hand to deal with the worst-case scenario. But no one seemed to have bothered to devise a plan to evacuate the city's poorest or most infirm residents. The day before the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast, New Orlean's daily, the Times-Picayune, ran an alarming story about the "large group…mostly concentrated in poorer neighborhoods" who wanted to evacuate but couldn't.

Only at the last moment, with winds churning Lake Pontchartrain, did Mayor Ray Nagin reluctantly open the Louisiana Superdome and a few schools to desperate residents. He was reportedly worried that lower-class refugees might damage or graffiti the Superdome.

In the event, Ivan the Terrible spared New Orleans, but official callousness toward poor Black folk endures.

Over the last generation, City Hall and its entourage of powerful developers have relentlessly attempted to push the poorest segment of the population -- blamed for the city's high crime rates -- across the Mississippi river. Historic Black public-housing projects have been razed to make room for upper-income townhouses and a Wal-Mart. In other housing projects, residents are routinely evicted for offenses as trivial as their children's curfew violations. The ultimate goal seems to be a tourist theme-park New Orleans -- one big Garden District -- with chronic poverty hidden away in bayous, trailer parks and prisons outside the city limits.

But New Orleans isn't the only the case-study in what Nixonians once called "the politics of benign neglect." In Los Angeles, county supervisors have just announced the closure of the trauma center at Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital near Watts. The hospital, located in the epicenter of LA's gang wars, is one of the nation's busiest centers for the treatment of gunshot wounds. The loss of its ER, according to paramedics, could "add as much as 30 minutes in transport time to other facilities."

The result, almost certainly, will be a spate of avoidable deaths. But then again the victims will be Black or Brown and poor.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the United States seems to have returned to degree zero of moral concern for the majority of descendants of slavery and segregation. Whether the Black poor live or die seems to merit only haughty disinterest and indifference. Indeed, in terms of the life-and-death issues that matter most to African-Americans -- structural unemployment, race-based super-incarceration, police brutality, disappearing affirmative action programs, and failing schools -- the present presidential election might as well be taking place in the 1920s.

But not all the blame can be assigned to the current occupant of the former slave-owners' mansion at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue. The mayor of New Orleans, for example, is a Black Democrat, and Los Angeles County is a famously Democratic bastion.

So, in other words, none of the blame should be assigned to Massa Bush.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:12 AM


AP Poll: Bush Builds Advantage Among Men (WILL LESTER, 9/24/04, Associated Press)

President Bush solidified his advantage among men during the last month and holds his highest ratings since January on job performance, the economy and Iraq, according to an Associated Press poll.

Bush has a 7-point lead over Sen. John Kerry — 52 percent to 45 percent among likely voters — in the AP-Ipsos survey less than six weeks before the Nov. 2 election. Independent Ralph Nader was backed by 1 percent. [...]

Since the Republican convention, Bush's job approval is up, 54 percent among likely voters, and just over half of them approve of his handling of the economy and Iraq. His approval in all three areas is as high as it's been all year in the polling conducted for the AP by Ipsos-Public Affairs.

It continues to look like the President will get right around 55% on November 2.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:08 AM


Is There Something to Anti-Americanism? (Bernard Chazelle, 9/20/04, History News Network)

When President Bush is not busy hailing freedom, he is usually occupied extolling liberty. On the lofty matters of democracy, freedom, and human rights, his administration proudly talks the talk. The walking—as ever the weak link—has gotten alarmingly wobbly. It was once proud and steady: In the wake of World War II, the United States bestrode the globe like a colossus with twice the relative economic clout it enjoys today. Fresh from liberating the world from tyranny, America was universally revered. Where Europe stood for ruin, fascism, and colonization, the U.S. spelled wealth, freedom, and self-determination.

Gerald Ford should demand a recount, he was apparently right about Poland being free.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 AM


Bush and the rise and rise of the right: Australia and the rest of the world should get used to the ascendency of the US right (Gregory Hywood, September 23, 2004, The Age)

US allies and foes alike should understand this radical approach to strategic policy is no aberration. The conservative agenda is now deeply embedded in the thinking of the American polity.

In shaping Australia's security arrangements, John Howard has grasped the new American reality. Mark Latham has yet to do so. Labor still seems imbued with the notion that there is some serious moderate alternative. If it is, it is only in detail, not intent.

In their new book The Right Nation - Conservative Power in America, US correspondents for The Economist, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, explore the unique nature of American conservatism.

They note this style of conservatism, which blends individual freedom and morality, exists in no other Western country. They note the contradictory nature of the movement: godless, academic neo-conservatives co-exist with fundamentalist Christians; Western libertarians snuggle up to southern militarists.

But these groups subsume their substantial differences in their common dislike of liberal orthodoxy. It is a movement bound together by the notion of certainty, a point Bush grasped perfectly when he united conservatives in the war on terror.

"For the (American) Right terrorism is a simple thing: for the rest of the world it is a complex debate," Micklethwait and Wooldridge write. They quote a key Republican strategist as saying: "Our people, like the President, deal in absolutes. They (our European allies and the Democrats) are relativists."

Neocons and libertarians are loathe to admit it but their ideologies are completely dependent on the predomination of society by Judeo-Christian morality, so the alliance is natural, if reluctant.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:00 AM


The Cult of Che: Don't applaud The Motorcycle Diaries. (Paul Berman, Sept. 24, 2004, Slate)

The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims. To get himself killed, and to get a lot of other people killed, was central to Che's imagination. In the famous essay in which he issued his ringing call for "two, three, many Vietnams," he also spoke about martyrdom and managed to compose a number of chilling phrases: "Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become …"— and so on. He was killed in Bolivia in 1967, leading a guerrilla movement that had failed to enlist a single Bolivian peasant. And yet he succeeded in inspiring tens of thousands of middle class Latin-Americans to exit the universities and organize guerrilla insurgencies of their own. And these insurgencies likewise accomplished nothing, except to bring about the death of hundreds of thousands, and to set back the cause of Latin-American democracy—a tragedy on the hugest scale.

The present-day cult of Che—the T-shirts, the bars, the posters—has succeeded in obscuring this dreadful reality. And Walter Salles' movie The Motorcycle Diaries will now take its place at the heart of this cult. It has already received a standing ovation at Robert Redford's Sundance film festival (Redford is the executive producer of The Motorcycle Diaries) and glowing admiration in the press. Che was an enemy of freedom, and yet he has been erected into a symbol of freedom. He helped establish an unjust social system in Cuba and has been erected into a symbol of social justice. He stood for the ancient rigidities of Latin-American thought, in a Marxist-Leninist version, and he has been celebrated as a free-thinker and a rebel. And thus it is in Salles' Motorcycle Diaries. [...]

The modern-day cult of Che blinds us not just to the past but also to the present. Right now a tremendous social struggle is taking place in Cuba. Dissident liberals have demanded fundamental human rights, and the dictatorship has rounded up all but one or two of the dissident leaders and sentenced them to many years in prison. Among those imprisoned leaders is an important Cuban poet and journalist, Raúl Rivero, who is serving a 20-year sentence. In the last couple of years the dissident movement has sprung up in yet another form in Cuba, as a campaign to establish independent libraries, free of state control; and state repression has fallen on this campaign, too.

These Cuban events have attracted the attention of a number of intellectuals and liberals around the world. Václav Havel has organized a campaign of solidarity with the Cuban dissidents and, together with Elena Bonner and other heroic liberals from the old Soviet bloc, has rushed to support the Cuban librarians. A group of American librarians has extended its solidarity to its Cuban colleagues, but, in order to do so, the American librarians have had to put up a fight within their own librarians' organization, where the Castro dictatorship still has a number of sympathizers. And yet none of this has aroused much attention in the United States, apart from a newspaper column or two by Nat Hentoff and perhaps a few other journalists, and an occasional letter to the editor. The statements and manifestos that Havel has signed have been published in Le Monde in Paris, and in Letras Libres magazine in Mexico, but have remained practically invisible in the United States. The days when American intellectuals rallied in any significant way to the cause of liberal dissidents in other countries, the days when Havel's statements were regarded by Americans as important calls for intellectual responsibility—those days appear to be over.

Every essay from the pen of Paul Berman over the past few years has struck a note of anguish at what has become of the Left that he still imagines himself a member of. Take his first sentence: "The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time." Strike the "our time" and replace it with "the Left" and you've got the truth he can't quite face.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 AM


Saddam's nuclear plans hidden under plant (AP, September 24, 2004)

An Iraqi scientist-turned-author says the most significant pieces of his country's dormant nuclear program were buried under a lotus tree in his backyard, untouched for more than a decade before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

In The Bomb in my Garden, Mahdi Obeidi details fallen Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's furious, and then abandoned, quest for a nuclear bomb before the 1991 war.

''Although Saddam never had nuclear weapons at his disposal, the story of how close Iraq came to developing them should serve as a red flag to the international community,'' Obeidi writes with his co-author, Kurt Pitzer.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 AM


Undermining Australia (Charles Krauthammer, September 24, 2004, Townhall)

Of all our allies in the world, which is the only one to have joined the United States in the foxhole in every war in the last 100 years? Not Britain, not Canada, certainly not France. The answer is Australia.

Australia not only shares a community of values with the United States. It understands that its safety rests ultimately on a stable international structure that, in turn, rests not on parchment treaties but on the power and credibility of the United States. Which is why Australia is with us today in both Afghanistan and Iraq. [...]

Americans Overseas for Kerry is the Kerry operation for winning the crucial votes of Americans living abroad (remember the Florida recount?), including more than 100,000 who live in Australia. Its leader was interviewed Sept. 16 by The Australian's Washington correspondent, Roy Eccleston. Asked if she believed the terrorist threat to Australians was now greater because of the support for President Bush, she replied: ``I would have to say that,'' noting that ``the most recent attack was on the Australian embassy in Jakarta.''

She said this of her country (and of the war that Australia is helping us with in Iraq): ``We are endangering the Australians now by this wanton disregard for international law and multilateral channels.'' Mark Latham could not have said it better. Nor could Jemaah Islamiah, the al Qaeda affiliate that killed 11 people in the Jakarta bombing.

This Kerry spokesman, undermining a key ally on the eve of a critical election, is no rogue political operative. She is the head of Americans Overseas for Kerry -- Diana Kerry, sister to John.

Senator Kerry has made the astonishing decision to alienate those who are actually helping in the war on terror--Britain, Australia, Iraq, Poland, etc.--and truckle to our traditional enemies--France, Germany, Canada, etc.

Cheney: Kerry disrespectful to Iraqi leader (AP, September 24, 2004)

Vice President Dick Cheney chastised Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry on Thursday, saying his criticism of Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi showed an appalling "lack of respect."

The Vice President forgets the words of the old proverb: from whom none is given none is to be expected.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:21 AM


Allawi Threatened to Behead Al Sadr (NewsMax, 9/24/04)

In a clear sign that Iraq's interim government is ready to fight fire with fire, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi reportedly threatened to have rebel cleric Moqtada al Sadr beheaded earlier this year unless violence perpetrated by his Mahdi terrorist army in Najaf subsided.

On Friday NBC's Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklashevski recounted a meeting between Allawi and Grand Ayatollah al Husseini al Sistani in August, after al Sistani was brought back from London where he was being treated for a heart ailment.

Miklashevski told radio host Don Imus:

"I am told that Allawi sat down with Sistani and said, 'Look, you have 48 hours to resolve this peacefully - or I am going to have Moqtada al Sadr's head in a turban on a plate.'"

"And, guess what," the NBC Newser added. "It was resolved."

They aren't making martyrs like they used to.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:14 AM

WE COMPLAIN, SO IT MUST BE TRUE (via Michael Herdegen):

A New Productivity Paradox: The government's data says Americans are working fewer hours. But you're still staying at the office every night. What gives? (Daniel Altman, October 2004,

Alan Greenspan and his colleagues at the Fed are thrilled about the productivity revolution sweeping the American workplace. And justifiably so. According to government statistics, the productivity of American workers has grown more in the past three years than it did during any similar stretch since World War II, and has risen by an average of 3 percent annually since 1996. The numbers suggest the economy can grow more quickly without triggering inflation. Yet many workers complain that they're paying the price in longer, tougher workdays.

Oddly, however, the official statistics tell a different story. According to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hours worked in a week actually dropped by 1 percent from the end of 2001 to the end of 2003, even as the economy grew by 6.8 percent. You and everyone you know may be clocking long hours at the office, but the BLS says you're atypical. So what's going on?

The next person you meet who actually does work harder and longer hours than his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc. did will be the first.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 AM


Indian, Pakistani Leaders to Meet in New York (Peter Heinlein, 23 Sep 2004, VOA News)

The leaders of South Asian rivals India and Pakistan are to meet Friday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly debate in New York. The meeting, and conciliatory remarks by both during their visit to New York, are being viewed as signs that the nuclear armed neighbors may be ready to put an end to nearly six decades of hostility.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's General Assembly speech this week was devoid of the usual criticisms of India. The only reference to their dispute over Kashmir was a statement that he believes the two sides could resolve their differences through dialogue.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh followed on that theme Thursday in his Assembly address.

"It is known that since January of this year, India and Pakistan have initiated a composite dialogue to resolve all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir," he said. "I reaffirm our determination to carry forward this dialogue to a purposeful and mutual conclusion."

The conciliatory tone of both speeches has raised hopes of an easing of the tensions that have led to three wars since independence in 1947, two of them over Kashmir.

Bill Clinton would have gotten a Nobel Prize for this by trumpeting it endlessly. The Administration achieves it in passing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 AM


In prime minister, presidential race gets a touchstone (Anne E. Kornblut, September 24, 2004, Boston Globe)

Apart from the heavy Iraqi accent, he sounded almost like a Republican official introducing President Bush at a campaign stop. But as interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi of Iraq toured the diplomatic circuit in Washington yesterday, praising Bush for ''standing firm" in the war on terror and admonishing Senator John F. Kerry as a ''doubter," he took on a far more significant role in the presidential campaign than any American partisan ever could.

''When political leaders sound the sirens of defeatism in the face of terrorism," Allawi said, standing next to Bush in the White House Rose Garden, ''it only encourages more violence."

With that remark, Allawi, the former CIA operative installed in June at the helm in Iraq, became the face of the Bush administration's aspirations for Iraq, and a symbol of freedom that Democrats may attack at their peril.

You'd think Democrats would have learned a lesson from their assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem--you don't improve things by destroying your allies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:47 AM


Yom Kippur: The fast track to love and forgiveness (Rabbi David Aaron, 9/24/04, Jewish World Review)

There is a cryptic verse in the Book of Psalms (139:16), which, the Sages say, refers to Yom Kippur:

The days were formed, and one of them is His.

Everyday of the year we see the world from our perspective but, on Yom Kippur we get a glimpse of the way the world looks from G-d's perspective and everything changes in light of that perspective. We see it all from the perspective of the World to Come where you get to see the whole picture.

The Talmud teaches that in this world when something good happens to us, we praise G-d — "Blessed is He Who is good and does good." When something bad happens we must say — "Blessed is He Who is a true Judge." However, in the future we will say - "Blessed is He Who is good and does good," even about the misfortunes in our lives.

In other words, when we will look back and see the whole picture, we will realize that every bad event that happened to us contributed to G-d's plan to bring upon us ultimate goodness. This is also true about every bad act we that we did.

In the concluding portion of the PBS series on Freud and C. S. Lewis they did a good job of showing how Freud's atheism and insistence on the primacy of the subconscious leads ever deeper into only the self, while Lewis's conversion experience took him completely out of self and directed him towards God and his fellow men. Then when they cut back to their panel discussion the atheists were, predictably, obsessed with the question of how evil can exist in a world made by God, as if each of our particular misfortunes matter more than the whole of Creation and as if the world only makes sense if good things happen to me. It was unintentionally illustrative of the poisonous selfishness that makes secularism untenable.

Dodger Star Will Observe, and Play on, Yom Kippur (Steve Springer and Jason Reid, September 24, 2004, LA Times)

After wrestling for weeks with an impending collision of faith and work, Dodger slugger Shawn Green said Thursday that he would play in one of two crucial games scheduled this weekend during Yom Kippur, Judaism's holiest observance.

"I talked with family and friends and got advice from a lot of people. When it came down to it, I realized that I just had to do what I feel is right and what's most consistent with my beliefs," Green said. "Everyone has different ways of expressing their beliefs. For me as a Jewish person and a teammate, I feel that this is the right decision for me." [...]

"I struggled with it. I definitely learned a lot through the experience, how important it is to do what you feel in your heart," he said. "Everyone can have their opinions, but religion is your relationship with God and how you want to handle it."

Although there has been support for Green's decision in the Jewish community, it has not been universal.

"I respect Mr. Green's commitment to the team," said conservative Rabbi Charles Savenor, associate dean of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. "It's impressive to see his connection to the club, but I implore him to reconsider his choice as to how to observe Yom Kippur. There are so few opportunities that people have in this world to make a public statement as to who they are and what they are. This is half a statement, and half a statement doesn't really say anything. It sort of misses the point."

-Wind of Terror, Wind of Glory: We cannot know God's majesty without his terrible holiness. (Daniel Tomberlin, 09/24/2004, Christianity Today)
Not long ago, I stood by the bedside of a dying saint. This man had been a member of my church for 50 years. He was known throughout the community as a kind and gentle man. He never lost his temper or spoke ill of anyone. For the last six years, he had spent his life in a nursing home, suffering from one ailment after another. As I stood by his bed with his family, his son-in-law looked into my face and asked, "Can you please tell me how God gets any glory for this?"

Our spirituality encourages us to proclaim our victories, but we lament in silence. We have room for a God who is active in our affairs. We even have room for a Satan who is active in our affairs. But we have little or no room for a God who seems indifferent to our suffering. Certainly, we have no room for a God who moves to afflict. But the Scriptures give us such a testimony.

In the first chapter of the book of Job, we are introduced to a man who is a saint in every way. His flocks and children are among the many blessings of God in his life. But one day a dreadful storm blows into Job's life. A messenger brings the news to Job: "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine … and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died" (Job 1:18-19, nasb).

The Hebrew word for wind is ruach, also translated into English as "spirit" and "breath." This same word is used in Exodus, where we are told that the Red Sea was parted by a blast from the nostrils of God (Ex. 15:8). The great wind of God plays a significant role in the life of Job.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:17 AM


In Egypt, Reforms Are All Talk and Little Substance
: Ruling party says it welcomes change. But presidential term limits remain a taboo issue. (Megan K. Stack, September 24, 2004, LA Times)

A ruling party official stood before a throng of journalists this week and dangled tantalizing ideas: Opposition parties would grow strong, Egyptian youth would become involved and every kind of political reform would be up for discussion, including amending the constitution.

"The era of one-party rule is over," said Mohammed Kamal, nodding studiously over a vast bouquet of microphones as the ruling National Democratic Party kicked off its annual conference. "Egypt welcomes any initiatives for reform. All the doors are open."

Then an Egyptian reporter stood up to ask her question: Would President Hosni Mubarak run for a fifth straight term?

A murmur rippled through the room. Mubarak has held on to his presidency with sheer muscle for 23 years — and appears set to run yet again as the lone candidate in a presidential referendum in which the choice is either "yes" or "no."

Kamal frowned a little and scratched his hands.

"This is not discussed. We are not going to discuss it in this conference," he said curtly.

Cries went up from the reporters:

"The party is silent on these matters! Why? The referendum is next year!"

"The party works according to certain directives and orders," Kamal said. "This was not part of our directive to discuss. It won't be discussed."

So goes democracy in Egypt, where the only news at this year's much publicized, heavily guarded conference seems to be that nothing much has changed since last year. Despite the Bush administration's aggressive talk of spreading democracy in the Middle East, rulers here in the Arab world's center of intellectual thought seemed untroubled this week by pressure to win democratic legitimacy among millions of impoverished Egyptians.

Thankfully no one ever learns the lesson that Mikhail Gorbachev's experience taught most graphically, most recently: once you start talking reform, even if you're doing so to deflect reform, you cause the pressure for reform to build and events accelerate out of your control.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 AM


Bush bypasses Kerry in poll: A poll showed President Bush ahead of Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry. In the U.S. Senate race Democrat Betty Castor and Republican Mel Martinez are in a dead heat. (MARC CAPUTO AND LESLEY CLARK, 9/24/04, Miami Herald)

Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan may count as some of the biggest political contributors to President Bush's reelection campaign, according to a poll.

The post-hurricane survey shows Bush surging ahead of his Democratic challenger by 49 to 41 percent -- an about-face from August, when Bush trailed Sen. John Kerry 41-47 percent, Quinnipiac University reported Thursday.

Given how expensive a market it is to advertise in and the impossibility of him winning back any Red state, the Kerry campaign would do well to write FL off and start defending a few big Blues more vigorously.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:01 AM


The Candidates, Seen From the Classroom (STANLEY FISH, 9/24/04, NY Times)

In an unofficial but very formal poll taken in my freshman writing class the other day, George Bush beat John Kerry by a vote of 13 to 2 (14 to 2, if you count me). My students were not voting on the candidates' ideas. They were voting on the skill (or lack of skill) displayed in the presentation of those ideas.

The basis for their judgments was a side-by-side display in this newspaper on Sept. 8 of excerpts from speeches each man gave the previous day. Put aside whatever preferences you might have for either candidate's positions, I instructed; just tell me who does a better job of articulating his positions, and why.

The analysis was devastating. President Bush, the students pointed out, begins with a perfect topic sentence - "Our strategy is succeeding"- that nicely sets up a first paragraph describing how conditions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia four years ago aided terrorists. This is followed by a paragraph explaining how the administration's policies have produced a turnaround in each country "because we acted." The paragraph's conclusion is concise, brisk and earned: "We have led, many have joined, and America and the world are safer."

It doesn't hurt that the names of the countries he lists all have the letter "a," as do the words "America" and "safer." He and his speechwriters deserve credit for using the accident of euphony to give the argument cohesiveness and force. There is of course no logical relationship between the repetition of a sound and the soundness of an argument, but if it is skillfully employed repetition can enhance a logical point or even give the illusion of one when none is present.

The students also found repetition in the Kerry speech, about the outsourcing of jobs, but, as many pointed out, when Mr. Kerry repeats the phrase "your tax dollars" it is because he has become lost in his own sentence and has to begin again.

When he finally extracts himself from that sentence, he makes two big mistakes in the next one: "That's bad enough, but you know there's something worse, don't you?" No, Senator Kerry, we don't know - because you haven't told us. He is asking people to respond to a point he hasn't yet made and, even worse, by saying "don't you?" he is implying they should know what this point is before he makes it. As a result, the audience is made to feel stupid.

And if that wasn't "bad enough,'' consider his next two sentences.

While it's good for Democrats to finally be waking up to the fact that George W. Bush could be exactly the moron they think he is except in one key regard--he's a political genius--there is a danger for them if they come to think his victories over Ann Richards, the Democratic legislature of Texas, John McCain, Al Gore, the (briefly) Democratic Senate, and John Kerry were all purely a function of style. The danger is that they will ignore the substance of what he's been saying and doing and the inadequacy of thir response to his ideas. If they spend 2007-08 looking for a candidate who can repackage their reactionary liberalism and present it with greater style they'll merely be putting off their day of reckoning, as Republicans did for decades after FDR made them a minority party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:45 AM


Bush Surprises Departing Troops With Gift -- Himself (Dana Milbank, September 24, 2004, Washington Post)

It had been a pretty glum day for Spec. Brian Parker, who along with the other members of his National Guard unit said goodbye to their families and departed on a charter flight for a long-term stint in Iraq. But then, on a refueling stop here, a familiar figure boarded the plane.

"We were down when we left our families," Parker said, giving a thumbs down. "But then we heard Air Force One was here. It's a good morale boost."

President Bush, after a campaign appearance in Bangor, held his plane on the tarmac when he heard an MD-11 carrying 292 Army reservists and National Guard members was about to refuel here. For the troops, grimly heading toward an 18-to-24-month assignment in Iraq, it was a welcome lift. For Bush, who has been accusing his Democratic presidential opponent, Sen. John F. Kerry, of demoralizing the troops in Iraq by criticizing the war effort, it was a chance to demonstrate his devotion to the troops.

"May God bless you all," the commander in chief said over the plane's public address system. "May God keep you safe." As he worked his way up and down the plane's aisles, posing for photographs, signing autographs and shaking hands, the happily surprised troops called out to him.

"That's my president, hooah!" shouted Sgt. Wanda Dabbs, 22, a member of the 230th Area Support Group, a Guard unit from Tennessee. Others seconded her cheer.

Amen, Sister.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:33 AM


JOHN KERRY'S JOURNEY: Echoes of a 1972 Loss Haunt a 2004 Campaign (TODD S. PURDUM, 9/24/04, NY Times)

Thirty-two years later, Mr. Kerry is once again surrounded by many of the loyalists from that first campaign - the only one he has ever lost. He is once again on the defensive over his Vietnam War service and his antiwar record, once again facing a Republican opponent who mocks him as an out-of-touch elitist, once again fighting to fulfill his campaign's early promise.

So what are the lessons Mr. Kerry learned so long ago? To hit back hard when attacked? To bide his time and ration the early passion that made him such an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War and such an eloquent, appealing candidate, but also a target of criticism? Perhaps a bit of both. From that election to this, his career has been marked more by cautious calculation than bold strokes, and to a striking degree, his vulnerabilities then remain his vulnerabilities now.

Mr. Kerry's supporters acknowledge the parallels between 1972 and 2004. But they also insist that he long ago learned the lessons of that searing defeat - lessons that sent him on a slow, patient detour to law school and work as a prosecutor and private lawyer, before his return to politics and his election as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1982 and senator two years later.

"I think it helped John enormously that he did not get elected," said Thomas Vallely, a fellow Vietnam veteran who worked for Mr. Kerry then and is working for him now. "If he'd gone from Congress, from being a star, right to some higher job, he wouldn't have had the political skills he acquired going to law school, becoming a prosecutor, running for lieutenant governor and Senate," all in campaigns that seemed to involve what Mr. Vallely called "near-death experiences."

"Did he learn in Lowell, always fight back?" Mr. Vallely asked. "Yes, but John's always been a pretty good fighter." And, he added, "Kerry's cooler now. He's cooler. I mean, he's less - he's more skilled. He's not nervous."

Dan Payne, another aide in that first race, said that Mr. Kerry had developed "a kind of toughness that allows him to take hits," and that he was "willing to go through these very difficult plunges in his fortunes."

He imploded his own campaign by lashing out at the Swift Boat Vets and making them newsworthy. Since then he's done things like foam at the mouth after the President's acceptance speech and attack the Vice President--a non-entity--and yesterday the Prime Minister of Iraq, just moments after a joint address to Congress. It's hard to believe he's learned anything over those three decades, at least about politics, and he's obviously an inept fighter, way out of his league.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:25 AM


John Kerry's Tipping Point (Don Hazen, September 23, 2004, AlterNet)

There is a growing sense that John Kerry's campaign has reached a tipping point. The watershed moment was a sharply worded and highly publicized speech attacking George Bush's policy on Iraq on Sept. 20 at New York University.

In his speech, Kerry said he would never have supported the invasion of an Iraq that didn't have weapons of mass destruction. By asserting that America is less safe now because Bush invaded Iraq instead of pursuing Osama bin laden – "We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure" – Kerry is now drawing a sharp contrast with his opponent rather than trying to sell himself as a better version of Bush.

Suddenly, there was a sigh of relief heard round the world as Democrats and progressives finally got some sparkle in their eyes. Kerry was talking values, which in turn created greater clarity of purpose and momentum among his heretofore ambivalent, and carping, supporters. It also marked him for the first time as the anti-war candidate, clearly opposed to a war that a majority of Americans say has failed.

The speech represented a clear-cut articulation of progressive values that have been missing in his earlier, more mealy-mouthed statements about the war.

He's a dead man.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:28 AM


Graham defends U.S. missile plan (Alexander Panetta, Ottawa Citizen, September, 24th, 2004)

Canada's possible entry into the U.S. missile-defence program still hinges on talks with the Americans, says Defence Minister Bill Graham. But he offered an indication of which way Canada is leaning by defending the project Thursday and taking a swipe at suggestions it would lead to weapons in space. "It's an important program in the context of Canada-U.S. relations," he said. "I'm continuing these negotiations with that attitude - we're partners for the defence of North America and I think we must remain partners."

To critics who dismiss the project as a Star Wars-style scheme, Graham replied that it "has nothing to do with putting weapons in space.

"It's a program that is ground-based - land-based and possibly sea-based," he said.

He defended the timing of the project against critics who dub it an elaborate Cold War relic that is outdated in the modern fight against low-budget terrorist operations.

The Americans are simply looking ahead and preparing for threats that might emerge someday from hostile nations or terrorists who get their hands on ballistic missiles, Graham said.

Graham was the Foreign Minister under Chretien and point man on Canada’s courageous no-maybe-no-maybe-no stand on Iraq. He was Mr. UN/peace/international law at the time, but when you are dealing with concrete threats to the home front rather than musing abstractly and impotently about parts faraway, you start doing Donald Rumsfeld imitations.

September 23, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 PM


Bush's fundamentalism: the president as prophet (David Domke and Kevin Coe, 9/23/04, The Seattle Times)

Put simply, Bush's language suggests that he speaks not to God, but for God.

It is certainly the case that American political leaders long have emphasized religious symbols and language in their addresses. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, however, the Bush administration has done something very different: It has converged a religious fundamentalist worldview with a political agenda — a distinctly partisan one, wrapped in the mantle of national interest but crafted by and for those who share its outlook. It is a modern form of political fundamentalism — that is, the adaptation of a self-proclaimed conservative Christian rectitude, via strategic communications designed for a mass-media culture, into political policy.

Bush's merger of politics and conservative faith culminates more than three decades of political engagement by U.S. religious conservatives. Ronald Reagan was the first president to be embraced by the religious right, but Bush's resonance with these voters is unprecedented. A June study by the Barna Group, a Christian polling organization, said 86 percent of self-described evangelicals plan to vote for Bush this November.

The key to Bush's support among religious conservatives is his facility in speaking their language, particularly regarding freedom and liberty. An omnipresent consideration for Christian conservatives is the "Great Commission" biblical mandate, in the Book of Matthew: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations."

The felt responsibility to live out this command, both locally and globally, has become intertwined in the eyes of the religious right with support for the principles of political freedom and liberty. In particular, the individualized religious liberty present in the United States (particularly available historically for European-American Protestants, of course) is something that religious conservatives long to extend to other cultures and nations.

One might expect, therefore, that Bush's political fundamentalism would be particularly apparent in his rhetoric about freedom and liberty. This is so. We analyzed presidential discourse about these values (often used interchangeably) in Inaugural and State of the Union addresses from Roosevelt in 1933 through Bush in 2004. For presidents other than Reagan or Bush, only four of 61 addresses (7 percent) contained claims linking the wishes of God with freedom or liberty. Such claims were present in five of 12 addresses (42 percent) by Reagan and Bush, including the latter's last two.

If you've got a dollar in your pocket you might take it out and look at the back--above the pyramid is the phrase "ANNUIT COPETIS," or "Providence has favored our undertakings." Below it is the phrase "NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM," or "A new order of the ages."

