July 31, 2005

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:58 PM


Foundering? (NOAH FELDMAN, 7/31/05, NY Times Magazine)

When a constitution succeeds, its framers come to be regarded as visionaries. They are seen in retrospect to have predicted future difficulties and dealt with them ingeniously, by building a machine that would run of itself. From the inside, though, constitution drafting is not so philosophical and frictionless; it does not take place under the aspect of the eternal. The immediate politics of the moment dominate, along with the lurking fear that if the constitution is not ratified, national collapse may follow.

In Baghdad today, as in Philadelphia in 1787, constitution writing means horse-trading, improvisation, dispute and deferral. [...]

Meanwhile, the specter of a national breakup bedevils the Iraqi negotiators, just as it did the drafters in Philadelphia. Kurdish autonomy, politely relabeled ''federalism,'' may be the greatest stumbling block to reaching a constitutional deal. Many Arab Iraqis will experience an initial shock when they look closely at the de facto self-government that the Kurds have negotiated for themselves. Meanwhile, ownership of disputed Kirkuk and its oil fields cannot be assigned without calling ratification into doubt. As in the U.S. Constitution, ''secession'' itself will go unmentioned -- allowing politicians to claim in the future that the omission either allows or prohibits Kurdistan from establishing itself on its own.

But the bottom line is that Arab Iraqis, like Northerners who objected to slavery but cared more for Union, have no choice but to acquiesce in vague language that opens the door to Kurdish demands. The Kurds have a substantial military force and a strong friendship with the U.S.; who is going to take their self-government away from them? Anyway, federalism always entails tension between a central government and states' rights. So Iraqis must gamble that their precarious arrangements do not lead to secession and civil slaughter.

A constitution that acclimates a people to living with contradiction pretty much guarantees unintended consequences. The Philadelphia framers decided to leave out a bill of rights, since they worried that listing some rights might imply the nonexistence of others. But when the states' ratifying conventions insisted on specific guarantees, the first Congress went to work. Today the 10 amendments (originally plotted as 12, with our First as the less impressive Third) seem more like universal principles than a political afterthought.

For the Iraqis, the unexpected results lie in the not-too-distant future. But to get there, to arrive in a world where courts resolve difficult questions of interpretation in ways the original authors could never have imagined -- this would be a tremendous accomplishment for the Iraqis, not to mention the coalition that unleashed at once the powers of democracy and anarchy, as if to see which would prevail.

Democracy may not always endure, but anarchy never does.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:44 PM


When They Knew (MASSIMO CALABRESI, 8/01/05, TIME)

As the investigation tightens into the leak of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, sources tell TIME some White House officials may have learned she was married to former ambassador Joseph Wilson weeks before his July 6, 2003, Op-Ed piece criticizing the Administration.

Did Ms Palme really arrange this boondoggle for her husband without revealing their relationship?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:53 PM

THINK IT, DON'T SAY IT (via David):

Majority would curb freedom (Nina Berglund, Aftenposten English Web Desk)

A vast majority of Norwegians say they'd like to see limits placed on the constitutional freedom of extremist groups, like neo-Nazis, to express themselves. They'd also favor a ban on public meetings of racist groups or Muslim or Christian fundamentalists. [...]

"This is very surprising, and shows that there's a certain anti-democratic current running through the population," said lawyer Cato Schiøtz, one of the Norway's foremost experts on freedom of expression.

The survey results also defy those in another survey taken more recently, where a majority of Norwegians said the war on terrorism must not damage individual human rights. (see link list).

Schiøtz linked the NSD survey results to "an element of common intolerance" lying under the surface of lofty claims to the contrary.

"You only have to scrape the surface to find the undemocratic opinions," Schiøtz told Aftenposten. "It's like racism. You don't have to scrape very deep with the average Norwegian before the clear racist interpretations emerge."

He thinks most Norwegians are less liberal than they'd like to believe.

To the contrary, it's not that they're antidemocratic or unliberal but that they carry one face of liberalism, modus vivendi liberalism, it to its logical extreme. If every opinion is equally valid then none can be expressed for fear we'll contradict one another and create tension.

Posted by David Hill at 12:42 PM


Audiobooks: Clinton wins top prize (Tara Bradley-Steck, July 31, 2005, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Among great works of literature, former President Bill Clinton's autobiography, "My Life," hardly rates a footnote.

Among the great audiobooks of 2005, however, it was voted "audiobook of the year" by the Audio Publishers Association, edging out a 22-CD set of James Joyce's "Ulysses"...

Rumor has it, both could use some serious editing.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:05 PM


A line of inquiry for Supreme Court nominee Roberts: The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, gave former slaves full citizenship. Not long afterward it was read by the high court to also apply to corporations. Morton Mintz says that was a radical ruling. (Morton Mintz, 7-27-05, Nieman Watchdog)

Q. For Judge Roberts: The law of the land since 1886 is that a corporation is a person, with all the rights that entails. What’s your view: Is a corporation a person?

Judge Robert H. Bork, President Reagan's failed Supreme Court nominee, famously denounced Roe v. Wade as "a wholly unjustified usurpation of state legislative authority." For the moment, at least, let's assume he was correct. Then what about the Court's pronouncement more than a century ago that a private corporation—a paper entity that cannot wear a uniform, bleed, vote, be sent to prison or the death chamber, and that may give tens of millions of dollars to politicians during a possible lifespan of hundreds of years—is a "person" that cannot be denied "the equal protection of the laws"? Was that pronouncement also "a wholly unjustified usurpation of state legislative authority"?

These would surely be appropriate and challenging questions for Judge John G. Roberts, Jr., President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, when he comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee. But don't count on any such questions being asked. That's because Democratic and Republican committee members alike, sensitized to corporate power, have for decades avoided putting them to any one of hundreds of judicial nominees.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1868, soon after the end of the Civil War. It declares that no state shall deprive "any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The "person" Congress and the ratifying states had in mind—the human being in need of equal protection, particularly in the states of the old Confederacy—was the newly-freed slave. Nothing in either the text or the legislative history of the Amendment suggests otherwise.

Nothing in the law would do more good than to accept that the 14th applied only to newly freed slave.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:28 AM


Trade cools, details emerge on Ramirez (Michael Silverman, July 31, 2005, Boston Herald)

``They don't talk, they haven't spoken since the first day Ramirez came,'' the source said of Francona and Ramirez. ``He's had it for Manny for a while. The friction's been there for a while. Manny's not his kind of player - Francona has one way of thinking and there's one type of player he wants on his team and that's not Manny.''

Said Francona: ``I'm not going to lower myself by responding to that.''

The source said Ramirez was disappointed about what happened when bench coach Brad Mills asked Ramirez before Wednesday's game in St. Petersburg, Fla., if he still needed a day off. Ramirez answered yes, without knowing the Sox needed him to play because Trot Nixon was hurt. If asked to play for that reason, the source said Ramirez would have played.

Also, the source said that before that game, which was started by Tampa Bay's Seth McClung, David Ortiz said aloud to Schilling, ``Man, that guy's got some nasty stuff,'' to which Schilling supposedly responded, ``Yeah, that's why Manny took the day off.''

Ramirez then supposedly said to Schilling, ``Screw you, I can hit anyone in baseball, including your ass.''

Then, the source said, Ramirez went up to Schilling and, before the confrontation escalated, Ortiz had to separate the two.
You can't keep a guy who's afraid to face the hometown fans.

Wells comes out firing (Amalie Benjamin, July 31, 2005, Boston Globe)

If any teammate of Manny Ramirez's was going to speak out, it wasn't hard to guess who it would be. David Wells, bombastic as usual, took to the New England Sports Network set postgame and, well, let his teammate have it.

Ramirez hadn't been in the lineup. And Wells, of course, had an opinion.

''I didn't know until we hit in the bottom of the inning and there's no Manny," Wells said. ''The guy's messing with my cake. I want to try to get a ring, man. If he's not out there, that creates a problem. And I don't know the situation. Whatever it is, he better have a great excuse because we need Manny Ramirez in the lineup. I don't care what's going on. This team needs him.

''If he's going to come out and say he needs another day off, that's not going to sit well with a lot of guys. There's no question. . . . It's selfish for him not to step up. Listen, we've got a couple guys hurt. We need you in there. His impact in that is tremendous. The [opposing] pitchers are going, 'Oh boy. What do we throw this guy?' He's hitting everything. For Manny not to step up, I think that was selfish on his part."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:23 AM


A change of command as Old Ironsides sets sail again (Russell Nichols, July 31, 2005, Boston Globe)

A long time ago in an ocean not so far away, the USS Constitution blasted the British vessel HMS Guerriere into submission in a fierce firefight.

In that battle off the coast of Nova Scotia during the War of 1812, British cannonballs appeared to bounce off the wooden hull of the Constitution, resulting in the ship being forever known as ''Old Ironsides."

For more than two centuries, the oldest commissioned warship in the world has stood as a symbol of patriotism for the American public, and particularly for those who have served aboard her.

That makes any change of command aboard Old Ironsides, an occasion to remember and reflect.

The ship set sail again yesterday morning from Constitution Wharf in the Charlestown Navy Yard for still another solemn ceremony at sea. Commander Thomas C. Graves, 41, relieved Commander Lewin C. Wright, 43, as the ship's commanding officer, becoming the 69th man to command the 207-year-old warship.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:01 AM


Supreme Court Nominee Stood Out for Conservative Rigor (ADAM LIPTAK and TODD S. PURDUM, 7/31/05, NY Times)

They are not exactly father and son, but they share a singular bond in an elite business: 25 years ago this summer, almost exactly half his lifetime ago, John G. Roberts went to work for William H. Rehnquist, and now he stands poised to become the first Supreme Court clerk in American history to sit on the bench alongside the justice he served.

His 13 months in the chambers of Justice Rehnquist spanned the period of the 1980 election and the dawn of the Reagan revolution in Washington. It was a heady time of relentless work, long walks on Capitol Hill discussing cases informally with the justice and sharp-elbowed basketball games in the Supreme Court gym, wryly referred to as the "highest court in the land."

It was a time when the Supreme Court was far different, more liberal, and that made John Roberts stand out among the other clerks.

"John's conservatism was in fact a sign of intellectual courage, coming out of Harvard and being surrounded by law clerks from mainly liberal, East Coast, Ivy institutions," said John A. Siliciano, a law professor at Cornell who clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall at the same time.

His was "a very solid, rigorous, coherent view of very important social questions," Professor Siliciano said, "about the relations between courts and legislatures, about the relationship between the federal government and the state, between the public sphere and the private."

Fifteen of the 32 Supreme Court clerks in the 1980-81 term agreed to be interviewed about Mr. Roberts, including both of his fellow Rehnquist clerks. They offered a revealing portrait of an affable, ambitious and frankly conservative intellectual, much like his boss.

"John certainly was in sync with his justice," said Paul M. Smith, who clerked for Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. and is now a lawyer in Washington who frequently appears before the Supreme Court. [...]

Few if any of the memorandums found so far from Mr. Roberts's clerkship shed much light on his political leanings. They are, if anything, concise and reliant on procedural points. They do, however, bear the dry wit that so many have cited in describing Mr. Roberts's writings and personality.

Most justices hired clerks who shared their views. But the Rehnquist clerks did not wear their politics on their sleeves, said Robert B. Knauss, a Los Angeles lawyer who also clerked for the justice that year.

"Frankly, the people that did were the liberal clerks, who were more out there, more aggressive, more, frankly, intolerant," Mr. Knauss said. "There were a few that were pretty aggressive that would try to come into the chambers and lobby you."

You have to wonder if Mr. Rehnquist didn't have some input into this pick and if the assumption wasn't that Mr. Roberts would be the next Chief.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:55 AM


Renting the American Dream (Monica Collins, July 31, 2005, Boston Globe)

My guy and I are moving in together and decided to rent before we buy. We're not students, the customary transients who rock Boston's rental stock every September. We're 50-somethings in transition and simply taking a breather by leasing somebody else's turf. If real estate is the new religion, call us agnostics. Or call us crazy - as one researcher suggests. "The traditional reasons why some people might have rented at 35 and above have been taken away," says Tom Meagher, president of Northeast Apartment Advisors of Action, which provides research and analysis to housing developers. "Interest-only or adjustable-rate mortgages are well within the means of almost anybody who is going to rent."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:52 AM


Beliefs drive research agenda of new think tanks (Michael Kranish, July 31, 2005, Boston Globe)

President Bush had a ready answer when asked in January for his view of adoption by same-sex couples: ''Studies have shown that the ideal is where a child is raised in a married family with a man and a woman," the president said.

Bush's assertion raised eyebrows among specialists. The American Academy of Pediatrics, composed of leaders in the field, had found no meaningful difference between children raised by same-sex and heterosexual couples, based on a 2002 report written largely by a Boston pediatrician, Dr. Ellen C. Perrin.

But Bush's statement was celebrated at a tiny think tank called the Family Research Institute, where the founder, Dr. Paul Cameron, believes Bush was referring to studies he has published in academic journals that are critical of gays and lesbians as parents. Cameron has published numerous studies with titles such as ''Gay Foster Parents More Apt to Molest" -- a conclusion disputed by many other researchers.

The president's statement was also welcomed at a small organization with an august-sounding name, the American College of Pediatricians. The college, which has a small membership, says on its website that it would be ''dangerously irresponsible" to allow same-sex couples to adopt children. The college was formed just three years ago, after the 75-year-old American Academy of Pediatrics issued its paper.

That pediatric study asserted a ''considerable body of professional evidence" that there is no difference between children of same-sex and heterosexual parents.

The Family Research Institute and the American College of Pediatrics are part of a rapidly growing trend in which small think tanks, researchers, and publicists who are open about their personal beliefs are providing what they portray as medical information on some of the most controversial issues of the day.

Created as counterpoints to large, well-established medical organizations whose work is subject to rigorous review and who assert no political agenda, the tiny think tanks with names often mimicking those of established medical authorities have sought to dispute the notion of a medical consensus on social issues such as gay rights, the right to die, abortion, and birth control.

As Mr. Kranish points out, the difference between the two is that the one group does not assert that it is politically motivated while the other is honest.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 AM


'Confession' lifts lid on London bomb plot (BRIAN BRADY AND JOHN PHILLIPS, 7/31/05, The Scotsman)

THE London bomb plot suspect arrested in Rome has allegedly confessed to Italian interrogators, lifting the lid on the plan to bring a wave of terror to Britain.

Anti-terror police in the Italian capital say Osman Hussain has told them that the "bombers" watched videos of British and American troops "exterminating" Iraqi women and children before embarking on the attack on London's transport network on July 21.

their handlers turned them into NY Times columnists...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Never say never, but Connery ends career (TOBY MCDONALD AND JEREMY WATSON, 7/31/05, The Scotsman)

IT IS a decision that will horrify his legion of worldwide fans and leave grown women in tears.

Scottish screen legend Sir Sean Connery has almost drawn the curtain on his long and glittering career by revealing it would take a Mafia-style "offer he couldn't refuse" to tempt him to make another film.

At the age of 74, Connery still manages to be Britain's highest-paid actor, commanding up to £10m per movie. But his three-year absence from the industry has prompted questions about whether the Scots star has decided to retire after half a century in Hollywood and 77 films.

Now, Connery has provided the answer. In an interview with a New Zealand newspaper, the actor says he has no time for the "idiots" now making films in Hollywood.

Mr. Connery long ago retired the trophy for "Men whose bitch we could, without shame, imagine being if we were sent to prison," after winning the title an unprecedented 30 times.

July 30, 2005

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:12 PM


At State, Rice Takes Control of Diplomacy: Secretary Summons 'Practical Idealism' (Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler, July 31, 2005, Washington Post)

Three weeks after taking office, Condoleezza Rice hosted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and their Japanese counterparts at the State Department. When Rumsfeld began to speak, Rice gently cut him off. The message was clear: I'll take the lead, Don. Both Japanese and U.S. officials noted the decisive nudge.

Now six months on the job, Rice has clearly wrested control of U.S. foreign policy. The once heavy-handed Defense Department still weighs in, but Rice wins most battles -- in strong contrast to her predecessor, Colin L. Powell. White House staff is consulted, but Rice designed the distinctive framework for the administration's second-term foreign policy.

In short order, she has demonstrated a willingness to bend on tactics to accommodate the concerns of allies without ceding on broad principles, what she calls "practical idealism." She also conducts a more aggressive personal diplomacy, breaking State Department records for foreign travel and setting up diplomatic tag teams with top staff on urgent issues.

U.S. foreign policy has always had "a streak of idealism, which means that we care about values, we care about principle," Rice said in an interview last week. "The responsibility, then, of all of us is to take policies that are rooted in those values and make them work on a day-to-day basis so that you're always moving forward toward a goal."

It is too early to know whether the new tactics will ultimately bring results, and many of Rice's steps so far this year have been limited to overtures or temporary fixes. But those have at the least created momentum where before there was deadlock.

Amazing how much power you have when your husband is the President.

What Makes Condi Run (Ann Reilly Dowd, September & October 2005, AARP Magazine)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:34 PM


'Two-faced French sell out Cuban dissidents' (David Rennie, 26/07/2005, Daily Telegraph)

A leading Cuban dissident yesterday accused a "two-faced" French government of putting trade ahead of the suffering of the Cuban people.

The comments by Marta Beatriz Roque, a 60-year-old economist who was arrested during a protest outside the French embassy in Havana on Bastille Day, came after Paris unilaterally ended a European Union diplomatic embargo against the regime of President Fidel Castro, and normalised relations with his government.

Apparently emboldened by the French overture, Cuban authorities responded by launching the largest wave of dissident arrests since 2003, when almost the entire dissident leadership of the Communist-ruled island was rounded up.

In the latest wave of arrests, about 30 democracy activists, including Mrs Roque, were taken into custody after they attempted to protest outside the French embassy on July 14 to denounce the new policy towards Cuba. As many as 19 were still believed to be in custody last night.

Fourteen dissidents were released after a day or two in detention, including Mrs Roque, who is in fragile health after two periods of imprisonment.

Speaking from her Havana home, Mrs Roque said the aborted protest was organised after France broke the EU embargo and invited the Cuban foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque to a Bastille Day celebration at the French embassy, from which dissidents and democracy activists were excluded. The French invitation was intended to signal the normalisation of relations between Paris and Havana. Mrs Roque alleged that France had sold out its principles for the sake of business deals with Cuba.

"For a little money, they have made the Cuban people suffer," she said.

Heck, for a chocolate bar you can have their sisters and the Jews in the attic...

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:14 PM


Goldwater nephew to run for governor (HOWARD FISCHER, 07/30/2005, Arizona Daily Sun)

Don Goldwater confirmed Friday he is seeking his party's nomination to challenge Democratic incumbent Janet Napolitano. Goldwater has planned announcements Tuesday in Sun City, Phoenix and Tucson.

Goldwater, the nephew of former U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Barry Goldwater, has been active in state party politics for years. He heads the GOP committee for his legislative district and has been a delegate to the Republican National Convention.

He is joining what could become a crowded field that already includes a former state Senate president, with the current Senate president, the U.S. surgeon general, a state representative and the wife of a former vice president candidate all potential contenders.

The 50-year-old resident of Laveen, an unincorporated community on the southwest edge of Phoenix, is little known outside the party.

That, however, may not be a problem, according to pollster Bruce Merrill.

"I wouldn't bet against Goldwater, just because of the name," said Merrill, who also is a professor of journalism and mass communications at Arizona State University. "The name is obviously golden in Arizona, particularly among the party people."

Nathan Sproul, a political consultant who works with Republicans, said the nature of statewide campaigns actually would give Goldwater an advantage.

That's because most of the candidates are likely to run with public funds. That stems from what happened in 2002 to Republican Matt Salmon, where his status as a privately financed candidate actually worked against him: Any funds he spent -- or spend by others on his behalf -- resulted in matching state dollars given to Napolitano.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:29 PM


Coming together: The men of learning against the men of violence (The Economist, Jul 28th 2005)

OVER the few days before the attack on London of July 7th, something historic was happening in the world of Muslim theology. After some careful deliberations in the air-conditioned comfort of a hotel in Jordan's capital, Amman, the world's leading Muslim scholars—over 170 of them from 35-odd countries—made a series of pronouncements designed to affirm their own authority, soften differences and deal a blow to advocates of terror.

The things these august gentlemen decided on may sound arcane to non-Muslims. But for the hosts, including Jordan's King Abdullah, the agreement was an encouraging first success in what will have to be a long ideological war against readings of Islam that lend support to violence.

In several ways, the muftis and professors agreed to minimise their own (previously sharp) differences and work together to promote what they regard as “good theology” over some superficial, violence-promoting interpretations of Islam that have circulated, electronically and in print, all over the world. Among the scholars' main conclusions is that nobody who accepts Islam's basic beliefs should be denied the label of Muslim. A statement of the obvious? Far from it, because a hallmark of virtually all the shrillest voices in Islam is that they reject the Muslim credentials of anybody who disagrees with them. As an example of a Muslim thinker who rejects anybody less extreme than himself as an apostate, many would cite Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian who is one of the leaders of al-Qaeda.

Equally important, the scholars announced a sort of “mutual recognition” agreement between Islam's eight main schools of legal interpretation: four Sunni ones, the two main Shia traditions, the Ibadis of Oman and the small but prestigious Zahiri school. While these schools' leaders will never concur on everything, they recognised each other's authority in their respective communities—and resolved to deny authority to anybody who purports to be a scholar but lacks the training.

At least in theory, this implies a degree of mutual respect between rival versions of Islam that has not been seen since the Fatimid empire a millennium ago. More practically, the pronouncement should act as a restraining influence in Iraq, by denying Sunni Muslims any right to attack their Shia compatriots as heretics.

One of the keys to the End of History is such small "p" protestantism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:22 PM


CAFTA Expected to Benefit U.S. Consumers (MARTIN CRUTSINGER, 7/30/05, AP)

U.S. shoppers should get a price break on shirts and pants made in Central America. American farmers and manufacturers are hoping to gain new sales in the region. U.S. sugar growers, however, are fretting about increased competition now that Congress has passed and sent to the president a trade deal that eliminates barriers between the United States and Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:19 PM


Yankee Lefty Might Pitch to the Right (Washington Whispers, 8/01/05, US News)

Lefty pitcher Al Leiter is the toast of New York, now that he's left the Florida Marlins to help the Yankees in the pennant stretch. The Yanks think the 39-year-old with a winning record will help solidify a muddling rotation. But insiders say that's not the only reason he headed north. Republican tipsters say he's mulling a political bid in his adopted state or back home in New Jersey. GOP-ers say he has helped at recent Republican events and is up on current issues. He has even been featured as GOP "dude of the week" on the New Jersey Republican Party Web page. "Oh, he's one of us," says a Republican tipster: "A conservative."

...we need someone to win Corzine's seat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:59 AM


New post to help Castro 'demise' (BBC, 7/29/05)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has announced the creation of a new post to help "accelerate the demise" of the Castro regime in Cuba.

Caleb McCarry, a veteran Republican Party activist, was appointed as the Cuba transition co-ordinator.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:34 AM


A Feasible Fix for Social Security (Nicole Gelinas, Summer 2005, City Journal)

Conservative reformers greeted President Bush’s late-April proposal for “progressive indexing” of Social Security benefits with dismay—and prominent conservative leaders haven’t said much about it since. They’re wasting an opportunity. Yes, Bush’s proposal was meant as a giveaway to liberals—a politically calculated trade to win their support for reining in Social Security’s unsustainable growth. And it’s a fair deal, provided that conservatives get what they’ve always wanted from reform: personal accounts within Social Security, to entice millions of middle-income Americans to join the investor class. [...]

Though the president’s proposal is still vague, its basic elements are clear enough. Let’s start with the bad part before looking at what makes the overall scheme so attractive, and then consider how its underlying principles can best be realized.

Bush would pare back Social Security’s future payouts to middle and top earners, giving a huge relative boost to retirees whose lifetime earnings were low. Right now, the Social Security Administration determines a new retiree’s initial benefit according to a formula based on how quickly U.S. wages increased during that worker’s career. The president would like to preserve that formula for the bottom 30 percent or so of earners. But for higher earners, the initial benefit would be based on how quickly prices, rather than wages, increased during a worker’s career—in other words, at the rate of inflation. Since wages usually rise more quickly than prices, future benefits for lower-income people would grow much faster over time than would benefits for middle- and higher-income people.

This doesn’t sound like enlightened reform, and understandably it has annoyed some conservatives. Columnist George Will objected on ABC’s This Week in late April: “So what [Bush is] doing is making Social Security less and less relevant to a majority of the American people. You’re stigmatizing it . . . by . . . means-testing Social Security so it becomes a poverty program.” Republican senator George Allen of Virginia worried that the plan would “reduce the retirement security for . . . middle-income working people.” Cato Institute senior fellow Alan Reynolds warned, “Any Social Security ‘reform’ that [is] increasingly generous to those who paid the least in taxes would be increasingly perceived as grossly unfair and therefore politically untenable.”

But they’re forgetting the good news in Bush’s proposal: personal accounts, which will make Social Security more relevant to middle and upper earners, not less, since it will give them the ability to save for a middle-class retirement within Social Security, not despite it. Reform without personal accounts, or with tiny personal accounts for top earners, isn’t real reform.

With the establishment of personal accounts, progressive indexing won’t mean a benefit cut for middle and upper earners. In its entirety, Bush’s proposal would simply shift massive future liabilities from the government to the free market.

Here’s how it would work. Social Security benefits currently rise faster than inflation, because, as noted, growth in future benefits keeps pace with average wage increases, and wages historically rise faster than prices. The Social Security Administration’s actuary estimates that wages will keep rising slightly over 1 percent faster than prices each year for the next 50 years or so.

Wages rise faster than prices because productivity growth and technological advances, not just inflation, push them higher over time. American workers produce more each year with less capital and less time, so their wages rise while prices stay down. Retirees now see the results of that wage growth in their Social Security checks—but the burden is entirely borne by younger taxpayers who must fund that growth in future benefits, and that burden is becoming unsustainable.

Personal accounts within Social Security would let current workers continue to benefit from those same economic advances. After all, the same worker productivity that allows wages to rise also shows up in robust corporate profits, which in turn fuel strong stock- and bond-market returns. Future retirees would reap those returns through their personal accounts, where some of their tax dollars would go to building up nest eggs for retirement.

Just compare the returns on Social Security of three hypothetical young earners under the way things are supposed to work now—though remember, the current system is unsustainable—and then under City Journal’s fleshed-out version of Bush’s still-sketchy proposal.

Was George Will damning or praising the plan?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:00 AM


Senate Approves Bill Protecting Gun Businesses (CARL HULSE, 7/30/05, NY Times)

"This is about politics, the power of the N.R.A. to dictate legislation," said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, who led the opposition. [...]

The gun measure was just one of the significant pieces of legislation to advance as Congress cleared its plate for a fall that will initially be consumed, in the Senate at least, by consideration of a Supreme Court nominee. Before leaving, Senate Republicans and Democrats also agreed on the schedule for confirmation hearings.

Ending a long policy struggle, the Senate passed and sent to Mr. Bush a broad piece of energy legislation, fulfilling an early domestic policy goal of his administration.

After extinguishing one last policy flare-up, the House and Senate also gave final approval to a $286.4 billion highway measure stuffed with special projects for virtually every Congressional district in the nation. Congress also finished its first two spending bills of the year, delivering $1.5 billion in emergency money to cover a shortfall in spending on veterans' health care.

And in an unexpected development, the Senate renewed its version of the antiterror USA Patriot Act.

It was a blistering pace ...

It's about the Democrats' lack of power.

Senate Makes Permanent Nearly All Provisions of Patriot Act, With a Few Restrictions (ERIC LICHTBLAU, 7/30/05, NY Times)

The Senate voted unanimously on Friday to make permanent virtually all the main provisions of the law known as the USA Patriot Act, after Republican leaders agreed to include additional civil rights safeguards and to forestall any expansion of the government's counterterrorism powers.

The House passed a bill of its own last week that would also extend the law's surveillance and law enforcement powers, which the Bush administration considers critical to combating terrorism. While the House and Senate bills are not identical, the differences are modest enough that Congressional officials said they were confident that they could work out a compromise.

Didn't John Kerry run against the Patriot Act?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 AM


U.S. Economic Expansion Displays Steady Strength: The April-to-June period is the ninth straight quarter of growth above 3%. Depleted inventories could spur higher GDP. (Bill Sing, July 30, 2005, LA Times)

[I]t was the ninth straight quarter the economy exceeded its long-term growth rate of about 3%. And although the nation can't match China's gazelle-like 9.5% clip, it is outperforming most other industrialized nations and topping average growth during the booming 1990s.

And analysts said the economy was actually stronger than it appeared, as a sharp drawdown of inventories during the quarter depressed the headline growth number. [...]

Fearing a slowdown earlier in the quarter, businesses curbed production.

But consumers kept buying, whittling store shelves. Inventories of autos, for example, were pared through aggressive sales promotions by General Motors Corp. and others.

The overall inventory reduction cut about 2.4 percentage points from second-quarter growth.

"The replenishment of diminished inventories soon will quicken economic activity," John Lonski, chief economist at Moody's Investors Service, said in a report Friday.

He added that inventory depletion of the size seen in the second quarter normally occurred during recessions — efforts to replenish such inventories "helps to power the economy out of a recession."

Some analysts are forecasting that growth in the current July-to-September period could hit or top 4%.

A separate report Friday suggested that inflation remained tame.

An economy that's as lean as if there'd been a recession, operating in a deflationary environment and growing like kudzu--it doesn't get any better.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 AM


Bush Plans to Bypass Senate, Appoint Bolton: By elevating his pick for U.N. ambassador during a recess, the president would skirt Democratic opposition. The move could last through 2006. (Warren Vieth and Sonni Efron, July 30, 2005, LA Times)

President Bush will sidestep Democratic opposition to his nomination of John R. Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations by making a recess appointment not subject to Senate confirmation, a senior administration official said Friday.

The appointment, which is likely to further roil relations with congressional Democrats, will be announced before the president leaves Washington on Tuesday for a five-week working vacation at his Texas ranch, said the official, who requested anonymity because Bush had not yet publicly disclosed his intentions.

The Democrats' disastrous July just gets uglier.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:33 AM


Bright lights beckon China's young (Jim Yardley, JULY 30, 2005, The New York Times)

Dai Yichen is in the third row, far right side, her feet kicking and scraping against the wood floor with other students in her tap dance class. The rehearsal hall fills with a noise as pounding and repetitive as a hailstorm.

Yichen is lanky and a little awkward. She sidesteps and thrusts her shoulder in a suggestive move that no one in the class gets quite right.

But she keeps trying. As the teacher calls forward different lines of dancers, Yichen stands off to the side, practicing her footwork. She watches herself, unsmiling, in a floor-to-ceiling mirror that betrays every stumble.

Her dream is to perform one day on a Chinese equivalent of Broadway, though one does not yet exist. Yichen, 17, is one of 30 students at a private fine arts school on the outskirts of Beijing who are far removed from the days when Mao demanded that culture serve the Communist Party: They are studying how to perform in American-style musicals, an academic major about as improbable as one in which American teenagers would dedicate themselves to the Peking Opera.

It is an example of the changes engulfing China that a teenager like Yichen has been far more influenced by the musical "Cats" than by the Communist Youth League.

That's a fortunate thing with so many excess young men.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:31 AM


Armed police smash terrorist bomb cell (MICHAEL HOWIE, KAREN MCVEIGH, SHAN ROSS AND KEVIN SCHOFIELD, 7/30/05, The Scotsman)

POLICE yesterday smashed the suspected terror cell behind last week's attempted suicide attacks on London in a series of dramatic armed raids.

Two of the suspects were arrested at gunpoint after armed police stormed a flat in west London.

Within hours, a man believed to be another of the bombers was arrested in Rome after having apparently travelled to see his brother.

Police last night named the two men arrested in the flat as Muktar Said-Ibrahim, who allegedly tried to blow himself up on a number 26 bus in Hackney, east London, and Ramzi Mohammed. A third man also arrested in London was suspected of being the possible fifth failed bomber. The suspect arrested in Rome was named as Osman Hussain, who is suspected of planning an attack at Shepherd's Bush Tube station.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:24 AM


US announces German base closures (BBC, 7/30/05)

US troops will pull out of 11 bases in southern Germany in 2007 as part of a shake-up of US forces around the world.

The bases, mainly in Bavaria, are home to the 1st Infantry Division which will return to the US in 2006, the defence department said in a statement.

It will be replaced by smaller forces able to react rapidly to new threats.

Up to 70,000 US troops currently in Europe and Asia are to be redeployed in accordance with plans announced by President George W Bush last year.

The US has almost 100,000 soldiers stationed in Western Europe and about 80,000 in the Far East.

At this rate WWII will be over soon.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:14 AM


Terror attacks spur soul-searching by Egyptians (Nadia Abou el-Magd, July 30, 2005, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Stunned by terror attacks in a Red Sea resort, Egyptians are in a remarkably frank debate about whether mainstream mosques and schools -- and the government itself -- should be blamed for promoting Islamic extremism.

Even some in the pro-government press say authorities have created a climate in which young people are turning into radicals and suicide bombers. [...]

In a country more used to hearing general condemnations of terrorism, critics on Wednesday were angry -- and specific -- hammering at instances when they say the government let state press and mosque preachers, including many appointed by the government, promote intolerance.

The debate since Sharm el Sheik has been a deepening of the soul-searching that has gone on across the Arab world in recent years over whether religious interpretations need reform in the face of terror attacks by Muslim radicals.

The debate began, hesitantly, after the September 11 attacks on the United States. And the voices have grown with each act of terrorism -- particularly ones in the Middle East.

Opposition to challenge Mubarak (BBC, 7/30/05)

One of Egypt's leading opposition politicians, Ayman Nour, has applied to stand against President Hosni Mubarak in elections due in September.

It will be the first time the presidential poll has been open to more than one candidate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:10 AM


Task force to set pace of pullout (Rowan Scarborough, July 30, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

The Pentagon plans to set up a task force of senior U.S. and Iraqi officials that will set conditions for withdrawing substantial numbers of American troops from Iraq next year, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Up to this point, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said he would make such an important decision based on recommendations from his two main commanders in the region, Gen. John Abizaid of U.S. Central Command and Gen. George Casey Jr., who runs operations in Iraq. He will also consult with Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Now, however, the U.S.-Iraq alliance plans to seek the advice of Americans and Iraqis in Baghdad because officials realize the decision will be based on so many complex facts -- a system of analysis Mr. Rumsfeld calls "metrics" -- that a task force is needed.

The panel will set conditions that must be met before a sizable withdrawal and will give Iraqi officials a bigger say in the ultimate decision.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:01 AM


ROVE IN MARYLAND (Robert Novak, July 30, 2005, Townhall)

Bush political adviser Karl Rove told a closed-door fund-raiser for Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in Washington Tuesday that Steele's campaign for the Senate is a top White House priority for 2006.

Steele is running for a Senate seat left empty by retirement of Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes. The capital lobbyists who attended the event were urged to exert more effort for Steele than they usually do on an empty-seat contest. Steele, an African-American, fits in with Bush's emphasis on raising the Republican share of the black vote.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Laughing at the Left (Harry Stein, Summer 2005, City Journal)

Bruce Tinsley, creator of the conservative comic strip Mallard Fillmore, remembers feeling stunned when the fan letter showed up in February 1998. After all, his strip— featuring a right-leaning TV newsman or, more accurately, newsduck—was still in its relative infancy. Yet here was George Herbert Walker Bush declaring that he and Barbara turned to Mallard, “sage duck that he is,” first thing every morning. Even more gratifying, the former president thanked Tinsley for taking on “that horrible Doonesbury” and its creator, liberal icon Garry Trudeau, “a guy that tore me up in a vicious, personal way strip after strip.”

By all accounts, Bush 41 is a pretty mild-mannered guy, but in this case it’s easy to understand his feelings, since Trudeau really did regularly savage him politically and personally—perhaps most famously in portraying him as having “placed his manhood in a blind trust.” Not that such nastiness was anything but par for the course for Doonesbury. For all the complexity of its characters and its sometimes engaging story lines, the strip has been relentless over the decades in its unbridled hostility to those on the other side of the ideological fence.

The Mallard strips that prompted Bush’s letter had been a response to a series of Doonesbury strips that disdainfully characterized conservative talk radio as “hate radio.”

“Mallard Presents: Learning the Liberal Lexicon!” reads the opening panel of one of the strips. “ ‘Hate Radio,’ a common liberal word made from 2 ordinary words.” In the second panel, a bespectacled professor type explains: “ ‘Radio’—the thing we use to listen to N.P.R. in our Volvos.” “ ‘Hate,’ ” adds a dowdy aging hippie in panel three—“the word we use to describe any opinion that DISAGREES with OURS!”

“That was really terrific,” says Tinsley today of the ex-president’s appreciative letter, noting that from the start he intended Mallard to be, among other things, an antidote to Doonesbury. “It was for all those people, and I guess that included even him, who never get a fair shake from the liberal media and cultural establishment.”

The most revealking thing about Doonesbury is that it was funniest when Mr. Trudeau was still at Yale taking potshots at academia.

July 29, 2005

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:52 PM


With Gammons, Hall makes the write call (Dan Shaughnessy, July 30, 2005, Boston Globe)

Our own Peter Gammons gets the J.G. Taylor Spink Award at the Hall of Fame tomorrow. On the day that Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg are inducted, Gammons takes his rightful place in Cooperstown.

It's about time. Gammons has done more to influence the way major league baseball is covered than any columnist or beat guy of the last half-century. He is, and forever will be, the de facto commissioner of baseball. He is to our craft what Ted Williams was to his: When Gammons walks through a press box, any scribe who knows history should point and say, ''There goes the greatest baseball writer who ever lived."

He can't carry Red Smith's lunch, but... Fisk's HR in 12th beats Reds (Peter Gammons, Oct. 22, 1975, Boston Globe)
And all of a sudden the ball was there, like the Mystic River Bridge, suspended out in the black of the morning.

When it finally crashed off the mesh attached to the left-field foul pole, one step after another the reaction unfurled: from Carlton Fisk's convulsive leap to John Kiley's booming of the "Hallelujah Chorus'' to the wearing off of numbness to the outcry that echoed across the cold New England morning.

At 12:34 a.m., in the 12th inning, Fisk's histrionic home run brought a 7-6 end to a game that will be the pride of historians in the year 2525, a game won and lost what seemed like a dozen times, and a game that brings back summertime one more day. For the seventh game of the World Series.

For this game to end so swiftly, so definitely, was the way it had to end. An inning before, a Dwight Evans catch that Sparky Anderson claimed was as great as he's ever seen had been one turn, but in the ninth a George Foster throw ruined a bases-loaded, none-out certain victory for the Red Sox. Which followed a dramatic three-run homer in the eighth by Bernie Carbo as the obituaries had been prepared, which followed the downfall of Luis Tiant after El Tiante had begun, with the help of Fred Lynn's three-run, first-inning homer, as a hero of unmatched majesty.

So Fisk had put the exclamation mark at the end of what he called "the most emotional game I've ever played in.'' The home run came off Pat Darcy and made a winner of Rick Wise, who had become the record 12th pitcher in this 241-minute war that seemed like four score and seven years.

But the place one must begin is the bottom of the eighth, Cincinnati leading, 6-3, and the end so clear.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 PM


China's One-Child Policy Tips Scales: 25 Million Men Could Remain Single (Zenit.org, 7/29/05)

China might soon become the most populous country of bachelors, reported a missionary of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions.

Father Giancarlo Politi, speaking on Vatican Radio, said that the one-child policy, instituted to "maintain control over the population, so that it wouldn't grow enormously," favors the birth of boys among Chinese families.

"There is still a need to seek by all means to have at least a male child," said the priest.

As a result of the policy, instituted in 1979, an estimated 25 million young men in China might remain single for life.

This is why the PRC will start a war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 PM


GOP puts up first Senate campaign ad (WILL LESTER, 7/28/05, Associated Press)

The ad shows a picture of Byrd as a brown-haired young man with a bow tie and a fiddle under his chin that alternates with a picture of the white-haired senator, who is now 87. Byrd entered the Senate in 1958 and is in his eighth term.

"Byrd voted for soldiers in the 50s, but he voted against body armor in the war on terror. Back then, he stood with working families ... today he votes for higher taxes for the middle class." The first claim refers to a 2003 bill providing money for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the second refers to Byrd's votes against President Bush's proposed tax cuts. [...]

Byrd hasn't formally announced he will run for re-election, though aides say they expect him to run. The GOP field is uncertain, though Republican activists hope Rep. Shelly Moore Capito challenges Byrd.

Ah, the D'Amato strategy. If you you have the guts to stick to it you win.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 PM


Melody Riot: As Son Volt returns with its first album in seven years, its frontman discusses his ambivalence about being known as an 'alt-country' pioneer and his split with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. (Jac Chebatoris, 7/29/05, Newsweek)

At age 38, Jay Farrar may seem too young to be a grandfather, but musically speaking that’s just what he is. Farrar, along with former Uncle Tupelo bandmate Jeff Tweedy, is credited with starting the alt-country movement in the early 1990s. The two high-school friends expanded on the roots and folk music they had listened to growing up in Illinois, by adding the melodic elements of country with the intensity of punk.

Uncle Tupelo split up in 1994 after Farrar and Tweedy had a well-publicized falling out. Tweedy went on to form the critically ballyhooed Wilco with other Uncle Tupelo members. Farrar fronted Son Volt for three albums until his solo ambitions put the band on hiatus. After seven years, during which Farrar recorded three of his own albums, Son Volt is back with “Okemah and the Melody of Riot”--which pairs Farrar's warm voice with jangly guitars and up-tempo melodies not heard in their previous efforts. From his studio in St. Louis, Farrar called NEWSWEEK’s Jac Chebatoris to discuss where he’s been all this time, and what it means to be a “pioneer.” Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: You married your high-school sweetheart and you have two kids. Did that play a part in your sort of taking a break from it all?

Jay Farrar: It did. I really did want to spend more time with them and watch them grow. I knew that I wasn’t going to have a chance to do that again--at least I didn’t foresee that--so I wanted to scale back a little bit. [...]

When you first came out with Uncle Tupelo and then Son Volt you were quickly ordained the pioneer of the whole “alt-country” movement. You were very resistant to the idea of that.

At the time it just seemed a little weird because we’d been doing Uncle Tupelo for about seven years, and up to that point, there were just some loose terms thrown around like “roots-oriented rock” or something like that, and then all of sudden it was called “alternative country” and there was a magazine [called No Depression, which took its name from the band’s debut album, although Uncle Tupelo wasn’t involved with it]. It was just a little strange to get acclimated to it at first.

But it had to be exciting, no?

[Laughs.] It was more confusing than exciting because a lot of people were confused about the fact that there was a magazine with the same name as an Uncle Tupelo record. So you know, it was just one of those things. I’m sure there were a lot of well-intentioned people who came up with the whole idea, and it’s gratifying to think that someone believes we started the movement, but that’s not the way I really looked at it. I mean, there were so many bands that were doing similar things in the ‘80s--bands like the True Believers, Rank and File, Jason and the Scorchers.

Uncle Tupelo & Son Volt are okay, but it doesn't get any better than Jason and the Scorchers' Golden Ball & Chain.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 PM


Planting Her Flag: Hillary Clinton is carefully positioning herself as a hawkish centrist. How proving that she is tougher than the boys could work for her in 2008. (Eleanor Clift, 7/29/05, Newsweek)

Ultimately an antiwar candidate will also emerge on the Democratic side, and it could be Al Gore. He hasn’t done anything to advance his candidacy, but he has universal name recognition and is a favorite of Internet activists through MoveOn.org. The Bush administration may be venal, but they’re not stupid, and they’re beginning to lay the groundwork—at least rhetorically—for a pullout from Iraq beginning next year. Gore has the luxury of waiting and seeing whether there will still be a war left for him to oppose by ’08.

Five years ago, when Clinton first ran for the U.S. Senate in New York, she had to overcome resistance among women who thought she was too hard and calculating. She was trying then to soften her image, but now the premium is on toughness. And Clinton has one advantage over other Democrats, she has been under fire from the other side for 15 years; she understands how they operate, and she’s got the war-room mentality to fight back. It’s not personal for her anymore. She’s not going to feel bad if they call her names, or portray her as something she’s not. She’s going to respond.

Just as Karl Rove eviscerated Gore’s ethics and John Kerry’s patriotism, the line of attack against Clinton will be to question her strength of character and portray her as a calculating, ambitious woman who will do anything for power, including staying with a husband who humiliated her. It’s a game she’s played before, and she’s getting pretty good at winning.

She's so easily the toughest guy among prospective Democrats that she's likely to come out of the primaries too untested for her own good, just as John Kerry and Al Gore did.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:23 PM


Dunce of the Week: Nancy Pelosi: CAFTA Contra (Rich Karlgaard, 07.29.05, Forbes)

This week our dunce's cap gets passed to Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader, U.S. House of Representatives. In coming out against the Central America Free Trade Agreement, which passed the House this week, Pelosi made the familiar (and disingenuous) left-wing case: CAFTA, written by greedy capitalists, fails to include protections for labor and the environment. Otherwise she'd have voted for it.

Yeah, right. Over John Sweeney's dead body you would.

Posted by Bryan Francoeur at 3:56 PM


Julia Roberts to make Broadway debut (AP, 7/29/05)

Julia Roberts, movie star, is heading to Broadway next spring.

The 37-year-old actress will make her Broadway debut in a revival of Richard Greenberg's "Three Days of Rain."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:42 PM


HILL ON ROBERTS: 'WADE' AND SEE (Ian Bishop, July 29, 2005, NY Post)

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton seems to be hedging on her 2000 campaign vow to make support for legalized abortion a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees.

Asked yesterday if court pick John Roberts' position on Roe vs. Wade would make or break her vote, Clinton said, "I'm going to wait to hear his answers to the Judiciary Committee . . . I want to see the facts, the evidence. I want to see more documents."

A pro-abortion litmus test doesn't play in the general.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:38 PM


Democrats Request Files Involving Court Pick (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 7/29/05, NY Times)

Departing from the measured tones Democratic leaders have used in speaking about Judge Roberts, Mr. Kennedy laid the groundwork for a new line of questioning focused on Mr. Roberts's role in the civil rights debates of the 1980's

Which debates not only gave us the Solid South but made Republicans the party of whites, who George Bush carried by 17%..

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:31 PM


Despite Problems, Bush Continues to Make Advances on His Agenda (RICHARD W. STEVENSON, 7/29/05, NY Times)

His problems remain many, and include the relentless violence in Iraq, the leak investigation that has ensnared some of his top aides and poll numbers that suggest substantial dissatisfaction with both his foreign and domestic policies. But President Bush has still had a pretty good July, showing how his own doggedness and a Republican majority in Congress have consistently allowed him to push his agenda forward even when the political winds are in his face.

Any time you start with "Despite," you're operating from an unexamined and often untenable assumption.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:25 PM


Economy grows despite high energy costs (JEANNINE AVERSA, 7/29/05, Associated Press)

The economy clocked in at a chipper 3.4 percent annual growth rate in the second quarter, fresh evidence the country's business climate is healthy despite surging energy costs.

The solid increase in the gross domestic product for the April-to-June quarter, reported by the Commerce Department on Friday, came on the heels of a larger 3.8 percent growth rate in the opening quarter of this year.

GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States and is considered the broadest barometer of the country's economic standing.

Despite the toll of elevated energy prices, consumers and businesses still managed to boost spending and investment modestly, helping to underpin overall economic growth in the second quarter.

"There has been a lot of hand wringing going on about high energy prices, consumer debt, fears of terrorism, fears of China, the housing bubble - the list is long and yet these numbers show there is a stealth boom going on in the business world," said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics.

All the Democrat and press poor-mouthing in the world won't stop growth.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:04 AM


Shameless and loveless: The condition in which we now find ourselves is novel in many ways. Perhaps the most interesting is the enormous effort that is now devoted to overcoming or abolishing shame. (ROGER SCRUTON, 4/16/05, The Spectator)

Sexual intercourse began, according to Philip Larkin's famous poem, in 1963. Four decades have elapsed since then, and these decades have seen a growing recognition that sexual liberation is not the answer to the problems of sex but a new addition to them. Traditional sexual morality reinforced the society-wide commitment to marriage as the sole legitimate avenue to sexual release. It is easy to understand such a morality. It has a clear social function — ensuring stable families and guaranteeing the transfer of social capital from one generation to the next. And it has an intrinsic rational appeal in making sense of love, commitment, jealousy, courtship and the drama of the sexes. The problem is that, by impeding our pleasures, it creates a strong motive to escape from it. And escape from it we did, with a great burst of jubilation that very quickly dwindled to an apprehensive gulp.

The condition in which we now find ourselves is novel in many ways. Perhaps the most interesting is the enormous effort that is now devoted to overcoming or abolishing shame. The Book of Genesis tells the story of man's fall, caused by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Until eating the forbidden fruit, the Bible tells us, 'they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed'. No sooner had they eaten, however, than 'the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons'.

When you do something wrong and are discovered you feel ashamed of yourself. This kind of shame is a moral emotion, founded on the thought that someone else is judging you. But it is not what is referred to in the verses quoted, which are about sexual shame. Sexual shame differs from moral shame in two ways. First, it is not a confession of wrongdoing: on the contrary, it testifies to the reluctance to do or suffer wrong. Secondly, it is not troubled, as moral shame is troubled, by the thought that you are being judged as a self, a free being, a moral subject. On the contrary, it arises from the thought that you are being judged as a body, a mechanism, an object. Hence the German philosopher Max Scheler described sexual shame as a Schutzgefühl — a shield-emotion that protects you from abuse, whether by another or yourself. If we lose the capacity for shame we do not regain the innocence of the animals; we become shameless, and that means that we are no longer protected from the sexual predator.

Shame still existed in 1963. Couples hid their desire from the world, and sometimes from each other — at least until the moment when it could be clearly expressed. Obscenity was frowned upon, and by nobody more than the prophets of liberation, such as Herbert Marcuse and Norman O. Brown. Sex, for them, was something beautiful, sacred even, which must not be sullied by dirty language, lavatorial humour or exhibitionist displays. Shame has since been banished from the culture. This we witness in Reality TV — which ought to be called Fantasy TV since that is its function. All fig leaves, whether of language, thought or behaviour, have now been removed, and the feral children are right there before our eyes, playing their dirty games on the screen. It is not a pretty sight, but nor is it meant to be.

This shamelessness is encouraged by sex education in our schools, which tries both to discount the differences between us and the other animals, and to remove every hint of the forbidden, the dangerous or the sacred. Shame, according to the standard literature now endorsed by the DES, is a lingering disability. Sexual initiation means learning to overcome such 'negative' emotions, to put aside our hesitations, and to enjoy 'good sex'. Questions as to 'who', 'whom' or 'which gender' are matters of personal choice — sex education is not there to make the choice, merely to facilitate it. In this way we encourage children to a premature and depersonalised interest in their own sexuality, and at the same time we become hysterical at the thought of all those paedophiles out there, who are really the paedophiles in here. I see in this the clear proof that shame is not a luxury, still less an inhibition to be discarded, but an integral part of the human condition. It is the emotion without which true sexual desire cannot develop, and if there is such a thing as genuine sex education, it consists in teaching children not to discard shame but to acquire it.

Equally novel is the loss of the concept of normal sexual desire. In 1963 we still saw homosexuality as a perversion, even if an enviably glamorous one. We still believed that sexual desire had a normal course, in which man and woman come together by mutual consent and to their mutual pleasure. We regarded sex with children as abhorrent and sex with animals as unthinkable, except for literary purposes. Thanks in part to massive propaganda from the gay lobby, in part to the mendacious pseudo-science put out by the Kinsey Institute (whose charlatan founder has now been admitted to the ranks of saints and heroes), we have abandoned the concept of perversion, and accepted the official view of 'sexual orientation' as a natural and inescapable fact.

Indeed, things have gone further. Around 1963 the philosopher Michael Polanyi presented his theory of 'moral inversion', according to which disapproval once directed at an activity may become directed instead at the people who still disapprove of it. By moral inversion we protect ourselves from our previous beliefs and from the guilt of discarding them. Moral inversion has infected the debate about sexual inversion to the point of silencing it. To suggest that it would be better if children were not exposed to homosexuality or encouraged to think of it as normal, that the gay scene is not the innocent thing that it claims to be but a form of sexual predation — to make those suggestions now, however hesitantly, is to lay yourself open to the charge of 'homophobia'. And this will spell the end of your career in any place, such as a university, which has freedom of opinion as its guiding purpose. In this area, as in so many others, the ruling principle of liberalism applies; namely, all opinions are permitted, so long as they are liberal.

Novel too is the way in which sex and the sexual act are now described. In 1963 it was possible — just — to believe that the language of Lady Chatterley's Lover safeguarded the moral core of sexual emotion, and showed it to be the beautiful and personal thing that it is. Sex, for Lawrence and his liberated followers, was still something holy, which could therefore be defiled. Forty years on we have acquired a habit of describing sex in demeaning and depersonalised terms. Having lost all sense of the human being as 'made in God's image', we take revenge on the body by describing it in what the Lawrentians would regard as sacrilegious language.

What’s Wrong with Twinkling Buttocks? (Theodore Dalrymple, Summer 2003, City Journal)
A crude culture makes a coarse people, and private refinement cannot long survive public excess. There is a Gresham’s law of culture as well as of money: the bad drives out the good, unless the good is defended.

In no country has the process of vulgarization gone further than in Britain: in this, at least, we lead the world. A nation famed not so long ago for the restraint of its manners is now notorious for the coarseness of its appetites and its unbridled and antisocial attempts to satisfy them. The mass drunkenness seen on weekends in the center of every British town and city, rendering them unendurable to even minimally civilized people, goes hand in hand with the appallingly crude, violent, and shallow relations between the sexes. Britain’s mass bastardy is not a sign of an increase in the authenticity of our human relations but a natural consequence of the unbridled hedonism that leads in short order to chaos and misery, especially among the poor. Take restraint away, and violent discord follows.

Curiously enough, the revolution in British manners did not come about through any volcanic eruption from below: on the contrary, it was the intellectual wing of the elite that kicked against the traces. It is still doing so, though there are very few traces left to kick against.

For example, the boundless prurience of the British press concerning the private lives of public figures, especially politicians, has an ideological aim: to subvert the very concept and deny the possibility of virtue, and therefore of the necessity for restraint. If every person who tries to defend virtue is revealed to have feet of clay (as which of us does not?) or to have indulged at some time in his life in the vice that is the opposite of the virtue he calls for, then virtue itself is exposed as nothing but hypocrisy: and we may therefore all behave exactly as we choose. The loss of the religious understanding of the human condition—that Man is a fallen creature for whom virtue is necessary but never fully attainable—is a loss, not a gain, in true sophistication. The secular substitute—the belief in the perfection of life on earth by the endless extension of a choice of pleasures—is not merely callow by comparison but much less realistic in its understanding of human nature.

It is in the arts and literary pages of our newspapers that the elite’s continuing demand for the erosion of restraint, and its unreflective antinomianism, is most clearly on view. Take for example the June 8 arts section of the Observer, Britain’s most prestigious liberal Sunday paper. The section’s two most important and eye-catching articles celebrated pop singer Marilyn Manson and writer Glen Duncan.

Of the pop singer, the Observer’s critic wrote: “Marilyn Manson’s ability to shock has swung like a pendulum in a high wind. . . . He was really scary at first, when [he] burst out of [his] native Florida and declared war on all Middle America holds dear. Manson spun convincing tales of smoking exhumed bones for kicks. . . . But . . . Manson’s autobiography revealed a smart, funny man—even if he did enjoy covering hearing-impaired groupies in raw meat for sexual sport. He turned into an artist, rather than the incarnation of evil. Church groups still picketed his gigs, which often echoed Nazi rallies (they still do). But any fool could see that Manson was making a valid point about rock ‘n’ roll gigs and mass behavior, as well as flirting with fascist style.”

The author of this review—who fastidiously balks at using the word “deaf” for the hearing-impaired but appears not to mind too much if they are exploited for perverted sexual gratification—takes pains to let the reader know that she is not so unsophisticated, naive, and, well, Middle American, as to find the whole spectacle disgusting: for example, by objecting to the adoption of the name of a sadistic multiple killer for trivial publicity purposes. To have responded in such a way would have been to lose caste, to side with the gawky, earnest Christians, rather than with the secular devil worshipers—though the determination to be shocked by nothing, to object to nothing, is itself, of course, a convention. It seems beyond the critic’s range of imagination or sympathy that people who actually fought against fascism and risked their lives and lost their compatriots in doing so, or who suffered under fascism’s yoke, might find the concept of flirtation with fascist style not only offensive but a cause of real despair in the last years of their lives. Fascism is not fashion.

The “any fool” of the last sentence is a subtle form of intellectual snobbery and flattery, intended to suck the reader into the charmed circle of the sophisticated, disabused intellectual elite, the knowing and the cognoscenti who have moved beyond moral judgment and principles, who are not deceived by mere appearances, do not condemn according to outmoded ways of thought, and are therefore unmoved by such trifling (and oppressive) considerations as public decency. It does not occur to the writer—nor would it matter to her if it did—that in the audience in which fascism was flirted with there might not have been any fools but many fools, those who failed to see the ironically playful “valid” point behind the flirtation and would embrace fascism without irony. [...]

When exactly did this downward cultural spiral begin, this loss of tact and refinement and understanding that some things should not be said or directly represented? When did we no longer appreciate that to dignify certain modes of behavior, manners, and ways of being with artistic representation was implicitly to glorify and promote them? There is, as Adam Smith said, a deal of ruin in a nation: and this truth applies as much to a nation’s culture as to its economy. The work of cultural destruction, while often swifter, easier, and more self-conscious than that of construction, is not the work of a moment. Rome wasn’t destroyed in a day.

In 1914, for example, Bernard Shaw caused a sensation by giving Eliza Doolittle the words “Not bloody likely!” to utter on the London stage. Of course, the sensation that this now-innocuous, even innocent exclamation created depended wholly for its effect upon the convention that it flouted: but those who were outraged by it (and who have generally been regarded as ridiculous in subsequent accounts of the incident) instinctively understood that sensation doesn’t strike in the same place twice, and that anyone wanting to create an equivalent in the future would have to go far beyond “Not bloody likely.” A logic and a convention of convention-breaking was established, so that within a few decades it was difficult to produce any sensation at all except by the most extreme means.

If there was a single event in our recent cultural history that established literal-minded crudity as the ideal of artistic endeavor, however, it was the celebrated 1960 trial of Penguin Books for the publication of an obscene book, the unexpurgated version of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The trial posed the question of whether cultural tact and restraint would crumble in the absence of legal sanctions. For, as the much derided prosecutor in the case, Mervyn Griffith-Jones, understood only too well, and specifically advised the government of the day, if the publication of Lady Chatterley’s Lover went legally unchallenged, or if the case were lost, it would in effect be the end of the law of obscenity. To adapt slightly Dostoyevsky’s famous dictum about the moral consequences of the nonexistence of God, if Lady Chatterley’s Lover were published, everything could be published.

What We Have to Lose (Theodore Dalrymple, Autumn 2001, City Journal)
rutality is now a mass phenomenon rather than a sign of individual psychopathology. Recently, I went to a soccer game in my city on behalf of a newspaper; the fans of the opposing teams had to be separated by hundreds of policemen, disposed in military fashion. The police allowed no contact whatever between the opposing factions, shepherding or corraling the visiting fans into their own area of the stadium with more security precautions than the most dangerous of criminals ever faces.

In the stadium, I sat next to a man, who appeared perfectly normal and decent, and his 11-year-old son, who seemed a well-behaved little boy. Suddenly, in the middle of the match, the father leaped up and, in unison with thousands of others, began to chant: "Who the f—k do you think you are? Who the f—k do you think you are?" while making, also in common with thousands of others, a threatening gesture in the direction of the opposing supporters that looked uncommonly like a fascist salute. Was this the example he wanted to set for his son? Apparently so. The frustrations of poverty could hardly explain his conduct: the cost of the tickets to the game could have fed a family more than adequately for a week.

After the game was over, I saw more clearly than ever that the thin blue line is no metaphor. Had it not been for the presence of the police (whose failures I have never hesitated to criticize), there would have been real violence and bloodshed, perhaps even death. The difference between an event that passed off peacefully and one that would end in mayhem, destruction, injury, and death was the presence of a relative handful of resolute men prepared to do their duty.

Despite the evidence of rising barbarism all around us, no betrayal is too trivial for the Quislings of civilization to consider worthwhile. Recently, at the airport, I noticed an advertisement for a firm of elegant and costly shirt- and tie-makers, headquartered in London's most expensive area. The model they chose to advertise their products was a shaven-headed, tattooed monster, with scars on his scalp from bar brawls—the human type that beats women, carries a knife, and throws punches at soccer games. The advertisement is not ironical, as academic cultural critics would pretend, but an abject capitulation to and flattery of the utmost coarseness and brutality. Savagery is all the rage.

It took an enormous nationwide effort to create the conditions that brought 7/07.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM


Ratzinger Is Right (NPQ, Summer 2005)

René Girard, a prominent Roman Catholic conservative and author of the seminal book Violence and the Sacred, is an emeritus professor of anthropology at Stanford University. His more recent books include Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World and I See Satan Fall Like Lightning. Recently NPQ editor Nathan Gardels spoke with Girard at his home near the campus.

NPQ: When Pope Benedict XVI recently denounced what he saw as the "dictatorship of relativism," especially in European culture, it caused great controversy. Is the Pope right that we live in such a dictatorship?

René Girard: Yes, he is right. This formula—the dictatorship of relativism—is excellent. It is going to establish a new discourse in the same way that John Paul II’s idea of recovering "a culture of life" from the "culture of death" has framed a whole set of issues, from abortion to stem cell research, capital punishment and war.

It makes sense that this formula comes from a man—(the former) Cardinal Ratzinger—whose specialty is dogma and theory.

This reign of relativism which is so striking today is due, in part, to the necessities of our time. Societies are so mixed, with such plurality of peoples. You have to keep a balance between various creeds. You must not take sides. Every belief is supposed to be accorded equal value. Inevitably, even if you are not a relativist, you must sound like one if not act like one.

As a result, we have more and more relativism. And we have more and more people who hate any kind of faith. This is especially the case in the university. And it hurts intellectual life. Because all truths are treated as equal, since there is said to be no objective Truth, you are forced to be banal and superficial. You cannot be truly committed to anything, to be "for" something—even if only for the time being.

Like Ratzinger, however, I believe in commitment. After all, we are both convinced by the idea that responsibility demands we must be committed to one position and follow it through. [...]

NPQ: Just as there is clash within Islam between tradition and modernity, doesn’t Pope Benedict’s crusade against relativism also announce a clash within the West? But the issue in the West is not about accommodating faith with reason. It is about resisting a culture of materialism and disbelief by insisting on values, as the Pope has put it, beyond "egoism and desire." Figuratively, the conflict is between the Pope and Madonna (the pop singer).

Girard: It is a culture war, yes. I agree. But it is not Ratzinger who has somehow changed and suddenly become reactionary and conservative. It is the secular culture that has drifted beyond the pale.

Remember, Ratzinger was a supporter of the Vatican II Council that reformed the Church in the 1960s. He opposed the idea that the Church should stand still in a modernizing world. For him, to be a Roman Catholic is to accept that the Church has something to learn from the world. At the same time, there is a Truth that doesn’t change the Gospel. Today, he is just reaffirming his position. He is just standing his ground.

Ratzinger is an intelligent conservative. He wants to avoid the fundamentalism of some Muslims and Christians—no change at all—but also avoid this idea that whatever is new is better than what is old. He wants to resist this dissolving of the Church in whichever direction the world goes. In this sense, I am pro-Ratzinger.

It's funny to watch the interviewer here who thinks it will be brilliant to trick Mr. Girard into saying that the clash within the West is similar to the one between Islam and the West when that's simply a truism. Secular rational Europe is no longer Western and so is a de facto enemy of the Judeo-Christian West just as surely as it is of Islam.

Violence and the Sacred (Scott McLemee, 7/28/05, Inside Higher Ed)

Beginning in the late 1950s, Girard published a series of analyses of Cervantes, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, and Proust (among others) that foregrounded their preoccupation with desire, envy, and imitation. He found that there was a recurrent structure in their work: a scenario of what he called “triangular” or “mimetic” desire. Don Quixote offers a fairly simple example. The would-be knight feels no particular longing for Dulcinea. Rather, he has thrown himself into a passionate imitation of certain models of what a knight must do — and she’s as close to a damsel as circumstances allow.

Girard argued that, at some deep level, all of human desire is like that. We learn by imitation — and one of the things we learn is what, and how, to desire. (Hence, I didn’t so much want that book in the window for its own sake, but as a means to triumph in the struggle for the position my wife calls “Ma’s favorite son-in-law.")

For the most part, we are blind to the mediated nature of desire. But the great writers, according to Girard, are more lucid about this. They reveal the inner logic of desire, including its tendency to spread — and, in spreading, to generate conflict. When several hands reach for the same object, some of them are bound to end up making fists. So begins a cycle of terror and retaliation; for violence, too, is mimetic.

By the 1970s, Girard had turned all of this into a grand theory of human culture. He described a process in which the contagion-like spread of mimetic desire and violence leads to the threat of utter social disintegration. At which point, something important happens: the scapegoat emerges. All of the free-floating violence is discharged in an act of murder against an innocent person or group which is treated (amidst the delirium of impending collapse) as the source of the conflict.

A kind of order takes shape around this moment of sacrificial violence. Myths and rituals are part of the commemoration of the act by which mimetic desire and its terrible consequences were subdued. But they aren’t subdued forever. The potential for a return of this contagion is built into the very core of what makes us human.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 AM


Hastert eyes immigration (Stephen Dinan, July 29, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said yesterday his chamber will work to produce an immigration bill this year, even as the White House signaled a new emphasis on immigration law enforcement as part of selling President Bush's proposal.

The Illinois Republican placed immigration near the top of the list of priorities when Congress returns from its August recess, just below the must-pass spending bills and just before Social Security. He said any immigration bill must mix enforcement, a program for new foreign workers an

President Bush blundered by not selling immigration reform as primarily about national security and "closing" the borders. But now congressional Republicans can put together essentially the same package, add a few anti-immigration bells ansd whistles, and the White House can pretend reluctance and the whole thing slides right by the nativists.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 AM


Mubarak taking an abrupt turn (Michael Slackman, JULY 29, 2005, The New York Times)

President Hosni Mubarak is moving slowly in his embrace of Western-style democracy, but the man who has been called a modern Pharaoh because of his unrivaled power and his 24 years in office has kicked off a re-election campaign that bears many of the hallmarks of a Western-style political campaign.

Setting up a campaign headquarters and having a candidate give a speech on the grounds of his high school is not surprising in industrialized democracies, but until Thursday it was unheard of in Mubarak's Egypt.

There he was, a man who three times before ran for re-election without ever having to face an opponent, announcing his bid for a fifth term from a stage inside his old high school. He gave a speech that sought to humanize himself, laying out his accomplishments, spelling out the challenges ahead and trying to use adversity - in this case recent terror attacks - as cause to stay the course and not change leaders.

"He is trying to tie himself to his country, to his people, to his own community," said Osama El-Ghazaly Harb, a political analyst based in Cairo. "Mubarak never made this before. This is something new and strange."

You'll get used to it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 AM


Bush in talks with German opposition (Honor Mahony, 29.07.2005, EU Observer)

Wolfgang Schauble, the foreign policy expert in Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU), expected to win the general elections next month, held an unscheduled 45-minute meeting with the US leader. [...]

Repeating sentiment expressed by Mrs Merkel during a recent meeting with French government officials, Mr Schauble underlined the importance of the relationship between Berlin and Washington.

"German foreign policy has to find its way back to a traditional balance between good relations with the US and France", he said.

This was also a pointed reference to current chancellor Gerhard Schroder, who managed to infuriate the US when during an election campaign he referred to American plans to invade Iraq as an "adventure".

Mr Schroder then formed a very public triangle of opposition to the war with the leaders of France and Russia, further souring relations with Washington, which are still not back on a completely even keel.

According to Mr Schauble, the current German government went "flatly against its own interests".

It's good to be the King.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:08 AM


Dien Bien Phooey (Spengler , 7/26/05, Asia Times)

"Iraqification" bears no resemblance to "Vietnamization". Hanoi commanded a regular army of more than half a million men, with a record of conventional military victories going back to the siege of Dien Bien Phu in 1953-1954. It could count upon unlimited Russian materiel. After "Vietnamization", Northern regulars beat the army of the Republic of Vietnam in conventional war. The new Iraqi armed forces, haphazard as their organization might be, face no challenge from regulars, only the constant annoyance of suicide attacks. As noted, the Shi'ites have nowhere else to go. "Iraqification" may turn out to be a dog's breakfast, but no one will have to consume it on the Potomac.

Washington is embarrassed by this turn of events, but has no other choice than to adapt to it by removing American troops from the line of fire. Although President George W Bush and his advisors would prefer a stable and democratic Iraq, no degree of violence among Iraqis will undermine American interests. In an earlier era, the British would have encouraged such things. America lacks the sophistication, not to mention the cynicism, to stir the pot, but the pot appears to be stirring itself briskly enough without outside encouragement.

Vietnamization worked rather well in its own right, but in Iraq there are even further advantages: the folk we're handing power to, the Shi'a, have the unifying ideology; the neighboring power, Iran, favors our proxies, not our enemies; even in a worst case scenario, it's so easy for us to kill insurgents any time they show their faces that they can never actually assume power under any scenario; and Ted Kennedy no longer controls Washington, so we abandon our allies. The situation is near ideal.

Posted by Matt Murphy at 2:09 AM


Robin Hood and Air America (Washington Times, 7/29/05)

Did Al Franken's liberal radio network Air America divert city money for the elderly and inner-city children to itself? That's the question people should be asking this week after the revelation that the New York Department of Investigation is looking into whether hundreds of thousands of dollars were illegally transferred from a Bronx community center to Air America. Only a community paper and a few Internet bloggers seem interested in what could be an egregious case of illegal funneling of tax dollars to a private, partisan organization.

In late June, city officials designated the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, a nonprofit organization that runs mentoring programs for children and day care for Alzheimer's patients, a "non-responsible city contractor." Investigators found "significant inappropriate transactions and falsified documents that were submitted to various City agencies." The city subsequently suspended the club's contracts, which run well into the millions.

It turns out, according to sources quoted anonymously by the Bronx News, that the mishandled money went to Air America. One source claims that $480,000 was wrongly transferred. The city investigation is concentrating on Charles Rosen, the club's president for 15 years, and Evan Cohen, the development director, who is a former chairman of Air America. Mr. Cohen resigned from Air America in May after the network's leasing plans in Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere fell through.

Pursuant to the concept that direct quotation is sometimes the very best method of embarrassing an opponent, read the following Air America summary of one day's programming back in January and then ask yourself whether these knuckleheads could ever be trusted to handle money responsibly:

Recent research indicates that not only does George W. Bush have blood ties to the Irish, but also to the ones who plundered that land of green back in the eleven hundreds. Historian, Ann Griffin Bernstorff joins hosts Rachel Maddow, Lizz Winstead and Chuck D to talk about this amazing discovery. [...] Plus, Alix Olson is the special guest for "The Party Machine." Alix has headlined HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, received Venus Magazine’s Activist of the Year Award and has been called a "fierce revolutionary" by Howard Zinn. Alix's latest CD is titled "Independence Meal." [...]

You won't see it on your TV. Bush certainly won't admit it. But today, Randi Rhodes will tell you the truth about the elections in Iraq. They're a sham! [...] And for comic relief, Randi talks about Dick Cheney's wardrobe choice at Auschwitz. It's Friday you bastards. Get ready to bounce your boobies!

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Namibia reserve finds way to protect cheetahs (Michael Wines, JULY 29, 2005, The New York Times)

Roused from his lair in the knee-high grass of the Namibian bush, Dewey the cheetah lifted his head toward his latest clutch of gaping humans, maybe nine meters away, and offered a contemptuous stare of the sort that only cats can deliver.

Dean Masika played at reading the animal's mind. "They found me again," he mocked. "How do they do that?"

Simple. Wielding an antenna that resembles an oversized branding iron, Masika leads eco-tourists to Dewey every few days as surely as if the big cat carried a homing beacon - which he does, of course, on a bulky plastic collar around his neck.

But tourism is in some ways an asterisk to these visits. Dewey is one of about 70 cheetahs living on a 4,000-hectare, or 10,000-acre, sanctuary managed by the AfriCat Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping Namibia's big carnivores survive.

You can domesticate anything you choose to.

July 28, 2005

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:19 PM


Patient Loses 'Right-To-Life' Case (Yahoo News, 7/28/05)

The General Medical Council has won its appeal against a ruling allowing a terminally ill man to stop doctors withdrawing his feeding tube.Lesley Burke did not want doctors to stop giving him food and water in the final stages of his illness.The ruling has wide implications for terminally ill people who want the right to die.

And it means that decisions over people's right to live or die are back in the hands of doctors, rather than the patients.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 PM


Un***ing the Donkey: Advice for weary, wandering Democrats (Rick Perlstein, July 28th, 2005, Village Voice)

[I]t may come as a surprise to you that I've never been impressed by the argument that we need a new idea infrastructure. We've got more ideas than we need.

Sure, the right talks about "ideas" all the time. But they define it exactly opposite from us. For us it is a synonym for clever, complicated new policy options. For them, it's Plato's definition of Ideas: as unchanging essences. The stuff that builds foundations.

As usual, Ronald Reagan boiled it down to essentials. He liked to say—maybe he said it to some of you—"There are no easy answers. But there are simple answers." I'm here to say he's right. "Building a progressive idea structure" ain't the problem. It's recovering the progressive foundation. Do that, and we are un****withable.

It's simple. Barack Obama put it exquisitely in his victory speech: "Government can help provide us with the basic tools we need to live out the American dream."

Here's a dirty little secret. The Republicans know this. Nothing scares them more than us returning to our simple answers.

Mr. Obama, of course, borrowed the "basic tools" line from George W. Bush, who, were he a Democrat would be Mr. Perlstein's hero. What he imagines to be a dirty secret is the platform that Mr. Bush has twice won election on and transformed Democrats into a permanent minority in the process. The President gives those simple answers -- about government providing everyone the tools but not doing the hard work for them -- every chance he gets:
Every American must believe in the promise of America. And to reach this noble, necessary goal, there is a role for government. America doesn't need more big government, and we've learned that more money is not always the answer. If a program is failing to serve people, it makes little difference if we spend twice as much or half as much. The measure of true compassion is results.

Yet we cannot have an indifferent government either. We are a generous and caring people. We don't believe in a sink-or-swim society. The policies of our government must heed the universal call of all faiths to love a neighbor as we would want to be loved ourselves. We need a different approach than either big government or indifferent government. We need a government that is focused, effective and close to the people; a government that does a few things, and does them well.

Government cannot solve every problem, but it can encourage people and communities to help themselves and to help one another. Often the truest kind of compassion is to help citizens build lives of their own. I call my philosophy and approach "compassionate conservatism." It is compassionate to actively help our fellow citizens in need. It is conservative to insist on responsibility and on results. And with this hopeful approach, we can make a real difference in people's lives.

Compassionate conservatism places great hope and confidence in public education. Our economy depends on higher and higher skills, requiring every American to have the basic tools of learning. Every public school should be the path of upward mobility.

Yet, sadly enough, many are the dead-end of dreams. Public schools are some of the most important institutions of democracy. They take children of every background, from every part of the world, and prepare them for the obligations and opportunities of a free society. Public schools are Americans' great hope, and making them work for every child is America's great duty.

The new education reforms we have passed in Washington give the federal government a new role in public education. Schools must meet new and high standards of performance in reading and math that will be proven on tests and posted on the Internet for parents and everyone to see. And we're giving local schools and teachers unprecedented freedom and resources and training to meet these goals.

It is conservative to let local communities chart their own path to excellence. It is compassionate to insist that every child learns, so that no child is left behind. By insisting on results, and challenging failure where we find it, we'll make an incredible difference in the lives of every child in America.

Compassionate conservatism offers a new vision for fighting poverty in America. For decades, our nation has devoted enormous resources to helping the poor, with some great successes to show for it: basic medical care for those in need, a better life for elderly Americans. However, for millions of younger Americans, welfare became a static and destructive way of life.

In 1996, we began transforming welfare with time limits and job training and work requirements. And the nation's welfare rolls have been cut by more than half. But even more importantly, many lives have been dramatically improved.

One former welfare recipient here in California, happened to be a mother of a chronically-ill child and the victim of domestic violence, describes her experience upon leaving welfare. She said, "I feel like an adult again. I have my dignity back."

We need to continue to fully transform welfare in America. As Congress takes up welfare reform again in the coming weeks, we must strengthen the work requirements that prevent dependency and despair. Millions of Americans once on welfare are finding that a job is more than a source of income. It is a source of dignity. And by helping people find work, by helping them prepare for work, we practice compassion.

Welfare reform must also, wherever possible, encourage the commitments of family. Not every child has two devoted parents at home - I understand that. And not every marriage can, or should be saved. But the evidence shows that strong marriages are good for children.

When a couple on welfare wants to break bad patterns and start or strengthen a marriage, we should help local groups give them counseling that teaches commitment and respect. By encouraging family, we practice compassion.

In overcoming poverty and dependence, we must also promote the work of charities and community groups and faith-based institutions. These organizations, such as shelters for battered women or mentoring programs for fatherless children or drug treatment centers, inspire hope in a way that government never can. Often, they inspire life-changing faith in a way that government never should.

Our government should view the good Americans that work in faith-based charities as partners, not rivals. We must provide new incentives for charitable giving and, when it comes to providing federal resources to effective programs, we should not discriminate against private and religious groups.

I urge the Senate to pass the faith-based initiative for the good of America. It is compassionate to aggressively fight poverty in America. It is conservative to encourage work and community spirit and responsibility and the values that often come from faith. And with this approach, we can change lives one soul at a time, and make a real difference in the lives of our citizens.

One interesting sidenote is how juvenile Mr. Perlstein sounds when he uses profanity to try and make his points. If Republicans are the Daddy Party and Demnocrats the Mommy Party, perhaps it's best to think of progressives as the couple's teenagers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 PM


Activating Iraqi forces (Anthony H. Cordesman, Jul 28, 2005, UPI)

The United States and its allied coalition may have made serious mistakes in developing Iraqi forces in the past, but a recent trip to Iraq indicates that it is now beginning to have far more success.

