GOOD BOOKS ON A LITTLE COUNTRY [Peter Robinson ]
From a reader who, alas, has me stumped:
I've been trying to decide who to ping at NRO for suggestions on good books about the US involvement in Nicaragua. I'm looking for something that is a little broader than just a rehash of Iran-Contra. Your post today about Corner readers ("The Corner audience is the greatest audience in the world.") and the success of your recent post asking for suggestions on good books about Vietnam has narrowed my selection to......you! Since you worked for President Reagan, I thought that might be able to offer some suggestions and if not you might just ping "...the greatest audience in the world." I hope that I'm not being too presumptuous.Anyone?
Posted at 06:13 PM
RE: "THE MYTH OF RACIST REPUBLICANS" [Peter Robinson]
May I second Ramesh?
After reading his posting, I read the article in question. I found it so tightly argued, so compelling, and so important that I think it's worth linking to twice.
Posted at 06:05 PM
THE ACCOUNTANT OF MONTE CRISTO [Andrew Stuttaford]
Yes, we all know the problems that can come from absurdly soft judges, but, at the same time, whether it’s California’s ‘Three Strikes’, the Rockefeller drug laws, or any of the many other instances of mandatory sentences that litter the statute book, there is all too real danger that their inflexibility comes at the expense of justice. Check out the case of Jamie Olis, a former Dynegy executive. He has just been sentenced to 24 years for his part in an accounting fraud that prosecutors maintained led to $500 million in stock losses, a number that is, in fact, impossible to prove. Under Federal rules, he’ll have to actually serve at least twenty years. Now, financial crime can be devastating, and can ruin the lives of the fleeced, the swindled, and the robbed. It needs to be taken seriously. Found guilty, Mr. Olis deserved to go to jail. And for quite a while. But for 20 years, to be served, incidentally, in a prison system where inmates’ safety cannot be guaranteed? That doesn’t seem right. The sentencing judge appeared to feel the same way. Read the story and see what you think.
Of course, it’s almost impossible to decide what is a ‘fair’ penalty. It will vary from crime to crime, from victim to victim, from defendant to defendant. That’s why we have judges, that’s why we have judicial discretion but, if we are to reduce that discretion by legislating much narrower – and stricter - sentencing guidelines, here’s my test. If one of your close relatives (a close relative who you actually liked), or one of your friends, was to commit the crime for which that sentence was being fixed, a crime for which you accepted he should be punished, would you think that the preordained sentence, a sentence remember, that will be imposed with little regard to the actual circumstances of the case, was just?
I certainly don’t know all the facts, but I doubt if what happened to Mr. Olis satisfies that test.
Posted at 04:30 PM
YASSIN [Andrew Stuttaford]
In the view of the Muslim Council of Britain, the late Ahmed Yassin was a “renowned Islamic scholar.” Renowned, I wonder, by whom - and for what.
Posted at 04:23 PM
CLOWNS [Andrew Stuttaford]
The European Social Forum is, as its name would suggest, a self-important gathering that assembles from time to time to hawk socialism, stupidity and self-righteousness (if that is not to repeat myself). The observant Scott Burgess (he’s the source of the boar story too) has discovered that a European Creative Forum has now been formed to join in the fun. This quote from their website tells you all that you could want to know.
"The newly-formed European Creative Forum (ECF) joins the call to all artists, musicians, performers, DJ's, dancers, designers, writers, film-makers, writers, poets, actors, architects, rappers, jugglers, journalists, media activists, culture jammers, critics, promoters, organisations, charities, campaigns, collectives, networks and individuals who share the objective of creating and participating in the next European Social Forum in London in the Autumn."
And if you need more than that, check out the ECF graphic that Burgess has found. It says it all really.
Burgess also claims to be distressed that “jugglers” are included, but mimes are not. As Scott appears to be a good fellow, I’ll just assume he’s joking. Mimes are, of course, the spawn of Satan, the Dr Peppers of the entertainment world, creatures too loathsome even for the European Social Forum.
Posted at 03:05 PM
SUPERSTITION WATCH [Andrew Stuttaford]
For over a century, a statue of a wild boar stood in the center of England’s oldest public park. It was damaged during the Second World War. Finally, it has been restored. The old boar was going to be put back where it belonged. Not any more. These plans have, apparently, now been "abandoned for fear of offending Muslims, whose religion considers pigs to be 'unclean'."
And if you want another tiny example of the West’s supine response to Islamic fanaticism – that’s it.
Posted at 02:48 PM
COMMONSENSE IN DENMARK [Andrew Stuttaford]
The idea that ‘religious workers’ should have some sort of immigration priority is one that has a long tradition in many Western societies. The rationale? The benefits that such people generally bring to the community. In an age, however, where an extreme form of Islam is potentially no less pestilential than, say, National Socialism or Communism, the idea that the arrival of such pious folk is automatically a good thing needs re-examining. And that is just what the Danes are doing.
The Guardian is reporting that “New rules will require any person coming to Denmark on a religious visa to show that they are a "worthy" candidate, are educated, financially self-supporting and connected with one of 200 recognised religious communities.”
Posted at 02:46 PM
STAR SPANGLED BANNERS [Andrew Stuttaford]
Here, via the bloggers at The Agitator , is a selection of the flags of the world, graded aesthetically. Betsy Ross wouldn’t be happy with these findings, and there are many other misjudgments (for instance, what’s so wrong with “colonial nonsense”) but it’s good to see Somalia (shame about the country) and the Faroe Islands (shame they are not a country) getting the credit they deserve. Other discoveries – Botswana and Slovakia.
Read it for the insults. Did Libya: “even try?” The machete on Angola’s flag is “nicely depicted, but not a wise idea,” Rwanda’s flag (“a big R on an overused tricolour”) is “spectacularly unoriginal”, while Mozambique’s effort (“automatic weapons on a flag are especially bad”) “appears to have been designed by a committee all of whom had stupid ideas for pictures of extra things to put on the flag”
Posted at 02:45 PM
WALKING TALL [Andrew Stuttaford]
While we're talking about the Rock, let's not forget the inspiration for his new movie - the legendary, and fabulously named, Sheriff Buford Pusser. The museum is well worth a visit.
Posted at 10:11 AM
RUSH YESTERDAY [Tim Graham]
While the TV networks showed brief snippets and the newspapers carried a few quotes, the place to get a real sense of the Thursday night DNC hootenanny was on Rush Limbaugh yesterday. He noticed the mention of Howard Dean's name drew bigger applause than Kerry was getting. The audio snippets he played showed how negative (and how factually challenged) the speeches were, especially Clinton talking about all the horrible spending cuts of Bush. (????)See some of it here.
Posted at 10:09 AM
POSITIVE PASSION [Tim Graham]
Not only have there not been anti-Semitic riots in the streets over "The Passion of the Christ," it has even let to bouts of repentance. See how a man confessed to murdering his girlfriend and unborn child.
Posted at 09:58 AM
Friday, March 26, 2004
KERRY'S PLAN [Jonah Goldberg]
A reader asks a good question:
"Has Kerry ever proposed any of the measures he's proposing now in the course of his 18-years in the senate? If not, why not, if it's such a good idea?"
I don't know the answer -- yet.
Posted at 05:18 PM
"THE MYTH OF THE RACIST REPUBLICANS" [Ramesh Ponnuru]
A really interesting and, to me, novel argument about the history of the GOP in the 1960s and 1970s.
Posted at 05:08 PM
FOR THE RECORD [Jonah Goldberg]
You can technically still be square and watch Rich on Charlie Rose.
Posted at 05:02 PM
CHARLIE ROSE TONIGHT [KJL]
Rich will be on. Be there or be square.
Posted at 04:49 PM
ONLINE PORN, CTD. [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Yes, I'm trying to up our google hits.
Here's an email I just got:
Cottle's plan sounds like a decent idea, but unfortunately it wouldn't work for several reasons.
Posted at 04:47 PM
FRANCE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Jonah, I don't know where the conventional wisdom stands on that question, but the fact is, despite its position on Iraq, France is supposedly high on the al Qaeda hit list for its law banning the Islamic hijab, and other religious symbols, from public schools.
Posted at 04:46 PM
FYI [Jonah Goldberg]
Just to clear up any confusion: of course I know that The Rock got his name from professional wrestling. But, for the record, Roddy Piper dropped the "rowdy" when he made the quasi Marxist but still excellent John Carpenter film, "They Live."
Posted at 04:05 PM
THE ROCK [Jonah Goldberg]
I saw a big billboard in downtown NYC today (that's where I am right now) for "Walking Tall," the new movie with The Rock. It just struck me as so weird that the star of the movie is called "The Rock." I actually like him and think he's a pretty good action star. I just think it's weird. Other than musicians I can't think of a time when there's been a star who goes by such a manufactured name. I'm sure there's a branch of futurist-libertarian types who look forward to the day when there are no last names at all and we all create our personas. You know, your accountant could be known as The Cruncher. The guy at Kinko's could be Der Doppelganger. Alec Baldwin could be Bag-of-Rocks. Whatever. I just think it's kind of fun to think about.
Posted at 03:40 PM
THIS COULD BE A BIG DEAL [Jonah Goldberg]
From the AP (Link Via Drudge):
WASHINGTON - Top Republicans in Congress sought Friday to declassify two-year-old testimony by former White House aide Richard Clarke, suggesting he may have lied this week when he faulted President Bush (news - web sites)'s handling of the war on terror.
Posted at 03:29 PM
WOOLSEY ON CLARKE [Jonah Goldberg]
Ex-CIA Dir. James Woolsey, on Clarke (Via Hotline):
Ex-CIA Dir. James Woolsey, on Clarke: "He's a man who, once he gets locked into a view, doesn't listen anymore. He is an able man, in some ways. But in this case, he got locked into the view early on that there was nothing ever, no contacts of any kind between al Qaeda and governments such as Iraq. And so I think he ignored some of the clear evidence that George Tenet spread out before the Senate in 2002 about Iraqi training of al Qaeda in poisons, gases and explosives" ("On the Record," FNC, 3/24).
Posted at 03:26 PM
DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES [Jonah Goldberg]
My syndicated column has a different email address when it gets sent out to the world. It's amazing how different the readerships are. Here are two fun emails just because it's late Friday. The first is from my column on C-Span :
The second is completely out of left (and I mean left) field:
I think you are blinded by your countries hostility to Fidel Castro. It is so predictable. Your so called freedom loving country will not let you visit Cuba to see for yourself the running of this country that "dares" to reject capitalism. Who is the "evil dictator" ? Bush, Castro or Carter ? Yours [Name withheld] UK Citizen with freedom to visit Cuba (unlike you)
Posted at 03:20 PM
RE: MCCAIN [Tim Graham]
K-Lo, I'm sure McCain will get some props for his support on the trail this year, beginning with a prominent slot at the convention (what other part of that event will the media want to cover?) But I would say he is not sounding pro-Kerry to be nice to Kerry so much as sounding pro-Kerry to stay in the media's good graces, and to maintain his front-page-star status with the New York Times etc.
I do wish come conservative media outlet or talk show host would go deep in an interview with McCain about his relationship with Kerry on the subject of Vietnam. How did he feel about Vietnam Veterans Against the War and so on when he was still a prisoner of war, and how the two men interacted when they came to Congress? Obviously, their joint efforts to restore relations with Vietnam overcame whatever initial hostility there was. I'm not suggesting there's some goldmine of anti-Kerry material in it. I would just like the whole subject of Kerry and Vietnam more fleshed out than the movie footage in his commercials.
Posted at 03:00 PM
RE: SPAIN [Jonah Goldberg]
Ramesh's point about the TNR editorial reminds me, what are we to make of all these terror warnings in France? The explosives under the train tracks etc? What happens to all of the conventional wisdom if al Qaeda or some other Islamist affiliat attacks France?