Likewise, you might note a prior assertion of conservative Christian rectitude: "We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

Or consider another president who was untroubled by any doubt about his capacity to speak for God, even to predict His future actions:

[I]t would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.

Presidents Reagan and Bush then should be seen as retrograde figures, and quintessentially American, returning the nation to its first principles and the traditional understanding that: "Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 PM


Democratic prospects for Hill takeover dim: Unless Kerry surges, Democrats may see hope of controlling House or Senate slip away. (Gail Russell Chaddock, 9/24/04, The Christian Science Monitor)

In a sharp change from just two months ago, Republicans are gaining a commanding position in the race for control of the US House and Senate. [...]

The latest Ipsos-Public Affairs poll shows that voters now favor Republicans to control the Congress 47 percent to 45 percent. In May, voters favored Democrats 50 percent to 41 percent. [...]

Without a hot presidential race in town, many Democrats in Bush territory are running independent of the national ticket - or at least, attempting to create some distance. In one of the most striking examples in this campaign cycle, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle is running an ad where President Bush appears to be hugging him. It begins with Mr. Daschle saying: "Tonight, the president has called us again to greatness. And tonight, we answer that call." In a debate Sunday on "Meet the Press," GOP challenger John Thune called the ad a bid "to throw John Kerry overboard in order to help himself."

In addition, Democrats like Erskine Bowles in North Carolina and Rep. Brad Carson in Oklahoma are siding with the GOP on some economic issues. [...]

But even in states that are not targets for the presidential race, presidential politics can move voter turnout, up or down. And lately, at least, the prospects for Democrats have been looking worse.

"Coattails still matter. It doesn't affect the landslides, but it does affect the couple of dozen House seats that are very close, as well as the half-dozen Senate contests that are pure tossups. Most will go the way of the presidential winner," says Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. [...]

Meanwhile, The National Republican Senatorial Committee reported Thursday that it ended August with a cash-on-hand advantage of 2 to 1 over the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee - $22 million to $10.5 million.

Republicans seldom lead the generic ballot like that--in fact they trailed at this point two years ago when they were about to rack up an ahistorical mid-term victory.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 9:09 PM


EU to study transit sites in Libya for immigrants (Judy Dempsey, International Herald Tribune, September 24th, 2004)

Germany and Italy are pressing ahead with plans for setting up holding centers in North Africa for would-be immigrants to the European Union, despite sharp opposition from other EU countries and the United Nations, politicians and diplomats said Thursday.

The proposals, which for the moment envisage siting the transit camps in Libya, will be thrashed out next week during a meeting of EU justice and interior ministers in the Netherlands.

Despite strong reservations from some quarters, the idea is "gaining ground," an EU diplomat said.

"Austria, Britain, Germany and Italy are pushing for it," said the diplomat, who asked not to be identified. "Spain has still to make up its mind after supporting it until the Socialist government was elected. France and Sweden are against it."

Rumour has it Libya got the job by underbidding North Korea.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:52 PM


Mugabe attacks Bush and Blair at UN General Assembly (Anne Penketh, New Zealand Herald, September 24th, 2004)

Robert Mugabe added a new dimension to his criticism of Britain yesterday when he accused the US president and British prime minister of establishing a new "political-cum-religious" doctrine: "there is one political god, George W. Bush, and Tony Blair is his prophet."

The Zimbabwe president's comment, in a speech to the UN General Assembly, was wildly applauded by delegates from developing countries who share his fear of the effects of the global dominance of the United States and its western allies.

"The UN charter remains the only most sacred document and proponent of the relations of our nations. Anything else is political heresy," he protested, after accusing the US and Britain of tearing up the UN charter to rain "bombs and hellfire on innocent Iraqis purportedly in the name of democracy."

The Zimbabwean president complained that his country had been subjected to "unprovoked, declared and undeclared sanctions, imposed by Britain and its allies who are bent on bringing down our legitimately elected government."
Zimbabwe is organising elections in March next year but there are fears that, like the last presidential poll which re-elected Mr Mugabe, they will not be free and fair.

"Mr Tony Blair, the British prime minister, has arrogantly and unashamedly announced in his parliament that his government was working with Zimbabwe's opposition party to bring about regime change. Once again, the lawless nature of this man who, along with his Washington master, believes he is God-ordained to rule our world, has shown itself," the president went on.

Mr Mugabe was also applauded when he departed from his prepared speech to say: "We do not need any lessons from the Netherlands and its imperialist allies of the European Union" on organising the elections.

Meanwhile, responding pragmatically and firmly to the threats posed by terrorists and tyrants, France called for new taxes to cure world poverty, Canada wants a new supranational code that would pretty much abolish national sovereignty and Spain proposed something called an “alliance of civilizations”, the purpose of which is “to deepen political, cultural and education relations between those who represent the so-called Western world and, in this historic moment, the area of Arab and Muslim countries." Mugabe got the most applause.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 PM


Douglas on the Stump for GOP: Dems: Governor's Intervention In Legislative Races Won't Work (John P. Gregg, 9/23/04, Valley News)

As Republican Gov. Jim Douglas and Democratic challenger Peter Clavelle debate and campaign throughout Vermont, scores of local candidates are also reaching out to voters in a behind-the-headlines battle for control of the state legislature.

Dozens of Democratic House candidates are traveling dirt roads and knocking on remote houses to meet, and even register, potential voters.

Meanwhile, for the first time in a generation, Republicans have an incumbent governor working to boost their legislative campaigns with local appearances and grip-and-grin photos gracing their brochures and Web sites.

At issue, officials in both parties said, is whether Republicans can maintain their narrow control of the House and Democrats can add a seat in the Senate, giving them enough to override a veto in that chamber.

Some races may come down to whether political alliances, or simply an engaging personality, will be foremost in voters' minds.

“A Republican majority in the House, I think, is very important to the state's future, and I want to be as supportive as possible,” Douglas said Monday in a telephone interview. “There are some districts where I certainly want to spend (more) time with the candidates.”

Douglas campaigned with a slew of Republican candidates throughout Vermont during a 12-day campaign swing last month, and plans more appearances in the weeks ahead, sandwiched between a series of debates with Clavelle.

But House Democratic Leader Gaye Symington of Jericho said her party fielded candidates in all but 14 districts around Vermont, part of a grass-roots effort to win back the 150-member House.

Republicans held 74 seats, while Democrats had 69, Progressives four and independents three this past session, and Symington said her party wants the legislature to “be more assertive” on issues ranging from health care to transportation funding. [...]

“Governor Douglas is liked on both sides of the political fence, and I find myself aligned with him on most policy issues, so it is helping a lot,” Kimbell said. The last Vermont Republican governor to hold office during an election year was Richard Snelling in 1984. (Snelling also was elected in 1990, but died in 1991 shortly after retaking the office, where he was succeeded by Democrat Howard Dean.)

Douglas also campaigned with several other Upper Valley Republicans last month, including former state Rep. Gary Richardson of Perkinsville, who is hoping to win a rematch against state Rep. Ernest Shand, D-Weathersfield. Shand defeated Richardson by just 34 votes two years ago.

Richardson said he received a two-sentence endorsement from Douglas this week to include in his campaign brochure -- it starts with “I need Gary back in Montpelier” -- along with a photo of the pair.

“Those kinds of things help,” Richardson said.

And David Ainsworth, a dairy farmer and town and school moderator in Royalton, campaigned with Douglas last month in South Royalton, meeting local voters and merchants.

“That's one of the reasons I want to run is to try and help the governor maintain a majority in at least one of the chambers,” said Ainsworth, who is challenging first-term state Rep. Rosemary McLaughlin, a Democrat.

Republicans squandered a big opportunity in Vermont in 1994, when they could easily have taken out Bernie Sanders with just a modicum of effort from the national party and some of the NRA ads that were so effective that year--as was he only held on to win by three points. But the state has gradually gone Republican anyway, thanks to the Democrat's embrace of civil unions, property taxes and a much despised environmental permit system. With a popular incumbent governor and the president having a shot at carrying the state you'd think the party would make an effort this time when there's a chance to control both houses of the state legislature, defeat Representative Sanders and make Pat Leahy sweat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:20 PM


Talk of poll delay worries Sistani (Dexter Filkins, September 24, 2004, NY Times)

The Ayatollah, who earlier this year sent tens of thousands of Iraqis into the streets to demand early elections, is said to be worried that a so-called "consensus list" of candidates being discussed among the larger political parties would artificially limit the power of the Shiites, who are in the majority.

Under an agreement reached among exile groups in the early 1990s, the Shiites were said to comprise about 55 per cent of the population.

Ayatollah Sistani, the sources say, believes that the Shiite population has swelled since then and therefore would be under-represented on any single list based on a 55 per cent figure.

Ayatollah Sistani also expressed concern that the Iraqi Government, possibly under US pressure, would postpone the elections under the pretext that the anarchical conditions that prevail over much of the country would make the results illegitimate, the sources said.

"If he sees that what this is leading to is unfair and unfree elections, then he will not take part in it," an Iraqi close to Ayatollah Sistani said. "He will declare the elections to be illegitimate."

Since the Americans toppled Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Sistani has largely stayed away from engaging in the minutiae of partisan politics, but he has aggressively pushed for democratic elections as soon as possible.

Iraq will be a democracy because the Ayatollah demands it. Without his imprimatur no one could govern the country.

N.B. One wonders if the folks who are moaning about the prospect of elections going forward in 15 of the 18 Iraqi provinces think Abraham Lincoln's second term was illegitimate because the Southern states weren't polled.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:51 PM


Worldviews That Are Worlds Apart (Jim Hoagland, September 23, 2004, Washington Post)

John Kerry would change the situation. George W. Bush would change the world.

The electoral choice in 2004 is a stark and consequential one. These two candidates are night and day -- more precisely, they are emotion vs. reason, instinct vs. intellect. [...]

The incumbent president is the radical in this unorthodox election year. In his view, a new threat to U.S. security, in a new geographic region and from a new kind of enemy, demands a paradigm shift in international behavior that can be unilaterally enforced by U.S. power if necessary.

Bush believes that America's friends and foes abroad can -- and must -- be made to change their ways to make the world safer for democracies and particularly for the United States. Only by making the regimes of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Libya understand that their very survival is at stake can effective cooperation be gained in the war on al Qaeda and other parts of the loosely connected and fanatical Islamist network.

The challenger is for once the pragmatist and traditionalist on foreign policy. Kerry first would change the U.S. approach to the world, then persuade and gently pressure allies and adversaries to return to established patterns of cooperation or coerced behavior.

Restoring NATO's Cold War cohesion is a primary goal for Kerry but a secondary tactical issue for Bush in grappling with turmoil in the Middle East, where European interests and reflexes often run counter to those of the United States. Israel is important to Kerry as a diplomatic and political partner; to Bush as a strategic ally in waging a long, necessary war.

Americans have an enduring and amply justified distrust of intellectuals and little truck with reason. Who else but an intellectual could think that there was ever such a thing as NATO cohesion?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:43 PM


Transcript: Allawi Thanks America (September 23, 2004)

ALLAWI: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, it’s my distinct honor and great privilege to speak to you today on behalf of Iraq’s interim government and its people.

It’s my honor to come to Congress and to thank this nation and its people for making our cause your cause, our struggle your struggle.

Before I turn to my government’s plan for Iraq, I have three important messages for you today.

First, we are succeeding in Iraq.


It’s a tough struggle with setbacks, but we are succeeding.

I have seen some of the images that are being shown here on television. They are disturbing. They focus on the tragedies, such as the brutal and barbaric murder of two American hostages this week.

ALLAWI: My thoughts and prayers go out to their families and to all those who lost loved ones.

Yet, as we mourn these losses, we must not forget either the progress we are making or what is at stake in Iraq.

We are fighting for freedom and democracy, ours and yours. Every day, we strengthen the institutions that will protect our new democracy, and every day, we grow in strength and determination to defeat the terrorists and their barbarism.

The second message is quite simple and one that I would like to deliver directly from my people to yours: Thank you, America.


We Iraqis know that Americans have made and continue to make enormous sacrifices to liberate Iraq, to assure Iraq’s freedom. I have come here to thank you and to promise you that your sacrifices are not in vain.

The overwhelming majority of Iraqis are grateful. They are grateful to be rid of Saddam Hussein and the torture and brutality he forced upon us, grateful for the chance to build a better future for our families, our country and our region.

ALLAWI: We Iraqis are grateful to you, America, for your leadership and your sacrifice for our liberation and our opportunity to start anew.

Third, I stand here today as the prime minister of a country emerging finally from dark ages of violence, aggression, corruption and greed. Like almost every Iraqi, I have many friends who were murdered, tortured or raped by the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Well over a million Iraqis were murdered or are missing. We estimate at least 300,000 in mass graves, which stands as monuments to the inhumanity of Saddam’s regime. Thousands of my Kurdish brothers and sisters were gassed to death by Saddam’s chemical weapons.

Millions more like me were driven into exile. Even in exile, as I myself can vouch, we were not safe from Saddam.

And as we lived under tyranny at home, so our neighbors lived in fear of Iraq’s aggression and brutality. Reckless wars, use of weapons of mass destruction, the needless loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and the financing and exporting of terrorism, these were Saddam’s legacy to the world.

My friends, today we are better off, you are better off and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.


Your decision to go to war in Iraq was not an easy one but it was the right one.


ALLAWI: There are no words that can express the debt of gratitude that future generations of Iraqis will owe to Americans. It would have been easy to have turned your back on our plight, but this is not the tradition of this great country, nor for the first time in history you stood up with your allies for freedom and democracy.

Ladies and gentlemen, I particularly want to thank you in the United States Congress for your brave vote in 2002 to authorize American men and women to go to war to liberate my country, because you realized what was at stake. And I want to thank you for your continued commitment last year when you voted to grant Iraq a generous reconstruction and security funding package.

I have met many of you last year and I have in Iraq. It’s a tribute to your commitment to our country that you have come to see firsthand the challenges and the progress we have and we are making.

Ladies and gentlemen, the costs now have been high. As we have lost our loved ones in this struggle, so have you. As we have mourned, so have you.

ALLAWI: This is a bitter price of combating tyranny and terror.

Our hearts go to the families, every American who has given his or her life and every American who has been wounded to help us in our struggle.

Now we are determined to honor your confidence and sacrifice by putting into practice in Iraq the values of liberty and democracy, which are so dear to you and which have triumphed over tyranny across our world.


Creating a democratic, prosperous and stable nation, where differences are respected, human rights protected, and which lives in peace with itself and its neighbor, is our highest priority, our sternest challenge and our greatest goal. It is a vision, I assure you, shared by the vast majority of the Iraqi people. But there are the tiny minority who despise the very ideas of liberty, of peace, of tolerance, and who will kill anyone, destroy anything, to prevent Iraq and its people from achieving this goal.

Among them are those who nurse fantasies of the former regime returning to power. There are fanatics who seek to impose a perverted vision of Islam in which the face of Allah cannot be seen. And there are terrorists, including many from outside Iraq, who seek to make our country the main battleground against freedom, democracy and civilization.

ALLAWI: For the struggle in Iraq today is not about the future of Iraq only. It’s about the worldwide war between those who want to live in peace and freedom, and terrorists. Terrorists strike indiscriminately at soldiers, at civilians, as they did so tragically on 9/11 in America, and as they did in Spain and Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia in my country and many others.

So in Iraq we confront both, insurgency and the global war on terror with their destructive forces sometimes overlapping. These killers may be just a tiny fraction of our 27 million population, but with their guns and their suicide bombs to intimidate and to frighten all the people of Iraq, I can tell you today, they will not succeed.


For these murderers have no political program or cause other than push our country back into tyranny. Their agenda is no different than terrorist forces that have struck all over the world, including your own country on September 11th. There lies the fatal weakness: The insurgency in Iraq is destructive but small and it has not and will never resonate with the Iraqi people.

The Iraqi citizens know better than anyone the horrors of dictatorship. This is past we will never revisit.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me turn now to our plan which we have developed to meet the real challenges which Iraq faces today, a plan that we are successfully implementing with your help. The plan has three basic parts: building democracy, defeating the insurgency and improving the quality of ordinary Iraqis.

ALLAWI: The political strategy in our plan is to isolate the terrorists from the communities in which they operate. We are working hard to involve as many people as we can in the political process to cut the ground from under the terrorists’ feet.

In troubled areas across the country, government representatives are meeting with local leaders. They are offering amnesty to those who realize the error of their ways. They are making clear that there can be no compromise with terror, that all Iraqis have the opportunity to join the side of order and democracy, and that they should use the political process to address their legitimate concerns and hopes.

I am a realist. I know that terrorism cannot be defeated with political tools only. But we can weaken it, ending local support, help us to tackle the enemy head-on, to identify, isolate and eradicate this cancer.

Let me provide you with a couple of examples of where this political plan already is working.

In Samarra, the Iraqi government has tackled the insurgents who once controlled the city.

ALLAWI: Following weeks of discussions between government officials and representatives, coalition forces and local community leaders, regular access to the city has been restored. A new provincial council and governor have been selected, and a new chief of police has been appointed. Hundreds of insurgents have been pushed out of the city by local citizens, eager to get with their lives.

Today in Samarra, Iraqi forces are patrolling the city, in close coordination with their coalition counterparts.

In Talafa (ph), a city northwest of Baghdad, the Iraqi government has reversed an effort by insurgents to arrest, control (inaudible) the proper authorities. Iraqi forces put down the challenge and allowed local citizens to choose a new mayor and police chief. Thousands of civilians have returned to the city. And since their return, we have launched a large program of reconstruction and humanitarian assistance.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me turn now to our military strategy. We plan to build and maintain security forces across Iraq. Ordinary Iraqis are anxious to take over entirely this role and to shoulder all the security burdens of our country as quickly as possible.


For now, of course, we need the help of our American and coalition partners. But the training of Iraqi security forces is moving forward briskly and effectively.

The Iraqi government now commands almost 50,000 armed and combat- ready Iraqis.

ALLAWI: By January it will be some 145,000. And by the end of next year, some 250,000 Iraqis.

The government has accelerated the development of Iraqi special forces, and the establishment of a counter-terrorist strike force to tackle specific problems caused by insurgencies.

Our intelligence is getting better every day. You have seen that the successful resolution of the Najaf crisis, and then the targeted attacks against insurgents in Fallujah.

These new Iraqi forces are rising to the challenge. They are fighting on behalf of sovereign Iraqi government, and therefore their performance is improving every day. Working closely with the coalition allies, they are striking their enemies wherever they hide, disrupting operations, destroying safe houses and removing terrorist leaders.

But improving the everyday lives of Iraqis, tackling our economic problems is also essential to our plan. Across the country there is a daily progress, too. Oil pipelines are being repaired. Basic services are being improved. The homes are being rebuilt. Schools and hospitals are being rebuilt. The clinics are open and reopened. There are now over 6 million children at school, many of them attending one of the 2,500 schools that have been renovated since liberation.


Last week, we completed a national polio vaccination campaign, reaching over 90 percent of all Iraqi children.

ALLAWI: We’re starting work on 150 new health centers across the country. Millions of dollars in economic aid and humanitarian assistance from this country and others around the world are flowing into Iraq. For this, again, I want to thank you.


And so today, despite the setbacks and daily outrages, we can and should be hopeful for the future.

In Najaf and Kufa, this plan has already brought success. In those cities a firebrand cleric had taken over Shia Islam’s holiest sites in defiance of the government and the local population. Immediately, the Iraqi government ordered the Iraqi armed forces into action to use military force to create conditions for political success.

Together with the coalition partners, Iraqi forces cleaned out insurgents from everywhere in the city, capturing hundreds and killing many more.

At the same time, the government worked with political leaders and with Ayatollah Sistani to find a peaceful solution to the occupation of the shrine. We were successful. The shrine was preserved. Order was restored. And Najaf and Kufa were returned to their citizens.


ALLAWI: Today the foreign media have lost interest and left, but millions of dollars in economic aid and humanitarian assistance are now flowing into the cities. Ordinary citizens are once again free to live and worship at these places.

As we move forward, the next major milestone will be holding of the free and fair national and local elections in January next.


I know that some have speculated, even doubted, whether this date can be met. So let me be absolutely clear: Elections will occur in Iraq on time in January because Iraqis want elections on time.


For the skeptics who do not understand the Iraqi people, they do not realize how decades of torture and repression feed our desire for freedom. At every step of the political process to date the courage and resilience of the Iraqi people has proved the doubters wrong.


They said we would miss January deadline to pass the interim constitution.

ALLAWI: We proved them wrong.

They warned that there could be no successful handover of sovereignty by the end of June. We proved them wrong. A sovereign Iraqi government took over control two days early.

They doubted whether a national conference could be staged this August. We proved them wrong.

Despite intimidation and violence, over 1,400 citizens, a quarter of them women, from all regions and from every ethnic, religious and political grouping in Iraq, elected a national council.

And I pledge to you today, we’ll prove them wrong again over the elections.


Our independent electoral commission is working with the United Nations, the multinational force and our own Iraqi security forces to make these elections a reality. In 15 out of our 18 Iraqi provinces we could hold elections tomorrow. Although this is not what we see in your media, it is a fact.


ALLAWI: Your government, our government and the United Nations are all helping us mobilizing the necessary resources to fund voter registration and information programs. We will establish up to 30,000 polling sites, 130,000 election workers, and all other complex aspects mounting a general election in a nation of 27 million before the end of January next.

We already know that terrorists and former regime elements will do all they can to disrupt these elections. There would be no greater success for the terrorists if we delay and no greater blow when the elections take place, as they will, on schedule.


The Iraqi elections may not be perfect, may not be the best elections that Iraq will ever hold. They will no doubt be an excuse for violence from those that despise liberty, as were the first elections in Sierra Leone, South Africa or Indonesia.

But they will take place, and they will be free and fair. And though they won’t be the end of the journey toward democracy, they will be a giant step forward in Iraq’s political evolution.


They will pave the way for a government that reflects the world, and has the confidence of the Iraqi people.

ALLAWI: Ladies and gentlemen, this is our strategy for moving Iraq steadily toward the security and democracy and prosperity our people crave.

But Iraq cannot accomplish this alone. The resolve and will of the coalition in supporting a free Iraq is vital to our success.


The Iraqi government needs the help of the international community, the help of countries that not only believe in the Iraqi people but also believe in the fight for freedom and against tyranny and terrorism everywhere.

Already, Iraq has many partners. The transition in Iraq from brutal dictatorship to freedom and democracy is not only an Iraqi endeavor, it is an international one. More than 30 countries are represented in Iraq with troops on the ground in harm’s way. We Iraqis are grateful for each and every one of these courageous men and women.


United Nations Resolution 1546 passed in June 2004, endorsed the Iraqi interim government and pledged international support for Iraq upcoming elections. The G-8, the European Union and NATO have also issued formal statements of support.

NATO is now helping with one of Iraq’s most urgent needs, the training of Iraqi security forces. I am delighted by the new agreement to step up the pace and scope of this training.

ALLAWI: The United Nations has reestablished its mission in Iraq, a new United Nations special representative has been appointed and a team of United Nations personnel is now operating in Baghdad.

Many more nations have committed to Iraq’s future in the form of economic aid. We Iraqis are aware how international this effort truly is.

But our opponents, the terrorists, also understand all too well that this is an international effort. And that’s why they have targeted members of the coalition.

I know the pain this causes. I know it is difficult but the coalition must stand firm.


When governments negotiate with terrorists, everyone in the free world suffers. When political leaders sound the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism, it only encourage more violence.


Working together, we will defeat the killers, and we will do this by refusing to bargain about our most fundamental principles.


ALLAWI: Ladies and gentlemen, good will aside, I know that many observers around the world honestly wonder if we in Iraq really can restore our economy, be good neighbors, guarantee the democratic rule of law and overcome the enemies who seek to tear us down. I understand why, faced with the daily headlines, there are these doubts. I know, too, that there will be many more setbacks and obstacles to overcome.

But these doubters risk underestimating our country and they risk fueling the hopes of the terrorists. Despite our problems, despite our recent history, no one should doubt that Iraq is a country of tremendous human resources and national resources.

Iraq is still a nation with an inspiring culture and the tradition and an educated and civilized people. And Iraq is still a land made strong by a faith which teaches us tolerance, love, respect and duty.


Above all, they risk underestimating the courage, determination of the Iraqi people to embrace democracy, peace and freedom, for the dreams of our families are the same as the dreams of the families here in America and around the world. There are those who want to divide our world. I appeal to you, who have done so much already to help us, to ensure they don’t succeed.

Do not allow them to say to Iraqis, to Arabs, to Muslims, that we have only two models of governments, brutal dictatorship and religious extremism. This is wrong.

Like Americans, we Iraqis want to enjoy the fruits of liberty. Half of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims already enjoy democratically elected governments.

ALLAWI: As Prime Minister Blair said to you last year when he stood here, anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom not tyranny, democracy not dictatorship, and the rule of law not the rule of the secret police.


Do not let them convince others that the values of freedom, of tolerance and democracy are for you in the West but not for us.

For the first time in our history, the Iraqi people can look forward to controlling our own destiny.


This would not have been possible without the help and sacrifices of this country and its coalition partners. I thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

And let me tell you that as we meet our greatest challenge by building a democratic future, we the people of the new Iraq will remember those who have stood by us.

ALLAWI: As generous as you have been, we will stand with you, too. As stalwart as you have been, we will stand with you, too.

Neither tyranny nor terrorism has a place in our region or our world. And that is why we Iraqis will stand by you, America, in a war larger than either of our nations, the global battle to live in freedom.

God bless you and thank you.


Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:44 PM


On a Bridge of Sighs, the Suicidal Meet a Staying Hand (JIM YARDLEY, 9/21/04, NY Times)

The view from where Chen Si stood on the landmark Yangtze River Bridge captured the frantic, thrumming energy of China. Honking trucks and buses poured over the span as hundreds of barges slid along the dark brown water below. The sweeping downtown skyline rose in the distance.

But Mr. Chen watched the people. He noticed a man standing alone, seemingly pensive, and walked toward him in short, quick steps. He watched people unloading from city buses and gauged the slump of their shoulders as they trudged along the sidewalk at the edge of the bridge.

For hours on this recent Sunday morning, Mr. Chen watched and waited for that unknowable, unthinkable moment when one of the thousands of people who cross the bridge every day might try to jump off. Mr. Chen comes almost every weekend, bringing along a thermos of tea. He has become the bridge's self-appointed guardian angel.

"If I save one person," Mr. Chen said, "one is a lot."

By his own count, Mr. Chen, who is in his mid-30's, has stopped 42 people from jumping since he began his patrols a year ago. He has talked them down and wrestled them down. He will hike up his pant leg to show a
deep laceration from one tussle. He also has watched five people slip out of his grasp and fall to their deaths in the Yangtze.

It is a job that has required him to become a detective looking for clues in the souls of strangers. He stands on the southern end of the bridge, wearing sunglasses and a cap to block the boiling sun. He does not smile or talk much. He watches people, particularly the solitary figures staring down on the coffee-colored water.

"It is very easy to recognize," he said of potential jumpers. "A person walks without spirit."

Mr. Chen says he comes to the bridge because someone needs to - suicide is now the leading cause of death for Chinese aged 15 to 34.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:34 PM


A lonely Italian retiree puts himself up for adoption: His case is bringing awareness to the larger problem of how to care for Italy's aging population. (Sophie Arie, 9/23/04, CS Monitor)

Seven cats and a modest book collection are all that 79-year-old Giorgio Angelozzi has for company on most days.

High up in the hills east of Rome, the retired teacher lives in a humble two-room flat overlooking a valley of rolling olive groves. The house is tidy, except for a layer of cat fluff that reappears after the cleaning lady's weekly visit. In a side cabinet sit Greek dictionaries and works by Horace and Pliny.

Things are quiet, too quiet.

After 12 years alone since the death of his wife, this summer Mr. Angelozzi became so desperate for human contact that he put himself up for adoption. In a newspaper classified, he offered to pay 500 euros to live with a family and teach their children.

"The days went by and I used to count," he says. "There were some days when I counted zero. I had not said a word all day."

Angelozzi's story has triggered a nationwide attack of guilt and public debate over how best to care for the elderly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:51 PM


Massachusetts Democrat Brian Golden Endorses President Bush (George W. Bush Blog, 9/23/04)

Earlier today, Democratic Massachusetts State Representative Brian Paul Golden announced that he will support President Bush in November over fellow Bay State Democrat John Kerry. Golden’s endorsement comes after witnessing President Bush’s accomplishments on education, Medicare and security issues. In contrast, Golden says that after following John Kerry’s 20-year senate career in Massachusetts, he still doesn’t know what Kerry stands for.

“America needs a president who cares more about doing what is right than doing what is politically expedient. Both at home and abroad, President Bush has made tough decisions and shown a clarity of purpose that makes America stronger and safer,” Golden said.

“President Bush is the right candidate to lead America in the War on Terror because his decisions are based on principle, not politics. Senator Kerry demonstrated a troubling approach to the War on Terror by voting against $87 billion in funding to equip our troops in Iraq with essential supplies like body armor. I have confidence in President Bush as Chief Executive and I will proudly work for his re-election.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:46 PM


President Bush and Prime Minister Allawi Press Conference (The Rose Garden, 9/23/04)

Yes, NBC man, there -- your name?

Q Gregory, sir.


Q Mr. President, you say today that the work in Iraq is tough and will remain tough. And, yet, you travel this country and a central theme of your campaign is that America is safer because of the invasion of Iraq. Can you understand why Americans may not believe you?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No. Anybody who says that we are safer with Saddam Hussein in power is wrong. We went into Iraq because Saddam Hussein defied the demands of the free world. We went into Iraq after diplomacy had failed. And we went into Iraq because I understand after September the 11th we must take threats seriously, before they come to hurt us.

And I think it's a preposterous claim to say that America would be better off with Saddam Hussein in power. I certainly know that that's the case for America and I certainly know it's the case for the Iraqi people. These are people who were tortured. This good man was abed in a London flat, and he wakes up with two Saddam henchmen there with axes, trying to cut him to pieces with an axe. And, fortunately, he's alive today; fortunately, we call him friend and ally. But he knows what it means to have lived under a society in which a thug like Saddam Hussein would send people with axes to try to kill him in bed in a London flat.

No, this world is better off with Saddam Hussein in prison.

Q Sir, may I just follow, because I don't think you're really answering the question. I mean, I think you're responding to Senator Kerry, but there are beheadings regularly, the insurgent violence continues, and there are no weapons of mass destruction. My question is, can you understand that Americans may not believe you when you say that America is actually safer today?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Imagine a world in which Saddam Hussein were still in power. This is a man who harbored terrorists -- Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal, Zarqawi. This is a man who was a sworn enemy of the United States of America. This is a man who used weapons of mass destruction. Going from tyranny to democracy is hard work, but I think the argument that says that Saddam Hussein -- if Saddam Hussein were still in power, we'd be better off is wrong.

Can you be any clearer and more direct than answering: "No"?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:39 PM


The Prince of Tides, Tacking and Attacking (MAUREEN DOWD, 9/23/04, NY Times)

Yet Mr. Kerry's case has a hollow center. He was asked at his press conference on Tuesday about W.'s snide reminders that his rival gave him authority to go to war (and, playing frat pledge to W.'s rush chairman, inanely agreed that he would still have voted to give that authority even if there were no W.M.D.).

