Saturday, March 30, 2002

THE NATION'S FAVOURITE GRANDMOTHER DIES: To read more about the life and service of the Queen Mother, who passed away today, check out the BBC Home Service Site. She is probably the only member of the royal family the British really like. What does her passing mean for the future of the monarchy?
REVENGE: There was a pretty cute editorial cartoon in this week's "Clarion-Ledger" (Jackson, Miss) about some ways Trent Lott may get back at those who opposed the nomination of Mr. Pickering to the U.S. District Court of Appeals. Considering the ineffectual lobbying for Pickering by Lott and President Bush, some of these revenge scenarios may be as far as the Republicans would go.

Friday, March 29, 2002

NOTHING IS INEVITABLE. The good guys don't always win. Thousands, millions of them lose, get shot, hanged, or garroted and buried in unmarked graves, or rot their lives away in god-forsaken holes in god-forsaken countries. Do you think Czechs and Poles thought victory was inevitable when the Panzers rolled in, the Brits when London lit up like a bonfire, the Chinese when the Japanese burned their cities, raped their women, and choked the streets and rivers with their dead? Maybe Americans thought victory was inevitable after Pearl Harbor, but only because we're lucky and powerful enough to be so foolish. But we didn't have to win. We could've cut a deal, accepted the new world order, and gone to bed with the devil. Yet on September 11, I thought victory must be inevitable. How could we suffer that blow, that violation, that insult to our culture and not unleash the primitive fury and violence at the heart of even civilized people? We would change everything. No more diplomatic niceties, just: "Here's a list of men we want you to give us; if you don't, we'll take them, and if we have to kill you and conquer your people along the way, too bad, so sad." I mean, what else could we do? War didn't just seem moral and necessary; it seemed instinctive. Then came Afghanistan. We went to war, and our soldiers and airmen killed and defeated the enemy -- but only after military lawyers thwarted an attack on the enemy's chief political leader, diplomats scurried about planning loya jirgas and demanding that conquering allies "envelope" but not enter Kabul, and pundits fretted about "brutal Afghan winters" and the consequences of bombing the enemy during Ramadan. Now our president worries that that all this talk about "killing" might turn off American women, and asks Oprah and other women to tour Afghanistan promoting the softer side of war. This is insane, but it's not farce. It's reality, and the reality isn't a society bent on war. It's a society inexplicably apologetic about waging war. When we send the Vice-President to the Middle East to prepare for war against Iraq, our Arab "allies" make demands on us. And instead of looking them in their collective eye, lowering our collective voice, smiling a collective unpleasant smile, and asking, "Oh, would you like to be next, you woman-, Jew-, Christian-, black-, gay-hating and -killing animal?" we listened to them, and our "experts" told us we just couldn't do what we wanted to do in Iraq without first placating our "allies" because we "needed" them. So we humiliate ourselves. We accede to the demands of a pint-size Arab state that raised most of the men who killed our citizens on September 11 and has spent billions of dollars of oil money to export Islamic extremism throughout the world. We tell the Israelies that, "yes, we're sorry that those Palestinians keep blowing the arms and legs and heads off of school children, mothers, and grannies, and we know that your situation arguably justifies the kind of military retaliation we've undertaken, but -- sigh --it's just not helpful at this juncture for you to retaliate, so could you please show some restraint." If truth, justice, and the American way were inevitable, we'd have called the Israelis on September 11 and said, "OK, now we get it, sorry about those memos from the State Department, and -- well -- would you mind killing the ones dancing in the streets first?" If right always prevailed, Colin Powell wouldn't be asking Sharon if Arafat was OK. He'd be asking why he was still breathing. On September 11, it felt like 1941. Now it feels like about 1937, and that's frightening, because it means one of two things. Either it means we don't have the guts, courage, anger, and moral fervor to win, that we're going the way of other fat, wealthy, impotent empires. Or it means we just haven't bled enough. Maybe we're so big that 3,000 dead people just won't cut it. "Sure, a couple of thousand was enough in 1941, but you know, we only had 132 million then and now we're at 281 million, plus you have to factor in inflation, so now it's gonna take a few hundred thousand people melted by a nuclear explosion or choked and blistered to death by chemical weapons before we'll be good and mad." Is that what's inevitable -- near-suicidal complancency, until some wild-eyed enemy finally kills a lot more of us and says, "Hey, infidel, I'm serious, and I'm going to grind you into the dirt?" God help us.
A FAIR AND BALANCED STORY on growing European sentiment against immigration. Snicker, snicker. This wretched Washington Post article covers all the bases, from tarring all European parties campaigning against present immigration parties as "far-right," to quoting incendiary accusations of racism by pro-immigration groups, to quoting a feckless city-living student branding anti-immigrant party supporters as country yokels. Funniest moment: when the writer disparages the notion that Muslim immigrants might just pose an "internal security threat." I guess Islamic terrorists living in Europe aren't internal security threats as long as they just train there, and only carry out their attacks in the United States.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

GIVE WAR A CHANCE, please: Israelis Prepare Retaliation; Arafat Urges Cease-Fire. The Palestinians say they want war. Give them want they want. Then give them what they deserve: humiliating, mind-altering, pacifying defeat. The Palestinians aren't determined; they're complacent. They know one suicide bomber buys dead Jews, which they want. Any cost in public relations is offset by Israeli retaliation, which kills a few Palestinian "civilians," which buys sympathetic press coverage. The one resource a backward, illiterate, economically stagnant society has is people; it just doesn't cost a family of ten much to send off a son as a suicide bomber and lose one more to Israeli retaliation. Does that sound crass to you? That's the calculation, and it's working. But what if a family loses all of its sons and its father in battle? What if you level its hovel? What if you burn down the groceries, the bakeries, the factories, the offices? What if you destroy the electric plant, the water plant, the roads, and whatever other pathetic infrastructure they have. What if you make those wretched, squalid refugee camps seem like heaven, compared to life in a real war zone. What if these people screaming for jihad -- for war -- get to live, really live it, the way Germans and Japanese lived it? What if you take the war to the people who say they want it so badly, the way Sherman took it to Georgia and the Carolinas? Do you think that family might recount the cost? They're counting now, and they're in the black. It isn't natural to wish mayhem and destruction on a people. I never wished it on anyone until this war. But it isn't natural for a people to send off their young men, clothed with screw-, nail-, scrap-metal-studded explosives, to tear arms and legs and heads off of teenagers dancing the night away on a beach, moms and dads and children eating on a shopping day, men, women, and children, young folk and old folk celebrating Passover -- and feel good about it, celebrate the killers like they're heroes and "martyrs." And it wasn't natural when they were dancing in the streets on September 11. They act like life is cheap, their lives, their enemies' lives; they say they want war; but they haven't really had to pay yet. So make them pay.
REMEMBER FLIGHT 93: first casualties; first soldiers; first victors. Flight 93: Forty lives, one destiny; Honoring Flight 93; and 109 minutes revisited (all via Instapundit).

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

INVENTING VICTIMHOOD: Not that the usual feminist suspects or their supporters in mainstream journalism will notice or pay attention, but Christine Stolba from the IWF has a new study out detailing the lies that are woven through women's studies departments and some of their main textbooks. In today's NRO, Kathryn Lopez gives a good overview of Stolba's findings. Reading these reminds me of what I already knew, that I'm not suffering or nearly as oppressed as some people would like me to believe. This all also makes me very sorry that I didn't do more when my undergraduate college (always behind the times) started implementing more women's study courses. So far they have at least lodged them in real departments (and Anthropology) and only made a minor available in the subject, but that's too many steps down the road to a full blown department screwing up even more women.
LANGUAGE DIFFERENCES: I usually know where I stand on things, but in the case of English-only statutes, I'm not sure. Last week, Alaska's was struck down at the trial court level as Arizona's had been previously. The reason I don't know where I stand is that this seems like a non-issue to me. If anything, I think a better law would require at least one person to speak fluent English at any government agency. While it doesn't make much sense to me to require two Spanish speakers to use stilted English with each other instead of them both speaking Spanish, I do think that as long as the majority of us are English-speakers, there ought to always be someone available who speaks the language in which government and business in the US are ultimately conducted. Maybe I'm missing something.
READ THIS SCREED, by James Lileks, tearing apart a particularly stupid column by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, who argues that we should seek an international indictment against Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity.
CLINTONIAN ATTROCITIES LIVE ON: This soldier has come out of the closet in four separate efforts to induce the Army discharge him from service, which according to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is conduct that should get him fired. His wife and kids must be so proud.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

ANOTHER REASON TO LOVE CANADA: Mark Steyn is reason enough to annex Canda. Read his latest, brilliant column.
CANADIANS AREN'T WEENIES! Check out this blog about Canadian snipers fighting in Afghanistan. It's so easy to mock our Northern Neighbors, that I forget how lucky we are to share a massive border with a peaceful nation with a similar culture. And it reminds me of the important distinction between a people and their elites. Canadian elites ape European elites, which means they don't like Americans. The Canadian public, like the European public, generally does like Americans, shares our virtues, and try to emulate our success. Guess who produces hard-nosed snipers? Hint: not the Canadian elites.
FINDING SOMEONE TO SUE: Thanks to the trendiness of the business corporation back in the mid-19th century, black activists have found a defendant so they can press the "reparations" issue in court. Wouldn't you love to read Aetna's brief in this novel case? And do you think the lawyers will sue for discrimination when the court sanctions them for bringing a frivolous lawsuit?