If current plans are successfully implemented the total number of Iraqi military, regular police, and police units that can honestly be described as \"trained and equipped\" should rise from 96,000 in September 2004, and 172,000 today, to 230,000 forces by the end of December of 2005, and 270,000 by mid-2006.

The December total could be a bit lower due to the extension of the police basic course from eight to 10 weeks, one of several initiatives to raise the quality of the police and military forces.

There will be a good balance of military, regular police, and police units. Plans call for about 85,000 military in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense by December, and 145,000 special police and police in the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior.

The 85,000 in the military will include about 83,000 in the army (including the \"national\" forces originally envisioned, along with the former National Guard; also including combat support, service support and training units). The remaining manpower will include the special operations forces and the air force and navy.

About 100,000 of the Interior Ministry personnel will be station/traffic/patrol police; in addition, nearly 20,000 more will be in the special police and the emergency response unit. The remainder covers the border forces, the highway patrol and dignitary protection. By June 2006, the total number in the Iraqi Security Forces (military, regular police and police units) will go to about 270,000. The Defense Ministry will have about 90,000, and the Interior Ministry will have about 180,000 -- provided that there is no change in the currently planned level of regular police.

Included in the numbers of individuals trained and equipped will be significant numbers of combat battalions. In July 2004, just after the Iraqi resumption of sovereignty, neither the Iraqi military nor the Iraqi police had any battalions that could be deployed nationally. Under current plans, the numbers of combat battalions in the Defense Ministry will total around 106 by December of this year.

On top of this, Iraq will have 35 brigade and 10 division headquarters providing command and control of Defense Ministry forces.

Mr. Cordesman is generally skeptical on such matters, so this bodes well.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:54 PM

BLAME THE RIGHT (via Gene Brown):

When the Profile Fits the Crime (PAUL SPERRY, 7/28/05, NY Times)

IN response to the serial subway bombings in London, Mayor Michael Bloomberg prudently ordered the police to start searching the bags of New York's subway riders. But there will be absolutely no profiling, Mr. Bloomberg vowed: the police will select one out of every five passengers to search, and they will do so at random, without regard for race or religion.

In that case, the security move is doomed to fail.

Young Muslim men bombed the London tube, and young Muslim men attacked New York with planes in 2001. From everything we know about the terrorists who may be taking aim at our transportation system, they are most likely to be young Muslim men. Unfortunately, however, this demographic group won't be profiled. Instead, the authorities will be stopping Girl Scouts and grannies in a procedure that has more to do with demonstrating tolerance than with protecting citizens from terrorism.

Critics protest that profiling is prejudicial. In fact, it's based on statistics. Insurance companies profile policyholders based on probability of risk. That's just smart business. Likewise, profiling passengers based on proven security risk is just smart law enforcement.

Besides, done properly, profiling would subject relatively few Muslims to searches.

Part of the problem here is that the conservative argument against affirmative action was too clever by half. Saying that race, gender, etc. should never be taken into account under any circumstances played into the hands of the Left in the long run. The better argument was that those are perfectly reasonable factors for folks to take into consideration in any situation where a constitutional guarantee is not impacted: voting, speech, and the like.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 PM


Capito's CAFTA vote fuels political speculation (The Hill E-News, 7/28/05)

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's (R-W.Va.) decision to resist GOP leaders' arm-twisting on Wednesday night's cliffhanger vote on the Central America Free Trade Agreement has fueled speculation that she will take on Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who is up for reelection next year. During the last intense 20 minutes of the vote, Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) were at Capito's side pressing her to vote in favor of the trade deal, but she would not budge. In the end, GOP leaders squeaked out a 217 to 215 victory when other Republicans, including Reps. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), who was the lynchpin vote on trade promotion authority a few years ago, and Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) consented to vote yes. A number of yes votes quickly followed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:33 PM

EV DIRKSEN LAUGHS (David Hill, The Bronx):

Pelosi questions US Republican tactics in CAFTA win (Reuters, 7/28/05)

The House of Representatives' top Democrat accused Republicans on Thursday of possibly illegal action to encourage some Democrats to vote for a free-trade pact with Central America.

The House voted 217-215 in favor of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, early on Thursday morning, with 15 Democrats joining 202 Republicans in support.

At a briefing hours later, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, complained that deals offered by House Republicans to win CAFTA made the House seem like the "set of 'Let's Make a Deal,"' referring to a TV game show.

Some Democrats were made offers that they said they didn't think "passed legal muster," Pelosi told reporters.

She refused to provide any details of who was involved and what was offered that might have been illegal. She also said the deals were hard to prove because they weren't consummated.

Nothing better encapsulates a permanent minority than whining about "fairness."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 PM

MOMMY, WHO'S THAT SCARY LADY? (via Robert Schwartz):

Activist tells Democrats to get democratic (MIKE HARDEN, July 28, 2005, Columbus Dispatch)

Victoria Parks, in the entrance to the Ohio Honest Elections office, says, "I love the flag, I love my country. We are here every day fighting for a real democracy."

When Democrats from across the nation converged on Columbus this week for a love feast of the already-converted, Victoria Parks began nipping at every heel she could find. "I’m trying to save my democracy," she explained of her picketing of the Democratic Leadership Council. "This nation is becoming a corporate plutocracy. I don’t like to see one-party rule, but that is what we have."

Intense, passionate and tenacious, Parks, who lives in Prairie Township in western Franklin County, claims that the Democratic Party is abandoning its traditional values and agendas to embrace a political philosophy she describes as "Republican lite."

"I have to wonder how democratic the Democratic Party really is. Are they drawing their support from their base, the grass roots, the average Joes, union workers, soccer moms — the people who got out the vote for (John) Kerry — or from corporate interests?"

The average soccer mom's husband wants to break the union at his workplace and the Mom just wants people like Ms Parks to have to stay off of school grounds.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:53 PM


Why are the Dems caving in on Cox? (Jamie Court, July 25, 2005, LA Times)

In a better world, next week's Senate confirmation hearings on the nomination of Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission would be the Democratic Party's finest hour. The hearings offer a perfect opportunity to decry Wall Street's looting of Main Street and to put the GOP on trial for creating the conditions under which corporate criminals flourished.

Instead, Democrats have been eerily silent on Cox, a right-wing Republican who wrote a 1995 law making it harder for investors to take corporate swindlers to court. Cox's Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, which became law over President Clinton's veto, has been blamed for allowing some of the nation's worst financial scandals — including those at Enron and WorldCom — to proceed unchecked. The law let corporate executives off the hook for exactly the kind of utterly misleading statements Enron Chief Executive Kenneth Lay made to keep his company's stock price artificially high.

Indeed, Cox — who President Bush has tapped as the best possible choice to be Wall Street's top cop — is the poster child for how laissez faire, country club Republicanism took trillions out of the pockets of Americans. If the Democratic Party can't find it within itself to stand against putting Americans' life savings in Cox's hands, the party doesn't stand for anything.

Senate panel approves 3 SEC nominations (MARTIN CRUTSINGER, July 28, 2005, AP)
The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday approved President Bush's nomination of Rep. Christopher Cox to be the new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The committee also endorsed the nominations of Roel Campos and Annette Nazareth to fill two Democratic positions on the five-member SEC.

All three officials were approved by unanimous voice votes, clearing the way for them to be taken up by the full Senate before it adjourns this week for a monthlong recess.

The banking panel also approved by voice vote Bush's nominations of John Dugan to be the new comptroller of the currency, succeeding John Hawke, and John Reich to be director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, succeeding James Gilleran. Both the Office of the Comptroller and the Office of Thrift Supervision are financial regulatory divisions under the Treasury Department.

House approves massive energy bill (H. JOSEF HEBERT, July 27, 2005, AP)
The White House said Bush, who had challenged Congress to end four years of stalemate over energy legislation, looked forward to signing the legislation. The president has acknowledged the measure will have little impact on oil or gasoline prices.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the legislation would address root causes of high energy prices, but "we didn't get into this overnight and we're not going to get out of it overnight."

The bill passed the House by a vote of 275-156 and was expected to be approved by the Senate, which was to begin considering the legislation Thursday night, with a vote on Friday.

"This bill is going to go through lickety-split," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., though he denounced it as a collection of giveaways to cash-rich energy companies that would fail to curb the nation's thirst for imported oil. [...]

"This bill is packed with royalty relief, tax breaks, loan guarantees for the wealthiest energy companies in America even as they are reporting the largest quarterly profits of any corporation in the history of the United States," complained Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass.

Posted by David Cohen at 3:56 PM



Veteran wire reporter Helen Thomas is vowing to 'kill herself' if Dick Cheney announces he is running for president.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:06 PM


Durbin was source for column about Roberts (Charles Hurt, 7/27/05, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin acknowledged yesterday that he was the source for a newspaper column that reported earlier this week that Judge John G. Roberts Jr. said he could not rule in a Supreme Court case where U.S. law might conflict with Catholic teaching. [...]

When the column appeared Monday, Mr. Durbin's office clarified that "Judge Roberts said repeatedly that he would follow the rule of law."

Spokesman Joe Shoemaker also said he did not know who Mr. Turley's source was, although only a handful of people were in the room at the time.

"Whoever the source was either got it wrong or Jonathan Turley got it wrong," Mr. Shoemaker said Monday.

Yesterday, Mr. Shoemaker said the source was Mr. Durbin.

This will assuredly get the same hysterical coverage as the Palme kerfuffle, right?

I've got a book here--the outstanding new collection, Our Culture, What's Left of It : The Mandarins and the Masses, by the great Theodore Dalrymple--for the first person who can find this admission that Durbin was the source of the story he denies getting prominent play in a mainstream outlet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:57 PM



If the Bush White House weren't so completely distracted by the Wilson leak investigation, perhaps the President would be able to actually get something done — besides sign CAFTA, the highway bill, and the energy bill into law; read all the improving economic figures; celebrate his still-bullet-proof Supreme Court nomination; and continue along semi-stealthily on 2006 fundraising and candidate recruitment.

And if the Democrats weren't so sure that a one-sentence party platform ("Karl Rove should be in jail.") was a sure winner, perhaps they would Notice that the Republican majority is likely to get at least some credit with voters for passing these laws; that the Bill Clinton Democratic Party of free trade just might have been dead and buried shortly after midnight; and that the AFL thing — along with the America Coming Together thing, along with the DNC thing — leaves the party with some serious money and organization questions.

Don't forget how the story ends:
“But he has nothing on at all,” said a little child at last. “Good heavens! listen to the voice of an innocent child,” said the father, and one whispered to the other what the child had said. “But he has nothing on at all,” cried at last the whole people. That made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought to himself, “Now I must bear up to the end.” And the chamberlains walked with still greater dignity, as if they carried the train which did not exist.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:50 PM


Bar Assn. Examines Roberts' Credentials (GINA HOLLAND, July 28, 2005, AP)

The American Bar Association is reviewing whether the favorable recommendation it gave John Roberts for his federal appellate court judgeship is good for the Supreme Court nomination as well.

I look quizically back to my youth and wonder why I ever thought the law was an honorable profession.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:47 PM

FAILING GRADE (via Jeff Brokaw):

Now for the good news (Lexington, Jul 21st 2005, The Economist)

THERE is no shortage of bad news for the White House these days. The Washington press corps is on death watch outside the house of Karl Rove, George Bush's chief adviser, and the car bombs continue to explode across Iraq. Yet last Thursday also saw some rare good news. It is buried in a pretty obscure place, in a report published by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. But it has some big implications—not only for Mr Bush's much-maligned claim that he is a different sort of conservative, but also for the future health of American society.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress has been periodically testing a representative sample of 9-, 13- and 17-year-olds since the early 1970s. This year's report contained two striking results. The first is that America's nine-year-olds posted their best scores in reading and maths since the tests were introduced (in 1971 in reading and 1973 in maths). The second is that the gap between white students and minorities is narrowing. The nine-year-olds who made the biggest gains of all were blacks, traditionally the most educationally deprived group in American society.

The education establishment—particularly the two big teachers' unions—were quick to pooh-pooh the result. The critics argued that Mr Bush cannot take credit for the gains because his chief educational reform, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, had been in place for only a year when the tests were administered. They also pointed out that the gains are not universal. The results are mixed for 13-year-olds and 17-year-olds. The reading skills of black and Latino 17-year-olds were nearly identical to those of white 13-year-olds.

All this is true, but self-confounding. Mr Bush's act may be very new. But the ideas that lie behind it—focusing on basic subjects such as maths and reading and using regular testing to hold schools accountable—have been widely tried at the state level since at least the mid-1990s. Mr Bush deserves credit for recognising winning ideas thrown up by America's “laboratories of democracy” and then applying them at the federal level.

John Kerry and the Democrats managed to do something truly incredible--they helped pass NCLB for the President but then ran against it in November, just before it was conclusively shown to be working. Their hatred of George Bush has deranged them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:17 PM


Bubble babble (Alan Reynolds, July 28, 2005, Townhall)

Why is even the slightest rollback of asking prices on homes supposed to be such an ominous threat? The most revealing answer came from New York Times writer Anna Bernasek in "Hear a Pop? Watch Out." She began with a hypothetical wealth effect. "Economists use this rule of thumb: A $1 change in household wealth leads to a roughly 5-cent change in consumer spending. By that measure, a 10 percent decline in real estate prices would knock about half a percent off the gross domestic product."

This wealth effect results from single-entry bookkeeping -- looking only at sellers and ignoring buyers. The wealth of young couples mainly consists of their future earnings, or "human capital." High house prices reduce that wealth for first-time homebuyers by as much as they raise financial wealth for sellers.

Those trading one home for another are both buyers and sellers, so the net effect on their wealth depends on whether home prices are most inflated in the place where they are buying or selling. For those changing homes in the same area, a lower price on the house being sold would be largely offset by a lower price on the one being purchased, with little net wealth effect. If home prices softened sufficiently to make selling less attractive, then fewer people would put their homes on the market and the resulting scarcity would limit any price decline.

Bernasek went on to fret that "a fall in values ... would probably lead to tightened credit standards, less lending and higher interest rates." Yet her sources believe "the most attractive way for policy makers to cool the housing market would be to put pressure on lenders to tighten their credit standards" and for the Fed to "nudge the long end of the market toward higher rates." Their proposed solution is identical to the assumed problem.

Similarly, the Fed spent twenty years telling us that our budget deficits were causing them to keep interest rates high--even though rates fell consistently during throughout the 80s and 90s--so what happened when we went into surplus? They raised rates.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:13 PM


IRA says armed campaign is over (BBC, 7/28/05)

The IRA has formally ordered an end to its armed campaign and says it will pursue exclusively peaceful means.

In a long-awaited statement, the republican organisation said it would follow a democratic path ending more than 30 years of violence.

Thirty years ago the three intractable situations were South Africa, Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine. Rapid movement towards resolution of all three began as soon as the USSR fell apart and, despite some missteps, they may all be pretty much resolved by the end of this year.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:11 PM


The roots of Islamic terrorism (Phillip Blond and Adrian Pabst, JULY 28, 2005, International Herald Tribune)

Regarding classical Islam, the oft-quoted remark that Islam is a religion of peace is false. It is historically illiterate to claim that war is foreign to Islam and it is theologically uninformed to argue that jihad is merely a personal inner struggle with no external military correlate.

On the contrary, Islam is linked from the beginning with the practice of divinely sanctioned warfare and lethal injunctions against apostates and unbelievers. Islam experienced no period of wandering and exclusion; from its inception, Islam formed a unitary state bent on military conquest.

The Prophet died a successful military leader who created a single Islamic polity that expanded - through warfare - all over the known world. The caliphate combined the double logic of a religious community and an imperial state.

Which is why Islam is having to be Reformed in our image.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:05 AM


FBI slow to translate counterterror tapes (Kaitlin Bell and Charlie Savage, July 28, 2005, Boston Globe)

The FBI is falling further behind in translating intercepted communications from terrorist suspects, leading to a backlog of unreviewed tapes that has doubled in the past year to more than 8,000 hours, the Justice Department's inspector general disclosed yesterday.

The backlog has surged despite efforts by the FBI to hire more Arabic-language and other translators, because the bureau is collecting much more counterterrorism data than it used to, Inspector General Glenn Fine said. In some cases, the FBI is failing to translate highest-priority intercepts within 24 hours, despite a bureau policy mandating that deadline.

''The FBI's collection of audio material continues to outpace its ability to review and translate all that material," Fine told the Senate Judiciary Committee, warning that ''the FBI's ability to translate foreign-language materials is critical to national security."

The fatal flaw in paranoia about the rise of a surveillance state is that there's no one to watch what you do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:01 AM


Panel: Bush Was Unready for Postwar Iraq (BARRY SCHWEID, July 27, 2005, The Associated Press)

An independent panel headed by two former U.S. national security advisers said Wednesday that chaos in Iraq was due in part to inadequate postwar planning.

Planning for reconstruction should match the serious planning that goes into making war, said the panel headed by Samuel Berger and Brent Scowcroft.

No nation that doesn't plan on keeping the conquered territory will ever be ready for the post-war period--the war is always the overriding priority, not what comes after. What's most revealing is that even in retrospect Mr. Berger and Mr. Scowcroft's recommendations for what should have been done--more US troops--are completely wrong. Instead Iraqification and US withdrawal should have taken place immediately. Shi'ites and Kurds were ready and eager to govern themselves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:48 AM


Wild ponies make annual swim in dense fog (AP, July 27, 2005)

CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. --Between 150 and 200 wild ponies made the annual swim to the shore of this resort island in dense fog Wednesday morning.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:45 AM


Bush Wins Approval of Trade Pact: Contentious House vote to ratify CAFTA is seen as more of a political than economic victory. (Warren Vieth, July 28, 2005, LA Times)

The House voted late Wednesday to ratify the Central American Free Trade Agreement, handing President Bush a hard-fought victory on a measure with limited economic effects but large political consequences. [...]

Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Bakersfield), the Ways and Means Committee chairman who steered the bill through the House, said the near-unanimous opposition of Democrats would help the Republican Party solidify its political gains of recent years.

"I wondered when this moment would come. Apparently it comes tonight," Thomas said before declaring an end to debate. "Tonight … we mature into a permanent majority. We will lead. We will be progressive. We will help our neighbors."

No one has ever done smug and insufferable better than Chairman Thomas.

Five-year negotiations lead to modest energy bill: It covers oilfields, the power grid, and daylight savings time. (Brad Knickerbocker, 7/28/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

[T]he first major energy bill since 1992 does do enough to qualify as political progress, not least of all because it manages to avoid the twin threats of congressional filibuster or presidential veto. And coming as it does when war is being fought in an oil-rich part of the world, and when it nearly takes a second mortgage to fill up the family car, the package shows that Washington is doing something on energy.

The $11.5 billion, 10-year measure provides tax breaks for both energy production and conservation. It would nearly double ethanol production, which advocates say would improve air quality. It provides new subsidies and tax breaks for solar, wind, geothermal, and nuclear power, and it orders an inventory of offshore oil and gas resources. It requires new commercial appliances to be more energy efficient. It would strengthen the nation's energy grid in order to avoid the kind of blackouts seen in recent years, and it would extend daylight saving time by a month. [...]

Success in finally fashioning the bill after five years of trying came because two potential show-stoppers were avoided. One, lawmakers refused to shield the makers of the gasoline additive MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether), from lawsuits in the more than 30 states where the substance has polluted groundwater. And two, they ignored the administration's - and the oil industry's - push for new oil exploration in that part of Alaska known as "America's Serengeti" for all the wildlife it supports. In both cases, Democrats and some Republicans were prepared to hold up the bill had it gone the other way on those two issues.

Still, oil drilling in ANWR will continue to be a contentious issue: It's been attached to the 2006 budget resolution as a potential source of revenues. Overcoming a filibuster requires 60 votes, but the budget resolution requires only a 51-vote majority - which pro-drilling lawmakers are quite confident they have.

If there's one clear winner here it's corn farmers and the ethanol industry. The measure requires refiners to raise the amount of ethanol used in gasoline from 4 billion gallons to 7.5 billion gallons a year.

"Beyond the energy benefits, this renewable fuels standard will create thousands of jobs, revitalize numerous rural communities, and improve air quality," says Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, which represents the ethanol industry.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:57 AM


US-Asia climate deal casts doubt on Kyoto (Andrew Rettman, 7/28/05, EU Observer)

A new US-Asia agreement on climate change might damage the EU and UN-sponsored Kyoto protocol and has embarrassed the UK presidency, which failed to get Washington on board a climate deal at the recent G8 summit.

The US unveiled the creation of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Development (APPD) on Wednesday night (27 July) bringing together China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

The group represents 50 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, but the deal is unlikely to include binding reduction targets and will probably focus on the spread of cleaner technology from the US and Australia to developing countries such as China and India instead. [...]

The deal seems to have taken Brussels and London by surprise, with the UK's environment ministry issuing a cautious "welcome" last night, while stressing that "the announcement from Australia and others certainly does not replace the Kyoto process".

Australia sees things differently however.

"It is quite clear that the Kyoto protocol won't get the world to where it wants to go. We have got to find something that works better. We need to develop technologies which can be developed in Australia and exported around the world - but it also shows that what we're doing now, under the Kyoto protocol, is entirely ineffective", Australian environment minister Ian Campbell told the Guardian.

"Anyone who tells you that the Kyoto protocol, or signing the Kyoto protocol is the answer, doesn't understand the question", he added.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:47 AM


Documents Show Roberts Influence In Reagan Era (R. Jeffrey Smith, Jo Becker and Amy Goldstein, July 27, 2005, Washington Post)

To a greater extent than the White House documents previously released, the more than 15,000 pages of Justice Department memos show Roberts speaking at times in his own voice. In memos to the attorney general or senior officials of the Justice Department, Roberts argued for restrictions on the rights of prisoners to litigate their grievances; depicted as "judicial activism" a lower court's order requiring a sign-language interpreter for a hearing-impaired public school student who had already been given a hearing aid and tutors; and argued for wider latitude for prosecutors and police to question suspects out of the presence of their attorneys.

In the rare instances revealed in the documents in which Roberts disagreed with his superiors on the proper legal course to take on major social issues of the day, he advocated a more conservative tack.

In one instance, he wrote a memo to the attorney general urging Smith to disregard the recommendation of William Bradford Reynolds, the head of the agency's civil rights division, that the administration should intervene on behalf of female inmates in a sex discrimination case involving job training for prisoners.

"I recommend that you do not approve intervention in this case," Roberts wrote. He said that such a step would be inconsistent with the administration's belief in judicial restraint and that, if equal treatment for male and female prisoners was required, "the end result in this time of state prison budgets may be no programs for anyone." Besides, he said, private plaintiffs were already bringing suit.

On June 15, 1982, Roberts faulted the Justice Department for the outcome in Plyler v. Doe , in which the Supreme Court overturned a Texas law that had allowed school districts to deny enrollment to children who had entered the country illegally.

Roberts argued that if the solicitor general's office had taken a position in the case supporting the state of Texas "and the values of judicial restraint," it could have "altered the outcome of the case."

"In sum, this is a case in which our supposed litigation program to encourage judicial restraint did not get off the ground, and should have," Roberts wrote.

Much of Roberts's time at the Justice Department was taken up by the debate over GOP-sponsored bills in Congress that would have stripped the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction over abortion, busing and school prayer cases. He wrote repeatedly in opposition to the view, advanced by then-Assistant Attorney General Theodore B. Olson, that the bills were unconstitutional. He scrawled "NO!" in the margins of an April 12, 1982, note Olson sent to Smith. In the memo, Olson observed that opposing the bills would "be perceived as a courageous and highly principled position, especially in the press."

Roberts drew a bracket around the paragraph, underlined the words "especially in the press," and wrote in the margin: "Real courage would be to read the Constitution as it should be read and not kowtow to the Tribes, Lewises and Brinks!"

The three appear to be to Harvard Law School professor Laurence H. Tribe, New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis and then-American Bar Association President David R. Brink, who opposed the bills.

Roberts added skeptical margin notes again when Olson wrote that the bills were unnecessary because the court now had more Republican-appointed members than it had in the 1960s, and was moving to the right as a result.

Roberts underlined the name of one of the Republican appointees Olson listed, Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the author of Roe v. Wade , and drew an arrow connecting it to the word "abortion."

Later, then-counselor to the attorney general Kenneth W. Starr asked Roberts to prepare a memo that "marshals arguments in favor of Congress' power to control" the Supreme Court's jurisdiction. Roberts noted as a result that his memo "was prepared from a standpoint of advocacy of congressional power . . . [and] does not purport to be an objective review of the issue."

Roberts approvingly cited comments by "Professor Scalia" -- then-University of Chicago law professor Antonin Scalia -- at a conference on the bills. Scalia "recognized that non-uniformity in the interpretation of federal law could be criticized as 'sloppy,' but asked: compared to what? Given the choice between non-uniformity and the uniform imposition of the judicial excesses embodied in Roe v. Wade, Scalia was prepared to choose the former alternative."

Roberts also took issue with the view that bills restricting the court's jurisdiction would be unconstitutional because they interfere with "fundamental rights." "None of the pending bills concerning jurisdiction in abortion or school prayer cases directly burden the exercise of any fundamental rights," he wrote.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:31 AM


Child abuse gang horrifies France (Sarah Shenker, 7/28/05, BBC News)

France has been shocked by the scale of abuse revealed at the Angers paedophile trial, where 65 adults were accused of sexually abusing 45 children.

It was the biggest criminal trial in recent French history.

The abused were aged from six months to 14 years, and some of them were prostituted and raped by their own parents and grandparents, in a poor district of the town in western France.

Sometimes they were offered to strangers in return for small amounts of money, food, alcohol or cigarettes.

Normally in France you only get this kind of behavior when the Germans invade.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:10 AM


Economic Reports Continue To Show Quickening Growth (Nell Henderson, July 28, 2005, Washington Post)

U.S. factories booked orders more briskly and new-home sales rose to a record high last month, the government reported yesterday, adding to other recent signs that the economy is gaining momentum.

New orders for big-ticket manufactured goods rose 1.4 percent in June, the Commerce Department said yesterday. It also increased its previous estimate of May orders for such durable goods -- items expected to last at least three years, such as computers, machinery and appliances -- to a 6.4 percent increase, reflecting in part some big aircraft orders.

Sales of new single-family homes increased 4 percent last month to an annual pace of 1.37 million, the department said in a separate report.

Other recent reports shows that consumers bought previously owned homes at the highest rate ever in June, retail sales were stronger and employers hired more people.

Every year of his presidency Mr. Bush has been portrayed as a complete failure in August--when he goes on vacation--then come back so strongly in September that you get the annual spate of misunderestimation stories. He may be closing July so well though that he'll avoid the Summer swoon.

Stocks rise in hopes Fed may ease up on hikes (ELLEN SIMON AND MARTIN CRUTSINGER, 7/28/05, Chicago Sun-Times)

Wall Street had a surge of optimism Wednesday, sending stocks higher after investors interpreted a Federal Reserve report on the economy as a sign the Fed's year-long string of interest rate increases might be nearing an end.

Wall Street was mired in a narrow trading range until midafternoon, when the Fed released its Beige Book, a survey of the business climate around the country. The central bank said the job market showed some improvement and that inflation, a major concern for the Fed and the stock market, was fairly contained

"fairly contained" being Fed code for deflation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:04 AM


CAFTA just passed.

In Bush Win, House Narrowly Approves CAFTA (JIM ABRAMS, 7/28/05, Associated Press)

The House narrowly approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement early Thursday, a personal triumph for
President Bush, who campaigned aggressively for the accord he said would foster prosperity and democracy in the hemisphere.

The 217-215 vote just after midnight adds six Latin American countries to the growing lists of nations with free trade agreements with the United States and averts what could have been a major political embarrassment for the Bush administration.

And they worked out a Highway deal today that's within a rounding error of the number the White House demanded, to go with the Energy bill...

July 27, 2005

Posted by Matt Murphy at 11:12 PM


Fool me 8 Times, Shame on Me (Ann Coulter, 7/27/05, Universal Press Syndicate)

Like John Roberts, Souter attended church regularly. Souter was also touted for his great intellect. He went to Harvard! And Harvard Law! (Since when does that impress right-wingers? So did Larry Tribe. It is one of the eternal mysteries of the world that liberals are good test-takers.) [...]

Roberts would have been a fine candidate for a Senate in Democratic hands. But now we have 55 Republican seats in the Senate and the vice president to cast a deciding vote -- and Son of Read-My-Lips gives us another ideological blind date.

Fifty-five seats means every single Democrat in the Senate could vote against a Republican Supreme Court nominee -- highly unlikely considering some of those Democrats are up for election next year -- along with John McCain, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Lincoln Chafee. We would still win.

Of course it's possible that Roberts will buck history -- all known human history when it comes to the Supreme Court -- and be another Scalia or Thomas. (And we'll hear this news while attending a World Series game between the Cubs and, oh, say ... the Detroit Tigers.) [...]

Bush said "Trust me," and Republicans trust him. It shouldn't be difficult for conservatives to convince themselves that Roberts is our man. They've had practice convincing themselves of the same thing with Warren, Brennan, Blackmun, Stevens, O'Connor, Kennedy and Souter.


Roberts Would Be Fourth Catholic on Court (Richard N. Ostling, 7/27/05, AP)

If John Roberts is confirmed, he will be the fourth Roman Catholic on the Supreme Court, an all-time high that is focusing attention on how faith might influence law on the high court.

From abortion to capital punishment to physician-assisted suicide, the upcoming term offers plenty of issues in which the Catholic church has strong interest. But history shows a justice's religion does not provide a roadmap for rulings. [...]

Writing in the online edition of the liberal magazine The American Prospect, Roberts foe Adele Stan contended that President Bush was "playing the Catholic card" by nominating Roberts, who would be the 10th Catholic in the court's history.

"Bush is betting he's bought himself some insulation any opposition to Roberts, particularly because of his anti-abortion record, will likely be countered with accusations of anti-Catholicism," she said. [...]

The Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which opposes Roberts, says all indications are "he's on a trajectory dramatically different from the way church-state law has gone the last few decades."

But Lynn also insists that "the issue is entirely his judicial philosophy, not where he goes to church." [...]

There's no question about Roberts' strong Catholic background.

Growing up in Indiana, he attended the Notre Dame grade school in Michigan City and La Lumiere School, a Catholic college preparatory school in LaPorte.

His wife is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, where she now serves on the board along with Justice Thomas. She's also a board member of the John Carroll Society, which sponsors a Mass for judges and lawyers at the opening of each Supreme Court term.

Shifty-eyed, faux-conservative Souter clone? Or "Papacy-In-Exile" proponent who hums the Kyrie Eleison in his sleep?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:08 PM


Senior clerics denounce faxed Zarqawi 'death list' (Mohammed Zaatari, July 28, 2005, Daily Star)

Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani and Higher Shiite Council Vice-President Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan spoke out in denunciation of a recent communique claiming Al-Qaeda is targeting prominent Lebanese Muslims. Qabbani and Qabalan said that the communique aimed to stir sectarian strife among Muslims in Lebanon by attacking religious figures known for their piety and care for Islamic and national interests.

The threats were made in a communique signed by "Qaidat al-Jihad Fi Bilad al-Sham" and faxed Tuesday to the Shiite community's religious center, known as Dar al-Ifta, in the port city of Tyre.

Qabbani's and Qabalan's word came in reply to the letter's announcement that Al-Qaeda's Abu Musab al-Zarqawi of Iraq has established a cell in Lebanon that is planning to assassinate nine Shiite leaders, including Speaker Nabih Berri and high-ranking Hizbullah leaders.

Zarqawi understands better than Hizballah that Shi'ism and Islamicism are enemies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:01 PM


Feeding the blogs to promote the judge (Paul Bedard, 7/27/05, US News)

Senate Democrats and Judiciary Committee minority staffers are miffed that conservative bloggers appear to have more information about Bush Supreme Court nominee John Roberts than they do.

"They've got material out there that we don't know about," complained Sen. Edward Kennedy, who's leading an effort to force the White House to turn over any documents it has on Roberts.

Other Democrats said that they believe the White House is providing supportive bloggers with information that paints Roberts only in a positive light. Kennedy, speaking to reporters last Friday, said that he was unaware of the prolific GOP blogging on behalf of Roberts until his wife pointed it out.

Nicely captures how much a party of the past Democrats have become.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:53 PM


Mugged by reality? (Mark Steyn, July 25, 2005, The Australian)

WITH hindsight, the defining encounter of the age was not between Mohammed Atta's jet and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, but that between Mohammed Atta and Johnelle Bryant a year earlier.

Bryant is an official with the US Department of Agriculture in Florida, and the late Atta had gone to see her about getting a $US650,000 government loan to convert a plane into the world's largest crop-duster. A novel idea.

The meeting got off to a rocky start when Atta refused to deal with Bryant because she was but a woman. But, after this unpleasantness had been smoothed out, things went swimmingly. When it was explained to him that, alas, he wouldn't get the 650 grand in cash that day, Atta threatened to cut Bryant's throat. He then pointed to a picture behind her desk showing an aerial view of downtown Washington - the White House, the Pentagon et al - and asked: "How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it?"

Fortunately, Bryant's been on the training course and knows an opportunity for multicultural outreach when she sees one. "I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from," she recalled. "I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could."

So a few weeks later, when fellow 9/11 terrorist Marwan al-Shehhi arrived to request another half-million dollar farm subsidy and Atta showed up cunningly disguised with a pair of glasses and claiming to be another person entirely - to whit, al-Shehhi's accountant - Bryant sportingly pretended not to recognise him and went along with the wheeze. The fake specs, like the threat to slit her throat and blow up the Pentagon, were just another example of the multicultural diversity that so enriches our society.

For four years, much of the western world behaved like Bryant.

If you want many cultures you get them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:46 PM

THE DIRTIEST TRICK (via The Mother Judd):

How Willkie Ran, Lost and Helped Win the War (TODD S. PURDUM, 7/25/05, NY Times)

It is June 1940. France has just fallen to the Nazis. A conservative, isolationist Republican Party, incensed at the prospect of a third term for Franklin D. Roosevelt, nominates a liberal, interventionist political newcomer named Wendell Lewis Willkie. His moderate candidacy gives Roosevelt the cover he needs to pass a draft, swap American destroyers for bases from a beleaguered Britain and win re-election by five million votes.

Fiction? Nope, just improbable fact, recalled with relish by Charles Peters, West Virginia lawyer, John F. Kennedy campaign worker, Peace Corps official and founder of The Washington Monthly, who may be Washington's most prominent cockeyed optimist, in his new book Five Days in Philadelphia: The Amazing 'We Want Willkie!' Convention of 1940 and How it Freed F. D. R. to Save the Western World.

"This is the plot that saved America," Mr. Peters said recently in his living room perched in a wooded cul de sac above the Potomac River, as he explained his fizzy, nonfiction book that could be a rejoinder to "The Plot Against America" (Houghton Mifflin), Philip Roth's darkly imagined 2004 novel in which Charles A. Lindbergh wins the 1940 Republican nomination and the presidency and there are scattered pogroms in the country.

"Because you realize," he added, referring to Willkie's conservative rival, Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio, that "Bob Taft would have been the nominee. He was Charles Lindbergh, except for the anti-Semitism, so Roth's nightmare could have come true. He was a very nice, very principled man, but he was dead wrong at the crucial point in our history."

It was a disaster not just for the country, which was deprived of a genuine opportunity to debate whether we had any national interest in the war in Europe, but for the Republican Party, as the conservative base was alienated from the Eastern establishment that ran the party and proceeded to offer up a series of liberal Republican presidential candidates who ran on what Phyllis Schlafly called me-tooism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:33 PM

GRAB A BUCKET AND MOP (via Luciferous):

Home Schools Run By Well-Meaning Amateurs: Schools With Good Teachers Are Best-Suited to Shape Young Minds (Dave Arnold, NEA.org)

There's nothing like having the right person with the right experience, skills and tools to accomplish a specific task. Certain jobs are best left to the pros, such as, formal education.

There are few homeowners who can tackle every aspect of home repair. A few of us might know carpentry, plumbing and, let’s say, cementing. Others may know about electrical work, tiling and roofing. But hardly anyone can do it all.

Same goes for cars. Not many people have the skills and knowledge to perform all repairs on the family car. Even if they do, they probably don’t own the proper tools. Heck, some people have their hands full just knowing how to drive.

So, why would some parents assume they know enough about every academic subject to home-school their children? You would think that they might leave this -- the shaping of their children’s minds, careers, and futures -- to trained professionals. That is, to those who have worked steadily at their profession for 10, 20, 30 years! Teachers!

(Dave Arnold, a member of the Illinois Education Association, is head custodian at Brownstown Elementary School in Southern Illinois.)

Does he think we can't clean our own homes either?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 PM


Truly Muslim, fully American (Fatina Abdrabboh, 7/28/05, CS Monitor)

"I condemn terrorism." Lately, because I'm a Muslim, these are the only three words people seem to want to hear come out of my mouth. Beyond the words themselves, the way I proclaim them is measured for sincerity. Perhaps even more than the days immediately after 9/11, I as a Muslim feel now that many of my fellow Americans believe that Islam and its adherents are evil, pure and simple. [...]

Why is my stance on terrorism my only defining feature?

For the same reason a Darwinist's stance on eugenics defined him in the first half of the 20th Century?

U.S. Muslim Scholars To Forbid Terrorism (Caryle Murphy, July 28, 2005, Washington Post)

An organization of top American Muslim religious scholars plans to issue a formal ruling today condemning terrorism and forbidding Muslims to cooperate with anyone involved in a terrorist act, according to officials of two leading Islamic organizations.

The one-page ruling, or fatwa, will be issued by the Fiqh Council of North America, an association of Islamic legal scholars that interprets Islamic law for the Muslim community. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group, said the ruling does not represent a new position on terrorism.

Rather, Hooper said, "it is another way to drive home the point that the American Muslim community rejects terrorism and extremism."

Although Muslim leaders and political organizations have repeatedly denounced religious extremism, Hooper added, "any time any Muslim goes on a talk show or on television, the first question is, 'Why haven't Muslims condemned terrorism?' "

Louay Safi of the Islamic Society of North America noted that there is an "important difference" between a fatwa and previous statements from the Muslim community. The fatwa "is not a political statement. It's a legal or religious opinion by a recognized religious authority in the United States," said Safi, whose group is based in Indianapolis.

Muslims here decry religious extremism (EMILY NGO, July 30, 2005, Chicago Sun-Times)
In light of bomb attacks in London and Egypt, Muslim interest groups in Chicago on Friday joined Muslims nationwide in publicly decrying acts of violence performed for religion's sake.

Several Muslim interest groups here officially endorsed the fatwa, or religious decree, issued by the Fiqh Council of North America against religious extremism.

According to the teachings of the Quran, acts of terrorism targeting innocents are forbidden in Islam, the fatwa reads. The decree seeks to remind Muslims that Islam condemns violence and to assure non-Muslims that not all of the Islamic world resorts to violent means.

"We believe suicide bombing is criminal and sinful," said Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. "Killing civilians, for whatever cause, will result in God's utter displeasure."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:17 PM


There are perfectly coherent explanations for why you would vote against CAFTA if you're a Democrat, but the argument they've offered repeatedly tonight is hilarious: We have a constitutional duty to examine this treaty and upon that examination I have determined that it will not enhance and enforce labor laws in the Central American signatories so I have to oppose it.

One wonders what nation's constitutional republic it is they think they're supposed to be defending?

N.B. You can tell the GOP means business because they have Ray LaHood in the Speaker's chair.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:28 PM


Fishy milk hits shelves in boost for healthy living (LOUISE BARNETT, 7/27/05, The Scotsman)

A "SUPERMILK" containing Omega 3 fatty acids derived from oily fish is to go on sale this week.

It is produced by cows which are given a special fish oil blend along with their normal feed. A 250ml serving contains ten times more of the Omega 3 acids known as DHA and EPA than regular milk but is said to taste the same.

Omega 3 fatty acids tackle heart disease and ensure healthy nails, hair and skin.

Claire Williamson, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said many people in the UK do not eat the recommended one portion per week of oily fish.

"Consuming oily fish is linked to a decreased risk of heart disease," she said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:04 PM


In Egypt, Many Question Whether Their Own Culture Is to Blame for Terror Attacks (Nadia Abou El-Magd, 7/27/05, Associated Press)

At one mosque in Cairo, some worshippers objected to prayers for the dead and missing after Saturday's bombings in Sharm el-Sheik because some victims were likely non-Muslims, said the editor of the government weekly Al-Musawwar.

Another columnist pointed to a weekly column in the government Al-Ahram daily by a religious scholar, Zaghloul al-Naggar, who explains science by using the Quran. After December's tsunami in the Indian Ocean, he went on Arab television and called the devastation God's revenge on Westerners engaged in vice.

The debate since Sharm has been a deepening of the soul-searching that has gone on across the Arab world in recent years over whether religious interpretations need reform in the face of terror attacks by Muslim radicals.

The debate began, hesitantly, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. And the voices have grown with each act of terrorism - particularly ones in the Middle East. A series of attacks in Saudi Arabia in 2003 forced that country to begin taking action against extremist thought.

The 2004 Madrid bombings increased calls for change among Muslims in Europe and the Mideast. After the July 7 suicide bombings in London, Britain's largest Sunni group issued a binding religious edict, known as a fatwa, condemning the attack.

Egypt has been hit this month by a double blow: the kidnapping and slaying of its top envoy in Iraq by Islamic militants and the bomb blasts that ripped through Sharm, killing as many as 88 people - the vast majority of them Egyptians.

What was unusual about the self-criticism after Sharm was that it came from government media - and even from within the Islamic clerical hierarchy picked by the government.

"There is no use denying. ... We incited the crime of Sharm el-Sheik," ran a bold red headline of a lead editorial Wednesday by Al-Musawwar's editor in chief, Abdel-Qader Shohaib.

The bombers "didn't just conjure up in our midst suddenly, they are a product of a society that produces extremist fossilized minds that are easy to be controlled," Shohaib wrote.

"They became extremists through continuous incitement for extremism which we have allowed to exist in our societies. Regrettably, the incitement is coming from mosque pulpits, newspapers, and TV screens, and radio microphones," which are all state-run, Shohaib said.

In Al-Ahram, columnist Ahmed Abdel Moeti Hegazi wrote: "This is not just deviation, it is a culture,"

Hegazi said he went to one mosque after the July 7 London bombings and the slaying of the Egyptian diplomat but the preacher made no mention of either attack. Instead, he denounced women wearing bathing suits.

Abdel Moeti Bayoumi, a theology professor at Al-Azhar University and a member of Al-Azhar's Center of Islamic Research, said change is needed. Al-Azhar, in Cairo, is one of the leading Sunni Muslim institutions in the world.

"Islamic preaching institutions are in a very acute need for shake-up," Bayoumi told The Associated Press. "Issuing statements and holding conferences to condemn terrorism is not what is needed. They are more like a cover-up of unresolved problems."

The Islamicists are exploding their way to a Reformation in our image.

Struggle for a British Islam (James Brandon and John Thorne, 7/28/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

Notably, they're not taking their cues from Britain's leading Muslim clerics. Rather, their effort is largely spontaneous - a grass-roots phenomenon that is emerging to bridge the disconnect between faith and nationality that, for some Muslims, ends in violence.

"We believe that we are as British as anyone, if not more, because we are British by choice," says Dr. Akmal Makhdum, a psychiatrist who organized the gathering. "The way of life here does not mean you have to give up your culture, because the British way of life allows you to keep it."

Polls taken since the bombings, however, show that men as unabashedly pro-British as Mr. Makhdum face a daunting challenge. Nearly two-thirds of Britain's 1.6 million Muslims have considered leaving the country, a Guardian/ICM poll this week showed.

Between Makhdum and the rejectionists opposing him, the bulk of ordinary Muslims have been thrown into the thick of the debate by the Islamic terrorists who struck London twice in a fortnight.

"The bombers are throwing away everything our parents have done for us," laments Wasif Khan, who works for global professional services firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu in London. "It's so frustrating."

"It's only been in the last 10 years that we've been able to say we are British," says his wife Ayesha, a third-generation Muslim who remembers the lingering racism her elders had struggled against. "All [the bombers] were thinking is that they, personally, were going to heaven," she adds bitterly. "They'd been brainwashed for a larger cause, but individually they were completely selfish. They need to figure out what true Islam is."

Selfishness is the hallmark of Europe's secular rational "culture."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:12 PM


Test vote shows gun industry win (Brian DeBose, July 27, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

The Senate likely will pass a bill this week to make gun makers and dealers immune from civil lawsuits by local governments seeking to hold the industry responsible for gun-related crimes, after a test vote yesterday showed overwhelming support for the legislation.

On Monday, the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act acquired a 60th Senate co-sponsor -- Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat. It easily passed the first hurdle on passage, being brought to the floor for debate on a 66-32 vote.

Mr. Byrd's signature gave the bill 60 co-sponsors, assuring a filibuster-proof majority and passage on the floor, said Dan Whiting, spokesman for Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican and the bill's sponsor.

Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat, said his party expects to use the same tactic that defeated the bill last year...

You'd think it might give them pause to note that their longest serving member facing the toughest race of his career has signed up with the other side. Democrats really have just written off 30 states at the national level.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:49 PM

CORELESSNESS (via Robert Schwartz):

Ten core values of the British identity (Daily Telegraph, 27/07/2005)

We prefer simply to set out, in general terms, the non-negotiable components of our identity - the qualities of the citizenship that Muktar Said Ibrahim applied for.

I. The rule of law. Our society is based on the idea that we all abide by the same rules, whatever our wealth or status. No one is above the law - not even the government.

II. The sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament. The Lords, the Commons and the monarch constitute the supreme authority in the land. There is no appeal to any higher jurisdiction, spiritual or temporal.

III. The pluralist state. Equality before the law implies that no one should be treated differently on the basis of belonging to a particular group. Conversely, all parties, sects, faiths and ideologies must tolerate the existence of their rivals.

IV. Personal freedom. There should be a presumption, always and everywhere, against state coercion. We should tolerate eccentricity in others, almost to the point of lunacy, provided no one else is harmed.

V. Private property. Freedom must include the freedom to buy and sell without fear of confiscation, to transfer ownership, to sign contracts and have them enforced. Britain was quicker than most countries to recognise this and became, in consequence, one of the happiest and most prosperous nations on Earth.

VI. Institutions. British freedom and British character are immanent in British institutions. These are not, mostly, statutory bodies, but spring from the way free individuals regulate each other's conduct, and provide for their needs, without recourse to coercion.

VII. The family. Civic society depends on values being passed from generation to generation. Stable families are the essential ingredient of a stable society.

VIII. History. British children inherit a political culture, a set of specific legal rights and obligations, and a stupendous series of national achievements. They should be taught about these things.

IX. The English-speaking world. The atrocities of September 11, 2001, were not simply an attack on a foreign nation; they were an attack on the anglosphere - on all of us who believe in freedom, justice and the rule of law.

X. The British character. Shaped by and in turn shaping our national institutions is our character as a people: stubborn, stoical, indignant at injustice. "The Saxon," wrote Kipling, "never means anything seriously till he talks about justice and right."

When even the Telegraph no longer equates faith with Britishness--even though it's the core to every one of the X characteristics they long to maintain---it's easy to see why they're doomed.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:35 PM


‘Worthless’ gifts get the good girls (Anna Gosline, 7/27/05, New Scientist)

Men who spend big money wining and dining their dates are not frittering away hard-earned cash. According to a pair of UK researchers, they are merely employing the best strategy for getting the girl without being taken for granted.

Using mathematical modelling, Peter Sozou and Robert Seymour at University College London, UK, found that wooing girls with costly, but essentially worthless gifts – such as theatre tickets or expensive dinners out – is a winning courtship strategy for both sexes.

Females can assess how serious or committed a male plans to be and males can ensure they are not just seducing ‘gold-diggers’ – girls who take valuable presents with no intention of accepting subsequent dates.

The Wife actually used this strategy as a final test of love, requiring that I take her out on a dinner date--though in our case she was just looking to see whether she could get me to go to a restaurant, not whether I'd spend the money. I got my revenge though, when we got married she realized I'd just charged my way through law school and she was on the hook for the credit card bills, including the dinner.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:48 PM


Think Again, Karen Hughes (Anne Applebaum, July 27, 2005, Washingtn Post)

Only two senators were in the room when Karen Hughes testified at her confirmation hearings. When it came time for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to vote on her nomination yesterday, she was easily approved. And thus with no discussion and no debate, Hughes takes over the least noticed, least respected and possibly most important job in the State Department. Her formal title is undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. In plain English, her job is to fight anti-Americanism, promote American culture and above all to do intellectual battle with the ideology of radical Islam, a set of beliefs so powerful that they can persuade middle-class, second-generation British Muslims to blow themselves up on buses and trains.

Presumably, President Bush selected Hughes for this task because she was very good at running his election campaigns. And indeed, in the testimony she gave last week to a nearly empty room, she sounded like she was still running an election campaign. Like Hillary Clinton, she said she wanted people around the world to know that she would be "listening" to them: "I want to learn more about you and your lives, what you believe, what you fear, what you dream, what you value most." Like Jesse Jackson, she deployed alliteration, alluding to the four "E's": "engagement, exchanges, education and empowerment."

Unfortunately, Hughes's most important constituents aren't going to respond to engagement and empowerment, let alone exchange and education, unless the latter involves those flight schools where they don't teach you how to take off or land. It has become clear in Iraq, if it wasn't already, that what we call the "war on terrorism" is in fact a small part of a larger intellectual and religious struggle within Islam, between moderates who want to live in modern countries, and radicals who want to impose their extreme interpretation of sharia , or religious law. So far, most of the money, and most of the "public diplomacy," has been channeled to the radicals. Consider, for example, an extraordinary report published this year by the Center for Religious Freedom, a division of Freedom House, which surveys more than 200 books and pamphlets collected at mosques and Islamic centers in U.S. cities. Most were in Arabic. All were published by the Saudi government or royal family, and all promote the extreme form of Wahhabi Islam found in Saudi Arabia. The books reflect contempt for the United States, condemn democracy as un-Islamic, and claim that Muslims are religiously obliged to hate Christians and Jews. Most insidiously, the documents denounce moderate Muslims, especially those who advocate religious tolerance, as infidels. If a Muslim commits adultery or becomes a homosexual, one pamphlet -- published by the Saudi government's ministry of Islamic affairs -- advises that "it would be lawful for Muslims to spill his blood and take his money."

You can't be taking their money.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 AM


Roberts had larger 2000 recount role: The role of U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts in the 2000 election aftermath in Florida was larger than has been reported. Roberts helped prepare the Supreme Court case. (MARC CAPUTO, 7/27/05, Miami Herald)

U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts played a broader behind-the-scenes role for the Republican camp in the aftermath of the 2000 election than previously reported -- as legal consultant, lawsuit editor and prep coach for arguments before the nation's highest court, according to the man who drafted him for the job.

Ted Cruz, a domestic policy advisor for President Bush and who is now Texas' solicitor general, said Roberts was one of the first names he thought of while he and another attorney drafted the Republican legal dream team of litigation ''lions'' and ''800-pound gorillas,'' which ultimately consisted of 400 attorneys in Florida.

Until now, Gov. Jeb Bush and others involved in the election dispute could recall almost nothing of Roberts' role, except for a half-hour meeting the governor had with Roberts. Cruz said Roberts was in Tallahassee helping the Bush camp for ''a week to 10 days,'' and that his help was important, though Cruz said it is difficult to remember specifics five years after the sleep-depriving frenetic pace of the 2000 recount.

But one thing was certain, Cruz told The Herald: ``There was no one better for the job.''

''He's one of the best brief writers in the country. Just like a good journalist or a novelist, he can write with clarity, concisely and can paint a picture with words,'' said Cruz. Roberts, a constitutional-law expert in a top Washington law firm at the time, is now a federal appeals court judge in D.C. Roberts was a no-brainer for the recount effort: His win-loss record at the U.S. Supreme Court was one of the most impressive. And, like Cruz, he was a member of a tight-knit circle of former clerks for the court's chief justice, William Rehnquist -- a group jokingly referred to as ``the cabal.''

Of course, he played less of a role in determining the winner than the woman he's replacing.

Posted by Bryan Francoeur at 9:48 AM


"People think you can't train a dog to pull a plow. Impatient people think that. Patient people know better."

--Anonymous Farmer, The Simpsons

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 AM



Outed CIA spy Valerie Plame last fall gave a campaign contribution to go toward an anti-Bush fund-raising concert starring Bruce Springsteen, it was revealed last night.

It's the first revelation that Plame participated in anti-Bush political activity while working for the CIA.

The $372 donation to the anti-Bush group America Coming Together, first reported by Time magazine's Web site, was made in Plame's married name of Valerie E. Wilson and covered two tickets.

The Federal Election Commission record lists her occupation as "retired" even though she's still a CIA staffer.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility that MoveOn, ActUp, and the rest of them are just CIA fronts.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:15 AM


In Reagan's White House, a Clever, Sometimes Cocky John Roberts (JOHN M. BRODER and CAROLYN MARSHALL, 5/27/05, NY Times)

A sliver of John G. Roberts's voluminous files from his years as a junior White House lawyer reveals a young man with a facile mind and a sharp and sometimes smart-alecky tongue. [...]

The papers here show that in August 1983, Mr. Roberts was asked to draft a response to a letter to Mr. Reagan from a college professor who feared he might land on an alleged United States Information Agency blacklist for lodging a complaint about the agency. Mr. Roberts, in a memorandum to his boss, Fred F. Fielding, the White House counsel, noted in an aside, "Once you let the word out there's a blacklist, everybody wants to get on."

There was also the time he offered a snide analysis, in an internal White House memorandum, of a proposal from a member of the House, Elliott H. Levitas. After the Supreme Court struck down efforts by Congress to veto actions taken by the executive branch, Mr. Levitas, a Democrat from Georgia, proposed that the White House and Congress convene a "conference on power-sharing" to codify the duties of each branch of government.

Asked to comment on the congressman's proposal, Mr. Roberts mocked the idea, and him. "There already has, of course, been a 'Conference on Power Sharing,' " Mr. Roberts wrote in a memo to Mr. Fielding. "It took place in Philadelphia's Constitution Hall in 1787, and someone should tell Levitas about it and the 'report' it issued."

Mr. Roberts also expressed mild scorn for two members of the District of Columbia City Council, Wilhelmina Rolark and David A. Clarke, who along with Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr. and others were seeking more autonomy for the city. When asked to assess a proposed response from a Justice Department lawyer to the municipal officials, he wrote that "I will call the attorney at Justice handling this matter and suggest use of a more neutral sobriquet than 'the Home Rule Act' in the Clarke and Rolark reply, and some stylistic changes to prevent the last sentence in the Clarke and Rolark letter, which also appears in the Barry letter, from reading as if it were an awkward translation from Bulgarian."

...he's a saucy little minx?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:07 AM


Our extreme makeover: Favorable impressions of the U.S. are being detected around the world, including inside Muslim countries. (Max Boot, July 27, 2005, LA Times)

The public opinion poll was conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, hardly a bastion of neocon zealotry. (It's co-chaired by Madeleine Albright.) Over the last three years, Pew surveys have charted surging anti-Americanism in response to the invasion of Iraq and other actions of the Bush administration. But its most recent poll — conducted in May, with 17,000 respondents in 17 countries — also found evidence that widespread antipathy is abating.

The percentage of people holding a favorable impression of the United States increased in Indonesia (+23 points), Lebanon (+15), Pakistan (+2) and Jordan (+16). It also went up in such non-Muslim nations as France, Germany, Russia and India.

What accounts for this shift? The answer varies by country, but analysts point to waning public anger over the invasion of Iraq, gratitude for the massive U.S. tsunami relief effort and growing conviction that the U.S. is serious about promoting democracy.

There is also increasing aversion to America's enemies, even in the Islamic world. The Pew poll found that "nearly three-quarters of Moroccans and roughly half of those in Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia see Islamic extremism as a threat to their countries."

Support for suicide bombing has declined dramatically in all the Muslim countries surveyed except Jordan, with its large anti-Israeli Palestinian population. The number of those saying that "violence against civilian targets is sometimes or often justified" has dropped by big margins in Lebanon (-34 points) and Indonesia (-12) since 2002, and in the last year in Pakistan (-16) and Morocco (-27).

This has been accompanied by a cratering of support for Osama bin Laden everywhere except (unfortunately) Pakistan and Jordan. Since 2003, approval ratings for the world's No. 1 terrorist have slid in Indonesia (-23 points), Morocco (-23), Turkey (-8) and Lebanon (-12).

What accounts for this decline? Primarily the actions of the terrorists themselves.

If the American Press and Left took this long to figure out that the President was serious about the WoT being primarily about liberalization and democracy, why should the masses in foreign countries have grasped it any quicker?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:38 AM


The evolution of George Gilder: The author and tech-sector guru has a new cause to create controversy with: intelligent design (Joseph P. Kahn, July 27, 2005, Boston Globe)

CREATIONISM: Ascribes creation of all matter and species to the work of a divine agency such as God.

EVOLUTION: Theorizes that plant and animal species developed from earlier life forms by a process of random mutation and natural selection.

INTELLIGENT DESIGN: Asserts that life is too complex to be explained by purely natural processes, and therefore some agent or agents of higher intelligence played a role in its creation. [...]

[T]wo primary influences began nudging Gilder toward intelligent design.

One was the work of Claude E. Shannon, which Gilder discovered through his interest in the science behind the computer chip. Shannon is regarded as the father of information theory, a branch of mathematics that combines probability theory and statistics and is used by communication engineers to orchestrate how information bits are transmitted.

The more the inner workings of the cell are understood, according to Gilder, the more Shannon's theory is useful in deconstructing life itself. Given the cell's complexity and capacity for information exchange, Gilder and other ID proponents maintain, it seems improbable that life could have evolved haphazardly. It's not that Darwin is wrong or irrelevant, they contend, or that processes like genetic mutation and natural selection play no role in how species evolve. But these processes cannot explain everything that biologists ascribe to them. Ergo, some form of higher intelligence -- call it God, a Supreme Programmer, or whatever -- must have played a role, they say.

''Physics and chemistry alone cannot account for the complexity of the genome," Gilder asserts. ''It's like trying to understand how basketball is played by studying the rules. There's far more to the game than that."

Though a conservative Christian by upbringing and temperament, Gilder insists his belief in ID is not a faith-based proposition.

''The analogy between Shannon and codes in biology isn't something that sprang from my belief in God," he says, shaking his head. Information theory and Christianity are not deeply entwined for him, he says -- ''except maybe on some deeper or more transcendent level." Using Darwin to explain how life began, he adds, ''isn't even remotely feasible in information-theoretic terms. Something else has to be posited. What that additional factor is, how this intelligence emerges in the universe, I don't know and isn't for me to say. But nobody else does, either."

Gilder is also cofounder of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank established in 1991. The institute, which promotes a conservative public-policy agenda, has occupied a lead role in the ID movement recently, most notably through its Center for Science and Culture, which boasts a number of leading ID proponents among its fellows and advisers. The institute is headed by Bruce Chapman, Gilder's former college roommate, coauthor, and Reagan White House colleague.

As a senior fellow at the institute, Gilder primarily focuses on telecom policy. Yet the controversy over ID, recently reflected in the Smithsonian Institution's decision to screen an ID-friendly documentary titled ''The Privileged Plant: The Search for Purpose in the Universe," has brought the issue to Gilder's front doorstep.

And for an old culture warrior like Gilder, there's no ducking this fight, either.

''I'm not pushing to have [ID] taught as an 'alternative' to Darwin, and neither are they," he says in response to one question about Discovery's agenda. ''What's being pushed is to have Darwinism critiqued, to teach there's a controversy. Intelligent design itself does not have any content."

Not only does this profile demolish most of the stereotypes surrounding these questions, but using Mr. Kahn's common sense definitions it's plain that what's still controversial, all these decades after the Scopes trial, is Evolution, which only 13% of Americans believe in but which this fraction insists be exclusively taught in public schools.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:25 AM


Negotiators reach pact on a broad energy bill: Overhaul aimed at spurring output (Rick Klein and Susan Milligan, July 27, 2005, Boston Globe)

Congressional negotiators reached agreement yesterday on a sweeping overhaul of the nation's energy policies, with a sprawling package of tax breaks, subsidies, and regulation changes designed to spur production of oil, gasoline, and other energy sources.

The agreement brings a national energy plan close to passage in Congress, more than a decade since the last one was passed, and after President Bush had lobbied extensively for it throughout his presidency. If House and Senate leaders meet their goal and approve the measure by week's end, it would hand a major victory to the president, whose second-term agenda has stalled on Capitol Hill. [...]

It rejects Democrats' calls for tighter emissions controls and for further encouragement of renewable fuel technologies.

''It's a transformational bill," said the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, Joe Barton, a Texas Republican.

Maybe they mean something different by "stalled" than the rest of us?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:17 AM


CAFTA's Upshot More Political Than Economic (Paul Blustein and Mike Allen, July 27, 2005, Washington Post)

The grand debates about open markets, workers' rights and U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere don't matter much anymore. Within days, and possibly hours, the Central American Free Trade Agreement is likely to face an exceedingly tight vote in the House, and its fate hangs on issues of less than cosmic import -- such as pockets and linings.

To a handful of Southern Republicans with textile mills in their districts, it is no small matter what sort of fabric is used in the interior portions of garments that would enter the U.S. market duty-free under CAFTA. So the Bush administration essentially promised this week that the fabric in such pockets and linings will be from the United States -- and that pledge won the support for CAFTA of at least five Republican lawmakers in the past two days.

Cajoling, deal-cutting and browbeating were always in the cards for CAFTA because it is by far the most controversial trade agreement in years. While Congress easily approved recent pacts eliminating trade barriers between the United States and middle-income countries such as Australia and Singapore, the administration's proposal for a similar deal with six low-wage Latin American nations has drawn overwhelming rejection from House Democrats, mainly on the grounds that labor rights are inadequately protected in those countries. Several dozen Republicans, many of whom face hostility toward free trade in their districts, also are refusing to or are reluctant to cast pro-CAFTA votes.

Administration officials and House Republican leaders are scrambling to ensure that they are at least within striking distance of a one-vote majority when the roll call begins, on the assumption that a number of lawmakers from their party can be persuaded to vote yes if their support is essential.

You think passing Medicaire Reform was ugly? You ain't seen nothin' yet...

Bush lobbies Republicans on CAFTA bill (JIM ABRAMS, 7/27/05, Associated Press)

In a rare piece of lobbying on Capitol Hill, President Bush appealed personally to fellow Republicans Wednesday to close ranks behind a free trade agreement with Central America that faces a very close floor vote.

The House was beginning debate on the Central American Free Trade Agreement later in the day, with a vote likely on Thursday. With Democrats strongly against it, passage depends on keeping Republican defections to a minimum.

Bush, who has invested considerable time and effort to winning approval of CAFTA, was accompanied by Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman at the closed meeting of House Republicans. It isn't unusual for presidents to press their agendas with members of their own party or the opposition party, but they usually do it at the White House.

Bush's chief spokesman, Scott McClellan, said Bush planned to address other issues likely to come up as Congress rushes toward summer recess, including major energy and highway legislation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:53 AM


U.S. to announce 'Beyond Kyoto' greenhouse pact (Michelle Nichols, 7/27/05, Reuters)

The world's top polluter, the United States, is set to unveil a pact to combat global warming by developing energy technology aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, officials and diplomats said on Wednesday.

China and India, whose burgeoning economies comprise a third of humanity, as well as Australia and South Korea are also part of the agreement to tackle climate change beyond the Kyoto protocol.

Kyoto requires a cut in greenhouse emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12 but the United States and Australia have never ratified the protocol because it excluded major developing nations such China and India.

Diplomats in the Laotian capital Vientiane said the pact would be formally announced on Thursday when U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick holds a press conference attended by representatives of the other signatories.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:09 AM

Grass is greener with a cool summer drink (LEZLI BITTERMAN , July 27, 2005, Chicago Sun-Times)



6 ice cubes
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate (do not thaw)
2 large scoops (about 1 cup) vanilla ice cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Orange slice for garnish

Place ice cubes in blender, cover and process on high speed until crushed, about 30 seconds.

Add frozen orange juice concentrate, vanilla ice cream and extract; process until smooth. Pour into a chilled class and garnish with the orange slice.

The Ultimate A-To-Z-Bar Guide (Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst)

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:05 AM


Iraqi prime minister calls for speedy withdrawal of troops (ROBERT BURNS, July 27, 2005, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Iraq's transitional prime minister called Wednesday for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. troops and the top U.S. commander here said he believed a "fairly substantial" pullout could begin next spring and summer.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said at a joint news conference with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the time has arrived to plan a coordinated transition from American to Iraqi military control throughout the country.

Asked how soon a U.S. withdrawal should happen, he said no exact timetable had been set. "But we confirm and we desire speed in that regard," he said, speaking through a translator. "And this fast pace has two aspects."

First, there must be a quickening of the pace of U.S. training of Iraqi security forces, and second there must be closely coordinated planning between the U.S.-led military coalition and the emerging Iraq government on a security transition, he said.

"We do not want to be surprised by a withdrawal that is not in connection with our Iraqi timing,"' he said.

How about, be completed by next summer.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Files Highlight Legal Stances of a Nominee (DAVID E. ROSENBAUM, 7/27/05, NY Times)

As a young lawyer in the Justice Department at the beginning of Ronald Reagan's presidency, John G. Roberts advocated judicial restraint on the issues of the day, many of which are still topical, documents released Tuesday by the National Archives show.

He defended, for instance, the constitutionality of proposed legislation to restrict the ability of federal courts to order busing to desegregate schools.

On other civil rights issues, he encouraged a cautious approach by courts and federal agencies in enforcing laws against discrimination.

Judge Roberts, now on the federal court of appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, also argued that Congress had the constitutional power "to divest the lower federal courts of jurisdiction over school prayer cases."

In another memorandum, he maintained that the Supreme Court, to which he is now nominated, overreached when it denied states the authority to impose residency requirements for welfare recipients.

This was an example, he wrote, of the court's tendency to find fundamental rights, like the right to travel between states, for which there was no explicit basis in the Constitution. "It's that very attitude which we are trying to resist," he wrote.

Indeed, the Court's invention of rights for which there's no basis in the Constitution is all that remains of the liberal epoch.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Dick Durbin's evolving standard of decency (Terence Jeffrey, July 27, 2005, Townhall)

[Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press,"] put Durbin on the rack last Sunday, torturing the poor man with his own contradictory words.

When Durbin was first elected to the U.S. House, you see, he was pro-life. Now, as a pro-abortion member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he is expected by left-wing groups to enforce his party's pro-abortion litmus test for Supreme Court nominees. With the nomination of Judge John Roberts to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Durbin is showing every sign of living up to those expectations.

Back in 1983, as Russert pointed out, Durbin "believed that Roe v. Wade was incorrectly decided" and supported "a constitutional limit to ban all abortions." Durbin, Russert said, wrote to a constituent: "The right to an abortion is not guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution."

Durbin did not contest Russert's characterization of his formerly pro-life, anti-Roe views. "I'll concede that point to you, Tim," he said. [...]

What changed Durbin's mind about the meaning of the Constitution?

On "Meet the Press," this is how Durbin explained his conversion: "You know, it's a struggle for me. It still is. I'm opposed to abortion. If any woman in my family said she was seeking abortion, I'd go out of my way to try to dissuade them from making that decision. But I was really discouraged when I came to Washington to find that the opponents of abortion were also opponents of family planning. This didn't make sense to me. And I was also discouraged by the fact that they were absolute, no exceptions for rape and incest, the most extraordinary medical situations. And I finally came to the conclusion that we really have to try to honor the Roe v. Wade thinking, that there are certain times in the life of a woman that she needs to make that decision with her doctor, with her family and with her conscience, and that the government shouldn't be intruding."

This is not only devoid of constitutional reasoning, it is devoid of all reasoning.

Mr. Russert can run the Keyes for Senate campaign.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


New Asia-Pacific climate plan (Dennis Shanahan, July 27, 2005, The Australian)

AUSTRALIA has joined the US, China, India and South Korea in a secret regional pact on greenhouse emissions to replace the controversial Kyoto climate protocol.

The alliance, which is yet to be announced, will bring together nations that together account for more than 40 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

To be known as the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate, the grouping will aim to use the latest technologies to limit emissions and to make sure the technologies are available in the areas and industries that need them most.

The US and Australia have refused to sign the Kyoto protocol -- an international agreement setting greenhouse gas emission targets for developed countries by 2012. China and India are not limited by it because they are considered developing economies.

The US initiative has been discussed between the five nations for five months and is viewed as a practical attempt to rein in greenhouse emissions without harming development or economic growth in the region.

This could be the most entertaining moment of what has been a long and hilarious crack-up on the Left, as George Bush secures the most significant enviroinmental protection measure in human history.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


AG: High Court Not Bound by Roe V. Wade (MARK SHERMAN, 7/26/05, Associated Press)

The legal right to abortion is settled for lower courts, but the Supreme Court "is not obliged to follow" the Roe v. Wade precedent, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday as the Senate prepared to consider John Roberts' appointment that would put a new vote on the high court.

The "right to privacy" being naught but a figment of the Court's imagination it can obviously change its collective mind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Democratic Self-Strangulation (The Prowler, 7/27/2005, American Spectator)


Just how hijacked is the Democratic Party? Former CIA analyst and Joe Wilson advocate Larry Johnson was allowed to give the party's weekly national radio address. Some Democrats in both the House and Senate are wondering why the party continues to beat on the supposed Karl Rove scandal, despite the fact that there is no clear evidence the story is helping the party politically.

"I haven't seen a single, serious poll beyond the media's that attacking Rove helps us one bit with the voters," says a Democratic House member. "No one can show me numbers. This is all the fringe people like MoveOn and even Howard Dean. It's all about not getting past 2000 and 2004. And I really fear we're going to pay for it down the road." [...]


New York Sen. Chuck Schumer was none too pleased with press reports on Monday that his junior colleague from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton, had announced that she would not oppose the nomination of Judge John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

"He pitched a fit," says a Senate Judiciary staffer, who interacts extensively with Schumer's staff. "His staff thought she was opening up the trapdoor for him to fall through. It appeared to be classic Clinton triangulation."

Prosecutor In CIA Leak Case Casting A Wide Net: White House Effort To Discredit Critic Examined in Detail (Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei, July 27, 2005, Washington Post)

The special prosecutor in the CIA leak probe has interviewed a wider range of administration officials than was previously known, part of an effort to determine whether anyone broke laws during a White House effort two years ago to discredit allegations that President Bush used faulty intelligence to justify the Iraq war, according to several officials familiar with the case.

Prosecutors have questioned former CIA director George J. Tenet and deputy director John E. McLaughlin, former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, State Department officials, and even a stranger who approached columnist Robert D. Novak on the street.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Documents Show Roberts Aiding O'Connor (GINA HOLLAND, 7/26/05, Associated Press)

As a young Justice Department lawyer, John Roberts helped guide Supreme Court nominee Sandra Day O'Connor through the Senate confirmation process he now confronts as the choice to replace her.

Roberts was just six weeks into his job when he drafted a memo to Kenneth Starr describing his work with O'Connor. The young Roberts said he helped ready O'Connor for her confirmation hearing, preparing draft answers to questions she was likely to be asked.

"The approach was to avoid giving specific responses to any direct questions on legal issues likely to come before the court, but demonstrating in the response a firm command of the subject area and awareness of the relevant precedents and arguments," Roberts wrote in the Sept. 17, 1981, memo to Starr, who later became solicitor general and then served as a special prosecutor investigating President Clinton.

The document was among thousands of pages released Tuesday at the National Archives in College Park, Md., covering part of Roberts' tenure as a lawyer in the Reagan administration.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Clinton Angers Left With Call for Unity: Senator Accused of Siding With Centrists (Dan Balz, July 27, 2005, Washington Post)

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's call for an ideological cease-fire in the Democratic Party drew an angry reaction yesterday from liberal bloggers and others on the left, who accused her of siding with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) in a long-running dispute over the future of the party.

Long a revered figure by many in the party's liberal wing, Clinton (D-N.Y.) unexpectedly found herself under attack after calling Monday for a cease-fire among the party's quarreling factions and for agreeing to assume the leadership of a DLC-sponsored initiative aimed at developing a more positive policy agenda for the party.

The reaction highlighted the dilemma Democratic politicians face trying to satisfy energized activists on the left -- many of whom are hungering for party leaders to advance a more full-throated agenda and more aggressively confront President Bush -- while also cultivating the moderate Democrats and independents whose support is crucial to winning elections. The challenge has become more acute because of the power and importance grass-roots activists, symbolized by groups such as MoveOn.org and liberal bloggers, have assumed since the 2004 election.

Because the mainstream Democrats no longer believe in anything and the DLC types have given up on pulling the Party to the Right, the only energy and ideas remaining are the old ones on the far Left, even if it is a new, electronic, far Left.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


In Europe, abortion foes gain support, and funds (Elisabeth Rosenthal, JULY 27, 2005, International Herald Tribune)

For most of July, pedestrians in the Polish city of Lodz found themselves face-to-face with 14 grisly billboards pairing images of aborted fetuses with photographs of blood-spattered corpses - victims of genocide in Srebrenica or Rwanda, toddlers killed in the Oklahoma City bombing attack.

Placed by a Polish anti-abortion group, the traveling exhibition, which has moved on to Lublin, personifies an aggressive, well-financed and growing conservative movement across Europe that opposes not only abortion but also contraception, sex education, artificial insemination and gay rights.

Encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church, enabled by the election of conservative governments in many countries and financed in part by anti-abortion groups in the United States, the movement has made powerful inroads in countries where a full array of women's health services were once taken for granted.

These include Poland, Italy, Slovakia, Lithuania and even the Netherlands, where the new Christian Democratic secretary of health has suggested a review of that country's liberal abortion law.

"It's gotten worse in many places over the last two to three years, as more Christian Democrat and conservative governments have come to power," said Rebecca Gomperts, founder of the Dutch abortion rights group Women on Waves.

It's not going to get "better" as secular rationalists become a less significant portion of the population.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Even dad's smoke bad for fetuses (Anita Srikameswaran, July 27, 2005, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Pooling data from three earlier studies, Stephen G. Grant, an environmental and occupational health researcher at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, found that secondhand smoke leads to the same number of genetic mutations in newborns as does smoking by the mother herself.

As Grant put it: "Passive exposure gives you just as much of an exposure and just as bad damage as active smoking." [...]

In the earlier studies, umbilical cord blood samples from newborns were tested for changes in the HPRT gene, which is on the X, or female, chromosome.

The study compared gene mutation rates among babies born to mothers who smoked, quit smoking when they learned they were pregnant, lived or worked with smokers, or had no exposure to smoking.

"What we found is the three exposed groups were all pretty much the same," Grant said. "But they were all significantly different from the unexposed."

Mutations of the HPRT gene were almost twice as common in the exposed groups, he said.

"If the mutations are occurring at this gene, there's no reason why they shouldn't be occurring at the same elevated frequencies at other genes," Grant said. Depending on which genes are affected, those changes could ultimately lead to birth defects, cancer or other conditions.

And to evolution.

July 26, 2005

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:26 PM


Son of Spiritual Mentor of Osama Bin Laden Calls Attacks on Civilians Criminal (The Associated Press, 7/26/05)

The son of Osama bin Laden's spiritual mentor said the recent string of terror attacks that have swept Egypt, Britain and other countries are "a crime."

Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian who led Islamic militants in Afghanistan and was killed there by a roadside bomb in 1989, is considered the mentor of bin Laden, but the younger Azzam said his father would fight against groups that target civilians and use his name.

"All those using my father's name are only using his name to market for their operations," Hudhaifa Abdullah Azzam said in an interview with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya network broadcast Tuesday.

The terrorism used against the Soviets was just--this is not.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:13 PM


Venezuela's Chavez lashes back at cardinal (AP, 7/19/05)

President Hugo Chavez has denied an outspoken cardinal's allegation that he is leading Venezuela toward a dictatorship as tensions mounted between the leftist leader and the Roman Catholic Church.

Chavez said anyone who thinks his "revolutionary" government is gradually turning into a dictatorial regime "is crazy enough to be tied up or just ignorant (and) doesn't know what's happening in Venezuela."

The statements made by Chavez in Lima, Peru, where he was attending an Andean summit meeting, were released by his press office in Caracas on Monday. A day earlier, Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara said Chavez's administration "has seized control of all the branches of government" in Venezuela.

The cardinal warned that "true democracy" does not exist in Venezuela, and said the president is steering the world's fifth largest oil exporter toward a Cuba-style dictatorship.

"The only solution is democratic, which must involve the resistance of all the people," Castillo Lara said.

The church has been one of the loudest critics of Chavez, a former paratroop commander and self-styled revolutionary. Chavez, in turn, has described the church leadership as a "tumor."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:29 PM


The Best Army We Can Buy (DAVID M. KENNEDY, 7/25/05, NY Times)

[B]y some reckonings, the Pentagon's budget is greater than the military expenditures of all other nations combined. It buys an arsenal of precision weapons for highly trained troops who can lay down a coercive footprint in the world larger and more intimidating than anything history has known. Our leaders tell us that our armed forces seek only just goals, and at the end of the day will be understood as exerting a benign influence. Yet that perspective may not come so easily to those on the receiving end of that supposedly beneficent violence.

Don't we want it to be a lethal influence for those on the receiving end and a beneficial one for us?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:58 AM


Court nominee does well in poll; Rove does not (Susan Page, 7/25/05, USA TODAY)

[B]y 34% to 25%, Americans have an unfavorable view of Rove; 25% have never heard of him. Seen by many as Bush's most powerful White House adviser, Rove has been in the news lately because of an investigation into whether administration officials illegally leaked the name of a CIA operative to reporters.

The controversy hasn't gripped the public's attention. Just half of those surveyed say they are following the story closely; one in five aren't following it at all. [...]

In the survey, Bush's job-approval rating was steady at 49%, in the same range where it has been for more than a year. [...]

His current rating as a "strong and decisive leader" is 62%, about the same as in 2000.