That vote, he replied, was correct "because we needed to hold Saddam Hussein accountable for weapons. That's what America believed."

Not all Americans.

Ms Dowd, perhaps unintentionally, though her obsession with George Bush makes it hard to know for sure, makes a case for the war right there. The fact that even support for the UN sanctions and holding Saddam to the terms of the 1991 truce was slipping among our European enemies and on the American Left made it necessary to remove him post haste.

As the President told the UN:

Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime's forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped -- by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations.

To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq's dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear, to him and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations.

He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge -- by his deceptions, and by his cruelties -- Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.

That folks like Ms Dowd sided with Saddam only makes the case more compelling.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:26 PM


The comeback Kerry: How the Democrat can revive his faltering campaign (Lexington, 9/23/04, The Economist)

IN SEPTEMBER 1980 Ronald Reagan was stuck behind Jimmy Carter in the polls. His campaign was in such a shambles that he had to sack his campaign manager. And he was dogged by the belief that he was unelectable. All that changed with a single debate—and Reagan crushed Mr Carter by more than 8m votes.

John Kerry is no Ronald Reagan (though one supporter recently introduced him twice as John Kennedy). But he still has time to turn his campaign round. It is true that the Republicans have the wind in their sails at the moment (New Jersey is now considered a swing state, for heaven's sake). But swing voters seem in an unusually volatile mood. Mr Kerry still has a lot going for him—particularly the energy of a Democratic rank-and-file that will do anything to get George Bush out of the White House, and widespread worries about where the country is heading.

How can Mr Kerry translate all this energy and anxiety into victory? This week the Kerry camp produced a surprising answer: focus on Iraq. Mr Kerry had originally planned to spend the autumn talking about the economy and health care. But now—thanks to the influence of a group of Clintonites who have been drafted into his campaign—he has put Iraq at the centre of his campaign. Mr Kerry's pivotal speech in New York this week, ripping into Mr Bush's Iraq foray, may prove similar to Hubert Humphrey's denunciation of the Vietnam war in late September 1968, which narrowed the gap with Richard Nixon.

Why choose Iraq? After all, Nixon still won in 1968. And Mr Kerry's performance on Iraq has been dismal. While Mr Bush has stuck to a simple message (that the war in Iraq is an essential part of the war on terror), the Democrat has tied himself in ever more elaborate knots. It is hard to think of a position on Iraq that he has not taken. For all that, he is probably right to focus on it.

This is partly to do with the paucity of alternatives.

Even though he has the comparison completely backwards, the 1980 campaign is worth a look. Jimmy Carter, a former Navy man, but a defeatist, faced an optimistic Ronald Reagan who promised just three things: (1) to cut taxes; (2) to defeat Communism; and (3) to restore the nation's character and moral fiber. Mr. Reagan won NJ.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:09 PM


CBS Appoints 2-Man Panel to Investigate Guard Report (JIM RUTENBERG and JACQUES STEINBERG, 9/23/04, NY Times)

CBS announced yesterday that Dick Thornburgh, a former attorney general, and Louis D. Boccardi, a former top executive of The Associated Press, would investigate the journalistic breakdowns that led to the broadcast of a flawed "60 Minutes" report about President Bush's National Guard service.

While the network characterized the two men as constituting an independent panel, Mr. Thornburgh's appointment upset Dan Rather, the anchor who broadcast the report and initially vouched for documents at its heart, according to four colleagues and associates.

Mr. Rather considers Mr. Thornburgh a confounding choice in part because he served two Republican presidents, Mr. Bush's father, and Richard M. Nixon, with whom Mr. Rather publicly clashed, the colleagues and associates said.

Mr. Rather, who reportedly was a speaker at Mr. Boccardi's retirement dinner, would have preferred that the panel co-chair be Ben Barnes, Terry McAuliffe, Max Cleland or Joe Lockhart.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:05 PM


Burr 3 points behind Bowles in latest poll (Winston Salem Journal, 9/23/04)

A new poll shows the race for the U.S. Senate in North Carolina tightening, with Republican Richard Burr closing to within 3 percentage points of Democrat Erskine Bowles.

In other polls so far, Bowles - who ran for the Senate two years ago against Republican Elizabeth Dole - has led by 8 to 10 percentage points.

But the poll for N.C. FREE, a trade group in Raleigh that tracks state elections, found Bowles with support from 44 percent, Burr with 41 percent and 12 percent undecided, according to N.C. FREE members who have seen it.

The statewide poll of more than 700 likely voters was conducted by Verne Kennedy, a pollster in Florida, before the Republican National Convention began Aug. 30 and before Burr released ads last week that criticize Bowles' support of a tax increase as a member of the Clinton administration.

Having just run statewide in '02, Mr. Bowles should have a wide lead based on nothing more than name recognition. Being at 44% instead is a very bad sign.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:56 PM


Homosexual Teachers Teach Children About Lesbian Sex Toys (Traditional Values Coalition, September 22, 2004)

Brian Camenker, head of the Massachusetts grassroots group Article 8 Alliance, was on NPR recently with homosexual teachers to discuss what schools will be teaching students now that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has decided that the state constitution mandates homosexual marriages.

The NPR discussion featured Brookline 8th grade homosexual teacher Deb Allen who said she will draw up a chart that shows kids the various kinds of sex acts homosexuals engage in, including “kissing and hugging, and different kinds of intercourse.” Allen then asks children if homosexual sex is any different than heterosexual sex. She described her conversation with NPR: “All right. So can a woman and a woman kiss and hug? Yes. Can a woman and a woman have vaginal intercourse, and they [children] will all say no. And I’ll say, ‘Hold it. Of course, they can. They can use a sex toy. They could use—and we talk—and we discuss that.”

Where were teachers like her and Mary Kay Letourneau when we were going through puberty?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:41 PM


Female Trouble: While fretting about Karl Rove, the Democrats overlooked Karen Hughes. How she—and Laura Bush—are winning the election for W. (Naomi Wolf, New York Magazine)

Should wives matter in a presidential campaign? Is it trivial to weigh Laura Bush’s gentle, Xanax-like demeanor, her faultless librarian’s poise and sincerity, against the imperious sexuality of Teresa Heinz Kerry? [...]

While Bush Inc. is flooding women’s magazines with features in which Laura Bush gets out a family-friendly feminist message, Kerry et al. remain obsessed with sending white men out onto the Sunday talk shows—which women don’t watch. While Bush Inc. understands the power of the vivid visual image—dressing the entire GOP convention, for instance, in matching tangerine and turquoise, color-coordinating the Cheney grandchildren to give a visual sense of order and unity—the Democrats keep being bumped to the inside pages because they send out their candidate and his wife in neutrals. I am convinced that Michael Deaver is the invisible hand behind the calculated visuals of the Bush campaign—the signature use of deep, majestic backdrops behind the candidate, the use of jewel tones on Laura Bush and other women associated with the administration, the trick of forcing photographers to sit close to the stage so that they must shoot sharply upward, showing the candidate from a heroic angle. By contrast, the Democrats ignore them, losing women, who are simply too busy racing to get school lunches ready and kids out the door to get their impressions about the candidates from Meet the Press.

The low value Kerry’s team is assigning to both the visual story of the campaign and the role of gender imagery explains his drop in the polls after the GOP convention. Contrary to RNC spin about “earth tones” and “alpha males,” I was actually an adviser on women’s issues for the Gore campaign. But any cultural critic can tell you that a presidential campaign involves powerful gender archetypes, and presidents are archetypes of male potency. Republicans guided by Deaver understand this: It’s why you saw Ronald Reagan posed by a horse holding a riding crop, or W. in flight gear. And spouses play a massive role in enhancing or undermining the potency of a male candidate.

So Laura Bush, in speaking warmly of her mate’s “wrestling” with issues of war and peace, enhances his potency. This does not contradict my earlier point about appealing to swing voters; it has been well established that modern women maddeningly long for men who are tender in private but authoritative in public. Unfortunately, Teresa Heinz Kerry’s speech, which all but ignored her husband, did more to emasculate him than the opposition ever could. By publicly shining the light on herself rather than her husband, she opened a symbolic breach in Kerry’s archetypal armor. Listen to what the Republicans are hitting Kerry with: Indecisive. Effete. French. They are all but calling this tall, accomplished war hero gay.

The charges are sticking because of Teresa Heinz Kerry. Let’s start with “Heinz.” By retaining her dead husband’s name—there is no genteel way to put this—she is publicly, subliminally cuckolding Kerry with the power of another man—a dead Republican man, at that. Add to that the fact that her first husband was (as she is herself now) vastly more wealthy than her second husband. Throw into all of this her penchant for black, a color that no woman wears in the heartland, and you have a recipe for just what Kerry is struggling with now: charges of elitism, unstable family relationships, and an unmanned candidate.

A generally perceptive piece, but note the sneering dismissal of the well-balanced Laura Bush as some kind of drugged-out Stepford Wife? If you were betting on which first wife is medicated would she be your first choice?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 PM


The Senate's New Blood? (Arianna Huffington, Arianna Online)

The passion invested by the Democratic faithful in taking back the White House has meant that not enough has been said about the imperative of taking back control of the place John Kerry will hopefully be leaving — the United States Senate.

If Kerry is the next occupant of the Oval Office, he will need legislative muscle to undo the disastrous policies of the Bush administration, which have damaged our economy, degraded our environment, added millions to the roll of America's uninsured, and seriously undermined our national security. No executive order can reverse all that.

And if — close your ears, kids — Bush is actually able to scare his way to re-election, a Democratic Senate will be the only thing standing in the way of a second term all-out assault on America's working families, and the implementation of a radical right-wing social agenda. Don't forget, the next president will probably end up appointing at least a couple of Supreme Court justices — and Bush has made it clear that he'd fill any vacancies with clones of Antonin Scalia. See ya later, Roe vs. Wade; nice knowing ya, civil liberties. Don't forget to turn your clocks back a hundred years.

The good news is that the Democrats actually have a pretty good shot at turning Bill Frist into the Senate Minority Leader. (Don't you love the ring of that?)

In looking at the Senate races Democrats can win, I focused on the three open seats currently held by retiring Republicans in Illinois, Colorado and Oklahoma. In each of these states, the Democrats are putting forth a candidate — Barack Obama in Illinois, Ken Salazar in Colorado, and Brad Carson in Oklahoma — capable of bringing a new type of leadership to Washington.

Mr. Obama is as good as elected, but the odds against the President winning the election and losing control of the Senate are astronomical--meaning Mr. Obama will more than likely be the only Democratic freshman in a large class come January. Consider only the likelihood that the President will win OK by twenty points and CO by 10% and you get a sense of the obstacle that faces even good Democratic candidates. Meanwhile, add AK to the list of difficult Republican holds and it is counterbalanced just by the five open seats that the Democrats have to try and hold against a massive Republican tide in the South. Then you get to their weak incumbents--SD, WI, WA, NV, etc.. Their exposure is simply too great for them to have any realistic shot at retaking the Senate while they face at least a possibility of a 1980/1994 level blowout.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:39 AM


Eyes Wide Shut (David Corn,

I want this election to be done, for I am sick of griping about George W. Bush and his lying--or, if you prefer, his excessively simplistic ways. Speaking at the UN yesterday, he proclaimed that the Iraqi people "are on the path to democracy and freedom." Perhaps. We hope so. But it is far from assured that the national elections scheduled for January--which would be a true milepost on the "path to democracy"--are going to happen. Can't Bush stop being a cheerleader-in-chief? Why not say, "We've removed the tyrant of Iraq and now are doing what we can to bring democracy to Iraq"? Is that sort of nuanced, based-in-reality rhetoric beyond Bush's grasp?

"Elections will occur in Iraq on time in January because Iraqis want elections on time,'' Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:33 AM


What Do Steve Williams and Dan Rather Have in Common? (Doug Kern, 09/23/2004, Tech Central Station)

The thrill of the home run comes from the extraordinary difficulty inherent in hitting one. As the difficulty goes down, the meaning and value of the achievement goes down as well. A single home run hit honestly is more impressive than a hundred home runs hit dishonestly. And a player surreptitiously taking advantage of Better Living through Chemistry is not hitting anything honestly -- much less heroically.

I addressed many of these problems in my article for The New Atlantis entitled "Our Asterisked Heroes," available here. In response to that article, the estimable Brothers Judd have taken me to task here on the question of artificial assistance to heroism:

"Baseball, in particular, should aggressively defend the integrity of its timeless records by testing for performance enhancers. But Mr. Kern's idea that artificial advantage lessens heroism is probably not true. In a fair fight between David and Goliath we well know that David would get whipped. But he had a sling, which was effectively like bringing a gun to the fight. It hasn't seemed to diminish his aura of heroism much. Similarly, Arthur had Excalibur, Robin Hood his long bow and so on and so forth. We've never been overly disturbed by our heroes exploiting superior technology to their advantage."

With all due respect to the fabulous Juddsters, their analysis is flawed in three ways.

First, superior tools aren't the same as superior performance. We admire the heroism of David's courage, but not his fighting prowess -- no one makes the Monster-Slayer Hall of Fame for using a slick weapon to break the eggshell skull of a freak with a pituitary gland problem.

Second, sports have rules for the precise purpose of ensuring a "fair fight." By the Judds' logic, a heavyweight boxer would achieve something heroic by pounding on scores of featherweights. Mike Tyson, call your office.

Third, David, Arthur, and Robin Hood all achieved heroism in the fight against evil. When smiting the bad guys, there is no such thing as an unfair advantage. But heroism in sports is not a battle of good against evil (unless the Steelers and the Raiders are playing). Heroism in sports is defined by the struggle of man against himself -- against the inherent difficulty of physically demanding tasks. This heroism inheres in winning the battle against your own weakness and frailty, time and time again. When man changes himself through the use of performance-enhancing drugs, he has changed the terms of the struggle. He has, in effect, slipped his opponent a Mickey.

Nothing is heroic unless it pushes the limits of what men can do. When artificial modifications change those limits, they necessarily dilute the quality of heroism. And if sports only offer diluted heroism, we may as well play MVP Baseball 2005 in our living rooms. If we must watch artificial men, we may as well give our thumbs a workout.

Just to be clear, I would rather that what Mr. Kern says here were true, but I doubt it. An interesting test case is the film The Natural, a rare case where the movie improves on the book. The cinematic Roy Hobbs is unambiguously heroic, but he has both physical and technological (or perhaps magical) advantages. He is in the first instance a physical freak, a "natural," unlike the rest of us. Secondly, he achieves his prodigious feats with a bat carved out of a tree that was struck by lightning, Wonderboy, and then, when that one finally breaks, with a replacement that a young acolyte has fashioned. When we're watching though we have no, or little, inclination to disparage his heroism.

Maybe it's the case that we just don't require, nor particularly expect, heroes to be average men. This does make it all the sweeter when a Lenny Skutnick or a NYC firefighter or the passengers on Flight 93 or even a Kirk Gibson in the World Series behaves heroically, but that additional gloss may suggest that such depart the norm of heroism.

At any rate, by all means ban performance enhancing drugs, but it's probably unlikely that kids will view Barry Bonds with too jaundiced eyes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:22 AM


Iraq Leader Addresses Congress, Vowing January Elections (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/23/04)

Offering a simple, ``Thank you America,'' Iraqi interim prime minister Ayad Allawi declared Thursday that his country is moving successfully past the war that ousted Saddam Hussein and vowed that elections will take place next year as scheduled.

``Elections will occur in Iraq on time in January because Iraqis want elections on time,'' Allawi told a joint meeting of Congress, an appearance that President Bush's advisers hoped would ease American voters' doubts about the troubled campaign in Iraq.

Despite struggles and setbacks, ``the values of liberty and democracy'' are taking hold in Iraq, Allawi said. ``We could hold elections tomorrow'' in 15 of 18 provinces, Allawi said, even though terror operatives hope to disrupt them.

``The insurgency in Iraq is destructive but small, and it has not and will never resonate with the Iraqi people,'' Allawi said.

He cautioned, however, that the election may not come off perfectly. But he assured it will be free and fair, ``a giant step'' in Iraq's political evolution.

``Today, we are better off, you are better off, the world is better off without Saddam Hussein,'' Allawi said. He added: ``Your decision to go into Iraq was not an easy one, but it was the right one.''

In a pretty clear illustration of how Senator Kerry is now in effective collaboration with the enemies of Iraqi democracy he began a rare press conference just minutes after Mr. Allawi finished in order to rebut the prime minister. Not only was it impolite to smack down the leader of a nation who had just thanked him for his vote for war, but Mr. Kerry's made himself the unofficial leader of the opposition.


Senator Kerry's Remarks
(September 23, 2004)

Following is a transript of remarks made by Senator John Kerry today in Columbus, Ohio. [...]

QUESTION: Prime Minister Allawi told Congress today that democracy was taking hold in Iraq and that the terrorists there were on the defensive. Is he living in the same fantasy land as the president?

KERRY: I think the prime minister is, obviously, contradicting his own statement of a few days ago, where he said the terrorists are pouring into the country. The prime minister and the president are here, obviously, to put their best face on the policy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:49 AM



STUNG by criticism that his campaign lacks di rection and focus, Sen. John Kerry has chosen to base his candidacy on an all-out assault on President Bush's record in Iraq — indeed, opted to move to the left decisively and attack the war head-on.

Liberals will cheer Kerry's new-found decisiveness, but it opens the way for Bush to deal him a counterstroke that can all but end this election and finish off Kerry for good.

Kerry's right flank is now gapingly vulnerable to a Bush attack. According to Scott Rasmussen's tracking polls, 30 to 40 percent of Kerry's voters disagree with his new leftward tilt on Iraq.

That is, even as the Democrat condemned the war in Iraq as a "diversion" from the central mission of the war on terror, a large minority of his own voters disagrees and sees it as "integral" to the battle to respond to 9/11.

Kerry has moved to the left, leaving about one-third of his vote behind. Bush can now move in and peel off Kerry's moderate supporters.

Let's give Mr. Kerry the benefit of the doubt and assume that he's taking one for the party here by rallying the base at the cost of his own election hopes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:44 AM


What's in a handshake? Big news if it's ministers from Israel and Iraq (Edith M. Lederer, 9/21/2004, Associated Press)

There were hundreds of handshakes Tuesday as world leaders met for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly's annual debate but only one grabbed widespread attention: Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom greeted Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

Shalom and Allawi shook hands and exchanged pleasantries at the General Assembly, where the two countries were seated next to each other, in alphabetical order, the foreign minister told The Associated Press.

Shalom said he told Allawi he hoped for peace in the Middle East.

He also told the AP he hoped Iraq will establish relations with Israel, echoing a desire expressed by the United States a year ago.

When Shalom arrived at U.N. headquarters before the handshake he was asked about Iraq.

''We would like not to be the only democracy in the Middle East,'' Shalom said. ''We would love that Iraq will join us, and after that the rest of the countries in the Middle East. It would bring more stability to the region and more stability to the entire world.''

Mr. Allawi just finished an extraordinary speech to a joint session of Congress, thanking them for Iraq's liberation but basically trying to buck them up. Here's a question: how must it have felt to listen to his speech if you voted against his replacing Saddam Hussein?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 AM


Notes, quotes from 2004 campaign in Wis. (RON FOURNIER,9/22/2004, The Associated Press)

The last Republican presidential candidate to win Wisconsin was Ronald Reagan in 1984, but the state grows more GOP-friendly every year.

President Bush lost Wisconsin to then-Vice President Al Gore by just 5,708 votes four years ago, and he has targeted the state and its 10 electoral votes since his first day in office.

His strategy revolves around the rapidly growing suburbs and the "exurbs" ringing cities such as Milwaukee and Green Bay. The area between Eau Claire in northwestern Wisconsin and the state line is the fastest growing area of the state, with Minnesotans moving in from the Twin Cities.

A Mississippi River boat trip late in the election helped Gore win the state's mostly rural southwestern flank. That should be Bush country, say White House officials, and they've worked hard to reclaim it on Nov. 2.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 AM


Low-Income Nonapplicants to Get Medicare Drug Cards: The Bush administration said that it would simply send the cards to 1.8 million people with low incomes who are eligible but have not applied for Medicare. (ROBERT PEAR, 9/23/04, NY Times)

After struggling for months to get Medicare beneficiaries to sign up for drug discount cards, the Bush administration said Wednesday that it would simply send the cards to 1.8 million people with low incomes who are eligible but have not applied.

Democrats in Congress and advocates for low-income people have been urging the government to take such steps since April.

By using the cards, Medicare beneficiaries can cut about 20 percent off retail drug prices. In addition, low-income people with no other source of drug coverage can get up to $1,200 in federal aid. [...]

President Bush has repeatedly cited the discount cards as evidence of his commitment to help older people with drug costs. The new cards will arrive in the mail in the next few weeks. They can be used starting Nov. 1, one day before Election Day.

An important lesson for advocates of choice: you can't give folks a choice of whether to participate. Assign them and then let them choose to switch if they so desire.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:26 AM


Kerry's wartime record influences Vietnamese voters (Michael Kan, September 23, 2004, The Michigan Daily)

A whopping 71 percent of the Vietnamese-American community plans to vote for President Bush in the upcoming election, according to a recent national poll by the multi-ethnic news agency New California Media.

Dan Tran, a member of Vietnamese Americans Against John Kerry, isn’t surprised. Instead he anticipates an even higher percentage, predicting Vietnamese will virtually vote unanimously for Bush.

“I think 90 percent of the Vietnamese in America will vote against Kerry,” he said.

Amid an already heated election littered with issues surrounding Iraq and the economy, in the eyes of some Vietnamese the sole factor determining their vote has been their resentment of presidential candidate John Kerry’s record with their homeland.

For anti-communist Vietnamese who fled the country, Kerry’s anti-Vietnam war stance and policies on current relations with Vietnam have only evoked anger.

And twenty years from now 70% of Iraqi, Iranian, fill-in-the-blank Americans will be voting against whichever Democratic nominee opposed liberating the Middle East.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:06 AM


The Womb as Photo Studio (SAM LUBELL, 9/23/04, NY Times)

IT'S a rite of passage for many expectant parents: baby's first ultrasound. The fuzzy images of the fetus, produced during an examination in an obstetrician's office, are prized by couples, passed around proudly among friends and relatives.

Now, trying to capitalize on this phenomenon, a number of companies are selling elective ultrasounds that have little to do with neonatal health. The services, often in small offices or shopping malls, amount to fetal photo studios and use newer 3-D ultrasound technology to produce more realistic images than conventional machines.

Parents-to-be typically pay from about $80 for a short ultrasound session primarily to determine the fetus's sex to $300 for a half-hour session that is recorded on a videocassette or DVD and includes color photos.

While medical professionals warn of potential health risks from unnecessary ultrasounds, those who offer the elective examinations say they are safe and fulfill a need.

"Women love it," said Matt Evans, a lawyer, who started his company, Baby Insight (baby, about a year and a half ago. "They get to see their baby and have an emotional experience with their baby." [...]

Some doctors do not object to elective ultrasounds. Dr. Haig Yeni-Komshian, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Chevy Chase, Md., recently accompanied a patient to Baby Insight and found the practice safe, likening it to portrait work. "There's no radiation involved with ultrasounds, just high-frequency waves," Dr. Yeni-Komshian said. "As long as women are still seeing their doctors, if they want to have this done, that's fine."

Hard to believe opposition isn't mostly driven by fear that these pictures make it difficult to claim that they aren't human:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:57 AM


Thousands turn out for Latrobe stop (Richard Gazarik, September 23, 2004, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

President George W. Bush wasted no time Wednesday in declaring his reason for visiting heavily Democratic Westmoreland County.

"I'm asking for the vote. That's what I'm doing here in Pennsylvania," Bush said.

Bush was greeted by thousands of supporters who stood in the heat for hours before his arrival at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, near Latrobe.

In a scene that resembled a rock concert more than a campaign rally, vendors hawked T-shirts, caps, campaign buttons, water, food, ice cream and soft drinks. Former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann made some remarks, and country music star John Michael Montgomery played as people swayed to his music.

The size and enthusiasm of crowds is a notoriously roitten indicator of a campaign's status, but you can't help noticing how often Bush rallies are described in such terms and how seldom Kerry.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 AM


Left, right, the US is out of step in Iraq: Neither the resistance groups cheered on by the American left nor the parties championed by its right reflect the views of most Iraqi people: US control over Iraq's political future may already be waning. (Frank Smyth, 9/24/04, Foreign Policy in Focus)

Many American leftists seem to know little about their Iraqi counterparts, since understanding the role of the Iraqi left requires a nuanced approach. Unfortunately, the knee-jerk, anti-imperialist analysis of groups such as International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) has wormed its way into several progressive outlets. Dispatches and columns in The Nation magazine as well as reports and commentary on the independently syndicated radio program Democracy Now have all but ignored the role of Iraqi progressives, while highlighting, if not championing, the various factions of the Iraqi-based resistance against the US-led occupation without bothering to ask who these groups are and what they represent for Iraqis.

By now several things about the Iraq war seem clear. The US-led invasion was the most dangerous and reckless step taken by the US since the Vietnam War, and America is already paying dearly and is sure to pay an even steeper price for this imprudent action. More than 1,000 American soldiers have died in little more than a year in a campaign that has undermined US security more profoundly than even presidential candidate John Kerry has managed to articulate. Never has the US (according to international public opinion polls) been so resented, if not loathed, by so many people around the world. And this is exactly the kind of environment in which al-Qaeda terrorists - who represent a real and ongoing threat to the US and others - thrive.

US activists who demonstrated against the war in Iraq made an invaluable contribution by letting the rest of the world know that millions of Americans opposed the US-led invasion. But the enemy of one's enemy is not necessarily one's friend. To think otherwise is to embrace an Orwellian logic that makes anti-war Americans appear not only uninformed but also as cynical as the pro-war protagonists they oppose. The irony of the Iraq war is that the Bush administration made a unilateral decision to invade a nation in order to overthrow a leader who ranked among the most despised despots in the world but, in so doing, managed to turn countless people in many nations against the US.

The U.S., of course, does not seek to control Iraq's future, but to let Iraqis control it, confident that given the opportunity they'll lead it in a direction favorable to our interests, as every other democracy has done. But the author's brutal honesty with regard to the Left--and the fact that they have sided with the anti-democratic extremists just because they share a common enemy (George W. Bush)--is quite refreshing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:36 AM


Whispers of regime change (Ehsan Ahrari, 9/23/04, Asia Times)

As a number of public opinion polls show a sustained, if not growing, lead that US President George W Bush enjoys over his Democratic Party opponent John Kerry, the neo-conservatives have started a whisper campaign of possible regime change in Iran after the November presidential election. The element of hubris for which the neo-cons have been notorious is being applied cavalierly about the almost inevitability of Bush's re-election, even though much can happen before polling day. If Bush is indeed re-elected, the world is likely to encounter, if not a US military invasion of Iran, believing the whisper campaign, then most likely a preemptive neutralizing of all of its nuclear reactors.

Undoubtedly, Iran has intensified the conflict ...

Some of us are old enough to remember how a chastened President Bush and a neocon cabal on the outs were never again going to be able to advance the cause of democracy in the Middle East...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:30 AM



Ratings for Dan Rather's "CBS Evening News" have plummeted drastically in New York since the Bush-documents scandal broke wide open this week.

The perennially third-place 6:30 p.m. newscast averaged 135,000 viewers on WCBS/Channel 2 Monday — the day Rather issued an on-air apology for the mess.

That's down 49 percent from the 266,000 viewers who tuned in to Rather's newscast the previous Monday, Sept. 13, according to Nielsen.

You'd think that "perennially third-place" would be enough to convince them they have a trustworthiness problem.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:26 AM


Hope Amid the Rubble (PETER BERGEN, 9/23/04, NY Times)

Based on what Americans have been seeing in the news media about Afghanistan lately, there may not be many who believed President Bush on Tuesday when he told the United Nations that the "Afghan people are on the path to democracy and freedom." But then again, not many Americans know what Afghanistan was like before the American-led invasion. Let me offer some perspective.

This summer I visited Kandahar, the former Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan, for the first time since the winter of 1999. Five years ago, the Taliban and its Al Qaeda allies were at the height of their power. They had turned Afghanistan into a terrorist state, with more than a dozen training camps churning out thousands of jihadist graduates every year.

The scene was very different this time around. The Kandahar airport, where I had once seen Taliban soldiers showing off their antiaircraft missiles, is now a vast American base with thousands of soldiers, as well as a 24-hour coffee shop, a North Face clothing store, a day spa and a PX the size of a Wal-Mart. Next door, what was once a base for Osama bin Laden is now an American shooting range. In downtown Kandahar, the gaudy compound of the Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, now houses United States Special Forces units.

As I toured other parts of the country, the image that I was prepared for - that of a nation wracked by competing warlords and in danger of degenerating into a Colombia-style narcostate - never materialized.

Danged inconvenient for Senator Kerry whose entire candidacy is now based on the premise that the Middle East is a worse place than it was on 9-10.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 AM


The Politics of Social Security: Kerry to Use Study to Call Bush Plan a Wall Street Windfall (Jonathan Weisman, September 22, 2004, Washington Post)

President Bush's push to create individual investment accounts in the Social Security system would hand financial services firms a windfall totaling $940 billion over 75 years, according to a University of Chicago study to be released today.

Sen. John F. Kerry plans to use the paper, by economist Austan Goolsbee, as he campaigns in Florida today, hoping to open a new line of attack against Bush. The Democratic presidential nominee is expected to say that Bush's Social Security plan is a sop to Wall Street donors, who are among the Bush campaign's biggest financial backers.

Bush has expressed strong support for allowing workers to divert some of their Social Security taxes to accounts that could be invested in stocks and bonds. But he has never embraced a specific proposal to revamp Social Security, even after his own Social Security Commission presented him with three reform options. Goolsbee, an informal Kerry economic adviser, examined the option that is often cited as the most realistic.

Under that plan, workers could invest as much as 2.5 percent of their earnings -- or about 40 percent of their share of Social Security taxes -- in private accounts, which Goolsbee anticipates would be managed by private investment firms once their balances reach $5,000. He estimated that annual management fees would be 0.8 percent, a conservative figure, he said, considering that management fees across the spectrum of mutual funds average 1.09 percent.

The result: Over 75 years, fees would total $940 billion, more than a quarter of the $3.7 trillion deficit the Social Security system will run over that time period. That would be the largest windfall in U.S. financial history, Goolsbee said, more than eight times the revenue loss that Wall Street suffered during the 2000-02 stock market collapse.

Read and posted this story too quickly last night and completely misunderstood it--thanks Bret & AOG. Mr. Goolsbee seems to have arrived at his numbers by just picking a plan and projecting it unchanged for 75 years, while at the same time assuming an absurdly high fee in private accounts and the cost of maintaining the Social Security accounts to be zero. In actuality the fund options will need to be so limited in any such privatization scheme that management fees will be minimal and there's no reason the government couldn't continue to run the funds if folks so desired (though that seems a bad idea). At any rate, don't you need to subtract the current cost of administering that money within the Social Security system from the cost of managing it in the private sector to arrive at the "windfall" amount? After all, what do I care whether the government charges me .8% to run SS or Fidelity charges me .8% to run the account? And the .8% is a ridiculous figure--to take an example from the private sector,
[The] Vanguard S&P 500 expense ratio is 0.19%, or a quarter of Mr. Goolsbee's low end estimate.