Monday, March 25, 2002

HOW CAN SOMEONE SO SMART be so dumb? I used think New York Times columnist was smart on the middle east, dumb on everything else. But as Jay Nordlinger shows, Friedman's especially dumb about the middle east. Here's a nice quotation, referring to Friedman's sage advice that Americans need to worry about what Muslims think of us:
[I]sn’t it slightly perverse that Muslim terrorists kill thousands of us, while the Muslim world in general explodes in ululating cheers — and Friedman and others worry, “Gee, what do they think of us?” Mightn’t a Muslim worry, “Gee, wonder what they think of us”?
Read the rest here.
WISH I'D SAID IT: Glenn Reynolds writes at Instapundit:
It's the Arabs who have taken leave of their senses. And I think, more and more, that Den Beste is right and that they need to be defeated -- soundly, completely, brutally -- like Germany and Japan in were World War Two, or the American Confederacy was. Defeated so that their spirit is broken, and their culture permanently and fundamentally changed despite their heartfelt wishes that it were otherwise. The good news is that for all their bluster, they're much less formidable foes. The bad news is that the West has hamstrung itself with the absurd notion that the sovereignty of such nations is worthy of respect.
Read the whole blog, and the Victor Hanson essay he quotes. We're facing a true world war; we're trying to keep it under control, keep it manageable. That's why we're still trying to cut a deal in Israel. But history says we can't do it. We're headed for a conflagration, and the only question is whether it starts now, or after a few more years of failed appeasement and maybe a successful nuclear or chemical attack on an American city. Our enemies are medieval warriors with machine guns trying to buy nukes; they're going to give war a chance whether we want them to or not.
PLANNED LEAK? The Post says Israel is planning for war if the most recent truce talks fail:
If the talks fail as Palestinian violence continues, there is widespread and growing support both in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government and in the army for what one official called a "comprehensive military confrontation" with the Palestinians.
Forgive me if I don't hold my breath: the Israelis have followed repeated promises of war with wholly anemic military action. They've shown no willingness to actually bring the war to the Palestinian government (sorry, bombing empty police stations and killing the odd Palestinian "policeman" or official security goon doesn't count). One can still hope, though, and maybe this story isn't a malicious leak by the suicidal Israeli "peace" constituency. Maybe it's the judicious application of threat in the aid of negotiation.
WE'VE BEEN LUCKY SO FAR but I hope we don't get dragged into internecine battles like this one reported in today's Washington Post:
Elsewhere in Afghanistan today, the governor of eastern Khost province demanded that U.S. Special Forces troops hand over several rival Afghan allies who allegedly opened fire on the region's security chief, killing a bodyguard and wounding two others before reportedly fleeing into an American compound, according to wire service reports.
It would be nice if the West could build a civil society in Afghanistan. Who knows, maybe we can. But our bottom line should be much less complicated: Afghans may kill each other for whatever reasons they choose, so long as they do not harbor terrorists. Pulling out of Afghanistan probably won't accomplish that goal; terrorists are obviously attracted to power vacuums. But neither do our goals require making Afghanistan into a modern, stable state -- which is a good thing, since that's not going to be possible for hundreds of years. Our goals require a rough balance: enough economic and military aid to prop up a pro-Western regime that is humane by the standards of the region; and a credible threat to destroy any regime or insurrectionists that harbor terrorists. We can do that without having to police every tribal quarrel like this one.
WELL PLAYED: Hearing about Halle Berry's "historic" Academy Award last night reminded be of one of her less well-received movies. The movie B.A.P.S. featured her making a big career move in Los Angeles. Famous line from the movie: "I hope yo' mamma don't get played."
WHO KNEW? Prince Charles has a natural foods company called Duchy Originals. They have just created an organic chocolate Easter egg to include in their product line. The eggs are sold at Fortnum & Mason's for about $43 each. No matter how much I love dark chocolate, I don't think I'll be buying one any time soon.

Sunday, March 24, 2002

NEXT TEST OF THE BUSH DOCTRINE? The government is angry that Indonesia is stalling, if not actively thwarting, the war against Al Qaeda in southeast Asia. This 90-percent Muslim country has a nasty track record of killing and terrorizing Christians and other minorities (see, e.g., East Timor). Now it's harboring leaders of Al Qaeda cells tied to bombing plots in Singapore, despite our requests to arrest them. The government says it's afraid to act because the public wouldn't stand for it. That's probably true. You know what you call people who think their government shouldn't arrest men who plot to kill your countrymen? Enemies.
Viewed last fall as a potential ally in the U.S-led war on terrorism, Iran is presenting an increasingly complex problem for the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies in Afghanistan and the Middle East, according to U.S. officials and analysts.
Two points about this Washington Post report. (a) I hope we've fired whoever came up with the ludicrous idea that Iran was a "potential ally" in the war on terrorism. Memo to Secretary Powell: I think the Iranians, you know, fund, arm, and harbor terrorists, especially terrorists who kill Jews and Americans. (b) Iran is a big, complex country full of people who hate us and want to undermine our war in Afghanistan. But it's also full of people who want liberty and look to us for political support. So our policy toward Iran should be pretty simple: we will resist and undermine anything the Iranian government does, especially anything it does outside its borders, because those actions serve an enemy regime; and we will encourage and support insurrection and revolution against that enemy regime (since the so-called "reformers" are either too weak or insincere to change the regime). Where's the quandry?
SMOKING GUN? OR RED HERRING? A doctor in Florida thinks he treated September 11 hijacker Ahmed Ibrahim A. Al Haznawi for cutaneous anthrax last June, the Washington Post reports. But investigators still pooh-pooh any connection between Al Qaeda and the anthrax attacks, because the doctor didn't cutaneous diagnose anthrax when he treated the terrorist, but after investigators approached him. What tantalizing evidence: if it really was anthrax, this evidence conclusively ties Al Qaeda to the anthrax attacks, and the government's it-was-domestic-terrorists theory goes out the window.

Saturday, March 23, 2002

AT THE HEART OF ISLAMO-FASCISM lies this basic contradiction:
"In the emotions of their ... religion ... they will rediscover their self-esteem and wholeness, and be inviolate. They will no longer simply have to follow after others, not knowing where the rails are taking them. They will no longer have to be last, or even second. And life will go on. Other people in spiritually barren lands will continue to produce the equipment the doctor is proud of possessing and the medical journals he is proud of reading. That expecation -- of others continuing to create, of the alien, necessary civilization going on -- is implicit in the act of renunciation, and is its great flaw.
That's from the first chapter of V.S. Naipaul's Among the Believers. Never heard of the man until after September 11 (my ignorance, not his lack of fame). He just won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Reading this book, written in 1982, I understand why. Referring to the Ayatollah Khomeini, he writes:
He required only faith. But he knew the value of Iran's oil to countries that lived by machines, and he could sent Phantoms and the tanks against the Kurds. Interpreter of God's will, leader of the faithful, he expressed all the confusion of his people and made it appear like glory, like the familiar faith: the confusion of a people of high medieval culture awakening to oil and money, a sense of power and violation, and a knowledge of a great new encircling civilization. That civilization couldn't be mastered. It was to be rejected; at the same time it was to be depended on.
This incoherence -- this flaw -- in the "renunciation" of the West explains both the initial strength and the fatal weakness of Islamic fascism. The only thing that pumps more adrenaline than hatred is liberation. Imagine how it would feel to identify as your oppressor the world's most powerful nation, and then emancipate yourself. Not just by defacing its symbols -- embassy, office towers, hotels -- not just by killing its citizens and soldiers -- but by renouncing it's entire culture. But it's a sham, because you still need that alien culture to build your cars, produce your medicine, churn out the tanks, guns, jets, and bombs you use to keep the rabble down. It's a sham because that alien culture never oppressed you in the first place. You were oppressed by a home-grown, domestic despotism, which you just traded in for another. Despotism of the Shah, Despotism of the Ayatollah, both Made in Iran. It's a sham because you knew you couldn't just renounce your own oppressive culture -- you knew it'd take more than ideology and sloganeering to untie the knots of superstition, sectarianism, and tribalism it's twisted itself into. But you were too lazy, or crazy, or -- most likely -- greedy and power-hungry to reform your own culture. So you took the easy way out, and the easy route to power, and conjured up a Great Satan. But now you're in trouble. The kids who stormed the American embassy in 1979, they're getting old and disillusioned. And their kids don't remember that revolutionary high. They just live with the rubble, the unemployment, the corruption. They see through your sham. Maybe they'll rise up and reform their society; maybe they'll just trade in for the newest model of despotism. (Either way, your head will be on a pike -- a comforting thought to me.) For us, these competing choices are the difference between temporary and permanent victory, Germany in 1918 and Germany in 1945. We can gamble that this generation will make the right choice, like eastern Europeans did in 1989, or maybe we can force them to, like we did to the Japanese and Germans in 1945. Either way, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Pray we don't blow it.
SHAKE IT FAST: Have you heard that rap star Mystikal? He's a singer from New Orleans who I saw on MTV this week, and seems to scream rather than sing. A video for his most famous song "Shake It Fast" (also known as "Shake Your A#@"), is a spoof of the Kubrick soft core film "Eyes Wide Shut", which itself was merely a vehicle for Tom Cruise to take off his clothes. The lyrics to his songs are totally degrading to both women, and to Mystikal for singing about such profanities. I was going to post a link to his song lyrics on this site, but they are so base and vile, that I thought better of it. While there are "clean" versions of his songs, the ideas presented in them remain the same. If you want to know what is passing for entertainment on Top-40 radio, you may want to check out his songs. This is not for the faint-hearted or those who have any sense of moral absolutes, of which Mystikal lacks.
IRAQI TROUBLES: A lengthy piece in this week's New Yorker discusses the numerous crimes Saddam Hussien has committed against his own people and why we should be afraid of his non-conventional weapons capabilities. An interview with the author of this article, Jeffrey Goldberg, appears on the New Yorker's website. Most experts agree that Hussein has mustard gas, VX, and sarin (the nerve gas used in the 1995 cult attack on the Tokyo subway), and likely used these agents, and a few others, against Kurds in Northern Iraq during the waning years of the Iran-Iraq War. If it hadn't been for the Israelis unilaterally destroying the Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, Iraq would probably have been a nuclear power by the time of the Persian Gulf War. Of equal concern these days, is the support that Hussein and the Iraqi ruling establisment give to Al Qaeda. While there is no proof that Hussein ordered any type of action against the United States, it is clear that the Iraqi government has provided protection for terrorists fleeing Afghanistan, and has given at least moral and some financial backing for bin Laden's terrorists. Also a group of terrorists in Iraq that are sympathetic to Al Qaeda, have been receiving direct government support. Iraq, and Mr. Hussein in particular, view themselves as leaders of the Arab world, and as a power that can destroy the Jewish state. That's why during the Gulf War, Iraq fired 39 missles at Israel, in an attempt to get a response from Israel, and cause the U.S. to lose her Arab allies. Iraq will soon have nuclear capabilities (the Isreali ambassador to the U.S estimates within three years), so the window for containment is diminishing. A response to terrorism in the Middle East must go through Baghdad, before a permanent solution to the problems can be obtained.