Only the modern Left could have switched its time and energy to someone even more marginal than Tom DeLay.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 AM


Is This How the West Won?: a review of Guns Germs and Steel (Michael Balter, July 8, 2005, Science)

Jared Diamond is a biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles; a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences; and the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Guns, Germs, and Steel. Now he is also the star of a three-part series, based on the book, that airs this month on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States. The series details Diamond's influential yet controversial explanation for why the world is divided into haves and have-nots--the principal reason, he maintains, is geography: At the end of the last Ice Age, about 11,500 years ago, prehistoric hunter-gatherers living amongst the wild ancestors of today's domesticated plants and animals--most notably the wheat, barley, sheep, goats, and cattle native to the Near East--were ideally situated to invent farming and amass the agricultural surpluses that fueled the rise of civilization and technology. Meanwhile, the unfortunate inhabitants of geographic regions with few domesticable species--such as Africa and the New World--lagged behind in their development; even worse, they eventually fell victim to armies of (mostly European) colonizers whose technologically superior weaponry allowed them to subjugate entire continents. Adding to this onslaught of guns and steel, Diamond argues, were the ravages of deadly diseases that the invaders brought with them, such as smallpox, to which Europeans had developed some immunity (often through their long coexistence with domesticated animals) but which felled native peoples by the millions.

Diamond's thesis is one of the most widely discussed big ideas of recent years, and deservedly so. For one thing, it is an explicitly anti-racist explanation for social and economic inequalities on a global level, an explanation that dispenses with subtle and not-so-subtle assumptions about the inherent superiority of Europeans and their descendants. The have-nots, Diamond counters, are simply those whose prehistoric ancestors were dealt an unlucky draw of the geographical cards. The book, a best-seller in both the original and paperback editions, is required reading in many university courses. It has stimulated considerable debate; for that reason alone a film version, which will undoubtedly reach an even wider audience than the book, seems justified. And it would be churlish to deny Diamond the star treatment he receives in the film, even if one repeated scene of the biologist cruising down a river in Papua New Guinea--while the narrator, actor Peter Coyote, tells us dramatically that Diamond is "on a quest" to understand the roots of power--seems just a bit too focused on the person rather than the ideas.

More worrying, however, is the fact that during all of Diamond's journeys--which take him across the globe by boat, train, airplane, and helicopter, with film crew in tow--the viewer is told only once (at the end of the first hour) that there are scholars who disagree with his thesis. Nor are any of these dissenters ever interviewed, even though a number of other experts and personalities appear in the film to bolster Diamond's viewpoint. This imbalance is a disservice to television viewers, who are surely sophisticated enough to hear challenges to Diamond's ideas without losing track of the plot line. The omission might not be so serious if Diamond had only recently presented his thesis, but over the eight years since the book was first published its tenets have been much debated. Indeed, it is usually assigned to university students precisely so that they can discuss the merits of Diamond's arguments. In 2001, for example, Cornell University in New York required all of that year's incoming undergraduates to read Guns, Germs, and Steel as part of a new student reading project. Members of Cornell's anthropology department organized a campus-wide debate about the book and raised a number of important questions--including whether the geographic vagaries of 11,000 years ago are sufficient to explain why hundreds of millions of human beings live in dire poverty today.

Mr. Diamond's thesis is so manifestly absurd that you can't present any counter-arguments or there'd be no show. But here are a few: silver foxes, Brush Creek Buffalo Farm and Catfish Farmers of America.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:43 AM


Bill would target teen drivers: More restrictions will help safety, some say (Megan Tench, July 26, 2005, Boston Globe)

Amid another summer of young people dying in car crashes, some state lawmakers and officials are pushing for what they call the most comprehensive package yet of new restrictions and requirements aimed at young drivers.

The changes include requiring more practice behind the wheel, banning teenagers from using cellphones while driving, and getting parents more involved. The proposal would also give police more power to enforce restrictions already in place, such as barring 16- and 17-year-olds from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. and not allowing teens to have passengers under the age of 18 during their first six months with a license.

''Right now, the law's kind of a joke, because it's a secondary offense, and police can't pull you over for just that," said state Representative Bradford Hill, an Ipswich Republican and lead sponsor of the bill. ''We want to make it a primary offense in this bill, which means the police can pull you over. The first offense, you lose your license for 90 days; the second offense, six months; the third offense, you lose it for a year."

Just raise the driving age to 21.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:39 AM


Romney vetoes law on pill, takes aim at Roe v. Wade: Opinion article reflects a shift from '02 view (Scott S. Greenberger, July 26, 2005, Boston Globe)

Three years after expressing support for ''the substance" of Roe v. Wade, Governor Mitt Romney today criticizes the landmark ruling that legalized abortion and says the states should decide separately whether to allow it.

Romney outlines his abortion position in an opinion article today in The Boston Globe, a day after he vetoed a bill that would expand access to the so-called ''morning after" pill, a high dose of hormones that women can take to prevent pregnancy up to five days after sex.

In a written response to a questionnaire for candidates in 2002, Romney told Planned Parenthood that he supported ''the substance of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade," according to the group. Today, Romney describes himself as a ''pro-life governor" who wishes ''the laws of our nation could reflect that view." Calling the country ''divided over abortion," he says states ''should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate."

Why I vetoed contraception bill (Mitt Romney, July 26, 2005, Boston Globe)
YESTERDAY I vetoed a bill that the Legislature forwarded to my desk. Though described by its sponsors as a measure relating to contraception, there is more to it than that. The bill does not involve only the prevention of conception: The drug it authorizes would also terminate life after conception.

Signing such a measure into law would violate the promise I made to the citizens of Massachusetts when I ran for governor. I pledged that I would not change our abortion laws either to restrict abortion or to facilitate it. What's more, this particular bill does not require parental consent even for young teenagers. It disregards not only the seriousness of abortion but the importance of parental involvement and so would weaken a protection I am committed to uphold.

I have spoken with medical professionals to determine whether the drug contemplated under the bill would simply prevent conception or whether it would also terminate a living embryo after conception. Once it became clear that the latter was the case, my decision was straightforward. I will honor the commitment I made during my campaign: While I do not favor abortion, I will not change the state's abortion laws.

I understand that my views on laws governing abortion set me in the minority in our Commonwealth. I am prolife. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view. But while the nation remains so divided over abortion, I believe that the states, through the democratic process, should determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.

Because Massachusetts is decidedly prochoice, I have respected the state's democratically held view. I have not attempted to impose my own views on the prochoice majority.

For all the conflicting views on this issue, it speaks well of our country that we recognize abortion as a problem. The law may call it a right, but no one ever called it a good, and, in the quiet of conscience people of both political parties know that more than a million abortions a year cannot be squared with the good heart of America.

You can't be a prolife governor in a prochoice state without understanding that there are heartfelt and thoughtful arguments on both sides of the question. Many women considering abortions face terrible pressures, hurts, and fears; we should come to their aid with all the resourcefulness and empathy we can offer. At the same time, the starting point should be the innocence and vulnerability of the child waiting to be born.

In some respects, these convictions have evolved and deepened during my time as governor. In considering the issue of embryo cloning and embryo farming, I saw where the harsh logic of abortion can lead -- to the view of innocent new life as nothing more than research material or a commodity to be exploited.

He needs to run for re-election and help to reshape the consensus or show that it's closer to his view than people realize.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:31 AM



Osama bin Laden tried to buy a massive amount of cocaine, spike it with poison and sell it in the United States, hoping to kill thousands of Americans one year after the 9/11 attacks, The Post has learned.

The evil plot failed when the Colombian drug lords bin Laden approached decided it would be bad for their business - and, possibly, for their own health, according to law-enforcement sources familiar with the Drug Enforcement Administration's probe of the aborted transaction. The feds were told of the scheme earlier this year, but its existence had never been made public. The Post has reviewed a document detailing the DEA's findings in the matter, in addition to interviewing sources familiar with the case.

Presumably this is a DEA disinformation campaign to discourage use.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:26 AM


Bush to Seek More Funding for Faith-Based Charities: He tells black leaders that he will pressure corporate foundations to adjust their policies. (Peter Wallsten, July 26, 2005, LA Times)

Embracing an old cause to open a new front in his outreach to African American church leaders, President Bush pledged Monday to pressure corporate foundations to give more money to faith-based charities.

Bush made that promise during a closed-door session at the White House with 17 black ministers and civic leaders — his second such meeting since January. [...]

The White House plans to sponsor a March summit that officials said would bring together corporate foundation leaders and faith-based social service organizations, many of which are affiliated with black churches.

Administration officials said they would focus attention on major foundations with policies limiting or forbidding donations to religious charities. Those include foundations run by Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., IBM Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Citigroup, according to each foundation's website.

"I think we can all understand their reluctance, just as we see within government a reluctance to fund a faith-based organization because you don't want money to go to preaching or proselytizing," said Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, who arranged Monday's meeting.

Towey noted that many faith-based groups had separate accounts — one for strictly religious activities and one for social services — so that "the corporate or foundation or government money can go to the social service itself" and not the religious component.

But, he added, "while we have removed barriers [on donations to faith-based groups] at the federal level, within corporate boardrooms and foundation boardrooms, there are still barriers in place."

The focus on corporate giving mirrors the administration's bid to increase government grants to religious social service agencies. That effort, which included opening faith-based offices in at least 10 agencies, including the Labor Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was credited last year with helping Bush make political inroads with black preachers in battleground states who, in turn, helped increase the president's share of the vote among African Americans.

Although Bush has had some success in redirecting government dollars and shifting the debate about the line between church and state, he may find corporations a harder sell. Companies are loath to risk alienating customers by wading into topics as emotional as religion.

They're even more afraid of being called racist.

Weiner Says He Would Increase Ties With Religious Groups (RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD, 7/26/05, NY Times)

Chastising Democrats for failing to build relationships with religious groups, Anthony D. Weiner, a Democratic candidate for mayor, said yesterday that if elected he would increase the role of "faith-based" organizations in providing city services.

Mr. Weiner said Democrats should unabashedly use the term closely associated with President Bush and Republicans in Congress, who he said had used the debate over religious values in government to divide the country.

"Instead of recoiling from this word simply because President Bush has co-opted it and bastardized the term, we should seize the opportunity when it presents itself," Mr. Weiner said at a speech at the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University.

Mr. Weiner, a congressman who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, including heavily Jewish areas, said he would push for several measures to tie the city more closely to religious groups, including one to create a "nonprofit czar" to coordinate the work of religious institutions and nonprofit organizations in combating poverty, drug abuse, hunger and homelessness.

Mr. Weiner advocated changes in zoning regulations and tax incentives to make housing more affordable for large families, singling out Orthodox Jews, an important constituency for his campaign, as an example.

He meant utilized, not bastardized.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:20 AM


U.S. Pushes Anti-Terrorism in Africa: Under Long-Term Program, Pentagon to Train Soldiers of 9 Nations (Ann Scott Tyson, July 26, 2005, Washington Post)

The U.S. military is embarking on a long-term push into Africa to counter what it considers growing inroads by al Qaeda and other terrorist networks in poor, lawless and predominantly Muslim expanses of the continent.

The Pentagon plans to train thousands of African troops in battalions equipped for extended desert and border operations and to link the militaries of different countries with secure satellite communications. The initiative, with proposed funding of $500 million over seven years, covers Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, Morocco and Tunisia -- with the U.S. military eager to add Libya if relations improve.

The Pentagon is also assigning more military officers to U.S. embassies in the region, bolstering the gathering and sharing of intelligence, casing out austere landing strips for use in emergencies, and securing greater access and legal protections for U.S. troops through new bilateral agreements.

The few mildly serious Democrats are meeting at that DLC shindig, but not even a single one of them has moved on from the Atlanticism of last century.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:15 AM


Immigrants use fewer health care services, study finds (Alana Semuels, July 26, 2005, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Although her husband is employed, 30-year-old Pamela Ramirez still pays her health bills the same way many immigrants do -- out of her savings account.

Ramirez, of the South Side, moved here from Argentina more than four years ago. She's typical in that she costs less to the health care system than do native-born residents, according to a study published yesterday in the American Journal of Public Health.

The study found that immigrants use 55 percent less health care than non-immigrants, and that both insured and non-insured immigrants use less services than the native born.

Immigrants actually subsidize care for the rest of the population, according to the study, because they pay Medicare payroll taxes and health insurance premiums, but do not reap all the benefits of these services.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:59 AM


Stalin, the ghost who haunts China: Jung Chang not only demolishes Mao with her new book, she sets Beijing a new problem (Jonathan Fenby, Times of London)

Four elements lie at the heart of the Mao story. All are totally or largely false.

A key assertion is that he was a pure nationalist who put his country first and led the only true resistance to the Japanese invasion of China from 1931 to 1945. This is particularly important today, when the wilting appeal of communism has led the authorities to promote nationalism to win public support, particularly against Japan. Mao as patriotic hero is a potent recruiting sergeant.

But this new biography shows how a foreign leader, Joseph Stalin, aided and directed Mao’s rise. Halliday is a Russian expert, and has extracted a wealth of documentation from the Moscow archives. The Soviet role in establishing the Chinese Communist party around 1920 was already known, but what is new is how, despite some divergences, Mao followed Stalin’s dictates to win power.

Only the Kremlin could provide the political backing, money and arms he needed. Since Stalin played a double game in China, maintaining relations with the Nationalists and supplying Mao’s great opponent, Chiang Kai-shek, with arms, Mao’s greatest fear must have been that Moscow would desert him in the name of realpolitik. To avoid that, he kowtowed to Moscow — even after he achieved power he rose to his feet during a visit by a Soviet envoy to cry out three times “ May Stalin live ten thousand years”.

Another big hole in the Mao-as-patriot story comes during the full-scale war that broke out with Japan in 1937. Apart from one offensive, of which the Chairman disapproved, the Red Army avoided conflict, saving its resources for civil war with the Nationalists after Tokyo’s defeat. Petr Parfenovich Vladimirov, the main Soviet adviser at Mao’s headquarters, makes this evident in his diary, which was published in 1974 in India but escaped attention until recently.

Communist forces, Vladimirov noted in 1942-43, “have long been abstaining from both active and passive action against the aggressors”. Instead, they were ordered to retreat and seek truces. Visiting battle areas a little later, a US unit found that Communist units had struck non-aggression agreements with the invaders. Trade flourished across the lines.

Nor was this all. The Communists maintained contacts with the collaborationist regime set up by Japan. Mao even floated the idea of a ceasefire with Japan in northern China.

Similarly, the base from which the Chairman operated during the war years at Yenan in north China turns out to have been very different from the model society of selfless idealists portrayed in official writing, and reproduced by many western accounts. The truth was that the base writhed with political intrigue as Mao used terror and mass indoctrination to get unquestioning allegiance.

On top of this, the politburo decided to go into the opium trade. Vladimirov records a cadre telling him narcotics would “play a revolutionary vanguard role”. Trading as the Local Product Company and describing its output as “soap” in its records, the Communist drug enterprise exported millions of boxes of opium a year, supplying it to itinerant merchants or using the Red Army for transport through enemy lines. A Taiwanese researcher estimates this provided 40% of the base’s revenue.

The war against Japan over, the orthodox story is that, led by the all-wise Chairman, China’s peasants overthrew the reactionary Nationalists in a template of rural revolution. In fact, Mao had a low opinion of the peasantry, amounting to contempt. While the masses in the Communist rural areas were needed to provide manpower and act as bearers, the Chairman preferred attacking cities to waging war in the fields as the Chinese civil war unfolded after Japan’s defeat in 1945.

Initially, he was not very successful. Though it was exhausted by the long war with Japan, Chiang’s regime pushed the Communists to the far north of the country, and was poised to finish them off. At that moment, a powerful American emissary, the future secretary of state George Marshall, forced Chiang to call a truce, which allowed the Red Army to escape.

Stalin then came through as Moscow provided large quantities of supplies to the Chinese Communists. Using Russian arms and tactics, Communist forces swept south, crossed the Great Wall, took Beijing and defeated the Nationalists in an epic battle involving millions of men in east China. Despite the peasant legend, this was the victory of a modern army using American equipment captured from the Nationalists, as well as Soviet supplies — the first troops to enter Beijing rode in US trucks.

A hidden element in that victory, as Chang and Halliday lay out, was that key Nationalist generals were secret Communist agents or switched sides. These defections hammered the final nail in the Nationalist coffin and, at the end of 1949, Chiang flew to Taiwan to dream fruitlessly of reconquering the nation he had lost.

It is also clear that the most important plank in the Maoist platform is deeply worm-eaten. The year-long Long March out of southeast China to a safe haven in the north of the country in 1934-35 is extolled as one of the great heroic feats of the 20th century, in which the Red Army, under Mao’s leadership, scaled mountains, forded torrents and crossed murderous swamps as it fought off Chiang’s troops. Fanned by uncritical reports from western writers, the trek became proof of the Chairman’s genius and his natural-born aptitude to lead the cause.

The reality was that regional warlords allowed the Red Army to escape for fear that Chiang’s central government troops would set up permanent camp in their domains. The Communists killed huge numbers of peasants along the way.

Far from trekking with his men, Mao was carried on a litter. When his wife was severely wounded by shrapnel, he paid her no attention. Chang and Halliday even report that the most celebrated incident of the journey, in which intrepid soldiers were said to have climbed across the chain links of a demolished bridge above a foaming river, simply never happened. They also say that Chiang let the Communists escape because he hoped that, in return, Stalin would release his son, who was being held in Moscow.

Confronted with such a charge sheet, what would Beijing be left with if it allowed the myths to be stripped away? An inhuman dictator who cared nothing for the ideology on which the post-1949 state is supposed to be based. A revolution achieved by armed force, not popular support. A wartime leader who dealt with the enemy, and presided over a drug empire. A serial murderer who dreamt up torture methods and exulted in the suffering of victims. A man for whom relationships had no meaning, who despised the masses and who fabricated his own image for posterity.

Though he was by all accounts an extraordinarily decent man and a dedicated public servant, few men are accidentally responsible for more evil than General Marshall.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:30 AM


Bush Working to Stitch Together Political Support for Trade Deal: The White House, still short votes for CAFTA, makes side agreements with some lawmakers. (Warren Vieth and Richard Simon, July 26, 2005, LA Times)

With a congressional showdown looming on a high-profile trade pact with Central American nations, Bush administration officials scrambled Monday to negotiate side deals that might get them the two dozen or so additional votes needed to ensure passage.

By day's end, they appeared to have nailed down at least five.

"I told them this is what they needed to do to get my vote," said Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), who joined with four House colleagues to seek concessions for home-state textile plants. "The bottom line is they have done everything I asked for."

Gingrey said the five Southern lawmakers were "95%" certain to support the Central American Free Trade Agreement and were waiting for final signatures on agreements to protect U.S. makers of denim cloth and trouser pockets.

Vote counters on both sides of the issue said it remained unclear whether President Bush would prevail when CAFTA came up for a vote in the House, expected Wednesday or Thursday. The Senate has approved the trade deal.

If it loses by a couple votes in the House it will be easy for business interests to target those seats. So, it won't.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Ancient phallus unearthed in cave (Jonathan Amos, 7/26/05, BBC News)

A sculpted and polished phallus found in a German cave is among the earliest representations of male sexuality ever uncovered, researchers say.

The 20cm-long, 3cm-wide stone object, which is dated to be about 28,000 years old, was buried in the famous Hohle Fels Cave near Ulm in the Swabian Jura.

Its sister piece is certain to be found in France.

July 25, 2005

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 PM


Centrist Dems Urge Party to Be 'For Something' (Fox News, July 25, 2005)

"We've got to be for something..." Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack told those attending the group's conference on Monday.

I actually took my dictionary down off the shelf to see if the definition of "pathos" was illustrated with a picture of a donkey.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:44 PM


Skirmish Over a Query About Roberts's Faith (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 7/26/05, NY Times)

Congressional Republicans warned Democrats on Monday not to make Judge John G. Roberts's Roman Catholic faith an issue in his confirmation hearings for a seat on the Supreme Court, reviving a politically potent theme from previous battles over judicial appointees.

The subject came up after reports about a meeting on Friday at which Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, is said to have asked Judge Roberts whether he had thought about potential conflicts between the imperatives of their shared Catholic faith and of the civil law. The discussion was described by two officials who spoke anonymously because the meeting was confidential and by a Republican senator who was briefed on their conversation.

Judge Roberts responded that his personal views would not color his judicial thinking, all three said, just as he has testified in the past.

An opinion-page article in The Los Angeles Times on Monday by Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, included an account of Mr. Durbin's question. Professor Turley cited unnamed sources saying that Judge Roberts had told Mr. Durbin he would recuse himself from cases involving abortion, the death penalty or other subjects where Catholic teaching and civil law can clash.

A spokesman for Mr. Durbin and Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, who spoke to Judge Roberts on Monday about the meeting, said Professor Turley's account of a recusal statement was inaccurate.

But in an interview last night, Professor Turley said Mr. Durbin himself had described the conversation to him on Sunday morning, including the statement about recusal.

At the rate Senator Durbin is going, Alan Keyes may take another run in IL.

The faith of John Roberts (Jonathan Turley, July 25, 2005, LA Times)

Judge John G. Roberts Jr. has been called the stealth nominee for the Supreme Court — a nominee specifically selected because he has few public positions on controversial issues such as abortion. However, in a meeting last week, Roberts briefly lifted the carefully maintained curtain over his personal views. In so doing, he raised a question that could not only undermine the White House strategy for confirmation but could raise a question of his fitness to serve as the 109th Supreme Court justice.

The exchange occurred during one of Roberts' informal discussions with senators last week. According to two people who attended the meeting, Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral. Roberts is a devout Catholic and is married to an ardent pro-life activist. The Catholic Church considers abortion to be a sin, and various church leaders have stated that government officials supporting abortion should be denied religious rites such as communion. (Pope Benedict XVI is often cited as holding this strict view of the merging of a person's faith and public duties).

Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:03 PM


The Awakening: Sarah Scantlin's 20-Year Journey From Coma to Silence to Breakthrough (DeNeen L. Brown, 7/24/0, Washington Post)

Up Highway 96, sometimes called the State Fair Freeway, past the cliche of wheat fields, the thicket of signs proclaiming a right to life, take a left on 23rd Avenue and you will find a very plain nursing home, where something happened that wasn't supposed to happen.

Defied man-made logic.

Resisted complicated scientific analysis.

Couldn't be explained by some of the smartest brains in the world.

Still can't.

Sarah, lying in this bed nearly 20 years, brain-damaged, blank, speechless, immobile, staring out the same window. Couldn't talk to the people who came to talk to her. Couldn't say change the channel. Couldn't say shut up. Couldn't say scratch that itch . . .

Sarah, who 20 years ago was run down by a drunk driver, the impact throwing her into the path of a second car that slammed her forehead and left her so damaged nobody understood how her body survived, let alone her mind.

Sarah. They didn't know that as she lay in that bed, with her mouth gaping, face wretched in a silent agony, body atrophying, feet gnarling, fists clenched across her chest, tight, as if she were afraid, big, blue eyes staring out like she was trapped . . . They didn't know that as she lay there, something in her brain was mending.

People came and people went. Some grew up and some grew old. Some gave up and went away, guiltily diving into their own lives as Sarah Scantlin lay in that bed. Never believing she would do anything more than lie there and stare into oblivion, or wherever it is that brain-damaged people go, hovering between now and then, nowhere and somewhere, just out of reach.

Then six months ago, Sarah came back.

Sarah spoke.

Can't have them waking up later and cramping your style.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 PM


Tory Right rallies around faith, flag and the family: A new group of MPs has stepped into the leadership race with attack on liberals in the party ranks (Philip Webster, 7/25/05, Times of London)

CONSERVATIVE traditionalists make a ferocious counterblast against the party’s modernising wing today, arguing that “faith, the flag and family” must be central to Tory thinking if the party is to win again.

In a striking intervention in the party’s leadership race, a newly formed 25-strong group of MPs calls for the demolition of the foundations of the liberal establishment and says that the Tory party has deserted “conservative Britain”, prompting the voters to desert it.

The Cornerstone group of right-wing MPs, which recently grilled leadership hopefuls about their beliefs, is to use the contest to argue for “authentic conservatism”. Its critique of “rampant liberalism” is a barely concealed attack on some of the centre-left contenders. An obvious target is Alan Duncan, the openly gay MP, who last week quit the contest with a blast at “censorious judgmentalism from the moralising wing”. [...]

Supporters of Cornerstone include John Hayes, a former member of the Shadow Cabinet, Owen Paterson, formerly chief aide to Iain Duncan Smith, Brian Binley, Peter Bone, Julian Brazier, Douglas Carswell, William Cash, Christopher Chope, Robert Goodwill, Ian Liddell-Grainger, Andrew Rosindell, Lee Scott, Desmond Swayne and Angela Watkinson. Most of the group would be expected to support David Davis or Liam Fox in the leadership contest.

In a direct attack on the liberal modernisers, the pamphlet says: “It is unacceptable for people whose electoral success is dependent on carrying the Conservative badge to use it to conceal fundamentally unconservative attitudes. Such critics usually have little to offer as a clarion call beyond the shrill cry for ever more unbridled liberty.”

The group is also critical of the Tory election campaign, describing it as too timid about tax cuts, public service reform and family values. The leadership, the pamphlet says, framed a message barely distinguishable from Labour after relying too heavily on focus groups.

The further Right they run the better they'll do.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:05 PM


Clinton to Direct Creation of Democrats' Agenda (Ronald Brownstein, July 25, 2005, LA Times)

The Democratic Leadership Council, an organization of influential party moderates, named Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton today to direct a new initiative to define a party agenda for the 2006 and 2008 elections.

The appointment solidified the identification of Clinton, once considered a champion of the party's left, with the centrist movement that helped propel her husband to the White House in 1992. It also continued her effort, which has accelerated in recent months, to present herself as a moderate on issues such as national security, immigration and abortion.

The agenda should be the one her husband ran on in'92 and the one he governed on from November '94 onwards.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:02 PM


Boeing in Talks with Indian Air Force To Supply F-18s (India Defence, 25/7/2005)

Boeing said on July 22 it had begun preliminary talks with India on selling and co-producing F-18 Super Hornet fighter planes, a month after New Delhi and Washington signed a far-reaching defense pact.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has plans to buy as many as 126 multi-role fighters for an estimated $9 billion, as it replaces its aging fleet of Russian-built MiG 21s.

Forget the spinning wheel, the various Gandhis are spinning in their graves.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:19 PM


Foreign-born US soldiers take citizenship oath in Iraq (AFP, Jul 25, 2005)

A total of 147 foreign-born US military personnel serving in Iraq gathered inside a former Saddam Hussein palace to be granted US citizenship.

In a mass ceremony the soldiers, sailors, and airmen, along with one marine and a navy medic, simultaneously raised their right hands and swore to "support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Those sworn in as US citizens came from 46 countries, with the single largest group born in Mexico (27), followed by the Philippines (15), Jamaica (nine) and Nicaragua (eight) and Nigeria (five).

Other nations of origin included China, India, Taiwan and Vietnam. There was even one Iraqi-born soldier.

The ceremony, in the giant indoor rotunda of the Al-Faw palace, in Baghdad's Camp Victory military base, was led by Lieutenant General John Vines, the commander of the Multinational Corps in Iraq.

Three officials from the naturalization branch of the US Department of Homeland Security were also present.

"Welcome into that exclusive club called American citizenship," Vines told the group.

Army Specialist Maridel Cardona-Herrera, 31, who was born in the Philippines, could only find one word to describe both the event and the giant rotunda inside ornate palace where the event took place: "fantastic."

You come from another country and help us to liberate a third--what could be more American?

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:35 PM

THEN I ATE SOME MORE GRASS... (via Robert Schwartz):

Breaking from the pack: History from a wolf's perspective? or a cow's? A new breed of thinkers looks beyond Homo sapiens (ALEX LICHTENSTEIN, 7/01/05, Houston Chronicle)

Forty years ago, in an intellectual revolution that accompanied the other revolts of the '60s, historians began to study the lives of working people, immigrants, women, African-Americans, Chicanos and other marginalized groups. The masses of ordinary people, previously treated as bit players in a drama staged by kings and statesmen, moved to the center of the stage.

More recently, historians have tried to assess the interior lives of other groups whose history has often been told through the voices of others -- gays in a society that privileges heterosexuality, for example, or colonial subjects of imperial states.

But once the subjective perspective of nearly every human group on the planet has become part of written history, what remains? Well, animals. Yes, what's new in history? The animal turn. Thirty years ago, in an attempt to parody the new social history, "Charles Phineas" (a pseudonym) wrote a mock essay in which he proclaimed that the history of household pets remains too much the history of their masters, revealing more about the owning society than the owned. Little did Professor Phineas imagine that a new generation of historians would eventually produce scholarship that addressed his mock complaint.

No doubt Fox News and Rush Limbaugh will have a field day with this one, but in fact animals have their own subjective history, too.

Animals are objects, not subjects.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:25 PM


Americans tap wine over beer (Jennifer Harper, July 19, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

A Gallup poll released yesterday found that wine has surpassed beer and spirits as the stated drink of choice among those who imbibe.

Oh, it's not by much: 39 percent of the respondents said they drank wine most often; 36 percent drank beer. Statistically, this is a mighty close race between the dueling beverages, as the poll has a margin of error of four percentage points. [...]

Gallup also has found a "gender gap" in drinking. More than half of the male respondents -- 52 percent -- prefer beer, while only 23 percent of women preferred it.

Making wine drinkers, by definition, sissies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:19 PM

CHANGE TO WHINE (via Robert Schwartz):

Teamsters, SEIU Bolt From AFL-CIO: Unions Are Part Of 'Change To Win Coalition' (NBC5, July 25, 2005)

It's a double jolt for organized labor.The Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union have decided to bolt the AFL-CIO.Teamsters' president James Hoffa said the AFL-CIO is taking an "opposite approach" to what's needed to strengthen the labor movement -- and that's what's prompted his organization to leave. And the Service Employees International Union -- the AFL-CIO's largest affiliate -- said it was leaving because the umbrella organization isn't changing with the times.The unions earlier announced they were boycotting the federation's convention that began Monday in Chicago, a step that was widely considered to be a precursor to leaving the federation. Two other unions -- the United Food and Commercial Workers and a group of textile and hotel workers -- also joined the boycott, a possible sign they may be the next to leave. [...]

[O]ther attendees said larger forces are swaying popular opinion."I do not believe that anybody in the AFL or any other organized labor group is at fault," said Bill Brumfield, who supports the AFL-CIO leadership. "The conservatism of the country has driven a wedge between workers and organized labor."

It'd be nice if the Right could take all the credit, but unions brought most of it on themselves in the 70s, with their strikes and absurd wage demands.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:15 PM


White House may sidestep Dems on Bolton (TERENCE HUNT, July 25, 2005, AP)

Frustrated by Senate Democrats, the White House hinted Monday that President Bush may act soon to sidestep Congress and install embattled nominee John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations on a temporary basis. [...]

Some in Washington had expected Bush to give Bolton a recess appointment over the Senate's July Fourth break. But Republicans said negotiations with Democrats were ongoing, and a recess appointment, should it come to that, probably wouldn't occur until August. There has been no sign of a breakthrough in recent days.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:05 PM


Lending a Hand to Argentina's Protesters
Foreign Volunteers Glean Perspective On Globalization
(Monte Reel, July 25, 2005, Washington Post)

It's not the usual sort of vacation destination, hidden away among crumbling brick bungalows on a rutted mud road. Accommodation is a bunk in an unheated room. Days are spent working without pay in a neighborhood bakery, or marching in street protests.

But for hundreds of young American and European activists, the new way to spend summer break is living and working among Argentina's piqueteros, or picketers -- the protest marchers who have filled the streets of many cities and towns since the country's massive economic collapse in 2001.

In this ragged neighborhood on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, the college-age visitors say, globalization is more than a vague concept to be criticized from abroad. Here, they say, it has caused real problems and sparked creative solutions.

"In the U.S., you might have a big protest of 200,000 people in Washington, and then everything just goes away," said Tessa Lee, 20, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "But I heard that here in Argentina, they were getting things done. That's why I came."

Making fun of the Left these days is getting to be like booing at the Special Olympics.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:22 AM


Parties Are Tracking Your Habits: Though both Democrats and Republicans collect personal information, the GOP's mastery of data is changing the very nature of campaigning. (Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten, July 24, 2005, LA Times)

At first glance, Felicia Hill seems to fit the profile of a loyal Democrat: She is African American, married to a General Motors union worker and voted for Dukakis, Clinton and Gore in past presidential elections.

But in the weeks before election day 2004, the suburban mother of two was deluged with telephone calls, invitations and specially targeted mailings urging her to support President Bush.

The intense Republican courtship of Hill, 39, was no coincidence.

A deeper look at her lifestyle and politics reveals a voter who might be persuaded to switch sides. Among the clues: she is a church member uneasy about abortion; she lives in a growing suburb and she sent her children to a private school.

Hill and millions of other would-be Bush backers in closely contested states were identified by a GOP database that culled information ranging from the political basics, like party registration, to the personal, such as the cars they drive, the drinks they buy, even the features they order on their phone lines. The "micro-targeting" effort was so effective that the party credited it with helping to secure Bush's reelection.

In Ohio, which tipped the election to Bush, the Republican strategy helped boost African American support for the president by seven percentage points over his 2000 performance, securing the state for the president. It drew millions of Republican voters to the polls in every battleground state.

Nationally, Republicans said, the targeting produced a 10 percentage point increase for Bush among evangelicals, nine points among Latinos, four points in big cities, three points in labor-union households and five points among Catholics — all groups that were wooed by both parties.

Both parties have long collected information on voters. But the sophistication of the GOP effort is now so clearly superior that it has given Republicans an edge in an area that had been a Democratic strength: identifying sympathetic voters and getting them to the polls.

Democrats will be especially vulnerable in the next two national election cycles: In 2006, they will have to defend more congressional and Senate seats than they did in 2004; and several states viewed as competitive in past presidential elections are increasingly viewed as GOP turf for 2008.

Hill said the campaign outreach effort had such an effect on her that she was unable to decide who to vote for until she was in the booth. She ultimately chose Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry over Bush. But Hill said she was now open to Republican arguments in a way she never was before.

For the first time, she sees the GOP as a place where black women can be comfortable

"I saw people I could relate to," she said, describing conversations she had with Republican professional women during telephone outreach calls and at party events. During one campaign event in Dayton, the president was introduced by Hill's friend Donald K. McLaurin, the black mayor of suburban Trotwood.

"I saw families there who seemed like our family, and I found that their ideology lined up with mine," she said.

Such sentiments signal progress for the Republican Party as it seeks to achieve the goal set by White House strategist Karl Rove of building a majority that will last well into the 21st century.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:16 AM



Senator Hillary Clinton has confided to associates that she intends to vote FOR Bush Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. [...]

With her support of Roberts, Clinton ignores pressure from the reactionary-activist wing of the Democrat party.

"She is simply doing what is right for the country, not MOVEON.ORG," the Clinton insider explained.

She already has the nomination sewn up, but needs to make herself electable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:00 AM


Congressional Negotiators Are Nearing Agreement on Broad Energy Measure (CARL HULSE, 7/25/05, NY Times)

With strong encouragement from the White House, top House and Senate negotiators said Sunday that they were nearing a final agreement on a broad energy bill that would drop a plan to protect producers of the gasoline additive MTBE from lawsuits over water pollution.

The apparent settlement of the MTBE issue moves Congress closer to enacting an energy bill than it has been in years. [...]

The Republicans who lead the House and Senate energy committees, Senator Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico and Representative Joe L. Barton of Texas, told participating lawmakers on Sunday that they hoped to resolve most of the remaining issues by Monday and present a bill to Mr. Bush before Congress adjourns for the summer on Friday. [...]

Congressional approval of an energy measure would end a long stalemate and provide some satisfaction to Mr. Bush, who took over the White House in 2001 discussing his desire to reshape the nation's energy policy. Regional disputes and environmental objections have thwarted the efforts, even after a major blackout hit the Northeast and Midwest in the summer of 2003.

Hoping to spur lawmakers, Mr. Bush talked to the four chief negotiators in a conference call on Sunday, and aides said Vice President Dick Cheney and Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman had also weighed in.

If enacted, the energy bill would set new rules intended to make the nation's electrical supply more reliable; provide billions of dollars in subsidies and tax credits to oil and gas producers, as well as to the wind, solar and geothermal industries; encourage construction of nuclear power plants; and finance research into other energy sources.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:56 AM


Senate Panel to Examine Use of Cover by U.S. Spies (SCOTT SHANE, 7/25/05, NY Times)

The Senate Intelligence Committee will conduct hearings on American spy agencies' use of cover to protect the identities of intelligence officers, the committee chairman said on Sunday.

The chairman, Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, said on the CNN program "Late Edition" that the committee was "going to go into quite a series of hearings in regard to cover." The practice of intelligence cover has come under scrutiny during the investigation of the disclosure of the C.I.A. employment of Valerie Wilson, who had worked under cover for the agency for 18 years before being publicly identified as a C.I.A. operative in 2003.

"You cannot be in the business of outing somebody" working under cover, Mr. Roberts said. He said, however, there were questions about the depth of Ms. Wilson's cover, because she had been based at the Virginia headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency at least since 1997.

"I must say from a common-sense standpoint, driving back and forth to work to the C.I.A. headquarters, I don't know if that really qualifies as being, you know, covert," Mr. Roberts said.

If the seven years at Langley didn't remove her from the cover of the law, sending her husband on a public CIA mission certainly did.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:42 AM


Homegrown Risk Worries U.S. Muslims (Larry B. Stammer, July 25, 2005, LA Times)

In the wake of London bombings that point to homegrown terrorists, American Muslim leaders are increasing their efforts to determine why some Muslim youths are drawn to violence and how to divert them from radical influences. [...]

U.S. Muslim organizations and leaders have long disavowed terrorism and the killing of innocents as alien to mainstream Islam. Just this month, for example, the Council on American Islamic Relations announced yet another public relations campaign to denounce terrorism, this one with the theme, "Not in the Name of Islam." But that message is chiefly directed at the U.S. public.

Since the July 7 London bombings that killed 56 — including four British Muslims presumed to be suicide bombers — and Thursday's similar but less damaging attacks, Muslim leaders said they would focus directly on their own young people and why a small minority may be attracted to a virulent interpretation of their faith that has abetted terrorism.

Muslim leaders are also examining other reasons why youths may be disaffected. On Saturday, for example, an estimated 120 Muslims listened intently at a forum at Cal State Northridge that grappled with a major dilemma faced by many second-generation Muslim youths — "American or Muslim." Chantal Carnes, a 30-year-old American convert to the faith, spoke of a generation gap between many Muslim youths in the U.S. and their parents that makes it difficult for young Muslims to fully integrate into American life.

"Some parents need to recognize their kids are part of this society," she said. "They need to pass on their Muslim identity but recognize the American identity is there also," she said in an interview.

Muslim youths, she told the audience, do not sit on the boards of most mosques or other Muslim organizations. Most of the 1,800 full-time Islamic parochial schools in the U.S. do not require their students to be involved in community service projects, such as volunteering at soup kitchens, as do many public schools and parochial schools of other faiths.

"Our presence in the world is to be an active, positive presence," she told the group.

Similar efforts are underway elsewhere. In Virginia, the Muslim American Society said it would intensify its work with youths and expand youth training programs to encourage volunteerism, community service and overall civic engagement.

The Muslim Students Assn. said last week that it had begun to forge closer ties with other mainstream Islamic groups, including the Muslim Public Affairs Council, based in Los Angeles, and the Islamic Society of North America. At the urging of the Los Angeles group, the student association issued a statement pledging to be "steadfast in combating this ideology of hatred" among its own constituency.

America really is nothing like Europe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:35 AM


Roberts Was Ready at Every Turn: High Court Nominee's Fortunes Called Result of Being Well-Prepared, Focused (Richard A. Serrano, David G. Savage and Richard B. Schmitt, July 25, 2005, LA Times)

Three Republican presidents have shepherded him at the White House. Two powerful federal judges have mentored him in the law. And one of the capital's most prestigious law firms helped make him a millionaire. At every step in his 25-year legal career in Washington, it seems good fortune has traveled with him.

Even his first appearance in the nation's capital, where as a young man he'd walk each morning from his cramped Capitol Hill apartment to his new job as a Supreme Court clerk, could not have been timed more fortuitously.

The year was 1980, the dawn of the Reagan revolution.

His boss was William H. Rehnquist, the future chief justice of the United States.

And for a young conservative, bright but conforming, modest and deeply religious, a workaholic content with weekends in the office, the only son of a steel plant manager, raised on the shore of Lake Michigan, John G. Roberts Jr. had arrived.

A quarter-century later, Harvard-educated and Washington-trained, at age 50 he now stands on the brink of where he seems to have been headed all along. President Bush nominated him last week to the Supreme Court.

"Opportunity is important. Chance is important," said Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), a classmate of Roberts at Harvard Law School. "But opportunity and chance also favor the prepared mind. And he's clearly the kind of person who was prepared to serve."

Harvard Law School exists to prepare guys like him for jobs like this.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:32 AM


Spending Cap Called Key to National Plan: Conservatives say an initiative on California's November ballot could, like Prop. 13, propel similar measures now brewing across the U.S. (Evan Halper, July 25, 2005, LA Times)

The cap on state spending that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants voters to pass in November is emerging as a centerpiece of a nationwide strategy by influential conservatives to slash government spending in state capitals across the country.

Although the authors of the California proposal say they were not influenced by out-of-state groups, a loose affiliation of ideologically conservative organizations are hoping that the proposed California "Live Within Our Means Act" will help fuel a national taxpayer revolt they are working to coordinate in more than two dozen other states.

"This is the next big thing at the state level," said Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, one of the country's leading anti-tax activists. "A lot of groups have become involved…. Soon you will see it on the ballot in every initiative state."

The California "Live Within Our Means Act" would prevent the budget from growing faster than the average increases in state revenues over the previous three years. Other states have taken somewhat different approaches, prohibiting budget growth that is faster than the rate of population and inflation or personal income.

Seems like one of those measures that sounds sensible and popular until the big money interests on the Left in CA spend enough tv money to define it in such a way that it loses. It's up to Arnold to make sure that definitional war isn't lost.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:27 AM


Opposition to Roberts slow to muster: Nominee's record isn't generating storm of liberals (Rick Klein, July 25, 2005, Boston Globe)

Appellate judge John G. Roberts Jr.'s nomination to the Supreme Court has caused an early splintering among liberal groups who were geared up for an epic battle against President Bush's nominee, providing momentum to Republican-led efforts to have Roberts quickly confirmed in the Senate.

Among prominent liberal groups, only abortion rights advocates and far-left groups such as MoveOn.org are now opposed to Roberts outright. Others -- including some of the most influential environmental, civil rights, and consumer advocacy groups -- are critical of him but say they will reserve judgment for now.

While powerful interest groups on the political left may ultimately coalesce to oppose him, early indications suggest that Democrats who seek to defeat Roberts cannot depend on the liberal lobbying and financial juggernaut that helped deny conservative Robert Bork a seat on the high court in 1987. [...]

With Republican-allied groups united and stepping up their campaign to see Roberts confirmed by the Oct. 3 start of the next court session, fractures among organizations that have traditionally been allied with Democrats could ease the way for the GOP-controlled Senate to confirm Roberts.

When your party has no core ideas, just a coalition of special interest groups, it's tough to hold together.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


State GOP sows seeds in hope of 2008 victory: Republican workers raise funds and point out the vulnerability of Gov. Granholm, senators. (George Weeks, 7/24/05, The Detroit News)

Republicans, after the 1991-2002 reign of Gov. John Engler, control the Legislature and the Michigan Supreme Court. Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and Attorney General Mike Cox are well-positioned for re-election on the GOP ticket.

But no Republican presidential nominee since 1988 has carried Michigan, and the state's political Big Three are Democrats: Gov. Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow. We're deep blue on the national political map.

Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman, at the conclusion of his two-day Michigan cheerleading and fund-raising blitz last week, vowed that "seeds of success" have been planted to oust "the vulnerable" Granholm and Stabenow in 2006 and deliver Michigan for the 2008 presidential nominee.

George Bush actually reached the 50% mark among Catholic voters in MI but the GOP will have to stretch that into the 60s.

July 24, 2005

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:07 PM


Butterfly unlocks evolution secret (Julianna Kettlewell, 7/24/05, BBC News)

Why one species branches into two is a question that has haunted evolutionary biologists since Darwin.

Given our planet's rich biodiversity, "speciation" clearly happens regularly, but scientists cannot quite pinpoint the driving forces behind it.

Now, researchers studying a family of butterflies think they have witnessed a subtle process, which could be forcing a wedge between newly formed species.

The team, from Harvard University, US, discovered that closely related species living in the same geographical space displayed unusually distinct wing markings.

These wing colours apparently evolved as a sort of "team strip", allowing butterflies to easily identify the species of a potential mate.

For me, this is a big discovery just because the system is very beautiful
Dr Nikolai Kandul, Harvard University
This process, called "reinforcement", prevents closely related species from interbreeding thus driving them further apart genetically and promoting speciation.

Well, they're forthright about their ignorance of the process, for once, though the notion that the butterflies have actually speciated just because they don't breed together as often is complete nonsense.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 PM


EXCERPT: from The Washing Machine: : How Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Soils Us (Nick Kochan)

Our friends at FSB Associates are sending a few extra copies, can anyone figure out a Supreme Court giveaway? I suppose we could just have a drawing from among folks who pick the nominee correctly. Only one pick per person please.


Part One:

World at risk

Our security depends on it. Our way of doing trade with trust is based on it. Global economic activity with nations relies on it. Money must be earned and spent fairly and openly. By the same token, money that is earned illegally or is unaccountable, must be excluded from the economic system. Its possessors must be apprehended. That is the money laundering mantra. Those who wage the war against economic crime are working harder than ever to stem the tide of black money as acquisitive crime threatens to get out of control.

The criminal who possesses black money and wants to pass it off as legitimate must fabricate an explanation to make the source look genuine. These tricksters make friends with corrupt elements in the financial system. They will hide their money so that it becomes untraceable to those who may want to hunt it. As more people or financial institutions handle money with dirty origins, those origins can be lost. And criminals are caught and convicted by the dirty money they possess.

So who are the elements in our society who close their eyes to criminal money? Most are those who committed the crime in the first place. There are four key groups. They are global corporations engaged in fraud; corrupt governments and their politicians who accept bribes; organized criminals who trade in drugs and other illegal goods; and terrorists. These are nebulous forces, and there will be those who say much talk of global money laundering is fuelled by paranoia and even hysteria. But tyrants have triumphed by having their money laundered, drug gangs have ruined countries by passing their money through complicit banks, terrorists have waged wars on the financial system to fund their outrages and companies have made themselves available to organized criminals in a Faustian laundering pact. Laundering is as sinister as it is ubiquitous.

Global Corporations

Those who perpetrate bankruptcies, frauds, huge share scams and bogus schemes like Enron and WorldCom -- not to mention executives at the Bank of New York, Citibank, and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International involved in laundering scandals -- exploit the crevices within the financial systems of which they are themselves integral, even cartelistic parts. Launderers who work inside the gate undermine structures of governance and trust. Economic systems rely on the integrity of those who administer them and those who regulate them. When these key roles are shown to have been suborned by bankers in smart suits, as well as crooks and conmen, all participants in the economic system are weakened.

Global corporations are in many ways the most powerful, and certainly the wealthiest of the three groups listed above. Criminals need the services provided by global corporations especially banks and other financial institutions, to move and clean their money. Criminals and corrupt politicians in developing countries and the former Soviet Union look to Western banks for a huge array of devices that include offshore companies and tax structures, false names for their bank accounts, and lawyers and accountants for their complex financial structures. Some banks will provide them willingly, satisfying the authorities with the formalities of due diligence that have increased in volume in recent years in response to the perceived terrorist threat to the economic system.

Global corporations are driven by competitive pressures to spread into risky new markets and deal with unknown and possibly criminal counterparties. When doing business in many parts of the world contact with corruption and illegality is hard to avoid. Organized criminal groups grow and feed off the enforcement vacuum in many developing countries and these groups have reached positions of such political and economic power that they can determine the conditions under which Western companies do business within their markets. Trade with these criminal entities becomes a condition of entry into the market or country.

These criminal groups also extract a price for their collusion and the world's largest global banks and businesses move illegal wealth at the behest of launderers, creating a money laundering merry-go-round that sneaks black cash between the crevices of corporate and banks' anti-money laundering systems.

Huge financial ingenuity may be employed to create these deceptions but launderers understand the system at least as well as those who work in it legitimately, and often better. They use the language and instruments of the legitimate system to explain the provenance of their wealth. They are capable of sending stolen money along the same byways as legitimately gained wealth, harnessing technical developments such as the global electronic movement of money and complex financial derivatives. By diverting funds across borders or within financial or governmental institutions, they dodge police who challenge the validity or history of their illegal financial documents or instruments. Their corrupt money mingles with the hard-earned funds of genuine citizens who pay their taxes and trust their banks.

But however it comes about, when dirty wealth is moved, the bank participates in a theft, even if it has been duped by a criminal who is skilled at hiding the source of his funds. The maker of the corrupt or fraudulent money and the financial institution who helps moves it are equally complicit in a process, where both parties are conspirators, in both parts of the activity.

The processes that are apparently lawful are corrupted the more the corporation abuses the trust placed in its systems. The Western way of doing business and moving wealth becomes increasingly suspect as more criminal money is moved into the system. Turning the blind eye to the dubious transaction has become the norm for business in many parts of the world. Corporations benefit from money laundering by investing dirty money for fraudsters as well as hiding it in off-shore accounts. Either way, they will be beneficiaries when they gain a fee, paid from crooked funds.


The fruits of money laundering find most fertile ground where corruption is rife. Corruption not only puts dirty money into the hands of politicians through bribery, but corrupt politicians are exposed to extortion from mafiosi. Those hoodlums may be small-time hoodlums or they may be oligarchs (including most dramatically, but not exclusively, Russians) at the other. The two forms of black money-transfer link together in a vicious cycle of corruption.

Hoodlums that have obtained great wealth can make their position sustainable. The intelligent ones can acquire the trappings of honesty. They are in our midst and have achieved the status where they are considered 'upright citizens'. Money launderers operating on this global scale have great intellectual ability. They are also intriguing and complex personalities. Friends of Victor Bout say he is charming, very talented and gregarious. He hobnobs well with powerful politicians, attracting admiration and trading favors with aplomb. Other Russian money launderers have demonstrated considerable intellectual ability in an academic context before turning their cerebral firepower towards breaking down the financial system's controls.

Western institutions have been content to treat with mafia, intelligence agencies and private individuals who have gained access to newly privatised state industries in countries experiencing economic and political change. The speed and efficiency with which the West has absorbed capital released from the bankrupt former Soviet Union over the last decade is a remarkable case study in how financial manipulation can be institutionalized. Established banks in the West collaborated with some dubious operators in Russia in a systematic process of pillaging that took place under the noses of politicians both in Russia and in the United States.

Both countries' political elites had reason to turn a blind eye to this criminal activity; Western politicians were still exercised by the Communist bogey and treated the launderers and conmen who came out from under the Russian dungheap when Communism expired, as legitimate entrepreneurs. Russian politicians were content to let the scams continue because they were corrupt and in the crooks' pockets. Those who were disturbed by what they saw had no means to reverse it because the country's administrative systems were in a shambles.

Intelligence agencies handling and distributing black money on behalf of their governments have the greatest opportunity to influence unstable regimes. Indeed, some argue that these shadowy groups are among the most active of all money launderers. The financial resources possessed by Oliver North, the architect of the Iran-Contra affair, puts him into the top echelon of money launderers, even though he was arguably guided by a political mission rather than personal enrichment.

Organized Gangs and 'Terrorists'

Organized criminal gangs have grown rich on the proceeds of the drugs trade or other contraband. This money has then been ploughed back into other criminal activity such as counterfeiting and the movement of people, the transportation of asylum seekers or economic migrants, and the trade in human body parts. The more established parts of organized criminal gangs seek to make investments in the 'legitimate' economy, by buying companies or real estate. The less established parts, the 'parvenus,' are likely to trade in illegal arms where commissions and profits are massive.

A key customer for arms and material are groups perpetrating political violence. These are easily defined as 'terrorists,' but definitions are difficult as the term can not be applied to groups seeking to overthrow illegitimate regimes. Definitions are equally problematic when describing terrorist money. This is because the money used by these groups may have legitimate origins -- for instance from individual charitable donations or government funds. Whatever the case, in recent years we have seen growing political pressure on law enforcers to intercept this form of money as its significance on the stability of the social and political system is so much more direct and evident.

The 'war against terrorism' as it was dubbed after September 11, led to new attack on the 'hidey holes' used by criminals involved in fraud and financial deception. But like so much of the Patriot Act, the authorities appear to have applied the machine gun -- kill everything -- approach other than the rifle approach aimed to thwarting terrorism. The red flags of criminal money-making differ from those thrown up by terrorist money-making, because the first shows exploitation of the financial system for acquisitive ends. Most terrorist money, on the other hand, is spent in the black market buying arms, while small amounts are used to support terrorists while they prepare an illegal act. The first form of purchase is not applicable to conventional anti-money laundering solutions because such deals take place only in the black market. The second are unlikely to trigger suspicion because the amounts are very small and the transactions unlikely to be particularly complex. Today's anti-money laundering policies are convenient and cheap for governments as they place most of the burden on the legitimate banking and financial system. However, as this short analysis demonstrates, they are of questionable relevance to terrorist financing.

Intelligence agencies working in conjunction with police are likely to be more effective in stopping terrorist trade than banks as they can intercept the money flows between donors and terrorist groups. These take place in the underground economy, and intelligence agencies may be able to spot suspicious movements of cash or other valuable items like diamonds by using other participants in the black economy as sources. For example criminal gangs in the jewellery industry might be persuaded to work with intelligence agencies in breaking the link between the terrorist donor and the operating terrorists on the ground. Those money flows may issue suspicious signals if the donor creates complex trails to divert attention from his interest in the terrorist group.

The Size of the Black Economy

The players in the money laundering merry-go-round are clear enough. But what sort of money do they handle, and where do they put it. The amounts are as vast as they are unquantifiable. Many inflated figures are proposed to scare governments, populations and bankers. But here are a few that may be more trustworthy. For example, The International Monetary Fund has estimated that drug use alone accounts for 5 percent of the global gross domestic product of some $33 trillion. That is some $1.65 trillion. Much of this acquired and laundered by organized criminal groups.

It is further estimated that $100 billion of illegal money moves annually from the 'undeveloped' world to the 'developed' world through illegal trade. This is pay into, or through global corporations.

These two numbers do not include the many unquantifiable figures like the value of trade in illegal arms, the payment of illegal commissions on those arms deals and the value of illegal trade in precious stones. They further do not include the amount spent by terrorists or the amount lost to the world's economy through fraud and counterfeiting. It would probably not underestimate the scale of the problem to say that $2.5 trillion is now swilling around the black economy as well as white.

The Victims of Laundering

Those who secretly manipulate the sources and movement of money affect the security of nations and the wealth of people. We are all victims. Money laundering affects everybody who participates in the world's economy. It is a salutary thought that a large number of the currency notes that pass through our hands have been subject to laundering by crooks or their intermediaries, even though we may be using the money for quite legitimate purposes.

Dirty money is thus a tax on the global economy as well as a threat to the stability of the weaker parts of the global system. It is no exaggeration I say that the combined cost of money lost to governments through tax together with the cost to the economic system of imposing anti-money laundering controls amounts to 10 cents in every dollar of income.

When major financial or commercial institutions with a global reach handle criminal money, the wider economy is debased, and social and political structures devalued. Money laundering by criminal or terrorist groups also has far-reaching implications for the world's security.

However, perhaps the biggest losers are the ordinary inhabitants of developing countries. Skillful operators in the developing world apply the tools of finance to steal from their home countries. Wealth that has been criminally obtained, whether by bribery or fraud, needs to be hidden and moved if it is to be enjoyed or re-used. There are many reasons for this. Politicians in unstable countries fear that a government will be changed and their records and bank accounts examined; fraudsters are vulnerable to investigation by police or tax authorities.

Western financing schemes hollow out the wealth of poor countries, leaving behind economic deserts and volatile forces bent on political instability. This form of wealth transfer by deception benefits a few sharp or crooked entrepreneurs to the detriment of the larger economy. Ironically, it is most likely to occur in countries where there is least economic activity. If there were more economic activity in these countries, it might be argued there would be less scope or need for laundering as the financial system would be more dynamic and the regulators more powerful. So if the countries of Africa where diamonds are mined had their own viable diamonds markets, would sharp local operators need to ship them off to Antwerp or Beirut under the cover of bogus companies, to launder them?

Short term theft has long-term implications for these poor countries. As we have seen, mafiosi and oligarchs use their illegally gained prosperity stored outside the country in secret offshore centers to rebuild their local reputations, and so wipe out the evidence of how the wealth was obtained. The shrewdest will take political office and run their criminal businesses under the cover of legitimate authority. The most ruthless will use criminal gangs to create a rule of fear and extortion in economic sectors.

These scenarios are particularly ominous as they destroy trust in political and civilian leadership. Governments that are 'up for sale' to the highest bidder must be prone to terrorist or mafia intervention, as we saw in Afghanistan where an alliance between drugs dealers and terrorists brought us the Taliban and then Al Qaida.Vulnerable countries are also in hoc to international banks, that supported the leaders on their way up, and now extract their pound or dollar of flesh when their man is in charge.

Attacking Laundering

Western governments and multilateral bodies have understood these dangers and sought to introduce some standards into banks' relationships with politicians and those close to them. These standards are embodied in the Wolfsberg Principles and all large banks subscribe to them. The implementation of such standards -- however patchy -- offers the best hope for poor countries eager to rebuild their economies without the depredations of mafia and their Western abetters.

Tax officials and police encounter these cheats and subject them to criminal trials. The penalties for money laundering, especially when drugs are involved, are very heavy. But in recent years, the financial police have turned their attention to another criminal use of the money-go-round. These are terrorists and others who perpetrate violence for political ends. Financial police -- tax officials, police detectives, customs agents, bank money laundering reporting officers and the like -- have been charged with examining suspicious money movements for terrorist links. This new dimension has dramatically raised the profile of economic crime and investigation from a discipline that was performed by a few specialized -- and often under-funded boffins -- to one that has come to pre-occupy every professional who handles money. Money laundering rules are their constant concern.

Today, the bank manager, the accountant, the lawyer, the estate agent, the seller of expensive yachts . . . you name it, is required to ask his customer about the source of his money. The money laundering mantra that prevails in this 'enforcement area' is the need to 'know your customer'. This process of acquiring 'knowledge' is performed by asking a series of questions about the bona fides of the money and the business activity which produced it. Clients interrogated in this way are often offended, whether or not they have anything to hide. It will also be argued that the time involved puts an additional cost on doing business and that is an economic burden on the economy. The inconvenience and bad feeling will be a small price to pay if this process of interrogation and due diligence succeeds in staunching the growing amounts of funds lost through acquisitive crime and fraud; allegedly two thirds of all reported crime is acquisitive. The 'know-your-customer' system, if it works effectively, not only puts the authorities on the tracks of those planning to behave dishonestly, but also deters would-be crooks from embarking on their schemes.

The need for the system to 'know its customers' has another, much more general context. The huge sums of money handled today by a machine or computer in a digital form has lowered levels of accountability and scrutiny and opened the way for abuse. When a criminal enters the system, computerization allows him to move greater amounts of money faster than was ever possible when money was in a intangible, note form. Interrogation of those participating in this 'immaterial' system introduces a personal element that has been lost as computers have taken over.

But will the imposition of today's money laundering regimes help to prevent orchestrated and elaborate abuse? Checks by banks may stop low-level fraud but, arguably, have much less impact on high-level and well-financed criminal activity.

Massive money laundering is likely to be performed by crooks and organized crime gangs operating through large companies and banks and it is highly unlikely the form-filling, 'tick-in-the-box' type controls involved in much anti-money laundering supervision will affect the well-financed and sophisticated crook.

Financial secrecy and manipulation are today viewed as the genie that escaped from the bottle during the free-wheeling 1980s and 1990s. Returning it to captivity is a vast task for law enforcement, let alone the governments that sponsor them.

Launderers menace a stable and fair society. The importance of keeping them outside the gate has never been greater. Likewise the need for a clearer and more focused system of regulation is paramount. Laws passed round the globe since September 11 (not to mention those passed before and largely ignored), have given the authorities greater powers to tap phones, investigate individual and corporate bank accounts and seize illegally obtained wealth. Enforcement authorities also now encounter fewer obstacles now than before September 11 to cross-border collaboration. They face an unprecedented opportunity to attack money laundering and seize criminal and terrorist wealth.

But there is a cost to society and the individual entailed in this extension of power. The rights to privacy from state intrusion have been diminished as a result of anti-money laundering powers. This has been accepted by governments round the world in the arguable interest of security and the greater good of society. As a result, money laundering is much more likely to be cited as a pretext for 'fishing expeditions' where the police seek to obtain confidential documents referring to an individual's financial affairs without a specific cause. Worse still, police authorities, acting on a governmental agenda, may seek to use money laundering legislation to gain evidence from banks to pry into the affairs of political dissidents. The very nebulousness of the money laundering controls and legislation risks obstructing efforts by those pursued by the authorities to challenge the validity of this process.

The world watches and awaits a clampdown that is commensurate with the risks it now faces from money launderers, corrupt governments, criminal gangs and terrorists. It is paramount that the law enforcement authorities attack not merely the small fry but the ring leaders of crime and the dirty dictators. If these heinous operators are stripped of their wealth and liberty as a result of the new money laundering regimes, few would deny they had served a worthy purpose. If, on the other hand, those new laws add to the cost of doing legitimate business without the payback in terms of a growing number of convictions, leading to improved levels of honesty and integrity, anti-money laundering will be regarded as no-more than dead letters. Criminals will march on and society will have been shown to be powerless in touching their illegal wealth and systems. The opportunity to turn back the march of the vicious and greedy gangs will have been lost, and respect for proper ways of doing business will be diminished. To say the very future of the economic system is at risk, is no exaggeration.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:42 AM


Taliban recruiting children in desperation (Associated Press, July 24, 2005)

Fierce fighting in recent months has devastated the ranks of the Taliban, prompting the rebels to recruit children and force some families to provide one son to fight with them, a US commander said.

Hitler got that desperate at the end too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 AM


French happy, but wary (PRANAY SHARMA, 7/23/05, The Telegraph of India)

France is happy the US is finally ready to accept India as a responsible nuclear state — a line it claims the French leadership has been advocating for seven years. But it is not sure if the growing Indo-US ties will be at its expense and reduce France to being a marginal player in the subcontinent.

Why would the subcontinent be any different than the rest of the world?:

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:01 AM


After London, Tough Questions for Muslims (Mona Eltahawy, July 24, 2005, Washington Post)

[T]he London bombings did it for me. Or maybe it's the knowledge that the more these faceless cowards strike, the more Muslim men in the West like my brother are pushed onto the stage of suspicion. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Ehab -- who spends virtually all of his time caring for his cardiology patients or fulfilling his role as husband and father -- was one of the 5,000 Muslim men questioned by the FBI; two years later he was among the thousands more who had to submit to being fingerprinted and photographed as part of a special registration.

But most of all, the London bombings rid me of all patience with the excuse that "George Bush [or Tony Blair or take your pick of Western leaders] made me do it." We don't know who was behind Thursday's explosions, but an Arab analyst told a satellite channel that if Blair hadn't learned the mistake of the Iraq war, these new attacks were a firm reminder.

I never bought the explanation that U.S. foreign policy had "brought on" the Sept. 11 attacks, and I certainly don't buy the idea that the Iraq war is behind the attacks in London. Many people across the world have opposed U.S. and British foreign policy, but that doesn't mean they are rushing to fly planes into buildings or to blow up buses and Underground trains in London.

I was against the invasion of Iraq and would not have voted for George Bush if I were a U.S. citizen, but I'm done with the "George Bush made me do it" excuse. We must accept responsibility for this mess if we are ever to find a way out.

And for those non-Muslims who accept the George Bush excuse, I have a question: Do you think Muslims are incapable of accepting responsibility? It is at least in some way bigoted to think that Muslims can only react violently?

Those questions are for the Left as well, not just Muslims.


Muslims' vigil for bomb victims
(BBC, 7/24/05)

British Muslims remembered those who died in London's bomb attacks at a silent vigil on Sunday.

Organised by the British Pakistani Psychiatrists Association, it was held in Hyde Park, near Marble Arch.

A spokesman said it was important that British Muslims showed they were "law abiding and patriotic".

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 AM


Where the Right Is Right (NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, 7/24/05, NY Times)

Liberals took the lead in championing human rights abroad in the 1970's, while conservatives mocked the idea. But these days liberals should be embarrassed that it's the Christian Right that is taking the lead in spotlighting repression in North Korea.

Perhaps no country in human history has ever been as successful at totalitarianism as North Korea. Koreans sent back from China have been herded like beasts, with wires forced through their palms or under their collarbones. People who steal food have been burned at the stake, with their relatives recruited to light the match. Then there was the woman who was a true believer and suggested that the Dear Leader should stop womanizing: after she was ordered executed, her own husband volunteered to pull the trigger.

"The biggest scandal in progressive politics," Tony Blair told The New Yorker this year, "is that you do not have people with placards out in the street on North Korea. I mean, that is a disgusting regime. The people are kept in a form of slavery, 23 million of them, and no one protests!"

Actually, some people do protest. Conservative Christians have aggressively taken up the cause of North Korean human rights in the last few years, and the movement is gathering steam.

Of course, nothing's changed. The regimes the Left opposed in the '70s were those like Spain, Chile, S. Korea. S. Vietnam, S. Africa, El Salvador, Taiwan, etc., which were not only allies but putting in place the foundations for what would later be smooth and easy transition to full democracy (those that survived anyway). They blithely ignored the oppression in N. Korea, N. Vietnam, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and the rest of the Iron Curtain. Indeed, they sought to work out a modus vivendi with them in the form of detente. It was the Right, led by Ronald Reagan that brought human rights to most of these countries -- allies and enemies -- by winning the Cold War. Similarly, today it is the religious Right that is bringing human rights to everywhere from Afghanistan and Iraq to Sudan and East Timor and will eventually be responsible for bringing them to the last few utopias of Leftism: N. Korea, Cuba and China as well as Africa and the Middle East..

Posted by David Cohen at 12:04 AM


Police admit 'tragic' error: the man we shot on the Tube was no terrorist (Andrew Alderson, Charlotte Edwardes and David Harrison, Telegraph, 7/24/05)

Scotland Yard was facing a severe crisis last night after it admitted that the man shot dead at Stockwell Tube station on Friday morning had no links to terrorist attacks on the capital.

The victim, a Brazilian, was shot five times in the head as he ran on to an Underground train pursued by armed officers, including members of SO19, Scotland Yard's specialist firearms unit.

The Metropolitan police named him as Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, an electrician from Minas Gerais who was living in Scotia Road, Stockwell, with three cousins. He is an innocent victim of a new "shoot to kill" policy under which officers have been told to shoot at the head if they believe they are confronting a suicide bomber. . . .

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said on Friday that the man was "challenged and refused to obey police instructions". The shooting was "directly linked" to anti-terror operations. . . .

It is believed that Mr de Menezes, who is thought to have spoken good English, may have been working illegally in Britain for up to four years. He is thought to have panicked when confronted by armed men as he was about to buy a Tube ticket at about 10am. Witnesses said that he hurdled the ticket barrier, ran down the escalator and stumbled into a carriage.

Three armed officers who pounced on him, might have thought his padded jacket contained explosives. One of them shot five bullets from a handgun into his head in front of horrified passengers. . . .

One senior source said last night: "We were led to an address in Stockwell by documents found in the abandoned rucksacks and by our intelligence. This house, which now appears to be a multi-occupancy address, was put under surveillance." . . .

If three officers are going to hold someone down in the subway car while one of their number pumps 5 bullets into his head, they really need to make sure that they're right. Good call on remembering the suicide bombers should be shot in the head. Bad call on the execution style murder of the innocent. I suppose, though, that they could recast this as a victory in the war against illegal immigration. I know some Americans who would cheer them on, in that case.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


Will anyone rise to take al-Qaeda's bait? (FRASER NELSON, 7/24/05, Scotland on Sunday)

THE VOICE of Muslim Britain seems almost provocative in the opinion sampled so far. A quarter claim some sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of those who carried out the attacks, and 6% consider the July 7 attacks justified.

But widen the focus to look at British political opinion, and the picture is not much different. When ICM asked the country at large, three-quarters thought Tony Blair was to some degree responsible for the suicide bombings.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


52% of Japanese don't trust U.S. government (Japan Times, 7/24/05)

More than half of the Japanese public doesn't trust the U.S. government, but 59 percent of Americans consider Tokyo trustworthy, according to a joint public perception survey by Kyodo News and the Associated Press.

July 23, 2005

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:23 PM


One in four Muslims sympathises with motives of terrorists (Anthony King, 23/07/2005, Daily Telegraph)

The group portrait of British Muslims painted by YouGov's survey for The Daily Telegraph is at once reassuring and disturbing, in some ways even alarming.

The vast majority of British Muslims condemn the London bombings but a substantial minority are clearly alienated from modern British society and some are prepared to justify terrorist acts.

The divisions within the Muslim community go deep. Muslims are divided over the morality of the London bombings, over the extent of their loyalty to this country and over how Muslims should respond to recent events.

Most Muslims are evidently moderate and law-abiding but by no means all are.

Just pick up a copy of the Guardian and you'll find no end of nice white limeys justifying the bombings too. Or just listen to the Mayor of London. Nor were the numbers much different during the Cold War, when a not inconsiderable portion of the British population was rooting for the USSR and despised the USA..

Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:29 PM


Democrats Are on the Wrong Battlefield (Colbert I. King, July 23, 2005, Washington Post)

If John Roberts is confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, as now seems likely -- barring a shocker in his record or his past -- the reasons he made it won't be solely his résumé or the support of President Bush. The groundwork for Roberts's elevation to the high court -- and the likelihood of success for future Bush Supreme Court nominees -- was laid nearly three years ago in Georgia, Minnesota and Missouri, and last November in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana and South Dakota, when Republicans captured eight Democratic Senate seats.

Today, with Republicans holding 55 seats and having a good chance of landing the votes of some Democrats, the White House enters the Supreme Court fights in excellent shape. That thought alone has some in Washington seized with myocardial infarctions. But they have only themselves to blame.

Self-designated as a government in exile, Democratic Party activists have spent recent election cycles working their fannies off for that glorious day in January when they, as victors, could show the door to a vanquished Republican administration. For members of Washington's Democratic administration-in-waiting, winning the White House has been the only game in town. The presidency, in their view, is the instrument to make the way straight and easy for all who wage war against the heathen right.

So, lo these many years, they have been spending millions of dollars and consuming time and energy treading the primary roads that they hoped would take them to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Meanwhile, far beyond the presidential trails, Republicans have been picking off Democrats on the Hill one by one, making it possible for George W. Bush to fulfill his upfront pledge to govern America from the right, where tax cuts, changing the face of the federal judiciary and making liberals perfectly miserable every waking moment remain the order of the day.

The reality is that with thirty states they barely have to make an effort to carry in presidential races the natural GOP majority is 60 in the Senate.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:39 AM


To the Victor Goes the Court (Martin Frost, 7/23/05, Fox News)

Elections have consequences. George W. Bush has won two elections as president of the United States and now he gets to name Supreme Court justices. And as long as those nominees are qualified and not extreme, they deserve confirmation. His first nominee, John Roberts, should be confirmed unless something unforeseen surfaces during Senate hearings.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:25 AM


A key player: Josh Kantor, one of the few organists left in baseball, sees the Red Sox for a song (Bella English, July 23, 2005, Boston Globe)

It's a glorious night at Fenway Park, and Josh Kantor is thrilled to be playing for the Red Sox. No, he wasn't acquired in the trade for Jay Payton. He gets more playing time than Payton ever got, though he'd like more.

Kantor is the organist at Fenway Park, and on this balmy night with the Toronto Blue Jays in town, he's serenading the arriving fans with ''When You're Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)," segueing into ''I Second That Emotion," his fingers moving as deftly over the keys as Johnny Damon's glove catching those center-field fly balls.

He's the guy who plays ''Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch, the one who warms up the fans as they head into the ballpark and who celebrates -- or commiserates -- with them as they head out. On a recent night, after a horrendous drubbing by the Blue Jays, Kantor sent Sox fans home to the tune of ''Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" Once, when some players were on the verge of a fight, Kantor broke into ''Why Can't We Be Friends?" And when they played a video of former Sox slugger Jim Rice on the huge screen, Kantor offered, ''You Don't Mess Around With Jim."

Tucked away on a small platform, ensconced in the lofty luxury of the .406 Club, Kantor, 32, sits at his Yamaha electric organ, waiting for the chance to chime in. There's a lot of waiting. Much of the music fans hear at Fenway is recorded and played by Megan Kaiser, the ballpark's music programmer, who has hundreds of CDs loaded onto a computer, only the push of a button away.

Together, Kaiser says, she and Kantor create ''a soundtrack for your day at Fenway." [...]

The organ first appeared at the park in 1953, when Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey decided to add music to the Fenway experience. He hired John Kiley, who over the next 36 years became a Boston legend. Kiley was known for stirring up the crowd with antics that included playing ''The Hallelujah Chorus" when Carl Yastrzemski hit one out of the park or pumping out ''White Christmas" on a scorching day. By the time he retired in 1989, recorded music had begun to elbow its way into the repertoire.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:10 AM

65 IN '08:

Downstate rep could help GOP defeat Durbin (THOMAS ROESER, July 23, 2005, Chicago Sun-Times)

Some Republicans don't think it's too early at all to start zeroing in on Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). He'll be running for re-election in 2008 but he made a mistake last month that could be fatal. By comparing U.S. servicemen who run Gitmo to those who guarded the prison camps in Nazi Germany, the gulags in the USSR and the extermination centers in Cambodia under Pol Pot, the East St. Louis-born liberal hustler handed his opponents a battery of weapons to use against him. At least five anti-Durbin TV commercials come to mind.

First, the tape of Durbin's outlandish attack on U.S. guards at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility. Then there's the tape of Mayor Daley excoriating Durbin as a disgrace. Third, Durbin standing before the Senate in trembling apology, his voice quavering. Fourth, the Robert Novak column saying that fear of Daley drove Durbin to apologize. [...]

Some say the best challenger would be Rep. John Shimkus of Collinsville, a Republican incumbent since 1997. Of Lithuanian descent like Durbin, Shimkus, 47, is markedly different from the senatorial glad-hander. He's a West Pointer, trained as an Army Ranger and paratrooper (a reserve lieutenant colonel), and a former high school teacher. Shimkus came to politics early, got elected Madison County treasurer, the lone GOP officer, in 1990 and re-elected in 1994.

Shimkus has had experience with Durbin. He ran against him for Congress in 1992 and, although outspent 4-1, carried 44 percent of the vote. Four years later, Shimkus won his House seat in a district that Bill Clinton carried by 7 percentage points. Then, against conservative Democrat Dave Phelps in 2002, Shimkus won by almost 10 percentage points.

Given that John McCain/Jeb Bush will be carrying the state a GOP pick-up won't be hard.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 AM


Stem Cell Bill, Once Seen as a Sure Thing, Is Now Mired in Uncertainty (SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, 7/23/05, NY Times)

A measure to expand federal financing for human embryonic stem cell research, passed by the House and once considered a shoo-in for adoption by the Senate, is tangled up in a procedural dispute that will probably delay a vote until fall - and could wind up killing the bill, its chief Republican backer said.

"The bill is in some danger," said Representative Michael N. Castle, Republican of Delaware and the measure's leading sponsor in the House.

Mr. Castle accused the White House, which has threatened to veto the measure, and the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist of Tennessee, of "doing everything in their power to deflect votes away from it or keep it from coming up for a vote at all."

Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:10 AM


Anti-Abortion Advocacy of Wife of Court Nominee Draws Interest (LYNETTE CLEMETSON and ROBIN TONER, 7/23/05, NY Times)

[T]here is little mystery about the views of his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, a Roman Catholic lawyer from the Bronx whose pro bono work for Feminists for Life is drawing intense interest in the ideologically charged environment of a Supreme Court confirmation debate.

Some abortion opponents view her activities as a clear signal that the Robertses are committed to their cause; supporters of abortion rights fear the same thing. Others say that drawing a direct line from her activities to how her husband might rule on the Supreme Court - assuming that he not only shares her views, but would also act on them to overturn 32 years of legal precedents - is both politically risky and in bad form.

No less a Democratic stalwart than Senator Edward M. Kennedy said, at a breakfast meeting with reporters on Friday, that Mrs. Roberts's work "ought to be out of bounds."

Even Teddy knows that tack is a mistake.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 AM


Liberals wary of Roberts' charm (Charles Hurt, July 23, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

Wade Henderson, a civil rights leader who wields influence with Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats, lamented yesterday that U.S. Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. appears headed for a "coronation."

"He has friends on both sides of the aisle." said Mr. Henderson, director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. "As a general matter, he is moving not so much toward a confirmation but what appears to be a coronation."

The comments reflect a wariness among liberal lobby groups that Judge Roberts -- viewed by them as extremely conservative -- may garner broad support from not only Senate Republicans, but also from the Democrats with whom the groups are most closely aligned.

At last count, 44 senators -- all Republicans -- have expressed support for Judge Roberts. Another 15 -- including 10 Democrats -- have made positive statements about the nominee but declined to take a position until after Senate hearings.

And in recent days, even some of Judge Roberts' toughest critics have been barely short of effusive after meeting with him in private.

...your main complaint is that the nominee is too popular.

July 22, 2005

Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:45 PM


House to Back Bush on Moon, Mars Trips (Guy Gugliotta, July 22, 2005, Washington Post)

The House for the first time in five years will weigh in on national space policy today, considering a bipartisan endorsement of President Bush's initiative to send humans to the moon and Mars and authorizing an extra $1.3 billion over the next two years to forestall cuts in NASA's traditional programs in science and aeronautics.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005 also endorses a maintenance visit by the space shuttle to the Hubble Space Telescope and calls on NASA to develop a national aeronautics policy.

But in the face of a partisan impasse, the bill does not take a position on whether to retire the space shuttle in 2010, an administration goal favored by the Republicans, or to keep it in service until a next-generation spacecraft is developed, the view favored by House Democrats and by both parties in the Senate.

The House bill, scheduled for debate and a vote today, reflects a desire by Congress to make a statement on space policy as NASA gets ready to fly the space shuttle for the first time in 2 1/2 years and undertakes a major shift in focus toward Bush's "Vision for Space Exploration."