Another problem, Bret and AOG estimated--if I recall correctly--that at the .8% fee the equation assumes an average asset base over the 75 years of about $1.6+ Trillion. But the point of beginning privatization is to end with a privatized system. So in a few years or decades we'd each be putting our entire annual contribution into these accounts and our employers would be putting in their entire contribution. We'd pretty quickly reach a point where $1.6 trillion was going in each year, no? The "windfall" would be far more massive than the paltry figure he's worried about here if they're getting .8% of accounts annually 75 years from now, wouldn't it? More like $800 billion a year?

September 22, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 PM


Lebanon Captures Top al-Qaida Operative (HUSSEIN DAKROUB, 9/22/04, Associated Press)

Lebanon announced the arrest of the country's top al-Qaida operative and said Wednesday that he and another Lebanese suspect plotted suicide attacks on Western embassies and recruited insurgents to fight in Iraq.

Senior security officials said the two, who were arrested Friday with eight accomplices, also planned to assassinate Western diplomats and attack Lebanese security and judicial targets.

At least one of the suspects allegedly had contact with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant whose Tawhid and Jihad group beheaded two American hostages in Iraq this week.

Lebanese officials said the arrests were testimony to its cooperation in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. They thanked Syria - the key power broker in Lebanon - and Italy for their cooperation in breaking up the alleged plot.

Somebody or something would appear to have scared the bejeebies out of Baby Assad.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:53 PM


Middle-Class Tax Cuts Extension Approved (MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP)

House-Senate negotiators late Wednesday approved extending three popular middle class tax cuts and Republicans, anxious to get the bill to President Bush, predicted swift passage in both chambers of Congress.

The conference panel approved the bill after overriding objections from Democrats who said the tax cuts should be paid for by tax increases in other areas, limiting its impact on the government soaring budget deficit.

This will be the President's fourth tax cut in four years. By a similar point in his first term Ronald Reagan had raised taxes at least twice.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:47 PM


Bush Team Orchestrates Larger Ad Campaign (LIZ SIDOTI, 9/22/04, Associated Press)

President Bush's political team is orchestrating a vastly larger advertising campaign than thought possible under federal law, taking control of millions in Republican Party funds simply by inserting the phrase "our leaders in Congress" in selected commercials.

The GOP strategy had gone unnoticed for weeks by Sen. John Kerry and the Democrats, who now may abandon their own less cost-efficient approach to advertising.

Ken Mehlman, Bush's campaign manager, said in an interview that federal election law allows the campaign access to party money "provided that your message is broader than the individual candidate and includes a discussion of the overall agenda and the message of the party." The Republican National Committee has $93 million on hand.

This month the Republicans began airing television and radio commercials paid for jointly by the president's re-election campaign and the RNC and including the words "our leaders in Congress."

The sound you just heard was the gasp of Congressional Democrats who just realized that John Kerry is going to be draped around their necks by the DNC now.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:41 PM


Ford matches GM deals (Reuters, 9/22/04)

Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it will match rival General Motors Corp.'s offer of interest-free car loans for up to six years on 2004 model-year vehicles.

The second-largest U.S. automaker is offering the loans for 100 hours starting Sunday, two days ahead of GM's similar offer. The Ford incentives, which cannot be combined with any cash-back offers, will expire next Thursday, Ford spokesman David Reuter said.

At this point, fear of inflation should really be considered a psychological disorder.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:37 PM


Despite Bush Flip-Flops, Kerry Gets Label (John F. Harris, September 23, 2004, Washington Post)

One of this year's candidates for president, to hear his opposition tell it, has a long history of policy reversals and rhetorical about-faces -- a zigzag trail that proves his willingness to massage positions and even switch sides when politically convenient.

The flip-flopper, Democrats say, is President Bush. Over the past four years, he abandoned positions on issues such as how to regulate air pollution or whether states should be allowed to sanction same-sex marriage. He changed his mind about the merits of creating the Homeland Security Department, and made a major exception to his stance on free trade by agreeing to tariffs on steel. After resisting, the president yielded to pressure in supporting an independent commission to study policy failures preceding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Bush did the same with questions about whether he would allow his national security adviser to testify, or whether he would answer commissioners' questions for only an hour, or for as long they needed.

Geez, this is just sad--a series of minor tactical shifts and staffing decisions are supposed to be comparable to the Senator's periodic reversals on whether Saddam Hussein should have been removed from power?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 PM


Bush shows sizable lead among Colorado voters (PETER ROPER, 9/22/04, THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

More Colorado voters trust President Bush and his handling of the Iraq war than they do Democratic Sen. John Kerry, according to a statewide voter survey commissioned by The Pueblo Chieftain.

In a telephone survey last week of 600 registered voters who are likely to vote, 51 percent of the respondents said they would vote for Bush while 39 percent said they would vote for Kerry. The poll was conducted by Ciruli Associates of Denver. The margin for error in the poll is 4 percent. [...]

There are more registered Republicans than Democrats in Colorado and the survey reflected that, with 42 percent of those surveyed describing themselves as either strong or mild Republicans and 33 percent describing themselves as strong or mild Democrats.

"While state voter registration is a little closer than that, historically more Republicans turn out to vote than Democrats," Ciruli said.

It's not too early for Senator Kerry to begin preparing a last ditch effiort to defend the territory along the Charles River.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:05 PM


Kerry: Draft Likely to Return Under Bush (The Associated Press, Sept. 22, 2004)

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, citing the war in Iraq and other trouble spots in the world, raised the possibility Wednesday that a military draft could be reinstated if voters re-elect President Bush.

Meanwhile, in a related story, one of Mr. Kerry's supporters--a fellow Democratic congressman and opponent of removing Saddam from power--Jim McDermott has actually introduced a bill to reinstate the draft.

Posted by David Cohen at 6:33 PM


The Swift Vets have put up a new ad touching on John Kerry's meeting with our enemies in Paris.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:06 PM


Kerry looks to clarify stance, views on Iraq (Patrick Healy, September 22, 2004, Boston Globe)

Iraq is usually the stuff of Top Ten lists on the ''Late Show with David Letterman," but the first guest, Senator John F. Kerry, was engaged in serious political strategy Monday night as he laid out his new bottom line on the war.

''If you had been elected president in 2000, in November of 2000, would we be in Iraq now?" Letterman asked the Democratic presidential nominee.

''No," Kerry replied...

So, by his own standards, the world would be a worse place today if he'd been president.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:00 PM


Contra Campaign: An Iran-Contra conspirator joins the Swift Boat crowd. It was bound to happen. (BOB NORMAN, Sep 23, 2004, New Times Broward-Palm Beach)

The life of Felix I. Rodriguez provides a tour through the dark heart of America. From the Bay of Pigs fiasco to Vietnam to the El Salvador death squads to the Iran-Contra scandal, the Cuban exile and self-described "CIA hero" was there. His most famous assassination mission came in 1967, when he led the Bolivian army group that captured and summarily executed leftist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. He's worked closely with right-wing terrorists, and some of his associates were involved in the Watergate break-in. Given his background, it's not surprising his name has surfaced in numerous JFK conspiracy theories as well.

Now retired in Miami, Rodriguez, who says his CIA career was always fueled by a hope to unseat Fidel Castro, also has special relationships with both of this year's presidential candidates. George W. Bush sends him a White House Christmas card each year. The president's father counts Rodriguez as an old friend; Bush Sr. worked with him during the mid-1980s, when Rodriguez ran the operation to arm the Contras for the Reagan administration.

Democratic nominee John Kerry, though, isn't so cozy with Rodriguez. In 1986, the then-rookie senator formed a committee to investigate Iran-Contra. In 1987, the so-called Kerry Committee alleged that Rodriguez had helped steer $10 million from the notorious Medellín cocaine cartel to the Contras. The committee concluded that trafficking was rampant in the rebels' effort.

The Miami man squared off with Kerry during a closed congressional hearing. He told the Massachusetts senator point-blank that the allegation was a damned lie and, for good measure, added that he had no respect for him.

A man who was always on the right side of history vs. one who, except for that storied four months on the Mekong, has always been on the wrong.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:50 PM


Kerry Pulls Campaign Ads From Four States (RON FOURNIER, 9/22/04, AP)

Bowing to political realities, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has canceled plans to begin broadcasting television commercials in Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana and the perennial battleground of Missouri.

He was never going to win them, but he sort of needs to stay close in LA and AR if they're going to hold the Senate seats.

MORE:,1,4942002.column?coll=bal-oped-headlines>The state that Kerry can't afford to lose (Jules Witcover, September 22, 2004, Baltimore Sun)

Of all the swing states up for grabs on Nov. 2, none is more critical for Sen. John Kerry than Michigan. Because of its strong labor base and traditional party organizational base, the Democratic nominee can hardly afford a loss in this state.

Put another way, perhaps the surest means for President Bush to nail down his re-election would be to deny Michigan and its 17 electoral votes to Mr. Kerry. Since the Depression, Michigan has gone Democratic in most presidential elections, though in 1980 and 1984 Ronald Reagan made deep inroads among blue-collar workers, thereafter known as the Reagan Democrats, and carried the state.

But without Mr. Reagan on the ballot, many of these Republican-voting Democrats, centered largely in the working-class suburbs of Macomb and Oakland counties north of Detroit, returned to the party fold. They voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and four years ago for Al Gore. Macomb County went for Mr. Gore 49 percent to 47 percent, and he carried Michigan 51-46.

Of the old Reagan Democrats, Macomb Democratic Chairman Ed Burley says: "A lot of them are dead. I think we've moved past that whole notion of things. We're not the poster child of the Reagan Democrats we used to be."

Mr. Burley's predecessor during their heyday, Leo LaLonde, says, "Most of them have turned into Republicans." And former Democratic Gov. James J. Blanchard, now campaigning for Mr. Kerry, notes that even before Mr. Reagan, many blue-collar Democrats in Macomb and Oakland counties were "Wallace Democrats," conservative supporters of Alabama Gov. George Wallace.

But overall, Mr. Blanchard says, Michigan has a progressive tradition that gives Mr. Kerry a strong shot here. A recent Gallup Poll for CNN and USA Today had him ahead among likely voters, 50-44, though other polls show it closer.

If Senator Kerry only leads by 4 points in MI on November 1 he'll lose it on November 2.

-Kerry in a Struggle for a Democratic Base: Women (KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, 9/22/04, NY Times)

It was no accident that John Kerry appeared Tuesday on "Live With Regis and Kelly'' and recalled his days as a young prosecutor in a rape case. Or that he then flew from New York to Jacksonville, Fla., to promote his health care proposals. Or that on Thursday in Davenport, Iowa, he will preside over a forum on national security with an audience solely of women.

These appearances are part of an energetic drive by the Kerry campaign to win back voters that Democrats think are rightfully theirs: women.

In the last few weeks, Kerry campaign officials have been nervously eyeing polls that show an erosion of the senator's support among women, one of the Democratic Party's most reliable constituencies. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week, women who are registered to vote were more likely to say they would vote for Mr. Bush than for Mr. Kerry, with 48 percent favoring Mr. Bush and 43 percent favoring Mr. Kerry.

In 2000, 54 percent of women voted for Al Gore, the Democratic nominee, while 43 percent voted for Mr. Bush.

Democratic and Republican pollsters say the reason for the change this year is that an issue Mr. Bush had initially pitched as part of an overall message - which candidate would be best able to protect the United States from terrorists - has become particularly compelling for women. Several said that a confluence of two events - a Republican convention that was loaded with provocative scenes of the Sept. 11 tragedy, and a terrorist attack on children in Russia - had helped recast the electoral dynamic among this critical group in a way that created a new challenge for the Kerry camp.

It's the last week of September and they have to win back their base?

-Why women are edging toward Bush: 'Security moms' are putting national safety at the top of their list, weakening a traditionally Democratic base. (Linda Feldmann, 9/23/04, CS Monitor)

According to [Celinda] Lake, 66 percent of undecideds are women.

One of Bush's not-so-secret weapons is his wife, Laura, the most popular figure on the campaign trail. Kerry's wife, Teresa, a foreign-born billionaire, is not as accessible to middle America, and is less well-known to the public, pollsters say.

And undecideds vote for the incumbent president.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:12 PM


The Greed Factor: Sanctions against rogue regimes would have been abandoned if Dick Cheney had had his way. (David J. Sirota and Jonathan Baskin, 09.15.04, American Prospect)

In 1992, the Republican Party launched a vicious assault against Bill Clinton for traveling overseas and speaking out against his country’s foreign policy during the Vietnam War. It was the beginning of a strategy to demean the national-security credentials of the Democratic Party. Now, twelve years later, Vice President Dick Cheney has updated the tactic, hammering those who question George W. Bush’s prosecution of the war on terror and impugning John Kerry’s commitment to national security. His rhetoric has been so vitriolic, he actually suggested last week that a Kerry presidency would mean "we will get hit again" by terrorists.

Beyond blatantly mischaracterizing Democrats’ positions on defense, these shameless attacks serve to distract from the vice president’s own proclivity for undermining American foreign policy. The record shows that over the last decade, Cheney was willing first to do business with countries on the U.S. government’s terror list, then to travel abroad and condemn U.S. counter-terrorism policy when it got in his way. In the process, Cheney proved repeatedly he could be trusted to put Halliburton’s bottom line ahead of his country’s national security.

As Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush, Cheney helped lead a multinational coalition against Iraq and was one of the architects of a post-war economic embargo designed to choke off funds to the country. He insisted the world should “maintain sanctions, at least of some kind,” so Saddam Hussein could not “rebuild the military force he’s used against his neighbors.”

But less than six years later, as a private businessman, Cheney apparently had more important interests than preventing Hussein from rebuilding his army. While he claimed during the 2000 campaign that, as CEO of Halliburton, he had “imposed a ‘firm policy’ against trading with Iraq,” confidential UN records show that, from the first half of 1997 to the summer of 2000, Halliburton held stakes in two firms that sold more than $73 million in oil production equipment and spare parts to Iraq while Cheney was in charge. Halliburton acquired its interest in both firms while Cheney was at the helm, and continued doing business through them until just months before Cheney was named George W. Bush’s running mate.

Perhaps even more troubling, at the same time Cheney was doing business with Iraq, he launched a public broadside against sanctions laws designed to cut off funds to regimes like Iran, which the State Department listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. In 1998, Cheney traveled to Kuala Lumpur to attack his own country's terrorism policies for being too strict. Under the headline, “Former US Defence Secretary Says Iran-Libya Sanctions Act ‘Wrong,’” the Malaysian News Agency reported that Cheney “hit out at his government" and said sanctions on terrorist countries were "ineffective, did not provide the desired results and [were] a bad policy.”

This criticism seems quite fair. Economic conservatives have been far too willing to trade freely with even monstrous regimes on the pretext that it will force them to loosen and reform more effectively than isolation would punish them. Instead by trading we've made ourselves complicitous in their tryannies. The flip side though is that sanctions are so severe that we should use force more frequently than the Left is willing to contemplate. If sanctions should have remained on Saddam in perpetuity, it's certainly the case that he should have been removed long ago so that the people of Iraq weren't forced to suffer while we punished him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:39 PM


Zarqawi's right-hand man killed in Iraq (Insight on the News, September 22, 2004)

The right-hand man of al-Qaida's suspected leader in Iraq, Abu Misaab Zarqawi, was apparently killed in Abu Ghraib west of Baghdad, reports said Wednesday.

Jordan's daily al-Ghad said Omar Youssef Jumaa, code-named Abu Anas Shami, was killed in a U.S. bombardment of Abu Ghraib Friday, while he was traveling in a car with several other Muslim militants.

The paper quoted Jumaa's family in Jordan as saying they received information about his death from reliable sources.

Jumaa, number two in Zarqawi's al-Tawheed group, was responsible for religious edicts and writing Zarqawi's addresses to the press.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:04 PM


Bush the Liberal: The nobility and folly of democratizing Iraq (William Saletan, Sept. 21, 2004, Slate)

I admit it. I have a soft spot for President Bush.

I love it when he goes to the United Nations—as he did two years ago and again today—and tells those lazy cynics to get off their duffs. They spend their days congratulating each other, passing toothless resolutions, and giving lip service to tired pet issues. Bush is just what they need. He pokes them in the ribs. He points out that scofflaws are treating them like a joke. He tells them to enforce their threats, or he'll do it for them. He preaches freedom and democracy. He vows to serve others, no matter who else joins in the cause. He refuses to back down, no matter what the price.

Unfortunately for Bush, it's the liberal in me who loves these things. And it's the conservative—in me and other Americans—who's turning away.

This is what liberals do: They coerce or cajole the fortunate to serve the less fortunate. They spend American lives and money to serve causes beyond our national interest.

More properly, it is what the religious do and it would seem significant that the two leaders of the effort to liberalize the Middle East are both devout Christians: George W. Bush and Tony Blair (as was Mr. Blair's prior partner, Bill Clinton). Likewise it's hardly surprising that the secularists of the Democratic Party and Europe are no longer willing to vindicate liberalism in the world.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:54 PM


OECD Says Oil Prices and Inflation Not Hurting Industrial Economies (Douglas Bakshian, 21 Sep 2004, VOA News)

A leading economic think-tank sees a strong recovery in the second half of the year for major industrial economies, in spite of high oil prices, and says inflation is not yet a concern.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in an interim report, says oil prices have so far had only a limited impact on core inflation and wages in the world's major economies.

Oil has recently traded around $46 a barrel - much higher than normal. However, Jean-Philipe Cotis, the chief economist for the OECD, told VOA that the impact of an oil price hike is a lot smaller today than it was 30 years ago during the first oil shock. [...]

"Inflation expectations have not moved a lot despite the small oil price shock we had," he said. "It means that price stability is well anchored in our economy and monetary policy will not have to tighten prematurely."

Somebody wake the Maestro.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:19 PM


Missing - A Media Focus on the Supreme Court (Norman Solomon, Media Beat )

Already, Bush's impacts on the judiciary have been appreciable. Like the members of the Supreme Court, the federal judges on appeals and district court benches are appointed for life -- and in less than four years, Bush has chosen almost a quarter of all those judges nationwide.

Dahlia Lithwick, a legal analyst with Slate, notes that "Bush has already had a chance to massively reshape the lower federal bench. He's now filled 200 seats" -- with judges who'll have far-reaching effects. "He has certainly put a lot of people onto the federal bench who have sort of litmus tests on issues like abortion, on issues like civil rights. And I think we are going to see -- in the far future, but not today -- the fallout of a massive, massive influx of quite conservative jurists who've been put on the bench in the last four years."

As opponents of abortion rights, civil liberties, gay rights and other such causes work to gain a second term for George W. Bush, they try not to stir up a mass-media ruckus that might light a fire under progressives about the future of the Supreme Court and the rest of the federal judiciary. Likewise, those on the left who don't want to back Kerry even in swing states are inclined to dodge, or fog over, what hangs in the balance. Kerry is hardly a champion of a progressive legal system, but the contrast between his centrist orientation and the right-wing extremism of the Bush-Cheney regime should be obvious. It's too easy to opt for imagined purity while others will predictably have to deal with very dire consequences.

"The popular constituency of the Bush people, a large part of it, is the extremist fundamentalist religious sector in the country, which is huge," Noam Chomsky said in a recent interview with David Barsamian. "There is nothing like it in any other industrial country."

Note the disconnect here--as Mr. Chomsky says, there's a huge popular constituency for the conservative position on social issues, effectively undercutting Mr. Solomon's argument that the two candidates have an equal interest in keeping court picks off the public radar.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:49 AM


Budget Deficits: Old Theories v. New Facts (Alan Reynolds, 9/22/04, Cato Institute)

Budget deficits in France and Germany are just as large as in the U.S., and the budget gap in Japan is twice as large. Yet all three countries have a current account surplus, not "twin deficits." And the interest rate on 10-year government bonds is only 1.6 percent in Japan.

Australia, by contrast, has maintained budget surpluses since 1998. Yet Australia's current account deficit is larger than that of the United States, as it was in all but one of the past six years. Australia's 10-year interest rate is 5.6 percent -- substantially higher than the U.S. rate of 4.2 percent. Canada, with a budget surplus since 1997, also has a higher interest rate than the U.S, 4.7 percent. These are regular patterns, not anomalies.

From 1994 through 2003, annual budget deficits averaged 5.8 percent of GDP in Japan, compared with 1.6 percent in the U.S. If budget deficits really increased interest rates and current account deficits, then Japan should be experiencing high interest rates and a large current account deficit by now. Countries with budget surpluses, like Australia, should be experiencing much lower interest rates and current account surpluses. The facts obviously don't fit the conventional theory.

The same stubborn theory also claims budget deficits reduce national savings and that tax increases can magically add to savings. On the contrary, the U.S., U.K. and Australia moved chronic from budget deficits to surpluses in the late 1990s, but the ratio of savings to GDP did not increase at all. The U.S. savings rate was 18.2 percent from 1983 to 1989, when deficits were relatively large, and 17.5 percent from 1998 to 2001 when the U.S. budget was in surplus. Hong Kong moved secular surpluses to cyclical deficits in recent years, but the national savings rate remained at 31-33 percent of GDP.

A paper of mine on these topics was originally presented at the U.S. Treasury and later published by the Cato Institute. I concluded: "In reality, neither actual nor projected budget deficits raise real or nominal interest rates, steepen the yield curve, reduce national savings, cause `twin deficits,' or make the dollar go up or down. The logic behind such speculations is flawed and contradictory and the evidence is nonexistent".

The budgetary valetudinarians have been impervious to facts for a couple centuries now.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:45 AM


Kerry — A Party Divider? (Chuck Todd, Sept. 22, 2004,

One of the more remarkable things about the national campaign these days is the incredible unity enjoyed by the Republican Party.

With the Democrats in the minority, there ought to be a push to unify under the party banner, yet that hasn't occurred.

As has been noted in numerous reports about the structure of the Republican campaign apparatus, the party is incredibly streamlined -- not just on the presidential level but among campaigns for the House and the Senate as well.

It's a stark contrast to how the Democrats operate. And we're not just talking about the coordination (or lack thereof) that takes place between John Kerry, the Democratic National Committee and the House and Senate committees, but the overall attitude of the consultants and candidates in many races.

Democrats running in House and Senate races have no problems publicly distancing themselves from their national party leaders. Even Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle has gone out of his way to put distance between himself and the Democratic nominee. [...]

By contrast, Republicans running in blue states, with few exceptions, aren't nearly as afraid of being linked with their party and its leader. And they have certainly not run as far away from Bush as some of Southern and Western Democrats have run from Kerry. [...]

Once the Republican Party identified specific principles to which all candidates could agree (defense and taxes quickly come to mind), the GOP became the governing party. The Democrats, particularly if Kerry loses, have a lot of work to do to unify the party so that a Senate candidate in South Carolina doesn't try to find a scheduling conflict to avoid a snapshot with a national candidate. Until Democrats gets past this, they may not become a governing party for a long time.

So if all Republicans run as Bush Republicans and half the Democrats run as Bush Republicans--which is in good measure why nearly the entire platform the President ran on in 2000 passed--isn't it fair to say that George W. Bush has proved to be exactly the uniter he said he'd be?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:00 AM


Surprise! Housing Starts in August Rise (Mark Felsenthal, 9/21/04, Reuters)

U.S. housing starts unexpectedly rose 0.6 percent in August to their highest level in five months as low mortgage rates encouraged construction, but permits fell more than anticipated, a government report showed on Tuesday.

Housing starts climbed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.000 million units from an upwardly revised 1.988 million in July, the Commerce Department said. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected starts to ease to a 1.935 million pace.

"It suggests that the housing market is still quite healthy despite the increase in mortgage rates earlier this year," said Gary Thayer, chief economist at A.G. Edwards & Sons.

If you didn't know better you'd swear supply rises to meet demand.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 AM


'Lost' finds its way to adventure (Matthew Gilbert, September 22, 2004, Boston Globe)

This is a great piece of TV work, a tropical island adventure fitted with more than 40 characters, conceived with an eye to marooned-traveler classics such as "Lord of the Flies," "Castaway," and "Jurassic Park," and overlorded by one of the medium's most energetic and innovative talents, J.J. Abrams of "Alias."

Right from its opening minutes, after a flight to Australia has crashed on the shores of nowhere, ABC's "Lost" simulates the kind of dread we don't expect to find on the small screen. Dazed survivors wander aimlessly around the flaming debris, as if in suspended time. Explosions, silence, screams, silence. Jack, a doctor played by Matthew Fox, comes to consciousness and gradually joins the milling strangers, zeroing in on the injured, including a pregnant woman.

The show...speeds up, of course; this is action and adventure, not to mention fantasy, as unseen creatures make their Spielbergian presence known in the forest by the beach. Predatory and noisy, the creatures chase after Jack, Kate (Evangeline Lilly), and Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) when the trio goes looking for the plane's cockpit and its communications device. They keep the pulse of the show pounding as it introduces the large international cast of characters. Resourceful and athletic, Jack will become the island society's hero -- if first impressions are right, that is, and with Abrams they often aren't.

The adrenaline of "Lost" kicks in during the flashbacks, too, as crash victims recall their last moments in the air as they wait for rescue on the beach. These are the devastating sequences ABC has been clipping for its promotions -- the fast downward spiral begins, oxygen masks pop out, the plane cracks in half, and passengers are quickly sucked into the blue. Like the harrowing descent in the movie "Fearless," the plane disaster in "Lost" is not going to make the skies any friendlier to phobic viewers. During these disturbing flashbacks, the characters' back stories begin to emerge -- Charlie, for instance, who was fumbling with a little baggie when the plane lost its pressure and began to fall. One character is seen struggling to pull down an oxygen mask while wearing a pair of handcuffs.

If only 'Lost' could remain at these heights (PHIL ROSENTHAL, September 22, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)
ABC's new drama "Lost" absolutely flies. At least for its first two episodes.

Beyond that, who knows? It is a show about survivors of a plane crash, after all.

Tonight's ***1/2 certainly an exhilarating takeoff. Be sure to remain seated with your seat belt fastened until the credits signal you're free to move about.

Whether "Lost" can remain airborne and continue to soar along at its initial clip is just one of the many unknowns involving the 48 passengers now stranded on a South Pacific atoll far from where rescue teams are likely to search.

This is a series brimming with shadowy characters, uncertain situations and mysterious monsters.

Even the remote island itself has secrets it's not yet ready to share.

"Lost" creator J.J. Abrams' most remarkable trick is in taking a set-up that sounds absolutely absurd and somehow making it click.

Entertainment Weekly too thought this the best new series.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:20 AM


King of the funny skin flicks (ROGER EBERT, September 22, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

Russ Meyer is dead. The legendary independent director, who made exploitation films but was honored as an auteur, died Saturday at his home in the Hollywood Hills. He was 82, and had been suffering from dementia. The immediate cause of death was pneumonia, said Janice Cowart, a friend who supervised his care during his last years. She announced his death Tuesday.

Such bare facts hardly capture the zest of a colorful man who became a Hollywood icon. Meyer's "The Immoral Mr. Teas" (1959), hailed by the highbrow critic Leslie Fiedler as the funniest comedy of the year, created the skin flick genre, and after the box office success of his "Vixen" (1968) he was crowned "King of the Nudies" in a front-page profile in the Wall Street Journal. His "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" (1970), for which I wrote the screenplay, represented the first foray into sexploitation by a major studio (20th Century Fox).

His films were X-rated but not pornographic. Meyer told me he had two reasons for avoiding hard-core: (1) "I want to play in regular theaters and keep the profits, instead of playing in porn theaters and doing business with the mob." (2) "Frankly, what goes on below the waist is visually not that entertaining." For Meyer, what went on above the waist was a lifelong fascination; he cheerfully affirmed his obsession with big breasts.

Meyer was the ultimate auteur. He not only directed his films, but could and often did write, photograph, edit and distribute them, and carried his own camera. In a genre known for sleazy sets and murky photography, Meyer's films were often shot outdoors in scenic desert and mountain locations, and his images were bright and crisp. He said his inspiration was Al Capp's "L'il Abner" comic strip, and his films were not erotic so much as funny, combining slapstick and parody. He once told me there was no such thing as a sex scene that couldn't be improved by cutaways to Demolition Derby or rocket launches.

More clinical isn't sexier.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 AM


Fed: Economy regaining traction (JEANNINE AVERSA, September 22, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times)

With the economy moving ahead and the nation's payrolls picking up a bit, Federal Reserve policy-makers boosted short-term interest rates for a third time this year -- but left economists split about when the next increase might come. [...]

The Fed, explaining its unanimous decision, said the economy -- which slowed earlier this year partly because of soaring energy prices -- now ''appears to have regained some traction.'' That echoed a comment Greenspan made to Congress earlier this month.

In another encouraging note, the Fed said, ''Labor market conditions have improved modestly.'' That was a better assessment than the Fed offered in August, when it said job market improvements had slowed.

''The Fed is sending a message of relative comfort with the current condition of the economy,'' said Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Banc of America Capital Management. ''They suggested we are pulling out of the soft patch.'' [...]

Fed policy-makers stuck to their view that future rate increases would be gradual because inflation is expected to remain relatively low. Inflation has eased in recent months despite the rise in energy prices, the Fed said.

Much as folks would like to believe that capitalism is rational, this action was purely psychology driven. An economu growing at a comfortable rate with no sign of inflation doesn't need rate hikes.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:49 AM


The Left thinks legally, the Right thinks morally (Dennis Prager, 9/21/04, Jewish World Review)

To understand the worldwide ideological battle — especially the one between America and Western Europe and within America itself — one must understand the vast differences between leftist and rightist worldviews and between secular and religious (specifically Judeo-Christian) values.

One of the most important of these differences is their attitudes toward law. Generally speaking, the Left and the secularists venerate, if not worship, law. They put their faith in law — both national and international. Law is the supreme good. For most on the Left, "Is it legal?" is usually the question that determines whether an action is right or wrong.

Take the war in Iraq. The chief leftist argument against the war — before it began, not later when no weapons of mass destruction were found — was that without U.N. sanction, attacking Iraq violated international law.

Whatever their feelings about George W. Bush or about attacking Iraq, for most of those on the Left, the rightness or wrongness of toppling Saddam Hussein's regime was determined by its legality (i.e., whether it was authorized by the U.N. Security Council). On the other hand, for those who supported attacking Iraq, whether the war was deemed legal played no role in their assessment of its rightness or wrongness. To those who supported removing Saddam Hussein by force, if the United Nations did not authorize it, it was a reflection on the morality of the United Nations, not the morality of the war.

International law thus provides a clear example of the Left-Right divide. To the Left, an international action is right if nations such as China, Russia, France and Syria vote for it, and wrong if they vote against it. To the Right and to the religious, an action is good (or bad) irrespective of the votes of the world's nations. They judge it by a code of morality higher than international law.

This would seem less a case of a simple Left/Right divide and more a matter of religion vs. secularism, which also explains the divergence between America and Europe on these questions. America is, of course, Founded on the Judeo-Christian belief that rights and human dignity derive from God and precede the State. For secularists there can be no other basis for a right except for in the law.