Friday, March 22, 2002

TEACHING? WE JUST DON'T HAVE THE TIME: A school principal and a teacher strip-searched a class of third graders when $5 in lunch money disappeared. They kick Kindergarteners out of school for kissing on the playground and expell a high school student for having a kitchen knife in his car, and those are ludicrious and stupid, but I think this may be one of the dumbest things I've heard of "educators" doing yet. To paraphrase Asterix and Obelix, "These teachers are crazy."
THEY'RE NUTS: What's the main obstacle to peace between Israel and the Arab world? The Arabs want to exterminate the Jews. That's John Derbyshire's point in this powerful essay. When it comes to Jews, most Arabs are as obsessed, mad, cuckoo, off-their-rockers as the wildest-eyed Nazi. They're just too backward, inept, corrupt, and ineffecient, and the Jews are too vigilant and forewarned, to impose an industrial-strength final solution on Israel. But once they get their hands on a few nukes, or some really good VX, they'll stick 'em on top of a medium-range ballistic missile and solve the Israeli problem for sure. Which is why those morons in Europe and America who keep bleating about the Israelis' unwillingness to "make peace" are practical anti-Semites, even if they never hated a Jew in their lives. What else do you call someone whose policy prescriptions, as a practical matter, call for the destruction of the Israeli people?
HALF RIGHT, HALF WRONG: David Ignatius says the Israelis' military action against the Palestinian terrorism has failed because (a) it relies on the incremental force a la Vietnam and (b) "attempts to intimidate civilian populations into surrender rarely succeed ... because ... these campaigns tend to ... encourage people to rally around their existing leadership ...." Can't disagree with point (a) -- tit-for-tat strikes teach the enemy that you'll hurt him, but won't kill him. But point (b) doesn't make much sense. First, the Israelis' don't seem to be pursuing a policy of intimidating Palestinian civilians; the intimidation, and civilian casualties, are by-products of pursuing a policy of killing Palestinian terrorists. Second, if the Israelis are trying to intimidate the civilian population, that policy is failing for the same reason their policy of attacking terrorists is failing: it relies on incremental, limited force. As Victor Hanson convincingly argues in The Soul of Battle, from Epaminondus' campaign against Sparta to Sherman's march to the sea, democratic armies have succeeded by breaking the will of enemy civilians populations. The key is the use of overwhelming force not to kill civilians but to show them that their government and military are powerless to protect them. The Israelis' limited forays into the terroritories have failed precisely because they're limited.
WHEN RESEARCH CONTRADICTS A PREVAILING THEORY, do you (a) publish the research and subject it to public scrutiny or (b) suppress the research? The Justice Department's civil rights division wants option (b) for a report that suggests black drivers speed more than white drivers in New Jersey, a finding that undermines the claim that disproportionate traffic stops of black drivers results from "racial profiling." The research may turn out to be bogus; it may also turn out to be accurate. But the Justice Department would rather we not find out. I guess this is the kind of zealous civil rights policy Democrats were hoping for. (There's another funny story hidden in this article: the lead researcher has one concern about the report, "the driving habits of Latino motorists. Latinos can be of any race, making it nearly impossible to distinguish their ethnicity from a snapshot." If reseachers can't tell whether a driver is Latino, that would seem to cut against the claim that cops are racially profiling Latinos, right?)
CAN'T AFFORD TO FORGET: Jonah Goldberg's essay Wednesday on NRO, "Bring Back the Horror," reminds me that this usually goofy writer can be powerful and eloquent. His best point:
[V]iolence is not nearly so desensitizing as some believe. Indeed, violence has been an essential plot device for telling and teaching moral lessons for thousands of years (see "Violent Fantasy"). What can be desensitizing, however, is the moral context the violence is put in. ... Postmodernists and other sophisticates who want to mix concepts of good and bad in their literary mortar and pestles until everything is a gloppy gray are fond of talking about how America "deserved" or "invited" these attacks. This is desensitizing in the only sense that desensitizing means anything at all. It numbs the conscience, saps conviction, and demoralizes those who know they are right. It engenders apathy among the right and encourages imbecility from the wrong.
The war with the America-hating Chomsky-ites has only just begun, and the press is denying us our best weapon: the images of the mayhem and death inflicted upon our countrymen. Those images made us angry, reminded us that those "Red" and "Blue" states make one America, and convinced us to hunt and kill our enemies wherever they may hide, whatever we must pay. And we will pay a lot before this war is over. When dozens, hundreds, or thousands of American soldiers die, we'll be tempted to cut our losses; when we topple the next terrorist state, or drag bin Laden's corpse out of his cave, we'll be tempted to quit while we're ahead. In either case, we'll need love of country and countrymen, and righteous anger, to press on. The press thinks we can't afford to be "disturbed" by the images of September 11. Fact is, we can't afford not to be disturbed.
AIN'T NATIONALIZATION GREAT? "Postal Rate Commission Approves Higher Rates," the Washington Post reports. Now if only the government had a monopoly on other sectors, like, say, health care ....
JUST TO BE FAIR: As if you needed proof that Democrats are political hypocrites, here's some fuel for the fire. Where's the mighty McCain when you need him?
FICKLE VOTERS: Are Americans such fickle voters that President Bush thought it would be less problematic to contradict his campaign promise and let the CFR bill become law than to veto the bill that is clearly unconstitutional and shirk his responsibility to be picked up by the Court. Please say Congress and the President don't trust David Souter enough to pick politics over making good laws.