Posted at 02:49 PM
I AGREE WITH RICH [Jonah Goldberg]
I think there has to be some legal mumbo jumbo incantation Condi can offer to dispel the separation of powers poltergeists. What would be nice is if this has been there plan all along. After all, the Bushies have a long pattern of refusing to do something until they reach a near crisis point and then doing exactly what the Dems wanted and swamping their opposition. Examples: Creating Dept. of Homeland Security, "engaging" in the Middle East, going to the United Nations etc. It would be nice to think that Condi's been planning to bring down the hammer all along.
Posted at 02:33 PM
BLAIR TO VOTERS: DROP DEAD [Andrew Stuttaford]
The draft EU "constitution" is back on the agenda, and Tony Blair will be backing it. Blair's spokesman says that the Prime Minister is not "afraid to argue his case." Except that he is. Blair is ruling out a referendum. Coward.
Posted at 02:24 PM
SILLY MAN WITH THE FUNNY HAT [KJL]
I confess, when I first saw the headline “Pope Says Sundays for God, Not Sports, ” I thought: “At least he’s not running for reelection. But, that said, he has an important point, of course (for many, if not most, “prayer” is not the first thing thought of when they say “TGIF” on Friday, which is why it’s important for religious leaders to say such things). And, too, the Vatican didn’t release a “DON’T WATCH FOOTBALL ON SUNDAYS” press advisory either, which is the taste of the wire story. But my favorite part of the story is that “Reuters” chose to put it in their “oddly enough” category—as if this were news of the bizarre. If the pope announced that Martians have souls earlier today, then, okay, maybe. But, that people should pray more on Sundays? Come on.
Posted at 02:21 PM
MCCAIN 2004 [KJL]
John Samples has a piece up today calling John McCain a "diva" for his weak-on-defense answer (he's not) re: Kerry. I've never been a McCainiac--I think he's all wrong on campaign-finance reform, of course--but he was terrific during the Iraq qar, and on the terror war. And, fact is, when he's on, he's on, and so you always want him on your side. Couldn't blame Kerry if he wanted him for SecDef. And, it would be, I might add, hugely damaging if Kerry pulled off a pre-election McCain defection like that. My question: Is it enough of a threat that W. should be publicly promising something?
Posted at 01:20 PM
AGAINST SPECTER [John J. Miller]
K Lo posted my NRODT story on Arlen Specter today here. Quick story: When I interviewed Specter for the piece last summer, my first question was "What's the conservative case for your re-election?" He could have said many things--the GOP's narrow control of the Senate means Republicans shouldn't be taking chances, he supported a round of Bush tax cuts, he's been okay on defense issues, etc. Instead, he mentioned his support for Clarence Thomas--definitely important at the time, though Specter also has been re-elected twice since then. Are conservatives supposed to thank him forever? And why should we view supporting Thomas as a favor? It should actually be a precondition. Then Specter went into a strange defense of his opposition to the Bork nomination. And that was it. An astonishly weak answer to a softball question. The man just doesn't understand conservatives, doesn't seem interested in trying, and deserves to go.
Posted at 01:10 PM
KERRY TAX PLAN [Rich Lowry]
Here is an e-mail from a well-informed guy who occasionally sends me stuff on tax and trade issues. Bottom line: It’s really complicated. E-mail:
Let's set aside for a moment the fact that all this stuff is just very confusing even to those of us who have attempted to study it. I'll try to pick through all this. This is another don't use my name (whatever the going acronym is for that) e-mail.
Posted at 01:06 PM
I THINK CONDI SHOULD TESTIFY PUBLICLY [Rich Lowry ]
I know the administration is trying to maintain a position on principle that it considers important. But why not just say that she is not being compelled to testify and that the White House reserves all its powers and rights, but given the importance of the issues at hand, they have decided voluntarily to make Condi Rice available for public testimony? Especially if she has already testified privately and will do so again.
Posted at 12:39 PM
KERRY’S BURDENSOME TAX CUT [Victor Canto, Economist]
John Kerry's new tax-cut proposal does not reduce double taxation nor does it simplify the tax code. Instead, it will increase the regulatory burden by forcing businesses to do additional paperwork. Additionally, it will increase tax circumvention and avoidance.
Posted at 12:33 PM
PUBLISHING BONANZA [Rick Brookhiser]
My publisher is The Free Press, which also publishes Richard Clarke, yet they can't seem to sell scads of my books. Maybe if I revealed that Gouverneur Morris, the draftsman of the Constitution, thought it was a failure...but wait, I did reveal that. I guess old pegleg wasn't a friend of John Kerry.
Posted at 12:11 PM
ON THE OTHER HAND [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I very much liked TNR's cover story (Sean Wilentz on the Founders and slavery) and Lawrence Kaplan's piece, mentioned in the Corner a few days ago, on John Bolton.
Posted at 12:10 PM
THE NEW REPUBLIC ON SPAIN [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Classic TNR editorial. A lot of posturing about the need to have views that are "coherent" and "serious." Then there's this: "We cannot fight this war alone and we cannot win this war alone. Was the trashing of all manner of international treaties and institutions really worth the alienation of so many European publics?" The idea that France, or the European publics, would have supported us but for Kyoto and the ICC is hardly serious.
Posted at 12:06 PM
HAMAS RAISING MONEY THROUGH U.S. REAL ESTATE [KJL]
Posted at 12:03 PM
ONLINE PORN [Ramesh Ponnuru]
This idea on how to deal with it has always seemed like a good one to me, although I'm open to counter-arguments.
Posted at 12:00 PM
WAR AND TAXES [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Peter Beinart, writing in The New Republic (I can't find the article online), says that Bush's tax cuts are undermining the war on terrorism. They account for 3/8ths of the federal deficit. The deficit has risen to a "politically unsustainable" level, and entitlements aren't being cut, so defense isn't getting the money it needs. But why should we assume that it's the tax-revenue constraint that has to give, and not the entitlement constraint? For that matter, why not try to increase the politically sustainable size of the deficit? Winning the war on terrorism is worth borrowing for--and yes, it's worth asking our children to pay for.
Posted at 11:55 AM
"TERROR IS LOSING" [KJL]
Do read Paul Wolfowitz.
Posted at 11:48 AM
KERRY’S CORPORATE TAX PLAN [Rich Lowry]
Thanks for your read, Don. I’m eager to hear from more economist types, either here in The Corner or by email.
Posted at 11:35 AM
BEWARE LIBERALS BEARING TAX-CUT GIFTS [Don Luskin ]
Kerry chimes in today with his economic plan. The central features are a lower corporate tax rate and the removal of tax breaks on companies who operate overseas. The so-called loophole at stake here is, itself, a form of “reform”-- which Kerry now threatens to repeal. Unlike almost any other major nation, the U.S. now taxes U.S.-based companies on their world income. Letting companies thus afflicted defer taxes on earnings overseas has been a way of lightening that unfair burden. Now Kerry proposes to put that burden back. The supposed offset? A lowering of the overall corporate tax rate. That means an arbitrary windfall to anyone who hasn’t been smart enough to defer all these years--and an asymmetrical punishment to those who were smart enough. In fact, those smart people will probably just solve the problem by leaving the U.S. entirely and setting up shop in a country that doesn’t burden its productive corporations as heavily as the United States.
Posted at 11:33 AM
A "FALTERING" ECONOMY? [Rich Lowry]
The New York Times, amazingly, describes the economy as “faltering” in a news story today: "With the economy faltering and Democrats so united, Mr. Bush's terrorism credentials are portrayed by his supporters as the strongest assets he has going against Mr. Kerry. The revelations — in particular, the account offered by Mr. Clarke — could give Mr. Kerry ammunition to attack Mr. Bush on foreign policy."
Posted at 11:31 AM
MORE ON SUICIDE BOMBINGS: LEGAL AGE LIMITS? [Rich Lowry]
The New York Times quotes the mother of that 16-year old attempted suicide bomber: "Mrs. Abdo, in a view echoed by many others, made clear that she opposed only those suicide attacks carried out by under age bombers. 'Maybe if he is 20, then perhaps I could understand,' she said of her own son. 'At that age, they know what they are doing, they are fighting for their homeland.'"
Posted at 11:19 AM
RE: YOU LIE! [KJL]
Read MEMRI's Steven Stalinsky "lie" here about child martrydom. .
Posted at 11:05 AM
CANADA TO BAN ALL HUMAN CLONING? [KJL]
A real, live, non-bogus (bogus being New Jersey, for instance) ban? Appears it.
Posted at 11:02 AM
YOU LIE! [KJL]
Jonah, how could you possibly believe Palestinian terrorists would train CHILDREN to blow themselves and others up, convinving the children that they would be rewarded eternally? As Yaqub Shahin, a director-general of the Palestinian Authority ministry of information put it to al Jazeera: "We know for sure this is a fabricated story from A to Z. Would you believe that a 13 or 14-year old would agree to blow up himself in return for a hundred shekels which he would receive after his death?" He continued, "It seems to me that the Israelis are bad liars as well."
Posted at 10:59 AM
RE: PAYING FOR COLLEGE [KJL]
Sigh. Yes, they do do it. I first wrote about "egg donating" (talk about doublespeak) in 1998 for NRODT. (You can read it Medicare: the cost of deception.">here.) Like on many Brave New World fronts, things have only gotten worse, we have only gone deeper since.
Posted at 10:46 AM
HOW TO PAY OFF YOUR COLLEGE TUITION DEBTS [John Derbyshire]
Sell your eggs
PS: You need to be female, have a high GPA, and preferably be really good-looking. Here is Chanel, one of FuturePundit's respondents.
(I am assuming that Chanel is who she claims to be. Given the stakes here, she might alternatively be some 54-yr-old Bangladeshi crone who got hold of a late version of PhotoShop.)
Posted at 10:38 AM
"RUSH LIMBAUGH HAS RIGHTS TOO" [KJL]
Rush's lawyer, Roy Black, in the Journal, on the seemingly blatantly unjust pursuit of the radio talk-show host in Palm Beach County. Here's some of it:
Over the past six months, Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer has: raided drugstores near Rush's home; seized his medical records without going through the required process enacted by the Florida legislature to protect medical privacy; leaked false information to the media that he was about to plead guilty to a felony; threatened to make his medical records public unless he pled guilty to a felony he didn't commit; released to the media confidential letters regarding Rush's situation that he received from my office; and falsely claimed that the Florida Bar and attorney general's office approved of the release.
Posted at 10:23 AM
CATHOLIC FOR KERRY OUT OF BISHOPS CONFERENCE [KJL]
Crisis magazine's Deal Hudson helped make sure the bureaucracy at the Catholic bishops' conference was in a bind by publicizing the fact that a staffer for the U.S. bishops was moderator of a Catholics for Kerry discussion group. He no longer works for the bishops.
Perhaps the Kerry campaign will employ him as a Catholic outreach coordinator. Would be fitting.
Posted at 09:49 AM
SPECTER GAME-PLAYING ON ABORTION [Jack Fowler]
With challenger Congressman Pat Toomey breathing down his liberal neck in the Pennsylvania GOP senate primary (April 27), incumbent Arlen Specter continues his political suck-up to pro-lifers and their desperately needed votes. Yesterday, Specter voted to pass the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (discussed here yesterday (scroll down), it is the fetal-homicide bill also named “Laci and Conner’s Law”). But before that vote took place, Specter voted to kill the bill by supporting Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s substitute proposal -- it would have codified the doctrine that when a woman and her unborn child are injured or killed during a federal crime, that crime has only a single victim. The proposal lost 50-49; other senators swinging both way à la Arlen were Tom Daschle (D, SD), Harry Reid (D, NV), Mary Landrieu (D, LA), and Susan Collins (R, ME). Don’t be surprised if the Specter campaign hasn’t already cut ads to run on Pennsylvania Christian radio stations bragging about his vote on the final bill (with nary a mention his bill-killing vote on the Feinstein amendment).
Posted at 09:02 AM
DON’T FORGET THE LAOGAI [Jack Fowler]
Think you’re having a bad day? Remember that in the People’s Republic of China, there are countless poor souls being worked to death in slave labor camps (making, among other things, the lights for our Christmas trees!). Here’s one typically sad/maddening story.