Recall that when the president enunciated his plan it was dismissed as mere window dressing for his presidential campaign.

Posted by Matt Murphy at 10:00 PM


Young Potter readers need to talk, grieve: (Barbara F. Meltz, July 21, 2005, Boston Globe)

As she was leaving for summer school Monday morning, the day after she had finished ''Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," 14-year-old Chelsey Bowman of Newton asked her mother, ''Will you be here when I get home at 1 o'clock? I don't want to be alone."

The neediness took June Bowman by surprise. Not only is it unlike her daughter to be frightened, it's also unlike ''Harry Potter" to cause that degree of intensity.

Less than 24 hours after the book was released last weekend, readers who had already finished it were seeking solace in a chat thread on livejournal.com:

''Is anyone else in complete and utter shock about who just died and how, or am I the only one?"

''I am in shock. OMG, I can't believe what I just read. I spent like the last three chapters bawling my eyes out. I'm just in shock, pure utter shock."

We won't be the spoiler here, but it's no secret that a much-beloved character dies in this sixth book in the series by J.K. Rowling. What do you say when your child has been up all night reading, and her eyes are red and swollen from crying?

If you're reading it with children, odds are you'll spend the final chapters asking them to pass the Kleenex.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:50 PM


Intel Officers: Bush Needs to Punish Rove for Plame Outing (Fox News, July 22, 2005)

Former U.S. intelligence officers criticized President Bush on Friday for not disciplining Karl Rove in connection with the leak of the name of a CIA officer, saying Bush's lack of action has jeopardized national security.

In a hearing held by Senate and House Democrats examining the implications of exposing Valerie Plame's identity, the former intelligence officers said Bush's silence has hampered efforts to recruit informants to help the United States fight the War on Terror. Federal law forbids government officials from revealing the identity of an undercover intelligence officer.

"I wouldn't be here this morning if President Bush had done the one thing required of him as commander in chief — protect and defend the Constitution," said Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst. "The minute that Valerie Plame's identity was outed, he should have delivered a strict and strong message to his employees."

Apparently it escaped their notice that President Bush defended the Constitution by sending in Porter Goss to get rid of all the spooks who were trying to subvert the elected government via cheap stunts like the Palme report.

Posted by David Cohen at 7:33 PM


An Image A Little Too Carefully Coordinated (Robin Givhan, Washington Post, 7/22/05)

It has been a long time since so much syrupy nostalgia has been in evidence at the White House. But Tuesday night, when President Bush announced his choice for the next associate justice of the Supreme Court, it was hard not to marvel at the 1950s-style tableau vivant that was John Roberts and his family.

There they were -- John, Jane, Josie and Jack -- standing with the president and before the entire country. The nominee was in a sober suit with the expected white shirt and red tie. His wife and children stood before the cameras, groomed and glossy in pastel hues -- like a trio of Easter eggs, a handful of Jelly Bellies, three little Necco wafers. There was tow-headed Jack -- having freed himself from the controlling grip of his mother -- enjoying a moment in the spotlight dressed in a seersucker suit with short pants and saddle shoes. His sister, Josie, was half-hidden behind her mother's skirt. Her blond pageboy glistened. And she was wearing a yellow dress with a crisp white collar, lace-trimmed anklets and black patent-leather Mary Janes. . . .

The wife wore a strawberry-pink tweed suit with taupe pumps and pearls, which alone would not have been particularly remarkable, but alongside the nostalgic costuming of the children, the overall effect was of self-consciously crafted perfection. The children, of course, are innocents. They are dressed by their parents. And through their clothes choices, the parents have created the kind of honeyed faultlessness that jams mailboxes every December when personalized Christmas cards arrive bringing greetings "to you and yours" from the Blake family or the Joneses. Everyone looks freshly scrubbed and adorable, just like they have stepped from a Currier & Ives landscape. . . .

[T]he Roberts family went too far. In announcing John Roberts as his Supreme Court nominee, the president inextricably linked the individual -- and his family -- to the sweep of tradition. In their attire, there was nothing too informal; there was nothing immodest. There was only the feeling that, in the desire to be appropriate and respectful of history, the children had been costumed in it.

The tide of human history sweeps ever forward.


The family picture is incredibly revealing. Bush is planted between the nominee and his family, and Roberts only has eyes for the President. The angling of the podium further shoves the family to the outside. The empty halls of power behind the men, with nice red carpet reminds me of Aggamemnon.

The family? :shudder:

That is soooooo dysfunctional, it is scary. The mother and daughter are terrified of being in public: probably brutalized verbally on a daily basis for never being good enough.

Posted [at Bagnewsnotes] by: hauksdottir | July 21, 2005 04:32 AM

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:26 PM


A Year of Work to Sell Roberts to Conservatives (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK, 7/22/05, NY Times)

For at least a year before the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court, the White House was working behind the scenes to shore up support for him among its social conservative allies, quietly reassuring them that he was a good bet for their side in cases about abortion, same-sex marriage and public support for religion.

When the White House began testing the name of Judge Roberts on a short list of potential nominees, many social conservatives were skeptical. In hearings for confirmation to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, he had called the original abortion rights precedent "the settled law of the land" and said "there is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent."

And they were frustrated, as many Democrats were this week, by his not having left a long record of speeches and opinions that laid out his views.

But with a series of personal testimonials about Judge Roberts, his legal work, his Roman Catholic faith, and his wife's public opposition to abortion, two well-connected Christian conservative lawyers - Leonard Leo, chairman of Catholic outreach for the Republican Party, and Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of an evangelical Protestant legal center founded by Pat Robertson - gradually won over most social conservatives to nearly unanimous support, even convincing them that the lack of a paper trail was an asset that made Judge Roberts harder to attack.

Both had been tapped by the White House to build the coalition for judicial confirmation battles.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:22 PM


Roberts reminds Democrats of 2004 outcome: A legislative legacy at stake (Tom Curry, July 22, 2005, MSNBC)

At a press conference Thursday to urge the Senate to grill Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts on his views, Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., stood with the senior senator from Massachusetts, Sen. Edward Kennedy. “I wonder what it would be like if the junior senator from Massachusetts had been making this appointment,” Watt mused ruefully.

But John Kerry lost last November, and by losing, let slip away the chance for Democrats to shape the judiciary. [...]

Watt, who is black, made the issue personal by mentioning that the Supreme Court, in a series of 5-to-4 decisions, had supervised the redesign of his own gerrymandered congressional district, arguing over whether overt consideration of the race of the voters ought to be permissible when state legislators map out House districts.

The Senate confirmation of Roberts, which looks increasingly likely, would be a setback for the Democratic Party and especially for liberal Democrats such as Watt and Kennedy.

The prospect of submitting the Left's agenda to normal legislative processes rightly terrifies these guys.

Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:49 PM


India, US make a tectonic move (Greg Sheridan, 23jul05, The Australian)

Some little time ago a senior US defence official received an admiral of the Indian navy. The Indian admiral explained that his country's military doctrine envisaged in due course Indian nuclear-armed submarines permanently in the Pacific Ocean. That would be unacceptable to the US, said the American defence man (or words to that effect).

The Indian made two replies. First, he said, the Pacific doesn't belong exclusively to you and we can sail there if we want to. But also, consider the effect that our having nuclear subs in the Pacific would have. It would mean that the cities of northern China, presently beyond the range of our land-based missiles, would be covered by our nuclear deterrent.

Well, of course, said the American, in that case we can probably make a deal. [...]

[I]t was Singh's speech to a joint session of the US Congress that was most masterful. It was beautifully crafted for an American audience. The Congress was packed. Both sides of US politics have bought into this relationship in the biggest way. And Singh touched every right note for the Americans - India and the US are common democracies, one the oldest democracy, one the largest. They are united in the war on terror. At the press conference Singh lavished praise on Bush for his leadership in the war on terror. He told Congress that the two nations shared values and interests. India's success, he said, was in the national interest of the US.

One of the delightful touches in the speech was that it completely omitted mention of Pakistan, the most exquisite punishment an Indian leader in Washington could possibly administer to his troublesome neighbour. It is a sign of the decoupling of India and Pakistan in the Western mind, and the way in which India is moving forward on a much higher economic and strategic plane than Pakistan.

Singh emphasised that what he and Bush have embarked on is a broad-ranging partnership, ranging from IT investment and agriculture to heightened defence co-operation. Astoundingly, one of Singh's greatest applause lines was: "I would like to reiterate that India's track record in nuclear non-proliferation is impeccable."

Long after the tolling of Big Ben is replaced by the call of a muezzin, India and America will be shaping the world.

Posted by David Cohen at 1:52 PM



Senator's Questions Touch Major Issues From the First Amendment to the Commerce Clause

Schumer Reaffirms Belief That Ideology and Legal Convictions Are More Important Than Personal Life In Evaluating Supreme Court Nominees

Today U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer met with Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts and presented him with a number of questions on his judicial philosophy ranging from the First Amendment to the Commerce Clause to the environment. Schumer, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Courts, re-iterated his belief that questioning judicial nominees is a duty and not a privilege, which he first suggested that a nominee's views and philosophy should be known in an opinion piece in the New York Times in 2001.

Schumer said that he believed a court nominees' ideology and philosophy is fair game for questioning in a Supreme Court nomination hearing. "I have long believed that federal court candidates - who serve for life - should explain their judicial philosophy and their method of legal reasoning. They should be prepared to explain their views of the Constitution, of decided cases, of federalism, and a host of other issues relevant to that lifetime post."

Schumer said there is a difference between asking about a particular case with particular facts, but asking broad questions about particular issues is acceptable. "I have always said that one should not ask a question specifically about Enron, because there are particular facts and parties involved, but one can certainly ask a question about a nominee's views on corporate responsibility and the proper role of the federal Government in enforcing it."

After the jump, let's work our way through Senator Schumer's questions.

1. First Amendment and Freedom of Expression:

What, if any, are the limitations on the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution?

The First Amendment is a limitation on the power of Congress, not a guarantee of substantive rights to the people.

  • When can Government regulate public speech by individuals?

    The federal government can't, except arguably public speech by Senators and Members of the House. The states may, consistent with their own constitutions.

  • When does speech cross the line between Constitutionally protected free expression and slander?

    This, too, is a matter for state law but, generally, the line is crossed when a false statement that would reasonably be understood to reflect poorly on another is communicated to third parties. The rights of "public figures" to sue for slander might be different, though.

  • In what ways does the First Amendment protect the spending and raising of money by individuals in politics?

    From the federal government? Completely. From the state governments? Not at all.

    Can Government regulate hate speech? What about sexually explicit materials?

    The federal government cannot regulate speech. The state governments can, consistent with their own constitutions.


  • Do you agree with the landmark decision in NY Times v. Sullivan (1964), which held that public criticism of public figures is acceptable unless motivated by actual malice? Who do you believe constitutes a public figure under this standard?

    The substantive holding in Sullivan is pretty close to where I would come down if I were a legislator. It is well-rooted in American law, being very similar to the regulations adopted by Congress in the Alien and Sedition Acts. It is, though, entirely outside the power of the Supreme Court, properly understood, to have imposed this rule.

  • Do you believe the Supreme Court was correct to strike down the Communications Decency Act in Reno v. ACLU (1997) on the grounds that pornography on the Internet is protected by the First Amendment?

    I find "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech" pretty self-explanatory.

  • What is your view on the distinction the Supreme Court drew in Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and McConnell v. FEC (2003) between contributions and expenditures in the course of political campaigns? Do you believe that it is legitimate to construe campaign expenditures as protected speech but not donations by individuals?

    I think that the distinction is untenable and that the regulation of campaign contributions is beyond the power of the federal government.

    2. First Amendment and the Establishment Clause:

    Under the Establishment Clause, what, if any, is the appropriate role of religion in Government?

    The federal government should neither establish a religion, or interfere in a state establishment of religion.

  • Must the Government avoid involvement with religion as a whole, or is the prohibition just on Government involvement with any specific religion?

    There is no prohibition on government "involvement" with religion, or any specific religion. However, the federal government is not a government of general powers that may act unless it is prohibited. It is a government of limited powers that may not act unless it is permitted. [NB: Even if I drop the pretense that I don't know what he's talking about, I don't know what he's talking about here. This is a spectacular example of, in Orrin Hatch's phrase, Schumer's "dumb ass" questions.]

  • Is there a difference between religious expression in Government buildings, documents, and institutions and Government spending on private, faith-based initiatives?


  • What do you see as the Constitutionally protected or limited role of faith-based groups in Government-funded activity? In Government institutions?

    An "establishment of religion" is a state-authorized, tax-supported church intertwined with the secular government. The federal government can't have one of those. Otherwise, a religion is simply another association of citizens, to be treated like any other such association, so long as Congress doesn't interfere with an individual's right to freedom of religion.


  • In the two cases the Supreme Court decided on the Ten Commandments recently, a display of the Commandments inside a Courthouse was found unconstitutional, while a statue of the Commandments on the grounds of a state capitol was deemed acceptable. Do you agree with the distinction the Court drew between Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary Country v. ACLU (2005)? In your view, are these decisions consistent with each other?

    I have no idea where the Supreme Court found that distinction in the text of the Constitution.

  • What is your view of the Supreme Court's opinion in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000), which held that prayer in public schools is prohibited even where it is student-organized, non-denominational, and at a football game?

    What part of "Congress" is hard to understand?

    3. Commerce Clause:

    Beginning in 1937, when it upheld the National Labor Relations Act, the Supreme Court has granted Congress great latitude in passing laws under the Commerce Clause. The Court has upheld a wide range of federal laws, including those that regulate labor standards, personal consumption of produce, racial discrimination in public accommodations, and crime. In the last ten years, however, the Supreme Court has shifted course, doing something it had not done in sixty years: striking down acts of Congress on Commerce Clause grounds.

  • Do you agree with the trend towards striking down laws on this basis?

    I agree that, if Congress tries to exercise its powers outside of the limited grant contained in the Constitution, then Congress has exceeded its powers. If Congress has exceeded its limited powers, then neither of the other two branches is obliged to pay it any attention. [Another sdaq]

  • What do you believe is the extent of Congress's authority to legislate under the Commerce Clause?

    Is this an open-book test? Because there's actually a written document, with which you are apparently unfamiliar, that pretty much answers this question.

  • Can Congress regulate local trade in a product that is used nationally?

    [A question so da it can't be answered]

  • Can Congress regulate labor standards for states and cities under its Commerce Clause power?

    This is a little random, because the question is so poorly structured, but I'll go with "no."

  • How closely connected must the regulated action be to interstate commerce for Congress to have the authority to legislate?

    Once again, let's look to the document. Looks to me that, if it's not interstate commerce, it can't be regulated as interstate commerce.

  • Where would you look for evidence that Congress is properly legislating under its Commerce Clause authority? Do you rely exclusively on the text of the legislation? Do you look at the legislative history? Do you consider the nature of the regulated activity?

    Somewhat inartfully, Senator Schumer is raising two completely separate issues here. 1. Legislative history is irrelevant to either statutory or constitutional interpretation. 2. Legislation must be constitutional both on its face and as applied.

  • What is the extent of the limitations imposed on state regulation by the Commerce Clause?

    I am not a fan of the dormant commerce clause [the idea that some commerce is so inherently a federal matter that the states may not regulate it even if Congress has not acted], although it is such well-settled law that, while I might construe it narrowly, I would probably not strike it from the case-law. Generally, the states, unlike the federal government, may act unless action is specifically prohibited by the constitution or proper federal law.


    Do you agree with the Court's decision in United States v. Lopez (1995), which struck down the Gun-Free School Zone Act because education is traditionally local? Is there any circumstance under which Congress could regulate activities in and around schools using its Commerce Clause authority?

    1. Yes. 2. Again, this is such a bad question that the answer is random, but again I'll go with "No."

  • Do you agree that it is the Commerce Clause that allows Congress to prohibit racial discrimination in public accommodations, as the Court held in Heart of Atlanta Hotel v. United States (1964)?


    4. Under what circumstances is it appropriate for the Supreme Court to overturn a well-settled precedent, upon which Americans have come to rely?

    Senator Schumer does not distinguish between constitutional precedent and non-constitutional precedent. For now, I'll assume that he's asking about precedent interpreting the Constitution. Such precedent is important. Democracy is important. When the two conflict, democracy wins, but the conflict has to be clear and direct. For example, as I noted above, I'm not a big fan of the dormant commerce clause. If presented with the question for the first time, I wouldn't hold that such a thing exists. But it is now well-settled, people's expectations have been set and it is not so directly in conflict with the Constitutional text that I would consider myself compelled to overturn it.

  • Does your answer depend at all on the length of time that the precedent has been on the books?

    The only issue is whether precedent is in conflict with the constitution. However, the history of the precedent is relevant to determining if there is a true conflict. The longer a precedent has been in place, the less likely that there is a direct conflict. On the other hand, if the precedent has been dormant and unrelied upon, or if there has been constant opposition to the precedent in the courts or by the people, then time becomes a much less relevant factor.

  • Does your answer depend at all on how widely criticized or accepted the precedent is?


  • What if you agree with the result but believe the legal reasoning was seriously flawed? Does that make a difference?

    No. [Another sdaq.]

  • Does it matter if the precedent was 5-4 in deciding whether to overturn it? Does it matter if was a unanimous decision?

    A 5-4 decision is more likely to be wrong than a 9-0 decision. This is, though, much less of a factor (it might even reverse itself) if the precedent is particularly old.


  • Do you agree with the 1976 decision in which the Supreme Court held that Congress could not extend the Fair Labor Standards Act to state and city employees (National League of Cities v. Usery), or do you agree with the later 1985 decision, which held that Congress could (Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit, overruling Nat'l League of Cities). Was the Court right to overturn its precedent nine years later? Why or why not?

    I have no opinion on this.

  • Do you agree with the 1989 decision in which the Supreme Court held that it was constitutional to execute minors (Stanford v. Kentucky), or do you agree with the later 2005 decision, which held that it was unconstitutional (Roper v. Simmons). Was the Court right to overturn its precedent 16 years later? Why or why not?

    I agree with Stanford and disagree with Roper. In particular, the majority's reliance on trends in international and state law was completely misplaced and had no relevance at all. The value of precedent as precedent has very little to do with my opinion, although the sense the court gives of playing games with capital punishment and the Constitution is unfortunate.

  • Do you agree with the 1986 decision in which the Supreme Court held that states could criminalize private sex acts between consenting adults (Bowers v. Hardwick), or do you agree with the later 2003 decision, which held that the states could not (Lawrence v. Texas)? Was the Court right to overturn its precedent 17 years later? Why or why not?

    I agree with Bowers, not Lawrence. Nothing in the federal constitution bars the states from acting in this area. Again, this is on the merits and doesn't turn, at all, on the value of precedent.

  • 5. Under what circumstances should the Supreme Court invalidate a law duly passed by the Congress?

    If it doesn't bear a rational relation to one of Congress' enumerated powers. However, I would be relatively deferential Congress' understanding of the scope of its enumerated powers.

  • What amount of deference should the court give to Congressional action?

    The Court should presume the constitutionality of acts of Congress and not strike them down unless the legislation complained of bears no rational relation to any of the enumerated powers or unless, as applied, it violates the rights protected by the Constitution from governmental action.

  • Should the Court err on the side of upholding a law?

    The Court shouldn't err.

  • Do certain types of laws deserve greater deference than others? Regulatory laws? Criminal laws?


  • How closely tied must a law be to an enumerated right of Congress under Article I for it to be upheld?

    It must be rationally related to one of the enumerated powers. Congress doesn't have any enumerated rights. [The most dumb-ass question so far. Congressional rights. Pfft.]

    Let me ask you about a few cases in which the Supreme Court has struck down federal laws:


  • Do you agree with the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Gun-Free School Zones Act at issue in United States v. Lopez (1995)? Why or why not?

    Yes. The law was not rationally related to any of the enumerated powers. It was also a violation on the limits placed on the federal government by the Second Amendment.

  • Do you agree with the Supreme Court's decision to strike down provisions of the Violence Against Women Act in United States v. Morrison (2000)? Why or why not?

    I agree with the court. The VAWA was an attempt by Congress to usurp the states' police power for purposes of political posturing. It had nothing to do with interstate commerce.

    6. Is there a constitutionally protected right to privacy, and if so, under what circumstances does it apply?

    There are specific constitutional provisions that implicate individual privacy. There is no separate right to privacy.

  • The word "privacy" is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. In your view, does that mean it is wrong for the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution as conferring such a right?

    Yes, unless the court is simply using the word "privacy" to describe the effect of a limit on the states specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

  • Do you believe that either the United States Congress or the states can regulate the sexual behavior of individuals within the privacy of their home?

    The Congress may do those things it is allowed to do. The states may do those things they are not prohibited from doing. Each can have some effect on sex.


  • Do you agree with the reasoning in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), which held that the right to privacy in the Constitution protects the right of married couples to purchase and use contraception?


  • Do you believe that Roe v. Wade (1973) was correctly decided? What is your view of the quality of the legal reasoning in that case? Do you believe that it reached the right result?

    No. Poor. Irrelevant.

  • Once the right to privacy has been found - as in Griswold and Roe - under what circumstances should the Supreme Court revisit that right?

    If a case before it squarely presents the question and there is no other basis for decision.

    7. What is the proper role of the federal government in enacting laws to protect the environment?

    If the laws enacted are rationally related to one of Congress' enumerated powers and if, as applied, the laws don't conflict with the limits to those powers set forth in the Constitution.

  • Does the Constitution provide any instruction on how Congress should balance the interests of industry against environmental interests?

    Not as you've phrased the question. Congress has certain enumerated powers; people have certain rights. Congress cannot act where it doesn't have power to act and, in any event, can't encroach on the rights of the people. [sdaq]

  • Under the Constitution, how far can Congress go in imposing restrictions on people and businesses to protect the air and water?

    As far as its enumerated powers allow, so long as it doesn't conflict with the rights of the people.

  • Under the Constitution, how far can the states go in enacting laws to protect the environment, and does it matter whether there is federal legislation on the same subject?

    The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Federal law trumps state law, where the federal government is allowed to act. As noted above, I'm not a big fan of the dormant commerce clause and would not expand its scope.

    Let me put this in the context of specific cases:

  • Do you believe that the Supreme Court correctly decided that the EPA has the authority to pursue industrial polluters in a state where the local authority has declined to do so, as in Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation v. EPA (2004)?

    I agree with the dissenters. This is, in any event, a question of statutory interpretation rather than constitutional law or how much I value environmental regulation. In questions of statutory interpretation, the value of precedent is much greater and I would be, therefore, much less likely to overturn the Court's prior decision. This is also a good (which is to say, bad) example of Congress' abdication of responsibility to the Court.

  • Can the Clean Air Act preempt local emissions regulations, as the Court held in Engine Manufacturers Association v. South Coast Air Quality Management (2004)?

    I agree with Justice Scalia's majority opinion.

    8. What is the proper role of the federal government in enacting laws to protect the rights of the disabled?

    As extensive as its enumerated powers.

  • Does the Constitution provide any instruction on how Congress should balance the costs to business against the government's interest in creating equal access to facilities for disabled persons?

    Have you ever read the Constitution?

  • Should federal laws mandating access to buildings for disabled people apply to both public and private buildings?

    If you're asking my policy preference, then I generally favor the application to the government of all laws the government imposes upon the people.

  • For example, do you believe that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires state buildings to be accessible to the disabled, as the Supreme Court held in Tennessee v. Lane, or do you think that sovereign immunity exempts the states?

    I agree with Justice Scalia's dissent in Lane. In particular, in the context of Lane, I think that either the 14th Amendment must mandate "access" or Congress is prohibited from acting. As the 14th Amendment does not mandate access, at least in the circumstances at issue, I would rule that Congress is powerless.

    9. What is the proper Constitutional role of Government in enacting laws to regulate education?

    Relatively limited.

  • How far can the Government go under the Constitution to ensure equal treatment for all students?

    Pretty far, but that's not so much regulating education as it is enforcing the Civil War amendments, although there is obvious overlap.

  • How far can the Court go to protect speech and/or prohibit violations of the establishment clause in the schools? For example, do you believe that Santa Fe Independent School Dist. v. Doe (2000) was decided correctly?

    In context, the Court has no power to "protect" (actually prohibit) speech or "prohibit violations" (actually violate) the establishment clause. Doe (no prayer at school football games) was wrongly decided.

  • Does the Constitution guarantee parents the right to choose their children's education, as established in Meyer v. Nebraska (1923) and Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925)?


    10. How do you define judicial activism? Give us three examples of Supreme Court cases that you consider the product of judicial activism.

    Judicial activism means a number of things, but mostly means when the courts allow their policy preferences to entice them away from the text of the constitution, the legislation at issue or well-established precedent.

  • Is the "activist" label limited to more liberal-leaning judges, or can there be conservative activist judges? Can you cite any examples of conservative judicial activism?

    Any judge can be an activist in a particular case. The dissenters in Kelo were substituting their policy preference (with which I mostly agree) for the text of the Constitution.

  • In cases where federal law and state law may be in conflict, who is the activist - the judge who voted to limit the federal law or the judge who limited the state law?

    [A daq that can't be answered.]

  • Do you believe that the Supreme Court was engaging in judicial activism when it struck down provisions of the Gun-Free School Zones Act (United States v. Lopez) or the Violence Against Women Act (United States v. Morrison), both of which had been passed by Congress?


  • Was the Supreme Court engaging in judicial activism in:
    Brown v. Board of Education?
    Miranda v. Arizona? Yes.
    Dred Scott v. Sandford? Yes.
    The Civil Rights Cases of 1883? Yes.
    Lochner v. New York? Yes.
    Furman v. Georgia? Yes.
    Bush v. Gore? Yes.

  • What distinguishes one case from the other?

    In each case but Brown, the Court ignored the law to enact its own policy preference.

    11. Do you describe yourself as falling into any particular school of judicial philosophy?

    Not without prompting. With prompting, I align myself with Justice Scalia.

  • What is your view of "strict constructionism"?

    Generally, I'm all for it.

  • What is your view of the notion of "original intent"? "Original meaning"?

    That the government is bound by the original meaning of the Constitution, as evidenced solely by the text of the Constitution as it was understood at the time of ratification.

  • How do you square the notion of respecting "original intent" with the acceptance of the institution of slavery at the time the Constitution was adopted?

    It is the accommodation of slavery in the Constitution that makes it a pact with the devil. Also, my learned counsel reminds me that slavery is a good example of how the system is supposed to work. The Constitution accomodated slavery until it was changed by the people, working through the amendment process. It was not changed by the Courts.

    12. What in your view are the limits on the scope of Congress' power under the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment?

    Congress has the power to enforce the 14th Amendment by appropriate legislation. As long as Congress' understanding of its power is rational, the courts should defer to it.

  • Does a law violate the Equal Protection Clause if it affects different groups differently, or must there be a discriminatory intent?

    It depends on the group.

  • Do you agree that, under the Equal Protection Clause, disparate impact alone does not render a law unconstitutional, as the Court held in Washington v. Davis (1976)?


  • Do parents have a Due Process right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children, as the Supreme Court held in Troxel v. Granville (2000)?

    They have a right to due process.

    13. Where is the line between civil rights questions that are political and questions that are appropriate for a court to decide?

    In the Constitution.

  • Do you agree with the reasoning in Powell v. McCormack? Why or why not?

    No. I would have deferred to the House in dealing with its members.

  • Do you agree with the reasoning in Baker v. Carr? Why or why not?

    Yes. Because I think it's correct.

  • Do you agree with the reasoning in Bush v. Gore? Why or why not?

    No. I don't think that there was any violation of the equal protection clause.

  • What power does the Supreme Court have to intervene in state election laws (as in Bush v. Gore)?

    It depends on the question presented.

  • What role should the Supreme Court be playing in disputed elections?

    It depends upon what the dispute is, but generally very limited.

    14. Which Supreme Court Justice do you believe your jurisprudence most closely resembles and why?

    I probably drop neatly between Justices Scalia and Thomas. They understand the importance of respecting the democratic process and usually have the discipline to defer to the political branches or to the people.

    15. When the Supreme Court issues non-unanimous opinions, Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg frequently find themselves in disagreement with each other. Do you more frequently agree with Justice Scalia's opinions, or Justice Ginsburg's?

    Justice Scalia's. [daq]

    16. Can you identify three Supreme Court cases that have not been reversed where you are critical of the Court's holding or reasoning and discuss the reasons for your criticism?

    No. But if Senator Schumer picks his three favorite cases -- oh, ok, if Senator Schumer's staff picks his three favorite cases, that'll do for a list.

  • Posted by David Cohen at 1:45 PM


    The (over)exercise of power (Jonathan Chait, LA Times, 7/22/05)

    A week ago, when President Bush met with Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III to interview him for a potential Supreme Court nomination, the conversation turned to exercise. When asked by the president of the United States how often he exercised, Wilkinson impressively responded that he runs 3 1/2 miles a day. Bush urged him to adopt more cross-training. "He warned me of impending doom," Wilkinson told the New York Times.

    Am I the only person who finds this disturbing?

    Posted by David Cohen at 1:42 PM


    Sen. Byrd praises Bush on nominee (Charles Hurt, Washington Times, 7/22/05)

    Sen. Robert C. Byrd, one of President Bush's harshest critics, has become an unlikely ally on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr.

    "I said to him, 'I am shouting your name from the steeple tops for reaching out, reaching across the aisle,'?" the West Virginia Democrat reported after taking a phone call from Mr. Bush to discuss a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

    After Mr. Bush nominated federal Judge Roberts this week, Mr. Byrd again issued a statement praising the president. "I thank President Bush for reaching out to senators on both sides of the aisle as he worked to select a nominee for the court," Mr. Byrd said. "I hope that this bipartisan cooperation will continue as the confirmation process begins." . . .

    Mr. Byrd embraced the same judicial philosophy as the president in his memoir, "Child of the Appalachian Coalfields," released earlier this summer. In the book, he repeatedly blamed "liberal judges" and "activist judges" for many of the nation's problems.

    "One's life is probably in no greater danger in the jungles of deepest Africa than in the jungles of America's large cities," he writes. "In my judgment, much of the problem has been brought about by the mollycoddling of criminals by some of the liberal judges who have been placed on the nation's courts in recent years."

    This makes clear that it is politics, rather than the McCain/Lieberman compromise, that is driving Judge Roberts' confirmation.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:04 AM


    Rice makes surprise visit to Lebanon (ANNE GEARAN, 7/22/05, Associated Press)

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to volatile Lebanon under heavy guard Friday to encourage a new democratic government outside Syrian control.

    Rice met with Saad Hariri, son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Together, they visited the seaside grave of the elder Hariri, an anti-Syrian politician slain in a February car bombing. Afterwards, she went directly to the Presidential Palace for a meeting with Lebanon's pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud.

    This will be an opportunity first of all to congratulate the Lebanon people on their incredible desire for democracy," Rice said en route to Beirut.

    One of many Middle Eastern nations being bloodlessly transformed thanks to the war in Iraq.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:54 AM

    STASIS (via Brian Boys):

    British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says (James Owen, July 19, 2005, National Geographic News)

    Despite invasions by Saxons, Romans, Vikings, Normans, and others, the genetic makeup of today's white Britons is much the same as it was 12,000 ago, a new book claims.

    In The Tribes of Britain, archaeologist David Miles says around 80 percent of the genetic characteristics of most white Britons have been passed down from a few thousand Ice Age hunters.

    They share 50% of their genetic makeup with bananas, how much could they conceivably differ from one another?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:50 AM


    Roberts dissents from gun search ruling (PETE YOST, July 22, 2005., AP)

    Supreme Court nominee John Roberts sided with police but was on the losing end of an appeals court decision on whether officers were within their authority to search the trunk of a suspect's car.

    Roberts dissented in a 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, reversing a man's conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm.

    The decision was released by the court Friday, even as Roberts was touring Senate in a political candidate-like search for confirmation votes.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:27 AM


    Rallies against Pakistan crackdown fall flat (Faisal Aziz, Jul 22, 2005, Reuters)

    An Islamist call for nationwide protests in Pakistan against a crackdown on militants after the July 7 London bombings fell flat on Friday with rallies in big cities failing to attract more than a few hundred people.

    More than 300 militant suspects have been detained across Pakistan since revelations that three of the four London bombers were British Muslims of Pakistani origin who had visited the country before the attacks.

    Pakistan's main alliance of Islamist parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, called for protest rallies after Friday prayers, when tens of millions of Pakistanis visit mosques.

    But like previous calls for demonstrations against President Pervez Musharraf's support for the U.S.-led "war on terror," it failed to draw big crowds.

    Only the Osamists and the Islamophobes think Islamicism has any general appeal to Muslims.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:24 AM


    'We Don't Need to Fight, We Are Taking Over!' (Paul J. Cella, 07/22/2005, Tech Central Station)

    "We don't need to fight. We are taking over!" ["Abdullah," a Muslim watch-mender and evangelist] said. "We are here to bring civilization to the West. England does not belong to the English people, it belongs to God." [...]

    The people of the free nations of the world, the citizens of the West (or her descendents if in fact the West is no more), are now confronted with sufficient evidence that the efforts to call totalitarian Islam into existence in every free nation are well underway; that such efforts will be materially supported from the home bases of totalitarian Islam, and may be spiritually supported by the very nature of Islam as such*; and that those efforts can, at least to some degree, be encouraged or discouraged by the actions of our own governments.

    If you think it's tough for the Left to think coherently these days, pity the poor Right, where you have to oppose the immigration of Christians because they're Latino and side with the secular humanists because they're European.

    Posted by David Cohen at 8:11 AM

    SHOOTING ON TUBE (Via The Corner)

    I saw Tube man shot - eyewitness (BBCNews, 7/22/05)

    A passenger has told how he saw armed police officers shoot a man dead on a Tube train at Stockwell.

    Mark Whitby said: "I was sitting on the train... I heard a load of noise, people saying, 'Get out, get down'.

    "I saw an Asian guy. He ran on to the train, he was hotly pursued by three plain clothes officers, one of them was wielding a black handgun.

    "He half tripped... they pushed him to the floor and basically unloaded five shots into him," he told BBC News 24.

    "As [the suspect] got onto the train I looked at his face, he looked sort of left and right, but he basically looked like a cornered rabbit, a cornered fox.

    "He looked absolutely petrified and then he sort of tripped, but they were hotly pursuing him, [they] couldn't have been any more than two or three feet behind him at this time and he half tripped and was half pushed to the floor and the policeman nearest to me had the black automatic pistol in his left hand.

    "He held it down to the guy and unloaded five shots into him.

    Heavy coat

    "He [the suspect] had a baseball cap on and quite a sort of thickish coat - it was a coat you'd wear in winter, sort of like a padded jacket. . . .

    Commuter Anthony Larkin, who was also on the train at Stockwell station, told 5 Live he saw police chasing a man.

    "I saw these police officers in uniform and out of uniform shouting 'get down, get down', and I saw this guy who appeared to have a bomb belt and wires coming out and people were panicking and I heard two shots being fired."

    This is either exceptional police training, or terrible police training.

    Posted by David Cohen at 7:54 AM


    The Left’s war on Britishness (Anthony Browne, The Spectator, 7/23/05)

    The terrorist attacks of 7 July, as the ludicrous BBC refuses to call them, have raised many questions. We might ask what turned ordinary Muslim youths into mass murderers. Or we might wonder how a religion of peace can inspire people to terrorism across the world.

    A more pressing question, however, is: why Britain? Not why was Britain attacked, because the list of countries targeted by Islamist terrorism is growing so fast it will soon be quicker to list those unaffected. But rather: why did Britain become the first country in the developed world to produce its own suicide bombers? Why is Britain just about the only country in the world to have produced suicide bombers who sought to kill not another people but their fellow citizens? Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland were all part of the war on Iraq, and have not produced suicide bombers. The US and Spain had to import their terrorists. For those who think that Muslims in Britain are particularly oppressed and poor, try visiting Muslims in France or Italy. . . .

    No, the real answer to why Britain spawned people fuelled with maniacal hate for their country is that Britain hates itself. In hating Britain, these British suicide bombers were as British as a police warning for flying the union flag.

    Britain’s self-loathing is deep, pervasive and lethally dangerous. We get bombed, and we say it’s all our own fault. Schools refuse to teach history that risks making pupils proud, and use it instead as a means of instilling liberal guilt. The government and the BBC gush over ‘the other’, but recoil at the merest hint of British culture. The only thing we are licensed to be proud of is London’s internationalism — in other words, that there is little British left about it.

    If a society teaches its children that their own culture is bankrupt, that it is built on lies and the blood of the other, that it is selfish and bloated and corrupt, then how does can it object when those children agree?

    Obviously, I'm not talking about Britain.

    If you read enough about the 50's and 60's, particularly biographies but also fiction, a shared experience emerges. The radical as a child has a pure love for this country, which he learns in school is good and just; the greatest country in history. He then goes on to college and discovers (either through his own brave exploration or with the help of a brave truth-telling teacher) that in fact nothing he was taught in kindergarten was true and in fact our history is stained with sin from conception. Never the same again, he fights the reactionary forces for control of the country in order to establish true justice. Also, he doesn't want to be killed in Viet Nam.

    Becoming a radical because history is more subtle than is presented in kindergarten is easy to mock. To teach, in reaction, that America is tainted, unexceptional and hypocritical is not just wrong, but suicidal. Yet we can't ignore our history. The native peoples were destroyed. Many of the Founders were slaveholders. The Constitution is a pact with the devil. There is a different justice for the rich. We are war-mongers.

    The trick is to understand that this does not change the essential truth. The United States is the great achievement of humanity. We are the indispensable nation. We are exceptional, just and true. Our history is everything we are taught in kindergarten, and everything we learn afterwards. The United States is the most human of nations, with everything that implies. We need to face that much of what our enemies say about us is true -- which should make us proud and them nervous.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:44 AM


    China Unpegs Itself (PAUL KRUGMAN, 7/22/05, NY Times)

    Capital usually flows from mature, developed economies to less-developed economies on their way up. For example, a lot of America's growth in the 19th century was financed by investors from Britain, which was already industrialized.

    A decade ago, before the world financial crisis of 1997-1998, capital movements seemed to fit the historic pattern, as funds flowed from Japan and Western nations to "emerging markets" in Asia and Latin America. But these days things are running in reverse: capital is flowing out of emerging markets, especially China, and into the United States.

    This uphill flow isn't the result of private-sector decisions; it's the result of official policy. To keep China's currency from rising, the Chinese government has been buying up huge quantities of dollars and investing the proceeds in U.S. bonds.

    One way to grasp how weird this policy is would be to think about what a comparable policy would look like in the United States, scaled up to match the size of our economy. It's as if last year the U.S. government invested $1 trillion of taxpayers' money in low-interest Japanese bonds, and this year looks set to invest an additional $1.5 trillion the same way.

    No, it's as if we did exactly what Mr. Krugman himself has described, Stopping the Bum's Rush (Paul Krugman, 1/04/05, The New York Times)
    [T]he bonds in the Social Security trust fund are obligations of the federal government's general fund, the budget outside Social Security. They have the same status as U.S. bonds owned by Japanese pension funds and the government of China. The general fund is legally obliged to pay the interest and principal on those bonds, and Social Security is legally obliged to pay full benefits as long as there is money in the trust fund.

    If Chinese or Japanese bonds were worth anything we'd buy them instead.

    India pops the champagne (Indrajit Basu, 7/23/05, Asia Times)

    Even as the rupee soared to a six-year high to close at 43.25 to the dollar within an hour of the announcement of the yuan revaluation on Thursday, Indian exporters are popping their bubbly as the move will mean higher prices for Chinese exports, and thus more volumes for Indian ones. Over the past few years, while Indian exporters have been fighting hard to break into global markets for low-cost and labor-intensive manufactured products, they kept losing out to China, due to the major disadvantage of a rising rupee against the dollar as the yuan was kept artificially weak. This meant that to stay competitive, Indian exporters had to steadily squeeze their margins.

    According to Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), an India-based think-tank on global issues, since most of the Asian currencies have in the past few months appreciated much higher then the yuan (the rupee has appreciated by over 10%), it could be safely expected that the "natural" exchange rate of the yuan is much higher than the present valuation. RIS believes that even if the currency float is managed and violent movements are restricted - since China's central bank has restricted the daily movement within 0.3% - gradually the yuan will tend to move toward the natural exchange rate.

    In fact, Indian exports have already started gaining. US retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Gap Inc and Chico's FAS Inc had of late started increasing purchases of inexpensive clothing and jewelry from India in anticipation of rising costs that would result when China, their biggest offshore supplier, revalued its currency.

    Quoting Ken Mark, managing director of the Martello Group in London, Ontario, Bloomberg reported that retailers who bought about $65 billion in Chinese goods last year were turning to India because the anticipated yuan revaluation might increase their costs by 10% over two years. Currently, Wal-Mart sources goods worth $2 billion - including indirect sourcing - a year from India, while its procurement from China exceeds $18 billion each year, out of which direct sourcing is about $9 billion.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:33 AM


    Big push for judge surprises liberals (Joseph Curl and James G. Lakely, July 22, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

    The White House's heavily orchestrated campaign to quickly define Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. to America and the U.S. Senate -- using the Republican Party's top strategist and a well-respected former senator -- has left Democrats and liberal groups flat-footed.

    Even before President Bush wielded the hefty power of the presidency by making a prime-time, nationally televised announcement, Karl Rove was working the phones. Mr. Bush's top political adviser called such key conservative leaders as C. Boyden Gray, former Attorney General Edwin Meese III of the Heritage Foundation and Leonard Leo, the executive vice president of the Federalist Society and the head of Catholic outreach for the Republican Party.

    Meanwhile, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie -- working out of the West Wing office granted to him to manage Mr. Bush's Supreme Court confirmation battle -- put into action a complex plan to win the early public relations battle to define Judge Roberts, on Capitol Hill and beyond.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:57 AM


    The Cost of Israel And US Wars (Gideon Polya, 21 July, 2005, Countercurrents.org)

    Notwithstanding the 1967 Israeli attack on the defenceless USS Liberty (34 deaths out of 206 US casualties), the US has continued to bank-roll Israel and the illegal Israeli occupation of Arab lands. Further, US support for Israel is intimately connected with the continuing US War on Muslims from Africa to Afghanistan. What has been the financial and human cost of Israel and US wars over the last half century?

    For a detailed and carefully documented account of (a) the economic cost to the US and (b) the human cost of illegal war and occupation in the Israel-Occupied Palestinian Territories and the US-Occupied Iraqi and Afghan Territories see "The Economic and Human Cost of Israel & US Empire" in Media Monitors Network (see: http://world.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/16112).

    Below are some key statistics of importance for decent folk who believe in the Jeffersonian principles of the American Declaration of Independence, namely the equality of all men and their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Estimates of the cost of US support for Israel range from $200 billion (simple monetary value plus interest, 1949-2005) to $2,600 billion (total actual economic cost to the US, 1956-2002).

    The post-1967 avoidable mortality (excess mortality) and under-5 infant mortality in the Occupied Palestine Territories have been about 320,000 and 170,000, respectively. The post-1950 avoidable mortality and under-5 infant mortality in Israel's neighbours have totalled 24 million and 17 million, respectively. The post-1950 avoidable mortality and under-5 infant mortality in countries Israel has attacked militarily have totalled 43 million and 29 million, respectively. Israel's complicity in this carnage is clear but the actual extent of its responsibility is debatable.

    In the post-war era the US has economically and militarily dominated the people and resource utilization of the World and is accordingly complicit in the associated horrendous global avoidable mortality (currently about 20 million per year). The post-1950 avoidable mortality (excess mortality) has been 1.3 billion (for the World), 1.2 billion (for the non-European World) and 0.6 billion (for the Muslim World) - however the actual extent of US responsibility is debatable.

    Whew, I was worried we were responsible for all 1.2 billion...

    Imagine how much contempt you have to hold for these peoples to believe that they aren't responsible for anything that happens to them?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    House Votes to Extend Patriot Act (GLEN JOHNSON, 7/22/05, Associated Press)

    The House voted Thursday to extend the USA Patriot Act, the nation's main anti-terrorism tool, just hours after televisions in the Capitol beamed images of a new attack in London.

    As similar legislation worked its way through the Senate, House Republicans generally cast the law as a valuable asset in the war on terror. Most Democrats echoed that support but said they were concerned the law could allow citizens' civil liberties to be infringed.

    After more than nine hours of debate, the House approved the measure 257-171. Forty-three Democrats joined 214 Republicans in voting to renew key provisions of the Patriot Act that were set to expire at the end of the year.

    For all that it gins up their base, no Democrat who's ever won a race by less than 10% and is up in '06 is going to vote in favor of the terrorists.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    The Nominee As a Young Pragmatist: Under Reagan, Roberts Tackled Tough Issues (Jo Becker and Amy Argetsinger, July 22, 2005, Washington Post)

    As an up-and-coming young lawyer in the White House counsel's office from 1982 to 1986, John G. Roberts Jr. weighed in on some of the most controversial issues facing the Reagan administration, balancing conservative ideology with a savvy political pragmatism and a confidence that belied his years.

    Asked to review legislation that would have prohibited lower federal courts from ordering busing to desegregate public schools, Roberts, now President Bush's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, took on no less a conservative legal scholar than Theodore B. Olson, who at the time was an assistant attorney general and later served as the solicitor general under Bush.

    Olson had argued that based on his reading of case law, Congress could not flatly prohibit the busing of children to achieve racial balance in public schools. That argument did not impress Roberts, who was two weeks past his 29th birthday.

    "I do not agree," Roberts wrote to White House counsel Fred F. Fielding in a memo dated Feb. 15, 1984. Congress has the authority "and can conclude -- the evidence supports this -- that busing promotes segregation rather than remedying it, by precipitating white flight."

    But, he added, "Olson's view has already gone forward as the Administration view, and it would probably not be fruitful to reopen the issue at this point."

    The memo -- and others like it that are available at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. -- offers a revealing glimpse into the mind of a judge whose relatively short two-year tenure on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has produced few clues on how he would vote on key issues facing the high court.

    Federalist Affiliation Misstated: Roberts Does Not Belong to Group (Charles Lane, July 21, 2005, Washington Post)
    Everyone knows that, like all good Republican lawyers, John G. Roberts Jr. is a member of the Federalist Society, the conservative law and public policy organization where right-of-center types meet to denounce liberalism and angle for jobs in the Bush administration.

    And practically everyone -- CNN, the Los Angeles Times, Legal Times and, just yesterday, The Washington Post -- has reported Roberts's membership as a fact. One liberal group opposed to Roberts's nomination, the Alliance for Justice, has noted it on its Web site.

    But they are wrong. John Roberts is not, in fact, a member of the Federalist Society, and he says he never has been.

    "He has no recollection of ever being a member," said Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman who contacted reporters to correct the mistake yesterday.

    She said that Roberts recalls speaking at Federalist Society forums (as have lawyers and legal scholars of various political stripes). But he has apparently never paid the $50 annual fee that would make him a full-fledged member.

    Racist cheapskate? States-rights crypto-liberal?

    Clues on how Roberts might act on high court: His record while at a federal appeals court, though sparse, shows a resistance to limits on presidential power. (Warren Richey, 7/22/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

    In his two years as a member of the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., Judge John Roberts has helped decide more than 120 cases. [...]

    Among cases drawing considerable interest are those in which Roberts:

    • Upheld the president's authority to conduct terrorism tribunals at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

    • Raised questions in a dissent about whether the commerce clause authorizes enforcement of the Endangered Species Act in certain cases.

    • Upheld the arrest of a 12-year-old girl apprehended for eating a single French fry in a subway station.

    "The one thing that seems pretty clear is that he is very strong on resisting any limits on presidential power," says William Marshall, a constitutional law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill.


    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Rove, Libby Accounts in CIA Case Differ With Those of Reporters (Richard Keil, 7/22/05, Bloomberg)

    Two top White House aides have given accounts to a special prosecutor about how reporters first told them the identity of a CIA agent that are at odds with what the reporters have said, according to people familiar with the case.

    Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, one person said. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn't tell Libby of Plame's identity, the person said.

    White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, according a person familiar with the matter. Novak, who was first to report Plame's name and connection to Wilson, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor, the person said.

    None of the four are going to be prosecuted for perjury solely on the basis of he said/he said.

    July 21, 2005

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:57 PM

    THE JIG IS UP (via David):

    Judging Roberts (The Forward, July 22, 2005)

    Years from now, when historians try to explain George W. Bush's influence on the American political landscape, they may well start by pointing to July 19, 2005, the day he nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court. In choosing Roberts, Bush appears to have found the combination that has eluded conservatives for a quarter-century in their efforts to remake the high court: a brilliant legal mind with deeply conservative views but a slim paper trail, widely admired in the legal community and all but certain to win easy Senate confirmation.

    The nomination is one more reminder that liberalism's four-decade reliance on the federal courts as a means of advancing its favorite causes has reached the end of its usefulness. Democracy is about winning elections, not lawsuits. Liberals should have figured that out years ago. Now they have no choice.

    Man, everbody has the Democrats figured.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:49 PM


    Breakthrough in U.S.-India ties (Japan Times, 7/22/05)

    When U.S. President George W. Bush took office in 2001, one of his goals was to transform U.S. relations with India, a nation that was laying the foundation as a future global power. The end of the Cold War and India's economic resurgence provided the opportunity for India to play a larger role on the international stage. Washington was happy to encourage that process as Indian democracy was aligned with U.S. interests and because the U.S. anticipated that India would serve as a strategic counterweight to China.

    The primary obstacle to a better relationship was Delhi's nuclear-weapons program. With India's failure to sign the NPT and its 1998 nuclear tests considered a threat to the NPT regime, the U.S. was reluctant to recognize India's nuclear capabilities for fear of legitimizing its status as a nuclear power. That rankled India, as did U.S. support for Pakistan, which India viewed as a source of terrorism.

    Yet this week Mr. Bush and Mr. Singh agreed that the U.S. would provide assistance to India's civilian nuclear-energy program, even though Delhi would not renounce its nuclear weapons. The deal allows India to obtain nuclear fuel and reactor components from the U.S. and other countries in exchange for international inspections of, and safeguards on, its civilian nuclear program. India will also refrain from further weapons tests and from transfers of arms technology to other countries.

    There are good reasons to accept the deal. India's nuclear weapons are a fait accompli. International inspections of civilian nuclear programs are always to be encouraged. India has no record of proliferating nuclear technology and Mr. Singh pledged to keep that record intact. India needs energy to sustain the 7 percent economic growth that is crucial to its emergence as a global player. Helping India develop nuclear power also lessens the potential for its dependence on Iranian oil. And it lifts the stigma on Delhi due to its nuclear tests and lets India better integrate into the international community.

    Indian officials say the agreement allows their country "to assume the same responsibilities and practices -- no more and no less -- of other nuclear states." U.S. officials counter that they have not given up hope that India will eventually give up its nuclear arsenal and that Washington has denied Delhi's request to be recognized as a nuclear-weapons state.

    Although the logic behind the agreement makes sense, it will make it even more difficult to get North Korea and Iran, already in international negotiations over their suspected nuclear-weapons programs, to give them up. Those two countries can now hold out hope of winning similar recognition, the distinctiveness of Indian circumstances notwithstanding.

    It just makes it all the more important to make an example of North Korea by attacking its nuclear facilities. It isn't anything like India.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:46 PM


    Catholic conservatism on the rise as priest refuses funeral for 'sinner' (Richard Owen, 7/22/05, Times of London )

    A PARISH priest has refused to give an Italian woman a Christian funeral because she had “lived in sin”.

    Father Giuseppe Mazzotta, parish priest at Marcellinara, near Catanzaro in Calabria, said that he had denied a Christian funeral to Maria Francesca Tallarico, who died of breast cancer at the age of 45, because she had lived with her partner but never married him. Her partner was separated and had an 11-year-old daughter.

    “She lived with her lover, so she was a public sinner,” Father Mazzotta said. “I decided not to celebrate an official Mass for this woman, who was not in communion with the Church.”

    Father Mazzotta said that he had performed the liturgy of absolution for the dead. He added that he was close to the dead woman’s family and had offered them “words of comfort”.

    Father Antonio Sciortino, the Editor of Famiglia Cristiana, a popular Catholic magazine, accused Father Mazzotta of “excessive zeal”. Mario Paraboschi, a local councillor, said that he was perplexed. Father Mazzotta said that his action carried a message: “Marriage is a sacrament. We cannot simply pretend.”

    The priest’s decision has underlined the growing power of conservative Catholicism in Italy. The liberal and secular Left is increasingly alarmed by the return to “Catholic values” in politics and everyday life, which has clear implications for the general election, due next May.

    It's nearly enough to kindle hope.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:46 PM


    Roberts likely won't face filibuster (JESSE J. HOLLAND, 7/21/05, Associated Press)

    While the group of 14 Democratic and Republican senators said they were reserving official judgment until after confirmation hearings, Sen. Mike DeWine said there was agreement that Roberts' resume doesn't show the "extraordinary circumstances" that would meet a threshold for a Democratic filibuster.

    Hard to think of a deal that's worked better for conservatives.

    Opposition to Roberts Nomination Is Thin So Far (Janet Hook, July 21, 2005, LA Times)

    What happens when an army prepares for World War III -- and ends up in a border skirmish?

    That question looms for liberal groups that have been collecting millions of dollars and preparing for years for a scorched-earth battle over President Bush's first Supreme Court nominee.

    But now that Bush has chosen John G. Roberts Jr., a respected jurist with bipartisan ties in Washington's legal establishment, Senate Democrats do not seem so eager to go to war.

    That means abortion rights advocates and other liberal groups lobbying against Roberts may first have to fire up their allies if they are to have any hope of blocking the nomination.

    The challenge facing the interest groups grew larger Thursday when several moderate Democrats said they had not yet seen anything in Roberts' background to justify blocking him with a filibuster. The Democrats are part of the so-called Gang of 14, a bipartisan group that banded together earlier this year to thwart a showdown over use of the filibuster against judicial nominees.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:09 PM


    The Case for a Democratic Marker: an interview with Rick Perlstein (Christopher Hayes, 7/21/05, In These Times)

    Journalist and historian Rick Perlstein's new book, The Stock Ticker and the Superjumbo: How the Democrats Can Once Again Become America's Dominant Political Party, begins with a "political parable" about the rise and decline of the American airplane giant Boeing. Founded in 1917 with a singular vision of cheap, accessible commercial air travel despite its huge risks, Boeing ultimately became one of the country's most successful companies by sticking to its ambitious vision through thick and thin. In the '80s, just as they were abandoning this long-term thinking for the quarterly profit-driven tactics approved by Wall Street, the upstart Airbus came onto the scene with their own long-term vision of the superjumbo. Boeing thought it folly, but it now appears that Airbus will get the last laugh--their new plane, the world's largest passenger aircraft, made its maiden voyage in April. For Perlstein, author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, this story serves as an analogy for the fortunes of the Democrats, who abandoned their own long-term project in the centrist '90s to please the "stock ticker" of the next election.

    Sadly, all you really need to know about the Democratic Party these days is that their best minds think the top-down state intervention model that's saddled Airbus with this white elephant is superior to the more market driven model that has Boeing taking back the skies even after adjusting to unfair competition. They all think France is the future, bit none of them ever move there...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:02 PM

    UNVACCINATED, NOW UNWASHED (via John Resnick):

    Showers 'may damage your brain' (News24, 21/07/2005)

    Traces of manganese found in household water could be sufficient to cause permanent brain damage to those who take a regular shower, according to a report published in the US journal Medical Hypotheses.

    John Spangler of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina and his team suggested that breathing in vapour containing manganese salts could be dangerous over the longer term.

    "Inhaling manganese, rather than eating or drinking it, is far more efficient at delivering manganese to the brain. The nerve cells involved in smell are a direct pathway for toxins to enter the brain," Spangler wrote.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:45 PM

    GARLIC RIB EYE (Splendid Kitchen, NPR)

    Excerpted from Southern California Cooking from the Cottage: Casual Cuisine from Old La Jolla’s Favorite Beachside Bungalow by Jane and Michael Stern with Recipes and Headnotes by Laura Wolfe

    Makes 4 servings

    Customers tell us this is the best rib eye they have ever had. It starts with a great cut of meat and a hot grill: proof that good food doesn’t have to be difficult to make.

    * 4 tablespoons olive oil
    * 4 (10-ounce) rib-eye steaks
    * 2 tablespoons minced garlic
    * 6 tablespoons Essence (recipe follows)

    Preheat the grill to high. Brush the olive oil over both sides of the steaks. Rub in the garlic and liberally season both sides of the steak with the Essence. Place the steaks on the hottest part of the grill and sear both sides to seal in the juices. Transfer the steaks to a cooler part of the grill and continue cooking until the desired degree of doneness, turning once. We like serving this with caramelized onions and mashed potatoes.


    Makes 2/3 cup

    The Essence seasoning is one that we make from scratch to get the perfect combination of flavor and spice. We use it in a variety of recipes.

    * 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
    * 2 tablespoons salt
    * 2 tablespoons garlic powder
    * 1 tablespoon black pepper
    * 1 tablespoon onion powder
    * 1 tablespoon cayenne
    * 1 tablespoon dried oregano
    * 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves

    Mix the paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme together in bowl. Store in an airtight container.

    Note: This rub is delicious on beef.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:30 PM


    Invasion of the Frankenfish: Five years after the first snakehead catch in Florida, anglers are bagging world-record catches of the infamous exotic invaders in Northwest Broward canals. (CURTIS MORGAN, 7/21/05, Miami Herald)

    Hardly anyone had heard of snakeheads when Bob Newland pulled the strange, slithery invader out of a Tamarac lake five years ago.

    Ten states, countless headlines and three schlocky sci-fi movies later, snakeheads boast a fear factor that would give a bull shark pause.

    Since Newland's catch -- the first documented in Florida -- the Asian imports have been found from Virginia to Massachusetts. Many scientists worry the ravenous, rapidly reproducing, air-gulping predator could spread, devouring native species in its razor-choppered wake.

    If the environmental threat wasn't enough, campy movies like Frankenfish morphed them into monsters hungrier for humans than crappies. So it might sound unsettling that Northwest Broward County has become Snakehead Capital, USA.

    The fish are getting along so swimmingly that one expert angler -- Martin Arostegui, a retired Coral Gables physician fishing with guide Alan Zaremba of Hollywood -- has bagged six snakehead world records, all out of canals in Margate. The International Game Fishing Association published the latest four, caught on assorted light tackle, this month.

    He's got a ways to go to catch Mary Matalin.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:28 PM


    An Interview by, Not With, the President (ELISABETH BUMILLER, 7/21/05, NY Times)

    When President Bush sat down in the White House residence last Thursday to interview a potential Supreme Court nominee, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, he asked him about the hardest decision he had ever made - and also how much he exercised.

    "Well, I told him I ran three and a half miles a day," Judge Wilkinson recalled in a telephone interview on Wednesday. "And I said my doctor recommends a lot of cross-training, but I said I didn't want to do the elliptical and the bike and the treadmill." The president, Judge Wilkinson said, "took umbrage at that," and told his potential nominee that he should do the cross-training his doctor suggested.

    "He thought I was well on my way to busting my knees," said Judge Wilkinson, 60. "He warned me of impending doom."

    Judge Wilkinson's conversation with the president about exercise and other personal matters in an interview for a job on the highest court in the land was typical of how Mr. Bush went about picking his eventual nominee, Judge John G. Roberts, White House officials and Republicans said. Mr. Bush, they said, looked extensively into the backgrounds of the five finalists he interviewed, but in the end relied as much on chemistry and intuition as on policy and legal intellect.

    "He likes to have the info, he likes to have the background, but he also is a field player," said Dan Bartlett, the counselor to the president, in a briefing to reporters on Tuesday night. "He likes to size people up himself, make his own judgment."

    What we wouldn't give to have the concession for exercise equipment sales to Federal judges this morning....

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:21 PM

    WHAT THE HECK, THEY'RE ALL SEMITES (via Robert Schwartz):

    Israel Defeats Efforts to Delay Gaza Pullout; Protest Thwarted Again (GREG MYRE, July 21, 2005, NY Times)

    Late on Wednesday, Reuters reported that a Palestinian boy had been stabbed to death by Israelis in the West Bank, citing reports from unidentified Palestinians.

    The boy was taken to Rafidiah Hospital in Nablus, and Dr. Musa Alayan, who examined the body, said he had found 14 stab wounds to the head, chest and abdomen, but initial reports were sketchy.

    The boy, identified as Yazan Musa, 12 or 13, was playing with a friend near Qaryout on Wednesday when he was stabbed by Jewish settlers who had marched in the area, Reuters and Israeli radio reported.

    The Israeli police had received a report from the Palestinian authorities that the boy had been killed and had begun an investigation, said a spokesman, Shlomi Sagi. He said he could not immediately confirm any circumstances of the killing.

    Suspect held in Palestinian clan feud (MARGOT DUDKEVITCH, 7/20/05, Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinian sources said they had arrested a suspect on Thursday in the stabbing of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy Wednesday night in the West Bank village of Karyut. The sources confirmed that the suspect was a member of a rival clan, Israel Radio reported.

    Earlier, Palestinian sources had reported that the boy was killed in a brawl that erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli settlers who had entered the village from the nearby settlement of Shiloh.

    However, Palestinian officials soon admitted to IDF officers that the incident was related to an inter-clan dispute.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 PM


    A Competent Conservative (DAVID BROOKS, 7/21/05, NY Times)

    [J]ohn G. Roberts is the face of today's governing conservatism.

    Conservatives who came of age in the 1960's did so in an intensely ideological time when it was arduous to be on the right. People from that generation are more likely to have a dissident mentality, to want to storm the ramparts of the liberal establishment, to wade in to vanquish their foes in the war of ideas.

    But John Roberts didn't enter Harvard until the fall of 1973. He missed all that sturm und drang, so he lacks, his former colleagues say, the outsider/dissident mentality. By the time he came of age, it was easier for a conservative to be comfortable in mainstream institutions, without feeling embattled or spoiling for a fight.

    Roberts has chosen to live in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, not the Virginia ones, where the political climate is 30 degrees to the right. He submitted his wedding notice to the wedding page of The New York Times, which is perceived as alien turf by ideological conservatives.

    Roberts is a conservative practitioner, not a conservative theoretician. He is skilled in the technical aspects of the law, knowledgeable about business complexities (that's why he was hired to take on Microsoft) and rich in practical knowledge. He is principled and shares the conservative preference for judicial restraint, but doesn't think at the level of generality of, say, a Scalia. This is the sort of person who rises when a movement is mature and running things.

    Depending on how you want to count, we're 25, 11 or 5 years into a permanent Republican majority and demographics mean that the dominance is going to increase. Sooner or later even the Right is going to have to accept that it's winning.

    Posted by David Cohen at 11:44 AM


    Livingstone Defends ‘Progressive’ Qaradawi (IslamOnline.net, 7/20/05)

    Livingstone condemned the vile media campaign against Qaradawi ahead of the August conference, saying that his views were distorted and misunderstood, rejecting that they affected the minds of the London bombers.

    “What Sheikh Qaradawi pointed out was, given that the Palestinians do not have jet fighters and do not have tanks, they only have their bodies to use. I do not think he is actually urging people to go out and become suicide bombers,” Livingstone said, denouncing media for having “pandered to Islamophobia.”

    He said Israel had “done horrendous things which border on crimes against humanity in the way they have indiscriminately slaughtered men, women and children in the West Bank and Gaza for decades.”

    He said it is unacceptable that Israel goes on “indiscriminately destroying homes simply because a [Palestinian] bomber came from that area.”

    “I don't believe in an eye for an eye. I don't believe in that punishment.”

    Which is more wrong: using "indiscriminately" to mean "targeting murderers" or "an eye for an eye" to mean destroying property in response to strapping on a bomb and murdering civilians?" Also, try to imagine the response from New Yorkers if Rudy Giuliani had said anything remotely approaching this on September 24, 2001.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:53 AM


    At the U.N., a Growing Republican Presence (Colum Lynch, July 21, 2005,
    Washington Post)

    Christopher B. Burnham, the highest-ranking U.S. citizen working in the U.N. Secretariat, is a rare breed here: a Republican Party loyalist and an enthusiastic supporter of President Bush.

    Burnham, the United Nations' undersecretary for the department of management, is one of a handful of Bush administration supporters hired by the United Nations in recent months. They have been promoting Bush's political agenda in an organization that has clashed bitterly with Republican policymakers over such issues as the impact of global warming and the justification for the war in Iraq.

    Burnham says he sees his purpose as furthering the mission he began as the chief financial officer in the Bush State Department: making the bureaucracy he oversees more accountable. Burnham suggested that his ultimate loyalty may lie with the president, not his new boss, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. He says he also relishes the thought of working with John R. Bolton, a close friend and Bush's choice as U.N. ambassador, to force change.

    "I'm not here to be a careerist," said Burnham, a former GOP fundraiser and investment banker who keeps photographs of Bush, Laura Bush and George H.W. Bush in his U.N. office. "I came here at the request of the White House. It's my duty to make the U.N. more effective. My primary loyalty is to the United States of America."

    While Democrats focus on stopping SS reform the GOP takes over everything else on Earth.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:44 AM


    Democrats Say Nominee Will Be Hard to Defeat (Peter Baker and Charles Babington, July 21, 2005, Washington Post)

    The White House and its allies opened their campaign to confirm Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court with a mix of soft-sell persuasion and hard-pitch pressure yesterday as Senate Democrats plotted strategy for responding to a nomination they conceded could be hard to defeat. [...]

    An array of interest groups on the left began mobilizing opposition to Roberts, but reticent Senate Democrats demonstrated little eagerness for an all-out war against him. Some Democratic senators laid the groundwork for a struggle focused on prying loose documents related to Roberts's career in government and using any resistance by the administration against him. Yet as the day progressed, Democrats seemed increasingly resigned to the notion that they cannot stop his appointment.

    The key barometer came from members of the Gang of 14 senators who forged a bipartisan accord in May to avoid a showdown over lower-court appointments. Two Republican members of the group, John McCain (Ariz.) and John W. Warner (Va.), said the Roberts selection would not trigger the "extraordinary circumstances" clause of the agreement that would justify a Democratic filibuster.

    Under Senate rules, a filibuster would be the only procedural way the minority party could stop the nomination. By the end of the day, though, Democrats held out little prospect of a filibuster.

    "Everybody ought to cool their jets on this and let the process work," said Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), a Democratic member of the group. "Going in, it looks good" for Roberts, he said.

    Democrats and Allies Lament Lack of Record (ADAM NAGOURNEY and CARL HULSE, 7/21/05, NY Times)
    Democrats and liberal advocacy groups scrambled on Wednesday to see if they could - or should - build a case against the Supreme Court nomination of John G. Roberts. They said they would demand memorandums, briefs and other documents he wrote as a deputy in the solicitor general's office to flesh out an understanding of the views of this conservative newcomer to the federal judiciary.

    In an atmosphere of evident frustration, the machinery that had been assembled to fight a Supreme Court nomination by Mr. Bush struggled to deal with a nominee whose two years as a federal appeals court judge had produced only a scant record that could be used to measure what kind of justice he might be.

    No Democratic senator stepped forward to oppose Judge Roberts outright, in contrast to what several Democrats said would most likely have happened if Mr. Bush had chosen one of the more conservative judges on his list.

    The Democratic Party has reached such heights (or depths) of ineptitude that seating anyone to the Right of William Brennan on the Court represents a defeat for them. They continue to use the rhetoric of a majority party, raising the hopes of their base beyond what they can conceivably achieve.

    Posted by David Cohen at 8:13 AM


    A law unto itself? (The Guardian, 7/21/05)

    The Guardian He also needs to play a part in reversing the trends of what Michael Ignatieff has called America's "judicial isolationism or judicial narcissism". We live in a world marked by the gradual globalisation of the law. More and more jurisdictions - including our own House of Lords in the Belmarsh case - now draw on international legal precedent in their judgments. Yet the US, in this as in other respects, remains neuralgic about drawing on international experience. Justice Scalia, in particular, seeks to cut the US off entirely from the 21st-century global legal conversation. Justice O'Connor, on more than one occasion, argued the case for engagement. One of the acid tests for Judge Roberts will be whether he chooses to help Americans join that conversation or to block their ears to what the rest of the world is saying.
    Seems awfully early in the century.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:08 AM


    India welcomed as new sort of superpower (Anand Giridharadas, JULY 21, 2005, International Herald Tribune)

    [S]ingh's visit may signify America's welcoming of a new type of superpower - militarily potent, economically dynamic, regionally assertive, independently minded but still nonthreatening to the United States. Call it superpower lite.

    Singh, a bookish former scholar with a sky-blue turban and hushed voice, manages to achieve a combination of humility and assertiveness.

    India's image is starkly different from that of China, the other fast-developing country, which is seen as a menacing rival, especially after President Hu Jintao said it would become a "world power second to none."

    Compared with the United States' relationship with China, there seems to be less conflict with India, despite India's efforts to project its economic, diplomatic and military influence more assertively - including in ways that contravene U.S. desires.

    It raises the question of whether India, which has jealously lagged behind China economically, will have a long-term advantage because it can be a world power without being a threat.

    The Bush administration earlier this year said that it was the United States' official policy "to help India become a major power in the 21st century." It is a startling contrast to the harsher vocabulary used in Chinese-U.S. dialogue.

    The reality is that, as part of the Anglosphere/Axis of Good, India will have far more influence on world events than its supposedly heavy rival.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:51 AM


    GOP tries to dissuade Harris (Donald Lambro, July 21, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

    White House political strategist Karl Rove and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have been trying to talk Florida Rep. Katherine Harris out of running for the Senate next year, but have been unsuccessful thus far.

    Mrs. Harris has had several private meetings with Mr. Rove and with NRSC officials, including Chairman Sen. Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina Republican, who have urged her to forgo the Republican Party's high-priority Senate race. Instead, they want her to run for a third House term, pointing to internal polling data that shows she cannot beat freshman Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in 2006.

    But the congresswoman, who won national attention as Florida's secretary of state during the bitter ballot recount in the 2000 presidential election, has argued in these meetings that she has proved the polls wrong throughout her political career. To prove it again this time, she has put together a cadre of heavyweight campaign advisers, including Ed Rollins who managed President Reagan's 1984 campaign. [...]

    Fearing that a weak Senate candidate could endanger the Republican Party's gubernatorial contest next year, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Mr. Rove and the NRSC have been urging Florida House Speaker Alan Bense to get into the race. Mr. Bense, who has been aggressively recruited by Mr. Bush back home and by Mrs. Dole and Mr. Rove at recent meetings in Washington, is said to be looking at the race but has not reached a decision.

    Ed Rollins could win that seat for her in his sleep.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:47 AM


    Court Nominee's Life Is Rooted in Faith and Respect for Law (TODD S. PURDUM, JODI WILGOREN and PAM BELLUCK, 7/21/05, NY times)

    He is the son of a company man, and he has lived a loyalist's life. His teachers remember him as the brightest of boys, but his classmates say he never lorded it over them. He was always conservative, but not doctrinaire. He was raised and remains a practicing Roman Catholic who declines, friends say, to wear his faith on his sleeve.

    And like his first judicial mentor, Henry J. Friendly of the federal appeals court in New York, John G. Roberts is an erudite, Harvard-trained, Republican corporate-lawyer-turned-judge, with a punctilious, pragmatic view of the law. [...]

    Laurence H. Tribe, a liberal professor of constitutional law at Harvard, remembers Judge Roberts as a student there and has kept in touch with him over the years. He does not recall Judge Roberts as a political conservative when he studied there.

    "He's conservative in manner and conservative in approach," Mr. Tribe said. "He's a person who is cautious and careful, that's true. But he is also someone quite deeply immersed in the law, and he loves it. He believes in it as a discipline and pursues it in principle and not by way of politics."

    In his 2003 written testimony, Judge Roberts cited Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louis D. Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, Robert H. Jackson and John Marshall among the Supreme Court judges he most admired. One was a Republican, three were Democrats and one was a Federalist, but all were deeply influential in their day, and all would make any law professor's short list of all-time greats.

    Judge Roberts's friends say his approach to the rest of his life is similarly embracing.

    If Larry Tribe were to introduce him how would Democrats attack him?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:14 AM


    Gonzales' time to shine? (Tim Chapman, July 21, 2005, Townhall)

    Within the week, the Senate is expected to hold a vote on Senator Akaka’s Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act. Akaka’s bill would institute an extra-constitutional race-based government for native Hawaiians. The new government would have jurisdiction over Hawaiian residents with “one drop” of native Hawaiian blood.

    Those governed by this new, race-based government would not be subject to the same federal and state tax laws as their non-native Hawaiian neighbors. The bill’s opponents note that this is surely is a recipe for racial conflict on the Hawaiian Islands.

    With this in mind, conservatives are quietly urging Administration officials to enlist Attorney General Gonzales’s help in defeating the legislation. [...]

    “Gonzales,” said the source who asked not to be named, “should consider this as an opportunity. If he really wants to prove himself to conservatives now is the time. He should consider it a job interview.”

    Race based government has such a sterling history, eh?

    Rebuilding a Hawaiian Kingdom: 'Bumpy' Kanahele has carved out an Oahu village where native values reign. Many see it as a steppingstone to the goal of sovereignty. (Tomas Alex Tizon, July 21, 2005, LA Times)

    From Honolulu, it takes an hour to drive here, heading north over dagger-like mountains and then east through rolling farm country to the outermost corner of the island known by some as the Hawaiians' Hawaii.

    Tour buses circling the island don't stop here except to gas up.

    Those who step off the bus won't find hula dancers greeting them with leis, or five-star hotels, or even two-star ones. They'll find a sleepy, rough-edged, working-class town of 10,000 people, some of whom don't like tourists and don't mind saying so.

    "Haole, go home!" and variations of whites-aren't-welcome are occasionally shouted from front porches as a reminder that this isn't Waikiki. It's a different world. Locals rule here.

    Half the residents are native Hawaiians, and many more are part Hawaiian. This is a place where Hawaiian is taught as a first language in some schools and spoken among neighbors, a place where it is widely held that Hawaii was stolen by the United States and that someday these lands will return to the Kanaka Maoli, the ancient Polynesians who settled the islands.

    Scattered throughout Waimanalo's neighborhoods are state flags hanging upside-down, a symbol of defiance. In this corner of Oahu, Hawaiian sovereignty — a government of Hawaiians for Hawaiians — isn't just a tropical dream. The people have seen a version of it materialize before their eyes.

    Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:10 AM


    Curfew zones are found to be illegal (Sandra Laville, The Guardian, July 21, 2005)

    A high court judge demolished a key plank of the government's crusade against yob culture yesterday by ruling it illegal for children to be forcibly removed from curfew zones.

    Lord Justice Brooke found in favour of a boy aged 15, from Ham, south-west London, who claimed that the antisocial behaviour powers amounted to a breach of his human rights.

    Under the 2003 Anti Social Behaviour Act, any unaccompanied under 16s going into a curfew zone while the ban was in force - between 9pm and 6am - faced a police escort home, whether or not they were suspected of bad behaviour.

    The boy, known only as W in court, challenged the powers, with the support of the group Liberty, because he feared that the police could pounce on him as he went about his business, either to the local Tesco or to his band practice. He is one of a group of teenagers around the country who are seeking to challenge the new anti social behaviour law.

    The judge said yesterday it would be illegal under the act for a police officer to forcibly take a youngster home. Police can ask children under the age of 16 to go home but they cannot make them obey, he said.

    A rarely-heard argument against judicial activism is that judges are almost always chosen from the upper middle classes and too many of them are quite prepared to sacrifice the health and safety of those further down the social ladder to further their own class interests.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:04 AM


    Rwanda begins sending more troops to Darfur (AP, 7/18/05)

    The first of some 1,200 additional Rwandan troops heading for a peacekeeping mission in Sudan's Darfur region departed on Sunday aboard U.S. military transports, officials said.

    The 95 troops that flew out on Sunday join more than 500 Rwandan soldiers already in the western Sudanese region as part of what will be a 7,500-strong African Union peacekeeping force monitoring a fragile cease-fire between the Government and rebel forces in Darfur.

    The United States is flying the Rwandans to Darfur as part of a NATO support mission, and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Shaffer, commander of the 86th Air Expedition Group, said on Sunday that it will take about three weeks to ferry all the Rwandan soldiers to Sudan.

    The United States, the European Union and individual European countries are helping finance the AU peacekeeping mission.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Cautious selection could still face confirmation battle (Peter S. Canellos, July 20, 2005, Boston Globe)

    The role of his lawyer wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, in Feminists for Life, a group dedicated to overturning Roe v. Wade, is also certain to raise liberal eyebrows.

    Wife of Nominee Holds Strong Antiabortion Views (Richard A. Serrano, July 21, 2005, LA Times)
    While Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.'s views on abortion triggered intense debate on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, there is no mistaking where his wife stands: Jane Sullivan Roberts, a lawyer, is ardently against abortion.

    A Roman Catholic like her husband, Jane Roberts has been deeply involved in the antiabortion movement. She provides her name, money and professional advice to a small Washington organization — Feminists for Life of America — that offers counseling and educational programs. The group has filed legal briefs before the high court challenging the constitutionality of abortion.

    A spouse's views normally are not considered relevant in weighing someone's job suitability. But abortion is likely to figure prominently in the Senate debate over John Roberts' nomination. And with his position on the issue unclear, abortion rights supporters expressed concern Wednesday that his wife's views might suggest he also embraced efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

    "It's unclear how all this will affect her husband," said Jennifer Palmieri, a spokeswoman with the Center for American Progress, a liberal public policy group. "It's possible that he would have a different view than her. It's just that in the absence of information about this guy, people are looking at her and trying to read the tea leaves."

    Asked to discuss her role with Feminists for Life, Jane Roberts said in an e-mail to the Los Angeles Times: "Thanks for your inquiry. At this time, however, I would like to decline your invitation to talk."

    '90 Brief Stirs Early Debate (R. Jeffrey Smith and Jo Becker, July 21, 2005,
    Washington Post)

    In 1990, 14 states, abortion rights advocates and civil rights supporters challenged the George H.W. Bush administration's decision to bar the use of public funds for abortion counseling. The task of defending the policy fell primarily to a 35-year-old Justice Department lawyer named John G. Roberts Jr.

    Roberts, who had been named to the senior political position in the Office of the Solicitor General 11 months earlier, oversaw the preparation of a brief for the Supreme Court in which he said barring that use of funds was constitutional and was faithful to the intent of Congress, several former colleagues said.