Thursday, March 21, 2002

A NEW WORD: The Pontiff has coined the word "pansexuality" to to describe the base activities of some. It troubles me to see such immorality in the clergy. I wish there were an easy answer to such problems. What do you think about allowing priests to marry? Or should they do like the Episcopalians and allow them to be "non-practicing".
EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION, ANSWERING THE CLAIMS: As a follow-up to my blog about the morning after pill, everyone should read Susan Willis' column from today's NRO. Deconstructing Rosie makes me realize that I didn't even know half the stuff that I should have been bothered by.
THEY NEVER ASKED ME... Playboy and Budweiser have come knocking at Baylor's door once again, trying to rustle up some nudies for their Big 12 publications. For some reason the risk of expulsion and the public censure by about 70% of their peers has remarkably caused some uncharacteristic shyness. Playboy has expressed no worries though... they know where to go to get the "Big-O" (an infamously large glass of beer) and experience says they can always find a Greek Chick there with a slightly compromised sense of propriety. I must have been in the bathroom when they came by in 1996.
FLAGS: Some Britons are disturbed that Union Jacks for the Queen's Jubilee are being made in Germany. They haven't quite forgiven Germany for the war, afterall. What I want to know is why Germany? Labor isn't exactly known to be cheap in Germany unless you are comparing it to Sweden. Why aren't the Brits outsourcing all their flag-making to China like we do? As you may recall, after September 11 the fact that many of the flags flying were made in a country not known for its love of freedom bothered a lot of people. So what's my point? I don't exactly have one. The patriotic part of me thinks our national symbol and the Brits' should be made at home. The free-market part of me sees the value of making something at the lowest price the market will support. I do wonder though, how that would ever make Germany competitive.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

POWER PLAY: Now instead of just female genital mutilation, we have true mutilation parity! The phallus has long been a symbol of male oppression. By removing it and the source of a man’s virility, his testicles, we see the ultimate demonstration of equality. The destruction of a husband’s essentially male characteristic gives a wife the ultimate release from her womb subjugation, and frees her to experience the other more liberating and positive aspects of her gender.
MORE ON AMERICA'S MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMAN: On National Review Online's The Corner, Rod Dreher noted today that "oprahfied" seems to have officially entered the American lexicon and asked readers to send him their definitions. Dreher posted his favorites here, here and here.
MAYBE LORENA WASN'T SO UNUSUAL: In two separate incidents in Uganda, husbands lost their private parts at their wives' hands - or in one case her mouth. One wonders if this is the start of a proto-feminist movement there.
CATCHING UP ON BAD TV: If you need a quick update to get you up to speed on things like the celebrity boxing Richard mentions below, read Mark Goldblatt's piece in today's NRO.
AM I CRAZY or has hate crimes legislation forced judges to make stupid arguments to get around the free speech problem? Here, the judge argues that spray painting the word "Nigga" on public school property in reference to a teacher is not a hate crime because it is the "friendly" use of the word.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

SHE DID IT HER WAY: At the end of the 2005-2006 television year, Oprah Winfrey will no longer produce a daily television show. Who will replace her and her ability to increase the self-esteem and literacy of so many Americans? Possibly Geraldo? I hear that reporting gig isn't going so well for him. Maybe Oprah and Donahue can start a support group for former talk show hosts; and with Sally retiring after the end of the 2004 season, they'll get another member. At least we'll have former star of the hilarious John Waters flick "Hairspray" to keep us entertained: Ricki Lake. Only, I hope that by the 2004 season she will have figured out that the pregnancy test episodes are getting a bit stale. And don't get me started on those "Am I a woman or a man" episodes.
FOXY BOXING, REDUX: Attention. The Fox Television Network, the same network that brought you "Melrose Place" and "The Chamber" (a program that put contestants in a large washing machine contraption) is replaying "Celebrity Boxing" this week. See Tonya Harding smack Paula Jones up one side and down the other. See the red-headed kid from "The Partridge Family" cause mayhem. "Celebrity Boxing" airs on March 21, 2002 at 8/7C. Be sure to check your local listings!
BETTER TO DIE THAN SHOW YOUR ANKLES: The sad case of 15 Saudi school girls being allowed to die in a fire rather than be seen in public without coverings is a reminder that the Saudis aren't the enlightened Islamic nation our State Department likes to pretend they are. Read today's Washington Post editorial and Jonah Goldberg's G-File from yesterday.

Monday, March 18, 2002

SAFER FOR WHOM? This morning on NPR they had a segment about efforts to expand access to the morning after pill. Apparently women aren't educated enough about their choices to know that there is "hope" after a condom breaks. No mention was made of including education about the way the morning after pill works, including sometimes causing fertilized eggs not to implant, thereby killing babies shortly after conception. There is currently a petition in front of the FDA requesting that the pills be made available over the counter. Says Dr. Paul Blumenthal, an expert on contraception at Johns Hopkins Medical School, "It's safer than aspirin." Safer for unborn babies? I don't think so.

Sunday, March 17, 2002

DEEP THOUGHTS BY MARTIN SHEEN: I just saw a P.S.A. on NBC in which Martin Sheen says, "When it comes to violence, don't fail your kids. Talk." Am I just dense? Is that as stupid as it sounds?
MAKING THE WORLD SMALLER: Irish soccer fans are lobbying the government to officially change Irish time to coincide with the Japanese time zone during the month of June so that Irish schedules will better accomodate World Cup viewing. On NPR last week, a supporter was quoted as saying she really didn't think it was "too much to ask."
RACE BATING AND NAME CALLING IN NJ: George Will has an interesting piece in today's Wasington Post about the mayoral race in Newark, NJ. The Republican candidate sounds pretty interesting and I hope he succeeds.

Saturday, March 16, 2002

NO NEWS IS NO NEWS: I haven't read a newspaper in a week and therefore have no opinion on anything. However, the boss of this page insists I should post something. So here's something.
HE SAW THE LIGHT: Does anyone remember the author David Brock? He wrote such seminal conservative works as “The Real Anita Hill: The Untold Story” and “The Seduction of Hillary Rodham Clinton.” Well, it seems that Mr. Brock has had an attack of “morals” in his new book “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative” (Crown; $25.95). If an rating is any indication of a book’s popularity, his book currently has a ranking of 4, and a four and 1/2 star review of readers. notes that those who purchased this book also bought “Stupid White Men... and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation,” “The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President,” “Supreme Injustice: How the Supreme Court Hijacked Election 2000,” and “The Bush Dislexicon: Observations on a National Disorder.” Mr. Brock’s epiphany stems from his fin-de-siècle disillusionment with the Washington scandal mill. As a student at the University of California at Berkeley and reporter for their student newspaper The Daily Californian in the early 1980s, David’s conservatism came as a response to what would later be characterized as political correctness. Indeed Mr. Brock was an admirer of Bobby Kennedy and even voted for Carter in 1980, but his article in support of the decision by President Reagan to invade Grenada led to a campus-wide protest against him personally, and an awakening as a conservative wunderkind. Upon leaving Berkeley, David Brock took an internship at The Wall Street Journal where his career would have been set except that a hiring freeze at the Journal prevented him from being hired permanently. Thus begins Mr. Brock’s long seduction by the right. Because no job was available at the Journal David took a job as a writer for “Insight,” the weekly magazine published by Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times. From Insight Brock moved to The Heritage Foundation, and finally ended up at the nascent American Spectator. While at the Spectator in 1992, Mr. Brock wrote a long article denouncing Anita Hill, in which he coined his famous phrase, calling her “a bit nutty, and a bit slutty.” The resulting book led him to shoot to the top of the Times best-seller list, and made him set his sights on bigger targets. In an article entitle “His Cheatin’ Heart,” Brock used unsubstantiated gossip from Arkansas Highway Patrolmen to paint President Clinton as sleazy, a remarkable accomplishment indeed. Finally, in 1996 Brock took aim at the president's wife, Hillary. In his book “The Seduction of Hillary Rodham Clinton,“ he showed her as liking big government, but basically wrote an autobiography, and portrayed her as a basically well-intentioned, good person. Following the not so bad portrayal of Mrs. Clinton, the right began to distance itself from Mr. Brock. Then David Brock began to feel bad about the damage he had done. Not since “The God that Failed” has such a momentous political conversion occurred! Mr. Brock as part of the Third Generation of modern conservatives (after Goldwater and Reagan), believed in lower taxes, more defense spending, and less re-distribution of wealth, which drew him to conservative causes. His new book “Blinded by the Right” explains how after the collapse of the U.S.S.R., the conservative movement was left with out a core enemy, so the enemy became Democrats, environmentalists, feminists, liberals as Mr. Brock calls it “abortion rights, gay rights, feminism, liberal judges, pornography, multiculturalism, affirmative action, and sex education in schools.” In his mind, Mr. Brock never really fit in with the new conservatives. He was openly gay at Berkeley and his homosexuality put him at odds with the Christian-conservatives. Also, he was uncomfortable with the way that some conservatives do not refer to liberals as ideologically wrong, but rather as evil (i.e. Grover Norquist). Also, President Clinton's impeachment stemmed almost directly from the article Brock wrote, in which Brock had set a perjury trap for the President with the “troopergate” incident. Ultimately, Brock feels he was seduced by the power and notoriety he received by destroying well-intentioned liberals. Brock was also upset with the Pandora’s box that his article on Ms. Hill opened up. It led to Pittsburgh billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife offering to reward those who found evidence of wrongdoing by the Clintons (either sexual or financial) and invited a whole host of “unsavory characters” to write hurtful things about the Clintons. Also, he felt guilty because Vincent Foster committed suicide after a number of editorials written about anti-Clintonites appeared in The Wall Street Journal. This led to the Spectator making a naive British author write an article suggesting that Foster was murdered by toughs loyal to Clinton. In the end, Mr. Brock’s real conversion came when he determined that he was being careless with the facts. Mr. Brock wrote in his piece on Anita Hill “that [Clarence] Thomas had [never] rented even one pornographic video, let alone that he was a ‘habitual’ consumer of pornography.” Two Journal reporters proved this to not be true, and Mr. Brock finally realized the error of his ways. In 1997, he wrote in Esquire “Confessions of a Right Wing Hit Man,” and estranged himself from the conservative movement. Finally, in 2000, to make his self-flagellation complete, he voted for Al Gore. The New Yorker praises Mr. Brock’s new book calling it “...not an apologia, [but] something rarer, and it is something that is owed not only from its author but also from the political cadre he has so spectacularly served and forsaken: an apology.” Wow. I feel better about just contemplating such a refreshing political cleansing.