Posted at 08:56 AM
HENRY PAYNE NAILS TV VIEWS [Tim Graham]
Posted at 08:34 AM
RE: CULTURAL EXCHANGE [Steve Hayward]
Your reader's post is interesting, but the opposite from what's I've heard from a number of Indian sources (some of them through American diplomats in the region). Almost unknown to the American public is the degree of cooperation and help we have received from India; for example, their navy has quietly provided harbor security for our navy ships in Singapore and other far eastern ports, to prevent another Cole-style attack. India can't do this "in-theater" because it would rile up the Pakistanis.
And that's the nub of the issue: a lot of Indians tell our military and diplomatic people that the job won't be done until we take down Pakistan--a coalition India would be most willing to join I bet. I wonder if there isn't some of this thinking lurking behind what your reader sent in.
Posted at 08:32 AM
A LITTLE TOO MUCH UNITY [Tim Graham]
Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times reports one of the less appealing images of the Democratic dinner last night. "They drove us into each other's arms," former Texas Gov. Ann Richards said. "We are so united that, before their wives got wind of it, Joe Lieberman and Al Sharpton were on their way to San Francisco to get a marriage license."
Dinan also noted that Howard Dean suggested Kerry's Vietnam War record is more appealing than re-electing those who "never served a day overseas in their life."
Posted at 07:47 AM
OFF TO CNN [Jonah Goldberg]
Will be on around 8:35 AM.
Posted at 06:43 AM
MICHIGAN DEFEAT [John J. Miller]
A judge has tossed out the ballot language of Ward Connerly's Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, even though it's basically the same as what California and Washington voters already have approved. Story here.
Posted at 06:20 AM
Thursday, March 25, 2004
YOU'RE ALL WINNERS!!! [Jonah Goldberg]
Posted at 10:40 PM
MEMORY LANE [Jonah Goldberg]
Two ancient G-Files (Gosh I miss writing them) on presidential comedy fests (here and here). The smell of ant-Clinton bile really brings back, well the anti-Clinton bile.
Posted at 10:38 PM
RE: POLITICAL HUMOR [Tim Graham]
In her concluding remarks, K-Lo hit something important about these media dinners: they're insider rituals, designed to soften up the daily tensions and make you feel like the Cream of the Washington Crop. Trust me, as a former White House reporter, most reporters rarely see the President in a personal, non-business setting, so these are a treat for most attendees. Being in the White House holding pen, standing around waiting for Official Pronouncements, is often not a glamorous job. The dinners compensate.
Watching last night, I didn't think Bush looked like he was happy to be going through the ritual, and I thought the jokes were pretty lame. I wouldn't grade it high, but we're not voting for Comedian-in-Chief. I didn't think the WMD jokes were funny, and did have backfire potential. Clinton making jokes about impeachment (and other scandals) had the same flavor.
But Kerry's outraged response "as a veteran" is twice as lame as any of Bush's jokes. Has Kerry never told a war joke...in his life? A Vietnam joke? How about a few months ago, when he joked that when he came back from Vietnam, John Edwards was still in diapers? Kerry should hope no one takes his anti-joke statement seriously.
PS: If you want personally insulting, unfunny correspondent-dinner remarks, these take the cake.
Posted at 10:04 PM
CULTURAL EXCHANGE [Jonah Goldberg]
I'll have some thoughts tomorrow. From a reader:
Today I was in the company of a number if Indian programmers at one of those obligatory outings to celebrate the completion of a project milestone. They solicited my opinions on Bush and the Iraq engagement. Almost all were adamantly opposed to both. One of them said “You don’t know what problems your country is causing the rest of the world.” After listing many countries that are by our side and have no problems with our actions, I suggested to them that this is just a simple matter of bringing murderers to justice, so what is the problem with that? Another answered “We don’t have the ability to protect ourselves. We can’t just go into another country and root our terrorists.” This is the first time I have heard this line of reasoning. It sounded to me like they feel forced to be nice to murderers so the won’t be targeted by them. They are afraid we stirred up a hornets nest and are cowering in wait of the sting. Am I wrong?
Posted at 09:13 PM
KILLJOYS UNITED [KJL]
I actually agree with RP. You mention lowering the office. During the Clinton years, we already had the distinct impression Clinton took the presidency at times with all the seriousness of a spoiled, drunk college kid, and those dinners only encouraged him. Bush has restored dignity to the White House (come on, try to deny that) and, yes, is leading a global war against terrorism. He has a natural, endearing humor (I do love it, I must say), that comes out near as often as he talks--when appropriate. And so why have to perform, there are a ton of other things he'd be better off doing.
And, besides, those of us who slave away and yet don’t get invited to these dinners (OK, most Americans!) get a little perturbed watching it on C-SPAN. Is it really necessary?
Posted at 06:45 PM
PRESIDENTIAL COMEDY [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I'm against it--not against the occasional quip or funny line in a speech, but against the Washington dinners where the president is expected to perform for the press corps. It lowers the office. And I'm especially against it when the humor concerns matters of war. Call me a killjoy if you like.
Posted at 06:14 PM
48 KERRY/ 44 BUSH [KJL]
New Rasmussen poll out suggests Clarke's book is doing well for his best friend's team.
Posted at 06:05 PM
61-38 [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Final Senate vote for passage of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. On to the president.
Posted at 06:04 PM
A CLARKE THEORY [Rich Lowry]
E-mail: “Rich, I think I have this Clarke guy figured out. If you look at everything he has said, as well as the facts that everyone agrees on, he believes that Clinton "cared more" about Al Queda but did nothing about it, whereas Bush "cared less" about it but appointed Clarke to develop a more comprehensive strategy to eliminate rather than contain it. What he have is the confluence of Clinton's charisma and Clarke's ego. I have heard an awful lot of people say that Bill Clinton makes each person he spoke with believe he agrees with them. He was also a micro manager who avoided tough decisions. Clarke reported directly to Clinton and briefed him personally on security matters, whereas Bush got his briefings directly from the source--the CIA director. So when Clarke briefed Clinton, he (Clarke) "felt" Clinton was engaged and interested, and of course Clarke felt terribly important as the guy who was briefing the President. But Bush delegates, he doesn't "feel people's pain" the same way as Clinton. It's all about Clarke's "feelings," not about actually doing anything about terrorism. Clinton made Clarke "feel" good--even though he avoided all of those undecided issues left for the Bush camp from 1998--while Bush made Clarke feel left out, like a little kid who didn't get invited to someone's birthday party, even though Bush was actually doing more about terrorism. Because, you know, like, I mean, it's all about "feelings" man, don' t you know?”
Posted at 05:54 PM
KERRY JUMPS ON ANTI-COMEDY BANDWAGON [Michael Graham]
Posted at 05:45 PM
RE: MOTIVATIONS [Mark R. Levin]
Motive is the difference between first degree murder and involuntary manslaughter -- mens rea. But I get the point and agree with your emphasis. And GREAT job at the MRC event.
Posted at 05:44 PM
UNBORN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE [Ramesh Ponnuru]
The Senate just beat back the two amendments supporters of the bill were worried about. The bill appears to be headed for passage.
Posted at 05:41 PM
CLARKE IS STILL "SHREWD" [Rich Lowry]
At least according to Fred Kaplan over at Slate, who was telling us yesterday that Clarke is too shrewd to get caught contradicting himself. Well, now Clarke has been caught contradicting himself, but Kaplan is still sticking with the story that he is extraordinarily shrewd. I was eager to see how Kaplan would explain the discrepancy between Clarke's 2002 briefing and various other statements on the one hand and his book on the other. He doesn't. Kaplan makes two points.
1) That Clarke's prior testimony to the 9/11 commission--when he apparently wasn't so harsh about Bush--didn't focus on the Iraq War. His book sounds different because it does focus on the war. As Kaplan says, "The heart of his book's attacks surrounds the war." This won't wash. Yes, there is a lot of Iraq in the book, but there is also a lot of argument about how Bush did, as Clarke has put it, "virtually nothing" about al Qaeda prior to 9/11. You can't square Clarke's 2002 briefing and the book on this point. So I guess Kaplan is wise not to try.
2) Kaplan explains that Clarke had limited choices when he was asked to give that 2002 briefing. He could have resigned, but he thought he still had important work to do. "He could have lied, but nobody told him to do that, and he wouldn't have in any case." Or he could just put the best spin on things that were strictly true. Fine. As I said earlier, it is theoretically possible for Clarke to give a generous version of the facts in 2002, then write a more complete and critical account once he becomes a private citizen. But this is manifestly not what Clarke has done. He has written a book arguing that Bush did virtually nothing, when we know from Clarke's briefing that it was the Bush team that began to change counterterrorism policy and move it in a more aggressive direction after it had been frozen in place since late 1998. Clarke defenders like Kaplan have to square the book with the briefing and none of them that I have seen have done it--and in my opinion, it can't be done.
Posted at 05:37 PM
OUTONIONING THE ONION [John Derbyshire]
THE ONION isn't the only webzine that refuses to take the news seriously. A reader has just introduced me to the Canadian site Iconoclast, which carries stories like this one:
ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY DENOUNCES GIBSON FILM AS PRO-CHRISTIAN
Posted at 05:02 PM
WHY IS THIS SO HARD FOR DEMOCRATS TO UNDERSTAND? [Michael Graham]
Bush bashers like Richard Clarke seem to suffer a self-inflicted blindness about the Bush Administrations policy on terrorism. To say that you think the president's approach is wrong is not the same thing as saying he had no strategy. This is the fundamental dishonesty of the Richard Clarke attack. Michael Young at Reason.com cuts through the nonsense perfectly:
"It is difficult to fault Clarke for arguing that administration officials, especially Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, sought to use Sept. 11 to advance an agenda of war against Iraq. This was amply documented in Bob Woodward's book BUSH AT WAR. However, what Wolfowitz's critics have ignored is that his effort to implicate Iraq was the cornerstone of an ambitious strategy for how to respond to the Al Qaeda attacks that, in his mind, addressed the fundamentals of the terrorism problem.
For Wolfowitz, the threat posed to the United States came less from Al Qaeda per se than from the environments allowing such groups to form. As the Bush administration gauged the impact of Sept. 11, policymakers split into two camps: those who argued that the US must respond narrowly against Al Qaeda and its supporters, namely the Taleban in Afghanistan; and those who sought a broader mandate to reshape Middle Eastern countries regarded as terrorist breeding grounds."
Disagreeing with the policy is one thing, but to say it didn't exist is something else altogether.
Posted at 04:58 PM
WHY ISN'T THIS GETTING MORE PRESS? [ Jonah Goldberg]
Kerry was reportedly in a meeting where the assasination of US Senators was debated. He opposed the move, but he's denied ever being there for years. Sounds like that was a lie.
Posted at 04:56 PM
THE PRESIDENT'S ZANY COMEDY ANTICS [Michael Graham]
I just got a call from CNBC asking me to come on tonight and defend President Bush's comedy routine at the Radio and TV Correspondent's Dinner last night. CNN just took a shot at the president on this as well, and Nancy Pelosi is piling on, too. It's clearly going to be the media-generated Scandal Of The Moment.
Well, I was at the dinner and CNN's Barbara Starr is right: The President got big laughs with his "Where are the weapons" routine. The reason people laughed isn't because he was making light of war, but rather he was making fun of himself. The photos make him look silly, and his willingness to mock himself over his handling of the WMD issue makes him look self-deprecating and strong.
Can anyone imagine President Clinton doing a "Where's the intern" joke at one of these press dinners? Bush knows it's an issue and he took the comedic punch. As a former comic, I say "hear, hear!"
Posted at 04:48 PM
THE MIAMI BEACH AUDIENCE [ Peter Robinson]
is the greatest audience in the world.”
As television viewers of a certain age will recall, that’s how Jackie Gleason used to close his television show. The greatest audience in the world these days? The readers of this happy Corner. The series of events that (most recently, at least) confirms it?