Interestingly, this dichotomy was on display at the UN yesterday as the President made a moral case for extending democracy universally and Kofi Annan made a legal case for protecting dictatorship, Bush, Annan Speeches Show Divisions on Iraq (Maura Reynolds and Maggie Farley, September 22, 2004, LA Times)

For the second time in two years, President Bush on Tuesday defended the invasion of Iraq before the U.N. General Assembly and appealed to other countries to join the United States in spreading "freedom" and "human dignity" in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in a pointed rebuke, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that countries that hoped to instill the rule of law must first abide by it themselves.

The two addresses at the opening session of the 59th annual meeting invoked values such as democracy and the rule of law, and both Bush and Annan only briefly mentioned the schism of the last two years over the invasion of Iraq. But the war was the clear context for both leaders' remarks, as it was last year, and the two sides seemed not to have moved closer in the interim.

"When we say 'serious consequences' for the sake of peace, there must be serious consequences," Bush said, referring to language in a Security Council resolution warning Iraq to eliminate any weapons of mass destruction. "And so a coalition of nations enforced the just demands of the world."

Annan insisted that "every nation that proclaims the rule of law at home must respect it abroad." Although the secretary-general did not name the United States, to the scores of world leaders listening in the vaulted chamber, the target of his comments was obvious.

"Those who seek to bestow legitimacy must themselves embody it," he said, "and those who invoke international law must themselves submit to it."

Sadly for Mr. Annan and the Left, Mr. Bush has not just moral authority but the legal points in his favor too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:42 AM


THE SON OF REAGAN (Nina Burleigh, 9/22/04, AlterNet)

Luckily for Bush, an emergency team of former Reagan aides has swooped in during these last months of the re-election campaign to help recreate the triumph of 1984 – which explains all the babbling about optimism. Collectively, they are a "Morning in America" pill, a dose of cheerful unreality in what they hope is the nick of time.

Noonan has taken a leave of absence from The Wall Street Journal to work with the Republican National Committee (RNC) to help with the 2004 campaign. Michael Deaver, a former Reagan deputy chief of staff, is taking a more active role with the campaign, and even organized a recent visit between Bush and Nancy Reagan. Campaign aides reportedly now meet regularly with Ken Duberstein, who served as Reagan's chief of staff and former senior Reagan adviser Charlie Black. Former Reagan Press Secretary Lyn Nofziger is also reportedly working on the campaign, although he has publicly denied it.

The conservative pundits are also right on the message.

Wall Street Journal columnist George Melloan has even drawn parallels between Kerry's criticism of Bush and his earlier criticisms of Reagan. Senator John Kerry, he wrote:

"[N]ow on the campaign trail accusing the president of irresponsibility, was similarly scornful of President Reagan's moves to resist Soviet and Cuban efforts to grab Central America. He called the president's well- founded fears of an invasion of Honduras by the Nicaraguan Sandinistas 'ridiculous.' …

In harking back to those years, it seems clear that Ronald Reagan was no more free of political adversaries than George W. Bush today. The idea that he got along better than Mr. Bush with Europe doesn't hold up to close scrutiny either.

Having lived through 1984, though, we don't need pundits to scrutinize the real similarities between Bush and Reagan. We are going into November 2004 with tax cuts and unlimited war spending sucking the life out of the economy now and for generations to come. Meanwhile, Son of Reagan takes a break from splitting logs, wipes the sweat from his brow, grins at the gasping, barely-making-it citizenry, and asks us to buck up and take it on the chin for the sake of "Freedom."

The truth, however, is that George Bush is far, far worse than Reagan.

Thing of it is, just because you're late to figuring something out doesn't mean it's happened suddenly. That famed Reagan operative, Bill Keller (now Editor-in-chief of the NY Times), wrote the first intelligent mainstream essay about George W. Bush being Reagan's Son (it's even the title of the piece) almost two years ago. And Jonathan Rauch, who's gay and would hardly be classified as a Reagan or Bush conservative, wrote the first big think piece about Bush as a radical for the Atlantic over a year ago. One interesting thing to note is that a myth has grown up, largely because it serves the purposes of both liberals and neocons, that 9-11 either saved or altered the Bush presidency. In reality, while it has obviously made the President's foreign policy more forceful, the revolution in domestic policy was already well under way--with a number of wins in the bank: tax cuts, NCLB, the Faith Based Initiative, etc.--and various proposals hastening to victory: Fast Track Trade Authority, Health Savings Accounts, etc.--by the time of the attacks. The War on Terror has been more of a hindrance than a help to the radical agenda he launched on day one of his Administration.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 AM


Kerry still sacrificing the freedom of the South Vietnamese (Edward Morrissey, 9/22/04, Jewish World Review)

John Kerry has taken to pleading for a return to debate on current issues and more relevant qualifications for the presidency in a bid to bury the debate on his Viet Nam record, which at one time was all Kerry would discuss on the stump. Speaking in New York last month, Kerry told a crowd that all the Bush campaign had was fear, while he wanted to talk about how he could outperform Bush in areas such as foreign policy.

So let's talk foreign policy, as practiced right here at home, by Senator Kerry.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Bradley Clanton of the law firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, in Jackson, MS and Washington, DC. Brad represents several Vietnamese-Americans who came to the US as refugees of the Communists in their native land. Some of his clients have names that students of the era would recognize, such as Bui Diem, former ambassador to the US from the Saigon government. This group of Vietnamese refugees filed a lawsuit against the University of Massachusetts (Boston) and the William Joiner Center, one of its research centers, due to irregularities in its awarding of fellowships for researching the Vietnamese Diaspora.

What's important about the story that follows, and about his entire foreign policy history, is the Senator's desire to do to Iraq what he did to South Vietnam.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:48 AM


Jersey, Ohio polls put Dems in a tizzy (HELEN KENNEDY, 9/22/04, NY DAILY NEWS)

As new polls showed President Bush 10 points ahead in crucial Ohio and both men tied at 48% in New Jersey, once a supposedly safe Democratic state, the candidate proclaimed himself unbothered. [...]

The polls showed voters are unhappy about Iraq and the economy, but they think Bush would do a better job handling terrorism.

"They see terrorism as a more important issue than the economy or health care - Kerry's issues," said Quinnipiac pollster Mickey Carroll, who surveyed the Garden State. "The vacant skyline where the World Trade Center once stood brings the threat of terrorism home to New Jersey across the river."

Kerry's press conference yesterday - his first since early August - vividly underscored his biggest problem: six weeks before the election, nine of the 11 questions were still attempts to clarify his 2003 vote for the war.

Primary voters chose Kerry largely because of that vote, believing only a hawk could successfully face Bush. But Kerry's inability to articulate a clear position has become his Achilles heel, bogging him down in a quagmire of questions about the past instead of talking about the future.

The always popular, and usually disdainful, claim of pols and pundits that they "don't follow the polls" ignores the ways in which results shape the behavior of candidates, voters and the media.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:42 AM


Executive Summary: Winning the Oil Endgame (Rocky Mountain Institute)

Winning the Oil Endgame offers a coherent strategy for ending oil dependence, starting with the United States but applicable worldwide. There are many analyses of the oil problem. This synthesis is the first roadmap of the oil solution—one led by business for profit, not dictated by government for reasons of ideology. This roadmap is independent, peer-reviewed, written for business and military leaders, and co-funded by the Pentagon. It combines innovative technologies and new business models with uncommon public policies: market-oriented without taxes, innovation-driven without mandates, not dependent on major (if any) national legislation, and designed to support, not distort, business logic.

Two centuries ago, the first industrial revolution made people a hundred times more productive, harnessed fossil energy for transport and production, and nurtured the young U.S. economy. Then, over the past 145 years, the Age of Oil brought unprecedented mobility, globe-spanning military power, and amazing synthetic products.

But at what cost? Oil, which created the sinews of our strength, is now becoming an even greater source of weakness: its volatile price erodes prosperity; its vulnerabilities undermine security; its emissions destabilize climate. Moreover the quest to attain oil creates dangerous new rivalries and tarnishes America's moral standing. All these costs are rising. And their root causes—most of all, inefficient light trucks and cars—also threaten the competitiveness of U.S. automaking and other key industrial sectors.

The cornerstone of the next industrial revolution is therefore winning the Oil Endgame. And surprisingly, it will cost less to displace all of the oil that the United States now uses than it will cost to buy that oil. Oil's current market price leaves out its true costs to the economy, national security, and the environment. But even without including these now "externalized" costs, it would still be profitable to displace oil completely over the next few decades. In fact, by 2025, the annual economic benefit of that displacement would be $130 billion gross (or $70 billion net of the displacement's costs). To achieve this does not require a revolution, but merely consolidating and accelerating trends already in place: the amount of oil the economy uses for each dollar of GDP produced, and the fuel efficiency of light vehicles, would need only to improve about three-fifths as quickly as they did in response to previous oil shocks.

Saving half the oil America uses, and substituting cheaper alternatives for the other half, requires four integrated steps:

* Double the efficiency of using oil. The U.S. today wrings twice as much work from each barrel of oil as it did in 1975; with the latest proven efficiency technologies, it can double oil efficiency all over again. The investments needed to save each barrel of oil will cost only $12 (in 2000 $), less than half the officially forecast $26 price of that barrel in the world oil market. The most important enabling technology is ultralight vehicle design. Advanced composite or lightweight-steel materials can nearly double the efficiency of today's popular hybrid-electric cars and light trucks while improving safety and performance. The vehicle's total extra cost is repaid from fuel savings in about three years; the ultralighting is approximately free. Through emerging manufacturing techniques, such vehicles are becoming practical and profitable; the factories to produce them will also be cheaper and smaller.

* Apply creative business models and public policies to speed the profitable adoption of superefficent light vehicles, heavy trucks, and airplanes. Combined with more efficient buildings and factories, these efficient vehicles can cut the official forecast of oil use by 29% in 2025 and another 23% soon thereafter—52% in all. Enabled by a new industrial cluster focusing on lightweight materials, such as carbon-fiber composites, such advanced-technology vehicles can revitalize these three strategic sectors and create important new industries.

* Provide another one-fourth of U.S. oil needs by a major domestic biofuels industry. Recent advances in biotechnology and cellulose-to-ethanol conversion can double previous techniques' yield, yet cost less in both capital and energy. Replacing fossil-fuel hydrocarbons with plant-derived carbohydrates will strengthen rural America, boost net farm income by tens of billions of dollars a year, and create more than 750,000 new jobs. Convergence between the energy, chemical, and agricultural value chains will also let versatile new classes of biomaterials replace petrochemicals.

* Use well established, highly profitable efficiency techniques to save half the projected 2025 use of natural gas, making it again abundant and affordable, then substitute part of the saved gas for oil. If desired, the leftover saved natural gas could be used even more profitably and effectively by converting it to hydrogen, displacing most of the remaining oil use—and all of the oil use if modestly augmented by competitive renewable energy.

These four shifts are fundamentally disruptive to current business models. They are what economist Joseph Schumpeter called "creative destruction," where innovations destroy obsolete technologies, only to be overthrown in turn by ever newer, more efficient rivals. In The Innovator's Dilemma, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen explained why industry leaders often get blindsided by disruptive innovations—technological gamechangers—because they focus too much on today's most profitable customers and businesses, ignoring the needs of the future. Firms that are quick to adopt innovative technologies and business models will be the winners of the 21st century; those that deny and resist change will join the dead from the last millennium. In the 108-year history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, only one of 12 original companies remains a corporate entity today—General Electric. The others perished or became fodder for their competitors.

What policies are needed? American companies can be among the quick leaders in the 21st century, but it will take a cohesive strategy-based transformation, bold business and military leadership, and supportive government policies at a federal or at least a state level. Winning the Oil Endgame charts these practical steppingstones to an oil-free America:

* Most importantly, revenue- and size-neutral "feebates" can shift customer choice by combining fees on inefficient vehicles with rebates to efficient vehicles. The feebates apply separately within each vehicle-size class, so freedom of choice is unaffected. Indeed, choice is enhanced as customers start to count fuel savings over the vehicle's life, not just the first few years, and this new pattern of demand pulls superefficient but uncompromised vehicles from the drawing-board into the showroom.

* A scrap-and-replace program can lease or sell superefficent cars to low-income Americans—on terms and with fuel bills they can afford—while scrapping clunkers. This makes personal mobility affordable to all, creates a new million-car-a-year market for the new efficiency technologies, and helps clean our cities' air.

* Military needs for agility, rapid deployment, and streamlined logistics can drive Pentagon leadership in developing key technologies.

* Implementing smart government procurement and targeted technology acquisition (the "Golden Carrot") for aggregated buyers will accelerate manufacturers' conversion, while a government-sponsored $1-billion prize for success in the marketplace, the "Platinum Carrot," will speed development of even more advanced vehicles.

* To support U.S. automakers' and suppliers' need to invest about $70 billion to make advanced technology vehicles, federal loan guarantees can help finance initial retooling where needed; the investments should earn a handsome return, with big spin-off benefits.

* Similar but simpler policies—loan guarantees for buying efficient new airplanes (while scrapping inefficient parked ones), and better information for heavy truck buyers to spur market demand for doubled-efficiency trucks—can speed these oil-saving innovations from concept to market.

* Other policies can hasten competitive evolution of next-generation biofuels and biomaterials industries, substituting durable revenues for dwindling agricultural subsidies, and encouraging practices that protect both topsoil and climate.

What happens to the oil industry? The transition beyond oil is already starting to transform oil companies like Shell and BP into energy companies. Done right, this shift can profitably redeploy their skills and assets rather than lose market share. Biofuels are already becoming a new product line that leverages existing retail and distribution infrastructure and can attract another $90 billion in biofuels and biorefining investments. By following this roadmap, the U.S. would set the stage by 2025 for the checkmate move in the Oil Endgame—the optional but advantageous transition to a hydrogen economy and the complete and permanent displacement of oil as a direct fuel. Oil may, however, retain or even gain value as one of the competing sources of hydrogen.

How big is the prize? Investing $180 billion over the next decade to eliminate oil dependence and revitalize strategic industries can save $130 billion gross, or $70 billion net, every year by 2025. This saving, equivalent to a large tax cut, can replace today's $10-billion-a-month oil imports with reinvestments in ourselves: $40 billion would pay farmers for biofuels, while the rest could return to our communities, businesses, and children. Several million automotive and other transportation-equipment jobs now at risk can be saved, and one million net new jobs can be added across all sectors. U.S. automotive, trucking, and aircraft production can again lead the world, underpinned by 21st century advanced-materials and fuel-cell industries. A more efficient and deployable military could refocus on its core mission—protecting American citizens rather than foreign supply lines—while supporting and deploying the innovations that eliminate oil as a cause of conflict. Carbon dioxide emissions will shrink by one-fourth with no additional cost or effort. The rich-poor divide can be drastically narrowed at home by increased access to affordable personal mobility, shrinking the welfare rolls, and abroad by leapfrogging over oil-dependent development patterns. The U.S. could treat oil-rich countries the same as countries with no oil. Being no longer suspected of seeking oil in all that it does in the world would help to restore U.S. moral leadership and clarity of purpose.

While the $180-billion investment needed is significant, the United States' economy already pays that much, with zero return, every time the oil price spikes up as it has done in 2004. (And that money goes into OPEC's coffers instead of building infrastructure at home.) Just by 2015, the early steps in this proposed transition will have saved as much oil as the U.S. gets from the Persian Gulf. By 2040, oil imports could be gone. By 2050, the U.S. economy should be flourishing with no oil at all.

How do we get started? Every sector of society can contribute to this national project. Astute business leaders will align their corporate strategies and reorganize their firms and processes to turn innovation from a threat to a friend. Military leaders will speed military transformation by promptly laying its foundation in superefficient platforms and lean logistics. Political leaders will craft policies that stimulate demand for efficient vehicles, reduce R&D and manufacturing investment risks, support the creation of secure domestic fuel supplies, and eliminate perverse subsidies and regulatory obstacles. Lastly, we, the people, must play a role—a big role—because our individual choices guide the markets, enforce accountability, and create social innovation.

Our energy future is choice, not fate. Oil dependence is a problem we need no longer have—and it's cheaper not to. U.S. oil dependence can be eliminated by proven and attractive technologies that create wealth, enhance choice, and strengthen common security. This could be achieved only about as far in the future as the 1973 Arab oil embargo is in the past. When the U.S. last paid attention to oil, in 1977–85, it cut its oil use 17% while GDP grew 27%. Oil imports fell 50%, and imports from the Persian Gulf by 87% in just eight years. That exercise of dominant market power—from the demand side—broke OPEC's ability to set world oil prices for a decade. Today we can rerun that play, only better. The obstacles are less important than the opportunities if we replace ignorance with insight, inattention with foresight, and inaction with mobilization. American business can lead the nation and the world into the post-petroleum era, a vibrant economy, and lasting security—if we just realize that we are the people we have been waiting for.

Together we can end oil dependence forever.

Hard to believe that as we make gasoline ridiculously cheap it win't continue to be used, unless of course China is driving its price with an archaic petro-economy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:22 AM


Texans Still at Odds Over Bush's Legal Reforms (David G. Savage, September 22, 2004, LA Times)

On his first day as governor of Texas, George W. Bush declared that limiting lawsuits was an "emergency issue" for his state.

"We must put a stop to the frivolous and junk lawsuits which clog our courts," he said in January 1995, a popular line he has repeated often since then.

Getting rid of "frivolous" suits — or even defining them — proved difficult, but the new governor won limits on how much money could be awarded in the biggest cases. For example, punitive damages were capped at twice the amount of a victim's loss.

But the legal-reform movement Bush launched in Texas has gone far beyond questions of monetary awards. Among other things, it has led to limits on the right to sue in the first place.

"Texas has gone from one of the most friendly states for consumer protection to one of the most anti-consumer states," said University of Houston law professor Richard M. Alderman, an expert on consumer rights. "It all began in 1995. Bush oversaw a significant retreat for consumer protection, and it was all done under the guise of attacking 'frivolous' lawsuits."

The impact has been felt by home buyers such as Mary and Keith Cohn, whose elegant new residence in this well-off Houston suburb came with a leaky roof that led to rotting and moldy wallboard throughout the structure. After their daughters became ill, the Cohns moved out. The repairs ultimately cost more than $300,000.

To their astonishment and dismay, they learned that when the builder refused to repair most of the damage, they could not sue him for redress. Instead, they could pursue private arbitration, a process they considered stacked against them.

"This is the largest purchase of your life," said Mary Cohn, "but you have zero consumer protection."

Strange, the story says right there that they are protected by a right to private arbitration. If the arbitration isn't working properly just tweak it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 AM


Citizens’ Arrest (Patrick O’Hannigan, 9/21/2004, The Spectator)

In 1998, retired Special Forces operators forced CNN to apologize for a story alleging that American troops had used nerve gas in Laos during a secret 1970 mission called Operation Tailwind. Although Special Forces alumni responding to the story used Web-based technologies to communicate with each other and with CNN, blogs did not then exist. Slandered veterans could not talk with each other in real time, or expect help from anyone outside their own circles. Nevertheless, these experts in "force multiplication" succeeded in getting the story's producer sacked.

One year later, Pyra Labs added Blogger software to the collection of Internet tools already on the market. Blogger leveraged the increasing popularity of all things Web to make "asymmetrical warfare" by non-journalists against inaccuracies in Big Media easier than it had been before. Its debut set in motion a chain of events that would eventually cause CBS News and its iconic anchorman to come belatedly to grips with the idea that their own credibility had gone the way of Jonathan Livingston Seagull: lost in a painted sky, where the clouds are hung for the poet's eye, and the breaking news bites the network guy.

But Dan Rather's comeuppance is just the latest in a string of advances for "participatory journalism" that goes back to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Thousands of people discussed those attacks and their implications on the Internet, and more than a few of these people either started blogs at that time or saw their existing efforts come to sudden prominence.

We've been quite dubious of blogger triumphalism because the audience for such is so specialized and circumscribed, but the Rather story illustrated something interesting about why this factor isn't as important as it might seem: the audience includes real journalists. It was remarkable to see--especially on cable news discussions--how frequently reporters cited examples and factoids that they'd culled from their own reading on the Internet. This was especially true when the story was being driven by the arcania of typefaces and word processing quirks, which bloggers were writing about almost as 60 Minutes was displaying their fake documents.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:23 AM


Muslims "disillusioned with Shari'a" in Nigeria (afrol News, 21 September, 2004)

After twelve Northern Nigerian states since 2000 have introduced Islamic law, or Shari'a, the Muslim population majority is mostly disillusioned. They had hoped Shari'a courts would be better than Nigeria's old and discredited justice system, but many by now find that only the harsh aspects of Shari'a are implemented while generosity and compassion is overlooked, a new report says.

North Nigerian state governments and Shari'a courts had failed to respect international human rights standards, according to Peter Takirambudde of the US group Human Rights Watch. "They have also disregarded what many Muslims argue are key principles of Shari'a itself. They have concentrated on the harsh aspects of Islamic law while ignoring its principles of generosity and compassion," Mr Takirambudde added.

The US human rights group today in London presented a 111-page report on the use of Islamic law in Nigeria. The report documents how human rights are systematically violated as a consequence of the Shari'a courts' practices, while admitting that similar abuses are at least as common in Nigeria's non-Shari'a legal system.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:14 AM


President Bush's Lead Balloon (New York Times, September 22nd, 2004)

Mr. Bush has never exhibited much respect for the United Nations at the best of times. But the United States now desperately needs the partnership of other nations on Iraq. Without substantial help from major nations, the prospects for stabilizing that country anytime soon are bleak. American soldiers and taxpayers are paying a heavy price for Washington's wrongheaded early insistence on controlling all important military, political and economic decision-making in post-invasion Iraq.

Other nations have generally responded by sitting sullenly on the sidelines. Even when they cast grudging votes for American-sponsored Security Council resolutions, they hold back on troops and financial support. With the war going so badly and voters hostile to it in most democracies, that situation is unlikely to change unless Washington signals a new attitude, and deals with other countries as real partners whose opinions and economic interests are entitled to respectful consideration.

Mr. Bush might have done better at wooing broader international support if he had spent less time on self-justification and scolding and more on praising the importance of international cooperation and a strengthened United Nations. Instead, his tone-deaf speechwriters achieved a perverse kind of alchemy, transforming a golden opportunity into a lead balloon.

For the sake of argument, let us allow that the question of whether the United States is over-extended in Iraq is a legitimate one. Let us also allow, on the general theory that the more the merrier, that help in Iraq could be a good thing. What magical transformation of European resistance does the NYT think could have been secured by the President seizing this “golden opportunity” to call for the strengthening of the UN?

We are hearing a lot these days about how the Administration is not being honest about the situation in Iraq. Any substance to this charge pales beside the dishonesty about European objectives and capacities being spread by the liberal media and certain presidential candidates. Should not someone ask Senator Kerry directly exactly what evidence he has that countries like France and Germany would assist in Iraq under any circumstances and what would be their price for so doing? Does the Times honestly believe a rousing presidential speech about international cooperation would send Legionnaires winging their way to Baghdad?

The Times, which presumably should know, is relying on treacly rhetoric to hide the fact that the UN (and, by extension, international law) exists to thwart, not to act. Europe has no interest in American security and never has. It wishes to be left alone, except when it needs American help, as in Bosnia, in which case it doesn’t even bother to send the UN a fax. Not only would Saddam still be in power if Europe had had its way (a prospect viewed with increasing equanimity by the world’s cognoscenti), but Europe would still be resigned to paying protection money to terrorists and be trying to mediate Israel into extinction.

The die in Iraq has largely been cast, which means debates on first principles are coloured by a complex military reality and therefore “nuanced” by necessity. That is not so in Iran and Darfur. It is unfortunate that inherently cautious electoral strategies prevent anyone from challenging the Senator and the Times directly as to how exactly they believe the United States should respond to a UN refusal to do any thing to prevent Iran from building a bomb or Sudan from mass-murdering in Darfur.

September 21, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:16 PM


Watch-List Passenger ID'd as Cat Stevens (Fox News, September 21, 2004)

A plane bound for Washington from London was diverted to Maine on Tuesday after passenger Yusuf Islam -- formerly known as pop singer Cat Stevens -- showed up on a U.S. watch list, federal officials said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:03 PM


40% of children think sun revolves around Earth: poll (Japan Times, 9/22/04)

A survey of 720 students in the fourth to sixth grades at selected schools shows that around 40 percent of them believe the sun revolves around Earth, while nearly 30 percent were not aware of which direction the sun sets.

Some confusion is justified given that we now know that while the Earth does orbit the Sun the Universe is nonetheless geocentric, so the question is inherently confusing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:13 PM


Transcript: Kerry Answers Questions at Press Conference (FDCH E-Media, September 21, 2004)

Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry answered reporters' questions at a news conference in Jacksonville, Fla. [...]

At the United Nations today, the president failed to level with the world's leaders. Moments after Kofi Annan, the secretary general, talked about the difficulties in Iraq, the president of the United States stood before a stony-faced body and barely talked about the realities at all of Iraq.

KERRY: After lecturing them, instead of leading them to understand how we are all together with a stake in the outcome of Iraq, I believe the president missed an opportunity of enormous importance for our nation and for the world. He does not have the credibility to lead the world. And he did not and will not offer the leadership in order to do what we need to do to protect our troops, to be successful, and win the war on terror in an effective way.

I believe, as I set out yesterday, we need a fundamentally different approach in order to be successful in Iraq. We need to get other nations to join us. Even if they won't accept risky operations, there are other operations which would facilitate our ability to be able to manage this situation. We need not to stay the course, but the change the course so we can be successful. And the urgency grows with every single day.

I'll be happy to answer any questions.

QUESTION: Senator, the president continues to quote you as saying that the world would better off with Saddam Hussein (OFF-MIKE)

KERRY: The world be better off, excuse me?

QUESTION: He said that you said the world would be better off if Saddam Hussein was not sitting in a prison cell.

KERRY: What I have always said is that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. [...]


KERRY: No, I have one position on Iraq, one position. What they should be confused about is what President Bush has done where he actually says to Americans that if there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no connection to Al Qaida, all of which had been proven to be true, the 9/11 Commission has shown the president wasn't truthful. His own weapons inspectors have shown the president wasn't truthful.

And the president says even though that's true, he would still have taken America to war. Now, I believe there was a better way. And I've said that consistently from day one. [...]


KERRY: Look. The vote for the authority was the correct vote. I've said that throughout this campaign. Never questioned it. It was the correct vote because we needed to hold Saddam Hussein accountable for weapons. That's what America believed.

But this president made a series of decisions after that that broke his promises both to the American people and to the Congress. He didn't take the time to do the hard work of diplomacy and show the wisdom and the judgment that a president needs to show as to how you bring other nations to our side. He didn't exhaust the remedies of inspections so that you either found out that there were no weapons of mass destruction, or you found that you really had to proceed with the world at your side. Either way, we would have been better off. [...]


KERRY: If you take the steps that I said yesterday, which evidently the president has already started not to, because today he didn't talk reality to the United Nations, you can have those elections. Sure. But the president -- unless you make Iraq more secure and live up to what the United Nations needs in order to be able to deliver, it's going to be very difficult.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) if the world is better off with Saddam gone, how did that square with the comment last night with David Letterman, that knowing what you now know, you wouldn't have gone to war?

KERRY: Because, for several reasons. First of all, it's obvious, if he is gone, the world is better off without him.

KERRY: Everybody understands that. He's a brutal dictator. And as I said yesterday in my speech, he deserves his own special place in hell.

But that doesn't mean that you go to war in an irresponsible way that puts America at greater risk. That doesn't mean you should take your eye off the ball, which was Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida, and rush to war just to get rid of him.

Are we better off without him? Sure. But what they've done is, as I said in my speech yesterday, they have replaced a dictator with chaos, and chaos in a way that puts America and Iraqis at much greater risk.

I believe there was a more responsible way to do it. If you don't have weapons of mass destruction, believe me, Saddam Hussein is a very different person. That's what kept him in power. And I believe Saddam Hussein would not be in power.

Believe it or not, when you cut through all that Senator Kerry does have a coherent, though immoral, position: no matter how brutal or even genocidal Saddam Hussein was and no matter how flagrantly he flaunted international law, the Senator would not have removed him from power by military means unless he was 100% certain that Iraq had WMD.

Since even his use of WMD apparently does not allow us 100% certainty, there's no reason to believe Saddam would not still be in power under a President Kerry.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 PM


Poll: 69% of US Jews will vote for John Kerry (THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 21, 2004)

Reports indicate that a new survey by the American Jewish Committee, scheduled to be released Wednesday, finds that only 24 percent of
American Jews would vote for President Bush, while 69 percent would vote for Senator John Kerry.

The finding represents a remarkable 23 percent drop in American Jewish support for President Bush since last December, when an AJC poll found that 31 percent of American Jews would vote for President Bush at that time.

Due to the margin of error associated with polling, there is statistically no difference between AJC's finding of President Bush's support today and his support in 2000 among American Jews. Voter News Service exit polls found that then-Governor Bush received 19 percent of the Jewish vote in 2000.

Politics is seldom self-less, but it's pretty remarkable how consistently Republicans champion positions that favor blacks and Jews considering how little support it wins them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:54 PM


Gore campaign rejected allegations similar to CBS report, former campaign chief says (MATT KELLEY, September 21, 2004, AP)

Former Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign heard but did not pursue allegations about George W. Bush's Air National Guard service, similar to the information in discredited documents aired by CBS News this month, a former campaign official said Tuesday.

Tony Coelho, who ran the campaign for several months in 2000, said he did not follow up on the claims because they were not serious enough to demand further attention.

"Of everyone I talked to, no one had anything that rose to the level that we should get ourselves into," Coelho said.

That's one hurdle cleared--the Kerry campaign is now worse then the Gore campaign. Next up--the Dukakis campaign.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:46 PM



NEW YORKERS are at least four times as likely to be punched to death than to be killed with an assault-style rifle, unpublished state crime statistics show.

The eye-opening figures — obtained by The Post from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services — reveal that New Yorkers are also at least twice as likely to be clubbed to death than shot dead by an attacker wielding one of the semi-automatic rifles previously covered by a federal government ban that expired last week.

The most recent statewide statistics — murder-by-weapon-type figures from 2002 — also show that New Yorkers are at least five times as likely to be stabbed to death with a knife than they are to be shot with an assault rifle.

Of 893 murders committed two years ago, just 22 — or slightly over 2 percent — were carried out using some form of rifle, including assault-rifles, the figures show.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:39 PM


Trying to put Islam on Europe's agenda (John Vinocur, September 21, 2004, Intenational Herald Tribune)

About nine months ago, Francis Fukuyama, the historian, said that one of the big things distinguishing America from Europe was that, while the United States had staged its great debate on race, Europe hid from dealing frontally with how much Islam it could live with inside its borders.

Now, Fukuyama, author of the celebrated essay "The End of History," has taken this message to the Europeans. In a speech in Germany about two weeks ago, he urged Europe to stop being intimidated about using its right to defend its own humanist culture. He even employed the expression "leitkultur," or leading culture - touchy among Germans because of its supposed elitist resonance - to describe the legitimacy of shoring up a distinctly European identity.

Fukuyama will return to speak in Europe this month and next. His desire to raise the issue of Islam and Europe is intriguing at the least, and surely intrusive for some Europeans. But it reflects a central concern of other leading American academics. Samuel Huntington of Harvard and Bernard Lewis, the Princeton emeritus professor and Middle East expert, men sometimes schematized with Fukuyama as conservatives (although Huntington and Fukuyama are tough critics of aspects of America's involvement in Iraq), have recently questioned the extent of Europe's stability over the coming century as a result of Islam's growing presence. [...]