    It was, by all accounts, a well-written if familiar recitation of facts. But right at the top of the 46-page brief, someone had inserted language denigrating Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's 1973 decision upholding a women's right to abortion. That language has helped place abortion at the center of early debate over Roberts's nomination to the Supreme Court and made it likely that questions about the brief's authorship will play a large role in the Senate confirmation hearings.

    "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled," said the Sept. 7, 1990, brief, which was signed -- as is customary in such cases -- by the Solicitor General, Kenneth W. Starr, and by an assistant attorney general, two department attorneys, and a deputy and an assistant in the solicitor's office, including Roberts.

    The brief added in the same paragraph that "the Court's conclusions in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion and that the government has no compelling interest in protecting prenatal human life throughout pregnancy find no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution." It offered little else but this opinion on the subject. [...]

    Antiabortion advocates said they have seen signs besides the brief that Roberts is one of their own. On conservative blogs, writers have noted that Roberts's wife, Jane, has had a lengthy affiliation with Feminists for Life, a Washington-based group that opposes abortion. Serrin M. Foster, the group's president, said Jane Roberts served on the board of directors from 1995 to 1999, and serves as the organization's pro-bono counsel as needed.

    In 2003, the organization recognized her as a member of its Elizabeth Cady Stanton Circle after Roberts donated between $1,000 and $2,499. In a 2001 interview with its magazine, American Feminist, Jane Roberts offered legal advice on workplace benefits that accrue to adoptive parents and birth mothers. The Roberts's two small children, Josephine and Jack, are adopted.

    Serrin said John Roberts has had nothing to do with the group, which she said focuses most of its efforts on providing resources to pregnant women on college campuses. As for how Roberts might vote on the subject if he is elevated to the Supreme Court, she added: "I have no idea. You have indications about where people are, but they can sometimes surprise you."

    Roberts and his wife are practicing Catholics, attending the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda. Through a spokesman at the archdiocese, their pastor, Monsignor Peter Vaghi, said he did not want to discuss the couple out of respect for their privacy but added: "I'm delighted he's been nominated, and my prayers are with the family."

    At risk: Roe, rights and religion (Richard Schragger, July 21, 2005, LA Times)
    [W]ith John G. Roberts Jr., it looks like they will lose on all three "Rs": Roe, rights and religion.

    First, Roe. Though the "right to choose" appears to have a 6-3 majority on the court, that majority is thin and deceptive. The court will have to decide the constitutionality of bans on so-called partial-birth abortion, and it may have to address revived state spousal-notification laws and restrictions on abortion providers, such as zoning laws or government filing requirements.

    As deputy solicitor general in the George H.W. Bush administration, Roberts argued that Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided. If he is consistent, he'll probably vote to overturn it when and if he's offered the chance. And even if that isn't possible, given the majority that supports it, he seems likely to be in favor of nibbling away at abortion rights where possible. Though O'Connor was uncomfortable with abortion, she was a solid vote to prevent the dilution of Roe. Roberts' position that Roe was wrong could mean that he will take whatever swings he can at it.

    Second, rights. O'Connor was skeptical of executive power and joined the other moderates in rejecting the Bush administration's expansive interpretation of its powers to detain "enemy combatants" in its "war" on terrorism. Roberts is serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where he recently gave a free pass to the administration, holding that the Geneva Convention could not be enforced by the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and reinstating the show trials there. Other decisions by Roberts while he has been on the appeals court indicate that he has embraced a narrow interpretation of the 4th Amendment's ban on unreasonable search and seizures (including his decision to uphold the arrest of a 12-year-old girl handcuffed by police on the Washington subway for eating a single French fry).

    Third, religion. Though O'Connor voted with the conservatives to allow school vouchers to fund religious schools, she joined the moderates in enforcing the separation of church and state in other areas. Roberts wrote briefs for the George H.W. Bush administration urging a less rigid separation between church and state and argued in favor of permitting prayer at high school graduation ceremonies, a position the Supreme Court later rejected.

    To the extent his views match his former boss', Roberts could provide the fifth vote to return prayer to schools, allow a significant expansion of government-sponsored religious displays and funnel more money to faith-based service providers.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Weblog Ethics Survey Results (The Blog Boyz, July 19, 2005)

    Report Summary:

    As the prevalence and social influence of weblogs continue to increase, the issue of the ethics of bloggers is relevant not only to the blogging community, but also to people outside it.

    This study explored ethical beliefs and practices of two distinct groups of bloggers--personal and non-personal--through a worldwide web survey. Over a period of three weeks, 1,224 responses were collected and analysed.

    Our findings show that these two groups are distinctively different in demographics, blogging experiences, and habits. We also found that there are significant differences between personal and non-personal bloggers in terms of the ethical beliefs they value and the ethical practices to which they adhere.

    Key Findings:

    Our findings indicate that 73% of the bloggers surveyed said that their weblogs are personal while the remaining 27% said that their weblogs are non-personal. Further investigation of, these two groups revealed many significant differences between personal and non-personal bloggers.


    Non-personal bloggers are typically older males, with more formal years of education than personal bloggers.

    Blogging Experiences and Habits

    Non-personal bloggers tend to have more readers, update their weblogs more frequently, and spend more time on their weblogs.

    Non-personal bloggers’ reasons for blogging, the people whom they write about, and their primary intended audience are also different from those of personal bloggers.

    Ethical Beliefs and Practices

    Personal and non-personal bloggers value and adhere to four ethical principles differently. For instance, personal bloggers believe that minimizing harm is more important than non-personal bloggers.

    For both groups of bloggers, they believe attribution is the most important and accountability the least important.

    The degree of association between ethical beliefs and practices is different for personal and non-personal bloggers: in general, the level of correspondence between what people believe and what they do is higher for non-personal bloggers than personal bloggers.

    Both types of bloggers are quite ambivalent about whether any kind of a code is necessary.

    The findings in our study indicated that personal and non-personal bloggers are indeed distinct groups of bloggers. Their demographics, blogging experiences and habits, as well as ethical beliefs and practices are different.

    In addition, bloggers currently do not see a strong need for a blogging code of ethics. A code of ethics may be more valued and adhered to when bloggers’ themselves see a stronger need for it.

    Also, the four ethical principles have different relevance to personal and non-personal bloggers and researchers should take that into consideration if they attempt to devise new codes of ethics for blogging.

    Here are the rules we try to follow, with intermittent success:

    (1) No profanity.

    (2) Minimal self-reference (though none would be unnatural)

    (3) Minimal linking to other blogs.

    (4) Minimal reference to comments. (Folks who write comments don't get to do so on the front page, so we try not to write about them on the front.)

    (5) Try--though I'm bad about this myself--to only quote about three paragraphs, or no more than a third, of any story you blog. We want folks to go read it at the site that owns it. But if you need to use more to make the excerpt make sense, no problem.

    (6) Never let it interfere with real life.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Butler gains momentum, while Brandon keeps quiet (Peter Savodnik, 7/20/05, The Hill)

    A growing chorus of Republicans, including former vice-presidential nominee Jack Kemp and Rep. J.C. Watts, is coalescing around Keith Butler (R), a pastor and former Detroit city councilman hoping to beat Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) next year.

    The Butler campaign announced Monday that Kemp and Watts would serve as its national finance chairmen. Earlier this month, the campaign reported that it had raised $800,000 this year, surprising many Michigan Republicans.

    And yesterday, Republicans on Capitol Hill, many of whom have been waiting for Domino’s Pizza CEO David Brandon to get into the race, suggested that they are leaning toward Butler.

    “Keith has been using his time very effectively to get known in the district,” Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) said, referring to his 2nd District, one of the state’s largest caches of Republican voters. “He’s put together a pretty credible campaign.”

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM

    THE OTHER COAST (via Jay Cornell):

    Leah Garchik (SF Chronicle, July 20, 2005)

    Roseann Galvan's 2-year-old son, Brendan, who has been happy at Habitot summer camp in Berkeley, brought her a book to read to him that had a huge white warning sticker affixed to the front cover: "A parent has asked us to warn you that there are pictures of military aircraft on the last pages of this book."

    Here in Red America it's not the least bit uncommon for fathers dropping off their kids at school to have a rifle hanging in the back window of the truck.

    July 20, 2005

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:54 PM


    It's not only about Iraq: The animating ideology of the caliphate helps explain al-Qaida actions that otherwise make no sense (Jonathan Freedland, July 20, 2005, The Guardian)

    Central to its ideology is the reintroduction of the caliphate, an Islamic state governed by sharia law that would stretch across all formerly Muslim lands, taking in Spain, Morocco, north Africa, Albania, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, as well as Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines. Plenty on the left tend to skim over this stuff, dismissing it as weird, obscurantist nonsense - and imagining it as somehow secondary to al-Qaida's anti-imperialist mission.

    That's a big mistake. For it is this animating idea which helps to explain al-Qaida actions that otherwise make no sense. Why did the Madrid cell that staged last March's train bombings continue to plan attacks, even after Spain's new government had begun withdrawing from Iraq? Perhaps because al-Qaida wants to recapture at least part of Spain for Islamist rule. Why did it bomb a nightclub in Bali? Partly to attack western tourists, of course. (Taylor says the bombers thought the clubbers would be American, not Australian.) But its chief aim was to destabilise Indonesia, which it wants to place under Islamist rule as part of the yearned-for caliphate.

    In other words, al-Qaida has a programme that predates and goes beyond Iraq. It seeks to end all western presence in those lands it deems Islamic. That's why it has, over the years, targeted France and Germany as well as the US and the UK. When Tony Blair asks "What was September 11 the reprisal for?" he should know the answer. It was for eight decades of US-led, western meddling in territory that al-Qaida believes should be Muslims' alone.

    This is the ideology that defines al-Qaida and which explains why it was in business from 1993 and not just 2001 and after. Tellingly, those who monitor Islamism in Britain say the big surge in growth of extremist groups came not after 9/11 or Iraq but in the mid-1990s - with Bosnia serving as the recruiting sergeant. In the same period Chechnya, Kosovo and Israel-Palestine all came into play - again predating Iraq.

    What it adds up to is a more mixed picture than either Blair or the anti-war movement has allowed. Iraq has played a key part - of course it has - in angering large numbers of young Muslims, pulling them towards an extremist message once confined to the lunatic fringe. But that message is not only about Iraq, Afghanistan or even the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza - and we delude ourselves if we think it is.

    It's ultimately not much different than communism or any of the other isms.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:42 PM


    Lebanon's real work begins: Lebanon formed a new independent government Tuesday, the first to include members of militant Hizbullah. (Nicholas Blanford, 7/21/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

    For many Lebanese, the new government is supposed to embody the demands for change aired earlier in the year during the "Independence Intifada," the series of mass demonstrations following the assassination in February of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri that led to Syria's disengagement from Lebanon in April.

    "There's an unspoken expectation among a lot of Lebanese that what they did over the last six months ... was a significant qualitative shift in both people's participation in the political process and in their expectations of their government," says Rami Khouri, editor-at-large for Lebanon's English-language Daily Star newspaper.

    The new 24-seat government is headed by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who served as finance minister in Mr. Hariri's governments. It took a month to assemble a cabinet lineup that was acceptable to the main power blocs in parliament. Two thirds of the cabinet are drawn from the former opposition coalition headed by Saad Hariri, son and political heir of Rafik Hariri, and Walid Jumblatt, leader of Lebanon's Druze community. The remaining third comprises allies of the pro- Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, as well as members of the Shiite bloc that includes Hizbullah and the Amal Movement.

    An imminent addition to Lebanon's newly independent political scene is Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces militia during the 1975-1990 war, who is set to be released this weekend after 11 years in prison.

    Mr. Geagea, who opposed Syria's hegemony over Lebanon, was the only ex- warlord to be jailed for his alleged wartime crimes. He was granted amnesty on Monday in a parliamentary vote and plans to reenter politics following a period of convalescence in Europe.

    The new government is the first in which a member of Hizbullah has participated, a move that reflects the group's broad support among Lebanese Shiites.

    As in Iraq, they should be incorporated into a national army.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 PM

    Frittata satisfies a crowd (THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA, 7/20/05, AP WEEKLY FEATURES)

    Next time you are faced with a hungry crowd, do not despair. The deliciously adaptable and nutritious frittata is a simple dish that can satisfy large and small gatherings for any meal of the day.

    Eggs, a large, ovenproof skillet and creative use of any available ingredients in your cupboards or refrigerator are all you need to prepare this hearty, open-faced omelet. [...]


    12 ounces lean bacon, diced

    2 cups minced onions

    ? teaspoon ground black pepper

    Makes 8 servings.

    Preheat the broiler.

    Cook the bacon in a large (10- or 12-inch) nonstick, ovenproof skillet or cast-iron pan over medium heat until crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour off any excess fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the skillet. Add the onions and saute them for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and continue to saute them until they are lightly brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

    Beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the onion-potato mixture in the skillet and stir gently to combine. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and cook until the eggs are nearly set, about 5 minutes.

    Remove the cover and place the skillet under a broiler to brown the eggs lightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Once browned, remove from the broiler and allow the frittata to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges and serve hot or at room temperature.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:00 PM


    The Contest Between Taxeaters and Taxpayers (Orrin Judd, 07/20/2005, Tech Central Station)

    Editor's note: Steven Malanga is a contributing editor of City Journal and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, specializing in urban economies, business communities, and public policy. His book The New New Left : How American Politics Works Today describes an emerging political dynamic that pits those who benefit from an ever-expanding public sector against those who pay for this bigger government, a contest between taxeaters and taxpayers. Mr. Malanga recently sat for an interview with Orrin Judd.

    JUDD: The title of your book refers to the New New Left -- who comprises this group and what's "New" about them?

    MALANGA: The New New Left, which I also sometimes call the public sector economy, consists of those taxeaters who live off government, either through transfer payments, public sector employment, or employment in sectors like private social services or health care which are increasingly funded by government. These groups began acquiring political power 40 years ago, largely with the help of the vast expansion of government that began during the War on Poverty.

    I call the movement "new" because about 10 years ago members of these various groups began recognizing that they had the same interest in an ever-expanding government and started working together in coalitions that support bigger government and government solutions to our problems. In many states and cities the coalition has now gathered so much power that it is in control of the political agenda.

    Living wage laws offer no panacea (George Avalos, 6/30/05, CONTRA COSTA TIMES)

    The latest salvo in the battle over living wage laws suggests the ordinances have unleashed some unintended consequences and produced mixed results.

    Over the past decade, the ordinances have helped some low-skilled workers and harmed others, according to a study released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California.

    "On one hand there are some job losses because of living wage ordinances, but on the other hand, poverty is reduced to some extent," said David Neumark, a senior fellow with San Francisco-based Public Policy who co-authored the study with University of Wisconsin professor Scott Adams.

    The study by the think tank, which is dedicated to improving public policy in California, suggested that living wage laws can price some potential workers out of the job market if employers refuse to hire people to avoid the higher wage costs.

    "Living wage laws, on average, boost the wages of the lowest-wage workers but also reduce employment among the least-skilled," the authors of the study wrote. "The adverse effects of living wages fall most heavily on the least-skilled individuals, who are the least likely to be employable after a mandatory wage increase is enacted."

    As Steven Malanga has explained, the living wage isn't intended to help those trying to make a living.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:50 PM


    Introducing John Roberts: A great conservative sigh of relief. (MANUEL MIRANDA, July 20, 2005, Opinion Journal)

    Last night George Bush kept his campaign promise that he would name a justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas. And I for one am ashamed that I ever doubted him. I should have understood the president better. In John Roberts, the president got what he wanted, and we conservatives did too.

    Conservatives, Pleased With Pick, Say Bush Kept Promise (Peter Wallsten and Edwin Chen, July 20, 2005, LA Times)

    Since July 1, when Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement, social conservatives have fretted that President Bush might name a moderate to fill her seat — a betrayal, they warned, of Bush's campaign promises and their unwavering support for his reelection.

    But those jitters turned to jubilation Tuesday night as leading conservatives praised appellate court Judge John G. Roberts Jr. as an ideological soul mate.

    "There's no question that President Bush is a promise keeper," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which is marshaling support among evangelicals for Bush's judicial nominees.

    The Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, described Roberts, who has served for two years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as an "all-star" on key social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

    "Conservatives who supported George W. Bush have no reason to be disappointed," Sheldon said. "He has more than fulfilled his pledge."

    Paying ‘the Base’: Ever loyal, President Bush is rewarding conservatives with his choice of John Roberts—a man that liberals will have difficulty blocking. (Howard Fineman, July 20, 2005, Newsweek)
    George W. Bush keeps surprising the wise guys. They keep thinking that he’s going to be something other than what he is and that he will do something other than what he says he will do. Well, he and Karl Rove built his career on West Texas Bible Belt conservatism, with deep ancestral ties to the Establishment “up East.” And it was that president—half Cambridge, all “Come to Jesus”—who chose John G. Roberts Jr. for the U.S. Supreme Court.

    In the words of the old Texas cliché, President Bush is the kind of leader, and person, who “dances with the one that brung him.” He is as loyal as a hunting dog. On a personal level, his inner circles stay inner and stay around him forever. It’s the same with politics. He owes “the base”—religious conservatives, corporate conservatives, Federalist Society libertarian conservatives—and he pays.

    This kind of personality is rare in politics, even rarer in the city of Washington. Bush likes to pull surprises, but only on matters of timing. George Bush hides in plain sight, a tactic that works here, since everyone always assumes the game is all about misdirection. Bush said he wanted to choose justices in the Scalia-Thomas tradition. Why would anyone think that he wouldn’t follow through on that promise?

    Because they're ineducable?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:38 PM


    Edward Bunker: Writer, actor (VARIETY, 7/19/05)
    Edward Bunker, screenwriter, novelist and actor who served a long stint in San Quentin before writing such hits as "Straight Time," "Little Boy Blue" and "Animal Factory," died Tuesday July 19 at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Burbank, Calif., where he failed to survive an operation. The 71-year-old writer and ex-con had been suffering from cancer and diabetes.

    West Hollywood resident and Hollywood native became the youngest inmate in San Quentin at 17 for bank robbery and car theft, and was released at age 38. He penned two books in prison, "Confessions of a Felon" followed by "No Beast So Fierce," which became the 1978 Dustin Hoffman starrer "Straight Time."

    He later wrote the screenplay for 1985's "Runaway Train" and 2000's "Animal Factory," based on his novel.

    In addition, he was a technical adviser on 1995's "Heat" as well as '92's "American Heart" and "Straight Time."

    As an actor he had parts in this year's "The Longest Yard" as well as "Straight Time," "Reservoir Dogs" (as Mr. Blue), "Runaway Train," "The Running Man," "Tango and Cash," "Somebody to Love," 2000's "Animal Factory," "Family Secrets" and "13 Moons," plus others.

    Other novels include "Dog Eat Dog."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:25 PM


    The Stakes in Roberts's Nomination (BRUCE SHAPIRO, July 20, 2005, The Nation)

    Judge John Roberts is a white male who has spent his entire adult life in Washington. Those facts themselves mean nothing, but they do beg a question: What could be so compelling about Judge Roberts as a Supreme Court candidate that the White House was willing to forswear all claims on ethnic diversity and all geographical political advantage, not to mention the express desire of Laura Bush and countless other women to see a nominee of their gender?

    To understand Judge Roberts's unique appeal, forget for a moment "conservative," "textualist," "original intent" and the other shorthand with which get-ahead Republican law school grads watermark their résumés. Look instead at a single case decided by Judge Roberts and two other members of the DC Court of Appeals less than a week ago. As it happened, the day before that ruling was released, President Bush interviewed Judge Roberts at the White House. Judge Roberts, it is widely reported, aced his interview; but his appeals court decision due for publication just twenty-four hours later--about the rights of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay--was, in effect, the essay question.

    Here is the question: Do the obligations of the Geneva Conventions apply to prisoners seized in Afghanistan? And can the President convene military trials, unreviewable by any courts and Congress? The case involves Salim Ahmed Hamdan, allegedly a driver for Osama bin Laden, captured on the post-9/11 battlefield and held in Camp Delta. Last year a federal judge shut down Hamdan's trial and up to a dozen other military tribunals. As convened by the Pentagon, those drumhead tribunals, wrote the lower court, amounted to a violation of the Geneva Treaty and an unconstitutional seizure of power by the President.

    Whatever Judge Roberts's performance in his interview with the President, whatever his sterling report card as litigator and jurist, we can be sure there was only one acceptable answer to the Guantánamo essay question, and the judge gave it. He voted, along with his two appeals court colleagues, all three of them Reagan or Bush appointees, against Geneva Convention protections for Guantánamo captives, in scathing language ordering the military tribunals forward, empowering the President, and the President alone, to determine those prisoners' fate.

    In the White House's wildest dreams it can't imagine opposition to Judge Roberts centering on his being too tough on terrorists.

    Thank You, Mr. President: Last week, John Roberts wrote Bush a blank check. (Emily Bazelon, July 19, 2005, Slate)

    Since Sandra Day O'Connor resigned almost three weeks ago, John Roberts has been the Washington, D.C., establishment choice to take her seat on the Supreme Court—among some Democrats as well as Republicans. As a deputy solicitor general for George H.W. Bush, Roberts wrote a brief arguing that doctors in clinics receiving federal funds shouldn't be able to talk to their patients about abortion (the Supreme Court agreed) and in passing called for the reversal of Roe v. Wade. But some liberals are quick to argue that on the Supreme Court, Roberts would be open to rethinking such right-wing positions. They take comfort in his reputation for being likable and fair-minded.

    Roberts may indeed turn out to be a wise, thoughtful, and appealing justice. Tonight when Bush announced his nomination, Roberts talked about feeling humbled, which won him points on TV. But an opinion that the 50-year-old judge joined just last week in the case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld should be seriously troubling to anyone who values civil liberties. As a member of a three-judge panel on the D.C. federal court of appeals, Roberts signed on to a blank-check grant of power to the Bush administration to try suspected terrorists without basic due-process protections.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:34 PM


    In Sudan, cautious hope for peace: Secretary of State Rice Wednesday visits a Sudan that has a new coalition government, a Darfur pact, and rising oil exports. (Abraham McLaughlin, 7/20/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

    When US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice alights from her plane in Sudan Wednesday, she'll look out across the dusty metropolis of the capital, Khartoum, onto a distinctly different national landscape from what her predecessor, Colin Powell, saw when he visited 13 months ago.

    Since then, Sudan has elected a national unity government, penned a peace agreement with rebels in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, increased its flow of oil, and reinforced its status as a valuable partner in the US fight against global terrorism.

    Ms. Rice's visit represents an acknowledgment of these changes - and that Khartoum is beginning to be "welcomed back into the civilized world, so to speak," says John Ashworth, a longtime Sudan observer with ties to South African church groups active in Sudan.

    Like East Timor, where the impetus similarly came from the Christian Right, Sudan has been managed about as well as any humanitarian crisis can be.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:50 PM


    Oil prices fall on rising U.S. supplies (BRAD FOSS, 7/20/05, AP)

    Oil prices fell by more than $1 a barrel on Wednesday after new government data showed rising U.S. supplies of diesel and heating oil and only a smaller-than-expected decline in crude oil inventories.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:47 PM


    Mystery of missing garden gnomes puzzling (The Associated Press, July 19, 2005)

    GREELEY, Colo. --The mystery of the missing garden gnomes may prove harder to solve after all.

    Police found about 80 of the pint-sized figurines stashed in black plastic bags and surrounded by youngsters on Saturday, but investigators don't think the children stole them.

    In fact, Sgt. Dave Adams said the children most likely found them, so it's back to square one.

    It's the kids--mercury made them do it.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:56 PM


    Tale of two whip teams (Josephine Hearn, 7/20/05, The Hill)

    With just two weeks to go until the August recess, Republican House leaders are possibly facing do-or-die time for the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The Republican whip operation is running at full throttle, making deals on China policy and textile production at a fast clip in the hopes of wooing just enough members off the fence to pass the pivotal trade pact.

    The House Democratic whip operation, meanwhile, is sitting this one out.

    For Democrats, who largely oppose the bill, the situation tests the ability of a diverse and sometimes divisive party to unify even as it faces strong pressure from the administration and business groups.

    Despite the high stakes of the battle, Democrats have opted not to activate their own whip operation to counter Republican efforts, a highly unusual decision for an important vote — but one that Democrats say works for them.

    This is what an opposition party does when it knows legislation is in the best interests of the nation but can't afford to be seen backing it for political reasons.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:45 PM


    Why Wal-Mart is good: We've heard all the horror stories about the retail giant. They're just not true (STEVE MAICH, 7/25/05, MacLean's)

    There's a place on the western edge of Cleveland that encapsulates the story of the city -- its proud industrial past, its slow depressing decline, its hopes for a brighter future. But the battle now being waged over that patch of land tells an even bigger tale.

    It's called the steelyard flats, a 130-acre plot of barren wasteland at the intersection of Interstates 90 and 71, in what was once the heart of Cleveland's thriving steel industry. The site has sat idle since 2000, when LTV Steel went bankrupt. The finishing mill was torn down, and the shells of a few remaining buildings have been crumbling here ever since. The place is now littered with discarded scrap metal, concrete and junk: a dozen old tires here, a shattered TV there.

    Soon, however, this site will also be a symbol of renewal. In May, work began on what will be the first big-box shopping centre in this city of 500,000 people. It's called Steelyard Commons, and will include a Target store, a Home Depot, a Staples, plus restaurants and smaller businesses. It's expected to bring close to 2,000 jobs to the city identified as the most impoverished urban area in the U.S. in the 2004 census. Unemployment here runs at 11 per cent -- roughly double the national average.

    But there's a problem. Wal-Mart Stores, the world's biggest retailer, will be the anchor tenant of Steelyard Commons, and that has transformed this place into another front in North America's most bitter retail cold war. Wal-Mart's critics say the company destroys local economies, putting small competitors out of business; that it abuses workers with low wages and paltry benefits; and that it drives urban sprawl and all the environmental damage that goes with it. And so, a coalition of labour leaders, activists and city councillors have banded together, vowing to keep Wal-Mart out even if it means killing the whole project.

    It's a divisive political standoff that's been mirrored in communities throughout North America over the past few years. To the project's advocates in City Hall, this is just the kind of development Cleveland so desperately needs. Aside from precious jobs, the mall will spin off US$3 million in property taxes annually, US$1.8 million of which will go to the city's struggling school system, plus US$700,000 in local payroll tax. It will also give city residents a place to shop near home, rather than travelling to the suburbs. Officials estimate local residents spend US$4 billion a year in retail shops, a third of which currently goes outside the city. If ever there was a Wal-Mart that deserves support, they say, this is it.

    But that's just the point: Wal-Mart isn't engaged in a series of messy local zoning disputes. It's at war with a well-financed, well-organized opposition, determined to fight it on every front. From Los Angeles to the Saguenay, from Hartford, Conn., to Vancouver, a broad array of activist groups and unions have launched protests, lawsuits and ad campaigns, all aimed at discrediting Wal-Mart, halting its growth, and unionizing its workforce.

    Like most wars, it's about money and power, and the first casualty is truth. Because even after all the scrutiny and analysis of the Wal-Mart phenomenon, most of what we've been told -- about worker abuse, destroyed small-town economies, crushed suppliers and greedy management -- is wrong.

    Mr. Malanga's book is excellent on this topic too.

    MORE (via Mike Daley):
    -Store Lobby: WAL-MART COMES TO WASHINGTON (Clay Risen, 07.14.05, New Republic)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:38 PM


    O'Connor: Roberts 'good in every way, except he's not a woman' (Rich Landers, July 20, 2005, Spokesman Review)

    Sandra Day O'Connor heard about President Bush's nomination for her replacement on the Supreme Court while she was returning from a day of fly-fishing in Idaho.

    Her first words were unequivocal: "That's fabulous!" she said. She immediately described John G. Roberts as a "brilliant legal mind, a straight shooter, articulate, and he should not have trouble being confirmed by October. He's good in every way, except he's not a woman."

    She said she was almost sure President Bush would not appoint a woman as a replacement for William H. Rehnquist because she didn't think he would want a woman as chief justice. "So that almost assures there won't be a woman appointed to the court at this time."

    In fact, this makes it more likely that the new Chief will be a woman--more bang for the buck in that "first."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:35 PM

    THEM IS US (via Kevin Whited):

    Mayor blames Middle East policy (BBC, 7/20/05)

    Decades of British and American intervention in the oil-rich Middle East motivated the London bombers, Ken Livingstone has suggested.

    The London mayor told BBC News he had no sympathy with the bombers and he opposed all violence.

    But he argued that the attacks would not have happened had Western powers left Arab nations free to decide their own affairs after World War I.

    It need hardly be pointed out that implicit in Mr. Livingstone's comments is the idea that the attacks were carried out by Arabs, not Englishmen.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:19 AM


    No Vaccine-Autism Link, Parents Are Told (GARDINER HARRIS, 7/20/05, NY Times)

    Top officials from three of the nation's premier public health agencies held an unusual news conference on Tuesday to say that childhood vaccines are life-saving medicines with no proven link to autism.

    "The science says very clearly that vaccines save lives and protect our children," said one of the officials, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    To many, that declaration might have seemed akin to an announcement so basic as that high cholesterol readings are linked with heart disease. But the officials felt a need to make a forceful defense of vaccines because a growing number of parents contend that a mercury-containing vaccine preservative called thimerosal caused their children to become autistic. Indeed, several parents held a vigil outside the news conference, with one holding a large sign blaming vaccines for her child's disorder.

    Representative Dave Weldon, a Florida Republican who champions the notion that thimerosal has caused an explosion of autism cases around the world, attended the news conference and, after it ended, gave his own press briefing criticizing the public health officials.

    "It seemed that this was an effort to assuage public concerns, but I think parents are much smarter than some people give them credit for," said Mr. Weldon, who was a practicing physician before his election to the House in 1994.

    They aren't. They just want a diagnosis that allows them to blame someone.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:21 AM


    Protesters in China get angrier and bolder (Howard W. French, JULY 20, 2005, The New York Times )

    After three nights of increasingly heavy rioting, the police were taking no chances, deploying dozens of busloads of officers and blocking every road leading to the factory.

    The police began deploying in large numbers before dusk Monday, but the angry villagers had already made their moves. They had learned their lessons after studying reports of riots that had swept rural China in recent months. Sneaking over mountain paths and wading through rice paddies, they made their way to a pharmaceuticals plant, they said, for a showdown over the environmental threat they say it poses.

    As many as 15,000 people massed here on Sunday night and fought with the authorities, overturning police cars and throwing stones, undeterred by thick clouds of tear gas. [...]

    The riots in Xinchang are part of a rising tide of discontent in China, with the number of mass protests like these reaching 74,000 last year from about 10,000 a decade earlier, according to government figures. The details have varied from incident to incident, but the recent wave of protests shares a foundation of accumulated anger over the failure of China's political system to respond to legitimate grievances and defiance of the local authorities, who are often seen as corrupt.

    Nothing would more certainly topple an already unpopular tyranny than losing a war with Taiwan though.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:18 AM


    A jolt for the French establishment (Thomas Fuller, JULY 20, 2005, International Herald Tribune )

    Angela Merkel, the leader of the opposition in Germany, shook up the French political establishment on Tuesday, allying herself with France's ambitious interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, and declaring the need for a reassessment of the Franco-German relationship.

    Merkel, the presumptive future chancellor in the event of an election victory by Germany's conservative opposition in September, met with President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin of France in talks that she described as "excellent."

    But she did not appear in public with either man, and the policies she detailed meshed more closely with those of Sarkozy, who, although he is the head of Chirac's party, is at odds with the president on many issues.

    "We have the same political ideas," Merkel said as she stood beside Sarkozy in the headquarters of the party he runs, the Union for a Popular Movement.

    Sarkozy said he and Merkel shared a "complete and total understanding" on their shared stance that Turkey be refused full membership in the European Union, and of the role of France and Germany in the bloc.

    Hopefully the White House is even now engaging Turkey in talks about joining NAFTA instead of the EU.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:12 AM


    A scant paper record of personal views (Charlie Savage, July 20, 2005, Boston Globe)

    The looming debate over Roberts's nomination is likely to focus on how forthcoming he will be about his personal views, since nearly all the conservative legal positions he has articulated were on behalf of clients. Roberts has been a judge only since 2003, when he was confirmed to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit without opposition in the Senate.

    Senator Charles Schumer, from New York, was one of three Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to vote against Roberts for the court of appeals and said last night he must be more open this time. ''He didn't answer questions fully and openly when he appeared before the committee," Schumer said. ''For instance, when I asked him a question that others have answered, to identify three Supreme Court cases of which he was critical, he refused. But now it's a whole new ballgame. . . . I hope Judge Roberts, understanding how important this nomination is -- particularly when replacing a swing vote on the court -- will decide to answer questions about his views."

    Since becoming a judge, Roberts has been involved in few notable decisions. One exception, however, demonstrated that Roberts is a follower of the ''federalist revolution," in which conservatives have sought in recent years to restrict the federal government and return policy-making power to the states. Retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was a leader in this movement.

    In 2003, Roberts joined in a dissent on the appeals court in a case involving a California company that had been blocked from developing an area where a rare species of toad lived. The dissent, citing recent Supreme Court cases striking down acts of Congress for having exceeded its authority, said the federal government lacked the power to protect endangered species.

    Roberts is also a member of the Federalist Society, a fraternity of legal conservatives whose members often espouse the view that the Constitution should be interpreted literally and oppose ''activist" judicial decisions that find implicit but unwritten rights in the document -- including the unwritten right to privacy from which abortion rights are derived.

    President Bush echoed their credo last night when he introduced Roberts as a judge who will not ''legislate from the bench." Groups across the spectrum have cited Roberts's Federalist Society membership to support their assertion that his views match those he crafted while working for the Reagan and Bush administrations.

    As deputy solicitor general in the administration of George H.W. Bush, Roberts coauthored a Supreme Court brief arguing that Roe v. Wade was ''wrongly decided and should be overturned" because the court's conclusion in Roe ''that there is a fundamental right to abortion . . . finds no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution."

    However, during his 2003 confirmation, Roberts said, ''Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. . . . There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent."

    Bush's Strategy for Court: Disarm the Opposition (ADAM NAGOURNEY, 7/20/05, NY Times)
    As often is the case with Mr. Bush, the decision appears almost obvious in retrospect: a choice that is at least good enough for conservatives, who hailed the nomination with a barrage of favorable reaction that went out even before Mr. Bush appeared in the East Room on Tuesday evening, yet someone who is genial and enigmatic enough to confound Democrats as they head into what they had long expected to be a difficult battle.

    By suggesting that Mr. Bush was giving serious consideration to a woman or minority even if he did not choose one in the end, the White House may have minimized any political repercussions Mr. Bush may have suffered by choosing a man to replace the court's first woman.

    "They've artfully threaded the needle," said a senior Democratic leadership aide, who declined to be identified, explaining the challenge that the party now faces..

    A Fight, Maybe, but Not a Battle: Roberts should appeal to staunch conservatives yet be insulated from fierce opposition. (Ronald Brownstein, July 20, 2005, LA Times)
    With the nomination Tuesday of John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court, President Bush reaffirmed his commitment to a bold-stroke presidency — but also signaled an uncharacteristic interest in reducing his exposure to political risk.

    Bush repeatedly has shown a willingness to accept pitched political battles as the price of pursuing dramatic change. The selection of Roberts, widely considered more conservative than retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, underscores Bush's desire to tilt the court to the right.

    "For me as a conservative, it is a very impressive pick because it rejects a superficial analysis that says: 'I'm going to pick a woman or I'm going to take a moderate and dodge a fight,' " said veteran GOP strategist Bill Kristol.

    But in Roberts, a judge since 2003 on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Bush also chose a nominee unlikely to inspire either the most enthusiasm among hard-core conservatives or the most intense opposition from Democrats and liberal groups.

    In effect, Roberts may represent an effort to thread the needle in filling the court vacancy. The selection could offer Bush an opportunity to maximize his chance of a relatively smooth confirmation while minimizing the danger of either conservative disaffection or scorched-earth Democratic opposition.

    EDITORIAL: A judicious choice (LA Times, July 20, 2005)
    By all accounts, John G. Roberts Jr. is a likable guy. His list of friends and supporters, brandished by President Bush on Tuesday as he announced Roberts as his nominee for the Supreme Court, stands at 156 and counting, spanning the ideological spectrum, with a litany of adjectives that would make any mother (or president for that matter) proud.

    Whether Roberts is the right choice for the court is another question. Although some liberal interest groups rushed to portray Roberts as a dangerous extremist, his nomination seems to signal a desire on the part of the White House to avoid a nasty confirmation battle. Given that Bush passed over some of the more extreme conservatives who'd been mentioned as candidates, we may yet witness a civil debate about the Supreme Court, and the president will deserve some credit if we do. In any event, Bush was right Tuesday to insist that the Senate act on his nomination before the court reconvenes in October.

    Roberts is a shrewd choice for many reasons, but perhaps his most important characteristic is a near-ideal mixture of familiarity and inscrutability.

    A Brief on the Nominee: He's low-key, smart and effective and does not come with much political baggage. As a lawyer, he argued cases across the spectrum. (David G. Savage, Richard B. Schmitt and Henry Weinstein, July 20, 2005, LA Times)

    When President Bush's lawyers made a list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court, they put John G. Roberts Jr. at the top.

    The appeals court judge was seen as smart and cautious, conservative in his leanings, but not an outspoken ideologue prone to making brash pronouncements. And he was seen as a persuader, someone whose personable approach and intellect could make him a leader on the high court.

    Roberts, 50, was also the clear favorite of Washington's Republican legal establishment — whether to succeed his old boss, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, or, as it turned out, to fill the seat left by the departure of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

    Even leading Democratic lawyers, including former Clinton-era Solicitor General Seth Waxman and the late Lloyd Cutler, had endorsed his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit two years ago. They said he was a superb lawyer, a brilliant writer and an effective oral advocate.

    His personal resume seems impeccably upright as well: a native of Buffalo, N.Y., who grew up in Indiana; captain of the high school football team; worked summers in a steel mill to help pay his way through college; top of his class at Harvard Law School.

    He is described as low-key and assiduous; compared with some of the other candidates Bush was considering, he seems almost a little boring.

    In Pursuit of Conservative Stamp, President Nominates Roberts (TODD S. PURDUM, 7/20/05, NY Times)
    Mr. Bush has made no secret of his desire to impose a more conservative stamp on the Supreme Court, and he apparently named Mr. Roberts with confidence that he would help him do so.

    Almost instantly, the conservative and liberal interest groups that have spent years preparing for a Supreme Court vacancy swung into action.

    The conservative Progress for America called Judge Roberts a "terrific nominee," while Naral Pro-Choice America denounced him as an "unsuitable choice," and a "divisive nominee with a record of seeking to impose a political agenda on the courts."

    But significantly, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader of the body that will determine Judge Roberts's fate, was much more subdued, hewing to the Democrats' stated strategy of demanding a thorough vetting of any nominee by describing Judge Roberts as "someone with suitable legal credentials," whose record must now be examined "to determine if he has a demonstrated commitment to the core American values of freedom, equality and fairness."

    A Judge Anchored in Modern Law (LINDA GREENHOUSE, 7/20/05, NY Times)
    There are others, potential nominees whom the president might have chosen, who probably also feel a lump in the throat when they think about the Supreme Court, but it is caused by anger rather than reverence. That is not to say that Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, whom President Bush had offered as his models for a Supreme Court selection, do not respect the institution, but their stance is one of opposition to many currents of modern legal thought that the court's decisions reflect.

    Now the question is whether Judge Roberts, if confirmed, will, like those two justices, commit himself to recapturing a distant constitutional paradise in which the court was faithful to the original intent of the framers or whether, like the justice he would succeed, he finds himself comfortably in the middle rather than at the margin.

    His résumé suggests the latter, as does his almost complete lack of a paper trail. There are no flame-throwing articles or speeches, no judicial opinions that threaten established precedent, no visible hard edges.

    To the extent that as a judge he has expressed a limited view of federal power, that is consistent with the views of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whom he is being named to succeed, and would not change the balance on the court. He signed briefs as a Justice Department lawyer conveying the anti-abortion position of the first Bush administration, but he has given no indication of his personal or judicial views on abortion.

    The man who could shift the court right (Warren Richey, 7/21/05, The Christian Science Monitor)
    [T]he replacement of centrist swing voter Justice Sandra Day O'Connor with someone likely to vote more consistently with the court's conservative bloc means that an entire range of 5-to-4 O'Connor precedents over the past two decades may soon be in jeopardy. They include abortion-rights restrictions - such as parental notification laws and bans on so-called "partial birth" abortions. Affirmative-action programs may also be at risk.

    At the same time, Roberts appears to be a reliable vote in support of the high court's revival of states' rights. And last Friday, he was a member of the three-judge appeals-court panel in Washington, D.C., that upheld the president's wartime power to conduct terrorism tribunals at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

    In selecting Roberts, Mr. Bush dipped into the very top of the conservative legal elite in the United States. Few candidates at age 50 have a résumé that can match Roberts's. And although he is a white male, rather than a woman or member of a racial minority, his personal story is not without compelling touches.

    A Bold Choice (New York Sun, July 20, 2005)
    President Bush made a bold choice in selecting a distinguished lawyer and federal appeals court judge, John Roberts, to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. "I have thought about a variety of people, people from different walks of life," the president told reporters yesterday. "I do have an obligation to think about people from different backgrounds." But in the end, Mr. Bush resisted the politically correct pressure to limit his choices to a particular gender or race. The president evidently wanted the most qualified jurist, one most capable of delivering on Mr. Bush's campaign promise of restoring a sound constitutionalism to the Court. That is, a justice who would not legislate from the bench.

    Mr. Bush could scarcely have done better than Mr. Roberts.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:10 AM


    Hot, hot, hot? Then try some cool key lime pie (LEZLI BITTERMAN, July 20, 2005, Chicago Sun-Times)

    When the mercury rises and you're looking for a refreshing summer treat, try a slice of Key lime pie.

    One taste and you can almost smell the tropical breezes of the Florida Keys. Known as the "official dessert" of Key West, this week's column features two different recipes for this sweet and tangy delight made with the juice of a special citrus fruit.

    Key limes are smaller, rounder and more yellow in color than Persian limes, which are dark green, more ovoid in shape and are what most Americans are familiar with. Unfortunately, anyone living outside Florida probably never will see a fresh Key lime, but bottled Key lime juice is available at most larger grocery chains and is the only lime juice that should be used to make an authentic pie. [...]



    1/3 cup Key lime juice
    1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
    1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
    1 (9-inch) prepared graham cracker pie crust

    In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice and sweetened condensed milk. Fold in whipped topping, mixing until combined. Pour into prepared crust and chill through. Serve cold.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 390 calories, 15 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 23 mg cholesterol, 59 g carbohydrates, 7 g protein, 256 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

    Florence Schorie, Joliet

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:15 AM


    As All Washington Guessed, Bush Zeroed In on His Choice (ELISABETH BUMILLER, 7/20/05, NY Times)

    Mr. Bush had spent three days of the previous week in interviews with five Supreme Court finalists, including Judge Roberts, Mr. McClellan said. But with Judge Roberts, said Dan Bartlett, the White House counselor, "the credentials just jumped off the page."

    The president and Judge Roberts spoke in the sitting room of the White House residence for an hour on Thursday, Mr. Bartlett said, and the president asked him a number of personal questions about his upbringing in small-town Indiana. Mr. Bartlett would not say if the two talked about Judge Roberts's positions on abortion and other divisive issues before the court.

    Mr. Bush's announcement, in unusual live prime-time remarks on Tuesday night from the Cross Hall of the White House, ended one of the most bizarre and suspenseful days in the capital in recent memory. Rumors raced from Capitol Hill to television talking heads to the Internet to advocacy groups and back, and the name of the president's supposed nominee changed minute by minute. Yet the close-mouthed Bush White House kept secret until the end the most sought-after piece of information this summer.

    Nothing was ever more certain inside the Beltway than that when everyone knew it was Judge Clement it wasn't.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    2 More Women Die After Abortion Pills (GARDINER HARRIS, 7/20/05, NY Times)

    Two more California women have died after taking abortion pills, and federal drug regulators say they suspect bacterial infections as the cause. As a result, the drug's label will be changed to warn women and doctors to watch out for signs of an unusual infection that is not always accompanied by fever, the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday.

    ...a place where women die after over-the-counter abortions.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    New Law Requires Workers To Learn About Constitution: Federal Employees' Lack of Knowledge Is Lamented (Christopher Lee, July 20, 2005, Washington Post)

    Civics lessons do not get much swankier than this.

    The 160 or so federal employees who filed into the National Archives' McGowan Theater yesterday for a program on the Constitution sat in plush red chairs and heard a five-piece brass band play patriotic songs. They were given pocket-size copies of the country's most famous document, and settled in for speeches from such experts as National Archivist Allen Weinstein and Deputy White House Counsel William K. Kelley.

    Then came the featured attraction, the 87-year-old senator with the shock of white hair who moved slowly to the lectern with a cane in each hand and began quoting the Founding Fathers as though they were personal friends. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), who has made his living in the Senate for nearly 50 years and totes a tiny version of the Constitution wherever he goes, was there to sing the praises of a document that he said was second in his heart only to the Bible. [...]

    Julie Atkins, a Federal Transit Administration budget analyst and "a bit of a nerd," said the Constitution fascinates her.

    "It's amazing that our government exists today and it's built on these pages, a relatively small document with enduring ideas," said Atkins, a presidential management fellow with a PhD in political science. "I know it sounds naive and idealistic, but I guess I was naive and idealistic to work for the government in the first place."

    LaJuan Bryan-Beveridge, a new-employee coordinator at OPM, said, "Before you become a federal employee, you have to be sworn in. So you should at least know what you are swearing to."

    OPM Director Linda Springer said each agency will devise its own program to be presented on or near Sept. 17, Constitution Day. Springer had no estimates of the expense but said, "It's going to be minimal cost compared to the value that we get from it."

    Roger Pilon, vice president for legal affairs at the libertarian Cato Institute, said Byrd's requirement was laden with irony since, in Pilon's view, the government's involvement in public education and many other programs goes far beyond anything in the Constitution.

    "The idea of these federal workers taking time off to learn about the Constitution in itself isn't a bad thing," Pilon said. "But that's not what the taxpayers pay them to do. Indeed, one would like to think they already know about the Constitution before they go to work for the federal government."

    The Founders would be appalled that a permanent bureaucracy had been allowed to arise as an almost unchecked force within the republic.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Appeals judge gets nod for high court (ALLEN PUSEY, 7/20/05, The Dallas Morning News)

    In the aftermath of the disputed 2000 presidential election, Judge Roberts played a key, if quiet, role in the Florida recount.

    Although his name did not appear on the briefs, three sources who were personally aware of Judge Roberts' role said he gave Republican Gov. Jeb Bush critical advice on how the Florida Legislature could constitutionally name George W. Bush the winner at a time when Republicans feared that if the recount were to continue the courts might force a different choice.

    Meanwhile, Michael Luttig criticized, justifiably, the legal logic of Gore v. Bush.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    GOP confirmation plan awaits nominee Roberts (Geoff Earle, 7/20/05, The Hill)

    The White House and Senate Republican leaders have assembled a special leadership structure that they hope will troubleshoot potential problems and ease confirmation of President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge John G. Roberts Jr., a conservative on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

    The handful of Republicans who will fill the key positions in the confirmation fight met Thursday in Senate Majority Leader Frist’s (R-Tenn.) Capitol office, where they hashed out the roles each would play in the high-stakes process.

    In attendance was former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), whom aides and members have begun referring to as the “sherpa” — the person tasked with guiding the nominee through numerous meetings with senators, as well as through Judiciary Committee hearings.

    Also present was former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who will oversee political and communications strategy for the nominee and Judiciary Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Tenn.), who will both play pivotal roles. Frist, GOP leadership aides and White House legislative-affairs staff also were in attendance.

    July 19, 2005

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:41 PM


    Lockyer's taste in art (Daniel Weintraub, 7/19/05, Sacramento Bee)

    I was bumped from my regular gig this morning on KTKZ in Sacramento because host Eric Hogue was fuming about this painting by Steven Pearcy that is hanging in the lobby of Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer's Sacramento office.

    Pearcy is the man whose home was the site of pro-war and anti-war protests earlier this year when he and his wife hung effigy art protesting the occupation of Iraq.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:38 PM

    DEFER, DEFER,...!:

    Teachers say no-one should 'fail' School tests (BBC, 7/19/05)

    "Deferred success" should replace the idea of failure for low-achieving pupils, a teachers' organisation will hear at its annual conference.

    The Professional Association of Teachers will be told next week the label of failure could undermine children's enthusiasm for school.

    You know the old saying, "the war for England was lost on the levelled playing fields of Eton."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:34 PM


    China not capable of Taiwan attack: US report (ABC, 7/20/05)

    China's rapidly modernising military could pose a long-term threat to other regional armed forces but its ability to project conventional power beyond its borders remains limited, the Pentagon said.

    Be fun if they tried though.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 PM


    Roberts Not Overly Conservative (RON FOURNIER, July 19, 2005, The Associated Press)

    President Bush gave the right wing what it wanted, a certified conservative who could tip the Supreme Court to the right. At the same time, he robbed liberals of what they sought _ a fire-breathing ideologue who would trigger an epic fight.

    In selecting Judge John G. Roberts, Bush sought to put his conservative stamp on the high court for the next generation or so, while making it hard for Democrats to stop him. [...]

    Democrats acknowledged privately that Roberts' record does not lend itself easily to attack. There will be a fight, they predicted, but it will likely not be nuclear. Certainly, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid did not sound like a man throwing down the gauntlet when he said, "The president has chosen someone with suitable legal credentials, but that is not the end of our inquiry."

    Even the criticism of special interest groups sounded halfhearted. "John Roberts' record raises serious concerns as well as questions about where he stands on crucial legal and constitutional issues," said Ralph Neas, president of the liberal People for the American Way. He expressed disappointment in the pick, but did not call on Democrats to defeat it.

    Feel free to post your mea culpas here.

    Bush Rises to the Occasion: The Roberts pick is courageous and important. (William Kristol, 07/19/2005, Weekly Standard)

    WITH THE SUPREME COURT PICK of John Roberts, George W. Bush rose to the occasion.

    The occasion was an opportunity to reshape the Supreme Court. Bush seized the opportunity, in two ways: He moved the Court a solid step to the right (to speak vulgarly), and he elevated its quality. It's true that Roberts is a Rehnquist, not a Scalia or a Thomas. He'll be a little more incremental, a little more cautious, than some of us rabid constitutionalists will sometimes like. But he is a conservative pick, and a quality pick--and, to my surprise, a non-PC, non-quota pick.

    -Bush Picks Roberts for Supreme Court Nominee (Fox News, July 19, 2005)
    While many names had been floated as the possible Supreme Court pick, one certainty was that the nominee was going to be conservative.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the so-called "Gang of 14" senators who crafted an agreement that called for the use of a judicial filibuster only in "extraordinary circumstances," said he had met with Roberts before his nomination to the Circuit Court and he was happy to vote for him then and again now.

    "He's a well-respected lawyer, 153 lawyers in the D.C. area [were] supporting his nomination to the Court of Appeals," Graham told FOX News, referring to a letter of support Roberts won in 2003.

    Earlier in the day, Graham argued that Democrats should not be surprised by the nomination of a conservative to the bench. Graham noted that simply being conservative was "no longer an extraordinary circumstance" as defined by the "Gang of 14" agreement.

    "President Bush campaigned he would pick a solid conservative, I expect for him to live up to his promise. Our goal is to make sure a solid conservative sits on the Supreme Court that is not beholden to any special interest group," Graham said.

    Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., was called to the White House on Monday to discuss the timing of an announcement. Specter, who will lead the confirmation process in the Senate, has said he hoped Bush would select a jurist who will bring "balance" to the court. On Tuesday evening, however, Specter said Roberts had "extraordinary professional qualifications.

    "I would say professionally, it would be hard to find someone with better credentials than Judge Roberts, but you ask a question whether it's a safe nomination. I don't know that anything in Washington is safe if it's a nomination," Specter said. "Let's give the hearing process a chance and let's give Roberts a hearing. I'm just a little surprised that he's already subject to criticism, but this is America."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:07 PM


    Text of Remarks by John G. Roberts

    Text of remarks by Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. on Tuesday, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions:

    Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you.

    Thank you very much. It is both an honor and very humbling to be nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. Before I became a judge, my law practice consisted largely of arguing cases before the court. That experience left me with a profound appreciation for the role of the court in our constitutional democracy and a deep regard for the court as an institution.

    I always got a lump in my throat whenever I walked up those marble steps to argue a case before the court, and I don't think it was just from the nerves.

    I am very grateful for the confidence the president has shown in nominating me, and I look forward to the next step in the process before the United States Senate.

    It's also appropriate for me to acknowledge that I would not be standing here today if it were not for the sacrifice and help of my parents, Jack and Rosemary Roberts; my three sisters, Kathy, Peggy and Barbara; and of course my wife, Jane.

    And I also want to acknowledge my children, my daughter, Josie, my son, Jack, who remind me every day why it's so important for us to work to preserve the institutions of our democracy.

    Thank you again very much.

    Nice dig at gay marriage.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:58 PM


    Bush chooses appeals judge John Roberts Jr. for Supreme Court (Deb Riechmann, 7/19/05, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

    President Bush chose federal appeals court judge John G. Roberts Jr. on Tuesday as his first nominee for the Supreme Court, selecting a rock solid conservative whose nomination could trigger a tumultuous battle over the direction of the nation's highest court, a senior administration official said.

    Bush offered the position to Roberts in a telephone call at 12:35 p.m. after a luncheon with the visting prime minister of Australia, John Howard. He was to announce it later with a flourish in a nationally broadcast speech to the nation.

    Roberts has been on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since June 2003 after being picked for that seat by Bush.

    Advocacy groups on the right say that Roberts, a 50-year-old native of Buffalo, N.Y., who attended Harvard Law School, is a bright judge with strong conservative credentials he burnished in the administrations of former Presidents Bush and Reagan. While he has been a federal judge for just a little more than two years, legal experts say that whatever experience he lacks on the bench is offset by his many years arguing cases before the Supreme Court.

    -2 Alums May Be Tapped For Court (ADAM M. GUREN, 7/08/05, Harvard Crimson)

    Classmates from both law school and college remember Roberts as a hard working, earnest, kind, and brilliant person. Roberts, who graduated from the College with a summa cum laude degree in History in just three years, wrote his thesis on British liberalism in the early 20th Century.

    One of Roberts’ mentors, William P. LaPiana ’74, a pre-law and history tutor in Leverett House when Roberts lived there, recalls Roberts as a “hard working and happy undergraduate who loved studying history.”

    LaPiana said that what he remembered most about Roberts was his self-deprecating jokes.

    “He had gotten a wonderful grade and a glowing comment on a term paper in a course on American Intellectual History,” LaPiana said. “Afterwards, he walked into my office and said ‘I think I can get my head through the door.’”

    Since then, Roberts has easily sauntered through every door in his path.

    He went on to HLS, where he served as Managing Editor of The Harvard Law Review, a position that, as one classmate put it, “you didn’t get unless you were among the top 4 or 5 intellectually in the class.”

    Roberts’ colleagues on the Law Review spoke highly of his disposition and ability.

    Elizabeth R. Geise, who was on the Law Review with Roberts, remembered him as an “honest, forthright, decent, and fair person who was always there on time, always did his job, and was kind to everyone.”

    “He was somebody who got along with everyone, who was obviously very bright but not aggressive,” said Paul K. Rowe ’76, who is also a Crimson editor and was on the Law Review. “He had a Midwestern reserve about not showing off how smart he was.”

    Roberts, who was born in Buffalo, New York, moved from his hometown of Buffalo, New York, to Indiana after second grade.

    Rowe added that those on the Law Review always thought of Roberts as fair, especially on politically divisive issues. “There was a certain amount of left versus right, but John was someone that everyone could talk to and respected.”

    “I never thought of him as an ideologue,” Lindsay A. Connor, who was also on Law Review with Roberts, wrote in an e-mail. But Connor said that he has not seen Roberts in more than 25 years and does not know how Roberts has changed.

    Other colleagues from the Law Review, however, remembered Roberts as clearly on the conservative side of the spectrum.

    Kirkland and Ellis Professor of Law David B. Wilkins ’77 said that Roberts was “more conservative than typical Harvard Law student in the 1970s.” However, Wilkins was quick to point out that today’s political climate is very different from that of the mid-seventies, noting that “90 percent of the Harvard Law School class is more conservative than the typical Harvard Law student in the 1970s.”

    After graduating from HLS, Roberts headed inside the beltway. He clerked for William H. Rehnquist, who was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court at the time. Following his clerkship, Roberts went on to work in the offices of the Attorney General and the White House Counsel. He also served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General under Kenneth W. Starr in the first Bush Administration.

    In between stints with the government, Roberts worked at the law firm Hogan & Hartson, where he established himself as a top appellate lawyer with an impressive record—he has argued a total of 39 cases before the Supreme Court, winning 25 of them.

    Roberts’ record in Washington impressed President George W. Bush, who nominated him to the D.C. Circuit Court in January 2003—Roberts’ third nomination to the Court. (Both Bushes had nominated him once before, though those nods had stalled before Roberts could be brought for a vote.) Roberts was confirmed 4 months later.

    The confirmation process produced a wealth of glowing recommendations. He received the rating of “Well Qualified” without reservation from the American Bar Association, the highest possible mark for a jurist.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee was also sent a letter by a bipartisan group of 156 members of the D.C. Bar, all of whom urged Roberts’s swift confirmation. “He is one of the very best and most highly respected appellate lawyers in the nation, with a deserved reputation as a brilliant writer and oral advocate” the letter said. “He is also a wonderful professional colleague both because of his enormous skills and because of his unquestioned integrity and fair-mindedness.”

    Walter E. Dellinger III, who served as solicitor general under former President Bill Clinton, even told the Judiciary Committee that, “In my view . . . there is no better appellate advocate than John Roberts.”

    On the D.C. Circuit, Roberts has maintained his conservative reputation, although he has yet to weigh in on many of the divisive issues that come before the Supreme Court.

    Nevertheless, he is considered to be conservative enough for Bush. As Deputy Solicitor General, he wrote an oft-quoted brief on behalf of the administration that said that “we continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled.”

    Many in Washington speculate that Roberts may be a good choice if Bush wants to avoid a confirmation fight. The New York Times reported last week that members of both parties raised Roberts’ name in a favorable light.

    As always, the only folks surprised that the President has chosen a staunch conservative will be conservatives, who have embarrassed themselves the past few weeks fretting that he'd choose a moderate because he isn't truly one of "them."

    Bush to Announce John G. Roberts Jr. as Supreme Court Nominee (ELISABETH BUMILLER and DAVID STOUT, 7/19/05, NY Times)

    Judge Roberts, 50, once clerked for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. He has been on the Court of Appeals since May 2003. That court has often been a springboard for the Supreme Court; indeed, three current members of the high court were once on the D.C. Circuit.

    Mr. Bush had playfully deflected questions earlier in the day about whom he might choose, telling reporters as he has many times before that he would pick a jurist "who will not legislate from the bench."

    If confirmed, Judge Roberts might tilt the balance of the court rightward. Justice O'Connor, who has been on the tribunal for 24 years, was widely regarded as a swing justice between the liberal and conservative blocs.

    The nominee will now undergo a background investigation. Then his nomination will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose chairman, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, has said he wants to schedule hearings by late August or September.

    If recent history is a guide, the nominee will be questioned extensively about his views on divisive social issues, especially abortion. Republicans have a 10-to-8 advantage on the Judiciary Committee, and they have 55 seats in the Senate, so chances for confirmation would appear to be good - unless the nominee's views arouse enough opposition to inspire a Democratic filibuster. [...]

    A Republican with close ties to the administration said that Judge Clement was interviewed as a potential nominee at the White House about a month ago, when the administration was preparing for the possible retirement of Chief Justice Rehnquist. Since then, Justice O'Connor has announced that she will step down while Chief Justice Rehnquist, who has thyroid cancer, has said that he will remain on the job as long as his health permits.

    Saving the Chief's job for the women.
    -Bush to Nominate Judge John G. Roberts Jr. (Jim VandeHei, Fred Barbash and William Branigin, 7/19/05, Washington Post)
    -The Supreme Court Shortlist: The views of the likely candidates. (Emily Bazelon and David Newman, July 1, 2005, Slate)
    John Roberts

    John Roberts
    Age: 50
    Graduated from: Harvard Law School.
    He clerked for: Judge Henry Friendly, Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
    He used to be: associate counsel to the president for Ronald Reagan, deputy solicitor general for George H.W. Bush, partner at Hogan & Hartson.
    He's now: a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (appointed 2003).

    His confirmation battle: Roberts has been floated as a nominee who could win widespread support in the Senate. Not so likely. He hasn't been on the bench long enough for his judicial opinions to provide much ammunition for liberal opposition groups. But his record as a lawyer for the Reagan and first Bush administrations and in private practice is down-the-line conservative on key contested fronts, including abortion, separation of church and state, and environmental protection.

    Civil Rights and Liberties
    For a unanimous panel, denied the weak civil rights claims of a 12-year-old girl who was arrested and handcuffed in a Washington, D.C., Metro station for eating a French fry. Roberts noted that "no one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation" and that the Metro authority had changed the policy that led to her arrest. (Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 2004).

    In private practice, wrote a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that Congress had failed to justify a Department of Transportation affirmative action program. (Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta, 2001).

    For Reagan, opposed a congressional effort—in the wake of the 1980 Supreme Court decision Mobile v. Bolden—to make it easier for minorities to successfully argue that their votes had been diluted under the Voting Rights Act.

    Separation of Church and State
    For Bush I, co-authored a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that public high-school graduation programs could include religious ceremonies. The Supreme Court disagreed by a vote of 5-4. (Lee v. Weisman, 1992)

    Environmental Protection and Property Rights
    Voted for rehearing in a case about whether a developer had to take down a fence so that the arroyo toad could move freely through its habitat. Roberts argued that the panel was wrong to rule against the developer because the regulations on behalf of the toad, promulgated under the Endangered Species Act, overstepped the federal government's power to regulate interstate commerce. At the end of his opinion, Roberts suggested that rehearing would allow the court to "consider alternative grounds" for protecting the toad that are "more consistent with Supreme Court precedent." (Rancho Viejo v. Nortion, 2003)

    For Bush I, argued that environmental groups concerned about mining on public lands had not proved enough about the impact of the government's actions to give them standing to sue. The Supreme Court adopted this argument. (Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 1990)

    Criminal Law
    Joined a unanimous opinion ruling that a police officer who searched the trunk of a car without saying that he was looking for evidence of a crime (the standard for constitutionality) still conducted the search legally, because there was a reasonable basis to think contraband was in the trunk, regardless of whether the officer was thinking in those terms. (U.S. v. Brown, 2004)

    Habeas Corpus
    Joined a unanimous opinion denying the claim of a prisoner who argued that by tightening parole rules in the middle of his sentence, the government subjected him to an unconstitutional after-the-fact punishment. The panel reversed its decision after a Supreme Court ruling directly contradicted it. (Fletcher v. District of Columbia, 2004)

    For Bush I, successfully helped argue that doctors and clinics receiving federal funds may not talk to patients about abortion. (Rust v. Sullivan, 1991)

    Judicial Philosophy
    Concurring in a decision allowing President Bush to halt suits by Americans against Iraq as the country rebuilds, Roberts called for deference to the executive and for a literal reading of the relevant statute. (Acree v. Republic of Iraq, 2004)

    In an article written as a law student, argued that the phrase "just compensation" in the Fifth Amendment, which limits the government in the taking of private property, should be "informed by changing norms of justice." This sounds like a nod to liberal constitutional theory, but Rogers' alternative interpretation was more protective of property interests than Supreme Court law at the time.

    -Pair may top list of potential nominees (Charles Lane and Jerry Markon, 7/17/05, WASHINGTON POST)
    John Roberts Jr. and J. Michael Luttig have both marched up through the Republican ranks, from Supreme Court clerkships to White House jobs to the federal bench.

    Now the two Washington-area judges -- Roberts sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; Luttig is a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Virginia -- have emerged on President Bush's short list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court, according to lawyers familiar with the deliberations.

    Conservative activists in the Republican base view both as far more acceptable than Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who has become a top contender for the court, and have begun to promote the pair.

    But even though both judges are conservative -- and close friends -- they present a distinctly different choice in style and temperament that could influence their selection and say a great deal about how Bush wants to shape the court.

    In his years as a lawyer, Roberts, 50, proved himself an affable and measured member of the Washington legal establishment.

    But his short tenure on the bench has meant fewer written opinions that can be parsed for his philosophy.

    Luttig, 51, is edgier, painting his ideas in bold intellectual strokes.

    He has left a long paper trail that liberal critics will try to mine to fight his appointment.

    The difference between the two men is a bit like the difference between the two conservative justices they served -- the easygoing William Rehnquist, for whom Roberts clerked in 1980 before Rehnquist became chief justice, and the combative Antonin Scalia, for whom Luttig clerked on the D.C. Circuit in 1982, and who is still a close friend.

    "Roberts is known as a much more judicious person. ... Luttig would get certain people really jazzed up," said a former administration official who, like other lawyers contacted for this article, declined to be named for fear of appearing to take sides.

    "For conservatives, Luttig is more exciting -- because he is more excitable."

    -Court allows terrorism tribunals: Appeals panel endorses Bush's broad powers to decide how detainees should be tried (R. JEFFREY SMITH, 7/16/05, Washington Post)
    A federal appeals court on Friday backed the Bush administration's plan to let special panels of military officers conduct trials of terrorism suspects detained at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, overturning a lower-court decision that has blocked the "military commissions" for the past eight months.

    The decision clears the way for the Defense Department to use the commissions to try some of the hundreds of detainees in Guantanamo Bay. It was hailed by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as affirming President Bush's "critical authority" to determine how to try detainees deemed "enemy combatants" in the war on terrorism.

    The ruling was an important test of the government's strategy of denying such detainees access not only to civilian courts but to the more formal proceedings of military courts-martial, in which they would enjoy additional rights and legal protections. One of the judges on the deciding panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, John Roberts, is said to be on the administration's list of possible nominees to the Supreme Court.

    Court choices unpredictable (Jan Crawford Greenburg, July 11, 2005, Chicago Tribune)
    At John Roberts' confirmation hearing for a federal judgeship two years ago, Sen. Dick Durbin confronted him with a statement Roberts had made about the Supreme Court under Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

    "Many people had characterized it as a very conservative court," Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, told Roberts. "But you said, `I don't know how you can call the Rehnquist court conservative.'"

    "What," Durbin asked Roberts, who is now a leading candidate to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, "were you talking about?"

    Roberts ticked off a list of recent cases: The Rehnquist court had reaffirmed Miranda, the landmark decision on reading defendants their rights. It had reinforced Roe vs. Wade, which said a woman had a constitutional right to an abortion. It had strengthened bans on school prayer and upheld limits on campaign contributions. It had given criminal defendants greater constitutional rights in their sentencing.

    "It's much more complicated than those labels," Roberts said.

    -D.C. Circuit Judge Gets on Supreme Court Short List (Tony Mauro, 02-22-2005, Legal Times)
    John Roberts Jr., the newest judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, was hanging back.

    During a typical oral argument last week, colleague Harry Edwards fussed and fumed at the lawyers before him, while David Sentelle tossed out avuncular one-liners in his thick Southern drawl.

    But Roberts, the third judge on the panel, was quiet. When he did speak finally, he was barely audible, politely asking a question or two, but never tipping his hand. To anyone watching for the first time, Roberts barely made an impression.

    Suddenly, though, a lot of people are talking about this quiet judge, who just turned 50. The fickle spotlight on possible nominees to the Supreme Court if Chief Justice William Rehnquist departs has swung toward Roberts, and seems to be lingering.

    In spite of Roberts' quiet manner, his credentials -- former Rehnquist law clerk, deputy solicitor general, top-flight practitioner at Hogan & Hartson and, in the estimation of some, the finest oral advocate before the high court in the last decade -- are speaking for him and winning fans. Add to that a brief 20-month tenure on the court that provides few targets for Democrats, and Roberts is emerging as a top candidate for the high court.

    "He is well in the running, and he is superb," says C. Boyden Gray, partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and chairman of the Committee for Justice, which fights for President George W. Bush's judicial nominees.

    "He's a great judge here, but I think we're going to lose him" to the Supreme Court, says a fellow D.C. Circuit judge who asked not to be named.

    -John G. Roberts Jr. (Wikipedia)
    -John Roberts (Independent Judiciary)
    Reproductive Rights. s a Deputy Solicitor General, Mr. Roberts co-wrote a Supreme Court brief in Rust v. Sullivan,1 for the first Bush administration, which argued that the government could prohibit doctors in federally-funded family planning programs from discussing abortions with their patients. The brief not only argued that the regulations were constitutional, notwithstanding the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, but it also made the broader argument that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided - an argument unnecessary to defend the regulation. The Supreme Court sided with the government on the narrower grounds that the regulation was constitutional.

    Environmental Issues. As a student, Mr. Roberts wrote two law review articles arguing for an expansive reading of the Contracts and Takings clauses of the Constitution, taking positions that would restrict Congress' ability to protect the environment. As a member of the Solicitor General's office, Mr. Roberts was the lead counsel for the United States in the Supreme Court case Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, in which the government argued that private citizens could not sue the federal government for violations of environmental regulations.

    As a lawyer in private practice, Mr. Roberts has also represented large corporate interests opposing environmental controls. He submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the National Mining Association in the recent case Bragg v. West Virginia Coal Association. 3 In this case, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit reversed a district court ruling that had stopped the practice of "mountaintop removal" in the state of West Virginia. Citizens of West Virginia who were adversely affected by the practice had sued the state, claiming damage to both their homes and the surrounding area generally. Three Republican appointees - Judges Niemeyer, Luttig, and Williams - held that West Virginia's issuance of permits to mining companies to extract coal by blasting the tops off of mountains and depositing the debris in nearby valleys and streams did not violate the 1977 Federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act.4 This decision was greeted with great dismay by environmental groups. In another case, Roberts represented one of several intervenors in a case challenging the EPAÂ’s promulgation of rules to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions.5

    Civil Rights. After a Supreme Court decision effectively nullified certain sections of the Voting Rights Act, Roberts was involved in the Reagan administration's effort to prevent Congress from overturning the Supreme Court's action.6 The Supreme Court had recently decided that certain sections of the Voting Rights Act could only be violated by intentional discrimination and not by laws that had a discriminatory effect, despite a lack of textual basis for this interpretation in the statute. Roberts was part of the effort to legitimize that decision and to stop Congress from overturning it.

    Religion in Schools. While working with the Solicitor General's office, Mr. Roberts co-wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the Bush administration, in which he argued that public high schools can include religious ceremonies in their graduation programs, a view the Supreme Court rejected.7

    Pro Bono. Mr. Roberts has engaged in significant pro bono work while at Hogan and Hartson, including representation of indigent clients and criminal defendants.

    Other Information. Mr. Roberts is a member of two prominent, right-wing legal groups that promote a pro-corporate, anti-regulatory agenda: the Federalist Society and the National Legal Center For The Public Interest, serving on the latter group's Legal Advisory Council.

    Confirmed Judges Confirm Our Worst Fears (People for the American Way)
    In the short time since he was confirmed by the Senate in May 2003, Judge Roberts has issued troubling dissents from decisions by the full D.C. Circuit not to reconsider two important rulings. These included a decision upholding the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act as applied in a California case and a ruling against Bush Administration efforts to keep secret the records concerning Vice President Cheney's energy task force.

    -100-0 Nominees? (Orin Kerr, 5/24/05, Volokh Conspiracy)
    -The Front-Runners on Roe: What Bush's shortlist thinks about abortion. (Emily Bazelon, July 5, 2005, Slate)
    Democrats and Republicans are already clashing over what senators should be allowed to ask Bush's Supreme Court nominee about. "All questions are legitimate," Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, a Democratic member of the judiciary committee, told the New York Times. "They are going to try to get away with the idea that we're not going to know their views. But that's not going to work this time." Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who also sits on the judiciary committee, responded, "You cannot ask a judge to prejudge a specific matter."

    But the Democrats won't have to prod to find out the views of most of Bush's short-listed candidates on sharply contested areas of law. On abortion, affirmative action, separation of church and state, and the president's authority to detain terrorist suspects indefinitely—all areas in which Justice Sandra Day O'Connor cast a crucial vote for the liberal position in the past several years—many of the short-listers have expressed themselves forcefully. Here's a rundown of what we already know about what they think, beginning with abortion and moving on to other issues later this week. [...]

    The hard-liners: In 1991, as deputy solicitor general for President George H.W. Bush, John Roberts (now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit) co-wrote the administration's brief in Rust v. Sullivan. Roberts' position, which was adopted by the Supreme Court, barred doctors and clinics receiving federal funds from discussing the possibility of abortion with their patients or referring them to family-planning clinics that do the procedure. The brief said on behalf of the administration, "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." Roberts could try to distance himself from this stance by arguing that he was merely stating his client's position, but the stark language in the brief could be hard to disown.

    If President Bush is looking for a potential Supreme Court nominee with conservative credentials who would inspire a minimum of fuss at a confirmation hearing, he may turn to Judge John Roberts Jr., say fans of the Buffalo native, who sits on the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

    “Almost alone among the serious candidates, Judge Roberts combines youth, intellect, temperament, judicial philosophy, and confirmability,” said a former associate White House counsel,Bradford Berenson, who worked on judicial selection under President Bush.“He is young, he’s bright,he’s conservative,he’s well respected across the ideological spectrum, and he’s unlikely to run into effective opposition if he were nominated.”

    But liberal critics say not so fast — a pre-eminent Supreme Court litigator before ascending to the bench, Judge Roberts argued for overturning the landmark abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade while he was deputy solicitor general in the Reagan administration.

    A potential battle over his nomination could come down to the question of whether a lawyer should be held responsible for the arguments he makes on behalf of a client.

    -Roberts: Low-key lawyer (Nancy Benac, July 20, 2005, Associated Press)
    Roberts' nomination to the appellate bench attracted support from both ends of the ideological spectrum. Some 146 members of the D.C. Bar signed a letter urging his confirmation, including Clinton administration officials.

    The letter said: "He is one of the very best and most highly respected appellate lawyers in the nation, with a deserved reputation as a brilliant writer and oral advocate. He is also a wonderful professional colleague both because of his enormous skills and because of his unquestioned integrity and fair-mindedness.

    Roberts was associate counsel to President Reagan from 1982-86 and then served in the first Bush administration arguing cases before the Supreme Court from 1989-93. The Harvard graduate — undergraduate and law school — clerked for William H. Rehnquist when he was an associate justice on the high court.

    At his appellate confirmation hearing in 2003, Roberts sought to reassure senators that he would be guided by legal precedents, not his personal views on issues, saying, "My own personal views would not be relevant.''

    He pointed to his record in litigating cases.

    "My practice has not been ideological in any sense,'' he said. "My clients and their positions are liberal and conservative across the board. I have argued in favor of environmental restrictions and against takings claims. I've argued in favor of affirmative action. I've argued in favor of prisoners' rights under the Eighth Amendment. I've argued in favor of antitrust enforcement.

    "At the same time, I've represented defendants charged with antitrust cases. I've argued cases against affirmative action. And what I've been able to do in each of those cases is set aside any personal views and discharge the professional obligation of an advocate.'' Roberts said.

    Roberts also has made the case that some problems simply should be left to the states. In a 1999 radio interview, he said, "We have gotten to the point these days where we think the only way we can show we're serious about a problem is if we pass a federal law, whether it is the Violence Against Women Act or anything else. The fact of the matter is conditions are different in different states, and state laws can be more relevant.''

    In one case he handled before the D.C. Court of Appeals, he represented a group of welfare recipients whose benefits had been terminated. He successfully argued that each was entitled to an individual hearing before benefits were cut off. He argued the case on a pro bono basis.

    Roberts Has Solid Conservative Credentials (GINA HOLLAND, July 19, 2005, The Associated Press)
    John G. Roberts has solid conservative credentials and a lengthy background as a government lawyer and a private attorney whose clients ranged from big companies to welfare recipients.

    But his record as a judge is short and relatively nondescript. Roberts, 50, has been on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit only since June 2003, where he has shown a penchant for backing the Bush administration.

    If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Roberts would immediately be put to the test with four death penalty cases, a challenge to an abortion law, an assisted suicide case, and an appeal that touches on gay rights. All will be argued in the term that begins Oct. 3.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:20 PM


    Hugh Hewitt (7/19/05)

    I'll be broadcasting a special three hour additional show tonight, which will be live after the president's announcement. It will be carried on many of the stations that carry me live and on all of the stations on which I am ordinarily on at that time (9 to midnight EST) tape-delayed. If you would like to listen online, try the "Listen Live" link at KSKY in Dallas or the "Listen Live" link at WIND in Chicago. Guests will include K-Lo from NationalReview and Terry Eastland from the Weekly Standard, and law profs John Eastman, Erwin Chemerinsky, Jonathan Adler, and Glenn Reynolds.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:04 PM


    Defector leaves for US (Jonathan Porter and Simon Kearney, 20jul05, The Australian)

    RENEGADE former Chinese consulate staffer Chen Yonglin has taken advantage of his new status as a protected defector to leave Australia at the first opportunity.

    Mr Chen boarded a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles yesterday, saying he was headed to Washington.

    "I am going to a US Congress hearing to testify about Falun Gong and continuing human rights abuses in China," he said. "My major job is to disclose the nature of the Chinese Communist Party and what is happening about the facts of Chinese policy to the Falun Gong." When he first asked for political asylum, Mr Chen said he feared for his family and told of a businessman who had his son kidnapped by Chinese agents in Sydney. But yesterday he travelled alone.

    "I'm going to America."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:59 PM


    The Frivolity of Evil (Theodore Dalrymple, Autumn 2004, City Journal)

    My work has caused me to become perhaps unhealthily preoccupied with the problem of evil. Why do people commit evil? What conditions allow it to flourish? How is it best prevented and, when necessary, suppressed? Each time I listen to a patient recounting the cruelty to which he or she has been subjected, or has committed (and I have listened to several such patients every day for 14 years), these questions revolve endlessly in my mind.

    No doubt my previous experiences fostered my preoccupation with this problem. My mother was a refugee from Nazi Germany, and though she spoke very little of her life before she came to Britain, the mere fact that there was much of which she did not speak gave evil a ghostly presence in our household.