1. I put up a posting, asking Jay Nordlinger to recommend worthy performances of Brahms’s exquisite work for piano, Intermezzo Opus 118, No. 2.
2. Off “the top of my head,” as he put it, Jay listed nine pianists, something of a virtuoso performance in itself, but, Jay being Jay, not terribly surprising.
3. What was surprising? That on a narrow question pertaining to classical music, I received no fewer than eighteen emails. Each was from a reader who knew what he was talking about. A sampling:
From one reader—and note that anyone who wants to hear the piece in question can simply click on one of these links:
Jay’s list is an impressive one – the Backhaus recording is justly famous.From another reader:
I notice Mr. Nordlinger gave you a list rather than a ranking. If you want one-stop Brahms shopping (the intermezzo you mentioned plus many of his other great shorter pieces, esp. Op 119 Nos. 1 and 3), try this CD from Radu Lupu:From still another reader:
Try Radu Lupu, Stephen Bishop Kovacevich, Julius Katchen, Wilhelm Kempff, Artur Rubinstein, Sviatoslav Richter if you can find it, Emmanuel Ax, Ivo Pogorelich, in roughly that order. In other words, just about anyone but Cliburn. Some of Cliburn's concerto records were very impressive, but his solo interpretations I've found quite bland. Gould could be very insightful, but some of his interpretations are just wild and the sound can be quite dry, and the dreadful vocalising along with himself is unspeakable.And, from yet another reader, my favorite:
Actually, Peter, you would be quite surprised at the work that Brahms did later in his life. He abandoned the large forms of the sonata, concerto, etc. and mainly wrote small character pieces, such as the Intermezzos. As someone who has played that piece, I would vouch for Kempff, Gieseking (also plays a good Ravel concerto) and Rubinstein, but I am not a big Hess fan. If you look through op. 116 - 119 you will find more high quality pieces like that. (op.117 no. 1, op. 118 no. 5 etc.). Keep defending free trade for me.A pianist and a free trader. As I said, The Corner audience is the greatest audience in the world.
Posted at 04:46 PM
ST. GREGORY THE ENLIGHTENER [Mark Krikorian ]
On Saturday, the Armenian Church commemorates one of the feasts concerning St. Gregory the Enlightener, or Illuminator, who converted Armenia to Christianity in 301, making it the first Christian nation. He plays a similar role to St. Patrick for the Irish, Sts. Cyril and Methodius for the Slavs, et al. Saturday's feast mark's St. Gregory's being thrown into a pit for his Christian faith -- there's a monastery over the pit now (you can climb down into the pit, though it seems unlikely it's actually the same one). A picture of the monastery used to be on Near East brand rice pilaf mixes, until the Armenian family that owned the company sold it to Quaker Oats, which promptly scrubbed the cover clean of any religious imagery.
Posted at 04:39 PM
ONLY TWO? [Mark Krikorian ]
There's a new sexual preference I was completely unaware of: "Two Spirit," as in "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit and Transgender." Apparently, this is the term for American Indian homosexuality, which apparently is different from the other kinds; for more than you wanted to know about this, see here or here. I'm afraid I just can't keep up.
Posted at 04:38 PM
BADGES? [Mark Krikorian]
Yet another mass arrest of Mexican government employees for belonging to a smuggling gang moving illegal aliens into the United States. (Spanish article here--and the English summary here). Most of the 44 people arrested were current or former employees of the National Migration Institute and most of the rest were cops. Now, massive corruption in Mexico is hardly breaking news, but you have to wonder why anyone would bother arresting these guys when Mexico's federal government -- and our own -- are doing all they can to promote illegal immigration.
Posted at 04:36 PM
THE CANADIANS VS. FROZEN EMPTINESS [Jonah Goldberg]
There's an Onion story in here somewhere. The Canadian Armed Forces are marching on the great white north:
Canada's troops to reclaim Arctic Five-year plan to 'put footprints in the snow' and assert northern sovereignty Adrian Humphreys National Post Thursday, March 25, 2004 Canada is launching an extensive five-year plan to march soldiers through all of its uninhabited Arctic territory in the largest bid yet to exert sovereignty over its northern domain, an area drawing increasing international attention and conflicting territorial claims. A renewed northern mobilization by the army, navy and air force -- including new space-based technology -- marks a significant increase in Canadian Forces resources earmarked for the region at a time when military funding is stretched extremely thin.
Posted at 04:22 PM
MOTIVATIONS [Jonah Goldberg]
Mark - I don't disagree, I just wish that it were otherwise. I think you'd agree that the facts of the accusation are more important than the motives of the accuser. If I publicly accuse you of murder, the fact I'm doing it because you stole my Tonka truck when I five is much less important then question of whether or not you're actually guilty. Hanna Arendt once claimed that it was the communists who introduced the tactic of attacking motives in order to dispute inconvenient facts. They'd call their opponents bigoted fascists as if that changed the fact that they were on Moscow's payroll. Whether that's true or not, it seems to me that going after motives rather than facts is a tendency of the left we usually don't like.
As Rich noted earlier, I think Clarke could have written a thoughtful, serious and critical book about Bush. I wouldn't necessarily agree with all of it, but this war on terro is a monumental and monumentally complicated undertaking. It would strain our faith in bith the fallibility of man and government to believe that Bush did everything perfectly. But Clarke's criticism is so outlandish, so not constructive, and so contradictory to the facts as we know them that Clarke's motives have to become an issue. Again, as Rich (and I) have noted -- and as you would no doubt agree -- that briefing Clarke gave is flatly incompatible with the tone, tenor and content of his book. If that weren't the case, I'd say his motives don't matter.
Posted at 04:14 PM
CLARKE'S MOTIVATIONS [Mark R. Levin]
Re Jonah's piece: It seems to me that motives are, in fact, critical to examine as an explanation for a complete reversal of position, as in the case with Richard Clarke. While it is true that the Clinton defenders attacked Paula Jones and Linda Tripp for peddling book deals, neither of them actually secured such a deal at the time. Furthermore, both were subjected to the kind of scrutiny Clarke will evade, i.e., in Jones's case, the examination that comes with a civil lawsuit, and in Tripp's case, the examination that comes with a criminal investigation. Final point: Jones and Tripp never changed their stories, either. Clarke's situation is completely different. And his motivations are, in my view, pertinent.
Posted at 03:48 PM
DERB, EGG, FACE [John Derbyshire]
Some posts ago I said there are no longer any movie theaters in the UK called "The Odeon." A UKanian reader corrects me:
"No, John, things have changed again. There is, indeed a large chain of Odeon cinemas (http://www.odeon.co.uk/), and although their website does offer ticket purchases, the same booking charge applies online as to purchases made via their call centre (which is what most people use)."
I was working from the fact that the Odeon in my home town was renamed to something else last time I looked -- Multimedia Fun-O-Rama Gigaplex, or some such. Memo to self: Do not extrapolate from a single data point.
Posted at 03:44 PM
WIFEBEATING 101 [KJL]
Forgive me if we already posted this: MEMRI photos (and much more, as always) from a wife-beating lesson on Egyptian TV.
Posted at 03:43 PM
DAVID GELERNTER'S CLASSIC [John Derbyshire]
A helpful reader, more web-adept than myself, has located an online version of David Gelernter's essay "How the Intellectuals Took Over (And What to Do About It)" from the March 1997 Commentary. Here it is.
Posted at 03:28 PM
FOX [Rich Lowry]
I'm scheduled to be on around 3:45 today...
Posted at 03:22 PM
CYBER ALERTNESS [Tim Graham]
MRC reports two major findings today. First, the networks presented Clarke as a captivating performer last night, and the fact that Clarke sang a very different tune in 2002 was presented not as objective reality, but as the latest "ferocious" salvo from the White House. Second, Star Jones (a former NBC legal reporter now with ABC's "The View") is headlining a DNC disco event tonight with Bill Clinton.
Posted at 03:21 PM
NOMENCLATURE [Rick Brookhiser]
"Nigger" was already thought disgraceful by Hollywood. Gone With the Wind (1939) does not use it. I have an impression that the great Hattie McDaniel refused to be in a movie that used it. Or did the producer surrender it as a bargaining chip with the censors to get in Rhett's parting "damn"? Cinephiles please advise.
Posted at 03:19 PM
A UNION LEADER MISREADER [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Good Evening Sir. I just read your article in the Union Leader about the testimony of Mr Clarke today. I have to shake my head. I will not insult your intelligence like so many of my friends and neighbors do when i dare to question the current administration, however i will turn the tables on you, and do like you have done to Mr Clarke. What are your motives sir? What makes you write an article like this? How many people have to come forward? How many lies have to be debunked? How much will you overlook? How many ominous and unseemly connections will have to be brushed aside? Answer that and i will then place my faith in your journalistic integrity? Sincerely, A Father of four children who does not want to see their blood spilled in foreign lands for a lie.
Posted at 03:16 PM
HOW THE COMMISSIONER SHOULD HAVE HANDLED CLARKE [Rich Lowry]
I agree completely with this email.
"I liked your column.
I wish the commissioners at the hearing had handled Clarke a little differently. Once Clarke claimed (which he did) that all the statements he made in 2002 were 'truthful', I would have siezed the opportunity to go through each of the 7 pro-Bush statements in the 2002 briefing one by one, getting him to admit (again) that each statement was true when he said it in 2002, and is equally true today. Then I might have dismissed him by saying that I had no more questions for this witness.
To the extent his real bitch is the subsequent Iraq war, fine, he's entitled to his policy views and he's also entitled to assert them forcefully, like any American. But that's not the issue before this Commission. What he should not be permitted to do is create a false impression that George Bush was somehow less interested in terrorism than the Clinton White House had been."
Posted at 03:11 PM
FAIR POINT [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
I should clarify that I would want my kids to be forced to say the Pledge at whatever school they go to. But I can't deny that making it obligatory strengthen's the atheit's case. Moreover, I do think parents should be the final authority on such things.
Posted at 03:00 PM
TWO FACTUAL PLEDGE POINTS [Jonah Goldberg]
A lot of critical readers continually assert that it is outrageous for the state to force kids to swear allegiance to God or the flag or anything (see the posted letter below). They're probably right, but that's not happening. First of all, the pledge is voluntary. You do not have to say it and you do not have to say the words "under God" or any other part of it. I would be far more sympathetic to their arguments were it otherwise. And, second, there is a difference between "pledging" and "swearing." The pledge is no binding oath, even if many take it to be one.
Posted at 02:44 PM
ONE MORE THING [Andrew Stuttaford]
If any of my fellow secularists are 'offended' by the inclusion of the words 'in God We Trust' on any US currency they hold, I am more than happy to relieve them of this burden. It's a sort of Good Samaritan thing.
Posted at 02:34 PM
SCHULZ ON THE FRENCH [Jonah Goldberg]
Okay, so it's hardly news when a guy named Schulz beats up on the French. But it's worth reading anyway.
Posted at 02:33 PM
THE PLEDGE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Jonah, I don't have a God in this fight, but Dr. Newdow's lawsuit appears utterly ridiculous (and your point about how the plaintiff seems to be talking a lot about himself rather than the daughter for whom he is supposedly litigating is very well made). God (oh dear, not Him again) only knows whether those two words are constitutional, but Justice Souter's hint that this is something so trivial that it ought to fly below the constitutional radar seems right. Every society has its shared rituals, some important, some not, but it is their existence as part of a common experience, not necessarily their content, that matters. The Pledge of Allegiance is one of those. It's pretty benign, it gives comfort, and, to some, inspiration. Why mess with it? Those who say it can make as much - or as little - of it as they want. Speaking as someone who mumbled my way through years of school prayer, school hymns and school psalms, I know that those two little words will do no harm, and for some, they may even do a little good. Dr. Newdow should get a life. The afterlife, presumably, is not available.
Posted at 02:33 PM
ATHEISTS FOR GOD [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Posted at 02:31 PM
HAPPY MEAL? [Andrew Stuttaford]
Via PETA. Who else?