Lewis, in a little-noted question-and-answer session with the German newspaper Die Welt this summer, predicted Western Europe's coming Islamization. He reiterated this view in private talks with senators here in September.

"Europe will be a part of the Arab West or Maghreb," he told the newspaper. "Migration and demography indicate this. Europeans marry late and have few or no children. But there's strong immigration: Turks in Germany, Arabs in France and Pakistanis in England. At the latest, following current trends, Europe will have Muslim majorities in the population at the end of the 21st century."

Lewis also went on to point out to Die Welt what he saw as ambiguous feelings among Europeans about Muslims and the United States, saying: "In this connection, the European Union could rename itself the community of envy. Europeans have reservations about an America which has surpassed it so clearly. And that's why the Europeans understand the Muslims - because they have similar feelings about America." [...]

In a conversation here, Fukuyama said it would be a mistake, with dangerous exclusionary overtones, for Europe to hold up Christianity as its sole defining mark.

"There is a European culture," he said. "It's subscribing to a broader culture of tolerance. It's not unreasonable for European culture to say, 'You have to accept this.' The Europeans have to end their political correctness and take seriously what's going on."

Mr. Fukuyama, often wise, betrays the classic neocon failing here in his inability to follow where his diagnosis of the problem leads: European culture is, obviously, Judeo-Christian and if Europe were to survive--which seems unlikely--it would have to have n American style Great Awakening. That view, basically secularist, which holds tolerance to be an end, rather than a means to a higher end, is ultimately destructive of the very liberalism it mistakenly believes it defends.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:43 PM

GEMS IN THE KITTY LITTER (via Robert Schwartz):

Kitty Kelley Gives Bush the Sinatra Treatment (Andrew Ferguson , 9/21/04, Bloomberg)

I don't want to suggest that ``The Family'' is completely one-dimensional. Occasionally you come across anecdotes that a lawyer would call an ``admission against interest'' -- charming stories running counter to Kelley's theme of unrelieved Bush depravity and which can therefore, by the rules of evidence, be presumed true.

Since you won't find these in more sensational accounts of ``The Family,'' I will close with three of them.

Story one: Laura Welch, the future first lady, was still a mystery to the Bush family on the day she married George W. in 1978. The Bush matriarch, Prescott's widow, tried to interrogate her after the ceremony.

``What do you do?'' the old lady asked her.

``I read,'' Laura replied.

Story Two: In 1976 CIA Director George H.W. Bush was tired of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's gold-plated reputation for brilliance -- exemplified by his insistence on being called ``Dr.''

One CIA aide, referring to ``Dr. Kissinger,'' was quickly corrected by his boss.

``The (expletive deleted) doesn't perform surgery or make house calls, does he?''

Story Three: Though he's disdained Yale since his graduation in 1968, George W. Bush agreed to host a 35th class reunion.

One classmate, Petra Leilani Akwai, had undergone a sex change since graduation, and partygoers waited to see the reaction of Bush -- understood by all correct-thinking liberals to be a crude and backward boor.

Akwai greeted the president in the receiving line.

``You might remember me as Peter when we left Yale,'' she said.

``And now you've come back as yourself,'' Bush said.

It has been said by pious historians that we elect not only a man but his family to the presidency. Taken together, I'd say these three anecdotes -- funny and poignant and revealing -- form the best reason yet for President Bush's re-election. All thanks go to Kitty Kelley.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:14 PM


Kerry's Ideas on Iraq Praised, Questioned: Experts Say Solutions May Be Unrealistic (Robin Wright, September 21, 2004, Washington Post)

John F. Kerry's four-point plan for Iraq proposes ambitious solutions to accelerate the military transition, refocus reconstruction and ensure that democracy takes root, all while lessening the burden on the United States by bringing in greater foreign aid and support.

U.S. experts on Iraq generally laud the goals, applaud the idea of a national debate on Iraq and endorse the principles outlined in Kerry's long-awaited plan. But they also question whether some of his proposals are realistic -- or even all that new. The Bush administration has already tried several of the Kerry suggestions but failed to pull them off.

The premise in all four points is that Kerry will be able to mobilize an international community that has been alienated by President Bush's strategy of preemptive strikes and by U.S. defiance of close allies and the United Nations.

Mr. Kerry's divorce from reality on Iraq sums up the entire problem: Democrats think that just because they hate George W. Bush so much that they're willing to wreck their party that Europeans must likewise be willing to act against what they perceive as their own interest in order to teach him a lesson. In fact, they just don't care about extending democracy to the Middle East and sure as heck aren't willing to spend men or money on the project.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:01 PM


Masked revelers prefer Bush: Get this one: Halloween mask sales predictor says incumbent will beat Kerry in November. (Parija Bhatnagar, 9/21/04, CNN/Money)

Forget about the guesswork from the political pundits and ignore all those election polls.

The real key to predicting the outcome of the presidential election is this year's face-off of the Halloween masks.

It's as unscientific as it gets, but the theory, according to some people in the costume business, is that the winner in every election since 1980 has been the candidate whose masks were most popular on Halloween.

So far this year, Bush masks have been outselling those of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry by a 57 percent to 43 percent margin, according to one outfit,, the online arm of Wisconsin-based costume marketer Buyseasons Inc.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:57 PM


The Kerry Critique on Iraq (New Democrats Online, 9/21/04)

Yesterday John Kerry delivered a powerful and comprehensive critique of the Bush administration's stewardship of our national security, encompassing its ongoing failures in Iraq and Afghanistan; its refusal to level with the American people; its elevation of tough and resolute rhetoric over tough and resolute action; its deliberate alienation of potential allies; and its indifference to such dire threats as the proliferation of nuclear materials.

Brushing aside the advice of some Democrats that he draw attention away from the national security issues that are at the heart of the president's case for re-election, Kerry directly challenged the incumbent's erratic record and his manifest unwillingness to admit, much less learn from, his mistakes. He also directly rebutted GOP efforts to tie him to "weak on defense" stereotypes of the Democrats of the past. [...]

Now that Kerry has usefully refocused the debate on the administration's record of incompetence in Iraq and elsewhere, there are three important points he should keep in mind given the torrent of abuse he's already receiving from Republicans on this subject.

First, he should remember that the case for invading Iraq did not necessarily rise or fall based on the administration's exaggeration of the evidence of WMDs, or its deliberate misstatements about Saddam's links to al Qaeda or to 9/11. Like many "Blair Democrats," we placed equal if not greater emphasis on Saddam's serial defiance of international law and the agreement to end the Persian Gulf War; his record as both a practitioner and supporter of terrorism generally; and his systemic violation of the human rights of his own people. In any event, this is hardly the time for retroactive debates on the decision to go to war in Iraq. That's now behind us, while the challenge of winning the peace should be front and center.

Second, while Kerry rightly blasts the administration for stubborn unilateralism, our allies and international institutions should not be let off the hook for their own obstruction of a truly global effort to fight terrorism and chaos. They need to be challenged, not simply asked, to do more to meet the common security threats that face us all, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

And third, in accurately portraying the mess in Iraq, we urge Kerry and other Democrats to make it clear that unlike Bush administration, they are determined to win the battle for a stable Iraq, not continue a failed course that is prompting people in both parties to call for a rush to the exits.

The New Democrats are despised within their own party that they have to carry some considerable water for their candidate or be branded race traitors, but it's a shame to see them reduce themselves to endorsing the Senator's neo-isolationism. Their palpable discomfort at the Senator's departure from the doctrine of humanitarian intervention that Tony Blair and Bill Clinton pioneered unilaterally in the 90s suggests that they know they're selling their souls--and cheap at that. It's a terrible thing to hate your opponent--George Bush in this case--more than you value your own principles.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:42 PM


War is obsolete, Dalai Lama declares during Sunrise visit (James D. Davis, September 20, 2004, Orlando Sun-Sentinel)

Thousands of listeners rose, cheered and clapped wildly as the Dalai Lama not only called for peace, but declared war obsolete.

"My interests in the future, my economic prosperity, depend very much on others, including my enemy -- and theirs depends on me," the revered head of Tibetan Buddhism told nearly 13,000 listeners Sunday in Sunrise.

"In ancient times, nations would only think `my interests,' then destroy the enemy and enrich themselves," he continued. "Today, with modern economy and ecology, everything is interdependent. Our interests are the same as others'.

"So I think the concept of war is out of date."

That's always a vapid sentiment but it's especially appalling from a man who fled, left his people to suffer under tyranny, and now hides behind the skirt of the most powerful nation on Earth.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:27 PM


The entrepreneurship cult (Martin Hutchinson, 9/13/04, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL)

The cult of entrepreneurship was demonstrated this week at two meetings: at the Center for Global Development Wednesday, where Liliana Rojas-Suarez discussed on behalf of the Latin America Shadow Finance Regulatory Committee how to produce more entrepreneurship in Latin America, and at the National Economists Club Thursday, where Robert Litan of the Ewing Kauffman Foundation discussed how to develop more entrepreneurship in the United States. Both speakers see entrepreneurship as a "magic bullet" that produces economic growth and general welfare, and both believe in intense mechanistic activity by government and the non-profit sector as a means to create such entrepreneurship.

The behavior of U.S. multifactor productivity in the relatively un-entrepreneurial and high marginal tax rate environment of 1947-73, compared to its behavior in the entrepreneur-worshipping 1990s, demonstrates that entrepreneurship does not produce productivity miracles, and may not therefore be the solution to all life's ills. (Multifactor productivity is a better measure than labor productivity of the true contribution from innovation, because it strips out the contribution of capital, which of course was available in deluging, tsunami-forming quantities in the late 1990s.)

Multifactor productivity growth averaged 1.91 percent per annum in 1948-73, minus a tiny 0.01 percent per annum in the sluggish decade of 1973-83, 0.71 percent per annum in the recovery decade of 1983-93, and 0.76 percent per annum in 1993-2001, the latest year currently available. No great increase after 1993 in other words.

The drop in 1973-83 is readily explicable; one of the major inputs into the U.S. economy, energy, quadrupled in price in 1973, and it took a decade to rebalance the economy to fit the new circumstances. The most remarkable statistic is that multifactor productivity growth in the years of the "miracle" after 1993 was less than half that of the quarter century 1948-73.

You can also compare multifactor productivity across eras by looking at periods which stretch across similar parts of the economic cycle; multifactor productivity, as one would expect, tends to decline during recessions and to be highest in the early years of long expansions. Hence, for comparison purposes, we can use three seven-year periods which stretch over similar economic territory: 1992-1999, 1982-1989 and 1960-1967. All three of these periods stretch from near the bottom of a recession to near the top of the long subsequent boom; they are thus as far as possible comparable.

Across the whole economy, multifactor productivity grew at an annual rate of 2.72 percent in 1960-67. This annual rate declined to 1.46 percent from 1982 to 1989, and declined further to 0.81 percent from 1992 to 1999.

Thus the rate of multifactor productivity growth declined from the 1960s to the 1990s, even as the level of entrepreneurship rose. This may be surprising to policymakers, but should not surprise us. Entrepreneurs are not the main innovators in the economy, because the character traits needed for successful entrepreneurship are not those that lead to great innovations. If you examine the top 25 on the "Forbes 400" list of the richest people in the United States, you find a lot of entrepreneurs, and heirs of entrepreneurs, but few great innovators.

In the 2003 listing (the most recent available) Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the founders of Microsoft, are numbers 1 and 3, while Steve Ballmer, its current chief executive officer, is number 11. Microsoft is a huge business success story, in many ways a model to others, but a famously un-innovative company; its two great successes were DOS, bought for $50,000 from a third party vendor and Windows, heavily dependent on software developed at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in the 1970s. Gates and Allen are entrepreneurs; Ballmer is a manager -- he joined Microsoft in 1980, five years after its formation. [...]

So there you have it, the 25 richest people in the United States, almost all of them entrepreneurs or heirs of recently deceased entrepreneurs (20 years ago there would have been much more "old money" in that list.) None of them, however, were great innovators, and only a few were significant innovators. Entrepreneurship is thus neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for innovation.

Mr. Hutchinson would appear to have refuted his own argument here by demonstrating that major corporations are not very innovative, even if they were founded initially by innovative entrepreneurs. After all, no one believes the next great innovation will come from MicroSoft, do they? It will come from a small entrepreneur and then MicroSoft will steal it and drive them out of business.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:11 PM


Inch by Inch, Bush and Kerry Reach Agreement on Debates (RICHARD W. STEVENSON, 9/21/04, NY Times)

Spontaneity is in short supply in modern presidential politics. But during the debates, it will have been all but stamped out by the agreement, which was negotiated by two men who have cut a deal or two in their long careers, James A. Baker III for Mr. Bush and Vernon E. Jordan Jr. for Mr. Kerry.

Mr. Baker and Mr. Jordan finished their talks about 10 p.m. on Sunday, having missed almost no detail, one senior administration official said, speaking on the condition that he not be named. But when Mark Wallace, a deputy campaign manager for Mr. Bush, started going over the deal on Monday morning with Kerry campaign officials, they briefly got hung up on the details of the way the warning lights would work if either candidate ran over the time allotted for his answer, the official said.

The section on the timing lights also included a discussion of audible time cues. It came a bit after the one specifying that the podiums (or, more likely, lecterns), for the two debates in which they will be used, "shall measure fifty (50) inches from the stage floor to the outside top of the podium facing the audience and shall measure forty-eight (48) inches from the stage floor to the top of the inside podium writing surface"-where, it should be noted, the two candidates will be free to place paper of their own choosing.

The attention to detail is of course not unreasonable, given the stakes.

The Bush campaign, for example, wanted foreign policy to be the topic of the first - and typically the most-watched - debate, instead of the economy, as the Commission on Presidential Debates had first proposed. Mr. Kerry had accepted the commission's original plan over the summer. The final agreement gave the White House what it wanted on that score, officials said.

The Bush campaign was concerned about the original proposal that candidates would take questions from undecided voters in the Oct. 8 debate, in a town hall format in St. Louis. The final deal called for the questions to come from "soft" Bush and Kerry supporters.

Mr. Kerry also got something he wanted: three debates, although it is not clear whether the White House ever seriously contemplated forcing the plan to be scaled back to two.

Okay Vernon, here's the deal: you give us everything we want and we'll give you a full three debates.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:49 PM

UNTANGLING THE WEB (via Bill Martin):

Kerry Campaign Touted Forged Doc Info in April (NewsMax, 9/21/04)

The Kerry campaign made an explicit reference to information in at least one of four forged military documents broadcast 14 days ago by CBS's "60 Minutes" - in a detailed campaign press release attacking President Bush's National Guard service dated months before the Sept. 8 "60 Minutes" broadcast.

Appearing in Kerry campaign literature on April 27, 2004, under the headline "Key Unanswered Questions on Bush's Record in National Guard" was the reference to "verbal orders" to recommend Bush's suspension from flying because he missed a physical - issued by Bush's commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian on Aug. 1, 1972.

It'd be great if it turns out that they were the ones who got the documents to Bill Burkett in the first place.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:13 PM


Bush Takes Double-Digit Lead Over Kerry (, September 21, 2004)

President George W. Bush now leads Sen. John Kerry by double digits in the latest Ohio Poll sponsored by the University of Cincinnati. [...]

The telephone survey of 456 likely voters was conducted between Sept. 12 and Sept. 18.

The poll shows that 54 percent of Ohio's likely voters support Bush, 43 percent support Kerry and 2 percent support Independent candidate Ralph Nader. One percent is undecided.

A Bush blowout in a Red state is no surprise, but a poll out later today will show him tied with John Kerry in MD. That's something that shouldn't have happened until mid-October.

Poll: Bush-Kerry tied among likely New Jersey voters (Newsday, September 21, 2004)

President George W. Bush and John Kerry are tied among likely New Jersey voters for the state's 15 electoral votes, according to a new poll.

Forty-eight percent of the likely and undecided voters leaning toward a candidate polled by Quinnipiac University said they support the president or the Democrat. Two percent favored Ralph Nader.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:05 PM


Message in a Babble (Tom Frank, 09.21.04, New Republic)

One can only pity George W. Bush, who has just one real campaign advisor--one who's known, moreover, for being an evil genius. John Kerry, on the other hand, is blessed with thousands of campaign advisors--few of whom are evil, none of whom are geniuses, and all of whom have something to say every day. At least they've finally agreed that their candidate lacked what The New York Times called a "simple and concise message 'frame' through which to filter all their attacks on Mr. Bush." Or, as a school teacher might call it, a topic sentence. So it will be this: Bush makes "wrong choices," whereas Kerry offers "new direction." Yesterday, after delivering a speech about Iraq to showcase his new commitment to having a point, Kerry headed uptown for a big test of his new, improved candidacy: an appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman." It would not, however, turn out to be a night for concise message frames.

Unlike Jon Stewart, who, during Kerry's visit to "The Daily Show" last August, managed to step on Kerry's blabologues every time they seemed to be snowballing, Letterman let Kerry go--and go.

Try as he might, James Baker couldn't get the Kerry camp to trick him into a fourth debate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:41 PM


President Speaks to the United Nations General Assembly (George W. Bush, United Nations Headquarters, New York, New York, 9/21/04)

Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen: Thank you for the honor of addressing this General Assembly. The American people respect the idealism that gave life to this organization. And we respect the men and women of the U.N., who stand for peace and human rights in every part of the world. Welcome to New York City, and welcome to the United States of America.

During the past three years, I've addressed this General Assembly in a time of tragedy for my country, and in times of decision for all of us. Now we gather at a time of tremendous opportunity for the U.N. and for all peaceful nations. For decades, the circle of liberty and security and development has been expanding in our world. This progress has brought unity to Europe, self-government to Latin America and Asia, and new hope to Africa. Now we have the historic chance to widen the circle even further, to fight radicalism and terror with justice and dignity, to achieve a true peace, founded on human freedom.

The United Nations and my country share the deepest commitments. Both the American Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaim the equal value and dignity of every human life. That dignity is honored by the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, protection of private property, free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance. That dignity is dishonored by oppression, corruption, tyranny, bigotry, terrorism and all violence against the innocent. And both of our founding documents affirm that this bright line between justice and injustice -- between right and wrong -- is the same in every age, and every culture, and every nation.

Wise governments also stand for these principles for very practical and realistic reasons. We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace. We know that oppressive governments support terror, while free governments fight the terrorists in their midst. We know that free peoples embrace progress and life, instead of becoming the recruits for murderous ideologies.

Every nation that wants peace will share the benefits of a freer world. And every nation that seeks peace has an obligation to help build that world. Eventually, there is no safe isolation from terror networks, or failed states that shelter them, or outlaw regimes, or weapons of mass destruction. Eventually, there is no safety in looking away, seeking the quiet life by ignoring the struggles and oppression of others.

In this young century, our world needs a new definition of security. Our security is not merely found in spheres of influence, or some balance of power. The security of our world is found in the advancing rights of mankind.

These rights are advancing across the world -- and across the world, the enemies of human rights are responding with violence. Terrorists and their allies believe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the American Bill of Rights, and every charter of liberty ever written, are lies, to be burned and destroyed and forgotten. They believe that dictators should control every mind and tongue in the Middle East and beyond. They believe that suicide and torture and murder are fully justified to serve any goal they declare. And they act on their beliefs.

In the last year alone, terrorists have attacked police stations, and banks, and commuter trains, and synagogues -- and a school filled with children. This month in Beslan we saw, once again, how the terrorists measure their success -- in the death of the innocent, and in the pain of grieving families. Svetlana Dzebisov was held hostage, along with her son and her nephew -- her nephew did not survive. She recently visited the cemetery, and saw what she called the "little graves." She said, "I understand that there is evil in the world. But what have these little creatures done?"

Members of the United Nations, the Russian children did nothing to deserve such awful suffering, and fright, and death. The people of Madrid and Jerusalem and Istanbul and Baghdad have done nothing to deserve sudden and random murder. These acts violate the standards of justice in all cultures, and the principles of all religions. All civilized nations are in this struggle together, and all must fight the murderers.

We're determined to destroy terror networks wherever they operate, and the United States is grateful to every nation that is helping to seize terrorist assets, track down their operatives, and disrupt their plans. We're determined to end the state sponsorship of terror -- and my nation is grateful to all that participated in the liberation of Afghanistan. We're determined to prevent proliferation, and to enforce the demands of the world -- and my nation is grateful to the soldiers of many nations who have helped to deliver the Iraqi people from an outlaw dictator.

The dictator agreed in 1991, as a condition of a cease-fire, to fully comply with all Security Council resolutions -- then ignored more than a decade of those resolutions. Finally, the Security Council promised serious consequences for his defiance. And the commitments we make must have meaning. When we say "serious consequences," for the sake of peace, there must be serious consequences. And so a coalition of nations enforced the just demands of the world.

Defending our ideals is vital, but it is not enough. Our broader mission as U.N. members is to apply these ideals to the great issues of our time. Our wider goal is to promote hope and progress as the alternatives to hatred and violence. Our great purpose is to build a better world beyond the war on terror.

Because we believe in human dignity, America and many nations have established a global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. In three years the contributing countries have funded projects in more than 90 countries, and pledged a total of $5.6 billion to these efforts. America has undertaken a $15 billion effort to provide prevention and treatment and humane care in nations afflicted by AIDS, placing a special focus on 15 countries where the need is most urgent. AIDS is the greatest health crisis of our time, and our unprecedented commitment will bring new hope to those who have walked too long in the shadow of death.

Because we believe in human dignity, America and many nations have joined together to confront the evil of trafficking in human beings. We're supporting organizations that rescue the victims, passing stronger anti-trafficking laws, and warning travelers that they will be held to account for supporting this modern form of slavery. Women and children should never be exploited for pleasure or greed, anywhere on Earth.

Because we believe in human dignity, we should take seriously the protection of life from exploitation under any pretext. In this session, the U.N. will consider a resolution sponsored by Costa Rica calling for a comprehensive ban on human cloning. I support that resolution and urge all governments to affirm a basic ethical principle: No human life should ever be produced or destroyed for the benefit of another.

Because we believe in human dignity, America and many nations have changed the way we fight poverty, curb corruption, and provide aid. In 2002 we created the Monterrey Consensus, a bold approach that links new aid from developed nations to real reform in developing ones. And through the Millennium Challenge Account, my nation is increasing our aid to developing nations that expand economic freedom and invest in the education and health of their own people.

Because we believe in human dignity, America and many nations have acted to lift the crushing burden of debt that limits the growth of developing economies, and holds millions of people in poverty. Since these efforts began in 1996, poor countries with the heaviest debt burdens have received more than $30 billion of relief. And to prevent the build-up of future debt, my country and other nations have agreed that international financial institutions should increasingly provide new aid in the form of grants, rather than loans.

Because we believe in human dignity, the world must have more effective means to stabilize regions in turmoil, and to halt religious violence and ethnic cleansing. We must create permanent capabilities to respond to future crises. The United States and Italy have proposed a Global Peace Operations Initiative. G-8 countries will train 75,000 peacekeepers, initially from Africa, so they can conduct operations on that continent and elsewhere. The countries of the G-8 will help this peacekeeping force with deployment and logistical needs.

At this hour, the world is witnessing terrible suffering and horrible crimes in the Darfur region of Sudan, crimes my government has concluded are genocide. The United States played a key role in efforts to broker a cease-fire, and we're providing humanitarian assistance to the Sudanese people. Rwanda and Nigeria have deployed forces in Sudan to help improve security so aid can be delivered. The Security Council adopted a new resolution that supports an expanded African Union force to help prevent further bloodshed, and urges the government of Sudan to stop flights by military aircraft in Darfur. We congratulate the members of the Council on this timely and necessary action. I call on the government of Sudan to honor the cease-fire it signed, and to stop the killing in Darfur.

Because we believe in human dignity, peaceful nations must stand for the advance of democracy. No other system of government has done more to protect minorities, to secure the rights of labor, to raise the status of women, or to channel human energy to the pursuits of peace. We've witnessed the rise of democratic governments in predominantly Hindu and Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish and Christian cultures. Democratic institutions have taken root in modern societies, and in traditional societies. When it comes to the desire for liberty and justice, there is no clash of civilizations. People everywhere are capable of freedom, and worthy of freedom.

Finding the full promise of representative government takes time, as America has found in two centuries of debate and struggle. Nor is there any -- only one form of representative government -- because democracies, by definition, take on the unique character of the peoples that create them. Yet this much we know with certainty: The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls, or martial laws, or secret police. Over time, and across the Earth, freedom will find a way.

Freedom is finding a way in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and we must continue to show our commitment to democracies in those nations. The liberty that many have won at a cost must be secured. As members of the United Nations, we all have a stake in the success of the world's newest democracies.

Not long ago, outlaw regimes in Baghdad and Kabul threatened the peace and sponsored terrorists. These regimes destabilized one of the world's most vital -- and most volatile -- regions. They brutalized their peoples, in defiance of all civilized norms. Today, the Iraqi and Afghan people are on the path to democracy and freedom. The governments that are rising will pose no threat to others. Instead of harboring terrorists, they're fighting terrorist groups. And this progress is good for the long-term security of us all.

The Afghan people are showing extraordinary courage under difficult conditions. They're fighting to defend their nation from Taliban holdouts, and helping to strike against the terrorists killers. They're reviving their economy. They've adopted a constitution that protects the rights of all, while honoring their nation's most cherished traditions. More than 10 million Afghan citizens -- over 4 million of them women -- are now registered to vote in next month's presidential election. To any who still would question whether Muslim societies can be democratic societies, the Afghan people are giving their answer.

Since the last meeting of this General Assembly, the people of Iraq have regained sovereignty. Today, in this hall, the Prime Minister of Iraq and his delegation represent a country that has rejoined the community of nations. The government of Prime Minister Allawi has earned the support of every nation that believes in self-determination and desires peace. And under Security Council resolutions 1511 and 1546, the world is providing that support. The U.N., and its member nations, must respond to Prime Minister Allawi's request, and do more to help build an Iraq that is secure, democratic, federal, and free.

A democratic Iraq has ruthless enemies, because terrorists know the stakes in that country. They know that a free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a decisive blow against their ambitions for that region. So a terrorists group associated with al Qaeda is now one of the main groups killing the innocent in Iraq today -- conducting a campaign of bombings against civilians, and the beheadings of bound men. Coalition forces now serving in Iraq are confronting the terrorists and foreign fighters, so peaceful nations around the world will never have to face them within our own borders.

Our coalition is standing beside a growing Iraqi security force. The NATO Alliance is providing vital training to that force. More than 35 nations have contributed money and expertise to help rebuild Iraq's infrastructure. And as the Iraqi interim government moves toward national elections, officials from the United Nations are helping Iraqis build the infrastructure of democracy. These selfless people are doing heroic work, and are carrying on the great legacy of Sergio de Mello.

As we have seen in other countries, one of the main terrorist goals is to undermine, disrupt, and influence election outcomes. We can expect terrorist attacks to escalate as Afghanistan and Iraq approach national elections. The work ahead is demanding. But these difficulties will not shake our conviction that the future of Afghanistan and Iraq is a future of liberty. The proper response to difficulty is not to retreat, it is to prevail.

The advance of freedom always carries a cost, paid by the bravest among us. America mourns the losses to our nation, and to many others. And today, I assure every friend of Afghanistan and Iraq, and every enemy of liberty: We will stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq until their hopes of freedom and security are fulfilled.

These two nations will be a model for the broader Middle East, a region where millions have been denied basic human rights and simple justice. For too long, many nations, including my own, tolerated, even excused, oppression in the Middle East in the name of stability. Oppression became common, but stability never arrived. We must take a different approach. We must help the reformers of the Middle East as they work for freedom, and strive to build a community of peaceful, democratic nations.

This commitment to democratic reform is essential to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, tolerate corruption, and maintain ties to terrorist groups. The longsuffering Palestinian people deserve better. They deserve true leaders capable of creating and governing a free and peaceful Palestinian state.

Even after the setbacks and frustrations of recent months, goodwill and hard effort can achieve the promise of the road map to peace. Those who would lead a new Palestinian state should adopt peaceful means to achieve the rights of their people, and create the reformed institutions of a stable democracy. Arab states should end incitement in their own media, cut off public and private funding for terrorism, and establish normal relations with Israel. Israel should impose a settlement freeze, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people, and avoid any actions that prejudice final negotiations. And world leaders should withdraw all favor and support from any Palestinian ruler who fails his people and betrays their cause.

The democratic hopes we see growing in the Middle East are growing everywhere. In the words of the Burmese democracy advocate, Aung San Suu Kyi: "We do not accept the notion that democracy is a Western value. To the contrary; democracy simply means good government rooted in responsibility, transparency, and accountability." Here at the United Nations, you know this to be true. In recent years, this organization has helped create a new democracy in East Timor, and the U.N. has aided other nations in making the transition to self-rule.

Because I believe the advance of liberty is the path to both a safer and better world, today I propose establishing a Democracy Fund within the United Nations. This is a great calling for this great organization. The fund would help countries lay the foundations of democracy by instituting the rule of law and independent courts, a free press, political parties and trade unions. Money from the fund would also help set up voter precincts and polling places, and support the work of election monitors. To show our commitment to the new Democracy Fund, the United States will make an initial contribution. I urge other nations to contribute, as well.

Today, I've outlined a broad agenda to advance human dignity, and enhance the security of all of us. The defeat of terror, the protection of human rights, the spread of prosperity, the advance of democracy -- these causes, these ideals, call us to great work in the world. Each of us alone can only do so much. Together, we can accomplish so much more.

History will honor the high ideals of this organization. The charter states them with clarity: "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war," "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights," "to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom."

Let history also record that our generation of leaders followed through on these ideals, even in adversity. Let history show that in a decisive decade, members of the United Nations did not grow weary in our duties, or waver in meeting them. I'm confident that this young century will be liberty's century. I believe we will rise to this moment, because I know the character of so many nations and leaders represented here today. And I have faith in the transforming power of freedom.

May God bless you.

To which Senator Kerry responds: "Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war."?

Here's your debate question: Senator, under the non-intervention doctrine you've enunciated, how does your reaction to suffering in the world differ from that of those who looked on while Kitty Genovese was being murdered?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:32 PM


Questions Surround Man Who Provided Documents: CBS's 'Unimpeachable Source' Is Ex-Guard Officer With History of Problems and of Attacking Bush (Michael Dobbs, September 21, 2004, Washington Post)

The man CBS News touted as the "unimpeachable source" of explosive documents about President Bush's National Guard service turns out to be a former Guard officer with a history of self-described mental problems who has denounced Bush as a liar with "demonic personality shortcomings."

Important to remember here that Mr. Rather has truly bizarre views about truth and unimpeachability:
BILL O'REILLY:. And I want to ask you flat out. Do you think President Clinton's an honest man?

DAN RATHER: Yes, I think he's an honest man.

O'REILLY: Do you really?

RATHER: I think -- I do. I think he's an honest man.

O'REILLY: Even when he lied to Jim Lehrer's face about the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

RATHER: Listen, who among us have not lied about something?

O'REILLY: Well, I didn't lie to anybody's face on national television. I don't think you have. Have you?

RATHER: I don't think I ever have. I hope I never have. But look, it's one thing...