Friday, March 15, 2002

THAT'S IT: We're homeschooling.
TO INDUCE HYSTERICAL LAUGHTER followed by vomiting, read this:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, brushed off [Sen. Zell] Miller's warning [that the defeat of Judge Pickering's nomination would have poltical repercussion for southern Democrats], saying, "I don't look at judicial nominations through a political prism."
HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! Blech! Urf! Ugh!
WOE UNTO US, HOW SORRY IS OUR LOTT: The Wall Street Journal notes that the borking of Judge Pickering has awakened President Bush to the need to defend his nominees, but that the Republican Senate leadership is the key to getting nominees any hearing at all. Of course, the most stunning aspect about Pickering's defeat is that he's from Mississippi, home state of the Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott. Which proves -- again -- just how useless Lott really is.
YOU REALLY SHOULD read this essay by Michael Walzer, editor of Dissent (pointed out by Andrew Sullivan and on The Corner). Some choice quotations:
The left sets itself apart. Whatever America is doing in the world isn’t our doing. In some sense, of course, that is true. The defeat of facism in the middle years of the twentieth century and of communism in the last years were not our doing. . . . Even the oppressed have obligations, and surely the first among these is not to murder innocent people, not to make terrorism their politics. Leftists who cannot insist upon this point, even to people poorer and weaker than themselves, have abandoned both politics and morality for something else. They are radical only in their abjection. . . . The world (and this includes the third world) is too full of hatred, cruelty, and corruption for any left, even the American left, to suspend its judgement about what’s going on. It’s not the case that because we are privileged, we should turn inward and focus our criticism only on ourselves. In fact, inwardness is one of our privileges; it is often a form of political self-indulgence. Yes, we are entitled to blame the others whenever they are blameworthy; in fact, it is only when we do that, when we denounce, say, the authoritarianism of third world governments, that we will find our true comrades--the local opponents of the maximal leaders and military juntas, who are often waiting for our recognition and support. If we value democracy, we have to be prepared to defend it, at home, of course, but not only there.
His indictment of the American Left is brief, clean, and damning. His prescription for remaking the Left would probably end it.
IT CUTS BOTH WAYS: DNA evidence gets lots of press as a way of exonerating the innocent. But in the long run, DNA evidence will cut against defendants, as it did in this case. First, it'll make many convictions factually bullet proof. Second, in cases were DNA makes factual innocence a non-issue, procedural error won't matter very much. For courts, procedural error roughly correlates to factual error; we spring bad guys for procedural errors to deter factual errors that might convict good guys. That deterrent loses value when scientific evidence gives an independent and far more reliable means of preventing factual error.
NO KIDDING? Headline in today's Washington Post:
O'Connor Criticizes Disabilities Law as Too Vague
(Here's the full article.) Prediction for tomorrow's headline:
O'Connor Describes Tax Code as Hopelessly Complex
SENSIBLE ADVICE from Peggy Noon regarding recent discussions about nuking terrorist states:
"Children will listen," the old song says. But so will the fragile and mad, and it's not good to excite them. We should not be leaking that we are reviewing our nuclear capacity; we should be quietly reviewing it. We should not be reporting in hyperventilated tones the review of nuclear policy; we should remember that this only feeds the sickness of those who mean us harm. We should be very quietly debating in the offices of government what an appropriate response would be to the bombing of America; we should reach conclusions, create a plan, and very quietly tell the leaders of the real rogue nations exactly what will happen to them, and to the terrorists who slumber within their borders, if they should dare to bomb an American city. Our words should be blunt little bombs whispered in the ears of Arab leaders in a manner that leaves them with the kind of ringing headache you sometimes get when you're told terrible news that is true. But we should probably not be having chatty conversations about whether or not it would be a good idea to take out Mecca.
Read the full essay here. It's quite sobering, which is the point.
LIBRARIANS OF THE WORLD UNITE: It is bad enough that librarians in the US have gotten uppity, but do we have to spread it to the rest of world?
AN INTERESTING TAKE ON SCHOOL VOUCHERS by Jeffrey Rosen in this essay in the New Republic. The main battle over equal educational opportunity has been between urban and suburban schools. He argues that liberals turned to school vouchers after the Supreme Court rejected constitutional claims seeking the forced integration of urban and suburban schools and mandatory funding parity. The main objection to voucher programs is that they don't provide parents with a "meaningful choice" among public and private, secular and religious schools, because most suburban schools don't participate. But, Rosen argues, this is a perverse argument because suburban schools won't voluntarily participate in voucher programs, and will kill any voucher program that makes them participate. So, in the quest for politcally impossible equality, voucher opponents deny urban school children the only politically viable route for any educational opportunity. The most surprising argument is that Republican suburbanites, not Democratic teachers unions, are the main opponents of voucher programs.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

DON'T AEROSMITH AND DRIVE: A recent study shows that fast paced loud music can distract you while driving and make you less alert on the road. Consider yourselves warned.
IDIOTIC HEADLINE SIGHTING II: The Washington Post reports:
The Bustle of Life Silenced in Ramallah During Israeli Offensive, Few Residents Venture Out and Most Businesses Close
I guess the "bustle of life" in Israel isn't silenced, so much as interspersed with the screams of men, women, and children dismembered by nails and screws propelled by high explosives.
WHO ASKED YOU? The Washington Post reports that
A panel of the Organization of American States tentatively ruled yesterday that the U.S. government must hold hearings to determine whether the suspected 300 al Qaeda and Taliban detainees at a U.S. naval base in Cuba deserve to be deemed prisoners of war.
Wonder when someone will rule that Al Qaeda can't shoot American prisoners of war? Or when some "human rights" organization will even care?
MORAL EQUIVALENCE UPDATE II: Let's do an experiment. Take the following quotation from this Washington Post report:
"Entering the cities, refugee camps, searching, arresting terrorists, catching explosives . . . we don't have anything else we can do," a senior Israeli security source said, speaking on condition he not be identified. "We have to go on with this activity as far as we can. We can't sit inside restaurants in Israel and wait for suicide bombers to attack."
Now, let's switch a few words:
"Entering the [training] camps, searching, arresting [and killing] terrorists, catching explosives . . . we don't have anything else we can do," a senior [American] security source said, speaking on condition he not be identified. "We have to go on with this activity as far as we can. We can't sit inside [New York and Washington] and wait for suicide bombers to attack."
Now, whose anti-terrorist campaign was it President Bush was calling "unhelpful" yesterday?
IDIOTIC HEADLINE SIGHTING: The Washington Post reports:
Israeli Assaults Dim Hope for Truce Sharon Resists Criticism From Cabinet, Bush
I mean, sure, causation can be a tricky thing to determine, but I'd have thought the Palestinians' suicide bombings against civilian targets, illegal weapons smuggling and manufacturing, and policy of killing every last Jew in Palestine might have something to do with all this dimming of truce hopes.
JUDICIOUS NOMINATION II: "[C]ould the motivations of U.S. Senators been somthing more?" Richard queries. You mean, like barring lawyers and judges from the federal appellate bench whose legal views don't track the platform of the Democratic Party, by (a) publicly accusing conservative nominees of racism and sexism, lying about their records, and then killing their nominations and thus (b) communicating to prospective conservative nominees that they need not apply unless they wish to run the risk of being slandered and libeled by the likes of Teddy Kennedy. No, surely not.
REPHRASING THE QUESTION: One would ask: Does Mr. Kennedy have "the temperament, the moderation or the commitment to core constitutional ... protections that is required for a life tenure position [in] the United States Senate."
TO INDUCE VOMITING, open your mouth and read this:
Pickering does not have "the temperament, the moderation or the commitment to core constitutional ... protections that is required for a life tenure position" on the appeals court," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. [emphasis added]
JUDICIOUS NOMINATION: It appears that the nomination of Charles Pickering of Mississippi to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (made famous in the Oliver Stone conspiracy film J.F.K.) has been scuttled. Is this defeat for President Bush payback for the hard time Senate Republicans gave President Clinton in confirming his nominees? Or does it simply mean that a judge who makes a decision that might upset others, should bid his future in public service adieu? Granted, any judicial decision involving the Klan or civil rights properly warrants especial attention; but given the overwhelming support for Mr. Pickering in his own state, and endorsement of political figures on both sides in Mississippi (including his local N.A.A.C.P. Chapter), could the motivations of U.S. Senators have been something more?
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE: President Bush criticized the Senate Judiciary Committee's rejection of District Judge Pickering's nomination today:
"By failing to allow full Senate votes on judicial nominees, a few senators are standing in the way of justice," Bush had said. Democrats "seek to undermine the nominations of candidates who agree with my philosophy that judges should interpret the law and not try to make law from the bench," the president said at his news conference a little less than 24 hours before the committee met.
Too bad he didn't spend some political capital to defend Judge Pickering when it might have counted for something. My principled side bemoans this latest blow and insult to the president's power to appoint judicial nominees. My political side hopes that Republicans will have a long memory and force-feed the Democrats some of their own medicine next time their man is in the White House.
TWILIGHT ZONE: In case you weren't sure, we now have perfect proof that PETA is an organization of litigious, mindless fools.
A BIGGER PROBLEM THAN WE KNEW: Read this disturbing report on what seems to be the intractable problem of sexual harassment and male domination.
MORAL EQUIVALENCE UPDATE: A good Wall Street Journal editorial hammers the president for two errors of moral equivalence: failing to see that Palestinian terrorists are not morally equivalent to Israeli soldiers, and failing to see that the Israeli war against Palestinian terrorists is morally equivalent to our war against terrorists.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