Posted at 02:30 PM
STOP. NOW. NOW [KJL]
There will be no Richard Simmons bashing. Why, you ask? I refer you to The Corner, 5/13/2003 "RICHARD SIMMONS, FREE-MARKET HERO!": "This is from Richard Simmons, the fitness guru, on CNN earlier today, about HHS efforts to get fast-food change to, in the words of Tommy Thompson, 'diversify' by providing more than oreos...and fries: "People have been frying foods since Jesus was on this planet, and there is always going to be greasy, fried, salty, sugary food. It is up to the individual to walk in and say, I don't want those fries today. I have 40 pounds to lose. It is not the fault of the fast food people, and anyone who's trying to sue the fast food places needs a therapist, not an attorney. You have to make your own decisions. That's what the freedom in America is all about."
Stuttaford, I say let's take this guy out for a drink--he's thinking more like us than the GOP HHS.
Posted at 02:22 PM
RE: RICHARD SIMMONS [Rod Dreher]
It's not really a joke, Jonah, but you gotta wonder how a guy lives down having been beat up by Richard Simmons (almost as bad as David Gest being beat up by Liza Minnelli). I say this jerk deserves to be picked on mercilessly. He got what he deserved, and Richard Simmons was right on target to -- in his phrase -- "bitch-slap" the guy for making fun of him in public (and in a very lame way, I might add). According to the AP story, "The man, whose name was not immediately available, told police that he wanted to press charges against Simmons, who was cited and allowed to board a plane to Las Vegas." Even more reason this shlimazle deserves our opprobrium! He actually called the cops on Richard Freakin' Simmons!
Posted at 02:18 PM
“IT’S COMPLICATED” [KJL ]
Dianne Feinstein, on the Senate floor right now, says the Unborn Victims of Violence act is a “bill [that] covers children that are not children.” A couple that struggles to get pregnant, however, considers that child a child, the moment they find out they’re pregnant. If, God forbid, that women is killed by a drunk driver on the way to a celebratory dinner, announcing the pregnancy to her family, would Senator Feinstein really want to tell the grieving family that the mother, was not a mother, but a women with a cell or two she was getting prematurely excited about?
Feinstein says she opposes (and she obviously does) and is infuriated by the murder of a pregnant women and her viable child. She says, about the UVVA:“It’s complicated…because the definition that we are working from gives rights at the point of conception.”
Not to be naive here, but how can “women’s groups” and “feminists” hold that position? Perhaps its because they are not “feminists” or “women’s groups.” They are abortion lobbyists.
Posted at 01:58 PM
RICHARD SIMMONS [Jonah Goldberg]
Slapped a man and I cannot think of a good joke.
Posted at 01:54 PM
MORE TROUBLE THAN IT'S WORTH [Jonah Goldberg]
Look: I am not oblivious to the argument that in a vacuum there is something to the atheists' case. As I've argued before, the 9th circuit's decision wasn't loony given the precedents of the last thirty years. Again, my basic objection is pragmatic and small-c conservative. It's not worth changing. Active, politicized atheists in this country -- and many sympathetic liberals -- have bought into a bogus narrative. They seem to believe that religion is the source of American history's great evils. That's an argument for another day, but suffice it to say that for every bad thing done in religion's name in American history it's just as easy to find many good things (like, um, the Reverend Martin Luther King's civil rights movement).
But while that part of the narrative is simply inaccurate another part of the narrative is flatly illogical. They seem to believe that the role of religion in American life is increasing and that is the source of the problems today. This is nonsense. Never mind that the "under God" line was inserted half a century ago and could never get in there today were it not already there. But our political leaders invoked religion and used religion as a guide for our law so, so, sooo much more in the past than they do today. The idea that the Founders would be horrified by the "under God" passage is laughable. President George Washington declared national days of prayer and fasting. States had their own established Churches. Lincoln got jiggy with the God references. Our civic arhcitecture is drenched in allusions and mentions of God and the Bible. Look at our money for Pete's sake.
The problem with this narrative is not that it is false, though that's bad enough. The problem is that once you believe it you are never satisfied until every last part-per-billion of Godness is purged from public life. That is not a great position for the atheists to take because it demands a couner-reaction that will be far worse than the "harm" caused by the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.
It reminds me of Jesse Jackson's insistence years ago that the most pressing civil rights issue in America was DC statehood. Well, if that's the most pressing civil rights issue in America, then the civil rights problem has been solved! It's like saying the most pressing public health problem is the continued headaches of glue sniffers. If atheists truly see this as their biggest problem then most Americans will see atheists as kooks and zealots. For their own sake, atheists should drop it.
Posted at 01:36 PM
OFFENDS V. HARMS [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
ME: I think this is just flat wrong. First of all, if tradition can be overturned because of a "particular reason" then tradition can always be overturned because there will always be "particular reasons" for overturning it. There needs to be a "good reason" for overturning tradition (indeed, isn't that the whole logic behind stare decisis?). This reader sugggests that that good reason is the "manifest harm" done to atheists. Wrong again. The pledge does not harm atheists, it offends atheists -- a much lower standard. And, again, if offense alone can overturn tradition then tradition has no power whatsoever.
Posted at 01:23 PM
MORE CLARKE [Rich Lowry]
Have been getting a lot of abusive email about my Clarke piece today. Let me be clear about this: it would have been theoretically possible for Clarke to give reporters that August 2002 briefing, emphasizing the positive aspects of the administration's anti-terror record, and then go and write a critical book, giving what he considers a more complete view. In fact, I think Clarke could have written a very interesting and honest book criticizing the failures in both the Clinton and Bush administrations. But that is not what he has done. There is no way to square what he said in August 2002 with the actual book he has written, because it is such a totalist critique of the Bush administration that leaves out or skates over important facts he recounted in 2002. The Clarke who said in 2002 that nothing important had moved in U.S. counterterrorism policy since the end of 1998 simply cannot be squared with the Clarke of Against All Enemies.
Posted at 01:16 PM
MY "PAPER" TRAIL [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Posted at 12:13 PM
ABOUT RIGHT [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Sir, One thing I haven't heard in the media is this: If what Clarke is saying is true, then the liberals, by all logic, are upset that Bush didn't overturn the existing Clinton doctrine early enough. It is generally accepted that incoming administrations universally carry forth existing national policies until they come up with their own. When the Bush tax cuts went through, even the biased main stream media said that now it was Bush's economy, not Clinton's. Well, it seems to me that until such a time that Team Bush could create a different terrorism policy, the existing Clinton policy was in effect. So, the Clintonistas are saying that Bush didn't change the existing Clinton Doctrine (Essentially doing nothing) fast enough. Am I off base? Your thoughts?My thoughts I've heard this point made by a few people (Bill Kristol, Lowry, the voices in my head). And, I think it's largely right. Stripping out the rhetoric and cheap shots, Clarke is saying Bush wan't tough enough. Considering the bleating from the far left (though generally not from more moderate liberals) about the "overkill" of the American war in Afghanistan it's certainly impossible to take some of Clarke's new fans seriously. Moreover, the political question is , Iraq notwithstanding, who would be tougher on terrorism: John Kerry (or Al Gore) or George Bush? Given the Democratic Party's problems with the Patriot Act, it's obsession with multilateralism, it's peace-at-all-costs fringe and all the rest I think the answer is pretty obvious. The Bush-is-always-wrong left is so excited by the political damage being done to Bush it's missing the point that the criticism is coming from Bush's "Right" in a sense. If the end result of Clarke's shtick is to foster a debate over who's tougher on terrorism, it seems to me, Clarke might help Bush.
Posted at 11:25 AM
ON THE OTHER HAND [ Jonah Goldberg ]
From a reader:
ME: Obviously, I disagree with a lot of this. But let me just address one point. This reader (a professor) wants to know how it would be a slap in the face to Americans to get rid of the under God portion since it was only added half a century ago. Well, because it obviously would be. Close to 90% of Americans want to keep the pledge in there. Taking it out because of the demands of a tiny minority would once again reinforce the widespread (and correct) feeling that a tiny group of secular social engineers have once again redrawn the country according to their own unpopular views. This reader and others like him fail to understand that to most Americans Mr. Newdow is just as much of a fundamentalist (or "fundie") as members of the religious right.
The most persuasive argument -- among many -- for why the phrase under God should stay there, in my view, is not because it's an establishment of religion or because we are a "Christian nation" but because removing it would do more damage than leaving it. Indeed, if the phrase under God had never been added, I would be against adding it today. But the fact is it's there today and it's one of the few places left where fundamentalists like Newdow haven't scrubbed religion from the Public Square like so much graffiti. And I am a Burkean on this. As Delta House President Robert Hoover might have said had he been serving as Solictor General, "But sir, the phrase 'under God' has a long tradition of existence both to its members and the community at large."
Posted at 10:12 AM
TEN LITTLE CONFUSIONS [John Derbyshire]
Some readers have questioned my assertion, in yesterday's column, that Agatha Christie published a book with the n-word in the title. Well, the used-book website Abebooks.com lists 132 copies of that book under that title! There is, in fact, a tangled story here, which someone with more patience than I have might un-tangle. When the Christie novel came out in Britain in 1939 it had the n-word title. Issued in the USA the following year, the title was, as I said, changed to "And Then There Were None," because the n-word was already considered disgraceful by Americans, at any rate the novel-reading classes. It kept the original title in England until well into the 1960s, though -- my mother, a keen reader of detective fiction, owned a copy. Then modern sensibilities kicked in and the British publisher changed the title to "Ten Little Indians." Abebooks lists 156 books with that title, the earliest dated 1966. To further confuse things, the book was made into a play early on--at latest 1944--and the play was produced under all three titles. There was also at least one movie...
Posted at 09:56 AM
DANG! YOU GOT ME [ Jonah Goldberg ]
In today's syndicated column I trot out the cliché that "hindsight's always crystal clear." Several readers have already reminded me that I wrote a column arguing exactly the opposite in June of 2002. This is the danger of clichés. I was trying to make a general point which everyone understands but also ended up communicating an even more general falsehood. Like saying violence never solves anything, people understand what I mean even when in reality what I'm saying isn't true. Anyway, if forced to choose between the two columns, I would err on the side of the G-File.
Posted at 09:48 AM
RE: RE: SCHEDULE [KJL]
The Unborn Victims of Violence story must be the only angle in the Peterson story that the media has not hyper covered--it's barely noticed, even though Laci's mother has been perhaps its most vocal advocate.
Posted at 09:32 AM
RE: SCHEDULE [KJL]
A reader points out: "I don't think that's enough time for Kerry to vote both ways... "
Posted at 09:30 AM
THE PASSION COMES TO BRITAIN [John Derbyshire]
Mel Gibson's THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST is about to open in Britain. Damien Thompson, editor of The Catholic Herald over there, got a pre-screening. He thought the movie, taken as a movie, was a bit cheesy, but welcomes it as a cultural phenomenon anyway: "This curiosity [i.e. about the movie] has been stimulated, ironically, by the very lobbyists who have declared premature victory in the culture wars: secularists and multi-culturalists. Nominal Christians say to themselves: if these ghastly people hate our inherited faith so much, there must be something going for it. And so they ring up the Odeon to book tickets for Saturday night. The wild success of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST has forced us to revise our assumptions about the inevitability of secularisation. If such a bad film can do this, what might a good one achieve?" Read the whole piece here.
I must say that at low points I wonder if my own faith is not as much negative as positive -- I mean, inspired not so much by the message of the Gospels as by revulsion at the sneering triumphalist arrogance of the Christ-haters. Hey, maybe I will go to see THE PASSION...
[Note, by the way, how sweetly out of date Mr. Thompson is. Even in Britain, movie theaters haven't been named "The Odeon" for 30 years. And nobody rings up a movie theater to book tickets, we all do it on the internet. My heart warms to this fellow reactionary. Perhaps Britain isn't altogether lost yet.]