O'REILLY: How can you say he's an honest guy, then?

RATHER: Well, because I think he is. I think at core, he's an honest person. I know that you have a different view. I know that you consider it sort of astonishing anybody would say so. But I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.

O'REILLY: Really?

RATHER: Yes, I do

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:20 PM

ONCE A DUPE... (via Kevin Whited):

Kerry: Bush Wanted Debate 'Life Lines' (Sep 21, 2004, AP)

Why did it take so long for the Bush and Kerry campaigns to agree on a debate schedule? Sen. John Kerry had the answer for television's Regis Philbin, who has hosted the quiz show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

"The big hang-up was George Bush wanted to get life lines, you know, so he could call somebody," the Democratic candidate for president quipped Tuesday while appearing on "Live With Regis and Kelly."

Contestants on the multiple-choice quiz show could contact a knowledgeable friend for help if they were unsure of an answer.

The Senator is right, of course, Mr. Bush is a moron and the debates will demonstrate, for all to see, Mr. Kerry's clear superiority of intellect and vastly more likable persona.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:40 AM


Finally, Kerry Takes a Stand (DAVID BROOKS, 9/21/04, NY Times)

First, Kerry argued that Iraq was never a serious threat to the United States, that the war was never justified and that Bush's focus on Iraq was a "profound diversion" from the real enemy, Osama bin Laden.

Second, Kerry argued that we are losing the war in Iraq. Casualties are mounting, the insurgency is spreading, and daily life is more miserable.

Third, Kerry argued that in times like this, brave leaders should tell the truth to the American people. Kerry reminded his audience that during Vietnam, he returned home "to offer my own personal voice of dissent," and he's decided to do the same thing now. The parallel is clear: Iraq is the new Vietnam.

Finally, Kerry declared that it is time to get out, beginning next summer. The message is that if Kerry is elected, the entire momentum of U.S. policy will be toward getting American troops out of Iraq as quickly as possible and shifting responsibility for Iraq onto other countries.

The crucial passage in the speech was this one: "The principles that should guide American policy in Iraq now and in the future are clear: we must make Iraq the world's responsibility, because the world has a stake in the outcome and others should share the burden." From a U.S. responsibility, Iraq will become the world's responsibility.

That's not actually the crucial one, because under the Kerry doctrine there could never be an international responsibility for Iraq: "Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war." By Mr. Kerry's standard, what goes on in Iraq is none of our concern.

We prefer his prior, more American, standard: "Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein...don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:25 AM


They Said It! (ABC's George Stephanopoulos) (RNCResearch, 9/21/04)

ABC'S GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: "I should say, just before we got on the air, Joe Lockhart of the Kerry campaign denies that the Kerry campaign had anything to do with these documents. Another Kerry researcher says they learned about them on television." (ABC's "Good Morning America," 9/10/04)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 AM


Why Americans back the war (James Carroll, September 21, 2004, Boston Globe)

To the mounting horror of the world, the United States of America is relentlessly bringing about the systematic destruction of a small, unthreatening nation for no good reason. Why has this not gripped the conscience of this country?

The answer goes beyond Bush to the 60-year history of an accidental readiness to destroy the earth, a legacy with which we Americans have yet to reckon. The punitive terror bombing that marked the end of World War II hardly registered with us. Then we passively accepted our government's mad embrace of thermonuclear weapons. While we demonized our Soviet enemy, we hardly noticed that almost every major escalation of the arms race was initiated by our side -- a race that would still be running if Mikhail Gorbachev had not dropped out of it.

In 1968, we elected Richard Nixon to end the war in Vietnam, then blithely acquiesced when he kept it going for years more. When Ronald Reagan made a joke of wiping out Moscow, we gathered a million strong to demand a nuclear "freeze," but then accepted the promise of "reduction," and took no offense when the promise was broken.

We did not think it odd that America's immediate response to the nonviolent fall of the Berlin Wall was an invasion of Panama. We celebrated the first Gulf War uncritically, even though that display of unchecked American power made Iran and North Korea redouble efforts to build a nuclear weapon, while prompting Osama bin Laden's jihad. The Clinton administration affirmed the permanence of American nukes as a "hedge" against unnamed fears, and we accepted it. We shrugged when the US Senate refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, with predictable results in India and Pakistan. We bought the expansion of NATO, the abrogation of the ABM Treaty, the embrace of National Missile Defense -- all measures that inevitably pushed other nations toward defensive escalation.

The war policy of George W. Bush -- "preventive war," unilateralism, contempt for Geneva -- breaks with tradition, but there is nothing new about the American population's refusal to face what is being done in our name. This is a sad, old story. It leaves us ill-equipped to deal with a pointless, illegal war. The Bush war in Iraq, in fact, is only the latest in a chain of irresponsible acts of a warrior government, going back to the firebombing of Tokyo. In comparison to that, the fire from our helicopter gunships above the cities of Iraq this week is benign. Is that why we take no offense?

Mr. Carroll might do well to consider the possibility that, rather than being in the grip of a century long delusion, Americans really did/do think it our role in the world to destroy Nazism, Communism, and now Islamicism. At the moment where you convince yourself that everyone else is crazy, it's a safe bet you've gone nuts.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:15 AM


The Red Sox or the republic? You decide (Alex Beam, September 21, 2004, Boston Globe)

Assume there is a Supreme Being. Assume that She is all-powerful and beneficent. But she is not indulgent. She will grant one, and only one, of your two most fervent wishes: Either John Kerry will be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States.

Or the Boston Red Sox will win the World Series this fall.

What will it be?

I hung around Downtown Crossing yesterday for about an hour running this question by 52 Bostonians. (If only Butch Hobson were still managing the Sox, we could call this a true Hobson's choice.) Many respondents were torn, but ultimately the people spoke. Twenty people felt it was more important for their junior senator to take over the White House. Thirty-two implored the Deity to intervene and send World Series rings to the Olde Towne Team. If there was a common theme, it was skepticism that either event was likely to take place.

Hasten the day, next March, when President Bush greets the World Champion Red Sox at the White House.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:09 AM


The resort to force (Noam Chomsky , 9/22/04, Asia Times)

The 2002 National Security Strategy and its implementation in Iraq are widely regarded as a watershed in international affairs. "The new approach is revolutionary," Henry Kissinger wrote, approving of the doctrine but with tactical reservations and a crucial qualification: it cannot be "a universal principle available to every nation". The right of aggression is to be reserved for the United States and perhaps its chosen clients. We must reject the most elementary of moral truisms, the principle of universality - a stand usually concealed in professions of virtuous intent and tortured legalisms.

Historian Arthur Schlesinger agreed that the doctrine and implementation were "revolutionary", but from a quite different standpoint. As the first bombs fell on Baghdad, he recalled then-president Franklin Roosevelt's words after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii: "a date which will live in infamy". Now it is Americans who live in infamy, he wrote, as their government adopts the policies of imperial Japan. He added that George W Bush had converted a "global wave of sympathy" for the US into a "global wave of hatred of American arrogance and militarism". A year later, "discontent with America and its policies had intensified rather than diminished". Even in Britain support for the war had declined by a third.

This doesn't seem so complex that such revered intellectuals as Mr. Chomsky and Mr. Schlesinger should have this much trouble understanding it. Aggression is just a means to secure certain ends. Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair have determined that it is an appropriate means to dispose of illegitimate governments--something that FDR obviously agreed with. They've really just made one change to traditional geopolitics, an all important one, but one that does meet Mr. Chomsky's test of universality: where the legitimacy of a regime used to only require that it exercise sovereignty over a nation, we now require, in keeping with the triumph of Western values and the End of History, in order to be legitimate a government must respect the human rights of its own citizens and organize its society along more or less liberal democratic capitalist protestant lines. Any regime which falls short of this standard is illegitimate and can be, though it won't necessarily be, changed by military force wielded by the world's democracies. Mr. Chomsky may not like the idea of replacing dictatorships, but the argument against it is not the one he offers.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:52 AM


“Give Saddam a Fair Trial” (Sebastiaan Gottleib, Radio Netherlands, September, 20th, 2004)

"I have no moral qualms about defending Saddam Hussein even though I absolutely disapprove of his actions", Professor Grisay explains. "But that doesn't mean that I could defend everybody. For instance, I could never assist a man like Marc Dutroux [Belgium's most notorious child rapist and murderer], because what he did goes far beyond my understanding. That's where, in my view, lawyers should draw the line: never defend a client if you cannot understand his actions. I can in Saddam's case although I absolutely condemn what he has done."

"My main focus will be on that part of the defence that deals with international law. For example, I will advise Saddam not to recognise the special tribunal, which was established with the assistance of the Americans."[...]

"We need an international tribunal like the one set up to try former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic to ensure a fair trial. We can just copy the blueprint of the Yugoslav tribunal and apply it to Saddam Hussein. Of course, it cannot be based at The Hague because the Netherlands is involved in the US-led coalition that's invaded Iraq."

"The trial could be held in Brussels," the Belgium lawyer says with some measure of enthusiasm, as he wouldn't have to travel to Baghdad, where his safety cannot be guaranteed any time soon.

"We have been granted permission from the Iraqi bar to defend Saddam Hussein in front of the court, but the Iraqi authorities won't allow us into the country. They've even threatened to cut us up into pieces if we dare travel to Iraq."

What kind of a weenie lawyer is this? Surely we know from the Milosevic case that putting Mr. Hussein through a multi-year trial by an international tribunal in Europe would constitute cruel and unusual punishment and would be–dare we say it–contrary to international law. Fortunately one of Grisay’s colleagues understands the problem and is fighting for the only truly just solution for his client.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:43 AM


The Bush-McCain Face-Off: The McCain-Bush conflict has been one of the most-watched soap operas in Washington. Now it appears the Arizona senator may have a rude surprise for the president. (David Corn, September 21, 2004, The Nation)

[T]his year McCain sucked it up and hit the trail for Bush, even as the Bush brigade was mounting the same sort of trash-and-slash attack against McCain's colleague, John Kerry. At least, McCain could point to the war in Iraq as a point of agreement with Bush. Though McCain, according to a McCain adviser, has not accepted the neoconservatives' argument (adopted by Bush) that the Iraq war is necessary as an initial step in remaking the region, he believed that because Saddam Hussein posed a possible threat and was such a tyrant he needed "to be taken out."

But maybe there was another reason beyond loyalty to the party and to the commander in chief why McCain saddled up with Bush. Perhaps he wanted to get near enough to knife Bush – metaphorically speaking, of course. As in, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. (Think The Godfather.) [...]

Earlier this month, an editor at The Nation, dreaming of magic-bullet scenarios, asked me whether Secretary of State Colin Powell might break with Bush in October and swing the election to Kerry. Not a chance I said, read this. Powell is completely in the tank for the Bush crew, enabling the neocons. But McCain – now he might cause further difficult for his "good friend" in the White House in the final weeks of the election.

It's funny enough that the only hope for the folks at the Nation is that some Republican or another help them out, but Mr. Corn seems to have completely missed John McCain's point. The Senator, like his fellow veteran Senator Chuck Hagel, wants Iraq to become another Vietnam for personal psychological reasons--they seem bitter about their experience and insistent that others share it. John Kerry can hardly embrace the idea--a neoconservative one, as was/is Mr. McCain the candidate of the neocons--that we should expend as many men and as much material as required to impose a certain system on a unified Iraq and root out every last militant whackjob. If the Senator endorsed that position Ralph Nader would hit double-digits.

President Bush ends up positioned perfectly, not just right as to strategy but in the middle politically. You've got Senator McCain emulating William Westmoreland--wanting to pursue the strategy that had made Vietnam quagmirish--and Senator Kerry reprising his own--wanting to cut and run--while Mr. Bush has learned the twin lessons that the others failed to and is Iraqifying the war, just as General Creighton Abrams won in Vietnam. Mr, Bush is the pragmatist who is utilizing what has worked well before while the hawkish Mr. McCain advocates that which has failed in the past and Senator Kerry proposes to duplicate that which was disastrous.

Marines Bide Their Time In Insurgent-Held Fallujah: Officers Say Iraqi Army Must Be Fit to Retake City (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, September 21, 2004, Washington Post)

From the porthole of his bunker just outside the city, U.S. Marine Capt. Jeff Stevenson could see no more than the first few rows of brick-and-concrete homes along Fallujah's urban fringe as he squinted into the setting desert sun. But his obscured view was enough to sense trouble. [...]

"Fallujah has become a cancer," declared Stevenson, echoing a metaphor used by several senior U.S. commanders in Iraq.

A collection of anti-American forces -- former Baath Party loyalists, Islamic extremists and foreign militants -- have been expanding their presence in Fallujah since the Marines withdrew from positions in the city in April and handed over responsibility for security to the Fallujah Brigade. According to U.S. military officials and residents, the insurgents have since taken over the local government, co-opted and cowed Iraqi security forces, and turned the area into a staging ground for terrorist attacks in Baghdad, located about 35 miles to the east.

But the U.S. military command in Iraq is in no hurry to order the Marines back into the city. Officers such as Stevenson, a tall Californian whose unit, the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Marine Regiment, would be among the front-line forces in an offensive, are biding their time in bunkers and observation posts outside Fallujah. Most of their days are spent keeping a highway around the city free of roadside bombs.

Instead of sending Marines charging into Fallujah as they did in April -- a move that radicalized residents and drew scores of fighters from outside Iraq to join the battle -- U.S. commanders say they want to wait until Iraq's new army is large enough, and trained enough, to assume a leading role in retaking the city.

"It doesn't do any good for us to go in and clean it up if it's a pure United States or coalition operation," said Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, the top commander responsible for Fallujah and the rest of western Iraq. "We need Iraqi security forces with us. We need to be side by side when we move in, so that when it is said and done, when you open your door the next day and look out, there's an Iraqi policeman, an Iraqi National Guardsman, an Iraqi soldier on your street."

Sattler's predecessor, Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, who relinquished his command earlier this month, insisted that "the Marines we have there now could crush the city and be done with business in four days."

"But that's not what we're going to do," Conway said. Since the handover of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government in late June, he added, Fallujah "is an Iraqi problem. If there is an attack on the anti-Iraqi forces that inhabit the city, it will be done almost exclusively by Iraqis."

It's not like the city's going anywhere.

Posted by Matt Murphy at 7:36 AM


Dems admit bad documents, but push charges (UPI, 9/20/04)

Democrats Monday acknowledged some documents it touted in attacking President Bush's U.S. military record were false, but continued to push other evidence.

"Now that we know what's not true, let's focus on the facts," Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said in a statement regarding CBS's News' apology for broadcasting a Sept. 8 story about Bush's military service based on documents of dubious merit. [...]

"The American people already know that strings were pulled to get President Bush into the Guard; and while in the Guard he missed months of service and was grounded. ... But what we still don't know is why Bush didn't fulfill his duty to his country or why he has continued to lie to the American people about it," he said.

Democrats had used the CBS report in their charges that Bush did not fulfill his duty in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

And so the Democrats continue to push a topic that, thanks to the incompetence of CBS, has now been permanently discredited in the public mind. Consider this: If you knew nothing about the people running the Kerry campaign, would you suspect that these guys had ever been involved in politics before?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:32 AM


Ban on hunting has taken heavy economic toll (STEPHEN McGINTY, 9/21/04, The Scotsman)

WILLIAM Hodge looks across the Border to England with a mixture of pity and resignation. Hard times arrived at his stone farmhouse near Waterbeck, which he shares with his wife, Penny, two years ago when the Scottish Parliament banned fox hunting. As a similar law descends on England and Wales, he knows exactly what his fellow tradesmen can expect. "It’s been hard, very hard. Every year has been a struggle."

For 17 years, the Hodges have run a stud farm near Lockerbie and, for 15 of those years, huntsmen were among their best customers. But since 1 August, 2002, a cloud has settled over their business prospects; two staff have been made redundant, the couple now work around the clock and their income has dropped by 25 per cent. Anger is their principal emotion.

"It’s ourselves and the farmers that keep the countryside," said Mr Hodge. "The townies should keep to themselves. It would be a different matter if Tony Blair banned football because of the problems of hooliganism. We are a minority, but it is OK to target us because we aren’t ethnic." [...]

Before the ban, which is yet again being challenged in court today, Scotland’s ten hunts employed 30 full-time staff; now there are only 15. In 2002, there were 1,100 hounds; today there are only 500, with more than 400 animals having been put down - a fate that may yet befall hundreds more. The irony is that, far from sparing foxes, the new legislation has resulted in a 50 per cent increase in the number of foxes killed during the newly adapted "hunts" with guns.

Under the old system, the fastest and fittest foxes would escape, leaving the hounds to dispatch the older, frailer beasts. Under the new system, riders follow the hounds as they pursue the foxes into the open, where they are then shot. There is no opportunity for the fitter animals to escape. The new adapted "hunts", where the riders are invited on to farmers’ land to help with pest control, have proved unpopular with traditionalists; many have chosen to hang up their red woollen coats and retire.

The attendance at each hunt has halved. Where, in the past, the Duke of Buccleuch’s hunt, for example, would attract as many as 100 riders, attendance is down to just over 30. What is surprising, however, is the resilience of those hard-core enthusiasts who are determined to continue. In the Borders, one group has even taken to using bloodhounds to track a human - a willing volunteer. Jeremy Whaley, who rode with the Borders Bloodhounds, explained that a local farmer and cross-country enthusiast is given a 40-minute start, then pursued. "It’s not the same, but it can be good fun."

September 20, 2004

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:30 PM


Kerry Aide Talked to Retired Guard Officer (AP 9/21/04)

At the behest of CBS, an adviser to John Kerry said he talked to a central figure in the controversy over President Bush's National Guard service shortly before disputed documents were released.

Joe Lockhart denied any connection between the presidential campaign and the papers. Lockhart, the second Kerry ally to confirm contact with retired Texas National Guard officer Bill Burkett, said he made the call at the suggestion of CBS producer Mary Mapes.

"He had some advice on how to deal with the Vietnam issue and the Swift boat" allegations, Lockhart said Monday, referring to GOP-fueled accusations that Kerry exaggerated his Vietnam War record. "He said these guys play tough and we have to put the Vietnam experience into context and have Kerry talk about it more."

The American people need to know their Democratic candidate is not a crook. The emerging ties, however, between the mentally disturbed Mr. Burkett, CBS News and at least two members of the Kerry camp--Mr. Lockhart and Max Cleland--raises serious questions about whether this is not some kind of Nixonian dirty trick.

CBS arranged for meeting with Lockhart (Kevin Johnson, Dave Moniz and Jim Drinkard, 9/20/04, USA TODAY)

CBS arranged for a confidential source to talk with Joe Lockhart, a top aide to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, after the source provided the network with the now-disputed documents about President Bush's service in the Texas National Guard. [...]

Burkett told USA TODAY that he had agreed to turn over the documents to CBS if the network would help arrange a conversation with the Kerry campaign.

The network's effort to place Burkett in contact with a top Democratic official raises ethical questions about CBS' handling of material potentially damaging to the Republican president in the midst of an election. This "poses a real danger to the potential credibility of a news organization," said Aly Colón, a news ethicist at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

That was quick--Mr. Lockhart seems not to have been quite forthcoming in his description of his role in the affair in that earlier story--that Mr. Burkett would only give up the documents if CBS put him in touch with a Kerry operative. Quid pro quo? Joe must go!

CBS backs off Guard story (Dave Moniz, Kevin Johnson and Jim Drinkard, 9/21/04, USA TODAY)

CBS News acknowledged Monday that it received disputed documents critical of President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard from a former Texas Guard officer who now says he lied about where he got them and has doubts about their authenticity. [...]

In interviews in recent days with USA TODAY, both in person and on the phone, Burkett said he had merely been a conduit for the records purported to be from the private files of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, one of Bush's former Guard commanders, who died in 1984. Burkett admitted lying to USA TODAY about the source of the documents but said he did not fabricate the papers.

In earlier conversations with USA TODAY, Burkett had identified the source of the documents as George Conn, a former Texas National Guard colleague who works for the U.S. Army in Europe. Burkett now says he made up the story about Conn's involvement to divert attention from himself and the woman he now says provided him with the documents. He told USA TODAY that he also lied to CBS.

Burkett now maintains that the source of the papers was Lucy Ramirez, who he says phoned him from Houston in March to offer the documents. USA TODAY has been unable to locate Ramirez.

When Burkett gave copies of the documents to USA TODAY, it was on the understanding that his identity would not be disclosed. USA TODAY honored that agreement until Burkett waived his confidentiality Monday.

"I didn't forge anything," Burkett said. "I didn't fake any documents. The only thing I've done here is to transfer documents from people I thought were real to people I thought were real. And that has been the limitation of my role. I may have been a patsy." [...]

Burkett's emotions varied widely in the interviews. One session ended when Burkett suffered a violent seizure and collapsed in his chair. Earlier, he said he was coming forward now to explain what he had done and why to try to salvage his reputation. In the past week, Burkett was named by many news reports as the probable source of the documents. [...]

Burkett said Ramirez told him she had seen him the previous month in an appearance on the MSNBC program Hardball, discussing the controversy over whether Bush fulfilled all his obligations for service in the Texas Air Guard during the early 1970s. "There is something I have that I want to make sure gets out," he quoted her as saying.

He said Ramirez claimed to possess Killian's "correspondence file," which would prove Burkett's allegations that Bush had problems as a Guard fighter pilot.

Burkett said he arranged to get the documents during a trip to Houston for a livestock show in March. But instead of being met at the show by Ramirez, he was approached by a man who asked for Burkett, handed him an envelope and quickly left, Burkett recounted.

"I didn't even ask any questions," Burkett said. "Should I have? Yes. Maybe I was duped. I never really even considered that."

By Monday, USA TODAY had not been able to locate Ramirez or verify other details of Burkett's account. Three people who worked with Killian in the early 1970s said they don't recognize her name. Burkett promised to provide telephone records that would verify his calls to Ramirez, but he had not done so by Monday night.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:25 PM


Thank You, No (Joseph Epstein, September 2004, Poetry)

Here are some jobs I believe are distinctly not worth having. Urologist, proctologist, seismologist come immediately to mind. In a more general line, I would add any job that entails sucking up to the rich. (Oops: eight university presidents, five museum directors, and the business managers of three opera companies just closed the magazine.) Or any job that puts you in charge of vast sums of money, which entails other people feeling the need to suck up to you. (When a man I know took a job as a foundation executive, a wise friend told him that he would probably never eat another bad lunch and no one would ever again tell him the truth.) Or any job that, because of the relentless social obligations, makes it impossible to find the time to read a book. Or any job that forces you to make life worse for other people. Or any job that causes you to lie to yourself a lot more than you now do. And finally, to close out this depressing list, there is one job instead of having which I’d rather be the last (possibly also the first) Jewish coal miner in West Virginia, or a veterinary cosmetic surgeon in Malibu, or the man wielding the wide broom who follows the elephants in the great Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus parade—and that job is poet laureate of the United States.

Poet laureate of the United States—something there is exceedingly pompous, not to say a little preposterous, about the very title. Poet laureate of England does not sound quite so hollow—though closer inspection reveals it isn’t all that full, either—perhaps because poetry has so much longer a history and solider a tradition in England than in America. The first truly great American poets, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, after all, didn’t emerge until after the Civil War. Then we had to wait for the work of that remarkable generation of poets born between 1870 and 1890, the roster of whose names includes Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, and Marianne Moore, for the United States to stake anything like a serous claim to having a poetic tradition at all.

W. H. Auden was poet laureate neither in England nor in America, though on skill and achievement and by citizenship he qualified for both. Auden was Professor of Poetry at Oxford, in some ways a more prestige-laden job than that of poet laureate and one for which he was pleased to have been voted, since it gave him free rent at Oxford. Auden once said that the time for major poets was past, even for him, who was born in 1907, which was too late, for by then something had happened to poetry to change its nature, its practitioners, and its audience. One cannot know for certain, of course, but one has a strong hunch that Auden would have viewed the job of poet laureate of the United States as, at best, highly amusing, if not outright hilarious. One likes to think of him taking the money—an annual salary of $35,000—and laughing all the way to the bank.

As a man who has published a single poem, my own position is that I would like to be asked to be poet laureate of the United States so that I could refuse it, for this seems to me a job that would bring much greater glory to turn down than to take up.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 PM

WE WON, MOVE ON (via Robert Schwartz):

Quick exit from Iraq is likely (ROBERT NOVAK, 9/20/04, Chicago Sun-Times)

Inside the Bush administration policymaking apparatus, there is strong feeling that U.S. troops must leave Iraq next year. This determination is not predicated on success in implanting Iraqi democracy and internal stability. Rather, the officials are saying: Ready or not, here we go.

This prospective policy is based on Iraq's national elections in late January, but not predicated on ending the insurgency or reaching a national political settlement. Getting out of Iraq would end the neoconservative dream of building democracy in the Arab world. The United States would be content having saved the world from Saddam Hussein's quest for weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Novak starts sensibly but rapidly strays into error. We kept large numbers of troops in Iraq for far too long and should draw down after the elections--ours and theirs. But we should do so because it will aid the rise of democracy there, not because we're giving up. It will make the Iraqis depend on themselves instead of us and will remove a provocation that extremists have been able to exploit. We don't need boots on the ground to launch strikes when the government there asks us to.

Meanwhile, as those troops are redeployed to Syria and or Iran it will draw off some of the al-Zarqawi/al Qaeda crowd and give the new government of Iraq additional breathing room.

Massive U.S. offensive reported in Ramadi (UPI, 9/20/04)

A massive offensive designed to eliminate Iraqi insurgency in Ramadi has rocked the city, U.S. military officials said.

Nothing wrong with cleaning out some rat nests on the way out.
-Syria to redeploy troops (Claude Salhani, Sep. 20, 2004, UPI)
Syrian forces positioned in Lebanon since the 1975 Lebanese civil war will commence a major redeployment toward the Syrian-Lebanese border Tuesday, and Syrian and U.S. troops will partake in joint security operations along the Syrian-Iraqi border, official sources in Damascus told United Press International Monday.

"This is official," said Imad Mustapha, Syria's ambassador to Washington, speaking from Damascus. [...]

The Syrian diplomat told United Press International the military redeployment -- a long-standing demand by the United States -- came about as a result of "Syria having greater confidence in the situation."

The redeployment should help thaw relations between Syria and the United States. U.S.-Syrian relations hit an all-time low when President George W. Bush signed into law the Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Act on Dec. 12, imposing economic sanctions on Syria for what the U.S. government deems to be support of terrorist organizations. Part of the Syria Accountability Act calls for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

Syria hears the footsteps...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:37 PM


Bush attends GOP fund-raiser in NYC (SCOTT LINDLAW, 9/20/04, Associated Press)

The crowd shouted him down repeatedly, once with a roar so loud he confessed it shook him up. But President Bush liked these shouters: loud voices of support in a state where he was soundly defeated four years ago.

"I love New York!" Bush said as Hispanic donors chanted "Viva Bush" at a $3 million fund-raiser for the Republican National Committee.

Bush returned Monday to the city where he held his nominating convention three weeks ago, and said he saw brightening political prospects here and in neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut - equally Democratic-leaning in presidential contests.

Top Republicans here said they were buoyed by new polls showing the race between Bush and Democrat John Kerry tightening in the Empire State. Two polls released last week showed Bush closing the gap but still trailing by 6 to 8 percentage points in a three-way race with independent Ralph Nader.

Nevertheless, Gov. George Pataki introduced Bush by saying, "Welcome back, Mr. President, to the swing state of New York."

Hillary better fly home fast.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:35 PM


Effort to Extend Tax Cuts Gains Ground (MARTIN CRUTSINGER, 9/20/04, AP)

Republican leaders, eager to deliver a pre-election victory to President Bush, moved closer to agreement Monday night on legislation needed to extend three popular middle-class tax cuts that are set to expire this year.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley announced that a joint House-Senate conference committee, which will work out differences between the two chambers, will meet on the tax legislation for the first time Tuesday. Officials reported agreement was close on the major provisions of the legislation.

Under one optimistic scenario, the conference committee will be able to reach agreement on a bill in time for the full House to vote on the measure Wednesday and for the Senate to vote on it Thursday.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:42 PM


It's North Dakota politics, California style (Sacramento Bee, September 20, 2004)

Mike Liffrig, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in North Dakota, is making headlines for a shocking television advertisement that has hit the airwaves in the Midwest state this month.

The 30-second spot attacking Democratic incumbent Byron Dorgan begins with shots of heterosexual couples kissing at the altar as wedding music plays in the background. It then cuts to a shot of two men at the altar as they move in for the kiss, followed by a shot of two men with one bride.

The announcer states, "With Senator Dorgan now supporting gay marriages - or whatever - you can kiss our North Dakota values goodbye."

But most dramatic is the ad's kicker: "Liffrig for Senate. Because this isn't California."

Senator Dorgan has a 40 point lead, but if Mr. Liffrig could get it down to even ten points he'd have a shot, given the margin the President will run up.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:37 PM


Kerry camp plans for hard road ahead: Advisers strategize to boost his 'likability' (Patrick Healy, September 20, 2004, Boston Globe)

Yet behind the Democratic presidential nominee's public confidence of victory in November, his advisers harbor concerns that not enough voters are comfortable with Kerry personally or enthusiastic about his ideas, a critical mass they long felt the senator needed to achieve by now to knock off an incumbent president. [...]

This week, Kerry will also take steps to address what advisers call "the likability factor" -- trying to raise voters' comfort level with Kerry on a personal level. A Pew Research Center poll released Thursday suggested that Bush edged out Kerry when voters were asked which man was "down to earth," "honest and truthful," and "willing to take a stand, even if unpopular." Asked who was the stronger leader, voters favored Bush by a margin of 57 percent to 30 percent.

Kerry will appear on the "Late Show with David Letterman" tonight and "Live with Regis and Kelly" tomorrow, and this weekend taped a segment of the daytime show "Dr. Phil" that will air early next month. But the greatest opportunity to up the likability quotient will probably come in the debates, advisers said. Kerry plans to seclude himself with aides next weekend at his wife's home near Pittsburgh to prepare for the first debate, tentatively scheduled in Miami on Sept. 30.

Bush, Kerry campaigns reach tentative accord for 3 debates: GOP backs off urging 2 face-to-face sessions (Mike Allen and Dan Balz, September 20, 2004, Washington Post)
The campaigns of President Bush and Senator John F. Kerry have tentatively settled on a package of three face-to-face debates, which both sides view as a potentially decisive chance to sway huge audiences ahead of the Nov. 2 election, Democrats and Republicans said yesterday.

Bush's campaign, which opened the weeklong negotiations by urging two sessions involving Bush and Kerry, yielded to the full slate of debates that had been proposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates, according to people in both parties who were briefed on the negotiations.

Even more alarming for the Kerry camp than how few people like him in the Blue Battleground poll has to be how many still don't even know who he is well enough to be other than neutral. The Bush camp is counting on them not liking him much once they do get to see him, which is why they agreed to all three debates--after getting the press and Democrats to help them lower expectations for the President and raise them for the Senator.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:13 PM

CA, IL & NY ARE THE BATTLEGROUND (via Fred Jacobsen):

Kerry under pressure on Democratic turf: Polls show him tied with Bush in Pa.; behind in Iowa, Ore., N.M. (Tom Curry, 9/20/04, MSNBC)

A new crop of polls in six Democratic-leaning states released Monday showed that John Kerry has a lead in Michigan, while running neck-and-neck or trailing President Bush in five other states.