BALLY-WHO? Frazier, methinks thou doth protest too much to say the movie isn't "provocative." Which is to say, you're too provoked to say it ain't provocative. You're attributing a premise to Potemra that just isn't there. Potemra says the movie asks, "Just how important is sexuality anyway?" Implicit is the question, "Is sex indispensable to love?" Making a movie about a woman going against her sexuality because she loves someone is the extreme way to examine the question. If you want homosexuals to fully confront this moral/psychological/emotional dilemma, I supposed you'd make a movie about a homosexual woman falling in love with a man. If you want a heterosexual to get it, you have a heterosexual woman fall in love with a woman. Potemra says, given the subject matter, it's a beautiful movie. But sexual drama ain't my game. So unless I hear otherwise on the gunfire and explosions issue, I'll never know.
MAYBE MISOGYNIST: Surely Russell Yates was not in a legal sense an accomplice to the murder of his children, but I wonder whether he had an obligation to protect them from a psychotic and abusive mother. The first question asked when a father or stepfather is accused of abusing a child is always: "Where was her mother when this happened?" By all accounts Mr. Yates was very emotionally controlling, and went to great lengths to isolate his wife and family from other people -- insisted that the children be homeschooled, didn't believe in attending an organized church, not neighbor-friendly, etc. Is he guilty of murder? No. Could he have done something to protect his children? Maybe so.
BAH: Potemra's take from the movie is that it asks a provocative question: "is it OK to act against your sexual impulses?" I disagree that the question is relevant or provocative in the sense that the movie uses the ballyhoo of a heterosexual woman who makes a "major emotional sacrifice" by expressing her love for her female friend sexually. As if the understood premise is that there can be no such thing as a meaningful (dare I say "loving") relationship between people that is devoid of sexual behavior. Note that I didn't say devoid of sexuality. I think "society's" answer to either question (is it OK to act on your sexual impulses/ is it OK to act against your sexual impulses) would be the same, and I think the answer is both unsophisticated and morally defunct.
SEX v. LOVE: I thought Potemra's point was that society conflated love and sex, and that the movie asks a question that sexual liberalism can't answer: is it OK to act against your impulses. (And if society can't answer that question, maybe its answer to the flip-side, when is it OK to act on your impulses, is suspect as well. More important: this film does not seem to have gunfire and loud explosions. This is what I crave.
TOO MUCH NRO: Interesting piece on NRO's site about an upcoming movie "Kissing Jessica Stein." Although I have not seen the movie (it is not even being released in Dallas for another week) and almost certainly will not see the movie when it does come to town, I think that Potemra's praise is unwarranted. Apparently he too is a victim of a culture that conflates love and sex. One of my biggest peeves with the homosexual rights movement is the seeming inability to distinguish a person's emotional/sexual disposition from his willful behavior. There is no laudation in finding a movie artful because it flip-flops the same ignorant storyline.
CORRECTION: BUSH ALMOST GETS IT: While hitting all the right notes on Iraq and the war in today's press conference, the President made this jarring statement:
"Frankly, it is not helpful what the Israelis have recently done," Bush said. "I understand somebody trying to defend themselves . . . but the recent actions are not helpful."
To quote Instapundit, "You can't blame Colin Powell for this one." Mr. President, maybe Secretary Powell didn't mention this in your briefing, but the Muslim terrorists bent on killing Israelis are indistinguishable from the Muslim terrorists bent on killing us.. Well, there's one slight difference: they're too realistic to hope to kill every single American, but their fondest desire for Israel is nothing short of genocide. It's awfully nice of you to recognize Israel's right to self-defense, which is indistinguishable from our right to self-defense, but your remarks suggest that maybe, just perhaps, you don't fully understand the threat against which Israel is defending itself. Maybe Colin can clarify matters at your next briefing. Better yet, give Prime Minister Sharon a call.
UNBELIEVABLE CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY: Congress heard this chilling testimony during its consideration of the "Born Alive Infant Protection Act of 2000." Are pro-choicers utterly clueless or despicably hateful?
PRESIDENT BUSH GETS IT: Check out this quotation from today's presidential press conference:
Bush played down the importance of the United States capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. "Deep in my heart I know the man's on the run - if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not? We haven't heard from him in a long time. The idea of focusing on one person really indicates to me that people don't understand the scope of the mission. Terrorism is bigger than one person and he's a person who's now been marginalized," Bush said.
He makes two good points: (1) it's progress when Osama & Co. are too busy running and dodging bombs to hurt us; (2) bin Laden is just one link in an entire network that must be dismantled. Obvious points, to most Americans anyway, but worth remembering and reminding the press.
NUKING MECCA: So, if Muslim terrorists incinerated New York with a nuclear weapon, what would we do? That's the question National Review's Rich Lowry pondered on The Corner last week. To nuke or not to nuke was the basic question posed to readers. He reported the answers a few posts later: some favored the "extreme" position of nuking Mecca (lots of symbolism, fewer casualties), others the "moderate" position of nuking Baghdad, Tehran, Ramallah, and Gaza City, and others the default position of conventional warfare. Five seconds and a shudder-for-what-we've-come-to later, Lowry's hypothetical slipped from my mind. But it's made a stronger impression on some people, put them into quite a tizzy, in fact. The American Prospect misquoted and mischaracterized his musings as a rant on par with Ann Coulter's demand that we invade Muslim countries, "kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." The Council for Islamic Terrorist Apologists (aka Council of American Islamic Relations) screamed "hate speech." Lowry defended his remarks as sarcastic understatement. Maybe I'm just as dim as Alec Baldwin, CAIR, and the American Prospect put together, but I didn't think Lowry was being sarcastic. But that doesn't mean his slanderers are correct. (You can pretty much disbelieve anything CAIR says; the American Prospect piece is just a sloppy hatchet job trying to make a point that escapes the reader and probably the writer.) Lowry and his readers were engaging in a disturbing but necessary mental exercise: thinking the "unthinkable." By "unthinkable," I mean an act that in ordinary circumstances only a wholly depraved person would commit, like drowning her five children, raping and murdering people for kicks, or incinerating whole cities with nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are so indiscriminate in effect, and long-lasting in consequence, that their use against civilian targets would be unthinkably immoral in most circumstances. But what if someone does the unthinkable to us? What if a terrorist, not a state, attacks us with nuclear weapons? This isn't a remote hypothetical -- everyone but the most suicidally naive believe that Mohamed Atta would have used a nuclear bomb instead of an airplane if he could have gotten one -- and it tests the outer limits of the Bush Doctrine. When terrorists attacked our civilians with conventional weapons, we only retaliated against the military and government of the terrorist sponsoring state. If terrorists some day attack our civilians with nuclear weapons, will we so limit our retaliation? Can we? (My tentative short answers are Yes, we would nuke, and No, we wouldn't and couldn't limit retaliation -- enemy leaders and populations might trade their armies in exchange for wiping out millions of Americans; they'd think harder about trading entire cities.) Thinking about whether to nuke Mecca or Tehran or Baghdad sounds insanely immoral and would be in ordinary circumstances. But if terrorists ever use nuclear weapons against us, we will be in anything but ordinary circumstances, and in such circumstances, refusing to retaliate in kind would at least be arguably immoral, since we would fail to deter similar attacks against millions more of Americans. Since we know our enemies are thinking the unthinkable, so must we. Letting them know that we are may be the only way to deter them.
WE DON'T JUST LET DEAD PEOPLE VOTE, we give them visas. Six months after Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center, the INS issued their student visas. Makes me glad that airport security is now in the hands of government professionals.
THANK GOODNESS FOR MEN: I don't think I'm a misogynist, but sometimes I'm awfully glad that most women aren't running our country or our legal system. Most of my female friends are convinced that if Andrea Yates is guilty, her husband should be in jail too. Apparently the deaths of Mr. Yates' 5 children are mostly his fault, because he didn't do enough to help.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