Posted at 09:28 AM
IN THE SENATE TODAY [KJL]
Schedule, fyi: Debate on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act will begin at 10:30 this morning. There will be 6.5 hours of debate, 4 hours on the Feinstein Amendment, 2 hours on the Murray Amendment and half an hour of general debate, and after the debate is completed the Senate will vote.
Posted at 09:25 AM
THEN GET THE #$%^ OUT [ Jonah Goldberg ]
I'm not now nor have I ever been an "America: Love it or leave it guy." And while I'm not going to run through all of the platitudes about how America should welcome everybody, that doesn't mean I don't generally agree with those platitudes. Nonetheless, there's a difference between saying that we should welcome or even accomodate everybody and saying that we should rewrite the social charter so it's pleasing to whoever complains the most.
Michael A. Newdow is, I believe, a very smart crank. Although Linda Greehouse would have us believe he's something of a demigod. Regardless, Newdow's assault on the Pledge of Allegiance depends on the criticism that any public recognition of God is unacceptably tyrranical. Here's an exchange, recounted by Greenhouse, between Justice Souter and Newdow from yesterday hearing:
Justice Souter's question for Dr. Newdow was whether, even assuming that schoolchildren were being asked "as a technical matter" to make a personal religious affirmation, the recitation had become in practice "so tepid, so diluted, so far, let's say, from a compulsory prayer that in fact it should be, in effect, beneath the constitutional radar." Was it the case, Justice Souter asked, that by "the way we live and think and work in schools and in civic society in which the pledge is made, that whatever is distinctively religious as an affirmation is simply lost?"
"I, I, I." You get the sense this all about Newdow? Remember this isn't even a case about what the pledge does to him, it's supposed to be about what the pledge does to his daughter.
I'm sorry but this country may have been established to protect individual rights, but it wasn't founded to cater to the feelings of every individual. Newdow is unconcerned by the fact that if he got his way he'd be slapping, literally, hundreds of millions of Americans in the face. He thinks that's fair because of his ego and because his capacity for abstraction affords him the ability to shove his head up his own butt and mistake the darkness for a temple of reason.
If he feels so strongly about the oppressiveness of the pledge, he can do what billions of others living under tyranny have done: Move. He can crabwalk himself, head firmly implanted in his temple of reason, to France or New Zealand or any other place else where he can live in freedom.
Posted at 09:12 AM
RE: NOVELCON [Jonah Goldberg]
With that post John Miller has annointed himself the rightful recipient of all future email on conservative fiction. No offense to anybody, but I received hundreds and I just don't need any more. It was all very thoughtful, but at this point even the thoughtful ones now repeat what other thoughtful people have to say. I won't be posting any more emails on the subject for at least 30 days.
Posted at 08:51 AM
RE: WEST WING [Tim Graham]
K-Lo, I almost never watch "West Wing," but caught a bunch of it last night. The most laughably implausible part is that the left would accept a right-winger as part of a deal to get their NARAL poster girl in the top seat. They would have expected Poster Girl and another 100-percent Roe/Lawrence social liberal, or else.
Posted at 07:33 AM
BLAIR IS IN LIBYA [KJL]
Posted at 06:15 AM
NOVELCON [John J. Miller]
Another conservative novelist: Louis L'Amour. A hugely popular author of westerns, he was one of Reagan's favorites. His name may make him sound like the author of French romance novels, but his books are in fact both very American and very manly. I wrote about him here for the Wall Street Journal a couple of years ago. Warning: The quality of his books is uneven, but the best are very good. I recommend Hondo, Flint, or Last of the Breed.
Posted at 05:37 AM
MUSIC OF THE SPHERES [John J. Miller]
See five planets tonight, at twilight--or wait three decades for this convergence to return.
Posted at 05:29 AM
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
WHERE WAS THAT CON BOOK MEME? [KJL]
A reader scolds: "Would you rather have children that can quote from HMS Pinafore, or who know the theme song to West Wing?" (In other words, DOWN WITH THE FILTH?)
Posted at 11:09 PM
A BAD NIGHT [KJL]
You know it's not going well when you are relieved you chose to watch (or at least have on in the background) Martin Sheen's President Bartlet making a NARAL-darling Glenn Close character chief justice of the Supreme Court rather than watch Dick Clarke's grandstand on Larry King.
Posted at 10:48 PM
JOE AND TAVIS [Tim Graham]
"Scarborough Country" was a little wild on MSNBC last night, since usually calm liberal Lawrence O'Donnell was yelling and refusing to shut up. The topic? Whether young John F. Kerry was present at a meeting of Vietnam Veterans Against the War when they debated assassinating pro-war politicians. O'Donnell was loudly protesting that no one can remember what they were doing 33 years ago, so why would anyone focus on what Kerry did in 1971? Youthful indiscretion! Youthful indiscretion!
It would have been nice if liberals like O'Donnell had tried that line when the networks were doing 63 stories on Lt. Bush's dental records and other minutiae of his National Guard service. Kerry's record was also debated on Scarborough by Pat Buchanan and Thomas Lipscomb, who's been reporting on the topic for the New York Sun.
PS: Howard Dean appeared on the Tavis Smiley TV show on PBS. In the part I saw, Dr. Dean supported John Kerry's position on Haiti, suggesting that Jean-Baptiste "C'mon Baby Light My Tire" Aristide was the legitimate democratic leader and should have been supported by the United States. But Dean uncharacteristically suggested he wasn't well-briefed on Haiti,which is surprising given his primary-season enthusiasm for Wyclef Jean's rap songs in Creole...
Posted at 09:11 PM
THERE'S AN IDEA [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Jonah; To deter suspicions that he is partisan, today Clarke swore under oath that he would NOT accept any job in any Kerry administration - should there be one. To deter criticisms that he acting out of personal greed (by manufacturing a false controversy to sell his book), let's challenge Clarke to donate all proceeds from his book to the 9/11 families.
Posted at 08:18 PM
MICROSOFT [Andrew Stuttaford]
I've never been a big fan of antitrust legislation, particularly the way in which it operates in the EU. The Microsoft 'case' is a reminder why. Disgusting though it may be, the proposed fine itself, a 'mere' $600m, is not, I suppose, the real problem, given Microsoft's balance sheet, but there really is something obnoxious about a ruling that envisages disrupting the operation of the marketplace in the way that it does. Writing in today's FT (I can't find a link), the Cato's Robert Levy puts it beautifully: "Far from promoting consumer interests, the latest EU order transforms antitrust regulation into a corporate welfare programme for market losers." He's right. Mario Monti, the EU's ironically-named 'Competition' Commissioner, is wrong.
Posted at 07:33 PM
RNC GOES MTV [KJL]
The GOP is registering the Rock the Vote crowd tomorrow in Times Square. If you want to register, or have an MTV cameo, these are the details as I've been told them: Just be at the Total Request Live crowd spot. For the non-acclimated, that is: Be at Times Square, 43th & 44th on the Island dividing uptown and downtown traffic, between 2:00 & 2:30. Look for "Reggie the Voter Registration Rig." (We clearly have the pre-buzz on all the cool Big Apple events; there's still time to run to Myrna Blyth tonight!)
Posted at 06:50 PM
RE: T.S. ELIOT [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
A reader says: "Russell Kirk praised him [T.S. Eliot] in his "Enemies of the Permanent Things" for his search for normative ethics and also called Eliot "the greatest man of letter of this century". Russell Kirk must not be aware that T. S. Eliot is responsible for "Cats" - a singular reason to deny him the title.
Posted at 06:13 PM
RE: KERREY'S WRONG [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
The confidentiality claim belongs to the White House, not Clarke. I say that as a 20-year veteran journalist in television and print, including many years as a television anchor, producer, and reporter for four different television stations in three states, and as an editor, columnist, and reporter for two newspapers. Clarke's background comments were on background at the request of the administration, not Clarke personally. The White House has every right to waive the claim, FOX has every right to ask them to waive the claiml, and FOX has every moral and ethical justification to run with the story once the claim is waived. Case closed. Mike Reeder
Posted at 06:11 PM
THE UNDYING MEME [Jonah Goldberg]
A note of gratitude from a reader:
Posted at 04:53 PM
KERREY'S WRONGNESS [Jonah Goldberg]
This reader focuses on precisely the reason I distinguished between the moral and ethical issues involved:
Jonah, I don't give a you know what about backgrounds being confidential. A man is trying to discredit a presidential administration during an election year, and implicate it as being guilty by omission in the deaths of 3000 American citizens (not to mention get rich in the process by pushing his book the same week he appears in what is supposed to be a nonpolitical public proceeding.) If he said anything to anyone that casts doubt on the credibility of his public statements, then I believe journalists have an ethical obligation to bring it to the public's attention. Otherwise, the press can sit on their hands and watch the public being misled about its government. That would be beyond shameful. The focus should remain on the credibility of the accuser, not the party that reports the accuser's contradictions.
Posted at 04:35 PM
WHY KERREY'S WRONG (I THINK) [Jonah Goldberg]
In Kerrey's angry diatribe against Fox News he made it sound as if Fox was betraying an agreement with Richard Clarke. If that's the case, then Fox has made a mistake. While morally I see nothing wrong with it, ethically journalists are bound to such arrangements. However that doesn't seem to be the case. Here is what the preamble to the Clarke backgrounder transcript says:
The following transcript documents a background briefing in early August 2002 by President Bush's former counterterrorism coordinator Richard A. Clarke to a handful of reporters, including Fox News' Jim Angle. In the conversation, cleared by the White House on Wednesday for distribution... [Emphasis mine.].
In other words the agreement to keep Clarke's comments "on background" applied to the White House, not to Clarke. Kerrey makes it sound like this was grossly unfair and unbalanced to Clarke, but it was the White House that had the expectation of confidentiality and so if they choose to waive it that's their right. Indeed, Clarke's own comments confirm that Clarke himself didn't feel like he was speaking for himself but for the White House. So the release of the content of that briefing didn't betray Clarke at all. But maybe I'm reading this wrong.
Posted at 04:18 PM
"FOX SHOULD SAY OCASSIONALLY FAIR AND BALANCED" [KJL]
Bob Kerrey's attacking FNC for publicizing a background briefing right now.
Posted at 03:27 PM
PETER'S CALL [Jay Nordlinger]
Hmm . . . Well, let me name some Brahms pianists, off the top of my head. Can’t speak to availability. From the past: Backhaus, Fischer, Kempff, Gieseking, Rubinstein, Hess. From the present: Zimerman, Perahia, Lupu.
Can’t go wrong with any of those.
Posted at 03:20 PM
TALMUDIC DOCUMENTS [Jonah Goldberg]
How much you want to bet the repeated references to "Talmudic documents" gets mistranslated into some variant of "Zionist" documents at the highest levels of the US government in the Arab press.
Posted at 03:13 PM
MORE MCCAIN SEC DEF SPECULATION [Rich Lowry]
Posted at 03:06 PM
ONE OF MANY... [John Derbyshire]
...readers expressing similar sentiments: "Having lived in America during its 50's heyday, I can confirm that, as a people, we were kinder, more tolerant and more considerate than today's PC-programmed pod people. The clamp of conformist thought is squeezing the last remnants of sincerity from today's society. As a result of years of thought conditioning by the media and academic elite, we are all Pavlov's DOGs."
Posted at 03:00 PM
"YOU'VE GOT A REAL CREDIBILITY PROBLEM" [KJL]
John Lehman is taking him on right now...
Posted at 02:56 PM
ARE YOU NOW OR WERE YOU THEN A WHORE? [Jonah Goldberg]
That seems to be the central question facing Clarke and his response to Gov. Thompson didn't change that. Again, if he honestly believes what he's said in recent interviews and the book, he should have publicly resigned at various times over the last two administrations. He certainly should have resigned rather than give the press the impression that Bush was doing a great job, as he did in that press briefing. However if he was being honest in 2002, he's being dishonest in 2004 presumably to sell books. I don't mind selling books, but this isn't Harry Potter.