Most electoral vote strategizing begins with the assumption that Kerry would be able to hold all or nearly all of the 19 states Al Gore won in 2000. He could then add some of the states Bush narrowly won four years ago in order to get the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

But the new polling data from Iowa, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin indicate that Kerry has much work to do on Democratic turf in the six weeks that remain before the votes are counted on election night.

With only 41 days of campaigning left, every day Kerry spends bolstering his support in states that Gore won in 2000 is a day he can't invest in the states Bush narrowly won, such as Nevada.

This is the Blue portion of the battleground polling that, as we mentioned yesterday, shows George W. Bush basically having a cakewalk in the supposed Red battleground states.

Poll results from 'blue' battleground states: MSNBC/Knight-Ridder polls conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research from Sept. 13 through Sept. 14, 2004 (MSNBC, Sept. 20, 2004)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 PM


Portrait of George Bush in '72: Unanchored in Turbulent Time (This article was reported by Sara Rimer, Ralph Blumenthal and Raymond Bonner and written by Ms. Rimer, 9/20/04, NY Times)

Nineteen seventy-two was the year George W. Bush dropped off the radar screen.

He abandoned his once-prized status as a National Guard pilot by failing to appear for a required physical. He sought temporary reassignment from the Texas Air National Guard to an Alabama unit but for six months did not show up for training. He signed on as an official in the losing campaign of a Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, and even there he left few impressions other than as an amiable bachelor with a good tennis game and a famous father.

"To say he brought in a bunch of initiatives and bright ideas," said a fellow campaign worker, Devere McLennan, "no he didn't."

This year of inconsequence has grown increasingly consequential for President Bush because of persistent, unanswered questions about his National Guard service - why he failed to take his pilot's physical and whether he fulfilled his commitment to the Guard. If anything, those issues became still murkier this past week, with the controversy over the authenticity of four documents disclosed by CBS News and its program "60 Minutes" purporting to shed light on that Guard record.

Still, a wider examination of his life in 1972, based on dozens of interviews and other documents released by the White House over the years, yields a portrait of a young man like many other young men of privilege in that turbulent time - entitled, unanchored and safe from combat, bouncing from a National Guard slot made possible by his family's prominence to a political job arranged through his father. [...]

After basic training and a year at flight school in Georgia, he was assigned to Ellington Air Force Base outside Houston, where he flew F-102 fighter jets. In March 1970, with his father, himself a World War II Navy pilot, in Congress, the Texas Air National Guard issued a news release announcing that the young Mr. Bush "doesn't get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed," but from "the roaring afterburner of the F-102." As he wrote in his autobiography, "It was exciting the first time I flew, and it was exciting the last time." In a November 1970 evaluation, his squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, called him a "top-notch" pilot and a "natural leader."

By 1972, though, something had changed; the excitement seemed to have waned. Mr. Bush's flying buddy from Ellington, Dean Roome, said Mr. Bush may have been frustrated because the unit's growing role as a training school left young pilots fewer opportunities to log hours in the air. Others who knew him believe he simply lost interest. He was once again at loose ends, without a regular job, having left Stratford after a year or so, unhappy in the company's buttoned-down atmosphere.

Whatever precisely was drawing Mr. Bush away from flying, it was then, in the spring of 1972, that the Alabama job came along. He had worked for Jimmy Allison before - on a 1968 Senate campaign in Florida - but this would be his first full-time job in the family business, politics. [...]

By the summer of 1973, Mr. Bush had decided to go to Harvard Business School.

Mr. Bush seems a rather typical young man of his age, though one with better opportunities. It's interesting that his adulthood really begins with the decision to get the MBA, which he didn't even tell his father he was applying to school for.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 PM


Indonesia votes in ex-army general (Matthew Moore, September 21, 2004, The Age)

Indonesian voters have dumped President Megawati Soekarnoputri and elected former army general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as the country's sixth president.

The findings of a nationwide sample of the result showed Mr Yudhoyono received around 60 per cent of the vote, well clear of Mrs Megawati's 40 per cent.

"It looks very clear at this point that Indonesia will have SBY (Mr Yudhoyono) as its next president," said Paul Rowland, the resident representative of the US-based National Democratic Institute.

"Anybody would be happy with that kind of victory," said Mr Rowland, whose group has helped with a survey of the results from 2000 polling booths to quickly predict the result.

He said voters had opted for a candidate seen as "firm, honest and somebody who is going to take Indonesia forward".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:55 PM


The political chasm isn't so deep, after all (Eric Black and Dane Smith, September 18, 2004, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

The Red-Blue America theory suggests that we are divided on everything from our musical tastes to gay marriage. But in fact there are few huge chasms over issues.

Take abortion, supposedly the most divisive, all-or-nothing issue of them all. If you judge only by the voting record of U.S. senators, it's just that. Every single Republican senator received a zero ranking last year from the National Abortion Rights Action League, meaning that they consistently opposed the league. Yet, 44 percent of Minnesota Republicans believe that a woman should have the right to choose, according to the Minnesota Poll. Democrats are closer to unanimity in favor of abortion rights, but still, one-sixth of Minnesota Democrats oppose the idea that a woman should have the right to choose.

When polls offer respondents a middle choice on controversial issues, including abortion, compromise is often popular. In July, the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs asked voters in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa whether abortion should be legal under any circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances or illegal in all circumstances.

The middle answer was chosen by 54 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents,

"The country is obviously closely divided, maybe even bitterly divided, but in terms of policy we just are not very deeply divided," said former Rep. Vin Weber, one of the leaders of Bush's campaign in the Upper Midwest. "If you turn down the decibel level, the issues we're arguing over don't compare to the really deep disagreements of the past. We disagree about whether to shift the tax burden a little bit up and down the ladder, but nobody's talking about going back to a top rate of 70 percent." [...]

The idea that Americans live in blue and red states is dead wrong. That should be especially clear to residents of a certain longtime blue state called Minnesota, which both parties have declared a battleground this year. Candidates have visited so often they are beginning to pronounce Wayzata correctly.

Depending on how you count them, between 16 and 21 states are neither red nor blue but very much up for grabs in November. That many swing states is above average.

And bear in mind that in the 2000 election, the event that touched off the Red and Blue America craze, neither party got 70 percent of the vote in any state. In Franklin Roosevelt's heyday, he used to break 70 percent in 10 or more states, and he broke 90 in Mississippi every time he ran. Now that was a blue state.

And when Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860, he didn't get above 1 percent in any Southern state. That was polarization.

As de Tocqueville recognized some time ago, in a democracy few will be willing--or able--to depart too far from the opinion pof the majority, which forces an extreme conformity:
The right of governing society, which the majority supposes itself to derive from its superior intelligence, was introduced into the United States by the first settlers; and this idea, which of itself would be sufficient to create a free nation, has now been amalgamated with the customs of the people and the minor incidents of social life.

The French under the old monarchy held it for a maxim that the king could do no wrong; and if he did do wrong, the blame was imputed to his advisers. This notion made obedience very easy; it enabled the subject to complain of the law without ceasing to love and honor the lawgiver. The Americans entertain the same opinion with respect to the majority.

The moral power of the majority is founded upon yet another principle, which is that the interests of the many are to be pre- ferred to those of the few. It will readily be perceived that the respect here professed for the rights of the greater number must naturally increase or diminish according to the state of parties When a nation is divided into several great irreconcilable interests, the privilege of the majority is often overlooked, because it is intolerable to comply with its demands.

If there existed in America a class of citizens whom the legislating majority sought to deprive of exclusive privileges which they had possessed for ages and to bring down from an elevated station to the level of the multitude, it is probable that the minority would be less ready to submit to its laws. But as the United States was colonized by men holding equal rank, there is as yet no natural or permanent disagreement between the interests of its different inhabitants.

There are communities in which the members of the minority can never hope to draw the majority over to their side, because they must then give up the very point that is at issue between them. Thus an aristocracy can never become a majority while it retains its exclusive privileges, and it cannot cede its privileges without ceasing to be an aristocracy.

In the United States, political questions cannot be taken up in so general and absolute a manner; and all parties are willing to recognize the rights of the majority, because they all hope at some time to be able to exercise them to their own advantage. The majority in that country, therefore, exercise a prodigious actual authority, and a power of opinion which is nearly as great; no obstacles exist which can impede or even retard its progress, so as to make it heed the complaints of those whom it crushes upon its path. [...]

IT is in the examination of the exercise of thought in the United States that we clearly perceive how far the power of the majority surpasses all the powers with which we are acquainted in Europe. Thought is an invisible and subtle power that mocks all the efforts of tyranny. At the present time the most absolute monarchs in Europe cannot prevent certain opinions hostile to their authority from circulating in secret through their dominions and even in their courts. It is not so in America; as long as the majority is still undecided, discussion is carried on; but as soon as its decision is irrevocably pronounced, everyone is silent, and the friends as well as the opponents of the measure unite in assenting to its propriety. The reason for this is perfectly clear: no monarch is so absolute as to combine all the powers of society in his own hands and to conquer all opposition, as a majority is able to do, which has the right both of making and of executing the laws.

The authority of a king is physical and controls the actions of men without subduing their will. But the majority possesses a power that is physical and moral at the same time, which acts upon the will as much as upon the actions and represses not only all contest, but all controversy.

I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America. In any constitutional state in Europe every sort of religious and political theory may be freely preached and disseminated; for there is no country in Europe so subdued by any single authority as not to protect the man who raises his voice in the cause of truth from the consequences of his hardihood. If he is unfortunate enough to live under an absolute government, the people are often on his side; if he inhabits a free country, he can, if necessary, find a shelter behind the throne. The aristocratic part of society supports him in some countries, and the democracy in others. But in a nation where democratic institutions exist, organized like those of the United States, there is but one authority, one element of strength and success, with nothing beyond it.

In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them. Not that he is in danger of an auto-da-fe, but he is exposed to continued obloquy and persecution. His political career is closed forever, since he has offended the only authority that is able to open it. Every sort of compensation, even that of celebrity, is refused to him. Before making public his opinions he thought he had sympathizers; now it seems to him that he has none any more since he has revealed himself to everyone; then those who blame him criticize loudly and those who think as he does keep quiet and move away without courage. He yields at length, overcome by the daily effort which he has to make, and subsides into silence, as if he felt remorse for having spoken the truth.

It's instructive that the most bitter battles in our recent history have been between the Third Way Democrats and Compassionate Conservatives--Clinton vs. Gingrich's GOP and Gore vs. Bush--who were in almost total agreement about ideology but were at war over merely which party got to govern and enact that ideology. Meanwhile, it is Senator Kerry's divergence from that Third Way consensus that has left him so marginalized and drained this race of the kind of partisan anger we saw the past twelve years, at least on the Republican side. When the majority is as eager to dispose of your opponent, you don't need to hate him.

Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:08 PM


Paris Hilton's 'Confessions' (CNN, September 20th, 2004)

Celebrity socialite Paris Hilton, who shot to infamy after a raunchy sex video of her flooded the Internet, now is teaching girls how to behave and let their "inner heiress out."

The 23-year-old Hilton dishes out her pearls of party-life wisdom in a 178-page book, "Confessions of an Heiress," published this month by Fireside, which is more scrapbook than memoir, with pictures outnumbering paragraphs.

"It's just a look inside my life," says the heiress to the hotel fortune, who suggests a weekend in St-Tropez in the south of France for beating the blues.

Anyone raised in the West generally has a very difficult time getting into the head of a Muslim fundamentalist. But some days...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:52 PM

HEAD CASES (via Fred Jacobsen):

Gays cautious about new partners law: Some opt out, fearing legal or financial troubles (Rona Marech, September 20, 2004, SF Chronicle)

Gay men and lesbians throughout California are poised to celebrate when the state's muscular new domestic partners law takes effect Jan. 1 -- but a funny thing is happening on the way to the ribbon cutting. Some committed couples are saying thanks, but no thanks.

They are dissolving their current legal partnerships or declining to sign up, mainly because they're worried that under the new law -- which extends state marriage rights and responsibilities to same-sex partners -- their public benefits could be slashed, or they could wind up in a financial or legal quagmire. [...]

Randy Cupp of San Francisco is among those who view the new law as an important step toward equal rights, but will nonetheless pass up the chance to register with his partner.

"If you're going to give us the responsibilities, you need to give us the benefits as well," said Cupp, 41. "That was my overall feeling about it."

Cupp suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome; his partner, Jeff Tarvin, has chronic pain. Both are HIV-positive and collect disability. Tarvin also receives Medi-Cal, which covers the cost of all his medical care.

Cupp is worried that if they register with the state, the couple's combined worth could cost Tarvin his Medi-Cal coverage. Eligibility for Medi- Cal and other programs such as CalWorks for single parents, Supplemental Security Income for disabled people and the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants is based in part on a married couple's income and assets. [...]

Gale Golden and her longtime partner, Jeanine Reisbig, of San Francisco plan to dissolve their partnership before the end of the year to avoid jeopardizing Golden's SSI benefits. She has been dealing with chronic pain since a 1989 car accident.

As Mr. Jacobsen says, these folks sure seem more interested in the social imprimatur than actually accepting responsibilities. We'd just note the extent to which they conform to caricature with their psychological illnesses.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:47 PM


Friend H. D. Miller reads Michael Moore so we don't have to.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:22 PM


John Kerry did the American people a great service today. In a powerful anti-war speech at NYU he laid out a vision of a Kerry foreign policy that could not be more different than President Bush's nor further diiviorced from America's traditions, Speech at New York University (Remarks of John Kerry, 9/20/04):

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.

The President has said that he “miscalculated” in Iraq and that it was a “catastrophic success.” In fact, the President has made a series of catastrophic decisions … from the beginning … in Iraq. At every fork in the road, he has taken the wrong turn and led us in the wrong direction.

The first and most fundamental mistake was the President’s failure to tell the truth to the American people.

He failed to tell the truth about the rationale for going to war. And he failed to tell the truth about the burden this war would impose on our soldiers and our citizens.

By one count, the President offered 23 different rationales for this war. If his purpose was to confuse and mislead the American people, he succeeded.

His two main rationales – weapons of mass destruction and the Al Qaeda/September 11 connection – have been proved false… by the President’s own weapons inspectors… and by the 9/11 Commission. Just last week, Secretary of State Powell acknowledged the facts. Only Vice President Cheney still insists that the earth is flat. [...]

Two years ago, Congress was right to give the President the authority to use force to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. This President… any President… would have needed the threat of force to act effectively. This President misused that authority.

The power entrusted to the President gave him a strong hand to play in the international community. The idea was simple. We would get the weapons inspectors back in to verify whether or not Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And we would convince the world to speak with one voice to Saddam: disarm or be disarmed.

A month before the war, President Bush told the nation: “If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully. We will act with the full power of the United States military. We will act with allies at our side and we will prevail.” He said that military action wasn’t “unavoidable.”

Instead, the President rushed to war without letting the weapons inspectors finish their work. He went without a broad and deep coalition of allies. He acted without making sure our troops had enough body armor. And he plunged ahead without understanding or preparing for the consequences of the post-war. None of which I would have done.

Yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq? My answer is no – because a Commander-in-Chief’s first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep America safe.

It seems unlikely that any candidate for the presidency has ever made a more morally despicable statement than this one: "Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war."

Compare the Senator's parsimonious view of America's role and responsibility in the world to that of the President, Text: President Bush's Acceptance Speech to the Republican National Convention (September 2, 2004)

The text of President George Bush's speech at the Republican National Convention: [...]

This election will also determine how America responds to the continuing danger of terrorism, and you know where I stand.


Three days after September the 11th, I stood where Americans died, in the ruins of the twin towers.

BUSH: Workers in hard hats were shouting to me, "Whatever it takes." A fellow grabbed me by the arm, and he said, "Do not let me down." Since that day, I wake up every morning thinking about how to better protect our country. I will never relent in defending America -- whatever it takes.



BUSH: So we have fought the terrorists across the Earth, not for pride, not for power, but because the lives of our citizens are at stake.

BUSH: Our strategy is clear. We have tripled funding for homeland security and trained half a million first responders because we are determined to protect our homeland.

We are transforming our military and reforming and strengthening our intelligence services. We are staying on the offensive, striking terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.


And we are working to advance liberty in the broader Middle East, because freedom will bring a future of hope and the peace we all want. And we will prevail. [...]

I am proud that our country remains the hope of the oppressed and the greatest force for good on this Earth.


Others understand the historic importance of our work. The terrorists know. They know that a vibrant, successful democracy at the heart of the Middle East will discredit their radical ideology of hate.


They know that men and women with hope and purpose and dignity do not strap bombs on their bodies and kill the innocent.


BUSH: The terrorists are fighting freedom with all their cunning and cruelty because freedom is their greatest fear. And they should be afraid, because freedom is on the march.


I believe in the transformational power of liberty. The wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom.

As the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq seize the moment, their example will send a message of hope throughout a vital region.

Palestinians will hear the message that democracy and reform are within their reach and so is peace with our good friend, Israel.


BUSH: Young women across the Middle East will hear the message that their day of equality and justice is coming. Young men will hear the message that national progress and dignity are found in liberty, not tyranny and terror.

Reformers and political prisoners and exiles will hear the message that their dream of freedom cannot be denied forever. And as freedom advances, heart by heart, and nation by nation, America will be more secure and the world more peaceful.


America has done this kind of work before, and there have always been doubters. In 1946, 18 months after the fall of Berlin to allied forces, a journalist wrote in the New York Times wrote this: "Germany is a land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis. European capitals are frightened. In every military headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has failed," end quote.

BUSH: Maybe that same person is still around, writing editorials.


Fortunately, we had a resolute president named Truman who, with the American people, persevered, knowing that a new democracy at the center of Europe would lead to stability and peace. And because that generation of Americans held firm in the cause of liberty, we live in a better and safer world today.


The progress we and our friends and allies seek in the broader Middle East will not come easily or all at once.

BUSH: Yet Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of liberty to transform lives and nations. That power brought settlers on perilous journeys, inspired colonies to rebellion, ended the sin of slavery, and set our nation against the tyrannies of the 20th century.

We were honored to aid the rise of democracy in Germany and Japan, Nicaragua and Central Europe and the Baltics, and that noble story goes on.

I believe that America is called to lead the cause of freedom in a new century. I believe that millions in the Middle East plead in silence for their liberty. I believe that given the chance, they will embrace the most honorable form of government ever devised by man.

I believe all these things because freedom is not America's gift to the world; it is the almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world.


BUSH: This moment in the life of our country will be remembered. Generations will know if we kept our faith and kept our word. Generations will know if we seized this moment and used it to build a future of safety and peace. The freedom of many and the future security of our nation now depend on us.

And tonight, my fellow Americans, I ask you to stand with me.

Today Mr. Kerry argues that this is an ex post facto justification of the war in Iraq--as if that would make it an less compelling. He concedes that the President offered many reasons why Saddam had to be dealt with--by his count 23--but singles out two to criticize--apparently because they are the only reasons that would justify war in his own eyes. But here is how the President made the case for the war in his most comprehensive statement, President's Remarks at the United Nations General Assembly (New York, New York, 9/12/02):
Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation. And the regime's forces were poised to continue their march to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this aggression was stopped -- by the might of coalition forces and the will of the United Nations.

To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq's dictator accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear, to him and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying with every one of those obligations.

He has proven instead only his contempt for the United Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge -- by his deceptions, and by his cruelties -- Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.

In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities -- which the Council said, threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.

Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights, and that the regime's repression is all pervasive. Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation, and rape. Wives are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the presence of their parents -- and all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolutions 686 and 687, demanded that Iraq return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands. Iraq's regime agreed. It broke its promise. Last year the Secretary General's high-level coordinator for this issue reported that Kuwait, Saudi, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini, and Omani nationals remain unaccounted for -- more than 600 people. One American pilot is among them.

In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolution 687, demanded that Iraq renounce all involvement with terrorism, and permit no terrorist organizations to operate in Iraq. Iraq's regime agreed. It broke this promise. In violation of Security Council Resolution 1373, Iraq continues to shelter and support terrorist organizations that direct violence against Iran, Israel, and Western governments. Iraqi dissidents abroad are targeted for murder. In 1993, Iraq attempted to assassinate the Emir of Kuwait and a former American President. Iraq's government openly praised the attacks of September the 11th. And al Qaeda terrorists escaped from Afghanistan and are known to be in Iraq.

In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this fundamental pledge.

From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons. After a senior official in its weapons program defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted to producing tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents for use with Scud warheads, aerial bombs, and aircraft spray tanks. U.N. inspectors believe Iraq has produced two to four times the amount of biological agents it declared, and has failed to account for more than three metric tons of material that could be used to produce biological weapons. Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.

United Nations' inspections also revealed that Iraq likely maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.

And in 1995, after four years of deception, Iraq finally admitted it had a crash nuclear weapons program prior to the Gulf War. We know now, were it not for that war, the regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993.

Today, Iraq continues to withhold important information about its nuclear program -- weapons design, procurement logs, experiment data, an accounting of nuclear materials and documentation of foreign assistance. Iraq employs capable nuclear scientists and technicians. It retains physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon. Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraq acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year. And Iraq's state-controlled media has reported numerous meetings between Saddam Hussein and his nuclear scientists, leaving little doubt about his continued appetite for these weapons.

Iraq also possesses a force of Scud-type missiles with ranges beyond the 150 kilometers permitted by the U.N. Work at testing and production facilities shows that Iraq is building more long-range missiles that it can inflict mass death throughout the region.

In 1990, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the world imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. Those sanctions were maintained after the war to compel the regime's compliance with Security Council resolutions. In time, Iraq was allowed to use oil revenues to buy food. Saddam Hussein has subverted this program, working around the sanctions to buy missile technology and military materials. He blames the suffering of Iraq's people on the United Nations, even as he uses his oil wealth to build lavish palaces for himself, and to buy arms for his country. By refusing to comply with his own agreements, he bears full guilt for the hunger and misery of innocent Iraqi citizens.

In 1991, Iraq promised U.N. inspectors immediate and unrestricted access to verify Iraq's commitment to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Iraq broke this promise, spending seven years deceiving, evading, and harassing U.N. inspectors before ceasing cooperation entirely. Just months after the 1991 cease-fire, the Security Council twice renewed its demand that the Iraqi regime cooperate fully with inspectors, condemning Iraq's serious violations of its obligations. The Security Council again renewed that demand in 1994, and twice more in 1996, deploring Iraq's clear violations of its obligations. The Security Council renewed its demand three more times in 1997, citing flagrant violations; and three more times in 1998, calling Iraq's behavior totally unacceptable. And in 1999, the demand was renewed yet again.

As we meet today, it's been almost four years since the last U.N. inspectors set foot in Iraq, four years for the Iraqi regime to plan, and to build, and to test behind the cloak of secrecy.

We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left? The history, the logic, and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take.

Delegates to the General Assembly, we have been more than patient. We've tried sanctions. We've tried the carrot of oil for food, and the stick of coalition military strikes. But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. The first time we may be completely certain he has a -- nuclear weapons is when, God forbids, he uses one. We owe it to all our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming.

The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?

The United States helped found the United Nations. We want the United Nations to be effective, and respectful, and successful. We want the resolutions of the world's most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraqi regime. Our partnership of nations can meet the test before us, by making clear what we now expect of the Iraqi regime.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown. It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues, as required by Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq. And it could open the prospect of the United Nations helping to build a government that represents all Iraqis -- a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty, and internationally supervised elections.

This is, in the main, a legal brief. Mr. Bush catalogues Saddam's failure to comply by every single provision of the temporary ceasefire he agreed to when his regime was threatened in the first Gulf War. Chief among these provisions was the requirement that he basically enact regime change himself. Ultimately, it was because Saddam violated these resolutions, which are effectively international law, that the President took us to war and kept Saddam's word for him. The purpose and the justification for the war was precisely to bring human rights, economic liberty and democratization to Iraq in place of "a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell."

So we have, at last, a crystal clear choice in this election. Mr. Kerry would return America to a kind of neo-isolationism in which the purely internal affairs of a foreign power could never be our concern. This would give the green light to not just dictatorial repression but to ethnic cleansing and genocide. There is a strong historical strain of American opinion which would endorse this policy and it should be fairly popular--especially on the Left, as it is universally among Europeans--but it is certainly at odds with at least the last seventy years of our foreign policy and departs radically from even the doctrine of humanitarian intervention pursued by Bill Clinton in the Balkans, which was developed and continues to be championed by our closest ally, Tony Blair.

President Bush, instead, is devoted to continuing the universalist Crusade that has already seen America defeat Nazism and Communism and which treats Islamicism as just another enemy of human freedom, to be chucked on the ash heap that ushers in the End of History. This policy, begun by FDR and continued by nearly all of his successor's--of both parties--holds that "liberty and freedom are God's gift to every man and woman who lives in this world" and that America is the indispensable nation in securing these gifts throughout the world. This mission is so grandiose that it has always had opponents at home and has nearly always involved us in conflict with some considerable portion of the rest of the world, seldom if ever with steadfast allies by our side (even Britain was wobbly through much of the Cold War). Yet it has defined who we are as Americans and it has changed the world, very much for the better. It would seem foolish to retreat from our world historical task when just one "ism" in one region remains to be dealt with and when we are so clearly and rapidly succeeding, but this election now seems certain to decide whether we see it through.

Blair says 'no weakness' in Iraq (BBC, 9/20/04)

Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the UK will "stand firm" in the face of the insecurity and bloodshed plaguing Iraq.

Mr Blair acknowledged that the Iraqi situation was "terrible", but he said there was a clear choice to make between right and wrong there. [...]

"Our response has not got to be to weaken. Our response has got to be to stand firm," Mr Blair said in comments to journalists at Downing Street.

"Whatever the differences over the Iraq conflict, there is a clear right and wrong on these issues, and that is to be with the democrats and against the terrorists," Mr Blair added.

John Kerry today took the third option--he'd have been for the dictator.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:56 PM


Dan Rather Statement On Memos (CBS News, Sept. 20, 2004)

Below is the text of CBS News Anchor Dan Rather's statement on the documents purportedly written by President Bush's National Guard commander: [...]

Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where-if I knew then what I know now-I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.

The interesting thing about Mr. Rather's reaction is that (with no disrespect intended to Colonel Killian) it's sort of like he's saying that he acknowledges the Hitler Diaries to be fake but continues to believe they reflect the Fuhrer's deepest thoughts.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:33 PM


Egypt's Ruling Party to Debate Reform Initiatives (Ursula Lindsey, 20 Sep 2004, VOA News)

Egypt's ruling party is scheduled to debate a series of reform initiatives at an annual conference that opens in Cairo Tuesday. Egyptian opposition groups are calling for constitutional amendments to change the way presidential elections are held, but National Democratic Party (NDP) officials officials say the conference will focus primarily on economic reform.

According to party sources and news reports, the conference will discuss legislative amendments to strengthen civil and women's rights, as well as economic and land reform issues.

Dr. Mohamed Abdel Moneim Saiid, director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, says the proposed changes may make it easier to register new political parties.

"There are two things we are expecting from the NDP Conference," Dr. Saiid said. "One, a number of changes in the political system, related to party law, related to freedom of expression, related to syndicate and civil society formulations, and other things. The second thing we are expecting is more economic openness that's related to moving the economic system to a much more market-oriented system."

Having to intervene militarily in Egypt would make Iraq look like Grenada, so the sooner they start Reforming from within the better.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:55 AM


India's Congress waves red flag at left (Ramtanu Maitra, 9/21/04, Asia Times)

Trouble is brewing between the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and the left, its most important backer. Relations between the two, which have been tenuous at the best of times, seem to be getting even worse.

There was some consternation in the left camp when the new deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, handpicked by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, announced in early September that he had decided to go in for an "open process of consultations". In plain English, the government wanted the opinion of foreign entities on the progress of plan schemes and the effectiveness of the country's economic policy.

What surprised some observers was that while Ahluwalia stuck out his neck for foreigners' participation in the planning process, he continued to stonewall the participation of Indian non-government organizations (NGOs). Many NGOs complained that instead of expanding the planning process to include grassroots participants, the Planning Commission was opening doors to foreign companies and the World Bank. [...]

The left parties, with about 60 parliamentary seats, have undisputed control over the lifespan of the UPA government, as the Congress does not have sufficient seats to rule on its own. They threw their support behind arch-rival Congress as they felt the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)was the "greater evil". But beyond that, the left almost believed the UPA would promote an economic program in keeping with its own. How it reached that inference is slightly puzzling though as both Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Manmohan Singh are strong believers in globalization and economic reforms a la the Washington Consensus. Prior to his appointment as deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Ahluwalia served as the first director of the Independent Evaluation Office of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)in New York.

The left parties have indicated they won't defend the government on the issue of bringing foreign consultants into the planning process when the subject is discussed in parliament. The left's action is not surprising. They didn't approve of Ahluwalia's appointment as deputy chairman of the Planning Commission in the first place, as Communist Party of India national secretary D Raja told newsmen after the appointment: "We are not very happy with it ... We know a government's policies are not decided by a single man. So we are not making a big issue of it, though we do not favor his appointment."

Moving Congress to the Right, in order to co-opt the BJP's economic agenda, is just good sense.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 AM


Pakistan pushes for Hekmatyar (Syed Saleem Shahzad, 9/21, Asia Times)

Afghanistan has a distinguished culture and social and political order in which one of the most prominent features is that whoever, from Mughal rulers to former king Zahir Shah, leaves the country for exile, has never been able to regain his writ. Legendary Afghan resistance leader in the jihad against the Soviets in the 1980s, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is no exception.

Those who know the mujahideen commander closely affirm that the firebrand Hekmatyar of the mid-1970s at Kabul University is no different from the Hekmatyar of today. In one sense this is true - he still vehemently believes in armed struggle against foreign forces in the country, and he is still intimately involved in political wheeling and dealing, in cahoots with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), just like in the mid-1970s.

However, his many years in exile in Iran - he left the country as prime minister when the Taliban came to power in 1996 - seriously undermined his command structure in Afghanistan, and except for carrying out a few sporadic attacks against US forces, his role at present in the resistance is minimal.

Asia Times Online contacts say that this situation has forced the charismatic leader of the past to fully commit to the ISI's agenda for Afghanistan by allowing the political faction of his Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) to participate in the central government in Kabul, and in the meantime they will work to strengthen interim President Hamid Karzai's position ahead of presidential elections next month. Hekmatyar himself, though, at this point is still committed to waging a guerrilla war against US-led forces in Afghanistan.

Use him and then whack him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:42 AM


Bush, Marshal Foch and Iran (Spengler, 9/21/04, Asia Times)

Washington's strategic position in the Middle East is stronger than it has ever been, contrary to superficial interpretation. With much of central Iraq out of US control and a record level of close to 100 attacks a day against US forces, President George W Bush appears on the defensive. The moment recalls French Marshal Ferdinand Foch's 1914 dispatch from the Marne: "My center is giving way, my right is in retreat; situation excellent. I shall attack." To be specific, the United States will in some form or other attack Iran while it arranges the division of Iraq.

That Sunni diehards and Shi'ite adventurers would prevent the pacification of Iraq never was in question. Leaks of a National Intelligence Estimat