    Later, I spent several years touring the world, often in places where atrocity had recently been, or still was being, committed. In Central America, I witnessed civil war fought between guerrilla groups intent on imposing totalitarian tyranny on their societies, opposed by armies that didn't scruple to resort to massacre. In Equatorial Guinea, the current dictator was the nephew and henchman of the last dictator, who had killed or driven into exile a third of the population, executing every last person who wore glasses or possessed a page of printed matter for being a disaffected or potentially disaffected intellectual. In Liberia, I visited a church in which more than 600 people had taken refuge and been slaughtered, possibly by the president himself (soon to be videotaped being tortured to death). The outlines of the bodies were still visible on the dried blood on the floor, and the long mound of the mass grave began only a few yards from the entrance. In North Korea I saw the acme of tyranny, millions of people in terrorized, abject obeisance to a personality cult whose object, the Great Leader Kim Il Sung, made the Sun King look like the personification of modesty.

    Still, all these were political evils, which my own country had entirely escaped. I optimistically supposed that, in the absence of the worst political deformations, widespread evil was impossible. I soon discovered my error. Of course, nothing that I was to see in a British slum approached the scale or depth of what I had witnessed elsewhere. Beating a woman from motives of jealousy, locking her in a closet, breaking her arms deliberately, terrible though it may be, is not the same, by a long way, as mass murder. More than enough of the constitutional, traditional, institutional, and social restraints on large-scale political evil still existed in Britain to prevent anything like what I had witnessed elsewhere.

    Yet the scale of a man's evil is not entirely to be measured by its practical consequences. Men commit evil within the scope available to them. Some evil geniuses, of course, devote their lives to increasing that scope as widely as possible, but no such character has yet arisen in Britain, and most evildoers merely make the most of their opportunities. They do what they can get away with.

    In any case, the extent of the evil that I found, though far more modest than the disasters of modern history, is nonetheless impressive. From the vantage point of one six-bedded hospital ward, I have met at least 5,000 perpetrators of the kind of violence I have just described and 5,000 victims of it: nearly 1 percent of the population of my city—or a higher percentage, if one considers the age-specificity of the behavior. And when you take the life histories of these people, as I have, you soon realize that their existence is as saturated with arbitrary violence as that of the inhabitants of many a dictatorship. Instead of one dictator, though, there are thousands, each the absolute ruler of his own little sphere, his power circumscribed by the proximity of another such as he.

    Violent conflict, not confined to the home and hearth, spills out onto the streets. Moreover, I discovered that British cities such as my own even had torture chambers: run not by the government, as in dictatorships, but by those representatives of slum enterprise, the drug dealers. Young men and women in debt to drug dealers are kidnapped, taken to the torture chambers, tied to beds, and beaten or whipped. Of compunction there is none—only a residual fear of the consequences of going too far.

    Perhaps the most alarming feature of this low-level but endemic evil, the one that brings it close to the conception of original sin, is that it is unforced and spontaneous. No one requires people to commit it. In the worst dictatorships, some of the evil ordinary men and women do they do out of fear of not committing it. There, goodness requires heroism. In the Soviet Union in the 1930s, for example, a man who failed to report a political joke to the authorities was himself guilty of an offense that could lead to deportation or death. But in modern Britain, no such conditions exist: the government does not require citizens to behave as I have described and punish them if they do not. The evil is freely chosen.

    Not that the government is blameless in the matter—far from it. Intellectuals propounded the idea that man should be freed from the shackles of social convention and self-control, and the government, without any demand from below, enacted laws that promoted unrestrained behavior and created a welfare system that protected people from some of its economic consequences. When the barriers to evil are brought down, it flourishes; and never again will I be tempted to believe in the fundamental goodness of man, or that evil is something exceptional or alien to human nature.

    Of course, my personal experience is just that—personal experience. Admittedly, I have looked out at the social world of my city and my country from a peculiar and possibly unrepresentative vantage point, from a prison and from a hospital ward where practically all the patients have tried to kill themselves, or at least made suicidal gestures. But it is not small or slight personal experience, and each of my thousands, even scores of thousands, of cases has given me a window into the world in which that person lives.

    And when my mother asks me whether I am not in danger of letting my personal experience embitter me or cause me to look at the world through bile-colored spectacles, I ask her why she thinks that she, in common with all old people in Britain today, feels the need to be indoors by sundown or face the consequences, and why this should be the case in a country that within living memory was law-abiding and safe? Did she not herself tell me that, as a young woman during the blackouts in the Blitz, she felt perfectly safe, at least from the depredations of her fellow citizens, walking home in the pitch dark, and that it never occurred to her that she might be the victim of a crime, whereas nowadays she has only to put her nose out of her door at dusk for her to think of nothing else? Is it not true that her purse has been stolen twice in the last two years, in broad daylight, and is it not true that statistics—however manipulated by governments to put the best possible gloss upon them—bear out the accuracy of the conclusions that I have drawn from my personal experience? In 1921, the year of my mother's birth, there was one crime recorded for every 370 inhabitants of England and Wales; 80 years later, it was one for every ten inhabitants. There has been a 12-fold increase since 1941 and an even greater increase in crimes of violence. So while personal experience is hardly a complete guide to social reality, the historical data certainly back up my impressions.

    A single case can be illuminating, especially when it is statistically banal—in other words, not at all exceptional. Yesterday, for example, a 21-year-old woman consulted me, claiming to be depressed. She had swallowed an overdose of her antidepressants and then called an ambulance.

    There is something to be said here about the word "depression," which has almost entirely eliminated the word and even the concept of unhappiness from modern life. Of the thousands of patients I have seen, only two or three have ever claimed to be unhappy: all the rest have said that they were depressed. This semantic shift is deeply significant, for it implies that dissatisfaction with life is itself pathological, a medical condition, which it is the responsibility of the doctor to alleviate by medical means. Everyone has a right to health; depression is unhealthy; therefore everyone has a right to be happy (the opposite of being depressed). This idea in turn implies that one's state of mind, or one's mood, is or should be independent of the way that one lives one's life, a belief that must deprive human existence of all meaning, radically disconnecting reward from conduct.

    A ridiculous pas de deux between doctor and patient ensues: the patient pretends to be ill, and the doctor pretends to cure him. In the process, the patient is willfully blinded to the conduct that inevitably causes his misery in the first place. I have therefore come to see that one of the most important tasks of the doctor today is the disavowal of his own power and responsibility. The patient's notion that he is ill stands in the way of his understanding of the situation, without which moral change cannot take place. The doctor who pretends to treat is an obstacle to this change, blinding rather than enlightening. [...]

    [I]f the welfare state is a necessary condition for the spread of evil, it is not sufficient. After all, the British welfare state is neither the most extensive nor the most generous in the world, and yet our rates of social pathology—public drunkenness, drug-taking, teenage pregnancy, venereal disease, hooliganism, criminality—are the highest in the world. Something more was necessary to produce this result.

    Here we enter the realm of culture and ideas. For it is necessary not only to believe that it is economically feasible to behave in the irresponsible and egotistical fashion that I have described, but also to believe that it is morally permissible to do so. And this idea has been peddled by the intellectual elite in Britain for many years, more assiduously than anywhere else, to the extent that it is now taken for granted. There has been a long march not only through the institutions but through the minds of the young. When young people want to praise themselves, they describe themselves as "nonjudgmental." For them, the highest form of morality is amorality.

    There has been an unholy alliance between those on the Left, who believe that man is endowed with rights but no duties, and libertarians on the Right, who believe that consumer choice is the answer to all social questions, an idea eagerly adopted by the Left in precisely those areas where it does not apply. Thus people have a right to bring forth children any way they like, and the children, of course, have the right not to be deprived of anything, at least anything material. How men and women associate and have children is merely a matter of consumer choice, of no more moral consequence than the choice between dark and milk chocolate, and the state must not discriminate among different forms of association and child rearing, even if such non-discrimination has the same effect as British and French neutrality during the Spanish Civil War.

    The consequences to the children and to society do not enter into the matter: for in any case it is the function of the state to ameliorate by redistributive taxation the material effects of individual irresponsibility, and to ameliorate the emotional, educational, and spiritual effects by an army of social workers, psychologists, educators, counselors, and the like, who have themselves come to form a powerful vested interest of dependence on the government.

    So while my patients know in their hearts that what they are doing is wrong, and worse than wrong, they are encouraged nevertheless to do it by the strong belief that they have the right to do it, because everything is merely a matter of choice. Almost no one in Britain ever publicly challenges this belief. Nor has any politician the courage to demand a withdrawal of the public subsidy that allows the intensifying evil I have seen over the past 14 years—violence, rape, intimidation, cruelty, drug addiction, neglect—to flourish so exuberantly. With 40 percent of children in Britain born out of wedlock, and the proportion still rising, and with divorce the norm rather than the exception, there soon will be no electoral constituency for reversal. It is already deemed to be electoral suicide to advocate it by those who, in their hearts, know that such a reversal is necessary.

    I am not sure they are right. They lack courage. My only cause for optimism during the past 14 years has been the fact that my patients, with a few exceptions, can be brought to see the truth of what I say: that they are not depressed; they are unhappy—and they are unhappy because they have chosen to live in a way that they ought not to live, and in which it is impossible to be happy. Without exception, they say that they would not want their children to live as they have lived. But the social, economic, and ideological pressures—and, above all, the parental example—make it likely that their children's choices will be as bad as theirs.

    Ultimately, the moral cowardice of the intellectual and political elites is responsible for the continuing social disaster that has overtaken Britain, a disaster whose full social and economic consequences have yet to be seen.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:01 PM

    OLD SCORES (via Mike Daley):

    The Fitzgerald-Miller Grudge Match (Laura Rozen, July 19th, 2005, Village Voice)

    Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, the guy who sent New York Times reporter Judith Miller to jail this month, squared off against her in another case involving Miller's administration sources. The issue: Fitzgerald, as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, was asked to investigate who told Miller, back in the fall of 2001, that the Bush administration was about to put a Chicago-area Muslim charity on a U.S. government list of designated terrorist groups. Miller, who had been reporting on the charity's alleged ties to terrorist figures for more than two years, got the tip, and shortly thereafter her Times colleague Philip Shenon reportedly called the Global Relief Foundation, and in asking for comment, alerted its officials that the group's assets were about to be frozen.

    Some U.S. counter-terrorism officials and the 9-11 Commission find reason to believe the charity destroyed documents overnight in advance of an FBI raid (a charge Global Relief's lawyer has denied in the press). "I think there are people in the government who are concerned about her [Miller's] behavior in that case," a former U.S. government counter-terrorism official told the Voice, on condition of anonymity.

    Asked to investigate the leak, Fitzgerald convened a grand jury and sought Miller and Shenon's phone records. On February 24, a federal judge sided with the Times against the Justice Department in the case (NYT v. Ashcroft), ruling that the newspaper has a First Amendment privilege to shield its confidential sources by blocking government access to phone records. The government has appealed the decision.

    Times attorney Floyd Abrams tells the Voice the paper won the Global Relief matter using the same arguments it lost with in the Plame case. [...]

    Does Abrams think Fitzgerald is nursing a grudge against Miller based on the Global Relief case? Abrams hesitates.

    Man, if she loses that appeal she may never get out.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:49 PM


    'Bush most India-friendly US President' (Palash Kumar, 19 July , 2005, AFP)

    Washington's decision to reopen access for India to civil nuclear technology is another example of the Bush administration's engagement of the South Asian nation as a counterweight to China, Indian analysts said on Tuesday.

    "People have it in their minds that in Asia it should not be a wholly China-dominated scene," former Indian foreign secretary Salman Haider told AFP.

    "Japan has become more assertive and we are seen as a potential counter balance. Whether it should take the form of rivalry with China, that's a separate question. I think the United States would like to bring us into play (vis-a-vis China)." [...]

    "I think this agreement to reopen civil nuclear technology is perhaps the most significant aspect of what transpired in Washington," said former Indian ambassador to Pakistan G. Parthasarthy.

    "The United States was claiming that it wanted India to be a partner and yet had imposed sanctions on India on nuclear space and hi-technology transfers that were far more stringent than on China.

    "So any kind of partnership was meaningless unless these were removed. It's the first step in that direction... Full credit to President Bush. He is the friendliest president India has had in the White House."

    Parthasarthy said the developments should be viewed in the context of "the emerging Asian balance of power (in which) the United States sees India as a partner".

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:45 PM


    Lt. Governor Win Rockefeller Pulls Out Of Race (KTHV, 7/19/05)

    Lt. Governor Win Rockefeller has a blood disorder and is ending his race for governor.

    The 56-year-old Rockefeller says he was diagnosed in April and that the blood condition, called Myeloproliferative Disorder, could develop into leukemia. [...]

    Former congressman and Homeland Security undersecretary Asa Hutchinson says he is saddened by news of Lt. Governor Win Rockefeller's illness. Hutchinson and Rockefeller were to face off in the 2006 Republican primary for governor.

    Hutchinson said after Rockefeller's announcement that he was "totally shocked and surprised" when Rockefeller called him shortly before this afternoon's announcement.

    Hutchinson says he and his wife Susan will keep Rockefeller and his family in their prayers. Attorney General Mike Beebe, a Democrat running for governor, also sent his prayers to Rockefeller and his family.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:42 PM


    Bush Aims to Expand System of Merit Pay: Unions Criticize Plan Based on DHS Model (Christopher Lee, July 19, 2005, Washington Post)

    The administration wants to abolish the General Schedule pay system by 2010 and require that at least part of every pay raise for the government's 1.8 million civilian employees hinge on an annual performance evaluation, President Bush's top management guru said yesterday.

    Clay Johnson III, a deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, laid out a proposal to expand government-wide the kind of pay-for-performance systems being implemented at the departments of Defense and Homeland Security as part of the recent restructuring of civil service rules at those agencies.

    "The federal government, as a rule, is pretty bad about managing people," Johnson said yesterday in a meeting with Washington Post reporters and editors. "We tend to treat people and manage our people as if they are bureaucrats. 'They are all the same, let's treat them all the same.' The goal is to treat them, and to think of them, as professional public servants, not as bureaucrats. . . . Until we can tie some small portion of pay to it, it will never happen."

    The administration's draft bill, which it is circulating on Capitol Hill, was criticized by federal employee unions. They have complained that the changes at DHS and Defense undermine employee rights and strengthen the hand of political appointees.

    The proposal "is meant to erode federal pay and future retirement security for middle-class federal workers over time," said Brian DeWyngaert, chief of staff to John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees.

    The unions get it, if not conservatives.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:24 PM


    Bush to Name Supreme Court Nominee Tonight (James Gerstenzang, July 19, 2005, LA Times)

    President Bush tonight is expected to name his pick to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court.

    White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush will name his choice at 9 p.m. EDT.

    McClellan did not name the successor, but there has been intense speculation that the president would name a woman to replace O'Connor, the first woman on the high court.

    Among the candidates most often mentioned is Judge Edith Clement of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

    Folks are playing the Clement notion hard, which, given this White House's past performance, would suggest it's not her.

    Bush to Introduce Court Nominee Tonight (DEB RIECHMANN, 7/19/05, Associated Press)

    Though Washington was abuzz with speculation about Clement, the president ignored a question about what he thought of her.

    "I guess the best way to say it is, I'll let you know when I'm ready to tell you who it is," the president said. He jokingly acknowledged that he was trying to dodge the question.

    "I'm comfortable with where we are in the process," the president said. He said he has considered a variety of people from different walks of life, some of whom he knew before and some he had never met.

    "I do have an obligation to think about people from different backgrounds that have shared the same philosophy, people who will not legislate from the bench," Bush said. He spoke at a press conference with visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

    At Clement's office in New Orleans, a man who identified himself as a law clerk said the judge was not available. "That's what I've been instructed to say," he told a caller who asked if she were in Washington.

    In anticipation of a selection, officials said the White House had contacted selected Republican senators they hoped would serve as advocates for the nominee in media interviews in the initial time following an announcement. Democrats scoured the rulings and writings of leading contenders, including Clement, a 57-year-old jurist who was confirmed on a 99-0 vote by the Senate when she was elevated to the appeals court in 2001.

    Theodore Olson and Edith Jones: As Washington convulses over Senate approval of judicial nominations, we talk law and judges with two of America's top legal figures: federal judge Edith Jones, and former solicitor general Theodore Olson. (The American Enterprise)
    TAE: Moral values are important to you. What do you think is the best way to teach them to children?

    JONES: I think religion is the best way. If you are responsible to God, no matter what religion you are in, you learn moral standards that transcend the dictates of the law. You show your kids fundamentally what is right or wrong.

    TAE: Should tort reform help curb frivolous lawsuits?

    JONES: I think that is a very important goal. There was a recent $900 judgment against two teenagers in a Colorado suburb who baked cookies and dropped them off on the doorsteps of their neighbors at night out of sheer kindness. One of the neighbors claimed she got so frightened that there were intruders at her door that she had to go to the hospital the next day. And she sued these girls. Now, if that's not a sign of a system in distress, I don't know what is.

    TAE: What are your thoughts on today's process for confirming federal judges?

    JONES: It has deteriorated into trench warfare. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason in the strategy used by Democrats to oppose Republican nominees. The process has become absurdly destructive of people's character, and destructive of the public's view of the judiciary. Every time I think it can't get any worse, it does. The process is so contentious and unpleasant now that a lot of very fine people are discouraged from even attempting to apply. I believe that is part of the strategy of the opposition at this point.

    Nominees are accused very unfairly of things that they didn't do. For someone like Judge Pickering to be called a racist is a vile lie. For someone like Judge Pryor to be attacked on the basis that he is a Catholic and therefore cannot judge cases fairly strikes at the heart of the notion of religious tolerance in our society. And the character assassination of Priscilla Owen reached unconscionable bounds.

    TAE: What is the solution?

    JONES: I do not see a real solution in the short term. The ultimate reason why the process is broken, in my view, is because the judiciary has gotten itself too enmeshed in making political judgments. Therefore the confirmation process, as Justice Scalia has pointed out, has become very similar to a political campaign. Until the judiciary rights its approach--until judges go back to interpreting law rather than making law and moral standards--I don't see the process becoming significantly less abrasive.

    TAE: What is the best way for a judge to handle cases, following your rule?

    JONES: I would start with the statement from "The Federalist Papers" that the judiciary is intended to be the least dangerous branch. My friend Professor Gary MacDowell points out that there aren't even any qualifications for judges in the Constitution. Moreover, the amount of debate the Constitutional Convention devoted to the subject of the judiciary was extremely limited. So it is highly odd that the judiciary should end up being the final policy maker in the federal government.

    One has to start from the premise that we are a self-governing people, in our republican system, and that the judiciary are supposed to put a brake on the governors by insisting that laws be fairly interpreted. That sets a much more narrow compass for the judiciary than many activists would like. Many judicial activists want judges to enact positive policies to transform society, and basically to order people to do what they think ought to be done. I abhor that view.

    TAE: You have stated that the values imposed by the Supreme Court have contributed to the decay of our society. Could you give us some examples?

    JONES: The philosophical underpinnings of our government are the contract theory which says that we are a self-governing people, and the historical view that in order to be properly self-governing we must have a moral foundation. The Supreme Court's porno-graphy cases, the cases involving free speech that included those where people were allowed to spout the "F" word in public venues, the criminal procedure decisions which allowed many, many guilty people to go free because of rights that justices discovered in the Constitution for the first time in its two centuries of existence are examples of the overstepping of bounds. In several notable areas the Supreme Court has been operating on fatally flawed philosophical premises not well tested in actual society.

    TAE: You recently authored an opinion in the McCorvey v. Hill case that got a fair amount of attention. This is the case that attempted and failed to reopen the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling. Your opinion highlighted the tension between the Supreme Court's ruling and modern scientific knowledge about what happens to babies and to women during abortion.

    JONES: I was trying to point out that by Constitutionalizing the right to abortion, the Supreme Court had removed from the ordinary political processes any debate in which facts about prenatal advances, or health effects on women, could be heard and taken into account. In fact, the Court's exceptionally broad ruling removed fact-finding processes even from the Court's own debates. Facts, I concluded, no longer matter to the Supreme Court in certain cases.

    Posted by David Cohen at 11:01 AM


    Clinton speaks before Hispanic civil rights conference (McCall.com, 7/18/05)

    Speaking to the nations' largest Hispanic civil rights organization, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., received a standing ovation Monday when she vowed her support for legislation that would allow illegal immigrant high school students to attend college.
    So much for Hillary running to the right on illegal immigration.

    The problem is that the underlying policy is exactly right. She must know that if she makes this a campaign issue her opponents will oppose it as they run to her right. She is risking real harm to the country for short-term political gain, which I suppose may as well be the Clinton's political motto.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:12 AM


    N. Korea defector seeks help from Bush (Bill Gertz, July 19, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

    A North Korean defector who survived 10 years in a prison labor camp said he told President Bush last month that the United States should do more to help those who flee the communist regime.

    "The people who are at the camps, the [North Korean] government wants to kill them all," Kang Chol-hwan said in an interview with The Washington Times. "Instead of executing them, they kill them slowly, making them work in forced labor. That was the hardest part."

    Mr. Kang, 37, said prisoners are fed very small portions of corn and salt that make it "impossible to survive" without additional food. As a result, prisoners survive by eating cooked rats and snakes, and live lizards, he said. [...]

    Mr. Kang said about 200,000 North Koreans are in the prison labor camp system throughout the country. All in the camps are malnourished, and unless their will is strong, they eventually die, he said.

    Mr. Kang said he agreed to meet the president after a White House National Security Council official told him that Mr. Bush had read his book and became interested in the human rights problem there.

    The book, "The Aquariums of Pyongyang," is an account of Mr. Kang's 10-year prison work camp experience from age 10 to 20. He disclosed in detail the systematic torture, beatings, public executions and starvation in his camp.

    Mr. Kang said he never expected to meet Mr. Bush, but on June 13, he spent 40 minutes in the Oval Office discussing North Korea and human rights and other issues.

    "I was nervous about meeting the most powerful leader in the world, but when I met him, President Bush was very casual and helped me relax. I had a great time," said Mr. Kang, who is visiting the United States this week to take part in a conference on human rights.

    Mr. Kang said he and the president discussed ways the United States could help provide assistance to North Korea without having to go through channels controlled by Mr. Kim.

    Foreign assistance sent to the country is used by "elites" to keep the regime in power while most of the population is starving, he said.

    "I suggested that the problem of North Korean defectors is a very urgent matter," Mr. Kang said. "I emphasized that creating an environment where defectors can more easily get out of the country would eventually help bring down the North Korean regime, similar to what happened in East Germany."

    Helping refugees flee the communist state would be a more effective way of dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue, Mr. Kang said he told the president.

    Mr. Bush responded by telling Mr. Kang that helping North Korean defectors is important, but that there are many diplomatic obstacles in the way of doing more to support them. The president agreed, however, the suggestions were "a great idea," Mr. Kang said.

    The president asked Mr. Kang whether the United States should get "directly involved" in helping people flee North Korea. And Mr. Kang said he told Mr. Bush that direct involvement would be important in helping change perceptions of the United States inside North Korea, where the people are "brainwashed with anti-Americanism."

    "If the United States pressures North Korea only on the nuclear issue, the North Korean government can utilize that to increase the level of anti-Americanism in the country," Mr. Kang said.

    Mr. Kang's memoir of survival cries out for regime change.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:03 AM


    Suspect linked to Al Qaeda goes free (Richard Bernstein, JULY 19, 2005, The New York Times)

    In a ruling seen as a sharp blow to coordinated counterterrorism efforts in Europe, Germany's highest court refused Monday to turn over an Al Qaeda suspect to Spain, arguing that a recent Europe-wide agreement to streamline extradition procedures across Europe violated the rights of German citizens.

    The case involved Mamoun Darkazanli, a 46-year-old German of Syrian origin suspected in Spain and by many independent experts on terrorism of having provided logistical and financial support to Al Qaeda.

    Darkazanli, who runs a trading company in Germany, is pictured on a videotape at a wedding in Hamburg in 1999 also attended by two of the pilot-hijackers in the attacks in New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.

    A Spanish judge, Baltazar Garzón, using the new European procedure, issued a European arrest warrant against Darkazanli last year, naming him the "permanent interlocutor and assistant" in Europe for Osama bin Laden.

    But the German Constitutional Court on Monday declared the law creating the warrant to be void, even though the law was ratified by the German Parliament in November.

    Send the guys who did Abu Omar to get him.

    Posted by David Cohen at 7:49 AM


    Ice Shelf Collapse Reveals New Undersea World (Bjorn Carey, LiveScience, 7/18/05)

    The collapse of a giant ice shelf in Antarctica has revealed a thriving ecosystem half a mile below the sea.

    Despite near freezing and sunless conditions, a community of clams and a thin layer of bacterial mats are flourishing in undersea sediments.

    "Seeing these organisms on the ocean bottom -- it's like lifting the carpet off the floor and finding a layer that you never knew was there," said Eugene Domack of Hamilton College. . . .

    Toward the end of the expedition the crew recorded a video of the sea floor. Later analysis of the video showed the clams and bacteria growing around mud volcanoes.

    Since light could not penetrate the ice or water, these organisms do not use photosynthesis to make energy. Instead, these extreme creatures get their energy from methane, Domack said today.

    1. Cows excrete methane.
    2. Methane causes global warming.
    3. Global warming causes ice shelf collapse.
    4. Ice shelf collapse allows discovery of methane-eating life-forms.

    Like a well-made clock . . . .

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:47 AM


    Inheritance? Sorry, but we've spent the lot (MICHAEL BLACKLEY, 7/10/05, The Scotsman)

    PARENTS are enjoying themselves in later life rather than saving their money to pass on to their children, a major new survey reveals. The over-50s are now far more likely to indulge themselves with holidays and other luxuries - even a majority of the over-80s believe that it is more important to enjoy life than leave a legacy.

    The survey of 2,000 people, for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found that, while 85 per cent of all age groups said they would like to leave a legacy, half believed strongly that older people should enjoy their retirement, while a further 38 per cent tended to agree.

    This is the strongest indication yet of a new generation of so-called SKIers (those who Spend the Kids' Inheritance). Two in three adults with the means to make a bequest said they planned to enjoy life and not worry too much about leaving money to the next generation. Even among pensioners, only a little over a quarter of those with the means to make a bequest said they would budget to do so.

    Why did they think budget deficits came from?

    Posted by David Cohen at 7:37 AM


    Gore: New TV Channel Won't Be Partisan (Lynn Elber, AP, 7/19/05)

    Former Vice President Al Gore, co-founder of a new television channel launching next month, said he's shunning politics - and so is his media venture.
    50,999,897 thought this man should be president of the United States.

    Posted by David Cohen at 7:32 AM


    Bob Newhart Modest About Honor From PBS (Bob Thomas, AP, 7/18/05)

    Bob Newhart responds with customary modesty when asked about his selection as a subject for the PBS series "American Masters":

    "I don't think of myself as an American Master. I've just been making a living. I just thought that (my career) would end in five years."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:01 AM

    TRYING HARDER (via Robert Schwartz):

    Rich Republicans?: Not yet. The red states are still number two, and working hard for a living. (Jerry Bowyer, 7/11/05, National Review)

    Recently the Bureau of Economic Analysis released two reports which shed a lot of light on what’s really going on in American politics. The reports show beyond question that the states that went for George W. Bush in the last election are considerably poorer than the ones that went for Kerry. The notion that the GOP is the party of the rich simply doesn’t match the economic reality.

    States with the highest per capita income trend Democrat; the states with the lowest per capita income trend Republican. The top ten “blue states,” for example, had an average per capita personal income of $36,327, which is 20 percent higher than the top ten “red states,” which had an average of $30,275.

    Northeastern states, which make up the geographical heart of liberalism, are considerably wealthier than the upstart Sunbelt states, and that’s just by the measure of personal income. The Northeast states also boast many more generations of accumulated financial capital than their Sunbelt cousins. In other words, income statements and balance sheets in the Northeast states reveal much richer populations.

    These realities have led the Left to formulate an appearance-saving theory modeled on the book What’s the Matter with Kansas?, by Thomas Frank. In the Left’s view, scary pictures of men holding hands have led red-staters to commit economic suicide by voting Republican.

    But if the GOP is not the party of the rich, is it the party of the poor? No. Increasingly, and counter to the Kansas theory, it’s becoming clear that the GOP is the party of the aspiring.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Muslim leaders issue fatwa on terrorists (The Age, July 19, 2005)

    Imams from about 500 British mosques have issued a fatwa condemning violence, which they have presented to politicians at Westminster, as ministers cast around for new laws to help stop a repeat of attacks on London.

    The fatwa will be read out at mosques during prayers this Friday.

    Officials say the government is looking to target extremists, particularly Islamic clerics, who glorify or encourage terrorist acts.

    Such figures could be banned from entering Britain or deported if they are already in the country.

    Prime Minister Tony Blair will meet British Muslim community leaders today to find ways of tackling the root causes of terrorism and preventing the message of extremists resonating.

    July 18, 2005

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:40 PM


    Vietnam-Era Commander Westmoreland Dies (BRUCE SMITH, July 18, 2005, The Associated Press)

    The silver-haired, jut-jawed officer, who rose through the ranks quickly in Europe during World War II and later became superintendent of West Point, contended the United States did not lose the conflict in Southeast Asia.

    "It's more accurate to say our country did not fulfill its commitment to South Vietnam," he said. "By virtue of Vietnam, the U.S. held the line for 10 years and stopped the dominoes from falling."

    He would later say he did not know how history would deal with him.

    "Few people have a field command as long as I did," he said. "They put me over there and they forgot about me. But I was there seven days a week, working 14 to 16 hours a day.

    "I have no apologies, no regrets. I gave my very best efforts," he added. "I've been hung in effigy. I've been spat upon. You just have to let those things bounce off."

    Later, after many of the wounds caused by the divisive conflict began to heal, Westmoreland led thousands of his comrades in the November, 1982, veterans march in Washington to dedicate the Vietnam War Memorial.

    He called it "one of the most emotional and proudest experiences of my life."

    The key to civilian leadership of the nmilitary is to cycle through the generals until you get to one who grasps the war you're actually fighting, instead of past ones. In Vietnam, that happened not to be General Westmoreland.

    GEN. WILLIAM C. WESTMORELAND | 1914-2005: A Commander Caught in the Mire of Vietnam (Eric Malnic, July 19, 2005, LA Times)
    -General Westmoreland Dies at 91; Led U.S. in Vietnam (ERIC PACE, July 19, 2005, NY Times)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:20 PM


    Methane's Impacts On Climate Change May Be Twice Previous Estimates (SPX, Jul 19, 2005)

    According to new calculations, the impacts of methane on climate warming may be double the standard amount attributed to the gas. The new interpretations reveal methane emissions may account for a third of the climate warming from well-mixed greenhouse gases between the 1750s and today. [...]

    Controlling methane could reap a big bang for the buck. Another bonus of this perspective is that in order to manage greenhouse gases, policy decisions must focus on cutting emissions, because that's where humans have some control.

    "If we control methane, which the U.S. is already starting to do, then we are likely to mitigate global warming more than one would have thought, so that's a very positive outcome," Shindell said. "Control of methane emissions turns out to be a more powerful lever to control global warming than would be anticipated."

    Sources of methane include natural sources like wetlands, gas hydrates in the ocean floor, permafrost, termites, oceans, freshwater bodies, and non-wetland soils. Fossil fuels, cattle, landfills and rice paddies are the main human-related sources. Previous studies have shown that new rice harvesting techniques can significantly reduce methane emissions and increase yields.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:16 PM


    Extremist cleric puts terror laws to the test (Philip Johnston, George Jones and John Steele, 19/07/2005, Daily Telegraph)

    A planned visit to Britain next month by a Muslim cleric who has praised suicide bombings against Israel will become the first test of the Government's promised clampdown on extremist preachers after the London terrorist attacks.

    Yusuf al-Qaradawi, 79, who is due to speak at a conference in Manchester, is banned from visiting America because of his links with the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.

    But although Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, has the power to exclude individuals whose presence is judged not to be conducive to the public good, there is no suggestion that the controversial Qatar-based imam is to be banned.

    You are what you tolerate.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:13 PM


    Conservatives are told it will not be Gonzales (Alexander Bolton, 7/19/05, The Hill)

    White House officials have assured select conservative leaders that they will not nominate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, according to a conservative familiar with the behind-the-scenes discussions.

    The message has filtered out to conservative activists that Gonzales, whom many activists believe would be too liberal on abortion and racial preference issues, is no longer a threat to their cause. That could portend a fierce battle in the Senate in September, as Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) has said Gonzales would be a qualified nominee, suggesting that his selection could have achieved bipartisan consensus.

    Senior administration officials have told select conservative leaders that President Bush is likely to nominate either Edith Jones or Edith Clement, members of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the conservative source said.

    It is also possible that would nominate Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan or former Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, whom the Senate recently confirmed to the 5th Circuit.

    Cease foaming.

    N.B. -- Sounds like they could announce as early tomorrow morning.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:09 PM


    EU Expects Disappointing Euro-Zone Growth (AP, Jul 18, 2005)

    High oil prices and slowing global manufacturing will keep euro-zone growth disappointing in the second quarter, the
    European Union said Monday.

    The European Commission's quarterly report on the euro area said its spring forecast of 1.6 percent growth this year may prove "a little optimistic."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:51 PM


    Bombers 'met chief plotter' in Karachi: As police discover more details of the bombers' movement in Pakistan, Muslims in Britain are to be told they must root out extremism (Daniel McGrory and Zahid Hussain in Islamabad, 7/19/05, Times of London)

    STARING confidently ahead as he arrives in Pakistan for what is believed to be a rendezvous with the mastermind who plotted the London attacks, one of the bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan, hands his British passport to immigration officials.

    Behind him in the queue of arrivals at Karachi airport is Shehzad Tanweer, 22, who told his family he was heading for a religious school. [...]

    Pakistani authorities have told The Times they know the identity of the British-born mastermind whom the British authorities are desperately trying to track down. “We believe this is where they could have met their mentor,” one Pakistani security source said. “They did not appear to go to where they told their families they were heading, and they have no obvious connection to Karachi, which was the centre of previous al-Qaeda operations.” [...]

    One of the militants arrested by Pakistani police in connection with the London attacks is a suspected bomb-making expert for an outlawed terrorist group. Qari Usman, who has been linked to the plot to assassinate Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani President, in 2003, is alleged to be part of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad group. Some of its members were in contact with some of the British bombers this year. Mr Musharraf condemned the London bombings as “UnIslamic” and admitted some religious schools had terrorist links.

    Hard to reconcile the notion that 7/07 was caused by the Iraq War with the attempts on Musharraf.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:44 PM

    THE MOSQUE THAT ROARED (via Bill West):

    Orrin, Given Hollywood's current passion for reworking old material, I got a boffo idea from reading Chrenkoff's contribution in Opinionjournal today ['Their Own Fourth of July': A roundup of the past three weeks' good news from Iraq. (ARTHUR CHRENKOFF, July 18, 2005, Opinion Journal)]: a remake of "The Mouse That Roared." As you noted, in the original a small European country "which lies in a precipitous fold in the Northern Alps" invades the U.S. with the intention of losing, thus to reap some reconstruction benefits with no danger of losing an acre of land. In the new version the attacker could be an obscure Arab Emirate, perhaps the only one not sitting on a deposit of oil. They could enter the Potomac in an aging yacht, attack the Washington Monument and surrender to the Park Police. And then the fun begins. It could be sensational! Bill West Los Angeles
    If they aren't going to produce a Martin Luther they could at least produce a Gloriana.
    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:01 PM


    A victory for multiculti over common sense (Mark Steyn, 19/07/2005, Daily Telegraph)

    It has been sobering this past week watching some of my "woollier" colleagues (in Vicki Woods's self-designation) gradually awake to the realisation that the real suicide bomb is "multiculturalism". Its remorseless tick-tock, suddenly louder than the ethnic drumming at an anti-globalisation demo, drove poor old Boris Johnson into rampaging around this page last Thursday like some demented late-night karaoke one-man Fiddler on the Roof, stamping his feet and bellowing, "Tradition! Tradition!" Boris's plea for more Britishness was heartfelt and valiant, but I'm not sure I'd bet on it. The London bombers were, to the naked eye, assimilated - they ate fish 'n' chips, played cricket, sported appalling leisurewear. They'd adopted so many trees we couldn't see they lacked the big overarching forest - the essence of identity, of allegiance. As I've said before, you can't assimilate with a nullity - which is what multiculturalism is.

    So, if Islamist extremism is the genie you're trying to put back in the bottle, it doesn't help to have smashed the bottle. As the death of the Eurofanatic Ted Heath reminds us, in modern Britain even a "conservative" prime minister thinks nothing of obliterating ancient counties and imposing on the populace fantasy jurisdictions - "Avon", "Clwyd" and (my personal favourite in its evocative neo-Stalinism) "Central Region" - and an alien regulatory regime imported from the failed polities of Europe. The 7/7 murderers are described as "Yorkshiremen", but, of course, there is no Yorkshire: Ted abolished that, too.

    Sir Edward's successor, Mr Blair, said on the day of the bombing that terrorists would not be allowed to "change our country or our way of life". Of course not. That's his job - from hunting to Europeanisation. Could you reliably say what aspects of "our way of life" Britain's ruling class, whether pseudo-Labour like Mr Blair or pseudo-Conservative like Sir Ted, wish to preserve?

    Strip away the multi and you find no British culture to assimilate folks to anymore.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:15 PM


    RNC Raised $59.4M in First Half of Year (AP, Jul 18, 2005)

    The Republican National Committee collected nearly $60 million through the first half of the year, giving the GOP a solid financial footing for the midterm congressional elections in 2006.

    The committee received $59.4 million in contributions, record fundraising in a non-presidential election year, the RNC said. The Republican organization had more than $34 million cash on hand at the end of June after raising more than $6.5 million last month.

    By comparison, the Democratic National Committee said last week that it had raised more than $28 million through the first half of 2005, and had about $9 million in the bank.

    Is there such a thing as a white donkey?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:45 PM


    Bush: Any Criminals in Leak to Be Fired (PETE YOST, 7/18/05, Associated Press)

    President Bush said Monday that if anyone in his administration committed a crime in connection with the public leak of the identity of an undercover CIA operative, that person will "no longer work in my administration." [...]

    Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone in his administration shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have be shown that a crime was committed.

    Asked at a June 10, 2004, news conference if he stood by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked Plame's name, Bush answered, "Yes. And that's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts."

    Now they have to have committed a crime?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:07 PM


    Pillow-Talk Pressure for a Woman in O'Connor's Robe (ELISABETH BUMILLER, 7/18/05, NY Times)

    When Laura Bush said in a television interview last week that she hoped her husband would name a woman to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, a lot of people saw it as a top item on the first lady's "honey-do" list. But Republicans close to the White House said that people had it reversed. Mrs. Bush, they said, was not so much nudging her husband as reflecting his thinking. [...]

    Republicans say there are three strong reasons to name a woman to replace Justice O'Connor.

    First, they believe it will be more difficult politically for Democrats to demonize a woman, even though Democrats were hardly shy about criticizing Priscilla R. Owen and Janice Rogers Brown, two conservative judges Mr. Bush nominated for appeals court seats who won Senate confirmation only after protracted battles.

    Second, Republicans believe that confirmation hearings will be easier to manage with a woman as the nominee. Again, in this view, women are harder to attack and more sympathetic, even though Democrats say they are far more interested in a nominee's ideology and past court decisions than the nominee's sex.

    Third, and not least, Republicans say that replacing a woman with a woman makes good political sense, particularly since there is only one other woman on the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist's announcement last week that his retirement was not imminent also meant that Mr. Bush could not name a man for Justice O'Connor's seat with the expectation that he could hold a woman in immediate reserve for the chief justice's seat.

    Republicans add that a woman will be well received by the public, a view borne out by a USA Today-CNN-Gallup poll last week that showed overwhelming support - three out of four people surveyed - for another woman on the court.

    So far, the women most often mentioned as nominees are Judges Edith H. Jones and Edith Brown Clement, both of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans. Judge Jones, who is strongly anti-abortion, was a Supreme Court finalist in 1990 for the first President Bush, who picked Justice David H. Souter instead. Republicans close to the White House say that they are unsure of Judge Clement's views on abortion and that there is little to be gleaned on the subject from her past decisions.

    What they really need is a Latino woman.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:55 PM


    Hispanic Immigration and Assimilation into the American Culture (Jose Maria Marco, Hispanic American Center for Economic Research)

    [H]ispanic immigration appears to have three main characteristics. First, it tends to be concentrated in a few geographical areas in Texas, Florida, Southern California, New York and Illinois, although the dispersion is accelerating lately.

    Second, most immigrants generally have abandoned their language of origin in favor of English between the second and the third generation. And in the case of Spanish-speaking immigrants, Spanish is spoken only among family members or the immediate community, where it does not compete with English, which most Hispanics view as necessary for societal integration.

    On the other hand, many wish to maintain the use of the Spanish language, and given the size of the Spanish-speaking population, it is conceivable that a significant portion need not learn English to live in the U.S. Third, a large portion of U.S. territory was for a long time under the control of the then Mexican and Spanish Crown.

    The combination of these three factors worries many in political circles as well as some American intellectuals. The best example is Samuel Huntington's book, "Who Are We: The Challenges to America's National Identity," in which the phenomenon is described as a danger for the unity of the nation. When it was published, Huntington's book was ferociously attacked in Latin America as well as in Spain.

    Huntington's warning should not be taken as a joke. In Europe there are numerous examples of Balkanization in countries with very aged and solid cultures. Spain is a good example. If the politics of identity are promoted like the ones that are promoted in some mass media and in many American university departments, and if politicians begin to appear that see political opportunity in the fragmentation of the electorate, the danger could become real.

    Contrary to Huntington's thesis, and paradoxically, to that of Jorge Ramos in "The Latino Wave," there is no reason that there should be a clash between the American cultural identity and that of Hispanic immigrants. While Huntington carefully analyzes the roots of the American cultural identity, he fails to properly analyze the roots of Hispanic culture. Contrary to what Huntington seems to suggest, Hispanic culture is of a Judeo-Christian, that is to say Roman, and European origin.

    It can be argued that Hispanic culture has produced neither the same economic nor institutional successes as that of American culture. But the same can be said of Europe. Without U.S. intervention, there would be no democracies in Europe today.

    And there is no economic or institutional success there.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:45 PM


    Charlie's war, act two (William Fisher, 7/19/05, Asia Times)

    Today's media have all but forgotten that the emergence of Afghanistan's Taliban can be largely attributed to the policies of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a hard-drinking, party-loving Texas congressman who helped funnel billions of dollars in arms to "freedom fighters" like Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

    In the 1980s, Charles Wilson, a colorful and powerful Democrat from the East Texas Bible Belt, was a member of a Congressional appropriations sub-committee. From that position of power he funneled billions of dollars in secret funding to the CIA, which used the money to purchase weapons to help the mujahideen drive the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan.

    In those days, the mujahideen were viewed by the US as "freedom fighters" and were so-named by then-president Ronald Reagan, who praised them for "defending principles of independence and freedom that form the basis of global security and stability".

    In that Cold War environment, chasing the Russians out of the country trumped all other considerations. Among the weapons funded by Congress were hundreds of Stinger missile systems that mujahideen forces used to counter the Russians' lethal Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunships.

    And there were also tens of thousands of automatic weapons, antitank guns, and satellite intelligence maps. According to author George Crile, Wilson even brought his own belly dancer from Texas to Cairo to entertain the Egyptian defense minister, who was secretly supplying the mujahideen with millions of rounds of ammunition for the AK-47s the CIA was smuggling into Afghanistan.

    From a few million dollars in the early 1980s, support for the resistance grew to about $750 million a year by the end of the decade. Decisions were made in secret by Wilson and other lawmakers on the appropriations committee.

    To help make his case, Wilson exploited one of the decade's scandals, the Iran-Contra affair, arguing that Democrats who were voting to cut off funding for the Contras in Nicaragua could demonstrate their willingness to stand up to the Soviet empire by approving more money for the Afghan fighters.

    Many Muslims from other countries volunteered to assist various mujahideen groups in Afghanistan, and gained significant experience in guerrilla warfare. Some of these veterans have been significant factors in more recent conflicts in and around the Muslim world.

    The effort was successful. On February 15, 1989, General Boris Gromov, commander of the Soviets' 40th Army, walked across Friendship Bridge as the last Russian to leave Afghanistan. The CIA cable from its Islamabad station to the agency's headquarters said, "We won." Wilson's own note said simply, "We did it."

    If you've never read George Crile's Charlie Wilson's War, it's a hoot. The reality is that some Muslim extremism is a small price to pay for ending the Cold War. The tragedy is that keeping our aid to the mujahadeen secret made them think that they won the war themselves. The U.S. role should have been open and that of the triggermen minimized.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:38 PM


    Tuskless elephants evolving in China due to poaching (AFP, Jul 17, 2005)

    A recent study has predicted that more male Asian elephants in China will be born without tusks because poaching of tusked elephants is reducing the gene pool, the China Daily reported Sunday.

    The study, conducted in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Yunnan province, where two-thirds of China's Asian elephants live, found that the tuskless phenomenon is spreading, the report said.

    The tusk-free gene, which is found in between two and five percent of male Asian elephants, has increased to between five percent and 10 percent in elephants in China, according to Zhang Li, an associate professor of zoology at Beijing Normal University.

    "This decrease in the number of elephants born with tusks shows the poaching pressure for ivory on the animal," said Zhang, whose research team has been studying elephants since 1999 at a reserve in Xishuangbanna.

    We decide what "nature" will look like.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:33 PM


    Cheney aide also linked to CIA leak (Chicago Tribune, July 18, 2005)

    The vice president's chief of staff was a source along with the president's chief political adviser for a Time magazine article that identified a CIA officer, a Time reporter said Sunday.

    The disclosure further countered White House claims that neither aide was involved in the leak.

    Until last week, the White House had insisted for nearly two years that Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and Karl Rove, the deputy White House chief of staff, had no connection to the leak. [...]

    Cooper ... wrote about a conversation he initiated with Libby. Although it has been known that reporters had spoken to Libby, it was unknown what Libby had said. His conversation with Cooper is the first indication that Libby was aware of Plame's role in her husband's trip to Africa. When Cooper asked if Libby knew of that, Libby said he had heard that as well, the article said.

    So Cooper's "sources" are two guys who agreed with what he told them he knew?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:23 PM


    Sources Of Trouble (David S. Broder, July 17, 2005, Washington Post)

    The relationship between reporters and anonymous sources is built on mutual trust -- the journalist's belief that the source will be candid, even while disclaiming personal responsibility for the information, and the source's belief that the reporter will honor her or his commitment to protect the identity of the informant.

    But the reader is deliberately not included in that circle of confidants. Rather, each member of the audience is told implicitly by the reporter, "I won't share something important with you that I know -- namely, the identity of the person who is my source."

    The rationale for this deliberate withholding of information is, ideally, that the substance of what the source has provided is so valuable to the public that it justifies the damage done each time the public is asked to accept the "gift" without knowing its origins.

    If it was important enough that we needed to know they wouldn't insist on anonymity.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:15 PM

    ONE STANDARD FOR OUR SIDE... (via Kevin Whited):

    US and India boost nuclear ties (BBC, 7/18/05)

    India and the United States have agreed to increase co-operation on civilian nuclear energy programmes.

    US President George W Bush announced the move after talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington.

    The relationship between the two countries "had never been stronger", Mr Bush told a joint news conference.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:04 AM


    Walt's theme park vision put mouse ears on America: The Anaheim attraction has cast a five-decade spell over our culture and transformed the entertainment industry (Kimi Yoshino and Dave McKibben, July 16, 2005, LA Times)

    To build his dream theme park in Anaheim a half-century ago, Walt Disney borrowed against his life insurance policy and cashed in property, including a vacation home in Palm Springs, to pay the $17-million construction bill.

    When the Anaheim theme park opened July 17, 1955 — with cranky Southern Californians fanning themselves on a sweltering hot day — toilets clogged, the food ran out and women's high heels sunk into wet asphalt. Disney officials still call it "Black Sunday."

    But from the start, there would be no denying the world's infatuation with Disneyland, a rite of passage for millions of vacationing families. In the 50 years since Walt Disney leveled Anaheim orange groves, the park has left an oversized imprint on American culture, influencing everything from family entertainment to shopping malls to corporate branding.

    "There's still nothing to compare it to," said Jamie O'Boyle, senior analyst for the Philadelphia-based Center for Cultural Studies and Analysis. "It is a cultural magnet for people.... Walt didn't build an amusement park. He really built the first virtual reality."

    Others are less flattering, saying the park is too artificially controlled and idealized.

    Italian author Umberto Eco suggested that Disneyland is "the Absolute Fake." After facing tooth-baring alligators at Disneyland's Jungle Cruise, Eco was disappointed at seeing none while taking a paddle-wheel steamer down the Mississippi.

    "You risk feeling homesick for Disneyland, where the wild animals don't have to be coaxed," Eco wrote in the 1975 essay, "The City of Robots."

    So, why does he write novels?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:59 AM

    PARTY BEFORE PRINCIPLE (via Kevin Whited):

    Democrat votes on CAFTA crucial (Maria Recio, 7/18/05, Dallas Star-Telegram)

    The leading CAFTA proponent among Texas Democrats is Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo. He counts at least three other Democrats who solidly support the bill. The other seven are undecided or oppose it.

    Why is Cuellar, a freshman, out front on the bill?

    "Jobs, jobs, jobs," he said. "When you look at the trade with these countries, their goods are coming in duty-free, but we face tariffs on our exports. Right now, it's a one-way street. With the agreement we'll be able to export more, and more jobs can be created."

    But CAFTA has become a hard sell, even among Republicans, because of concerns over U.S. job losses and opposition from sugar-state producers who say they fear a flood of low-cost sugar imports.

    The Bush administration submitted the pact for a vote first in the Senate, where it passed June 30 with the approval of both senators from Texas, putting pressure on the House.

    Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D- San Antonio, one of five undecided Texas Democrats, said he's torn on the issue. He's a free-trader, but he laments that Democrats had no input in the legislation.

    "Conceptually and ideologically, I'm there," he said. "But why were Democrats excluded totally from the process?"

    Because it's a treaty among nations, not a partisan pork roll? You'll recall the GOP didn't demand changes to GATT before passing it will Bill Clinton.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:47 AM


    Public schools woo out-of-towners: Choice option's appeal grows as funds shrink (Maria Sacchetti, July 18, 2005, Boston Globe)

    Even as they are competing against charter schools and other options, Massachusetts school districts are increasingly embracing another form of choice.

    Now, 149 of the state's 328 school systems open their doors to students from other cities and towns. They woo the students with promises of safer schools, full-day kindergarten, and perhaps a better shot at making the basketball team.

    Only 32 school districts participated in 1991, after a law passed that allowed the transfers.

    For years, systems refused to take advantage of the law because they were full, or because they didn't want to compete with one another. Now, many say they have no choice because of tight budgets and dwindling enrollment.

    The law's aim was to improve education by forcing competition, and to appease those pushing for more freedom to choose schools.

    Under the law, students may enroll in another school system, space permitting, and the sending district must pay a percentage of the cost to educate those students. This can amount to $5,000 per student.

    $5000 per year would, of course, be ample for most all non-public schools as well.

    Posted by David Cohen at 8:49 AM


    Not Dead Yet: An Apology (Andrew Sullivan, The Advocate, 7/5/05)

    I'm sorry. At the tender age of 41 ‹ a year longer than I once thought I would live ‹ I have never felt better. HIV transformed my life, made me a better and braver writer, prompted me to write the first big book pushing marriage rights, got me to take better care of my health, improved my sex life, and deepened my spirituality.
    Self-deception raised to an art form.

    Posted by David Cohen at 8:03 AM

    THEIR GOD WAS MARX (Via The Corner)

    Bishops speak out to support Islamic neighbours (July 7, 2005)

    The Bishops of the Diocese of Lichfield have this evening spoken out in support of their Islamic neighbours in the wake of the London terror bombs.

    The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, Bishop of Lichfield, attended a service of Evensong at Lichfield Cathedral where prayers were said for all those caught up in the bomb attacks.

    Before the service he said: "Living near most of us will be families who are quite worried that they may be identified with a terror attack simply because they are from another faith. I want us to do what we can to reassure them that we recognise that just as the IRA has nothing to do with Christianity; so this kind of terror has nothing to do with any of the world faiths."

    We here at BrothersJudd know that Islam is not the enemy -- but this is just nuts.

    (N.B. July bloody 7, for all love. This isn't obtuse, it's fatuous.)

    Posted by David Cohen at 7:54 AM


    Politics Intrudes in Bombing Inquiry, Deepening the French-British Rift (ELAINE SCIOLINO, NY Times, 7/16/05)

    Britain's era of good will with Europe lasted 48 hours - all because of the French.

    In the wake of the July 7 terrorist attacks in London, Scotland Yard brought together law enforcement and intelligence officials from two dozen European countries and the United States, sharing crucial intelligence and pleading for help in tracking down the bombers.

    But the continentwide kumbaya was shattered when Christophe Chaboud, France's new antiterrorism coordinator, broke the cardinal rule of the club.

    He leaked.

    In keeping with our theme that the daily newspaper always confirms conservatives in our beliefs, here's a two-fer. The French are a voluble people. For the New York Times, when the pretense of post-terror amity breaks down between Britain and France, it is France's fault. When it broke down between the US and France, Bush squandered it.

    Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:19 AM


    Sacre bleu! The Gaul has lost his gall (Byrce Corbett, Sydney Morning Herald, July 18th, 2005)

    If you happened to be on the Champs Elysees for the Bastille Day military parade on July 14, you might have been mistaken for thinking you were in a country to be reckoned with.

    Row after row of perfectly turned out soldiers, columns of tanks, convoys of heavy artillery and a precision fly-by of impressively loud fighter jets gave the distinct impression of a nation at the height of its powers.

    But you don't have to chip away too much at the country's stunning baroque facade to discover the decay beneath.

    As Jacques Chirac would only be too happy to tell you, the past couple of months haven't been so great for France. The trouble started with an emphatic "non" from voters to the EU constitution. While Communists and union leaders celebrated in the streets, more pragmatic nations of the European experiment, including those entrepreneurial former Soviet countries on its perimeter, could only look on in bemusement.

    Then came bruising encounters between Chirac and Tony Blair at the EU Summit. Chirac came off second best, as he clung to such protectionist, outdated economic policies as the Common Agricultural Policy.

    The knockout was delivered in Singapore on July 6 when the International Olympic Committee overlooked Paris to award the 2012 Games to London. The decision sent the French into a paroxysm of uncharacteristic self-doubt.

    "Why don't they like us?" asked the front page of Liberation with what seemed to be genuine confusion.

    And from the presidential aspirant Nicolas Sarkozy: "I can't get around the idea of France piling up the disappointments without stopping to ask if, just by chance, it's not us who are wrong and the rest of the world that's right. If everything the world does is bad and unfair and that everything we do carries the seal of total genius?"

    It seems it isn’t just the rest of the world that is fed up with them.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Shares pick up as optimism grows (BBC, 7/18/05)

    Stock markets around the world have soared on healthy expectations for sales and profits at key firms.

    In the US, the S&P 500 index hit a four-year high of 1,227.92, while the technology-focused Nasdaq recorded its best finish this year at 2,156.78.

    Asian stocks also surged as tech stocks followed US peers higher, with Japan's Nikkei 225 up 1.7% for the week and South Korea's Kospi at a 10-year peak.

    Investors were also encouraged by more signs of economic solidity in the US.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Rooting for the Martians (John Leo, July 18, 2005, Townhall)

    David Koepp, who wrote the screenplay for War of the Worlds, says the Martian attackers in the film represent the American military, while the Americans being slaughtered at random represent Iraqi civilians. I see it differently. I think the Martians symbolize normal Americans, while those being attacked are the numbskulls who run Hollywood. Perhaps the normals went a bit too far in this easy-to-understand allegory, but think of the provocation.

    Among other things, Koepp made the “there-is-no-Internet” mistake, carefully masking his analysis in U.S. interviews, but saying it flat-out in Rue Morgue, an obscure Canadian horror magazine, that he apparently thought nobody would notice. But as the movie makes clear, once the normals begin to track you with their newfangled technology, there is no escape. They can find you even in Canada.

    Has Tom Cruise ever made a movie where you're rooting for him and not his foe?

    July 17, 2005

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:56 PM


    Why Marx is man of the moment: He had globalisation sussed 150 years ago (Francis Wheen, July 17, 2005, The Observer)

    The billionaire speculator George Soros now warns that the herd instinct of capital-owners such as himself must be controlled before they trample everyone else underfoot. 'Marx and Engels gave a very good analysis of the capitalist system 150 years ago, better in some ways, I must say, than the equilibrium theory of classical economics,' he writes. 'The main reason why their dire predictions did not come true was because of countervailing political interventions in democratic countries. Unfortunately we are once again in danger of drawing the wrong conclusions from the lessons of history. This time the danger comes not from communism but from market fundamentalism.'

    In October 1997 the business correspondent of the New Yorker, John Cassidy, reported a conversation with an investment banker. 'The longer I spend on Wall Street, the more convinced I am that Marx was right,' the financier said. 'I am absolutely convinced that Marx's approach is the best way to look at capitalism.' His curiosity aroused, Cassidy read Marx for the first time. He found 'riveting passages about globalisation, inequality, political corruption, monopolisation, technical progress, the decline of high culture, and the enervating nature of modern existence - issues that economists are now confronting anew, sometimes without realising that they are walking in Marx's footsteps'.

    Quoting the famous slogan coined by James Carville for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 ('It's the economy, stupid'), Cassidy pointed out that 'Marx's own term for this theory was "the materialist conception of history", and it is now so widely accepted that analysts of all political views use it, like Carville, without any attribution.'

    Like Molière's bourgeois gentleman who discovered to his amazement that for more than 40 years he had been speaking prose without knowing it, much of the Western bourgeoisie absorbed Marx's ideas without ever noticing. It was a belated reading of Marx in the 1990s that inspired the financial journalist James Buchan to write his brilliant study Frozen Desire: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Money (1997).

    'Everybody I know now believes that their attitudes are to an extent a creation of their material circumstances,' he wrote, 'and that changes in the ways things are produced profoundly affect the affairs of humanity even outside the workshop or factory. It is largely through Marx, rather than political economy, that those notions have come down to us.'

    Pity the poor Left, they convince themselves that materialism drives mankind and are then dumbfounded when middle America votes Republican and suicide bombers turn out to be middle class and college-educated rather than poverty stricken.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:38 PM

    KURDISTAN, SHI'ASTAN, AND ? (via Mike Daley):

    Weekend of slaughter propels Iraq towards all-out civil war (James Hider, July 18, 2005, Times of London)

    IRAQ is slipping into all-out civil war, a Shia leader declared yesterday, as a devastating onslaught of suicide bombers slaughtered more than 150 people, most of them Shias, around the capital at the weekend.

    One bomber killed almost 100 people when he blew up a fuel tanker south of
    Baghdad, an attack aimed at snapping Shia patience and triggering the
    full-blown sectarian war that al-Qaeda has been trying to foment for almost
    two years.

    Iraq's security forces have been overwhelmed by the scale of the suicide
    bombings - 11 on Friday alone and many more over the weekend - ordered by
    the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

    "What is truly happening, and what shall happen, is clear: a war against the
    Shias," Sheikh Jalal al-Din al-Saghir, a prominent Shia cleric and MP, told
    the Iraqi parliament.

    Sheikh al-Saghir is close to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the supreme
    Shia spiritual leader and moderate who has so far managed to restrain
    powerful Shia militias from undertaking any outright attack on Sunni
    insurgents. His warning suggests that the Shia leadership may be losing its
    grip over Shias who in private often call for an armed backlash against
    their Sunni assailants.

    They've been far too patient.

    After Iraq attacks, calls for militias grow (Neil MacDonald, 7/18/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

    Shiite parliamentarian Khudayr al-Khuzai called on the government Sunday to "bring back popular militias" to protect vulnerable Shiite communities. "The plans of the interior and defense ministries to impose security in Iraq have failed to stop the terrorists," he told the National Assembly.

    The man believed to be responsible for Saturday's explosion apparently detonated himself next to the flammable tanker, triggering a huge blast that severely damaged several buildings as worshipers were headed to the mosque for sunset prayers. Town residents said they believed the truck's driver was an accomplice in the bombing.

    An angry crowd blamed policemen for a security lapse, saying that trucks are supposed to be banned from entering Musayyib, which has witnessed several previous suicide attacks this year against Shiite targets. Some of the protesters called the police "agents" of the Sunni-led insurgency, which has attacked Shiite mosques, US troops, Iraqi security forces, and the government.

    Following Mr. Khuzai's outraged speech in parliament, other members of the Shiite-led majority bloc said they also wanted militias to help stop such attacks. "We need militias to provide protection," said Saad Jawad Kandil, a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a key party in the Shiite-led alliance that dominates parliament.

    SCIRI controls the roughly 7,000-strong Badr militia force, which frequently has been accused by Sunni leaders of torturing and killing innocent Sunni civilians, including clerics. Before the government's formation, the multiparty Shiite alliance called loudly for a purge of police and Army units, in order to root out Baathist officers allegedly still loyal to the fallen regime of Saddam Hussein. But Sunnis and Kurds fear that a move by SCIRI to fill that hole with Badr militia. This would effectively ensure control of the security apparatus by SCIRI, which has ties to Iran.

    Despite claims of abuse against Sunnis, the Badr militia has reportedly been helpful previously in securing urban neighborhoods. During the Jan. 30 elec- tions, Shiite militiamen, through informal agreements with the Iraqi provisional government, helped Iraqi and coalition security forces set up barricades to defend polling stations. Meanwhile, militias controlled by Kurdish parties, which collaborated with US forces during the 2003 invasion, continue to play a key security role in northern Iraq.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:28 PM


    Kennedy opposition carries risks for Supreme Court fight (Rick Klein, July 17, 2005, Boston Globe)

    In a Senate in which 56 of the 100 members have never cast a vote on a Supreme Court nominee, Kennedy -- the longest-serving member of the Senate Judiciary Committee in history -- is poised to weigh in for the 20th time. He is acutely aware of his role as a storehouse of institutional knowledge. And the fire is still in him, as he takes to the well of the Senate whenever he can secure floor time in order to lay out his requirements for the next justice.

    But even as Kennedy pounds the lectern, there is an awareness throughout the Capitol that this may not be the moment for a vintage Kennedy liberal crusade. There are now only 44 Democratic senators -- the low point in Kennedy's 42-year Senate career -- and Republicans are poised to lob charges of obstructionism if the party is too quick to oppose Bush's pick.

    The ad writes itself--Do you want Kennedy justice?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:20 PM


    Time to rethink our multicultural society (FRASER NELSON, 7/17/05, The Scotsman)

    TONY BLAIR faces two enemies in his new war against British terrorism: the seed of jihad, and the fertile ground on which it is sown. The last mission of his premiership will be finding policies to neutralise both.

    The response to the July 7 attacks was always going to be determined by the life story of the culprits. If they were foreigners, it would have been easy to restrict visas and tighten security. But the truth is grotesquely more complex.

    Britain is incubating its own suicide bombers and has become the European headquarters for people seeking to indoctrinate them. It is not enough for Blair to "uproot this evil ideology"; he must also treat the soil from which it springs.

    The solutions proposed so far say much about Britain's woeful progress in tackling jihadism: Gordon Brown seeks to freeze the assets of terrorist groups - as if the mission is to suspend their ISAs, not lock them away; it will, we learn, become an offence to provide or receive terrorism training. Such activities have, it seems, been allowed until now by British authorities. It is as if the attacks of 11 September 2001 never took place.

    This is what French and American security forces despairingly call the "Londonistan" problem: that Britain's liberal tradition provides shelter for terrorists who are kept safe from extradition requests. [...]

    It is a sign of the paucity of debate in Britain that multiculturalism is used interchangeably with 'immigration'. It is, instead, a specific form of immigration where the foreigners are not encouraged to integrate.

    The alternative is the "melting pot" method of integrationism used by the United States, whose newcomers must learn English, salute the flag and sign up to a set of values. They must buy into a basic idea that they have to belong.

    This would be seen as cultural imperialism in Britain, where a mosaic-style of immigration has been preferred. The natural consequence has been segregated ghettos - and pockets of radicalism, left alone to seethe. Americans look on aghast at the Britain's immigration mismanagement. "You seem to shun these folks off to the side, and let them behave as if they never left Islamabad," says Deroy Murdock, fellow at the Atlas Foundation.

    Even in Islamabad, the Pakistan Times had this to say last week: "The sad fact is that Muslims in the UK have turned their face from the obligation to integrate with British society at large." The penny is dropping, worldwide.

    Trevor Phillips, head of the Commission for Racial Equality, warned last year that it was time to end multiculturalism, as the segregation it breeds had simply entrenched inequality. It is time to "assert a core of Britishness". But how?

    Not "how," but what? What is left to assimilate to in post-Christian Europe?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:56 PM


    Housing Goes Frothy to Flat in Denver Area (MOTOKO RICH, 7/17/05, NY Times)

    Tom Woods, a 37-year-old defense industry consultant, wanted to build a nest egg for one of his young sons' college tuition. Inspired by rising prices for homes in this Denver suburb, three years ago he invested in a new three-bedroom townhouse for $155,000. His hopes were that renters would cover most of his mortgage and that the property's value would appreciate by at least $10,000 a year.

    But last October, when Mr. Woods put the townhouse up for sale to help pay some unforeseen medical bills, there was more pain than gain: the house sat on the market for eight months. He finally found a buyer in June, but to seal the deal he had to make big concessions, including paying the buyer's closing costs. After handing over the keys on Friday, he ended up with a profit of just $10,000 for his three-year investment.

    Even as prices for homes in frothy markets like Las Vegas; Riverside, Calif.; Miami; and Washington are still jumping by more than 20 percent a year, Denver's homeowners are learning the hard way about living through the real estate doldrums. Five years ago, median house prices were rising at an annual clip of nearly 17 percent. By the first quarter of 2005 the increase had slipped to 3 percent, according to an analysis by Economy.com, a research firm.

    3% a year in a deflationary climate--one's heart bleeds...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 1:29 PM


    White House Delay On Court Nominee Is Calculated Plan: Stretching Out Time for Selection Intended to Cut Into Senate Debate (Peter Baker, July 17, 2005, Washington Post)

    More than two weeks since Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement on July 1, the famously disciplined Bush White House has yet to name a replacement, nor does it look likely to do so for another two weeks. The delay has surprised and dismayed some outside White House advisers concerned that the resulting political vacuum will complicate Bush's selection by allowing a free-for-all interregnum when all sides lobby, advance their candidates and tear down others.

    But the delay represents a calculated decision by the president's team that it is better to take slings and arrows on the front end to try to shorten the time the Senate has to consider a nominee on the back end. If Bush names a nominee between July 26 and 28, as many advisers now predict, that would leave fewer than 10 weeks in which his choice would be vulnerable to attack if the Senate votes before the court's term starts Oct. 3.

    Bush, who has emphasized the importance of seating the new justice by then, tried to lay the groundwork for such a timetable with his weekly radio address yesterday.

    "The experiences of the two justices nominated by President Clinton provide useful examples of fair treatment and a reasonable timetable for Senate action," Bush said, noting that it took the Senate 42 days to confirm Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 and 73 to confirm Stephen G. Breyer in 1994. "These examples show that the thorough consideration of a nominee does not require months of delay."

    They'd given this some thought? Who'da dreamt...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:45 PM


    Texan With Bench Experience Wades Into Justice Fray (CARL HULSE, 7/17/05, NY Times)

    It is like Congressional clockwork. Senate Democrats argue their case on judges; Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, soon strides onto the floor and in calm and measured tones, seeks to dismantle the Democratic argument.

    "We have seen before that if one side dominates the debate early, that can have a big impact," said Mr. Cornyn, a 53-year-old from San Antonio who is emerging as a one-man rapid response team in the building political debate over the Supreme Court vacancy. "I want people to understand there is more than one side to the story."

    Although he arrived in the Senate just two years ago, Mr. Cornyn, a former state attorney general and Texas Supreme Court justice, has quickly established a reputation as a determined partisan, eager to confront Democrats over their resistance to President Bush's judicial candidates. His own legal expertise and personal familiarity with some of the nominees has helped establish his credibility.

    Now the Supreme Court fight could get much more personal for Mr. Cornyn. He is among those being mentioned as a possible nominee, an idea fueled in part by the fact that he served in state office alongside Mr. Bush when he was governor of Texas and counts Karl Rove, the White House political strategist, as both a friend and professional adviser.

    The prospect of a Cornyn nomination is disturbing to some Democrats and liberal activists. They view him as a hard-right ideologue who delivers his views in a polished and gentlemanly manner. To his opponents, the combination of sharp political philosophy and smooth personal demeanor makes him a very dangerous man.

    Be fun to listen to Mr. Schumer explain that a white Christian Southern male is unfit for the bench.

    Posted by Peter Burnet at 8:32 AM


    Let’s have Marxist Love Island (Rod Liddle, Sunday Times, July 17th, 2005)

    British philosophers tend to fall into two equally alienating and hostile camps. On the one hand there are those who are not entirely certain what a table is. And then there’s a whole bunch of rather forbidding Scottish people, stereotypically terribly worried about money, who have spent too many interminable Saturday evenings, friendless, in the granite and drizzle of Aberdeen or Leith.

    Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:57 AM


    Fish oil diet feeds brains of toddlers
    (Amelia Hill, The Observer, July 17th, 2005)

    The behaviour of pre-school children improves dramatically when given a daily dose of fish oils, according to the first study made into dietary supplements for young people under the age of three.

    After just six weeks of daily doses of Omega-3, parents reported a transformation in the behaviour and learning abilities of children as young as 20 months old.[...]

    The Observer has seen interim results for the Durham-based study of 60 children aged between 20 months and three years, which was launched three months ago and is due to run for a year.

    The results reveal dramatic improvements in the performance of underachieving toddlers, many of whom had been disruptive and unable to concentrate.

    Children were assessed for their motor skills, IQ, reading, spelling and behaviour, and the study identified a huge reduction in symptoms of the sort associated with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

    The biggest improvements, however, were observed in the children's concentration and behaviour. 'The performance of almost 60 per cent of the children involved has improved dramatically,' said Dr Madeleine Portwood, educational psychologist for Durham local education authority and lead investigator at the Durham Sure Start trial. 'We saw children whose learning skills went from being six months below their chronological age to absolutely normal in just three months.

    'Some two-year-olds went from having a vocabulary of 25 single words to being able to use whole sentences, while others were able to sit down and concentrate for the first time in their lives.' [...]

    'A spin-off of the children's improvement was a vastly improved bonding between parent and child which led to a significant increase in their learning,' said Portwood.

    Wow. This is wonderful. No more need to mess about with genetic testing in the womb or waste all your savings on useless self-help books. And the greatest thing of all is that the disgusting stuff only works on kids under three.

    Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:38 AM


    Let's not be fooled by the forces of moderation (Frank Johnson, The Australian, July 16th, 2005)

    There we Londoners were on that Thursday morning, going about our traditional business of being all multicultural and vibrant under mayor Ken Livingstone.

    Suddenly we were innocent victims. On our Walkmans as we struggled into work, or over the radio for those of us still in bed, and from the editorials in the liberal press the following day, came explosion after explosion.

    "We must tackle the root causes of terrorism ... legitimate grievances ... Palestinian state ... end to Israeli settlements on the West Bank ... bombs wholly unrepresentative of Muslims in this country ... we in the faith communities united in condemnation ... Archbishop of Canterbury ... global warming ..."

    On and on went the politicians, bishops, enlightened chief constables and liberal editorialists. Evidence soon emerged that all the cliches went off within seconds of one another. They were the work of experienced professionals trained to use them about any subject. Most of them live in this country. Many have British citizenship. They are taught never to write or say anything original. Only a few days before they had targeted Gleneagles. The ozone layer, African debt, Islam; it is all the same to them.

    But we Londoners can be proud of the way we took it. They did it to us before over, among other things, Northern Ireland. We are used to it. We went through even worse during the Blitz. We are not going to give in now to a cell of crazed liberals.

    What drives them to do it? Well, there is much dispute about that. Hatred of the West is undoubtedly a factor. It would be foolish, however, to rule out the possibility that some of them really believe what they write or say. But they would tend to be the dupes, easily manipulated by cynical imams with religious titles such as controller of current affairs or comment editor. These characters do not believe for one minute that a Palestinian state or a US withdrawal from Iraq would make any difference. They make a good living and enjoy a certain social status in Islington and Camden Town by stirring up moderation.

    It is vital, however, that these terrible incidents should not provoke hatred of, and a backlash against, the broader liberal community. Most liberals have never planted a cliche in any newspaper. They read them, but that is because there is no alternative. They can hardly be expected to read the Tory press. Still, one must admit, the first time I went on the Tube after all those editorials and pronouncements I harboured unworthy suspicions. Any one of my fellow passengers could be a liberal. He or she could be travelling to a newspaper office or a BBC studio to set off another piety.

    Take that man sitting opposite. He is wearing an earring and a summery floral T-shirt, and is flicking through Gay News. He could easily be a liberal bishop. But that is stereotyping on my part. He could just as easily not be. He might be a modernising Tory. But my first suspicions about him were exactly what the perpetrators of moderation wanted me to harbour. They wish to divide us, to make us suspicious of one another.

    Posted by Matt Murphy at 1:42 AM


    Cops: T-Ball Coach Took 'Hit' On Challenged Player (ThePittsburghChannel, July 15th, 2005)

    NORTH UNION TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A T-ball coach seeking to keep a player with a mental disability off the field allegedly asked another player to hurt the boy, state police said Friday.

    The alleged incident happened June 27 at R.W. Clark Little League Field in North Union Township, Fayette County, police said.

    During pre-game warmups, Mark Reed Downs Jr. offered one of his players $25 to hit the 8-year-old boy in the head with a baseball, according to a police news release.

    After speaking with Downs, the second player hit the victim near his left ear and in the groin area, leaving him unable to play in that night's game, state police said. [...]

    Downs, 27, of Dunbar, was charged Friday with criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault, corruption of minors and reckless endangerment. He is free on bond and faces a preliminary hearing on July 28.

    Okay, BroJudd readers, here's your homework assignment: Please describe, in 200 words or less, your preferred method of punishment for this slice of human vermin. Creativity is appreciated. To be considered, the answer must involve some kind of baseball equipment and absolutely NO cup protection for the guilty party.

    In the spirit of the times, feel free to drag horrific creatures from the Harry Potter novels into your scenario.

    Answers due by noon on Monday. Class dismissed.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Indonesia agrees Aceh peace deal (BBC, 7/17/05)

    The Indonesian government and rebels from the province of Aceh have agreed a deal to end a 30-year-old insurgency.

    Indonesian Communications Minister Sofyan Djalil made the announcement in the Finnish capital Helsinki where the talks are being held. [...]

    The talks began after the tsunami that killed at least 120,000 people in Aceh.

    Funny how natural disasters provide governments with opportunities to prove or thoroughly discredit themselves.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Study cites seeds of terror in Iraq: War radicalized most, probes find (Bryan Bender, July 17, 2005, Boston Globe)

    New investigations by the Saudi Arabian government and an Israeli think tank -- both of which painstakingly analyzed the backgrounds and motivations of hundreds of foreigners entering Iraq to fight the United States -- have found that the vast majority of these foreign fighters are not former terrorists and became radicalized by the war itself.

    The studies, which together constitute the most detailed picture available of foreign fighters, cast serious doubt on President Bush's claim that those responsible for some of the worst violence are terrorists who seized on the opportunity to make Iraq the ''central front" in a battle against the United States.

    ''The terrorists know that the outcome [in Iraq] will leave them emboldened or defeated," Bush said in his nationally televised address on the war at Fort Bragg in North Carolina last month. ''So they are waging a campaign of murder and destruction." The US military is fighting the terrorists in Iraq, he repeated this month, ''so we do not have to face them here at home."

    However, interrogations of nearly 300 Saudis captured while trying to sneak into Iraq and case studies of more than three dozen others who blew themselves up in suicide attacks show that most were heeding the calls from clerics and activists to drive infidels out of Arab land, according to a study by Saudi investigator Nawaf Obaid, a US-trained analyst who was commissioned by the Saudi government and given access to Saudi officials and intelligence.

    A separate Israeli analysis of 154 foreign fighters compiled by a leading terrorism researcher found that despite the presence of some senior Al Qaeda operatives who are organizing the volunteers, ''the vast majority of [non-Iraqi] Arabs killed in Iraq have never taken part in any terrorist activity prior to their arrival in Iraq."

    ''Only a few were involved in past Islamic insurgencies in Afghanistan, Bosnia, or Chechnya," the Israeli study says. Out of the 154 fighters analyzed, only a handful had past associations with terrorism, including six who had fathers who fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, said the report, compiled by the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel.

    American intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, and terrorism specialists paint a similar portrait of the suicide bombers wreaking havoc in Iraq: Prior to the Iraq war, they were not Islamic extremists seeking to attack the United States, as Al Qaeda did four years ago, but are part of a new generation of terrorists responding to calls to defend their fellow Muslims from ''crusaders" and ''infidels."

    It was obviously a bad decision to occupy Iraq after liberating it, but these guys are sheep--their motivations are insignificant. It's the radical clerics and al Qaeda operatives who matter and they don't care about the Iraq war.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    The Line Starts Here (Libby Copeland, March 2, 2005, Washington Post)

    The line-standers are out all night on Capitol Hill, looking homeless. "But we're not homeless," one of them says; just trying to keep warm in ski caps and puffy coats.

    Waiting 10, 20, 30 hours outside the House or the Senate, holding a place in line so some well-pressed lobbyist can sit upfront at a congressional hearing and bat eyes at all the right people -- this is democracy, or something like it. More importantly, it's a job.

    We're talking public hearings, but John Q. would have trouble getting into many of them if he ever showed up. He'd be too far back in line, assuming he didn't have $35 an hour to pay a line-standing company, or the gumption to play line-stander himself.

    When the hearing rooms are small and the demand high, the line-stander comes in. He's a warm body, a hologram. He is a young fellow, with sleepy ambitions, or an older fellow, treading water, or some guy who talks obscenely and makes no sense at all. He waits on the sidewalk and when the congressional office buildings open in the morning, with staffers clickety-clacking past, he takes his place outside a hearing room and drops his puffy coat on those hallowed floors.