Posted at 02:53 PM
ISRAELIS STOP TEEN BOMBER [KJL]
Posted at 02:51 PM
FRED KAPLAN'S BAD TIMING [Rich Lowry]
Over on Slate, Fred Kaplan today explains that Dick Clarke would never contradict himself, or at least never get caught:
"The key thing, though, is this: Both sets of traits tell me he's too shrewd to write or say anything in public that might be decisively refuted. As Daniel Benjamin, another terrorism specialist who worked alongside Clarke in the Clinton White House, put it in a phone conversation today, 'Dick did not survive and flourish in the bureaucracy all those years by leaving himself open to attack.'"
This comes the same day as Clarke's 2002 briefing lauding the Bush administration's early actions on terrorism was revealed. Maybe Clarke is not as shrewd as Kaplan suggests--or, for that matter, as honest.
Posted at 02:50 PM
"I MADE THE CASE I WAS ASKED TO MAKE" [KJL]
After a near-half hour of praise and free sailing, Clarke was just asked (by Jim Thompson) about the transcript at the 9/11 Commission hearing. He dismissed it as doing his duty--he was asked to highlight the postive and downplay the negatives, as he has done for others. So did he lie? He made a positive case, "not an untrue case," he responded.
Posted at 02:36 PM
NEWSWEEK CHANNELS FEMINISM [Tim Graham]
In Newsweek's "Periscope" section this week, reporter Sarah Childress forwards all the NOW worries about prosecuting mothers for harming their babies before birth through Utah's Melissa Rowland case. Of course, the feminists are described as "women's groups" or "women's rights groups" as their chosen story is highlighted. (The short piece avoids all the weirdness about Rowland trying to swindle potential adoptive parents.)
One prominent pro-abortion activist in the piece is Lynn Paltrow of something called the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which could be called the National Advocates for Pregnant Women Addicts. Among the books they recommend is the title "Pregnant Women on Drugs: Combating Stereotypes and Stigma."
Abortion opponents aren't allowed into the story until the very last paragraph.
Posted at 02:23 PM
THE END OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION (PART DEUX) [Andrew Stuttaford]
Words fail me.
Posted at 02:22 PM
CALLING JAY NORDLINGER [Peter Robinson]
A friend introduced me recently to Brahm’s piano work, Intermezzo No. 2 in A-major, Opus 118, and it just overwhelmed me—music is difficult to write about, of course, but this thing is just stunningly beautiful, full of all sorts of grace and delicacy and lightness that I’d never before associated with Brahms.
Now here’s the problem. I’ve downloaded a recording of the piece by Van Cliburn, but it seems—I don’t know. Ponderous, somehow. True enough, but lifeless. And I’ve downloaded a recording by Glenn Gould that makes Brahms sound (as I suppose you’d expect of Gould) almost like Bach, rendering the piece is a precise, contrapuntal way, giving as much weight to the base line as to the treble, and rendering the work into passages rather than presenting it as a whole—marvelous passages, you understand, but still. (Readers who’d like to hear these performances for themselves can download Cliburn and Gould from iTunes.)
So, Jay, I appeal to you, NR’s own Music Man. If Cliburn and Gould are out (and if you consider that premise mistaken, feel free to scold me) then whose recording should I look upon as definitive?
Posted at 02:20 PM
WOMEN EXPOSED: TONIGHT: NYC [KJL]
Myrna Blyth, former long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal, will be at Barnes and Noble on 66th and Bway at 7pm for a book signing. If I can, I’ll run over and I encourage anyone interested to go. Blyth bursts the Spin Sisterhood bubble that puts out worry and fear and liberalism to American women and dishes about their self-obsessed world in her new book, Spin Sisters. Here’s my review of it from the NY Post. Kate O’Beirne’s review can be read in the March 22 issue of NRODT (get DIGITAL!) and here’s the Amazon link for Spin Sisters.
Posted at 02:12 PM
BEYOND TOLERANCE [John Derbyshire]
A rising flood of e-mails coming in about my column today, overwhelmingly positive (in fact so far only one negative out of 25-30). Thanks to all who have written in. I'll do the best I can with answering, but as always, EVERYTHING GETS READ.
Posted at 02:00 PM
ROVE GENIUS [KJL]
InstaMan Reynolds sees it, too. (Reference: Yesterday's Corner: here, here, and here.)
Posted at 01:42 PM
THIS IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST DECISIONS THEY’LL EVER MAKE! DON’T MAKE IT WITHOUT THE NR COLLEGE GUIDE! [Jack Fowler]
You are absolutely forbidden to engage in college-searching without consulting Choosing the Right College: The Whole Truth about America's Top Schools. This critically praised, trustworthy guide provides the facts, figures, and real skinny on over 120 top U.S. schools. The special NR edition is crammed with nearly 1,000 pages of critical info--all for just $27.00. Hey, Grandpa, Grannie, Uncle Joe, Cousin Rose--maybe your school days are over, but what about that special grandchild, niece, nephew, or cousin engaged in serious college contemplating? This is one of the biggest decisions they’ll ever make. Make sure they make the right one by giving them the one book that will set them on the straight and narrow path to an excellent education. Give them a gift copy of Choosing the Right College. Click here for details and to order.
Posted at 01:19 PM
THE CLARKE SLOG [Tim Graham]
Your MRC data, coming right up.
Posted at 12:45 PM
THE IRS' CHOSEN PEOPLE [Jonah Goldberg]
Did you know that only one "religion" can write-off the costs of indoctrinating its children from their taxes? Did you know that the IRS has a special deal with the Church of Scientology denied to all other religions? I think this is an amazing story, from the New York Times:
LOS ANGELES, March 21 - A trial is to begin here on Wednesday morning to determine whether a Jewish couple can deduct the cost of religious education for their five children, a tax benefit they say the federal government has granted to members of just one religion, the Church of Scientology.
Read the whole thing.
Posted at 12:24 PM
P.S. ON CLARKE TRANSCRIPT [KJL]
Where's Tim Graham and his transcripts? I'd love to see what Andrea Mitchell has been saying re Clarke the past few days. She seems to have been on that Aug. 2002 call. (Great work, Jim Angle).
Posted at 12:23 PM
THE END OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION [John Derbyshire]
It's over. Sauve qui peut.
Posted at 12:18 PM
THE BOTTOM LINE [Rich Lowry]
The fundamental question prior to the war was what tolerance for risk did U.S. policy makers have after 9/11. This expert emphasized that the amount of WMD needed to kill thousands in a terrorist attack, as opposed to the amount needed for large-scale military purposes, was miniscule and probably too small to be reliably detected even in the best of conditions. Knowing that, should Saddam have been allowed to continue in his defiance of the U.N. and the international community? The lesson here is that if you run a rogue regime dependent on maintaining the reality or creating the very plausible impression of having WMD in order to stay in power, you are going to be in a lot of trouble in the post-9/11 era. Rightly.
Posted at 12:13 PM
THE INTELLIGENCE FAILURE [Rich Lowry]
This expert described a perfect storm of factors creating the failure. First, there was Iraq's serial lying. A key Iraqi official has explained under interrogation that he told Saddam in the early 1990s that if they kept on lying, no one would ever believe them again. That tipping point was reached by the mid-1990s. But, importantly, we failed to detect that the rationale for Saddam's lying changed in the middle of the decade. At first he was lying to preserve a WMD capability to use against his neighbors and enemy military forces. But as the government collapsed into a vortex of corruption, Saddam lied as a matter of survival. He was afraid that the Kurds and the Shiites would rise up against him if they knew he didn't have chemical weapons to use against them. Then there was the issue of Iraqi emigres who were providing bad information, not just to the U.S., but to other countries as well. The U.S. often didn't have direct access to these emigres who defected elsewhere, and would only get secondhand accounts of what they were saying. But since we had little in the way of human sources on the ground after inspectors were kicked out in 1998, the word of these emigres trumped all else. We also missed the general deterioration of Iraqi society that made it impossible for the Iraqi government to do much except to lie to itself and to others in a downward spiral of corruption and deception.
Posted at 12:11 PM
IRAQ WMD [Rich Lowry]
I know we are in the middle of a debate about 9/11 and not Iraq WMD, but I had an opportunity yesterday to hear someone plugged into the WMD debate. To review, we were massively wrong about the state of Iraq's WMD capabilities. The nuclear program was a pale shadow of what Saddam had had in the early 1990s. On chemical weapons, there was research and development, but nothing that was usable. On biological weapons, there was research into how to better weaponize anthrax, but again, nothing that was usable. It was Saddam's missile program that was most active, and most disturbing in what it said about the possibility of Iraq leaping ahead in its WMD programs. The missile program was almost entirely dependent on a network of foreign assistance. If Saddam had gotten comparable foreign help in other areas, he could have made leaps ahead in his capabilities. But that hadn't happened. So why were we so wrong?
Posted at 12:08 PM
MORE FROM CLARKE AUG '02 TRANSCRIPT [KJL]
ANGLE: So, just to finish up if we could then, so what you're saying is that there was no — one, there was no plan; two, there was no delay; and that actually the first changes since October of '98 were made in the spring months just after the administration came into office?
Posted at 12:05 PM
THE BREAKING CLARKE NEWS: SOME EXCERPTS [KJL]
RICHARD CLARKE: Actually, I've got about seven points, let me just go through them quickly. Um, the first point, I think the overall point is, there was no plan on Al Qaeda that was passed from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration.
Posted at 11:56 AM
OUTRAGE OF THE WEEK [John Derbyshire]
Four men knock on your door. You open it. One has a gun. They want to rob you. You grab a ceremonial sword and defend your property, killing one of the intruders.
You go to prison for eight years.
Posted at 11:50 AM
YASSIN AND JUSTICE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Jonah, returning to our earlier topic, your correspondent's point (that "strategic" considerations in Yassin's case should be subordinated to the simple requirements of justice) was echoed by many, many of the people who emailed me. It's a powerful argument. As I've written before, Yassin got what was coming to him. Nevertheless in the context of the Middle East, strategic considerations are, alas, always relevant, and no-one understands this better than the Israelis. After all, let's remember Yassin's biography. In 1989 he was arrested for ordering the murder of Palestinians who he believed had collaborated with the Israeli army. This "spiritual leader" was also accused of ordering the kidnap and killing of two IDF soldiers. He was, quite rightly, sentenced to life imprisonment. Israel's Netanyahu government released this murderer only eight years later. Why? Well, for an interlinked, and complex, series of reasons, including a prisoner exchange and the need to patch up relations with Jordan. Strategic considerations, in other words.
Posted at 11:47 AM
BUSH BEGAN COUNTER-TERROR PLAN IN JAN 01 [KJL]
Here's the transcript of a background breifing Richard Clarke gave reporters in Aug. 2002 contradicting what he's now contending re: the Bush record on fighting terrorism.
Posted at 11:40 AM
TURN ON FNC [KJL]
now. Jim Angle breaking Clarke news, with audio.
Posted at 11:36 AM
THE REPORTER AS NOVELIST MANQUE [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Also on the front page of the Washington Post: a "news analysis" of the 9/11 commission hearings by David von Drehle. In it, Donald Rumsfeld is described as having "smiled his tight little smile" while answering a question. State Department official Richard Armitage is said to have "growled, in a voice like a garbage disposal with a spoon caught in it." Madeleine Albright, you'll be relieved if not surprised to hear, is said merely to have "said" things.
Posted at 10:31 AM
THE HATCH AMENDMENT DEBATE [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Professor Bainbridge gets my back; Justin Katz gets Maggie Gallagher's.
Posted at 10:25 AM
A TREAT [Rick Brookhiser]
I have been happily reading an early copy of A Terry Teachout Reader (Yale University Press). Terry, a frequent NRODT contributor, blogger, and a hundred other things as well, has picked his best pieces of the last decade or so. It is full of pleasure and instruction, a model of how to write about art. "Elegy for the Woodchopper," his piece on Woody Herman, is alone worth the price. But why are you sitting there reading this? Buy it and enjoy yourself.
Posted at 10:22 AM
ANTI-CLARKE BOMBSHELL [Rich Lowry]
Watch for a story about to break in the media this morning that will make Clarke look pretty foolish. More soon...