MOVING ON UP: A woman who has lived in her car for 26 years recently lost her "home." Her neighbors wanted to do the "straightfoward and sensible" thing, so they gave her a red Mercedes to live in. Of course.
ARAFAT ANTI-SEMITISM ALERT! Check out this report, by the Chinese Xinhua News Agency of all places (Drudge posted the link), of Arafat's sick claim that the Israelis are tatooing numbers on Palestinian prisoners:
"Did you see what the Israeli soldiers put on the arms of the Palestinian prisoners in Tulkarem? They tattooed numbers on their arms. Is it the same thing the Nazi did against Jews?" said Arafat. Sources from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed that Israeli troops tattooed numbers on the arms of several Palestinians arrested in the past few days in an Israeli detention camp near Tulkarem. "What else do they (Israelis) have to say? Isn't this a racism and a new Nazism?" said Arafat in the interview. However, Israel Radio quoted an Israeli army spokesman as saying that the Israeli army was using color pens in writing numbers on the hands of the prisoners, and noting that those colored numbers can be easily erased.
And so we reach the pinnacle of victim rhetoric, casting modern-day Nazis as Jews, and Jews as Nazis.
MORAL EQUIVALENCE ALERT! This otherwise good piece of reporting in the Washington Post still manages to equate Palestinian attacks whose sole purpose is to kill civilians and Israeli attacks whose sole purpose is to kill terrorists but unintentionally kill civilians, i.e., civilized warfare and terrorism. The Post reporter writes:
[H]ere on the ground, the calls for bloody revenge have grown louder in recent weeks, all but drowning out pleas for restraint, and civilian casualties have become the rule rather than the exception.
Note the use of the passive voice, and the implicit connection between "calls for bloody revenge" and civilian casualties becoming the rule," the import being that each side is killing civilians out of revenge.
GOOD NEWS: Could the GOP get any better news than this? Hillary is the Dems second choice behind Al Gore for a 2004 Presidential candidate.

Monday, March 11, 2002

OUR PARADIGM WAS ALL TORE UP: The Bush Doctrine is simple: "Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists." It's foundation is simple too: terrorism isn't a unique, supra- or extra-national phenomenon; it can be accounted for by the traditional regime of international relation. But this simple doctrine, based on this obvious observation, cut a Gordion knot that had bedeviled American leaders some twenty years. Force is the essence of state power. Yes, states wield economic, cultural, and diplomatic power, but these are derivative of the military force that keeps trade routes open, international borders sacrosanct, and diplomats alive. States use force openly and directly with armies, secretly and indirectly with intelligence agencies, paramilitary groups, and proxies. However states use force, the main limitation on it is the cost of retaliation. You invade my country, I'll invade yours. Fear of retaliation limited states even when they resorted to proxy armies: the Russians and Americans fought each others proxies in Vietnam and Afghanistan, but never fought each other. But the United States didn't follow this model when dealing with terrorism. Except for Libya in 1986, states sponsored repeated terrorist attacks against the United States -- seizing our embassy in Tehran; killing Marines, diplomats, and other officials in Beirut; repeated hijackings and killings of American citizens abroad; bombing the World Trade Center, our embassies, a warship -- but never faced direct retaliation by our government. Our failure to respond didn't make sense. The terrorists were clearly proxies for states like Libya, Syria, and Iran. They weren't perfect analogs to Cold War proxies. Some had multiple client states, and much of state support consisted in leaving the terrorists alone, although states supplied weapons and intelligence too. But they were close enough: like Cold War proxies, terrorists could not function effectively without a backbone of state military, intelligence, and political support. In fact, terrorists were worse than Cold War proxies because they attacked us directly, anywhere, any time, killing Americans abroad, then at home. But if terrorists fit the model of state proxies, their kind of war did not fit our model of international relations. We regarded war as a means of last resort, to be used only for immediate self-defense. This model had two consequences. First, we did not attack states except when we had hard, smoking-gun evidence of their involvement in terrorist acts. Second, we did not retaliate except in "hot blood," while a terrorist attack was still immediate. So in 1986 we attacked Libya within weeks of the discotheque bombing after getting pretty hard evidence of direct state involvement, but after the 1988 Lockerbie bombing we didn't retaliate immediately, because we didn't have hard evidence of state involvement, and we didn't retaliate when we did have hard evidence, because the heat of the moment had passed. Since we usually didn't get hard evidence of state involvement until months or years after terrorist attacks, we repeated the latter pattern of non-retaliation again and again. Presidents from Carter to Clinton didn't fail to retaliate because they were stupid or cowardly; they failed because their model of international relations and the proper use of force couldn't account for what was essentially war in slow motion. So we treated state action as private action, and muddled along with criminal investigations, diplomatic maneuvers, and occasional and limited military strikes. The genius of terrorist states was to perceive and exploit our failure of imagination. Muddling through wasn't especially effective, but since the stakes were relatively small in terms of lives lost, it was affordable. The terrorists raised the stakes by the thousands on September 11, and now it's not. The model didn't work, so the President redesigned it. He cut through the Gordion knot by recognizing the reality that a certain states seeks the common end of our destruction and use the common means of terrorism. Since we know they harbor terrorists, we won't require of ourselves hard evidence of direct state participation. It is enough that a state knowingly harbors a terrorist group to justify the ultimatum of cooperation or war. Since we know they're allied against us, we won't limit our retaliation to the particular sponsor of a particular terrorist; each state allied against us gets copied on each ultimatum. In the short term, the Bush Doctrine means more war. Destroying the Taliban made small states like Yemen see the light, but Iran, Iraq, and Syria are unpersuaded. But in the long term, the Bush Doctrine promises stability precisely because it makes every act of international terrorism a casus bellli between states. Terrorist states have made war on us because the benefits outweighed the costs. War begat economic sanctions, diplomatic wrangling, and criminal investigation, instead of death and captivity. The Bush Doctrine resets the balance. War begets war, period. That equation won't prevent war with states led by madmen or gamblers; it never has. But it will prevent war with nations lead by more or less rational actors, and end regimes led by leaders who aren't. That's an effective policy, and after September 11, we can't afford anything less.
NO PLACE TO RUN, NO PLACE TO HIDE: Reporters may not get it, but a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that most Americans do. The most remarkable finding is that Americans don't see killing Osama bin Laden as the war's primary objective and measure of success. This is healthy for two reasons. First, we may never kill him or confirm it if we do. Second, and more important, it shows that Americans understand that the enemy is not a single James Bond mega-villain, but a network weaving together state intelligence and military organs, religious and political movements, and terrorist organizations. Killing individual Al Qaeda soldiers, even generals like bin Laden, won't win the war. Hunting terrorists so that they cannot rest, regroup and organize and starving them of the weapons and intelligence and depriving them of the havens that only states can provide, will. That was President Bush's message today:
"Every terrorist must be made to live as an international fugitive, with no place to settle or organize, no place to hide, no governments to hide behind, and not even a safe place to sleep."
The best news is, most Americans already understand.
G.I. JANE: A feminist push for a female Joint Chief of Staffs is just one more glaring example of how the postmodern intelligencia has redefined "equality" to devalue the strengths of both genders.
RUE BRITANNIA: Does it bother anyone else that the entertainment world has decided that Americans are too stupid to enjoy British TV and books without having them "translated" into "American" or dubbed with an American accent? I was annoyed to learn a few years ago that the Harry Potter series had been "translated" for U.S. distribution. As a kid I loved reading British books because the spelling, the idioms, and the syntax were all a little different. I've recently been reminded of this annoying editorial practice because my toddler is into the very British Thomas the Tank Engine TV series. It's bad enough that Hollywood made a full-length Thomas movie with American actors (including the dim Alec Baldwin) and has George Carlin narrate the video series. But even though producers thought American audiences were incapable of handling a British accent, they didn't change all the British phrases and expressions. Listening to someone with an American accent read lines like, "Thomas, what a silly engine you were. From now on you shall have to be more sensible," is really weird and grating.
HUMAN CLONING Speaking of lefty victims, I guess we should include the poor doctors and scientists who stand to gain considerable fame and fortune from the process of human cloning, if it weren't for all this reactionary public disdain. Please urge your U.S. senators to support the crucial legislation (S. 1899, sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback) that would truly ban human cloning, and to oppose "clone and kill" legislation that would permit the establishment of human embryo farms (such as Senator Harkin's S. 1893 and Senator Feinstein's S. 1758).
CAMPAIGN FINANCE, TO VETO OR SIGN: If the campaign finance legislation makes it past the impending filibuster, should Bush sign it? Philosophical objections to any limits on political speech/campaign finance aside, the restrictions on advertising 2 months before an election appear blatantly unconstitutional. Bush took an oath to uphold the constitution; but, he has also proven, time and again, that he prefers to take the safe route, rather than stoke political controversy (at least domestically).