    By late morning, when the hearing starts, he is gone. He is a spot-staker, a space broker, a paid idler. He is the pause button on Washington, keeping power in its proper place throughout the night.

    "There's no expertise and there's no commodity," says Jay Moglia, a line-stander. He works dayside as a bike courier, as a lot of them do, and he takes pride in that work, which calls for strength, training, bravado.

    Not line-standing. In this job, there's only the ability to stand up. [...]

    Most of us know our time is worth less than someone else's, but line-standing brings that fact emphatically home. A line-standing company may pay a worker $10 an hour, $15 if he's a manager.

    Getting paid that much gives them little understanding of their actual worth.

    July 16, 2005

    Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:12 PM


    Let us Africans do the talking (Jean-Claude Shande, International Herald Tribune, July 16th, 2005)

    Live 8, that extraordinary media event that some people of good intentions in the West just orchestrated, would have left us Africans indifferent if we hadn't realized that it was an insult both to us and to common sense.

    We have nothing against those who this month, in a stadium, a street, a park, in Berlin, London, Moscow, Philadelphia, gathered crowds and played guitar and talked about global poverty and aid for Africa. But we are troubled to think that they are so misguided about what Africa's real problem is, and dismayed by their willingness to propose solutions on our behalf.

    We Africans know what the problem is, and no one else should speak in our name. Africa has men of letters and science, great thinkers and stifled geniuses who at the risk of torture rise up to declare the truth and demand liberty.

    Don't insult Africa, this continent so rich yet so badly led. Instead, insult its leaders, who have ruined everything. Our anger is all the greater because despite all the presidents for life, despite all the evidence of genocide, we didn't hear anyone at Live 8 raise a cry for democracy in Africa. [...]

    Neither debt relief nor huge amounts of food aid nor an invasion of experts will change anything. Those will merely prop up the continent's dictators. It's up to each nation to liberate itself and to help itself. When there is a problem in the United States, in Britain, in France, the citizens vote to change their leaders. And those times when it wasn't possible to freely vote to change those leaders, the people revolted.

    In Africa, our leaders have led us into misery, and we need to rid ourselves of these cancers. We would have preferred for the musicians in Philadelphia and London to have marched and sung for political revolution. Instead, they mourned a corpse while forgetting to denounce the murderer.

    What is at issue is an Africa where dictators kill, steal and usurp power yet are treated like heroes at meetings of the African Union. What is at issue is rulers like Francois Bozize, the coup leader running the Central Africa Republic, and Faure Gnassingbe, who just succeeded his father as president of Togo, free to trample universal suffrage and muzzle their people with no danger that they'll lose their seats at the United Nations. Who here wants a concert against poverty when an African is born, lives and dies without ever being able to vote freely?

    But the truth is that it was not for us, for Africa, that the musicians at Live 8 were singing; it was to amuse the crowds and to clear their own consciences, and whether they realized it or not, to reinforce dictatorships.

    They still believe us to be like children that they must save, as if we don't realize ourselves what the source of our problems is.

    Come on, all you Brothersjudd regulars. Make a statement. Show you care. (via The Ambler)


    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:38 PM


    PM to talk tough on terror (MOHUA CHATTERJEE, JULY 14, 2005, Times of India)

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is going to talk tough on the terror issue with the Bush administration during his US trip. He will point out to the US top brass that Pakistan is yet to dismantle militant infrastructure and this can hamper the peace talks between the two neibhours.

    Having recently suffered a setback on its hopes for a UN Security Council seat, with the US closing the count of the number of seats, India has decided to mount pressure on the US by using the peace-with-Pakistan card.

    The Prime Minister will also take the strategic partnership with the US on defence ties — which was worked on by defence minister Pranab Mukherjee during his recent trip to the US — ahead.

    Though the Left component of the UPA government is opposed to this move, the Opposition BJP leadership fully supports the PM on this issue.

    ...but what we're allied against.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:35 PM


    Comedy Central looks to Mencia (LOLA OGUNNAIKE, 7/16/05, New York Times News Service

    Just because my name is Carlos Mencia, don't think my show is going to be about the difference between Mexicans and white people,'' the veteran comedian Carlos Mencia said one recent morning as he made his way to work in Los Angeles.

    No, Mencia's new Comedy Central series, ''Mind of Mencia,'' is not just about such differences. Unlike the comedians Paul Rodriguez or George Lopez, Mencia, an East Los Angeles-bred comic, mines more than his roots for laughs. During his brash half-hour show, which debuted Wednesday evening, Mencia, 37, goes after blacks, whites and several other groups in the ethnic rainbow. Parodying a popular Snickers commercial, he plays a man trapped in a cave that's being bombed. ''Not going anywhere for a while?'' a voice-over asks, as Mencia, dressed in a turban, takes a bite of a chocolate bar.

    Mencia's frat boy-friendly show comes at a time when Comedy Central is trying both to recover from the recent disappearance of the comedian Dave Chappelle and to widen its audience with a handful of new shows. [...]

    In the opening monologue on Wednesday night's show Mencia joked that Middle Eastern people stopped at airport security checkpoints have gotten off relatively easy compared with the trials that other minorities in America have had to endure. Mencia, who has an intense delivery style reminiscent of Samuel L. Jackson's, remained unapologetic when asked if his material was too harsh on those of Middle Eastern descent, potentially fanning the embers of intolerance.

    ''If the worst thing happening to Middle Eastern people is that Carlos Mencia is doing a joke about them being stopped at airports, that's a pretty awesome state of affairs,'' he said. ''When's the last time you heard about a Middle Eastern person being beaten to death?''

    Naturally, Mencia's unabashedly un-PC humor has already earned him comparisons to the racially charged work of Chappelle, who in April made like a runaway bride and bolted, just weeks before his hit show was due to return for a third season.

    Being called a Latin Dave Chappelle does not bother Mencia, he said: ''Last year Dave Chappelle was voted the funniest man in America, and if I'm being compared to him, then I'm a blessed human being. I'm glad they're not comparing me to Gary Shteckle. Nobody knows who that guy is.''

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:31 PM


    Tolerating a Time Bomb (LEON de WINTER, 7/16/05, N Y Times)

    FOR centuries the Netherlands has been considered the most tolerant and liberal nation in the world. This attitude is a byproduct of a disciplined civic society, confident enough to provide space for those with different ideas. It produced the country in which Descartes found refuge, a center of freedom of thought and of a free press in Europe.

    That Netherlands no longer exists.

    The murder last year of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh, whose killer was convicted this week, and the assassination of the politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 marked the end of the Holland of Erasmus and Spinoza.

    To the contrary, it's the apotheosis of said Holland. After all, by what right does one not tolerate such actions in a truly tolerant society?

    Multiculturalism has fanned the flames of Islamic extremism (Kenan Malik, 7/16/05, Times of London)

    Muslims have been in Britain in large numbers since the 1950s. Only recently has fanaticism taken hold. The first generation of immigrants faced greater hardships and more intense racism than today’s Muslims do. Yet most thought of themselves as British and were proud to be here.

    While that first generation often put up with racism, the second generation — my generation — challenged it head on, often leading to fierce confrontations with the police and other authorities. But however fierce those confrontations, we recognised that to fight racism we needed to find a common set of values, hopes and aspirations that united whites and non-whites, Muslims and non- Muslims, and not to separate ourselves from the rest of society.

    It has been only over the past decade that radical Islam has found a hearing in Britain. Why? Partly because, in this post-ideological age, the idea that we can change society through politics has taken a battering. And partly because the idea that we should aspire to a common identity and a set of values has been eroded in the name of multiculturalism.

    Over the past week, much has been said about the strength of London as a multicultural city. What makes London great, Ken Livingstone pointed out, was what the bombers most fear — a city full of people from across the globe, free to pursue their own lives. I agree, and that’s why I choose to live in this city. Multiculturalism as a lived experience enriches our lives. But multiculturalism as a political ideology has helped to create a tribal Britain with no political or moral centre.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:29 AM


    Where's the Newt? (JOHN TIERNEY, 7/16/05, NY Times)

    We are in the midst of a remarkable Washington scandal, and we still don't have a name for it. Leakgate, Rovegate, Wilsongate - none of the suggestions have stuck because none capture what's so special about the current frenzy to lock up reporters and public officials.

    The closest parallel is the moment in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" when members of a mob eager to burn a witch are asked by the wise Sir Bedevere how they know she's a witch.

    "Well, she turned me into a newt," the villager played by John Cleese says.

    "A newt?" Sir Bedevere asks, looking puzzled.

    "I got better," he explains.

    "Burn her anyway!" another villager shouts.

    That's what has happened since this scandal began so promisingly two summers ago. At first it looked like an outrageous crime harming innocent victims: a brave whistle-blower was smeared by a vicious White House politico who committed a felony by exposing the whistle-blower's wife as an undercover officer, endangering her and her contacts in the field.

    But if you consider the facts today, you may feel like Sir Bedevere. Where's the newt? What did the witch actually do? [...]

    Karl Rove's version of events now looks less like a smear and more like the truth: Mr. Wilson's investigation, far from being requested and then suppressed by a White House afraid of its contents, was a low-level report of not much interest to anyone outside the Wilson household.

    This much can be said without fear of contradiction: the one person who's come out of all this looking the worst is Mr. Palme.

    Rove E-Mailed Security Official About Talk (JOHN SOLOMON, 7/15/05, Associated Press)

    After mentioning a CIA operative to a reporter, Bush confidant Karl Rove alerted the president's No. 2 security adviser about the interview and said he tried to steer the journalist away from allegations the operative's husband was making about faulty Iraq intelligence.

    The July 11, 2003, e-mail between Rove and then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley is the first showing an intelligence official knew Rove had talked to Matthew Cooper just days before the Time magazine reporter divulged CIA officer Valerie Plame's secret identity.

    "I didn't take the bait," Rove wrote in an e-mail obtained by The Associated Press, recounting how Cooper tried to question him about whether President Bush had been hurt by the new allegations. [...]

    "Matt Cooper called to give me a heads-up that he's got a welfare reform story coming," Rove wrote in the e-mail to Hadley.

    "When he finished his brief heads-up he immediately launched into Niger. Isn't this damaging? Hasn't the president been hurt? I didn't take the bait, but I said if I were him I wouldn't get Time far out in front on this."

    Hadley, now Bush's national security adviser, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment Friday. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said his client answered all the questions prosecutors asked during three grand jury appearances, never invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination or the president's executive privilege guaranteeing confidential advice from aides.

    Rove, Bush's closest adviser, turned over the e-mail as soon as prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into who leaked Plame's covert work for the CIA.

    He later told a grand jury the e-mail was consistent with his recollection that his intention in talking with Cooper that Friday in July 2003 wasn't to divulge Plame's identity but to caution Cooper against certain allegations Plame's husband was making, according to legal professionals familiar with Rove's testimony.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:23 AM


    State Dept. Memo Gets Scrutiny in Leak Inquiry on C.I.A. Officer (RICHARD STEVENSON, 7/16/05, NY Times)

    Prosecutors in the C.I.A. leak case have shown intense interest in a 2003 State Department memorandum that explained how a former diplomat came to be dispatched on an intelligence-gathering mission and the role of his wife, a C.I.A. officer, in the trip, people who have been officially briefed on the case said.

    Investigators in the case have been trying to learn whether officials at the White House and elsewhere in the administration learned of the C.I.A. officer's identity from the memorandum. They are seeking to determine if any officials then passed the name along to journalists and if officials were truthful in testifying about whether they had read the memo, the people who have been briefed said, asking not to be named because the special prosecutor heading the investigation had requested that no one discuss the case.

    The memorandum was sent to Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, just before or as he traveled with President Bush and other senior officials to Africa starting on July 7, 2003, when the White House was scrambling to defend itself from a blast of criticism a few days earlier from the former diplomat, Joseph C. Wilson IV, current and former government officials said.

    Mr. Powell was seen walking around Air Force One during the trip with the memorandum in hand, said a person involved in the case who also requested anonymity because of the prosecutor's admonitions about talking about the investigation. [....]

    When Mr. Wilson's Op-Ed article appeared on July 6, 2003, a Sunday, Richard L. Armitage, then deputy secretary of state, called Carl W. Ford Jr., the assistant secretary for intelligence and research, at home, a former State Department official said. Mr. Armitage asked Mr. Ford to send a copy of the memorandum to Mr. Powell, who was preparing to leave for Africa with Mr. Bush, the former official said. Mr. Ford sent it to the White House for transmission to Mr. Powell.

    It is not clear who asked for the memorandum, but in the weeks before it was written, there were several accounts in newspapers about an unnamed former diplomat's trip to Africa seeking intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program. On May 6, 2003, Nicholas D. Kristof, a columnist for The Times, wrote of a "former U.S. ambassador to Africa" who had reported to the C.I.A. and the State Department that reports of Iraq seeking to acquire uranium in Niger were "unequivocally wrong."

    The memorandum was prepared at the State Department, relying on notes by an analyst who was involved in meetings in early 2002 to discuss whether to send someone to Africa to investigate allegations that Iraq was pursuing uranium purchases. The C.I.A. was asked by Mr. Cheney's office and the State and Defense Departments to look into the reports.

    According to a July 9, 2004, Senate Intelligence Committee report, the notes described a Feb. 19, 2002, meeting at C.I.A. headquarters on whether Mr. Wilson should go to Niger.

    The notes, which did not identify Ms. Wilson or her husband by name, said the meeting was "apparently convened by" the wife of a former ambassador "who had the idea to dispatch" him to Niger because of his contacts in the region. Mr. Wilson had been ambassador to Gabon.

    The Intelligence Committee report said the former ambassador's wife had a different account of her role, saying she introduced him and left after about three minutes.

    If, having aimed at Rove -- who you'll note kept Matt Cooper out of jail -- they hit Colin Powell -- perhaps the source Judith Miller is in prison protecting -- the Left and MSM are going to experience a rash of exploding heads. Meanwhile, when the press feeding frenzy turns on one of the most widely respected public servants in America, General Powell, it will give the President a chance to come to his defense and the public further reason to despise the press.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 AM


    Guantanamo Military Tribunals Are Upheld: An appellate court says the plan to try captives does not violate U.S. law or the Geneva accord. (Richard A. Serrano, July 16, 2005, LA Times)

    A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the Bush administration's plan to use military tribunals to try detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was constitutional. [...]

    Resumption of the tribunals would mark the first time since World War II that prisoners of war and so-called enemy combatants would be tried in a court-martial setting.

    The judges said the Geneva Convention did not apply in the prosecution of captives in the war on terrorism because they belonged to organizations — such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda — that were not government entities or signatories to the accord that provided guidelines on how prisoners were to be treated.

    "Al Qaeda is not a state … that signed onto the Geneva Convention," the court said, adding that "no one claims that Al Qaeda has accepted and applied the provisions of the convention."

    Justice Department lawyers who have defended the military tribunal process said Friday that the decision was a "major win for the administration" in the war on terrorism.

    Alberto Gonzales picks up where John Ashcroft left off, relentlessly winning these terror cases. Of course, had they lost, the Administration should have just ignored the courts, which have no jurisdiction in the matter.

    Posted by Matt Murphy at 10:03 AM


    GRATING DANE (Tony & Tacky, July 15, 200, Opinion Journal)

    A Danish court found Aage Bjerre guilty of discrimination Tuesday, and he will spend eight days in jail for refusing to serve French and German customers in his pizza shop on Denmark's Fanoe island. Mr. Bjerre instituted the ban in 2003 to protest France and Germany's opposition to U.S.-led efforts to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The initial response in tolerant Denmark included rampant vandalism against his pizzeria, now sold. Mr. Bjerre told AP Tuesday that while he chose jail over a $900 fine, "eight days is a small price to pay when American soldiers go to Iraq and risk their limbs and lives."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:00 AM


    Polish workers hurl protests at French embassy (Andrew Rettman, 15.07.2005, EU Observer)

    Between 500 and 800 Polish workers marked Bastille Day (14 July) by throwing missiles at the French embassy in Warsaw and shouting protests about the behaviour of French investors in Poland.

    The demonstration was largely peaceful, with the workers stopping to observe the two minutes' silence for the London dead at 13:00 CET, but later burning an image of the Paris Bastille building outside the French mission, PAP and Rzeczpospolita report.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:55 AM


    Ed Gillespie's rise (Robert Novak, July 16, 2005, Townhall)

    Super-lobbyist Ed Gillespie has been given his own office in the West Wing of the White House to manage President Bush's Supreme Court confirmation battle. That raised speculation Gillespie could be chief of staff for the end of the Bush presidency.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:54 AM


    Egypt Slashes Corporate And Personal Tax Rates (Lorys Charalambous, 15 July 2005, Tax-News.com)

    Egypt is introducing sharply lower rates of corporate and personal taxation from 1st July. Under the new code, which has been working its way through the debate and drafting process since September, most companies will pay 20% tax on their profits.

    Under the previous tax system, industrial and export firms paid 22%, while most other companies paid 40%. The new tax code preserves tax exemptions for profits from stock exchange investments, on dividends paid to shareholders and on interest payments from banks and bonds. Current exemptions given to companies in free trade zones and industrial zones will be abolished, however, at least for new entrants.

    For individuals, the maximum tax rate is now 20% instead of 40% and the thresholds for each tax bracket have been raised.

    Does anyone outside the DNC support higher taxes anymore?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 AM


    G8 debt deal under threat at IMF (Steve Schifferes, 7/16/05, BBC News)

    Even before the ink has dried on proposals to relieve poor countries' debts to international lenders, the deal agreed by the G8 at Gleneagles is under threat.

    A number of European governments are apparently having second thoughts about proposals for debt relief which formed a key part of the help world leaders offered to Africa at last week's summit.

    The Belgians have apparently proposed changing the terms of the deal to give lenders more leverage over poor countries than they would have if they simply wrote off 100% of their debt.

    The reality is that the lenders have no leverage. If these nations just have sense enough to repudiate the debt no one can ever make them repay it and folks'll be lined up to lend them more.

    Posted by Peter Burnet at 9:42 AM


    JTF2 to hunt al-Qaeda (Daniel LeBlanc, Globe and Mail, July 15th, 2005)

    Canada's elite JTF2 soldiers are heading to Afghanistan as part of a 2,000-troop deployment that will target the "detestable murderers and scumbags" behind the rise in international terrorism, General Rick Hillier said yesterday.

    In a blunt briefing that signalled a new aggressiveness at the top of the Canadian Forces, the Chief of the Defence Staff said the impending operations are risky but necessary in light of last week's bombings in the British public-transit system.[...]

    It was the first time Gen. Hillier has confirmed that members of the Joint Task Force 2 -- the country's secretive commando team -- will be involved in combat missions against the remnants of the former Taliban regime and supporters of al-Qaeda.

    "These are detestable murderers and scumbags, I'll tell you that right up front. They detest our freedoms, they detest our society, they detest our liberties," Gen. Hillier said.

    He stressed the new face of the Canadian Forces, which he said are now focused on the first job at hand: protecting Canadian interests at home and abroad.

    "We're not the public service of Canada, we're not just another department. We are the Canadian Forces, and our job is to be able to kill people."

    Posted by Matt Murphy at 9:36 AM


    History According to Harry: Appeasement fails with warlocks too. (JONATHAN V. LAST, July 15, 2005, Opinion Journal)

    "Order of the Phoenix" tells how, after nearly 14 years of peace, Lord Voldemort re-emerges to pursue his plans for dominion. As a Hogwarts divination professor explains: "The indications have been that Wizard-kind is living through nothing more than a brief calm between two wars."

    Harry is the only witness to Voldemort's reappearance; but he tells Albus Dumbledore, the school's headmaster, who tries to raise the alarm. Dumbledore is an old and respected figure, the Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards. But when he attempts to set England's wizards against the coming storm, the government--under the administration of Cornelius Fudge, the minister of magic--denies that Voldemort is alive and launches a campaign to discredit Dumbledore.

    Let's start with Voldemort, who makes for a fair Hitler: He is an aspiring dictator who wants to cleanse the world of "mud-bloods"--wizards who have normal, or "muggle," parentage. Dumbledore is clearly Ms. Rowling's Churchill. Like the British lion, Dumbledore is a part of the establishment, but when he tries to awaken people to the threat that Voldemort poses, he becomes unpopular. Ms. Rowling's wizards, like the British of the 1930s, are exhausted from their last war and unwilling to believe that it's time to take up arms again.

    Like Neville Chamberlain, Minister Fudge is eager to help his constituents look the other way. Throughout the '30s, Chamberlain, fearing that Churchill was out for his job, conducted a campaign against his fellow Tory. Chamberlain denied the existence of the German menace and ridiculed Churchill as a "warmonger." He used the London Times--the government's house organ--to attack Churchill and suppress dispatches from abroad about the Nazis that would have vindicated him.

    As war approached and it became obvious that Churchill's skills were needed, Chamberlain denied his appointment to the cabinet again and again, while Chamberlain's underlings, such as the foreign secretary, Lord Halifax, licked his boots, kowtowed to Hitler and savaged Churchill.

    Fudge is nearly as craven. Spurred by Harry's encounter with the resurgent Voldemort, Dumbledore makes a stirring speech urging resistance. For his trouble, Minister Fudge goes the full-Chamberlain, traducing his opponent and his motives. "Dumbledore's name's mud with the Ministry these days," explains one of Harry's friends. "They all think he's just making trouble" because Fudge "thinks Dumbledore wants to become Minister of Magic....[Fudge] loves being Minister of Magic, and he's managed to convince himself that he's the clever one and Dumbledore's simply stirring up trouble for the sake of it."

    Ms. Rowling must have studied Chamberlain's private letters.

    But then, thanks to Mr. Choudhury, we knew this already:



    Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at January 19, 2004 01:32 PM

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:24 AM


    Harry Potter Works His Magic Again in a Far Darker Tale (MICHIKO KAKUTANI, 7/16/05, NY Times)

    In an earlier Harry Potter novel, Sibyll Trelawney, divination teacher, looks at Harry and declares that her inner eye sees past his "brave face to the troubled soul within."

    "I regret to say that your worries are not baseless," she adds. "I see difficult times ahead for you, alas ... most difficult ... I fear the thing you dread will indeed come to pass ... and perhaps sooner than you think."

    In "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," that frightening prophecy does in fact come true - in a thoroughly harrowing denouement that sees the death of yet another important person in Harry's life, and that renders this, the sixth volume of the series, the darkest and most unsettling installment yet.

    It is a novel that pulls together dozens of plot strands from previous volumes, underscoring how cleverly and carefully J. K. Rowling has assembled this giant jigsaw puzzle of an epic. It is also a novel that depicts Harry Potter, now 16, as more alone than ever - all too well aware of loss and death, and increasingly isolated by his growing reputation as "the Chosen One," picked from among all others to do battle with the Dark Lord, Voldemort.

    'Half-Blood Prince' review: Be brave, kids, as Potter fights evil (Emily Green, July 16, 2005, Los Angeles Times)
    This much can be said about "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" without spoiling the plot. Once Harry was 10 and stars rained down on England to augur his arrival. Now he is 16, and as the book opens, bridges are collapsing. Wizards from the Ministry of Magic are popping out of the Prime Minister's fireplace to explain that the cause is not bad construction. It's evil. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back.

    In what even a newcomer can detect as an alarming cabinet reshuffle, the charming Cornelius Fudge has been replaced as Minister of Magic by the shrewd Rufus Scrimgeour. Harder times demand harder characters.

    Relief comes in the form of well-observed personality quirks and some first-class toilet humor. Bored figures in paintings are not above picking their ears. Amid the potions in Fred and George's magic store, there is a sign that reads, "Why are you worrying about You-Know-Who? You should be worrying about U-No-Poo -- the constipation sensation that's gripping the nation."

    Then there's the romance.

    Our local book store was packed to the gills last night. Those crowds waiting on the docks for the next installment of a Dickens novel had nothing on us.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Muslim leaders in call for action (BBC, 7/16/05)

    Britain's top Muslims have branded the London suicide bombings "utterly criminal, totally reprehensible, and absolutely un-Islamic".

    A joint statement of condemnation came as 22 leaders and scholars met at the Islamic Cultural Centre, in London.

    But Britain's highest ranking Asian police officer, Tarique Ghaffur, says Muslims and their leaders must do more than just condemn the bombings.

    July 15, 2005

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:42 PM


    Chinese general shakes nukes at U.S. (Bill Gertz, July 16, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

    A senior general in the Chinese army threatened to use nuclear arms against the United States in a conflict over the Taiwan Strait, prompting the Bush administration to call the remarks "highly irresponsible."

    "If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition onto the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons," Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu said in yesterday's editions of the Financial Times and the Asian Wall Street Journal.

    Respond? Any U.S. president who left them enough munitions to respond should be impeached.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:47 PM


    Kapital gain: Karl Marx is now the Home Counties' favourite (Mark Seddon, July 14, 2005, The Guardian)

    Karl Marx is the nation's most revered philosopher. No, this isn't old Soviet agitprop, but the result of a Radio 4 listeners' poll organised by the broadcaster Melvyn Bragg for his series In Our Time. The veteran Marxist historian, Eric Hobsbawm, thinks he knows why. His reasoning is as contemporary as Marx's was visionary. "The Communist Manifesto," he says, "contains a stunning prediction of the nature and effects of globalisation."

    Yeah, real class solidarity we witnessed on the 7th.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:42 PM


    Bomber was given House of Commons tour by a Labour MP (GETHIN CHAMBERLAIN AND JAMES KIRKUP, 7/16/05, The Scotsman)

    ONE of the London suicide bombers was allowed to tour the Houses of Parliament as the guest of an MP months after police and intelligence services became aware of his links to another alleged bomb plot, it emerged last night.

    Mohammad Sidique Khan, 30, was a guest of the Labour MP Jon Trickett in July 2004, four months after he had been identified by intelligence officials as a "criminal associate" of one of the subjects of a major counter-terrorism operation that had resulted in several arrests.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:23 PM


    Inflation Remains Flat Despite Energy Costs (VIKAS BAJAJ, 7/15/05, NY Times)

    Wholesale prices, an early indicator of inflation in the economy, were unchanged in June, the government reported today, indicating that most businesses are not passing on rising energy costs to customers.

    Following a report on Thursday that showed consumer prices were also flat in June, the producer price index numbers provide further confirmation that inflation remains at bay in the current economic expansion.

    The core producer price index, which excludes the volatile food and energy sectors, fell 0.1 percent in June from May, the Department of Labor reported.

    So, you see, if they go up it's a sign of inflation, but if they go down it's a sign that businesses are hiding inflation. The only thing we can know for sure is that there must be inflation.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:15 PM


    Ethicists Offer Advice for Testing Human Brain Cells in Primates (NICHOLAS WADE, 7/15/05, NY Times)

    If stem cells ever show promise in treating diseases of the human brain, any potential therapy would need to be tested in animals. But putting human brain stem cells into monkeys or apes could raise awkward ethical dilemmas, like the possibility of generating a humanlike mind in a chimpanzee's body.

    No such experiments are planned right now. But in a paper today in the journal Science, a group of scientists and ethicists is advising researchers to exercise care with such experiments, particularly if they should lead to a large fraction of a chimpanzee's brain's being composed of human neurons. [...]

    Neural stem cells, the source cells that build the brain, might be introduced into an adult human's brain to replace cells that are lost in Parkinson's disease. Trying such a therapy first in animals would show how well the cells integrated themselves in the brain. Dr. Faden's group considers it unlikely that the adult brain of a monkey or ape would be significantly altered by human cells.

    But the earlier that human cells are introduced in an animal and the closer the species is to humans, the higher the risk of some significant shift toward humanlike cognition. If human neural stem cells were inserted into the embryo of a chimpanzee, they might construct a significant part of the brain. "We couldn't rule out the possibility that certain experiments could potentially alter the cognitive or emotional status of the animal in ways that would be problematic from an ethical point of view," Dr. Faden said.

    Gee, you mean if we make them in our image they will be endowed with dignity and entitled to moral consideration?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:48 PM


    Santorum hits back at Kennedy (BRETT LIEBERMAN, 7/15/05, Patriot News)

    U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., yesterday accused Democrats of dredging up 3-year-old remarks on the Catholic Church's clergy sex-abuse scandal for purely partisan reasons.

    Santorum refused to apologize for statements that blamed the church's scandal on Boston's liberalism.

    Santorum, a devout Catholic, shot back at U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., who upbraided Santorum Wednesday in an unusually personal attack on the Senate floor.

    "I don't think Ted Kennedy lecturing me on the teachings of the church and how the church should handle these problems is something I'm going to take particularly seriously," Santorum said during a conference call with Catholic media.

    Santorum also questioned Kennedy's following of church doctrine and said he is unaware of Kennedy or Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., getting involved to address the church's problem.

    Once again, Senator Kennedy has waded in over his head.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:45 PM


    Indo-US Relations Headed for a Grand Transformation?: The Bush administration's new South Asia policy is no longer a zero-sum game (Ashley J. Tellis, 14 July 2005, YaleGlobal)

    [C]ultivating this new relationship with India carries several risks for the Bush administration. First, supporting India's acquisition of nuclear and space technology could undermine the international non-proliferation regime. While providing such technologies would give New Delhi incentives to control outward proliferation in perpetuity and join with the United States in interdicting proliferation wherever it occurs worldwide, Washington cannot simply jettison the global non-proliferation regime that it has assiduously built over the last several decades. Instead, the administration is faced with the challenge of how to selectively apply this regime in practice, spawning what Richard Haass once termed "a proliferation of proliferation policies," in which countries are treated differently based upon their value to the United States. Given India's importance for the success of US non-proliferation goals and other geopolitical objectives, treating New Delhi as an exception to the strictures of the non-proliferation order is long overdue.

    Second, the new administration strategy carries with it the risk of provoking China, which could view closer US-India ties as a means of polite containment. This is another issue Washington will have to manage prudently – but without apology. The United States should always consider the new US-Indian ties in terms of its own interests, rather than in light of potential Chinese displeasure. In fact, given the violent history of rising powers, the US might need partnerships with other Asian states to counter growing Chinese capabilities, which even today directly threaten the United States and its allies. Deepened relations with Japan, India, and key allies in Southeast Asia will create structural constraints that may discourage Beijing from abusing its growing regional power. Even as Washington attempts to preserve good relations with Beijing – and encourages these rimland states to do the same – cultivating ties with these nations may be the best way to prevent China from dominating Asia in the long-term.

    When has non-proliferation ever not been selectively applied in favor of allies -- like Israel and Afrikaaner South Africa? And why have good relations with China?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:35 PM

    Mike Daley informs us of this odd bit of tv programming:

    On Sunday at 6 and 9 p.m. ET, David Frum will guest host After Words, Book TV on C-SPAN2's signature author interview series. Frum will interview
    Victor Navasky, publisher of the Nation, who will discuss his new memoir, "A
    Matter of Opinion," and reflect on his career in journalism. Mr. Frum is currently a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and columnist for National Review. For more After Words, and this week's guests, please visit www.booktv.org

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:34 PM


    Rove fight escalates (Stephen Dinan and Joseph Curl, July 15, 2005,

    "Her neighbors knew this, her friends knew this, his friends knew this. A lot of blame could be put on to central cover staff and the agency because they weren't minding the store here. ... The agency never changed her cover status."

    Mr. Rustmann, who spent 20 of his 24 years in the agency under "nonofficial cover" -- also known as a NOC, the same status as the wife of Mr. Wilson -- also said that she worked under extremely light cover.

    In addition, Mrs. Plame hadn't been out as an NOC since 1997, when she returned from her last assignment, married Mr. Wilson and had twins, USA Today reported yesterday.

    The distinction matters because a law that forbids disclosing the name of undercover CIA operatives applies to agents that had been on overseas assignment "within the last five years."

    Rumor has it that Bob Novak learned her identity from Hafez Assad....

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:09 PM


    June Industrial Production Roars Ahead (AP, 07.15.2005)

    Industrial production roared ahead in June at the fastest pace in 16 months, with half of the gain attributed to a big increase in output at the nation's utilities, reflecting the onset of hot weather.

    The Federal Reserve reported that industrial output increased 0.9 percent in June, three times faster than the 0.3 percent rise in May. The good performance provided further evidence that the nation's factories, mines and utilities have rebounded from a spring slowdown.

    Meanwhile, the Labor Department provided a second dose of good news on inflation, reporting that prices at the wholesale level were unchanged in June even though gasoline prices shot up at the fastest pace in eight months. On Thursday, the government reported that consumer prices were also frozen in June.

    Posted by Stephen Judd at 12:20 PM


    Toms DQ'd after rules violation (July 15, 2005, SI.com)

    American Ryder Cup player David Toms was disqualified from the 134th British Open on Friday after owning up to a rules infringement.

    The 38-year-old from Louisiana, the 2001 PGA Championship winner, signed for a two-over 74 in the first round but later told officials he believed he had hit a moving ball when he played the notorious 17th Road Hole.

    Ever see a soccer player call a hand ball on himself?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:09 AM


    Outgoing Pentagon aide rethinks case for Iraq war (ROBERT BURNS, July 15, 2005, Chicago Sun-Times)

    The top policy adviser to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the Bush administration erred by building its public case for war against Saddam Hussein mainly on the claim that he possessed banned weapons.

    Douglas J. Feith's comment is a rare admission of error about Iraq by a senior administration official. Feith, who is leaving after four years as the undersecretary of defense for policy, said he remains convinced war against Iraq was necessary.

    ''I don't think there is any question that we as an administration, instead of giving proper emphasis to all major elements of the rationale for war, overemphasized the WMD aspect,'' he said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction.

    WMD was just the cost of keeping Colin Powell and Tony Blair on board.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:06 AM


    The Case for the Private School (George S. Schuyler, March 1956, The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty)

    A century ago education was almost entirely privately supported and controlled throughout the United States. Indeed, it was not until the early years of the nineteenth century that the first free school (for Negroes, incidentally) was established in New York City. Schools were operated by religious organizations or individual educators. The parents directly paid tuition with occasional benefactions from grateful alumni. The private schools turned out fewer graduates proportionately than now emerge from the government (public) school system, but there was no criticism that these could not properly read, write, spell, and figure, nor that they were ignorant of geography, civics, and the great Christian principles that motivate men. Under this diverse system based on various educational philosophies and with widely varying curricula, the percentage of literate persons was not only large and increasing but regimentation of instruction was impossible, and there was wide experimentation. This diversity by its very nature enriched our culture.

    While the government school system has never entirely displaced the private schools, it has largely superseded them. With the growing desire and demand for mass instruction following the Civil War, municipalities, cities, and states turned increasingly to tax-supported government schools until the latter became swamped by enrollment. There is now a widespread agitation for some form of federal subsidy. Thirty or forty years ago, such a suggestion would have been overwhelmingly rejected as leading inevitably to repugnant regimentation. This fear has been considerably justified by events, and accordingly dissatisfaction with government schools has grown, with widespread criticism of what and how our children are taught.

    It is significant that despite the heavy school taxes which all must pay, an increasing number of parents are willing to assume the added burden of private tuition to assure their children the kind of educational discipline they want them to have. Many families are prepared to forego expensive gewgaws in order to do this, believing that the scholastic and ethical standards are higher in private than in government schools. They are scarcely in the mood for expensive frills and experiments of dubious value, preferring to have a more direct and final say about what, how, and by whom their children are taught. If they are not intrigued by efforts to instill in their offsprings’ minds enthusiasm for the United Nations, world government, TVA experiments, and “progressive” education, but prefer that they be instructed in the background and meaning of our Constitution, the clear and precise use of our language, and the mastery of mathematics or another language or two, they would like to choose their school.

    Many American parents feel rightly that they, and not the State, should be responsible for what their children become; that education should be divorced from political control; and that those who prefer private instruction for their children should not be taxed for the upkeep of facilities which they did not choose nor curricula to which they do not want them exposed.

    Schuyler was merely before time.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:46 AM


    Unions debate the place of politics (Jill Lawrence, 7/14/05, USA TODAY)

    Patti Fritz worked at a nursing home for 30 years, then decided it was time to get more control over her job and her patients' care. Last year, on her second try, the feisty Democrat ousted a veteran Republican who had headed the state House committee on health.

    Fritz, a licensed practical nurse from Faribault, 55 miles south of here, didn't have a fancy degree or family money. But she did have an extensive education in organizing and politics, thanks to her union. And in the months before the election last fall, she benefited from a labor drive to turn out union voters in her district.

    In all, 13 Democrats beat Republicans in Minnesota state House races last year — cutting a 28-seat deficit to two seats. It was the best showing of either party in state assembly and house races nationwide, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    Unions played a pivotal role. Yet union membership here is shrinking, and so is labor's political clout.

    Minnesota is a microcosm of a national decline so dire that it threatens to rupture the 13 million-member AFL-CIO.

    Policies Aiding Blacks, Bush Says: Progress Made on Many Fronts, President Tells Indiana Group (Michael A. Fletcher, July 15, 2005, Washington Post)
    Making a rare appearance before a predominantly black audience, President Bush on Thursday touted his administration's initiatives to bolster education, increase homeownership and restructure Social Security, saying those efforts accrue to the benefit of African Americans.

    Speaking before about 3,200 people at a luncheon at the Indiana Black Expo, a statewide business and youth development organization, Bush listed a series of milestones achieved by black citizens under his watch. He cited a record number of black homeowners, sharp increases in the number of loans to black-owned small businesses, and a narrowing in the wide achievement gap separating black students from their white and Asian counterparts.

    Bush pointed to the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a test often referred to as "the nation's report card." The results, released Thursday, showed black elementary-school students making significant gains in math and reading scores between 1999 and 2004.

    "We're making big differences in the lives of African Americans," Bush said in his remarks at the RCA Dome.

    Things get worse and worse for Democrats...

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:22 AM


    The wrong cure for Japan's moral malaise (Umehara Takeshi , 7/15/05, Japan Focus)

    Some people argue that Japan's Fundamental Law of Education, adopted under the US occupation and operational from 1947, should be revised because it does not spell out respect for Japanese tradition, and after that the constitution, too, should be revised.

    It is unclear how these individuals perceive tradition, but it seems that they see the Imperial Rescript on Education (1890) as something rooted in Japanese tradition, and believe that the Japanese will become fine, moral people if moral education rooted in the spirit of this rescript is implemented. But is it really the case that the rescript is rooted in Japanese tradition? [...]

    I take the view that the Imperial Rescript on Education stemmed from the early Meiji policies of "Get rid of the Buddhas" (Haibutsu-Kishaku) and "Separate the Kami (Japanese deities) from the Buddhas"(Shinbutsu Bunri). From the time of Prince Shotoku (574-622), Buddhism was Japan's official religion, but it soon merged with Shinto, the religion of the Japanese people from Jomon (neolithic) times. The merger of Shinto and Buddhism, started by Gyoki (668-749) and Saicho (767-822), and perfected with Kukai's (774-835) esoteric Buddhism (Shingon-Mikkyo), lasted as Japan's tradition until the end of the Edo period (circa mid-17th century).

    However, as the Meiji government fell under the ideological sway of narrow-minded "National Learning" (Kokugaku) scholars, they set about implementing policies designed to separate the Kami and the Buddha and to demolish Buddhism. In the end, they killed off not only the Buddha but the Kami too, and in the space created by the absence of both Buddha and Kami they set the emperor as the new divinity. This process may be described as the creation of "New Shinto" (or state Shinto). This New Shinto contributed to making Japan a power comparable to Western states, by internally consolidating the political control of the Satsuma-Choshu-led government that replaced the Tokugawa shogunate and by externally focusing the power of the whole nation under the emperor.

    The philosopher Watsuji Tetsuro (1889-1960) set out in his war-time book, The Philosophy and Tradition of the Philosophy of Revering the Emperor, to prove that the ideology of seeing the emperor as a god was a Japanese tradition, but he was not successful. The idea of the emperor as a deity can be seen in the Kojiki and Manyoshu (8th century) and in texts such as the Jinno Shotoki (14th century), but it was not until after the middle of the Edo period that such ideas became popular and they were then utilized in the 19th-century process of overthrowing the Tokugawa shogunate.

    Under such religion, Japan developed as a modern state, became a great power, plunged into the "15-year war" and met the miserable fate of defeat. English philosopher Bertrand Russell raised the question of how Japan, where no one was allowed to question the divinity of the head of state, could have become a modern state.

    After the war, under the orders of General Douglas MacArthur, New Shinto was rejected and an edict declaring the humanity of the Showa emperor (Hirohito) was issued.

    It has obviously served our interests to help get rid of any sense of national, social, or even individual purpose in Japan and the rest of the West, but what good has it done any of them?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:06 AM


    Rove Learned CIA Agent's Name From Novak (JOHN SOLOMON, 7/14/05, Associated Press)

    Chief presidential adviser Karl Rove testified to a grand jury that he talked with two journalists before they divulged the identity of an undercover
    CIA officer but that he originally learned about the operative from the news media and not government sources, according to a person briefed on the testimony.

    The person, who works in the legal profession and spoke only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, told The Associated Press that Rove testified last year that he remembers specifically being told by columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame, the wife of a harsh
    Iraq war critic, worked for the CIA.

    Rove testified that Novak originally called him the Tuesday before Plame's identity was revealed in July 2003 to discuss another story.

    This much we do know: it's not illegal for someone who doesn't have access to classified information to reveal it to someone who does.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:20 AM


    A Detective Story Alleging Hit Men in Blue: Details of Hollywood Killing Helped Indict 2 Former NYPD Cops Long Suspected of Mob Ties (Josh Getlin, July 15, 2005, LA Times)

    As misting rain fell in the late afternoon, Anthony Dilapi strolled into the darkened, underground garage of his Hollywood apartment. Suddenly a masked gunman rushed toward him and fired.

    Five bullets to the face. Four to the body. The killer jumped into a waiting car and raced away. His victim died instantly. The Feb. 4, 1990, shooting never made headlines. Dilapi, 53, was listed on his death certificate as a used-car salesman.

    In fact, he was a New York mobster, a member of the Lucchese crime family. He had fallen out of favor with his bosses and fled to the West Coast.

    Dilapi had covered his tracks well. How did the New York Mafia find him?

    Prosecutors were mystified. Their investigation hit dead ends. Then, this year, they uncovered startling evidence: The trail led to two of New York's most respected detectives.

    In 1969, drug dealing, burglary, robbery and rape were soaring in New York. Muggers on the subways and in the parks terrified many; there was a widespread feeling that the city was out of control.

    Nervous officials relaxed background checks and began hiring more police. Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito joined the NYPD during this time.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:52 AM


    Senate shuns attempt to add agents (Stephen Dinan, July 15, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

    The Senate voted yesterday against fulfilling its pledge from last year to hire 2,000 more Border Patrol agents and fund 8,000 new detention beds for illegal aliens in fiscal 2006, as some potential presidential candidates weighed in on border security and illegal immigration.
    The American taxpayer will never pay what it would cost to close the borders.

    July 14, 2005

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:43 PM


    Far right and football gangs plot 'revenge' (Hugh Muir, July 15, 2005, The Guardian)

    Plans by an alliance of rightwing extremists and football hooligans to exact "revenge" on Muslims after last week's bomb attacks are being monitored by police.

    The Guardian has learned that extremists are keen to cause widespread fear and injury with attacks on mosques and high-profile "anti-Muslim" events in the capital.

    Football hooligans communicating over the internet have spoken of the need to put aside partisan support for teams and unite against Muslims. Hooligans from West Ham, Millwall, Crystal Palace and Arsenal are among those seeking to establish common cause.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:21 PM


    Karl Rove and CIA Leak; Joe Wilson Interview (Wolf Blitzer Reports, July 14, 2005, CNN)


    BLITZER: You saw this RNC, Republican National Committee, briefing paper that has been released today: Joe Wilson's top worst inaccuracies and misstatements. Basically, they accuse you of lying on a bunch of various issues related to this case. We're going to go through some of them.

    But what do you make of the effort to smear you right now?

    WILSON: Well, it strikes me that it's typical of a Rove-type operation. "Slime and defend" is what it's been called in the past.

    But the fact of the matter is, of course, that this is not a Joe Wilson or Valerie Wilson issue. This is an issue of whether or not somebody leaked classified information to the press, who then published it, thereby putting covert operations and a covert officer at some risk. [...]

    WILSON: My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.

    BLITZER: But she hadn't been a clandestine officer for some time before that?

    WILSON: That's not anything that I can talk about.

    The Democrats have to figure out a way to shut this egomaniac up, he's wrecking their case against Rove.

    Rove Reportedly Held Phone Talk on C.I.A. Officer (DAVID JOHNSTON and RICHARD W. STEVENSON, 7/15/05, NY times)

    Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser, spoke with the columnist Robert D. Novak as he was preparing an article in July 2003 that identified a C.I.A. officer who was undercover, someone who has been officially briefed on the matter said Thursday.

    Mr. Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist the name of the C.I.A. officer, who was referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, and the circumstances in which her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled to Africa to investigate possible uranium sales to Iraq, the person said.

    After hearing Mr. Novak's account, the person who has been briefed on the matter said, Mr. Rove told the columnist: "I heard that, too."

    So Novak is one of Rove's sources, not vice versa.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:13 PM


    S.&P. 500 Hits 4-Year High (VIKAS BAJAJ, 7/14/05, NY Times)

    The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index closed at a four-year high today, buoyed by several days worth of positive economic and corporate earnings reports.

    The S.&P. 500 and other leading stock indexes have rallied back from losses in the spring when economic reports painted a somewhat grimmer picture of the economy, which has since been colored in brighter hues.

    Not that anyone should, but remember how hysterical people got about the identical metaphor just 6 weeks ago?: The only real drag on the economy is the picture the press paints.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:53 PM


    Sen. Clinton seeks 'Grand Theft' sex scene probe (Peter Kaplan, Jul 14, 2005, Reuters)

    Sen. Hillary Clinton pressed on Thursday for a government investigation into how simulated sex cropped up in a modified version of the blockbuster criminal adventure video game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."

    Clinton asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to investigate the origins of a downloadable modification that allows simulated sex in the personal computer version of one of the most popular and controversial video games in history.

    "We should all be deeply disturbed that a game which now permits the simulation of lewd sexual acts in an interactive format with highly realistic graphics has fallen into the hands of young people across the country," Clinton wrote in a letter to the head of the Federal Trade Commission.

    Republicans are extremely fortunate that she's not the Minority Leader.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:50 PM


    You are so lucky that you're not British, Chirac tells his people (Charles Bremner, 7/15/05, Times of London)

    PRESIDENT CHIRAC sought to regain favour with his worried nation yesterday by telling the French that they are far better off than the British and have no reason to take lessons from across the Channel.

    The head of state’s focus on Britain would normally have seemed out of place in his traditional Bastille Day television interview, but this year M Chirac could not avoid France’s theme of the season as he grapples with record unpopularity. London’s victory in the race for the 2012 Olympics was the final straw in what France sees as a period of British superiority in the ancestral Anglo-French duel.

    After leading the silence for the London bombings at an Élysée Palace garden party, M Chirac was asked about France’s losing streak and what is seen as Britain’s triumphant prosperity under Tony Blair.

    He said: “I have a lot of esteem for the British people and for Tony Blair. But I do not think the British model is one that we should envy.

    “Certainly, their unemployment is lower than ours. But if you take the big elements in society — health policy, the fight against poverty, . . . spending involving the future — you notice that we are much, much better placed than the English.”

    Who knew he did stand-up?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:47 PM


    Bush and Party Chief Court Black Voters at 2 Forums (ANNE E. KORNBLUT, 7/15/05, NY Times)

    In a coordinated effort to reach black voters, President Bush heralded higher test scores among minorities on Thursday while his party's chairman, in an even more explicit overture, apologized for past Republican efforts to exploit racial friction.

    Mr. Bush spoke to business leaders at the Indiana Black Expo here, after declining an invitation to appear at the national convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for the fifth consecutive year because of what White House officials said was a scheduling conflict.

    "We're making big differences in the lives of African-Americans," the president told leaders at the expo.

    Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, spoke at the N.A.A.C.P.'s convention in Milwaukee. In his most extensive comments yet on the subject of race, Mr. Mehlman apologized for the so-called Southern strategy that his party employed nearly a half-century ago, when Republicans used the hostility of the civil rights era to pit Southern conservatives against blacks.

    "Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization," he said. "I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong."

    No matter how high a regard you have for Ronald Reagan, for example, you have to be embarrassed that he kicked off his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:41 PM



    In what was termed a significant achievement, up to 40 percent of Iraqi security forces have been deemed as combat capable.

    The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a report that despite setbacks and an insurgency campaign, Iraq's military and security forces have achieved significant progress over the last year. The report, authored by senior fellow Anthony Cordesman, said Iraq's special forces units were deemed the most capable in the armed forces.

    As of mid-June 2005, the report said, about 40 percent of the special forces police units and 20 percent of army units were rated "capable." The report said none of the special units were rated "fully capable."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:40 PM


    This is a turning point: we have to fly the flag for Britishness again (Boris Johnson, 14/07/2005, Daily Telegraph)

    Of all the shattering revelations of the past few days, the worst has been that these suicide bombers were British.

    It's revealing how few of the stories can bring themselves to state that simple fact.

    Mr. Johnson goes on:

    That shocking fact of their Britishness tells us something frightening about them and about us, because, as suicide bombers go, they are unusual. When the Palestinian bombers attack Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, they usually come from miserable lives in Nablus or Hebron. When the 19 suicide bombers destroyed the Twin Towers they originated, without exception, from the Arab world, mainly Saudi Arabia.

    We seem to have pulled off the rare feat of breeding suicide bombers determined to attack the very society that incubated them; and the question is why. Why does America import its suicide bombers, while we produce our own? Last summer we had a magnificent holiday driving around America, and for a cynical Brit it was astonishing to see the way the Americans fly that flag of theirs.

    On every porch, on every flagpole, on every bumper: there were the stars and stripes, unabashed, exuberant, proud. Contrast our treatment of the Union Flag, which is endlessly being cited in racial harassment cases, on the ground that it is provocative merely - for instance - to stick it on your locker. Remember Bob Ayling, the Labour-supporting businessman who succeeded the late, great Lord King at British Airways, and decided that the Union Flag was so too embarrassing that he stripped it from the tailfins of his planes.

    The Americans would be mystified by our approach to a national symbol. For them the flag is a vital agent of integration, a way of asserting that, in that vast immigrant country, each person is not only American but equally American, and has an equal stake in society. That is why American children still begin their day at school by pledging allegiance to the flag, and that is why the Americans show a patriotism and a simple enthusiasm for their own country that our jaded British sensibilities find childish.

    Well, if you consider what is taught in British schools - and when you think that one of the killers was actually a primary school teacher - it is hard to deny that in their assessment of what a nation needs to stick together, the Americans are right, and we are tragically wrong.

    You are what you tolerate.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:32 PM


    Rehnquist Says He'll Stay on Supreme Court (RON FOURNIER and GINA HOLLAND, 7/14/05, Associated Press)

    Squelching rumors of his retirement, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist said Thursday he will continue heading the Supreme Court despite his battle with thyroid cancer. "I'm not about to announce my retirement," he said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press.

    "I want to put to rest the speculation and unfounded rumors of my imminent retirement," said Rehnquist, 80. "I will continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:20 PM

    ROOT CAUSES (via Ed Driscoll):

    Are you ready? Tomorrow you will be in Paradise . . .: What motivates a suicide bomber? Our correspondent talks to a young Muslim who survived his intended 'martyrdom' and describes the terrorists' rigorous training (Nasra Hassan, 7/14/05, Times of London)

    S had just turned 27. He is slight, and he walked with a limp, the only trace of his near-death. He invited his wife to join us, and he answered my questions without hesitation.

    I asked him when, and why, he had decided to volunteer for martyrdom. “In the spring of 1993, I began to pester our military leaders to let me do an operation,” he said. “It was around the time of the Oslo accords, and it was quiet, too quiet. I wanted to do an operation that would incite others to do the same. Finally, I was given the green light to leave Gaza for an operation inside Israel.”

    “How did you feel when you heard that you’d been selected for martyrdom?” I asked.

    “It’s as if a very high, impenetrable wall separated you from Paradise or Hell,” he said. “Allah has promised one or the other to his creatures. So, by pressing the detonator, you can immediately open the door to Paradise — it is the shortest path to Heaven.”

    S was one of 11 children in a middle-class family that, in 1948, had been forced to flee from Majdal to a refugee camp in Gaza, during the Arab-Israeli war that started with the creation of the State of Israel. He joined Hamas in his early teens and became a street activist.

    In 1989, he served two terms in Israeli prisons for intifada activity, including attacks on Israeli soldiers. One of his brothers is serving a life sentence in Israel.

    I asked S to describe his preparations for the suicide mission. “We were in a constant state of worship,” he said. “We told each other that if the Israelis only knew how joyful we were they would whip us to death! Those were the happiest days of my life.”

    “What is the attraction of martyrdom?” I asked.

    “The power of the spirit pulls us upward, while the power of material things pulls us downward,” he said. “Someone bent on martyrdom becomes immune to the material pull. Our planner asked, ‘What if the operation fails?’ We told him, ‘In any case, we get to meet the Prophet and his companions, inshallah.’

    “We were floating, swimming, in the feeling that we were about to enter eternity. We had no doubts. We made an oath on the Koran, in the presence of Allah — a pledge not to waver. This jihad pledge is called bayt al-ridwan, after the garden in Paradise that is reserved for the prophets and the martyrs. I know that there are other ways to do jihad. But this one is sweet — the sweetest. All martyrdom operations, if done for Allah ’s sake, hurt less than a gnat’s bite!”

    S showed me a video that documented the final planning for the operation. In the grainy footage, I saw him and two other young men engaging in a ritualistic dialogue of questions and answers about the glory of martyrdom. S, who was holding a gun, identified himself as a member of al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, which is one of two Palestinian Islamist organisations that sponsor suicide bombings. (Islamic Jihad is the other group.) “Tomorrow, we will be martyrs,” he declared, looking straight at the camera. “Only the believers know what this means. I love martyrdom.”

    The young men and the planner then knelt and placed their right hands on the Koran. The planner said: “Are you ready? Tomorrow, you will be in Paradise.”

    SINCE 1982, I have been an international relief worker. In 1996 I was posted to the Gaza Strip during one of the most vicious cycles of suicide bombings. To understand why certain young men voluntarily blow themselves up in the name of Islam, I began, without official sponsorship, to research their backgrounds and the beliefs that had led them to such extreme tactics.

    I was warned that my interest in trying to understand the suicide missions was dangerous. But eventually, when the people who were observing me had assured themslves of my credentials — an important one was that I am Muslim and from Pakistan — I was allowed to meet members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad who would help me. “We are agreeing to talk to you so that you can explain the Islamic context of these operations,” one man told me. “Even many in the Islamic world do not understand.”

    From 1996 to 1999, I interviewed nearly 250 people involved in the most militant camps of the Palestinian cause: volunteers who, like S, had been unable to complete their suicide missions, the families of dead bombers, and the men who trained them.

    None of the suicide bombers — they ranged in age from 18 to 38 — conformed to the typical profile of the suicidal personality. None of them was uneducated, desperately poor, simple-minded, or depressed. Many were middle-class and held paying jobs. Two were the sons of millionaires. They all seemed entirely normal members of their families. They were polite and serious, and in their communities were considered to be model youths. Most were bearded. All were deeply religious.

    I was told that to be accepted for a suicide mission the volunteers had to be convinced of the religious legitimacy of the acts they were contemplating, as sanctioned by the divinely revealed religion of Islam. Many of these young men had memorised large sections of the Koran and were well versed in the finer points of Islamic law and practice. But their knowledge of Christianity was rooted in the medieval crusades, and they regarded Judaism and Zionism as synonymous.

    Most of the men I interviewed requested strict anonymity. The majority spoke in Arabic and they all talked matter-of-factly about the bombings, showing an unshakeable conviction in the rightness of their cause and their methods. When I asked them if they had any qualms about killing innocent civilians, they would immediately respond, “The Israelis kill our children and our women. This is war, and innocent people get hurt.”

    They were not inclined to argue but they were happy to discuss, far into the night, the issues and the purpose of their activities. One condition of the interviews was that, in our discussions, I not refer to their deeds as “suicide”, which is forbidden in Islam. Their preferred term is “sacred explosions”. One member of al-Qassam said: “We do not have tanks or rockets, but we have something superior — our exploding Islamic bombs.”

    My contacts told me that, as a military objective, spreading fear among the Israelis was as important as killing them. Anwar Aziz, an Islamic Jihad member who blew himself up in an ambulance in Gaza, in December 1993, had often told friends: “Battles for Islam are won not through the gun but by striking fear into the enemy’s heart.”

    Military commanders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad remarked that the human bomb was one of the surest ways of hitting a target. A senior Hamas leader said: “The main thing is to guarantee that a large number of the enemy will be affected. With an explosive belt or bag, the bomber has control over vision, location, and timing.”

    As today’s weapons of mass destruction go, the human bomb is cheap.

    Gotta love Democrats grandstanding about how more budget appropriations for mass transit security will stop these guys. You bet.

    Support for bin Laden falls in Muslim countries (Alan Elsner Thu Jul 14, 2005, Reuters)

    Support for Osama bin Laden and suicide bombings have fallen sharply in much of the Muslim world, according to a multicountry poll released on Thursday.

    The survey by the Pew Research Center examined public opinion in six predominantly Muslim nations: Morocco, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Jordan and
    Lebanon. It also examined views in nine North American and European countries as well as in India and China. In all, more than 17,000 people were questioned either by telephone of face-to-face.

    "There's declining support for terrorism in the Muslim countries and support for Osama bin Laden is declining. There's also less support for suicide bombings," said Pew Center director Andrew Kohut.

    "This is good news, but still there are substantial numbers who support bin Laden in some of these countries," he told a news conference.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:13 PM


    President Discusses Education, Entrepreneurship & Home Ownership at Indiana Black Expo (George W. Bush, RCA Dome, Indianapolis, Indiana, 7/14/05)


    It's an honor to be here with so many charitable and civic leaders. You see, we share a belief in the founding promises of this nation, a sense of optimism about our future, the future for all citizens, African Americans. We believe in the power of the human spirit to lift communities and to change lives. Together, we're working to achieve a great national goal: making our country a place where opportunity and prosperity are within reach for all Americans.

    I see an America where all our children are taught the basic skills they need to live up to their God-given potential. I see an America where every citizen owns a stake in the future of our country, and where a growing economy creates jobs and opportunity for everyone. I see an America where most troubled neighborhoods become safe places of kinship and community. I see an America where every person of every race has the opportunity to strive for a better future and to take part of the promise of America. That's what I see. And I believe the government has a role to play in helping people gain the tools they need to build lives of dignity and purpose. That's at the heart of what I call compassionate conservatism.

    To ensure that the promise of America reaches all our citizens, we must begin with education. I don't believe you can succeed in America unless you get a good education. (Applause.) Our nation took an historic step toward that goal of making sure every child is educated three years ago, when Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act. The No Child Left Behind Act is based on this straightforward principle: We'll spend money, but we want to make sure we get results.

    See, if you believe certain children can't read and write and can't possibly learn, then you don't care about results. But if you believe every child can read, and every child can learn to write and add and subtract, then you want to know, don't you? How can you solve a problem unless you measure? And so as a part of the No Child Left Behind Act, we raised the bar. We raised the standards, and we said to local school districts, show us. That's all we want to know. We want to know whether or not a child can read.

    And we're making good progress as result of this new way of thinking. This morning the latest scores for the long-term National Assessment of Educational Progress were announced. See, this test is called the Nation's Report Card. It measures student achievement at age 9, 13, and 17, across the country with the same set of standards. In other words, we want to know how students are doing in California, Texas, and Indiana. So we measure on the same set of standards. You see, measurement helps us understand how we're doing. You can't guess when it comes to a child's life. You got to measure.

    And the test results were released today. I'm proud to come here to talk about the new results. They're from the first long-term test by the way since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act. Over the last five years, American children have made significant gains. Math scores for 13-year-olds have increased by five points. Math scores for 9-year-olds have increased by nine points. And reading scores for 9-year-olds jumped seven points. (Applause.) America's 13-year-olds have earned the highest math scores ever recorded. Nine-year-olds posted the best scores ever in reading and math.

    What I'm telling you is across America more children are learning. And the success of young students is setting them on the path to a lifetime of achievement. And we're making big differences in the lives of African Americans. I say, we -- let me get this straight -- I'm talking about good teachers, and good principals, and engaged parents. This is not the federal government. It is the people at the local level who are making a huge difference in the lives of their students. (Applause.)

    We've had an achievement gap in America and we need to do something about it. The No Child Left Behind Act is helping to do something about it. See, I refuse to accept this belief that certain people can't learn. I called it the soft bigotry of low expectations. Think about that phrase: It says if you lower the standards, you get lousy results. I believe you need to challenge that soft bigotry of low expectation. And we are. The Nation's Report Card shows that reading scores for African American 9-year-olds have jumped 14 points over the past five years. (Applause.) Math scores have jumped 13 points in the same period of time. These are the highest scores ever in the history of the test. The achievement gap is starting to close. And that's good for the future of America.

    The gap between white and African American 9-year-olds in reading is the narrowest it's ever been in the history of the 30-year test. These results show that when performance is measured, and schools are held accountable, every child can succeed. That's what it shows. And we're making progress toward achieving a dream where every single child in America gets a good education, and not one child is left behind. (Applause.)

    No Child Left Behind is making a difference in the elementary and middle schools, and I believe we need to expand this process to our high schools. Do you realize that according to the most recent data, only 68 out of every 100 students entering our public high schools make it to graduation four years later? That is an unacceptable statistic for America. (Applause.)

    See, here's what I think we need to do. I think we need to measure and determine why. You can't solve a problem unless you diagnose the problem. I think we need to measure to make sure we understand what is going wrong, and correct the problems early before it's too late. And I believe the federal government has a role in providing money for early intervention for students falling behind. I know we need to do this. We need to make sure a high school diploma is the ticket to success.

    Most new jobs in the 21st century are filled by people with at least two years of college. Think about that. Most new jobs in America today are filled by people with at least two years of college. And so we need to make higher education more affordable. And I proposed to the United States Congress that we reform the student aid system and increase college assistance for low-income students through the Pell grant program. (Applause.) I think we need to increase the maximum award for Pell grants and make them available to students year-round so they can be used for summer school, as well.

    We'll expand access to community colleges so more Americans can develop the skills and knowledge they need. And to help African American students get a higher education, we have continued to fund historically black colleges and historically black graduate institutions at record levels. (Applause.)

    My point to you is that if you're willing to work hard and stay in school, the federal government will take your side and help you. To ensure that the promise of America reaches all our citizens, we're working to build an ownership society in which more of our citizens have a personal stake in the future of our country. When you own something, your life is more secure. When you own something, you have more dignity. When you own something, you have greater independence. The more people who own something in America means this country is better off. So we've been working to promote an ownership society. I want more people from all walks of life, including African Americans, to have a chance to own their own business. (Applause.)

    You can't expand business ownership unless you have a growing economy. And our economy is growing. It is the fastest growing of any major industrialized nation in the world. Our unemployment rate is down to 5 percent. In the last 12 months, we've created more than 2 million jobs. More Americans are working today than ever before in our nation's history. (Applause.)

    I believe the federal government can play a positive role in helping African Americans achieve the goal of owning their own business. Last year, the Small Business Administration increased the number of loans to African American businesses by 28 percent, and we're on track to beat that number this year. We're also working to ensure minority businesses are getting a better chance to compete for federal contracts. We've provided $8 billion in new market tax credits to boost investment and community development in low-income areas.

    Because of sound policy and low taxes, by the way, and the hard work of our citizens, we're getting results. African American business ownership is at an all-time high in America today. (Applause.)

    We got some interesting ideas on how to build on this progress. We're working on a new initiative to help more African Americans and other minorities become business owners. My administration is joined with the Urban League, the Business Roundtable, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and others to create what we call the Urban Entrepreneur Partnership. I think it's a smart idea. This partnership will develop one-stop economic empowerment centers in many of our nation's poorest communities. In other words, we're trying to reach out and help people understand what it means to become a small business owner, through training and access to financing contracts for minority entrepreneurs. And the first pilot center will open next Monday in Kansas City and will serve as a model for the rest of the nation. I hope Black Expo, in its leadership position, will take a look at these kind of programs. I think you're going to find it really interesting.

    Listen, the entrepreneurial spirit is strong in the African American community. It's strong. There's a lot of great business leaders today, and there's a lot of would-be great business leaders tomorrow, just with some help. And what I'm telling you is, through good economic policy and through good social policy, this administration, working with others, is willing to help. We want more people owning their own business.

    And we want more people owning their own homes. I like the idea of home ownership, and I hope you do, as well. Three years ago, I set a goal of creating 5.5 million new minority home owners by the end of this decade. And we're getting results. We've already added 2.3 million new homeowners, minority homeowners, putting us ahead of schedule. Today, nearly half of all African Americans own their own homes. And that's good for our country. (Applause.)

    And there's more we can do. We're going to provide down payment assistance for families; counseling for new home buyers. I don't know if you've ever seen one of those contracts, but the print is really small. We need to help people. Perhaps a good project for Black Expo is to join with Alphonso Jackson and the Housing of Urban Development to help people understand what's in the print so it doesn't -- that small print doesn't frighten them off from becoming a first-time home buyer.

    I believe we ought to have tax credits to encourage construction of more affordable housing in low-income areas. See, what I want is more and more people from all walks of life, including our African Americans, opening up the door where they live and saying, welcome to my home; welcome to my piece property. (Applause.)

    And I believe -- I believe that we also got to expand ownership through our retirement system. We got a problem in Social Security. If you've retired, you have nothing to worry about, you're going to get your check. Believe me, there's enough money there for you. It's just for the younger folks coming up. You're going to be paying -- you're going to be paying payroll taxes into a system that simply cannot sustain itself. It's going broke. I know some in Washington don't like to hear that. They kind of wish the issue would go away. It's not going away. In my judgment, now is the time to address it. The job of the President is to confront problems, not pass them on to future Presidents or future generations. (Applause.) And we got a problem.

    I put some ideas out there. I hope both Republicans and Democrats forget politics for once in Washington, D.C. and focus on what's good for the younger folks in America. (Applause.) But I got another idea to make the system work better. I think younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own money and set it aside in a personal savings account that they can call their own. Now, this isn't a new idea. See, this isn't a new idea. I wasn't the one who thought about it. Guess who thought about it first? Members of the United States Congress. See, they get to have their own retirement system, and so do federal employees. And you can invest some of your own money, if you so choose, in a conservative mix of bonds and stocks, so you get a good rate of return on your money over time. See, it's your money; you get to watch it grow. My idea is this: If this idea is good enough for members of the United States Congress, it's good enough for working people all across the United States of America. (Applause.)

    To ensure that the promise of America reaches all of our citizens, we must do more to improve the safety of our most troubled neighborhoods. It is difficult for a young person to study and to learn and grow in the midst of violence, addiction and despair. So we're fighting the scourge of drugs that destroys lives and wounds families and tears our community apart. We're aggressively prosecuting drug dealers and gun criminals. We're after them. You expect us to enforce the law; we're enforcing the law -- because we don't believe people should be allowed to commit crimes with guns. And people ought not to be allowed to sell drugs on the streets. And as a result, violent crime is at its lowest point in 30 years. (Applause.)

    As we work to combat crime and keep our streets safe, we must assure our criminal justice system is fair and effective. Americans of all races and backgrounds must be able to trust the legal system. They must be able to trust it so that no person is held to account for a crime he or she did not commit. We're dramatically expanding the use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction. See, progress for African Americans and, for that matter, all Americans, depends on the full protection of civil rights and equality under the law. (Applause.)

    To ensure that the promise of America reaches all our citizens, we must encourage those who are healing our neighborhoods with good words. We must stand with people of faith, not stand against them at the government level. See, government can hand out money, but it cannot put hope in a person's heart, or a sense of purpose in a person's life. That happens when somebody puts an arm around somebody and says, I love you, what can I do to help you, how can I be a part of making your life a better way?

    See, the nation's faith-based and community groups bring kindness and acts of charity to harsh places across America. I call these folks the social entrepreneurs of America. They're trying to figure out ways to listen to that universal call to love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself and help heal the broken heart. And oftentimes, those programs are a heck of a lot more effective than government programs. And therefore, it seems like to me that instead of just applauding the leaders, we got to support the leaders, and one of the most important initiatives that I put out is to say to faith-based programs, you can access federal money. You have the right to be able to apply for grants without having to take the cross off the wall, or the Star of David off your wall. You can interface with government without losing your mission. (Applause.)

    And we're making a difference. We're getting results. Last year, we awarded $2 billion in competitive grants to faith-based institutions that are transforming our nation and our neighborhoods one heart and one soul at a time.

    Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. Here in Indianapolis, the Zion Tabernacle Apostolic Church is reaching out to neighbors and helping lift up their communities. A social entrepreneur, a leader of the effort is Bishop Farris, who is with us today. Let me tell you what the Bishop has in mind and how he's going to be helped by the federal government. Secretary Alphonso Jackson, by the way, is a believer when it comes to the faith-based and community-based initiative. And so the Department of Housing and Urban Development has entered into a collaborative effort with his church, and they plan to break ground in October on 49 housing units for low-income elderly. And their new development will provide residents with shuttle services to stores and counseling and doctor appointments.

    I think this is a good use of taxpayers' money. I think it's a good way to say we're going to try to help improve people's lives. (Laughter.) And the delivery systems don't have to be government. They can be people of compassion, people who have heard the call, people who want to make somebody's lives better. So I want to thank you, Bishop, for doing what you're doing. And by the way, there's thousands of examples just like the Bishop's all across the country.

    As we ensure that America's promise reaches all our citizens, we're defending the freedom that makes this progress possible. Our foreign policy is tough and it is compassionate. The bombings in London last week are a grim reminder that free nations face dangerous enemies who hate our freedom and who'll kill in cold blood. We're on the offense against these terrorists overseas. We will bring them to justice so they don't murder more of our citizens and other citizens around the world.

    And as we hunt down the terrorists, we're offering an alternative to their hateful ideology. You see, we're spreading freedom and hope to millions. Because we acted, more than 50 million people -- 50 million -- in Iraq and Afghanistan now live in freedom. And across the broader Middle East, many are claiming their liberty, as well. By spreading freedom in a troubled region, we're making this country more secure. We're laying the foundation of peace for generations to come. I believe that freedom is not America's gift to the world; it is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world. (Applause.)

    I believe that human rights are not determined by race or nationality, or diminished by distance. As Americans are moved to action -- we are moved to action when we see millions in Africa who are facing famine, or dying of malaria or the AIDS pandemic. Last year, the United States of America provided nearly 60 percent of the global food aid to the continent of Africa. We're supporting an aggressive campaign to cut the mortality rate of malaria in half.

    We're taking the lead when it comes to compassion around the world. And since 2003, the United States of America has led the world. We've undertaken an historic initiative to help the nations of Africa combat HIV/AIDS. So far, thanks to the leadership of a former Hoosier, Randy Tobias, we have delivered lifesaving treatment to more than 230,000 people on the continent of Africa, and there's more work to be done. (Applause.)

    We see progress in Africa because our conscience demands it, and because we have an interest in the long-term stability of the continent. Instability and lawlessness in any distant country can bring danger to our own shores. That's the lesson that we're learning in the 21st century. The United States of America will help Africa's leaders bring democracy and prosperity and hope, and this will bring security to our country and peace to the world.

    Today, we live in the most hopeful time in human history. These are exciting times. The hope of liberty is spreading across the world. Just watch what's happening. And the hope and opportunity is spreading across our country, as well. We will continue to work for the day when the blessings of freedom reach everybody who lives in this country.

    The reason I've come today is because your work shows the dignity and equality and potential of every person. I'm here to herald the good works of good people of good heart. You've inspired Americans with your commitment to serve us in education and opportunity. You're helping to unite people of all races. I'm proud of your work. May God continue to bless your families, and may God continue to bless our great nation. Thanks for letting me come.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:00 PM


    Research: Third of study results don't hold up (AP, 7/13/05)

    New research highlights a frustrating fact about science: What was good for you yesterday frequently will turn out to be not so great tomorrow.

    The sobering conclusion came in a review of major studies published in three influential medical journals between 1990 and 2003, including 45 highly publicized studies that initially claimed a drug or other treatment worked.

    Subsequent research contradicted results of seven studies -- 16 percent -- and reported weaker results for seven others, an additional 16 percent.

    That means nearly one-third of the original results did not hold up, according to the report in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

    What if this study is the one in three?

    Posted by Peter Burnet at 4:33 PM


    If the frogs can't safely cross road, B.C. will build them tunnels (National Post, July 14th, 2005)

    The B.C. government said it is prepared to build frog-sized tunnels with tiny fences beneath the Sea to Sky Highway, if that's what it takes to protect a colony of red-legged frogs from becoming roadkill. The frogs, an at-risk species, have been found in wetlands on West Vancouver's Eagleridge Bluffs plateau, and environmentalists asked the government this week to make sure they are protected when the highway is built through their habitat. Peter Milburn, executive project director for the pre-Olympics upgrade of the highway, said one option is to capture and relocate the frogs and their tadpoles. He said the route avoids the frogs' primary habitat, but he wasn't sure whether their territory extends across the highway., If so, culverts and fencing will be used to let them cross safely.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:58 PM


    U.S. Says It Captured 2 Key Members of Al Qaeda in Iraq (KIRK SEMPLE, 7/14/05, NY Times)

    The American military said today that it had captured two men who it believed were high-ranking members of Al Qaeda in Iraq, including one suspected of being involved in the kidnapping and killing of Egypt's top diplomat here.

    In a statement, the military said the two men, Abdullah Ibrahim Muhammed Hassan al Shadad, also known as Abu Abdul Aziz, and Khamis Farhan Khalaf Abd al Fahdawi, also known as Abu Seba, had ties to the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. They were among more than 30 militants captured during several recent raids, the military said.

    It said Abu Abdul Aziz served Mr. Zarqawi as a terrorist cell leader and was captured in Baghdad on July 10. Abu Seba was captured in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, on July 9 and was suspected in attacks against the diplomats of Bahrain, Pakistan and the recent murder of the Egyptian envoy, Ihab al-Sharif.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:18 AM


    What Americans want in O'Connor court vacancy (Susan Page, 7/14/05, USA TODAY)

    "A Hispanic woman," [Phil] Estis, a 53-year-old management analyst with the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, suggested without hesitation as he paused across the street from the state Capitol here. "Men have had a chance to run the government for years."

    Despite divisions on ideology, most Americans agree with Estis. The latest USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll, taken July 7-10, showed overwhelming support for putting another woman on the court. Three of four favored appointing a woman to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the high court.

    Two-thirds of those surveyed liked the idea of naming the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court, too.

    And an equal number didn't want Roe v. Wade, the decision recognizing abortion rights, overturned by the court.

    The Roe bit is a function of how they phrased the question--the other numbers are interesting.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:52 AM

    ...AND LOWER...:

    Consumer inflation absent again in June (MARTIN CRUTSINGER, 7/14/05, Associated Press)

    Inflation pressures on the consumer were absent for a second straight month in June, reflecting another drop in energy costs, the government reported Thursday.

    The Labor Department said that its Consumer Price Index was unchanged in June after having posted a 0.1 percent decline in May. [...]

    Outside of food and energy, inflation was well contained in June, rising a slight 0.1 percent, the same increase as in May.

    Meanwhile, retail sales jumped by 1.7 percent in June, nearly double what analysts had been expecting, as the return of attractive auto incentives and warmer weather sent consumers streaming into auto showrooms and shopping malls.

    Daily Forex Commentary (Jack Crooks, 7/14/05, Asia Times)

    There seems to be this belief that higher energy costs are inflationary. However, we see it as deflationary. Simply stated: consumers choose to put gas in their cars, the money they spend goes to producers of energy - therefore, Mr Consumer has less to spend on other items. We think higher energy costs become inflationary when non-energy producers are able to pass on the additional costs of production. And despite some budding optimism that manufacturers are gaining pricing power traction - it is hard to believe. Real wage growth isn't there for consumers. And there's a place called China, and another named India, that continue to pressure final goods and services prices lower globally for as far as the eye can see. We note this tidbit of news from The Standard:

    "China's private-sector companies will probably trim investment because earnings aren't growing as fast as the economy," said JP Morgan Chase economist Frank Gong. Private sector companies account for an estimated 60% of economic production in China.

    Hmmm ... And this is the interesting part:

    "There have been a lot of upstream price increases [imported raw material] that haven't been trickling down to consumers because downstream [Chinese] companies don't have pricing power," said Mr Gong.

    If Chinese companies don't have pricing power given their relatively low cost of production, why should we assume US companies are gaining price-power traction? [...]

    Maybe we get a surprise on inflation this month - and maybe the dollar rallies - or maybe it doesn't. We seem to be in one of those zones whereby even if you guess the number right, you could be very wrong on the market reaction. But, given the US economy will probably be the last bastion of some growth relative to its competitors, should creeping global deflationary pressure rise, as we suspect, the dollar would seem to be the beneficiary over time.


    Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:52 AM


    NHL, NHLPA agree to tentative deal (CBC, July 13th, 2005)

    The NHL and the Players' Association struck a tentative deal Wednesday on a new collective bargaining agreement that could end the hockey lockout.

    The deal, reported to be for six years, still requires ratification from both the league's board of governors and the players' union.

    The players will meet next Wednesday and Thursday in Toronto while the owners will meet Thursday in New York. Both sides are expected to approve the deal, leading to the return of NHL hockey for the 2005-06 season.

    Is there any doubt that if this had gone on for another year, the terrorists would have won?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:48 AM


    Innovation Gives Finland A Firm Grasp on Its Future: Economy Offers a New Model for Old Europe (Robert G. Kaiser, July 14, 2005, Washington Post)

    The political and economic malaise that afflicts so much of Europe this summer has not infected this northernmost outpost of the European Union. The contrast between Finland's optimism about the future and Old Europe's gloom is striking. [...]

    Not that Finns have all the answers. Like all Europeans, they are producing too few babies to pay the promised welfare-state benefits to an ever-growing contingent of senior citizens. The new jobs created by their high-tech successes have been matched by losses from low-tech plant closures, so unemployment remains high -- about 10 percent.

    Nevertheless, the Finns know they are much better placed now than many of their Old Europe neighbors to the south. Exploiting their small size (5.2 million people) and ethnic homogeneity, the Finns have proven themselves successful experimenters and innovators.