Sunday, March 10, 2002

PLAYING THE VICTIM: The main rhetorical move of the pro-abortion movement is to seize the moral high ground of the "victim." This is not so easy, since abortion consists of killing an entity that most people call and think of as a "baby" when a pregnant woman doesn't want an abortion. And while anti-abortion terrorism has created pro-abortion martyrs, it's also subjected the anti-abortion movement to strict limitations on political speech and assembly, deprived it of any sympathetic coverage in major media outlets, and exposed it to massive financial liability. For every martyr, the pro-abortionists have gained invaluable legal and political clout and now have a decisive advantage over the anti-abortion movement. So envisioning pro-abortionists as "victims" isn't exactly intuitive. Could the pro-abortion movement have played the victim so sucessfully without murdered doctors and bombed out clinics? It would have tried, of course; playing victim is the only move a leftist movement knows. But would anyone besides pro-abortion extremists have bought it? I think not.
AND ANOTHER THING: 'Tis a strange world we live in, when "reproductive freedom" has nothing to do with freedom to reproduce life, but freedom to take it away.
WORLD'S-SMALLEST-VIOLIN AWARD NOMINEE: The ACLU has proclaimed today as National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers: "On this day, stand up with your abortion services providers and say: Thank you for your heroism, perseverance, courage, and commitment to women." And the ACLU admonishes that "[w]e must change the climate overall from one where abortion providers are vilified and assaulted to one where they are honored and upheld as the heroes they are." Where is the "courage" in going to work to kill people who can't fight back? How hard is it to perform abortions when the people who protest your actions are routinely harassed by the police, kept away from clinics by restraining orders and injunctions, and subject to huge damages awards in civil lawsuits?

Saturday, March 09, 2002

WHO ARE YOU CALLING PRIMATIVE? Did you know we are a primative culture? According to a discussion I heard yesterday on NPR's Talk of the Nation, we English-speakers are more primative than all those tribes in Papua/New Guinea because we only have one word for cousin and can't with a single word describe our exact relationship to our great-grandmother's cousin's daughter. Concern over dying languages is one of UNESCO's most recent concerns and apparently should send shivers down all our spines. For a wonderful discussion of why we shouldn't really worry, read John Miller's piece in yesterday's WSJ.

Friday, March 08, 2002

ALL ABOARD: Turns out the Euros weren't peeved that we were fighting and winning the war on terrorist-sponsoring states. (Anybody have a better name for this war?) They just wanted a chance to shoot Al Qaeda too. The Washington Post reports that the French are bombing, the Norwegians, Canadians, and Australians are shooting, and everybody's really happy. Of course, Euros being Euros, one unnamed diplomat had to get in this gibe:
"Contrary to what some people in Washington or in the Pentagon seem to believe," the diplomat continued, "coalitions doing things together is always better than doing things alone. I believe the myth that has been propagated in Washington that 'We are now so strong that we can do things alone better than if we do it by committee' is a totally wrong myth."
And thus, once again, the Euros snatch contempt from the jaws of gratitude.
ACCOUNTING STATEMENT INSURANCE II: My spidey-sense detects a few problematic issues with this proposal. Of course, they probably emanate from the penumbra of my ignorance about accounting, insurance, and finance. So, from both humility and fear of ridicule, I shall not pose criticisms but questions: (1) much of, maybe most of securities litigation is for fraud, right? Will insurers insure against that kind of intentional tort? (2) liability in securities litigation is huge and unpredictiable, right? Would insurers be willing or able to insure against a risk of such magnitude and unpredictability? (3) If this is such a great idea, how come insurers haven't been offering it for years?
KOFI ANNAN IS NAKED: Kofi Annan is a man of action. Many in the international diplomatic community have despaired at the success of the United States' war on terrorist-sponsoring states, and have resigned themselves to a world of peace and security. But U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan refuses to go silently into that dark night. The Washington Post reports that Annan is taking affirmative steps to thwart the war effort by begging the Iraqi government to readmit weapons inspectors. His ploy is obvious, because it's the one he used it so many times during the Clinton administration. Annan says, "Give in or else," which is a lie. The Iraqis say, "We already complied," which is a lie. Both sides say they had a "frank and useful," "positive and constructive" meeting, which is a lie. Then Annan and the Iraqis agree to more meetings weeks and months down the road -- at which they will tell the same lies again -- and Annan warns that U.S. military action to make Iraq comply would be "counter-productive. This last lie is the funniest, of course, since the only thing to which the Iraqi regime has ever responded is U.S.-led military action (but it would be impolitic to mention that). But President Clinton usually bought it, and the farce went on. Emperor Annan has no clothes. President Bush should say so, and let the productive "counter-productive" military action begin.
ACCOUNTING STATEMENT INSURANCE: In the NYTimes this morning, an editorial advocates "financial statement insurance," as a market-based remedy to accountants' conflicts of interest. A corporation would buy financial statement insurance from insurers. This insurance would compensate shareholders for cooked books. Shareholders could evaluate their risk, by determining (1) the corporation's policy limits and (2) the premium being charged the corporation. The insurers, in turn, would be responsible for audits, using them to set premiums for the corporation's insurance policy. What a good idea!

Thursday, March 07, 2002

PANDERING, NOT COMPROMISE: Political compromise is like a negotiated truce between two warring states of equal strength. They fight intending to win, but can't seize the advantage, and finally, when they're too bloodied and weary to go on, they cut a deal that pleases nobody but dishonors no one. The President didn't need to compromise his free trade principles by imposing steel tariffs. He's not negotiating with the Democrats to get something he wants. He's gambling that screwing over manufacturers and consumers will help a few Republican House incumbents. Steel producers and their unions get what they want; he gets nothing but a potential advantage. That's not compromise; it's pandering of the lowest kind.
BUSH THE COMPROMISER: What do you all think about Bush's willingness to compromise on almost anything? For example, most recently, he imposed steel tariffs, which run counter to his free market impulses, and will cost more jobs than they save. On the other hand, the tariffs fulfill a campaign promise, and shore up his political footing in rust belt states. Is he a traitor, a weak-kneed politician, or a pragmatic coalition builder?

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

ALEC THE VILLAGE IDIOT: I would never set out to buy a movie that stars both Alec Baldwin and Peter Fonda -- what a combination -- but since my two year old got it for Christmas, I started out merely hiding it. Now, for the cause of potty training, I am being held hostage to the Thomas the Tank Engine movie. It isn't a great movie, but it does have a few beautiful moments when you can see dear old Alec looking and acting like the idiot and rear-end kisser that he really is. First there is a scene where he tries to remember the code of conduct by which he lives (being "reliable, responsible, and really useful") but he has to cheat and look up "really useful." Telling? The best scene in the movie though, may be when Alec gets lost and a rabbit leaves him some carrots and other vegetables for "brain food." You can almost see the squirrels in Alec's head starting to race as he tries and tries to think -- but no. No luck. Poor Alec. Now if he only would leave the country like he promised. But I suppose it might be too hard for him to remember.
BLACKHAWK DOWN? I was being sarcastic when I wondered whether reporters thought this war was just another Somalia. But judging from the headline of this Washington Post story, "Rumsfeld Denies 'Black Hawk Down' Comparison," and some of the questions he fielded, some reporters actually see it that way. Sometimes people are dumber than you think.
THREE CHEERS for the citizens of Central Valley, California, who ousted Gary Condit in favor of his former aide in the Democratic Primary this week. Maybe the GOP will be able to do the miraculous (in California that is) and take the Congressman's seat in November.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

MEANWHILE, BACK IN EAST ASIA: The Chinese have increased "acknowledged" military spending by one-third over the past two years. The Washington Post reports that China's goal
is to become a "regional hegemon," project Chinese power into any corner of Asia, protect sea lanes for Chinese oil, replace the United States as the preeminent power in the region and use Chinese power to guarantee reunification with Taiwan.
Just in case you were wondering why the Chinese are "strategic competitors," not "strategic partners."
THEY STILL DON'T GET IT: "Seven U.S. Soldiers Die in Battle." To read the headlines, you'd think our soldiers were fighting and dying in Somalia or some other third world backwater in support of a poorly-defined mission of no national interest. But we're fighting a war -- a war we didn't start, a war that's already killed 3000 Americans, and a war that won't end with a negotiated surrender, or even unconditional surrender, but when sufficient numbers of Muslim terrorists are dead. No one disparages the grief and loss a single soldier's death inflicts on his family, and as a republic, we can't view our soldiers as war materiel to be freely spent, the way despotisms do. But it's absurd for reporters to react to casulties as a major event. What do they expect? People are shooting bullets and high explosive at each other. If there's any news, it's that American soldiers are fighting a fanatical foe in an inhospitable and alien country and winning at small cost. In the first global war of the century, only a few dozen American soldiers have died. That's a testament to the courage, skill, and technological prowess of American troops. And it's a small price to pay for our liberty. The American public seems to get it. Why can't reporters?

Sunday, March 03, 2002

BACKSTAB, REPRISE: The Washington Post reports today that Bush the Younger is learning a lesson his father learned in 1990, that Democrats reward compromise with a knife in the back. While the President touts the (absurdly named) No Child Left Behind Act as a bipartisan compromise, Sen. Kennedy blasts the President for inflicting "a severe blow to our nation's schools" because he doesn't want to waste as many billions as the Senator.
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