    Fifteen years ago, Finland faced a full-scale depression, brought on by the loss of the country's most important markets as the Soviet Union disintegrated. Unemployment soared to 20 percent. But the Finns took control of their future, made painful adjustments and came out of the crisis with an economy that the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, ranks as the most competitive in the world.

    Unfortunately for Europeanists, the Finland model demonstrates the wisdom -- or good fortune -- of being a small and utterly homogenous state.

    Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:33 AM


    Lego blocks Mega Bloks from Netherlands (CBC. July 14th, 2005)

    A Netherlands court has given Lego a victory in its continuing fight with Canadian competitor Mega Bloks.

    Lego said the court ruled that Mega Bloks "is not permitted to market and sell bricks in the Netherlands which can be mistaken for Lego bricks."

    It said the court ruled that the two brands were so alike – once out of the package, they were indistinguishable – that consumers might become confused.

    Imagine the general mindset of the bureaucrat who defends his existential worth on the basis that, without him, there would be far more confused toddlers in this world. (Note: Lego's patents expired in 1978)

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:32 AM


    Joseph Wilson Calls on Bush to Fire Rove (The Associated Press, July 14, 2005)

    Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson called on President Bush Thursday to fire deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, saying Bush's top-level aide engaged in an "abuse of power" by discussing Wilson's wife's job with a reporter.

    Ms Palme's cover, such as it was, would have been considered permanently blown by intelligence officials at the point where she sent her husband on public CIA business, while Mr. Wilson's attack seems of a piece with that mission--an attempt to undermine the elected government by anti-Iraq-war hacks at the Agency.

    CIA 'outing' might fall short of crime (Mark Memmott, 7/14/05, USA TODAY)

    The alleged crime at the heart of a controversy that has consumed official Washington — the "outing" of a CIA officer — may not have been a crime at all under federal law, little-noticed details in a book by the agent's husband suggest.

    In The Politics of Truth, former ambassador Joseph Wilson writes that he and his future wife both returned from overseas assignments in June 1997. Neither spouse, a reading of the book indicates, was again stationed overseas. They appear to have remained in Washington, D.C., where they married and became parents of twins.

    Six years later, in July 2003, the name of the CIA officer — Valerie Plame — was revealed by columnist Robert Novak.

    The column's date is important because the law against unmasking the identities of U.S. spies says a "covert agent" must have been on an overseas assignment "within the last five years." The assignment also must be long-term, not a short trip or temporary post, two experts on the law say. Wilson's book makes numerous references to the couple's life in Washington over the six years up to July 2003.

    "Unless she was really stationed abroad sometime after their marriage," she wasn't a covert agent protected by the law, says Bruce Sanford, an attorney who helped write the 1982 act that protects covert agents' identities.

    It's not a legal matter though, just a political one.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:28 AM


    Crossing paths with a genius: In a Santa Rosa park, visitors can see results of hybrid experiments by Luther Burbank, creator of the plumcot. (Craig Nakano, July 14, 2005, LA Times)

    Experimentation, Luther Burbank said, is the "sole object and purpose of life" — a credo that still bears fruit at the self-taught horticulturist's home and garden, just a cork's throw from Sonoma County's wine country.

    Here, buzzing bees share the air with echoes of Burbank's wild imagination. A century ago, it seemed folly to some that he would graft cherry tree upon cherry tree nine times over, until a single specimen was laden with fruit of nearly a dozen shapes, hues and degrees of sweetness. Who else would have crossed a Japanese plum tree with an apricot to yield that odd little gem, the plumcot?

    He saw promise in the ox-eye daisy — a mere weed, really — and then spent 17 years improving its beauty through hybridization. The result of such devotion is here as well: the Shasta daisy, probably Burbank's best known flower, waiting to be examined in an entirely different light.

    In its white petals you can see his relentless drive for perfection. In its tall, deep-green stalks you'll see his curiosity about the nature of nature, about the ability to shape life, to make it bigger and stronger.

    Posted by Peter Burnet at 6:21 AM


    This is a turning point: we have to fly the flag for Britishness again (Boris Johnson, The Telegraph, July 14th, 2005)

    We seem to have pulled off the rare feat of breeding suicide bombers determined to attack the very society that incubated them; and the question is why. Why does America import its suicide bombers, while we produce our own? Last summer we had a magnificent holiday driving around America, and for a cynical Brit it was astonishing to see the way the Americans fly that flag of theirs.

    On every porch, on every flagpole, on every bumper: there were the stars and stripes, unabashed, exuberant, proud. Contrast our treatment of the Union Flag, which is endlessly being cited in racial harassment cases, on the ground that it is provocative merely - for instance - to stick it on your locker. Remember Bob Ayling, the Labour-supporting businessman who succeeded the late, great Lord King at British Airways, and decided that the Union Flag was so too embarrassing that he stripped it from the tailfins of his planes.

    The Americans would be mystified by our approach to a national symbol. For them the flag is a vital agent of integration, a way of asserting that, in that vast immigrant country, each person is not only American but equally American, and has an equal stake in society. That is why American children still begin their day at school by pledging allegiance to the flag, and that is why the Americans show a patriotism and a simple enthusiasm for their own country that our jaded British sensibilities find childish.

    Well, if you consider what is taught in British schools - and when you think that one of the killers was actually a primary school teacher - it is hard to deny that in their assessment of what a nation needs to stick together, the Americans are right, and we are tragically wrong. It is not just that most British children no longer know much about British history (13 per cent of 16- to 24-year- olds think the Armada was defeated by Hornblower, and six per cent ascribe the great naval victory to Gandalf).

    The disaster is that we no longer make any real demands of loyalty upon those who are immigrants or the children of immigrants. There are many culprits, and foremost among them is Enoch Powell. As Bill Deedes has pointed out over the years, the problem was not so much his catastrophic 1968 tirade against immigration, but the way he made it impossible for any serious politician to discuss the consequences of immigration, and how a multiracial society ought to work.

    In the wake of Powell's racist foray, no one had the guts to talk about Britishness, or whether it was a good thing to insist - as the Americans do so successfully - on the basic loyalty of immigrants to the country of immigration.

    As Mark Steyn quipped, you can’t assimilate with a nullity.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:17 AM


    Gleneagles outcome major energy triumph for Bush (ROBERT NOVAK, July 14, 2005, Chicago SUN-TIMES)

    Overshadowed by the London terrorist attack and largely ignored by inattentive news media, the declaration on global warming at the G-8 summit of industrialized nations sounded far more like George W. Bush than Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac. Prime Minister Blair failed in his attempted coup at Gleneagles in Scotland to bring his close friend President Bush into conformity on the Kyoto protocol.

    The British, French and Germans pushed hard for U.S. submission to binding carbon emission targets. To the amazement of the scientific community, Europe capitulated and backed away from immediate restraints on a growing U.S. economy. Bush won agreement from the G-8 that the world should await further scientific conclusion rather than rush unwise decisions that could deflate economic growth and lose jobs.

    Together with the rout of pro-Kyoto forces in the Senate two weeks ago, the outcome at Gleneagles constitutes a major energy triumph for Bush when he had seemed headed for defeat.

    Gosh, that's unusual, huh?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:04 AM


    Slow July might prompt changes for Tigers (GENE GUIDI, July 14, 2005, Detroit FREE PRESS)

    Whenever the Tigers stumbled in the first half of the season, they were quick to point out there was plenty of time left to accomplish something meaningful.

    Guess what? Time's up.

    There are 76 games left, but the Tigers' window of opportunity is smaller. If the team doesn't show president and general manager Dave Dombrowski they are legitimate wild-card contenders by the trade deadline at month's end, it would be no surprise to see him shed a few players with an eye toward '06.

    To be legitimate contenders, the Tigers must get to .500 and keep going, something they've been unable to do.

    The Tigers enter the second half tonight at 42-44. They must kick it in gear or Dombrowski might start taking offers for right-hander Jason Johnson and outfielder Rondell White, both pending free agents.

    Without Johnson and White, the chances of making a late rush to win the wild card would diminish -- especially since 16 of their remaining 23 series are against teams that reached the All-Star break at .500 or better.

    What if the Tigers get hot the rest of this month?

    While that likely would discourage Dombrowski from getting rid of players who could help in the short term, it doesn't follow that the Tigers automatically would become buyers at the trade deadline.

    The Tigers like their squad, especially since they called up first baseman Chris Shelton from Triple-A Toledo and traded for second baseman Placido Polanco.

    That's not to say if the Tigers surged into serious contention that Dombrowski wouldn't seek a player who might help.

    But with Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez back in the middle of the lineup, this is a team the Tigers think they can win with.

    On paper, the Tigers are as strong as they've been in years. But they still lose too many winnable games. They must start stealing a few games, like the White Sox and Yankees did to them on the Tigers' last home stand.

    While injuries contributed to the sub-.500 record in the first half, the Tigers' record should be better. The pitching has been unexpectedly good, but an inconsistent offense wasted too many good outings.

    Watching the Tigers in the first half, fans wonder: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

    They're within two games of .500 and not out of the playoff hunt after several years of being dreadful, plus their young players generally look terrific and they've some power arms still coming through the minors--whay more could Tiger fans have asked of 2005?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:03 AM


    Let go, yet hold on: The complete New Yorker -- on disc? It's too good to be true. (Mimi Avins, July 14, 2005, LA Times)

    The New Yorker magazine has announced that its complete 80-year archive will soon be available on eight computer discs. Some people found this development interesting. But to many, many, many others — and you know who you are, hoarders of America — the idea of being able to own eight DVDs containing every page of the 4,109 issues of the weekly magazine published between February 1925 and February 2005 was life-changing. Here, from the wise and benevolent goddess of technology, was a solution to an all too common stuff-management problem.

    it would be worth it just for Roger Angell, E. B. White, James Thurber, Joe Mitchell, and Berton Roueche.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:03 AM


    THE GIRL | CHAPTER FIVE OF FIVE: The Fight of Her Life: Seniesa learns from a loss and lusts for revenge. For her and her father, it's not just a title at stake. It's their dream. (Kurt Streeter, July 14, 2005, LA Times)

    There was nothing for this pain.

    Although she had lost, her father bought her a tall trophy with a fighter on top, inscribed "Seniesa Estrada, Regional Junior Champion." He surprised her with it. She took it to her bedroom and placed it near her pillow. It didn't help.

    Sucking a lollipop, she watched a videotape of her fight. "Maybe I did win," she said. "I didn't do as badly as I thought." It didn't help.

    She stayed away from the gym. When she finally went back to training, she was stale. She talked about other sports and practiced with a basketball team, against her father's wishes. It didn't help. Even her teachers noticed that something was amiss. Seniesa goofed off, and her grades fell. She interrupted class with chatter and gossip.

    She was nearly 12 now, and losing her first big match had taught her something. It showed her, said Lupe Arellano, one of her teachers, that she was not invincible, and it forced her to realize that there was more to life than boxing. "She is testing out what it is to be an ordinary girl," Arellano said. "Maybe it's good for her. She's just a kid. Now is the time to test and figure out where she belongs."

    -THE GIRL | CHAPTER FOUR OF FIVE: 'I'm Gonna Win. But You Never Know.': Seniesa learns the devastating 'Duran' and trains to face a tough foe. Problems mount outside the ring too. Growing up isn't easy. (Kurt Streeter, July 13, 2005, LA Times)
    "Down, then up, baby," her father said as he stood behind the ropes and watched. "Rapido, rapido. Set him up, set him up. Then come with the Duran."

    Seniesa bounced on her toes, holding her gloves in front of her face and weaving toward the other boxer, a boy one year older and 10 pounds heavier. He retreated against the ropes. She jabbed. She hooked. She backed off.

    His body melted deeper into the ropes. He threw a few meager punches, then drew away.

    "Duran," her father said.

    She evaded a blow by bending slightly to her right. In perfect position, she coiled tightly, right arm bent, right fist suddenly down, near her waist. When she released, her fist took off, making a small U, curving at first, and then straightening into the air before landing — WHAP — in the kid's gut.

    Seniesa Estrada, 11, had changed gyms, to Solid Rock Boxing, an old storefront with a single ring, where a onetime street hustler named Gil Valdez was helping Joe Estrada, 44, her father, train her. She had learned an array of punches. One she called "the Duran," a powerful roundhouse like the one perfected by the legendary champion Roberto Duran.

    But it would take the Duran and more to make Seniesa a champion. Outside the ring, the world had a way of ambushing her. If it wasn't her mother, who smothered her with worry that she could be hurt, then it was her brothers, who hung out on the streets where they could be killed, or her father, an ex-addict who exploded with such anger that it could get him back into trouble with the police. Seniesa herself was conflicted. Part of her wanted to be the warrior of her dreams, but another part wanted to stay a little girl. Before long, she would face her toughest opponent, a girl just like her in so many ways. And the girl was tough.

    Tougher than this kid in the ring, whose name was Richard. He trudged to his corner. Blood formed around a nostril. His trainer lit into him. "Come on, you've got to hit her first, or you're gonna get hurt out there. Stop fighting like you are scared of her. What's wrong with you?"

    Richard spit out his mouthpiece. "She's so quick," he gasped. "So quick."

    -THE GIRL | CHAPTER THREE OF FIVE: Life Throws Some Hooks: Seniesa tries to refocus, but loses her father's attention. After a brawl, Joe realizes he's still on the brink of prison. (Kurt Streeter, July 12, 2005, LA Times)
    Her words hung in the air. 'I should quit.' She looked away from her father.

    He was stunned. He didn't know what to say, but he knew he had to say something — and fast. To him, "quit" was a four-letter word. So long as she was his daughter, Seniesa Carmen Estrada was not going to quit. She had put too much into boxing.

    They both had. Boxing was as important to Joe Estrada, 44, as it was to Seniesa, who was 10. Her dream was his dream: that one day she would win a world championship. Besides, coaching her was helping him stay away from his gang, free of drugs and out of prison.

    In his van, musty with sweaty shirts, worn-out gloves and moldy hand wraps, they rode through East L.A., past Lincoln Park, one of his hangouts during his gang days. He reminded her of that. Then past Central Juvenile Hall, where he had spent so many weeks he couldn't count them. He reminded her of that too.

    'Dad,' she said, 'it's too hard.'

    She trained at least two hours a day, five days a week. But not many girls boxed, so it was difficult to get fights. She faced other obstacles too. Her mother, divorced from her father, didn't think much of girls boxing. Seniesa lived with her, so it was not easy. Even her father could be a problem. If he didn't control his street instincts, stay off drugs and quit brawling, the cops would take him away. She would lose him.

    Boxing was for their future, as much as to redeem his past.

    They drove into her neighborhood. He wrapped his hands tightly around the steering wheel. He worked to keep his cool, fearing she would tune him out if his voice rose. She slumped in the front seat, frowning. It was a long ride. Both would remember it well and the words they spoke. 'You have to keep fighting, he told her. You have to, even if I have to drag you to the gym. You are going to be special, little mama.'

    They pulled up in front of her mother's apartment. She stayed in the van. He kept talking. 'Of all of us in this family, you are going to make something of yourself. And I am going to keep you around me and keep you in this and show you the way. Show you not to make the mistakes I did. And that is going to make me feel like I have done something good. I did a lot of bad in my life, but that's OK, because with you, I have helped make something good.'

    He would not let her end up like her two brothers. One was a high school dropout, too familiar with the streets. Joe feared the other was not far behind. Both had been good at sports. Both had quit.

    'Seniesa, you can't quit.'

    He leaned over to hug her.

    Already, she was feeling better. Yes, it was hard. Yes, her father was a problem, and he would become more of one in ways she couldn't imagine. But she needed him to tell her that boxing was OK, that everything would turn out fine, that girls could fight.

    He kissed her forehead.

    'Tell me what you want to do,' he said. 'Do we stay with boxing?'

    'Yeah, Dad. Yeah. We do.'

    Soon afterward, she wrote him a poem, misspelled here and there, to say thanks for being there. He tacked it to a wall in his bedroom, near his pillow. Each morning, it was one of the first things he saw.

    Maybe it's the way you make me luagh

    Maybe it's the way you push me in boxing when I feel like qiting

    Maybe it's the way you buy me things

    Maybe it's the way you hug and kiss me

    Maybe it's the way you tell me right from wrong

    Maybe it's the way you make me get good grades

    Maybe it's the way you make me go to school

    Maybe it's the way you support me

    Maybe it's the way you tell me what I am doing wrong in boxing

    -THE GIRL | CHAPTER TWO OF FIVE: 'Dang, She's Good. Dang, She Is Tough.': Seniesa's reputation grows, and her father has high hopes for her. But family troubles and a lack of competition jab at her morale. (Kurt Streeter, July 11, 2005, LA Times)
    Being a champ. It was what she wanted. It was what Joe wanted for her. She was 4 feet 8 and just under 70 pounds when I first saw them. He was an ex-gangster, had done hard time and was not long off heroin. She had a dream: to win an Olympic gold medal, then to become a champion boxer, like her hero, Muhammad Ali. Her dream was Joe's dream.

    If she made it come true, I realized, she would have to do it against long odds. The Olympics still didn't have events for female fighters. She could not get many matches; few girls wanted to box. She would have to do it despite her mother; Maryann Chavez worried about injuries and wanted her to become a cheerleader. She might even have to do it despite her father; Joe was her coach, but he was an ex-junkie with a blistering temper and a street instinct for revenge. One slip could send him back to prison.

    Divorced from Maryann in 1996, Joe brawled with her boyfriend about a year and a half afterward. It was one of the upheavals in Seniesa's family that had a way of ambushing her. All it took was Seniesa's complaint that the boyfriend had twisted her arm.

    Joe's anger flared. A few evenings later, he lay in wait outside Maryann's apartment. As the boyfriend left, Joe appeared.

    'Don't be f------ with my kids'! he said, and he launched a fierce barrage of blows. With pride, he would recall that he had dropped the boyfriend in his tracks.

    Joe stood over him. 'Seniesa, that's my baby,' he said. 'Don't you ever touch her again.'

    Seniesa didn't see the fight. But she did see the boyfriend barge back into her mother's apartment, blood pouring from his face. He had a swollen eye and a fat lip. Seniesa's grandfather was there. He had known Joe for years. 'Don't go against him, she heard her grandfather say. That fool is crazy. He will kill you.'

    Maryann thought Joe was jealous of her boyfriend. But to Seniesa and her father, the brawl was about defending Seniesa. She was proud, grateful even, that he would go to such lengths, but she knew what might happen if he ever killed someone. He'd already served time for robbery. This could take him away from her for life.

    Boxing was still new to Seniesa: the tournaments, held in sweaty, tinderbox gyms in the middle of tough neighborhoods; the spectators, breathing down on the ring, hoping for a knockout; the air, heavy with cigarette smoke and the smell of stale beer. Boxing was hard, ugly. But even when she lost, she loved every bit of it.

    By the fall of 2002, she had started winning, and not just in sparring matches with boys like Frankie. Her reputation grew. Police Athletic League champ. Silver Gloves champ. The best little girl fighter in East Los Angeles. Sometimes it scared opponents away. They would find out they were fighting Seniesa Estrada, and they wouldn't show up.

    She could always count on Joe. Always.

    -THE GIRL | CHAPTER ONE OF FIVE: A Surprise in the Ring: Searching gritty gyms for the next Oscar De La Hoya, a reporter finds a 10-year-old girl, coached by her father. They hunger for a championship. Even more, they need each other. Can her fists save them both? (Kurt Streeter, July 10, 2005, LA Times)
    'Do girls box?' she asked, turning to her father one evening. 'Is it OK for girls to box?'

    'Well, yeah, mija, they do,' he answered. 'Sure, it's OK for girls to box.'

    They were sitting on the bed in his cramped apartment, faces lit by a flickering TV, eating pizza, watching a pro boxing match. Seniesa loved to watch fights with him, loved the way boxers settled their differences, using fists to express what was inside. She was just a kid, a girl enthralled with a man's sport, but she wanted to express herself like that.

    'Dad? Can I box? Can I learn how to box?'

    Joe Estrada was shocked, he would remember afterward, but he didn't want to let his daughter down, not with what they had been through. 'Yeah,' he said, eyes still on the TV. 'Sure, mija, you can do that, if you really want to. I'll take you to a gym in a couple of days. I promise.'

    He didn't mean it. Boxing wasn't for girls. Not for his girl, a pretty one with thin bones, a delicate nose and rosy lips. He had lived by his fists, both on the streets and in prison. All he wanted was to protect her. For weeks, he did nothing to make his promise real.

    But she grew adamant. She read a book about Muhammad Ali, got a poster of him and tacked it to her wall. She admired his confidence, the way he would not back down, just like her father, she would proudly say, and the way Ali had grown up, just as she had — an outsider looking in. She wanted to become a champion boxer, bold and strong, just like Ali.

    Besides, if her father trained her, he would be with her, no matter what. Both needed that, desperately. They needed it to save each other.

    The more he put off boxing, the more she pressed.

    Finally, guilt got him. One Monday afternoon, he drove her to a gym on a busy street in East L.A. When he parked, she sprinted from the van to the entrance. They walked inside, unsure what was next.

    'Do you train kids here?' Joe asked.

    The manager looked down at Seniesa, leaning against her father's side. 'How old is she?' he asked.

    'Eight,' Joe said. 'Almost 9.'

    'She's too small,' the manager said. 'We'll train her, when she's 13.'

    She walked from the gym with her head down. Joe tried to console her, but actually he couldn't have been happier. Good, he thought, that's the end of this boxing thing. Then, inside his van, he looked at her and saw her staring out the window.

    'What's wrong, mama?' he asked.

    She couldn't speak. Tears filled her eyes.

    It hit him then how much this meant, how badly she just wanted the chance to step inside a ring and put gloves on and let go.

    A few days later, deciding to try once more, he took her to a gym near her home where a group of boy boxers trained.

    One of their coaches had grown up with Joe. Two decades before, they were in the same gang. Then Joe Estrada and Paul Gonzales took different paths. Joe scuffled along the gutter. Now 42, he had climbed out, but he could easily tumble back, leave Seniesa, even go back to prison. Gonzales, for his part, had risen from the gang and the projects and become a famous boxer.

    Joe and Seniesa approached him, near the ring.

    'Puppet? Is that you?' Gonzales asked, calling Joe by his gang name. He had long figured Joe was in jail — or dead. When he remembered Puppet, he thought of a young man with hair below the shoulders, roving eyes and a tattoo reading "Maryann" burned into his right forearm.

    Before him now stood another man: just plain Joe, hair closely cropped, eyes firm, the "Maryann" X-ed out and his gang tattoo covered by a flower, heart and cross. And then there was the surprise, peeking from behind him, a small girl with smooth, light brown skin and hopeful eyes.

    'Paul, this is about my daughter,' Joe said. 'She wants to box. She practically dragged me down here.'

    Seniesa was too shy to look him in the eye.

    Gonzales was stunned. He would never forget it. 'She wants to be a boxer?' he asked. 'She's a beautiful little girl. Why on earth would you want her to box?' In his heart, though, Gonzales knew he could not say no. Figuring he owed Joe, he swallowed his doubts.

    'Sure,' he said, 'there's a place for your girl here.'

    The trainers found Seniesa (pronounced Seh-NEE-sa) an old pair of gloves, showed her a few simple defensive moves and a basic punch. It was but a few days later when she stepped into the ring to box for the first time. Joe felt relief; he was certain she would be hit and then give up. After all, her opponent was a boy.

    To Seniesa, it was riveting. She saw the boy, about her size, standing in the corner across from her. She saw men hanging on the ropes, watching, wondering what would happen. They made her nervous. She heard one of them yell: 'Attack him, attack him, go forward, see what it's like!'

    So she hit the boy.

    He smacked her back.

    She backed off, uncertain, leaving an opening. He released a hook that plowed into her stomach.

    Air sucked from her lungs. She couldn't breathe. She bent over.

    Joe gripped hard on the ropes, struggling to keep from leaping in and calling it off, struggling to keep himself from lecturing the boy: Hey, kid, what the hell are you doing, hitting my little girl like that?

    Seniesa heard one of the men shout: 'Breathe from your stomach, girl! From your stomach!' She breathed in once, she breathed in twice. She stood up straight, like a dreamer rising from a nightmare.

    She zeroed in on the boy, her small fists a blur: whapwhop-whapwhop-whapwhop.

    He tried to shield himself, but now Seniesa was angry, and her blows kept coming. Whapwhop-whapwhop. Her fists moved faster than his arms. Whapwhop. She saw his legs go shaky.

    'Stop!' A trainer yelled, applauding with the others. Nobody wanted to see the little boy get hurt.

    What Seniesa felt was more than good: It was unforgettable. She walked over to her father and hugged him.

    He caught himself beaming. My little girl, he thought, she can fight.

    'Mija, aren't you afraid?' he asked as he drove her home to her mother's apartment. 'You're the only girl out there. Boxing is hard, mama.'

    'No, Dad,' she said. 'I'm not afraid.'

    The little boy Seniesa pummeled never showed up to box again.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:02 AM

    RENDER UNTO SEIZER? (via Kevin Whited):

    Senate backs land-grab limits (POLLY ROSS HUGHES, 7/14/05, Houston Chronicle)

    After a spirited, four-hour debate, the Texas Senate approved a bill Wednesday limiting state and local governments from seizing homes and other private property for economic development.

    Senate Bill 62, which passed 25-4, is similar to a proposed constitutional amendment passed by the Texas House earlier this week. Now, each chamber can consider the other's legislation.

    Of course, tired of being on the 30-40% side of every issue, Nancy Pelosi has staked out the [whatever percentage 4 out of 29 is] side of this one.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Deficit Down 22% in Latest Projection: The shrinking budget gap buoys tax-reduction advocates as Congress considers Bush's request for more cuts. (Warren Vieth and Richard Simon, July 14, 2005, LA Times)

    White House budget officials said Wednesday that this year's federal deficit would be 22% smaller than expected, providing ammunition to supply-side advocates who contended that tax cuts helped pay for themselves.

    The revised budget forecast by the White House Office of Management and Budget projected a deficit of $333 billion for the fiscal year ending in September, $94 billion less than the administration estimated five months ago.

    The deficit is forecast to be 2.7% of gross domestic product, a broad measure of the nation's economy. That would be an improvement over last year's $412-billion shortfall, which was 3.6% of GDP. The record, 6%, was set in 1983 after then-President Reagan's big tax cuts

    Of course, the Reagan deficit was the precursor to over twenty years of uninterrupted economic growth, while the Clinton/Gingrich surplus triggered Fed hikes, throwing the whole theory into a cocked hat.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    No Gitmo torture, Senate panel told (Rowan Scarborough, July 14, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

    A military investigation of interrogations at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, found no torture occurred, but one high-value al Qaeda operative was subjected to "abusive and degrading treatment" when he was forced to wear a brassiere, do dog tricks and stay awake for 20 hours a day.

    "We looked at this very, very carefully -- no torture occurred," Air Force Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt testified yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Detention and interrogation operations across the board ... looking through all the evidence that we could, were safe, secure and humane."

    At least with the Nazis it was the torturers who were cross-dressers.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Ballpark fare frankly good for you (Dick Heller, July 14, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

    Now it turns out that ingesting all sorts of overpriced concessions at the ballpark might be good for you.

    Have a beer or two. Scarf a couple of hot dogs. Load up on onions and sauerkraut, not to mention breath fresheners. And live a long life.

    You probably thought such fare qualified as junk food. Heavens no, says the American Chemical Society (ACS) -- and who could argue with so learned a slew of scholars? [...]

    According to the society, low-fat hot dogs might be a little better for your heart, but everybody knows that regular dogs taste better. Apparently, this came as news to researchers, who concluded the real dogs' "aroma compounds, which affect flavor, appear to be released more slowly and last longer."

    A preliminary study also suggests that onions and sauerkraut may help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. When this study is completed, it probably will show that a little Limburger on your hamburger will empty the seats around you faster than a foul ball headed your way.

    Sauerkraut is made from fermented cabbage and includes a class of compounds called isothiocyanates that have been identified as potential cancer-fighting agents, the study says. Who knew?

    And, oh yes, the beer. Anybody who spends time at a ballpark has sat near a group of guzzlers. A study indicates that one cup of beer a day might ward off heart attacks. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your state of sobriety, it does not tell us how big that cup should be.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    2 youths, British to core (Lizette Alvarez, JULY 14, 2005, The New York Times)

    In many ways, the two youngest suspected suicide bombers, Shehzad Tanweer, 22, and Hasib Hussain, 19, were British to the core, shaped by the diverse, rough, working-class neighborhood where they lived, where flashy cars, petty teenage battles and designer clothes jostle with the Muslim values of work, family and religion.

    But in the past year or two, friends said, they noted a turn toward Muslim piety, nothing shocking or obnoxious, just plain to see.

    Tanweer, a university-educated cricket fanatic who also excelled in soccer and whose father ran a profitable fish-and-chips shop, had taken to praying five times a day, something his family did not do, and attending a number of different mosques on a regular basis, people who knew him said.

    He even took a trip to Pakistan last year to visit family and pursue religious studies.

    "He went to Pakistan," said a friend who works at a local greengrocer in Beeston and asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisals.

    "But a lot of people go to Pakistan. So? The lads used to tease him that he was going there to get married. I think he went for six weeks or something."

    Forensic evidence indicates that Tanweer was on the subway train at the Aldgate bombing.

    Hussain, a bright student who graduated from Matthew Murray vocational school in 2003, also began to shake off Western habits, even more abruptly than his friend Tanweer.

    A tall, shy teenager, Hussain, who lived in Holbeck, not far from Tanweer, had taken up with a rough Pakistani crowd during his high school years, the kind who thought nothing of brawling with the white kids over girls and slights.

    He was described by classmates as having been relatively docile, until instigated.

    Then, 18 months ago or so, he went on the hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. When he came back, he was changed; he had grown mellow and keenly interested in religion. He began going to mosque. Sometimes, he even wore flowing baggy Pakistani pants and top.

    The adults around him, concerned he was veering out of control, seemed pleased enough. He told his mother he was going off to London with friends for a few days, but on Thursday evening, when he failed to turn up, his panic-stricken mother called the police to report him missing. That phone call would help the police break open the case.

    Attacker 'was recruited' at terror group's religious school (GETHIN CHAMBERLAIN, 7/14/05, The Scotsman)
    ONE of the suicide bombers who struck in London was probably recruited when he attended a religious school in Pakistan with strong links to al-Qaeda and its south-east Asian offshoot, Jemaah Islamiyyah, The Scotsman can reveal.

    Security sources in Pakistan are investigating a tip-off that Shehzad Tanweer attended a religious school run by the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) during a recent visit to the country. The group's founder has publicly stated that he believes suicide bombing to be the "best form of jihad [holy war]".

    The revelation came as Pakistan claimed that it helped thwart a terrorist attack in Britain before the May general election, and that its intervention led to arrests in several countries. However, Pakistani authorities refused to comment on reports that the UK was seeking access to Zeeshan Siddiqu, a 25-year-old British national arrested in May near Peshawar.

    Suicide bombers who had it all to live for (STEPHEN MCGINTY, 7/14/05, The Scotsman)
    WITH row after row of red brick, terrace houses, abandoned gardens and graffitied walls Beeston is a curious crucible in which Britain's first suicide bombers were forged.

    Shehzad Tanweer, Hasib Mir Hussain, both from sink estate in Leeds, and Mohammed Sadique Khan, who grew up here, have forever tarnished the reputation of a city whose most recent export has been mass murder.

    About 16,000 people live in Beeston, many from different ethnic backgrounds. Some people blamed the area for offering teenagers few opportunities and said it was forcing them to turn to fundamentalist teachings.

    The plight of a community caught up in the dark, apocalyptic dreams of the religiously deluded, was summed up best by the uncle of 22-year-old Tanweer. Bashir Ahmed said: "The family is shattered and embarrassed. They cannot believe it. He did not seem desperate or extreme or capable of doing this." [...]

    Muslim elders insist there was no radical preaching in the area. In fact, the imam at the mosque has said he was horrified to learn of the bombings. At last Friday's prayers Mumir Shah said: "I told worshippers that this cannot be good. We are brothers because of Abraham. Our message is one of peace and friendship."

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    'Battlestar' goes where we are now (Suzanne C. Ryan, July 14, 2005, Boston Globe)

    A terrorist attack has people on the run. A computer virus threatens to undermine the survivors. Meanwhile, enemy forces are mingling undetected among the rank and file, planning genocide in the name of their god.

    Those could be today's headlines. In fact, they're some of the story lines on television's most unlikely hit, ''Battlestar Galactica," which begins its second season tomorrow night at 10 on the Sci-Fi Channel.

    Reality: a special effect: "Battlestar Galactica," a sophisticated remake on Sci Fi Channel, tackles hot-button issues. (Lynn Smith, July 2, 2005, LA Times)
    An out-of-the-blue, world-altering attack. Nuclear weapons. Suicide bombers. Tortured prisoners. Faith-based policy.

    Sound all-too familiar? The post-9/11 culture, in all its scary ambiguity, gets the full treatment in — of all places — outer space as the surprisingly sophisticated remake of "Battlestar Galactica" begins its second season July 15 on the Sci Fi Channel. A marathon of Season One, the cable channel's highest-rated series in its 13-year history, will start at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

    Created in the charged and confusing months of early 2002, the show has managed to energize viewers on both sides of the political debate through its portrayals of inconsistent leaders and unresolved, high-stakes conflicts. In the process, it has also revolutionized science fiction on television, elevating a genre that is often dismissed as cheesy escapist fantasy into the ranks of the most serious prime-time dramas. Indeed, the new "Battlestar Galactica" has won over fans of the original dubious about a remake as well as television critics who like its relevant social and political themes as much as its military hardware and sexy Cylons.

    According to "Galactica" co-creators Ron Moore and David Eick, the goal for the show was to create naturalistic, multidimensional characters as opposed to the squeaky clean heroes of traditional sci-fi TV. Rather than advancing any particular political agenda, Moore said, the characters act on the basis of their own deeply flawed natures.

    This "Battlestar Galactica" is "designed to make you think, to make you question strongly held beliefs," he said. "Good people can make bad decisions and bad people can make good decisions. I mean, life is much more complicated than it's usually portrayed on television."

    Provoking viewers to the edge of discomfort, Eick said, the show also asks, "Are you rooting for the right side?"

    Born-Again 'Battlestar': Drawing from Mormonism, Roman polytheism, and even Buddhism, the reimagined sci-fi TV series is steeped in religion. (Ellen Leventry, BeliefNet)
    While fans of the original series may notice some changes to familiar characters—Starbuck is now a woman and the Cylons no longer look like toasters—the truly devoted will also note a change in the show’s theology.


    That’s right. Amidst spaceship shoot-outs, bizarre love triangles, and sketchy political maneuvering is a great deal of theology and religious reflection in the show’s writing.

    Debates about sin and redemption? "Battlestar" has ‘em. Philosophical inquiries into religio-political motivations? Got those too. The idea of the legitimacy of the soul? The battle between monotheism and paganism? Holy lands and prophets? Check, check, and check.

    But that’s really nothing new for the “Galactica” series.

    Unbeknownst to most viewers, “Battlestar Galactica” has been steeped in religion since its very inception. First pitched by uber-producer Glen A. Larson as a series of Bible stories set in space called “Adam’s Ark,” the reworked “Battlestar Galactica” was also influenced by another religious book: the Book of Mormon. A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Larson borrowed plot points from his faith's sacred texts.

    "'Battlestar Galactica' and the Book of Mormon both start from the premise that civilization is either about to be destroyed or has just been destroyed and that there’s this remnant, this ragtag fleet that is preserved,” explains Jana Reiss, author of “What Would Buffy Do?” “The story of the Book of Mormon is set in the time frame of the destruction of Jerusalem. The prophet Lehi has a vision of the destruction of Jerusalem and was able to get his family out in time.”

    There are many other similarities between the show and the Latter-day Saint scripture. While not purely a Mormon concept, the idea of the “Lost Tribes of Israel”--that ten tribes of Israel were "lost" to history after they were exiled--plays an important role in both the religion and in the show. “The idea of there being these other civilizations that have the gospel is a main tenet in Mormonism,” notes Reiss. “There is this idea, in the show, that Earth will be this colony that they don’t have a record of but they believe it exists.”

    Additionally, on the original series, the ruling colonial governmental body was known as “The Quorum of Twelve,” the name given to the top leadership council of the Church of Latter-day Saints. Perhaps the most obvious parallel between Mormonism and the show is the Kolob/Kobol connection. Continues Reiss, “Kobol on 'Battlestar Galactica' is where the gods live and in Mormonism Kolob is supposed to be the greatest star in the universe and is the dwelling place of God."

    While developer and executive producer Ronald D. Moore did not intentionally move away from the original show’s basic Mormon cosmology in the current incarnation, he chose not to expand upon it.

    “I was aware that Glen had used Mormon influences and how he had created the cosmology, but I’m not that familiar with Mormon belief or practice so it was kind of like whatever was in the show is what I was dealing with,” concedes Moore, who also worked on the “Star Trek” franchise. “I essentially looked at the original series as mythos and the way it dealt with religion in sort of a global sense.”

    Taking inspiration from a post-9/11 world, the religious universe of the new "Battlestar Galactica" is as diverse and as complex as our own.

    The refugee humans, the Colonials, are polytheists in the mold of the Romans and Greeks, while their creations, the mechanical Cylons, have a strict belief in a singular God and in the soul, and are on a mission to eradicate the non-believing humans.

    “I sort of assumed that the Colonials would have a belief system and figured it would probably be polytheistic, that seemed to be what they referred to in the original,” explains Moore. “But it wasn’t really until relatively late in the game that I sort of randomly gave the Cylons a belief system.”

    “I was in the middle of creating the characters and I was working on some lines for Number Six (a Cylon character) and I thought it was interesting if she professed a belief in God, in a single God.” Inspired by the theme of the rise of monotheism in the Western world and how it came to displace pagan religion, Moore decided to delve deeper.

    “There came this notion of this outside monotheistic belief of the one true God that could not tolerate others, that started to drive out pagan worship and that fit very nicely with what we were doing with the show.”

    Among the show's human beings, there are those who believe in the gods, the Lords of Kobol, and those who are atheists. The most spiritually complex of the humans is President Laura Roslin, played by Mary McDonnell. The only high government official to survive the apocalypse, she begins to take on the role of a “born-again” prophet/oracle. She experiences visions brought on by medication used to treat her aggressive breast cancer and attempts to lead the remnant fleet to the holy land known as Earth.

    While we see subtle acts of devotion on the human side, it is the religious zeal of the Cylons that drives the show.

    When not busy hunting down the last of the twelve tribes of man, or trying to convert those who can help them, the Cylons spend much of their time musing about metaphysical matters: the nature of their souls and the legitimacy of their claims, as machines, that they possess souls at all.

    “The Cylons in the show focus on the soul; they firmly believe that they have a soul. …Human beings have souls given by the gods, and Cylons have a soul given by their one true god and that has to be just as valid,” says Moore.

    This led Moore to flesh out the character of Number Six, a domineering, gorgeous, blonde Cylon who is the personification of the Madonna/whore complex (played by former Victoria’s Secret model Tricia Helfer, left). Forever trying to win the love of atheist Dr. Baltar, the human who unwittingly helped the Cylons destroy mankind, she vacillates between seductress and fire-and-brimstone preacher. Number Six incessantly tells Baltar that he must believe in God, that God has a plan for him, that he must repent, while simultaneously leading him to the bedroom. Now that’s a missionary position!

    “It seems so far that the Cylons are almost a caricature of robotic evangelicalism,” says Reiss. “It could be that the writers are trying to make a statement that this is what happens when evangelical Christianity runs amok, the militant nature of it. If that is the statement they’re trying to make I find that very sad, that’s a caricature of evangelicalism. On the other hand, I’m willing to say it’s probably more complex than that.”

    “I think that the clash between a polytheistic culture and a monotheistic enemy helps to moderate somewhat the parallel that the show seems to draw with the current conflict between the Western world and Islamic fundamentalism,” says a reader on Televisionwithoutpity.com’s message boards. “By giving the Cylons the 'good' kind of religion and the humans the 'backward' kind, it makes the parallel less clunky and simplistic.”

    And while it certainly seems that the Cylons could be painted with the broad strokes of Christian or Islamic fundamentalism, another Cylon on the show, Leoben Conoy, espouses seemingly Buddhist beliefs when revealing, during an interrogation, he’ll be “reincarnated” in an exact duplicate.

    Moore concedes that the belief system of the Cylons encompasses aspects from Christian fundamentalism, Islamic jihad, and even Eastern concepts, but says that he still really hasn’t “sat down and defined the theology of the Cylons.”

    But that’s the beauty of “Battlestar Galactica.” It provokes discussion without giving definitions, without giving answers.

    -INTERVIEW: The Souls of Cylons: Ron Moore, executive producer of Battlestar Galactica, talks about the theology behind the Sci Fi Channel series. (Interview by Ellen Leventry, BeliefNet)
    People are really noticing the dichotomy between the Pagan and the monotheistic themes. It strongly parallels the rise of Christianity and the demise of paganism in the Western world.

    That’s true. There was a book that I started reading about the one god driving out the many--the rise of monotheism in the Western world and how it came to displace pagan religion. Those themes were interesting to play with in the show: The dynamic whereby the pagan religious practices tended to be tolerant and tended to allow monotheistic beliefs within their own culture.

    And then there came this came this notion of this outside monotheistic belief, of the one true God that could not tolerate others, that started to drive out pagan worship and that fit very nicely with what we were doing with the show. Because you had this apocalyptic moment of genocide which kicked off the entire series, of this Cylon culture that has this belief system in one god that is literally wiping out this pagan belief system and then is pursuing them across the galaxy. There was a certain resonance in history.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    From pole to pole, a firehouse symbol is falling (Michelle O'Donnell, JULY 14, 2005, The New York Times)

    Of all the tools associated with the dangerous but sometimes romantic world of firefighting, few capture the spirit of the job quite like the shiny firehouse pole, that simple brass delivery system that relies on little more than gravity to get a fireman to his truck a few seconds faster.

    In the firehouses of New York City, veterans have a deep affection, even a zealous sense of protection, for their poles.

    But just try to convince your wife that your home needs one...

    July 13, 2005

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:59 PM


    Pratfall down memory lane: Stars from TV’s golden age of comedy gather to reminisce. (Lynn Smith, July 14, 2005, LA Times)

    Some of the legendary vaudeville veterans who pioneered television comedy came to a darkened stage at the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday, bursting with memories of the old days and unable to resist performing. Call it a lifetime habit.

    "I was in show business at 3," said Rose Marie Mazetta ("The Dick Van Dyke Show"). "Before that, I didn't do too much, just hanging around the house."

    Rose Marie, 81, who showed up with a bow in her hair, and Sid Caesar, 82, who wore fuzzy slippers, appear in "Pioneers of Primetime," a PBS special airing Nov. 9 and previewed at the Television Critics Assn. summer meeting. But panelists Carl Reiner, 83, Mickey Rooney, 84, and especially Red Buttons, 86, also had plenty to contribute, including an impromptu chorus of "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy."

    When Rooney made the somewhat touchy observation that Hollywood was founded by Jews, Buttons piped up, "Yes! I remember you in Andy Hardy and the Hassidic Housewife."

    And when Rooney said, "I'm not here to talk about myself," Buttons retorted, "Yes you are." After lavish praise of Lucille Ball, Buttons chimed in, "I never liked her," his head on his fingers and legs crossed, Jack Benny style.

    Buttons and Rooney go back to World War II when they served in the same unit. But even the war was a ripe subject for comedy. "One day he saved our entire outfit," Buttons said. "He killed a cook."

    Just read a terrific book about the old comedy teams.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 6:59 PM


    Area's last A, W delivers the goods (Sheila Himmel, 7/08/07, The Mercury News)

    Where oh where have the A&W's gone? Sunnyvale has the only A&W left in the South Bay, but at least it's easy to find: Central Expressway to Fair Oaks, on the northeast corner. And parking is easy.

    The regular burger is small, just under a quarter pound, but tastier than many in A&W's class because it's usually made to order. The iceberg lettuce stays crisp, and the pickles, tomatoes, white onions and sesame bun don't go soggy. Fries are hot. Fried cheese curds live up to their ``curiously delicious'' billing, as the box says, made with Wisconsin white cheddar cheese.

    But root beer is the reason to go to A&W. The signature root beer float is as cold and creamy as ever, though if you want the full frosted-glass experience of yore you have to buy your own mug and chill it at home. Mugs are 99 cents for plastic, $4.99 for glass.

    At the restaurant, you get a paper cup, but the float comes with a sturdy plastic straw that's wide enough to keep flowing even when clogged with ice cream.

    A&W started in 1919, on a hot June day when entrepreneur Roy Allen was stuck in Lodi. (Much later, Creedence Clearwater Revival was to make the Central Valley town famous as a place to get stuck.) Allen took on partner Frank Wright in 1922, and they had their name.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:50 PM


    Rehnquist Enters Hospital Again (Fox News, July 13, 2005)

    Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist was hospitalized overnight Tuesday for fever, a spokeswoman said.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:14 PM


    Bush Begins Consultation With Key Senators (Dan Balz and Mike Allen, July 13, 2005, Washington Post)

    [T]he two sides have consulted the Constitution and reread the pertinent Federalist Papers, and both are looking at the record of other presidents for evidence to support their interpretation of what the consultation requires.

    If we let our viscera get the better of us, it's easy to lose track of how much more conservative Democrats are than any conservative party elsewhere.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:04 PM


    Bush's speech at Black Expo boon for both: President may make inroads; event gains more exposure. (MARTIN DeAGOSTINO, 7/13/05, South Bend Tribune)

    President Bush's scheduled visit this week to Indiana Black Expo's Summer Celebration is a win-win opportunity for him and Black Expo, according to Expo officials and political observers.

    For Black Expo, it brings presidential prestige and national media exposure that no amount of in-house publicity could buy.

    Bush gains, too, by reaching a significant black audience the very week he is skipping the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Milwaukee. [...]

    Bush's visit was announced last Friday by Gov. Mitch Daniels, who said he invited the president to honor "this great event." "I am trying to speak to the need for Indiana to be unified across all lines," Daniels said, "and I know the president shares those thoughts."

    Daniels' press secretary, Jane Jankowski, said Daniels broached the topic with presidential adviser Karl Rove last winter and followed it up with a handwritten note to Rove.

    According to Jankowski, the March 9 note read, "Please make sure that someone treats the Black Expo invite with care."

    Cleo Washington, an Expo board member and active Democrat, said the president's trip will offer multiple benefits for everyone involved.

    Washington said Bush will draw a spotlight to Expo's educational, health and economic initiatives, which are sometimes overshadowed by the organization's entertainment and social events.

    "To the extent the president highlights any of those things, it's a good thing," he said.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:49 PM


    Uproar Has Roots in Rove's Vast Reach: The architect of Bush's success, known for detail work, has kept close ties to the media. (Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten, July 13, 2005, LA Times)

    Rove's most significant relationship in Washington is the one he has with Bush. The symbiotic partnership not only helped Bush win the Texas governor's mansion and the White House twice, but has also fueled a national political transformation that has made the GOP dominant in a growing number of states.

    While Bush has used the bully pulpit of the White House to rally public support for his response to terrorism, his tax cuts, and his proposed overhauls of Medicare, education and Social Security, Rove has used the power he accumulated to micromanage presidential policy decisions.

    He has also overseen electoral politics down to individual congressional races. Rove, who carries the title deputy chief of staff, helped steer the Republicans to victory in 2002 midterm elections and Bush to reelection in 2004, and has actively recruited candidates for key races. Most recently, he met at the White House with a potential challenger to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

    Those who observe the interplay between Bush and the man he dubbed "the architect" of his 2004 reelection, say the relationship is something like that of an old married couple. There is bickering, rivalry, dependency and a sense of fun.

    Deborah Dombraye, a campaign aide who traveled with the two during Bush's 1994 gubernatorial campaign, says Rove and Bush "are like twin brothers." They have a joshing bonhomie and communicate with each other so intimately that much of it is unintelligible to outsiders.

    "They finish each other's sentences," says Dombraye, who now works for the Ohio Republican Party.

    Despite the closeness, the two men came from very different worlds. Bush is the scion of wealth and power, a graduate of the nation's most prestigious schools. Rove grew up the son of an oil geologist who moved frequently around the West. He never graduated from college.

    They came together during young adulthood, when an ambitious former Texas congressman, George H.W. Bush, held the job of chairman of the Republican National Committee. It fell to the elder Bush to investigate allegations that Rove had used dirty tricks in a campaign for president of the College Republicans. The RNC chairman eventually cleared Rove, and was so impressed by the young operative that he hired him as an assistant.

    Although Rove was an advisor ostensibly working behind the scenes, his name continued to be associated with public controversy. During George H.W. Bush's second presidential campaign, Rove was fired from the campaign team because of suspicions that he had leaked information to columnist Robert Novak — the same columnist who first reported Plame's CIA role in 2003, citing anonymous administration sources.

    At the time, Bush's campaign was in trouble, and there was concern that the president might not even win his home state of Texas. The Novak column described a Dallas meeting in which the campaign's state manager, Robert Mosbacher, was stripped of his authority because the Texas effort was viewed as a bust.

    Mosbacher complained, expressing his suspicion that Rove was the leaker. Rove denied the charge, but was fired nevertheless.

    But Rove developed an increasingly close relationship with the president's son George — a relationship that began on a spring day in 1973, when the elder Bush asked Rove to pick up his son at Washington's Union Station to give the visiting Harvard Business School student the keys to the family car. By Rove's own description, young Karl Rove was awed at first sight.

    "He was exuding more charisma than any one individual should be allowed to have," Rove told a writer for the New Yorker magazine in 2003.

    A collaboration didn't take root immediately. But the two men, both attached to the elder Bush, would come to see the political world and its prospects in similar ways, building such catch phrases as "compassionate conservatism" in 2000 and the creation of an "ownership society" in 2004 into lures for many who had never voted Republican.

    It's entirely typical of the way the press misperceives George W. Bush that so few recognize that "the architect" was not untinged with sardony.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:32 PM

    NOW THAT'S GOOD EATS (via Robert "Bucky" Tremblay):

    Cook for Elvis Presley dies (AP, 7/13/05)

    W. Pauline Nicholson, Elvis Presley's cook, who prepared the King's favorite peanut butter and fried banana sandwiches, died July 7 of cancer. She was 76.

    In addition to cooking, Nicholson also worked as his housekeeper and sometimes looked after a young Lisa Marie Presley.

    Ms Nicholson is the muse for an idea Mr. Tremblay had when we used to work together--a chain of Buck & O's fast food restaurants where the specialty of the house would be the Buck & O Burger, a deep fried peanut butter and banana tortilla wrap with sausage gravy.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 3:28 PM


    The Next Battle: Bridging the Great Divide: America and its allies have had different strategies to fight Al Qaeda. But they're starting to close ranks. (Christopher Dickey and Michael Hirsh, 7/18/05, Newsweek)

    [T]errorism experts in Europe and the United States agree that more such attacks are coming. Many are expected to look like the ones in London last week or Madrid last year: coordinated bombings against defenseless civilians. Rarer, because they are much harder to organize and execute, will be attacks that attempt the apocalyptic scale of September 11, 2001. Yet someday, analysts believe, one of these terrorist groups will unleash some kind of device with massive killing power. "We will graduate to bacteriological weapons, to chemical weapons," says French terrorism authority Roland Jacquard. "We can't keep living like nothing's happening."

    Still, to accept such events as inevitable is to surrender a part of ourselves and our future to the terrorists. To be able to live "like nothing's happening" is, precisely, what most people want. And slowly since 9/11, the governments of the United States and Europe have been feeling their way toward strategies that might eventually achieve that goal. The basic needs are clear: compatible computer systems to speed the passing of actionable intelligence; common legal standards to permit cross-border collaboration; disruption of financial support for terrorist groups; elimination of safe havens; policies aimed at changing the political, social and economic environments that inspire terrorists. But it's only recently that some sort of tentative consensus has begun to develop about how to do all this.

    The great divide has been between the Bush administration, which saw itself as fighting a global war after 9/11, and European countries, which continued to see the challenge essentially as one of law enforcement. Washington initially acted as if few traditional rules, or laws, need apply: it would follow an aggressive policy of targeting potential terrorists and stopping them before they could reach American shores. Most recently, the United States has been turning back civilian airliners from Europe when names on the manifests match those put—often with scant proof—on FBI and other watch lists.

    Yet since the Abu Ghraib scandals in Iraq, the U.S. Supreme Court has forced the administration to step back from some of its most controversial "wartime" detention practices. Most of the "renditions" of terrorist suspects to countries where they might be tortured date back to 2003 or before. Europeans have resisted some of the more aggressive tactics that American hawks have urged, and for good reason: authorities there cannot afford to alienate more young men from among the millions of Muslims living peacefully across the continent.

    One really does wish that folks would listen to Robert Pape and those on the Left--all the Europeans have to do is withdraw their people and the bombings will stop.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:56 AM


    Bolton May Accept Recess Appointment (Charles Babington and Dafna Linzer, July 13, 2005, Washington Post)

    John R. Bolton's nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations was the hottest issue in Congress a few months ago. But it has virtually evaporated this summer, eclipsed by speculation over a Supreme Court nominee and the fate of the president's top political adviser.

    With neither the White House nor Senate Democrats showing any sign of yielding in their long-running dispute over documents related to Bolton's State Department work, speculation is rife that Bolton is prepared to accept a recess appointment good through the end of 2006, despite warnings from some GOP senators that it would weaken his influence and effectiveness.

    Their advice has been taken and a majority offered their consent.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:48 AM


    Are You an Originalist?: Take this simple test and find out. (Edward Whelan, 7/13/05, National Review)

    Here's my simple single-question multiple-choice test for whether you are an originalist:

    Q. The Constitution provides, as one of the criteria to be eligible to become president, that a person must be a "natural born Citizen" (or, alternatively, in a provision that long ago ceased to apply to any living persons, "a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution") How would you figure out what the phrase "natural born Citizen" means?

    (A) You would determine that the "natural born Citizen" requirement, whatever it means, is obviously a relic of a benighted and xenophobic past, a past that "evolving standards of decency," as reflected in modern European electoral practices, requires be abandoned. It simply isn't fair, you would conclude, that any candidates should be excluded by such an arbitrary requirement from running for president. You would invoke "the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life" as you instead substituted your own arbitrary criteria for eligibility.

    (B) You would try to discern the current meaning of the phrase "natural born Citizen." Its closest connection would appear to be to the concept of natural childbirth. Therefore, you would conclude that only those whose mothers did not use drugs during birth satisfy the requirement.

    (C) You would look to literature as your guide. Macbeth finds great comfort in the promise that "none of woman born/Shall harm" him. But his comfort proves unwarranted when Macduff, who "was from his mother's womb/Untimely ripp'd," kills Macbeth. It follows that anyone whose birth was by Cesarean section is not a "natural born Citizen."

    (D) You would try to determine the public meaning of the "natural born Citizen" requirement at the time that the Constitution was adopted.

    If it is obvious to you that the proper response is (D), then you are an originalist. If you think that the answer might be (A), then you are probably Justice Stevens, O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, or Breyer. ,/blockquote>

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:34 AM


    Off-base (Pete Thomas, July 13, 2005, LA Times)

    Torii Hunter of the Minnesota Twins couldn't resist playing a joke on teammate Brad Radke.

    According to the Indianapolis Star, Hunter put in Radke's locker what looked to be an official note from the Dodgers' Hee-Seop Choi, requesting that Radke come to the All-Star game and pitch for Choi in the home run derby.

    Choi hit three homers against Radke last month.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 10:15 AM


    Iraq's not so dangerous, Guard chief says (ROBERT BURNS, 7/13/05, Chicago Sun-Times)

    The dangers faced by U.S. troops in Iraq have been exaggerated, adding to the difficulty of recruiting soldiers , the Army general in charge of National Guard forces said Tuesday.

    The casualty rate for Guardsmen is low compared with any previous armed conflict, said Lt. Gen. Steven Blum.

    He said he recognizes that every death is a tragedy for that person's family. ''But I lose, unfortunately, more people through private automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents over the same period of time,'' he added.

    ''It is dangerous, but it is -- I shouldn't say it to this group but I'm going to -- it is misrepresented, how dangerous it really is,'' Blum said to defense reporters.

    Posted by David Cohen at 10:06 AM


    Rucksack gang filmed at King's Cross 'looked like the infantry going to war' (John Steele, Telegraph, 7/13/05)

    The critical breakthrough in the hunt for the London bombers came on Monday night in a police video viewing suite.

    Detectives involved in watching thousands of hours of film for glimpses of the terrorists had been given a "profile" based on a simple question posed for their guidance by senior officers.

    The question was: what would the terrorists look like? The answer was that they would be young men, probably in their 20s and 30s, and they would be carrying rucksacks.

    At 8pm on Monday, on footage from a camera at King's Cross station in central London, officers found images of four young men carrying bulky rucksacks, similar to those in which soldiers carry radios.

    One source observed: "It was like the infantry going to war, or like they were going on a hiking holiday."

    One of the faces was known. It belonged to Hasib Hussain. . . .

    Yes, they'd look young. That's how they were picked out -- "young" people with backpacks really stand out on the Tube. In other news, the debate over police cameras just ended.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:50 AM


    Music to my cauliflower (Leslie Brenner, July 13, 2005, LA Times)

    Thursday is Bastille Day — or le 14 Juillet, as it's known in France. For me, that's cause to think about French food.

    Whereas, for us it's time to rent the exquisite, Lady and the Duke and crack open Burke.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:29 AM


    S. Korea Offers Energy to North: Seoul will provide electricity if Pyongyang halts its nuclear efforts. Rice, on visit, hails plan. (Sonni Efron and Barbara Demick, July 13, 2005,. LA Times)

    South Korea announced Tuesday an offer to break the yearlong stalemate in negotiations with North Korea by sending 2 million kilowatts of electricity across the demilitarized zone if the North agrees to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hailed the proposal today as a creative way to solve North Korea's energy problems without the risk of nuclear proliferation.

    The electricity would replace power that was to be supplied by two light-water nuclear reactors that a U.S.-led consortium had been building in the North. Construction was suspended in 2003 after North Korea was caught cheating on an earlier denuclearization pact.

    Rice has said that the U.S. agreed to address North Korea's energy needs in the last proposal it put on the negotiating table in June 2004, but ruled out civilian nuclear power plants because of the proliferation risk.

    "That is what is so very useful about the South Korean proposal and I think a considerable improvement on where we have ever been," Rice said in a joint appearance with South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon.

    Not that an agreement would stop us anyway, but it would be best if they could work this out so we aren't a party to it.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 9:19 AM


    Chorus grows to get Europe competitive (James Kanter, JULY 13, 2005, International Herald Tribune)

    Calls for an overhaul of the European social welfare model gathered force Tuesday as Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown of Britain put a push for freer markets at the center of his economic agenda for the European Union, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned of waning growth if countries shied away from enhancing competition.

    Europe risks decades of anemic growth unless governments in countries like France and Italy open their economies to greater competition and shake up their labor markets, the OECD said Tuesday.

    Failure by European governments to take tougher measures, the agency said, like making it easier for businesses to hire and fire employees, could mean annual growth of 1.3 percent between 2010 and 2020 and 0.9 percent between 2020 and 2030, compared with average rates of about 2 percent during the late 1990s.

    They're dreaming. There is zero likelihood that Europe's economy will be growing by the 2020's as demographic realities take hold. Consider only this: by 2050, if you project forward, there will be just 3/4 of a worker for each person dependent on government for their livelihood in Europe. The most obvious problem with such a projection is, what kind of idiot would be one of those workers?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:09 AM


    4 bomb suspects born in Britain (Paul Martin, July 13, 2005, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

    Police said yesterday they had identified four British-born men, all thought to be of Pakistani origin, as the perpetrators of last week's terror outrage in London.

    All four are thought to have died in the attacks, officials said, while declining to describe them as "suicide bombers." Another man was in custody after a search of the bombing suspects' homes in the northern city of Leeds.

    If confirmed as suicide bombings, the attacks would be the first of their kind in Western Europe.

    Which raises a far more difficult question for Britain than America faced after 9-11: Why do we hate us?

    After the aftershock: The realisation that Britons are ready to bomb their fellow citizens is a challenge to the whole of society (Jonathan Freedland, July 13, 2005, The Guardian)

    Like an earthquake, the London bombings have brought an aftershock - and it came last night. The police announcement that Thursday's explosions on the underground and on the Number 30 bus were, apparently, the work of British suicide bombers is the most shocking news to come since the attacks themselves. It is also the bleakest possible development.

    Now we know that what happened on July 7 was not just the worst terrorist attack in British history, it was also a first: the first suicide bombing on British soil. That is especially depressing for a reason Israelis, Iraqis, Indians and Russians will understand well. For the suicide bomber represents a unique kind of threat...

    Because Philby, Burgess, McLean and Blunt were responsible for the deaths of thousands, but not themselves?
    The suicide bomb squad from Leeds (Michael Evans, Daniel McGrory and Stewart Tendler, 7/13/05, Times of London)
    FOUR friends from northern England have changed the face of terrorism by carrying out the suicide bombings that brought carnage to London last week.

    It emerged last night that, for the first time in Western Europe, suicide bombers have been recruited for attacks. Security forces are coming to terms with the realisation that young Britons are prepared to die for their militant cause.

    A Homegrown Threat: A merchant's son linked to last week's carnage may have been part of a generation of extremists rising in England's immigrant enclaves. (John Daniszewski and Sebastian Rotella, July 13, 2005, LA Times)
    He was British-born, the son of a Pakistani merchant who had made good in that most British of endeavors: the fish-and-chip business.

    But at some point, Shahzad Tanweer, named Tuesday as a suspected suicide bomber in a blast that tore apart an Underground carriage in London last week, became consumed by the rage that has swept across Europe of a new and restive generation of Islamic extremists.

    Neighbors described Tanweer, said to be 22 or 23, as a boy who loved sports — playing soccer in the street or in the park down the road...

    Say no more.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:00 AM


    Prime minister says Iraqis set to take over some towns (BASSEM MROUE, 7/13/05, Chicago Sun-Times)

    Iraqi troops are ready to take control of some cities as a first step toward sending home American and other foreign soldiers, Iraq's prime minister said Tuesday. But he rejected any timetable for a pullout. [...]

    Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari warned against setting a timetable for foreign troops to leave ''at a time when we are not ready'' to confront the insurgents. But he said security in many of Iraq's 18 provinces has improved so that Iraqi forces could assume the burden of maintaining order in cities there.

    ''We can begin with the process of withdrawing multinational forces from these cities to outside the city as a first step that encourages setting a timetable for the withdrawal process,'' al-Jaafari said at a news conference with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick.

    July 12, 2005

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:06 PM



    Most people imprisoned for low-level drug convictions in California and Arizona made plea bargains to avoid tougher charges, have criminal records, were involved with hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin, or were arrested possessing substantial quantities of drugs, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

    The study is the first analysis of the characteristics of imprisoned low-level drug offenders in the two states, where voters approved initiatives to divert low-level drug offenders from prison and jail. The study addressed only the prison-bound portion of the population in the two states.

    Researchers from RAND and Arizona State University found that a majority of those imprisoned before the initiatives were approved were more serious criminal offenders than the “low-level” label implies. Prosecutors in both states opposed the initiatives, fearing they would reduce incentives for people accused of drug crimes to plea bargain.

    The term “low-level” describes offenders charged with use or possession of a small quantity of drugs, or possession of drug paraphernalia.

    “One of the most important findings in this study is that the low-level label is misleading,” said Jack Riley, the study's lead author and associate director of the RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment program. “These offenders typically either have serious criminal records or plea bargained down from more serious arrest charges.”

    “Many people backed these initiatives because they believed prisons were crowded with low-level offenders. However, we found that the people sent to prison on drug charges were not law-abiding citizens who simply made one mistake,” Riley added. “We cannot say, however, whether large numbers of low-level offenders may be in jails, as opposed to prisons.”

    Researchers said the prison sentences given to these low-level offenders are not as harsh as previously believed, since most were involved in a variety of serious criminal offenses.

    “These reforms were well-intended, but they lacked empirical information about the criminal history of these drug offenders,” said Nancy Rodriguez, co-author on the study and an associate professor of criminal justice and criminology at Arizona State University. “The reforms should have been more clear about the population they were trying to divert to drug treatment.”

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 11:03 PM


    Sharp Increase in Tax Revenue Will Pare U.S. Deficit (EDMUND L. ANDREWS, 7/13/05, NY times)

    Based on revenue and spending data through June, the budget deficit for the first nine months of the fiscal year was $251 billion, $76 billion lower than the $327 billion gap recorded at the corresponding point a year earlier.

    The Congressional Budget Office estimated last week that the deficit for the full fiscal year, which reached $412 billion in 2004, could be "significantly less than $350 billion, perhaps below $325 billion."

    The big surprise has been in tax revenue, which is running nearly 15 percent higher than in 2004. Corporate tax revenue has soared about 40 percent, after languishing for four years, and individual tax revenue is up as well.

    Most of the increase in individual tax receipts appears to have come from higher stock market gains and the business income of relatively wealthy taxpayers. The biggest jump was not from taxes withheld from salaries but from quarterly payments on investment gains and business earnings, which were up 20 percent this year.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:10 PM


    White House Silence on Rove's Role in Leak Enters 2nd Day (RICHARD W. STEVENSON and DAVID STOUT, 7/12/05, NY Times)

    Judith Miller should at least be comforted that her bosses are waging a vendetta.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 8:03 PM


    With money sent from US, Peruvians buy homes: MiViviendo is one of several new programs in Latin America to tap $46 billion in remittances. (Lucien O. Chauvin, 7/13/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

    Cecilia Hernández has been smiling for a week, jingling the keys to the new apartment she recently received as part of a government-supported housing program here in Lima, the capital of Peru.

    "I am probably the happiest person in Peru these days," she says.

    The one thing that Ms. Hernández regrets about her new home is that her husband, Dario Juárez, is not around to enjoy it with her and their two children. Hernández and Mr. Juárez have not lived together for eight years, but this separation is exactly what has allowed them to buy the apartment.

    Juárez has been in the United States since 1997, sending home money each month to maintain his family. Through an innovative plan inaugurated in December 2004, the Juárez-Hernández family used those remittances as a down payment on the apartment and got a 20-year guaranteed mortgage.

    The program, known as Quinto Suyo, is part of a wider effort called MiViviendo (My Home), designed to encourage home ownership by tapping into the estimated $1.7 billion in remittances sent home annually by nearly 2 million Peruvians living abroad. And it's just one of several plans throughout Latin America aimed at leveraging the nearly $46 billion that migrants sent to the region last year.

    "This program gives families an opportunity to take full advantage of remittances," says Carlos Bruce, Peru's minister of housing, construction, and sanitation. "Remittances are generally used for rent, and rent is an expense that generates no return. This program offers a return, which is home ownership."

    Even Tom Tancredo can't hate the ones who go home eventually.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:56 PM


    Abortions in state hit 30-year low (Maura Lerner, July 13, 2005, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

    The number of abortions performed in Minnesota dropped to a 30-year low last year, to 13,788, state health officials reported Tuesday.

    The annual total dropped below 14,000 for the first time since 1975, down from a high of 19,028 in 1980.

    The report, from the Minnesota Department of Health, did not speculate on the reasons for the decline. But it showed that the abortion rate also dropped, to 11.6 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age, the lowest rate since 1975, the first year the state began tracking abortions.

    Posted by Peter Burnet at 7:52 PM


    For Them, Just Saying No Is Easy (Mary Duenwald, New York Times, July 9th, 2005)

    But could indifference to sex extend to humans, too? An increasing number of people say yes and offer themselves as proof. They describe themselves as asexual, and they call their condition normal, not the result of confused sexual orientation, a fear of intimacy or a temporary lapse of desire. They would like the world to understand that they can live their entire lives happily without ever having sex.

    "People think they need to convert you," said Cijay Morgan, 42, a telephone saleswoman in Edmonton, Alberta, and a self-professed asexual. "They can understand if you don't like country music or onion rings or if you aren't interested in learning how to whistle, but they can't accept someone not wanting sex. What they don't understand is that a lot of asexuals don't wish to be quote-unquote fixed."

    Considering the pervasive advertising for drugs to enhance sexual performance, the efforts to market a testosterone patch to boost sexual desire in women and the ubiquity of sexual references in pop culture, it is not surprising that those professing no sex drive whatever have been misunderstood, or at least overlooked. Only one scientific survey seems to have been done. And many experts in human sexuality, when told there is a growing Internet community of people calling themselves asexual, say they have not heard of it. Yet most of those experts find the concept unsurprising.

    Three-fourths of the patients who go to the Center for Sexual Medicine at Boston University lack any sex drive, said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, its director, who is also the editor of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. "We call that H.S.D.D., hypoactive sexual desire disorder," he said.

    Can there be any idea more subversive to the modern culture, or more certain to invite the agitated and strident opposition of our opinion-making elites, than the notion that there is absolutely nothing wrong with these people?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 7:45 PM


    How does one get his 8-year old son to never go to this site again?

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 5:06 PM


    Bush honors NCAA champions, gets Speedo (NEDRA PICKLER, July 12, 2005, Associated Press)

    President Bush, honoring 15 champion college athletic teams Tuesday, received a bevy of gifts in return, including a surfboard and a Speedo he playfully said he won't wear - "in public, that is."

    The athletes took team photos with Bush in the White House, then paraded onto the South Lawn for a brief speech in which the president recognized the accomplishments of each team in winning the NCAA title. The players at times cheered loudly at a mention from Bush, and he lightheartedly admonished them. "It's the South Lawn. Behave yourself," he said.

    Bush stood before all 15 teams, sitting in folding chairs on the lawn. Their team captains stood up front with the president, clutching the gifts they brought. The Speedo came from the Auburn men's swimming and diving team and what Bush called "Surfboard One" came from the Pepperdine men's volleyball team.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 4:20 PM


    Official: Afghans sheltered SEAL from Taliban (CNN, 7/12/05)

    Afghan villagers sheltered a U.S. Navy SEAL wounded in a battle last month with the Taliban until they could get word to American forces to rescue him, a military official said Monday.

    The SEAL was part of a four-man reconnaissance team that went missing June 28 after calling for help during a firefight in the mountains near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. [...]

    The commando suffered multiple leg wounds but was able to walk about two miles (three or four kilometers) through the mountains to get away, according to a U.S. military official, who insisted on anonymity.

    An Afghan villager found the SEAL and hid him in his village, the official said.

    According to military accounts, Taliban fighters came to the village and demanded the American be turned over, but villagers refused.

    The SEAL wrote a note verifying his identity and location, and a villager carried it to U.S. forces, the official said. The note indicated to U.S. troops that they wouldn't be entering into a trap. The commando was rescued July 3.

    The military has not revealed his identity.

    How the Shepherd Saved the SEAL: Exclusive: The tale of an Afghan's amazing rescue of a wounded U.S. commando (TIM MCGIRK, 7/11/05, TIME)

    A crackle in the brush. That's the sound the Afghan herder recalls hearing as he walked alone through a pine forest last month. When he looked up, he saw an American commando, his legs and shoulder bloodied. The commando pointed his gun at the Afghan. "Maybe he thought I was a Taliban," says the shepherd, Gulab. "I remembered hearing that if an American sticks up his thumb, it is a friendly gesture. So that's what I did." To make sure the message was clear, Gulab lifted his tunic to show the American he wasn't hiding a weapon. He then propped up the wounded commando, and together the pair hobbled down the steep mountain trail to Sabari-Minah, a cluster of adobe-and-wood homes--crossing, for the time being, to safety.

    What Gulab did not know is that the commando he encountered was part of a team of Navy SEALs that had been missing for four days after being ambushed by Taliban insurgents during a reconnaissance mission in northeastern Afghanistan. An initial search mission to find the missing SEALs ended in disaster on June 28, when a Chinook helicopter carrying 16 service members was shot down over Kunar province, killing everyone aboard, in one of the deadliest attacks so far on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Since then, the bodies of two of the missing SEALs have been recovered; another is still classified as missing, though the Taliban claims he was captured and beheaded.

    One member of the team did survive. Though the military has not released the name of the SEAL (the U.S. military seldom gives out the names of its special-operations personnel), TIME pieced together his story on the basis of briefings with U.S. military officials in Afghanistan plus an exclusive account of how Gulab, an Afghan herdsman, rescued the wounded commando. What emerges is the tale of a courageous U.S. fighter facing impossible odds in unfamiliar terrain, stalked by the enemy and stripped of everything but his gun and his will to survive. But it is also a story of mercy and fraternity, showing that even in the war-scorched landscape of the Afghan mountains, little shoots of humanity sometimes have a chance to grow.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 2:43 PM


    Worse Than Death (JOHN TIERNEY, 7/12/05, NY Times)

    Last year a German teenager named Sven Jaschan released the Sasser worm, one of the costliest acts of sabotage in the history of the Internet. It crippled computers around the world, closing businesses, halting trains and grounding airplanes.

    Which of these punishments does he deserve?

    A) A 21-month suspended sentence and 30 hours of community service.

    B) Two years in prison.

    C) A five-year ban on using computers.

    D) Death.

    E) Something worse. [...]

    I'm tempted to say that the correct answer is D, and not just because of the man-years I've spent running virus scans and reformatting hard drives. I'm almost convinced by Steven Landsburg's cost-benefit analysis showing that the spreaders of computer viruses and worms are more logical candidates for capital punishment than murderers are.

    Professor Landsburg, an economist at the University of Rochester, has calculated the relative value to society of executing murderers and hackers. By using studies estimating the deterrent value of capital punishment, he figures that executing one murderer yields at most $100 million in social benefits.

    The benefits of executing a hacker would be greater, he argues, because the social costs of hacking are estimated to be so much higher: $50 billion per year. Deterring a mere one-fifth of 1 percent of those crimes - one in 500 hackers - would save society $100 million. And Professor Landsburg believes that a lot more than one in 500 hackers would be deterred by the sight of a colleague on death row.

    E): take away his Ayn Rand collection.

    Posted by dcohen at 1:51 PM


    Great Caesar's Ghost! Gallup finds 1 in 3 Americans Believe Houses Can Be Haunted (Staff, Editor & Publisher, 7/12/05)

    Gallup reports today that its latest poll found that one in three Americans “believe in ghosts.” The numbers: 32% of all adults say they believe that “ghosts/spirits of dead people can come back,” while 48% do not, and 19% are unsure. . . .

    There's an ideological twist, with 42% of liberals saying they believe in ghosts--but only 25% of conservatives and 35% of moderates saying this.

    It's OJ's line, but one of the great things about being a conservative is that every daily newspaper confirms our beliefs.

    Posted by Peter Burnet at 1:50 PM


    Canadians not psychologically braced for threat of terror, McLellan says (Tara Brautigam. Ottawa Citizen, July 12th, 2005)

    Canadians need to abandon the notion that their country is invulnerable to terrorism in order to be better prepared for an attack like the one that struck London last week, federal Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan said Monday.

    The efforts in recent years of police and the Canada Security Intelligence Service make it clear Canada is a terrorist target, but Canadians still seem oblivious to the danger, McLellan told an international conference on disaster management.

    "CSIS and the RCMP, among other law enforcement agencies, have made it plain that there exists in this country those who might very well choose, either themselves or with others, to do harm," McLellan said. [...]

    "I do not believe that Canadians are as psychologically prepared for a terrorist attack as I think probably we all should be," McLellan said. Nor is Canada immune to attacks just because it didn't participate in the Iraq war, she added.

    "I think we have perhaps for too long thought that these were things that happen somewhere else . . . the self-image we may have of ourselves, it may be accurate, but completely irrelevant in the world in which we live."

    Yes, we know what you are thinking and we’ll take it as a compliment.

    Posted by David Cohen at 1:47 PM


    Israel to pass U.S. as biggest Jewish community (Matthew Tostevin, Reuters, 7/12/05)

    Israel will by next year become home to the largest Jewish community in the world for the first time, surpassing the Jewish population in the United States, a think tank said on Tuesday.

    Not for nearly 2,000 years has the Holy Land been home to the globe's biggest Jewish community.

    Fortunately, we've been able to take advantage of lax immigration laws to infiltrate Americans into all levels of Israeli society and government, ensuring that the Israelis will do our bidding when it counts.

    Posted by Bryan Francoeur at 1:10 PM


    You know how the prisoners at Guantanamo have been tormented with Christina Aguilera, right? I think most of the American population heard that and shuddered with horror. And then they thought, "Well, I could do better than that."

    We've all had water cooler and blog discussions about out favorite terrible songs and why they would work better than the ersatz Latin shriekings of Miss Aguilera. But what does that solve? We discuss, but there's no action.

    So here's my plan: The government should release its Guantanamo Bay Interrogation iPod playlist and allow ordinary Americans to make suggestions.

    C'mon, wouldn't you relish the opportunity to know that some terrorist is being forced to listen to "The Song?" I know that I'd love to make a terrorist listen to Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey." People whose suggestions are used could get a free trip to Gitmo to see the effects of their "torture" in person and get "tortured" themselves by getting a lap dance from a comely Marine.

    Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:59 PM


    The Export of Democracy: Jefferson's ideas presaged the Bush doctrine. (CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, July 12, 2005, Opinion Journal)

    Some argue to this day that there can be Christian or Muslim or Jewish democracies, but Jefferson was insistent that democracy meant religious pluralism, and consequently the separation of church and state. His Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, which banned the imposition of any religious test or the raising of any religious tithe, is the basis of the all-important First Amendment to our Constitution. There might perhaps have been a Protestant democracy in the Americas, stretching like Chile down the East Coast, and hemmed in by the ocean and the mountains, but in order to have a multiethnic and multiconfessional electorate on a larger scale, it was essential that secularism be inscribed at the beginning.

    It was also necessary that democracy be "for export," and that it be able to defend itself. "May it be to the world," wrote Jefferson in his last letter, on June 24, 1826, "what I believe it will be (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government." It cannot be said that Jefferson himself was entirely consistent on this--the Haitian revolution filled him with dread, even if that slave revolt induced Napoleon to offer the sale of the Louisiana territory--but he did identify with democrats in other countries and did believe that America should be on their side. His long friendships with Lafayette, Paine and Kosciusko are testimony to the fact.

    The most successful "export" was Jefferson's determined use of naval and military force to reduce the Barbary States of the Ottoman Empire, which had set up a slave-taking system of piracy and blackmail along the western coast of North Africa. Our third president was not in a position to enforce regime change in Algiers or Tripoli, but he was able to insist on regime behavior-modification (and thus to put an