Posted at 10:20 AM
ARE BOO-BOO KITTY SUICIDE BOMBER BACKPACKS NEXT? [Jonah Goldberg]
Japan's latest toy is a Russian roulette toy gun.
Posted at 10:06 AM
MUST SEE PICTURE [Jonah Goldberg]
The 9/11 Commission hearings have already broken down beyond repair. Here is an aide to Donald Rumsfeld being scolded by an aide to Democratic appointee Richard Ben-Veniste. Note how the DoD official maintains his cool.
Posted at 09:08 AM
MEDIA BIAS [Mark Krikorian ]
It's often said that media bias shows itself mainly in what elite editors and reporters consider to be news, not necessarily in the content of the coverage. An example of that is in today's Washington Post, which ran a front page story --on Bob Edwards being fired as the host of NPR's Morning Edition. Now, as a certified member of the chattering class, I also listen to NPR (though less often now that I finally got a CD player in my car), but the idea that this story was important enough to put on the front page speaks volumes about the provincialism of the Post's editors. All the people they talk to think it's an important story, but how about the story on the possible grocery strike (on the front of the Business section) or, heck, something from the Sports page. I couldn't care less about sports, any sports, but it's a lot more important to more people (even in Washington) than who's reading a script on public radio.
Gotta run to testify at a House immigration subcommittee hearing on guestworker programs (the testimony and webcast will be on line here ). Now that's news!
Posted at 09:06 AM
BUFFY & HAMAS [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Posted at 09:04 AM
9/11 VIGILANCE COMPARISONS [Tim Graham]
The emerging CW this morning seems to be that both the Clinton and Bush administrations were equally ineffectual in combating the terror threat. This is probably as close as we're going to get to a critique of Clinton policies. But if the charge is equal inaction before September 11, isn't it a bit unfair to compare eight years of Clinton inaction with eight months of inaction as a new administration was still getting its team confirmed and in place? And isn't it a bit unfair to accuse the present team of inaction at the same time it's accused of excessive action (Iraq)?
And don't forget: is it fair to exclude the media from the equation before September 11? How much did Katie Couric do to warn America of the terror threat? If she didn't, then who questions her? Aren't the media supposed to be our watchdog, too?
Posted at 08:26 AM
PLUTOCRACY [John J. Miller]
For the three or four readers who just couldn't get enough of my article last week on whether Pluto rates as a planet, here's a good piece on the subject by Alan Stern.
Posted at 08:09 AM
THE OLD COMPLAINTS [Jonah Goldberg]
Does anybody remember the nasty insinuations shortly after 9/11 about how Bush "ran away" from Washington for fear of attacks on the White House? The Salon wing of the punditocracy, for example, insisted that, in Joe Conason's words, "The Bush administration told an outrageous lie that the president was a target of terrorists." In classic Conason style, he turned his outrage to 11 on every knob.
Whatever anyone thinks of this president or his political legitimacy, there are few issues more fundamental in a constitutional democracy than the physical security of the head of state, especially when the nation is under attack. The tale of the supposed targeting of the president, the White House and Air Force One by terrorists is among the most serious fabrications ever promulgated by federal officials....
Well, it turns out that Richard Clarke is claiming all of the credit for the decision to keep the President out of Washington that day. He's actually claiming he ordered the President away. But now that Clarke is a new Dashboard Saint of the Church of Bush-Is-Always-Wrong, nobody seems to care about that. In Joe Conason's lengthy interview, the only reference to the charges which Conason once considered fundamental to our democracy, is this question:
In the first chapter of your book, which I must say is gripping, you give your account of your actions on 9/11, when great authority was turned over to you [by Cheney and Rice]. Is there an issue of disloyalty or ingratitude there? To be honest, it seemed to me that you saved their asses that day.
Well, that's for other people to say. As regards my loyalty to President Bush, I was a career civil servant. I wasn't loyal to any particular political machine. When the president makes a big mistake -- like he has in the way that he has fought the war on terrorism by going into Iraq -- I think personal loyalty or party loyalty has got to be put aside.
Apparently, that's all the candor Conason needs now.
Posted at 08:07 AM
CONSERVATIVE NOVELS [John J. Miller]
Jonah: I've been traveling and didn't catch up with this thread until now. I agree with Rick that debating whether Chaucer is "conservative" is beside the point and not very edifying. Having said that, I do think we can identify pieces of fiction that will resonate more with conservatives than others. I'll mention two: Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, and Shelley's Heart, by Charles McCarry. The Golding book is of course assigned reading in lots of schools--it is a harrowing description of human behavior outside civilization, the desperate compulsion to organize, and the brutality that ensues. McCarry is a talented writer of espionage novels and a man (unlike, say, John Le Carre) who doesn't have much patience for the Left. Shelley's Heart is his best. The plot turns on a stolen presidential election.
Posted at 08:01 AM
AMIR TAHERI ON YASSIN [Jonah Goldberg]
The best explanation so far on the strategy behind the killing.
Posted at 07:12 AM
KERRY OF LE CODE [Jonah Goldberg]
A French-born marketing guru (who sounds like he needs his guitar smashed on the Delta House wall) tells the NY Post Kerry's too froggy.
Posted at 07:09 AM
YASSIN [Jonah Goldberg]
This, by the way, seems to be the majority view among my emailers:
Jonah, I can't put my finger on it but the whole strategy question surrounding the killing of Yassin seems odd (never mind the "you win by winning" argument which would draw laughs even in a bong induced high). Aren't those considerations subordinate to the simpler question of the penalty for the crime? I can't imagine the Justice Dept contemplating the relative strength of his replacements, whether the organization will be stronger, before they try to capture and prosecute a John Gotti type.
Posted at 07:05 AM
JAPANESE NAVAL FLAG EXPLAINED [Jonah Goldberg]
From one of several readers:
The flag in the video is the Japanese Naval Ensign flown on warships. It was originally in service from 1898-1945, and re-adopted in 1954 for the Maritime Self Defense Force. This link , has more info.
Posted at 07:03 AM
KLINGOFER [Jonah Goldberg]
Andrew - My apologies for getting more testy than deserved. That clip you posted was more ambiguous than the full editorial, which I should have read more closely. It was, however, your suggestion that the US government should be saying "the same" that made it sound to me like you were saying the US government should be parroting that comparison. It was all a misunderstanding.
Posted at 07:00 AM
THE CULT OF JONAH GROWS [KJL]
"Kathryn Jean Lopez is a perfidious crapweasel." Or: "Kathryn Jean Lopez is a toothless, slack-jawed, execrable, pesky idiot." (No, you aren't supposed to agree.) Click here and understand.
Yes, I'm scared. Can you imagine how Mrs. G must feel? (And, no, don't plug her name in!)
Posted at 06:20 AM
YASSIN - A DETERRENT [Andrew Stuttaford]
One recurrent theme – and one that I hadn’t previously addressed – was deterrence. A number of writers made the argument that, by killing Yassin, the Israelis had sent a message to the Hamas leadership that none of them were safe from retribution. Ever. That’s true, and it’s a very good point. Nevertheless, in and of itself, it does not ‘justify’ the decision to kill Yassin at this time, and in the way that happened. Hamas has plenty of leaders, killers all, who fully deserve to be a lesson in deterrence. Why choose the one whose assassination will inflame the situation the most, not only for Israel, but also for the US (for example, a number of people e-mailed to say that Yassin’s death had caused yet more trouble in Iraq)?
Just so there’s no ambiguity, when I write that deterrence does not ‘justify’ Yassin’s killing, I am not arguing about morality. Yassin was an evil man. He was a murderer. He deserved his fate. But that is not the point at issue. What we are discussing here is whether this move made sense strategically. And that’s an entirely different question.
Posted at 05:27 AM
YASSIN, YET AGAIN [Andrew Stuttaford]
Well, I’ve received more e-mails on this topic than on any subject on which I have ever written. As so often with Corner readers, they were (almost) all polite, even when they disagreed strongly with what I had to say (most did), and, even if they didn’t change my mind (they didn’t), I learnt a good deal. What’s more, it was difficult to disagree too much with this contribution to the debate:
" Can anyone explain what, exactly, was achieved by his killing?"
”He's dead, Jim.”
Posted at 05:21 AM
THE FIRST POST ON WEDNESDAY [John Derbyshire]
Well, this is the second one.
Posted at 12:15 AM
DANG! [Jonah Goldberg]
A minute too soon. This is the first post on Wednesday!
Posted at 12:01 AM
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
FIRST POST [Jonah Goldberg]
Posted at 11:59 PM
INTERESTING.... [Jonah Goldberg]
(If correct) about yesterday's post on the Japanese Navy's recruitment video. From a reader:
Hilarious clip. But did anyone notice that the Japanese flag in the video is the Imperial flag of the WWII era (the red beams radiating outward from the rising sun)?
Posted at 11:53 PM
SO MUCH FOR THAT THEORY [Jonah Goldberg]
Spain paid the price for supporting the war in Iraq. I suppose Germany's president was targeted for assasination for not opposing it enough. From Reuters:
Posted at 11:38 PM
JONAH-LIKE LINK ALERT [KJL]
The Excorcist, performed by bunnies. If you're a person who will appreciate such a thing, you know if before you click. If you're not, I wouldn't bother.
Posted at 09:29 PM
NOT NEVILLE [Andrew Stuttaford]
Crikey, John, not the dreaded "Neville Chamberlain" analogy. Fightin' words! At the risk of stating the obvious, you win a war, by winning. Nothing more, nothing less. Callous though it may sound, the day-by-day death toll is irrelevant if the strategy makes no sense. By way of illustration, I'll trump your "Chamberlain" with a "Pearl Harbor". On December 7th, 1941, the Japanese struck a devastating blow against the US. They killed all the Americans they could find that day. Less than four years later, their cities were in ruins and their country had been occupied. They lost.
So we if abandon the historical analogies, and return to the awful Yassin, what do we get? If we assume (and I think that is the assumption) that in recent years he had little "operational" significance, all that has happened is that a living "spiritual leader" has become a dead "spiritual leader." I suspect that his capacity to inspire evil is undiminished, and may have even increased. I hope I'm wrong, but if I'm not, where's the victory? Last time I checked, 'Ayatollah' Khomeini was still causing trouble, and that bastard has been dead for fifteen years.
Posted at 08:52 PM
EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENTS [John Derbyshire]
I just spotted the following ad in the "Help Wanted" columns of the Gaza Daily:
"Our dynamic, forward-looking organization has recently lots its CEO under tragic circumstances. Applications for this position are invited. The successful candidate will be highly motivated, able to inspire and incent a large, keen young workforce, and sufficiently agile to evade helicopter-fired explosive ordnance. Religious credentials a plus. Please send full resume to Bunker 4A, Sword-of-the-Jew-Slayer Street, Gaza, Palestine."
Posted at 08:28 PM
DEATH OF THE MEME [Rick Brookhiser]
Jonah, the e-mails you summarized confirm my fears: overpraise of Lilliputian talents (Chesterton, Rand), stuffing major talents in Lilliputian slots (Naipaul, Bellow, Waugh). None of this is as newsworthy as Sheik Yassin. But people will be reading Naipaul long after Yassin is forgotten.
Posted at 08:26 PM
COMPARISON OF YASSIN WITH JESUS [John Derbyshire]
Jonah: I agree that comparison of Yassin with Jesus Christ is pretty... startling. You never know where this kind of thing will lead.
From The NY Times, 12/10/04:
French film-maker Jean-Paul Poseur has met a storm of criticism over his new movie THE PASSION OF THE SHEIK. In the movie a shy, mild-mannered religious teacher is killed on the orders of the evil Sharon, American-appointed colonial governor in occupied Palestine. The movie won first prize at the Cannes film festival, where it was cheered by an enthusiastic French audience. The movie has failed to get distribution rights in the U.S., though, because of allegations that it is anti-Semitic...
Posted at 08:24 PM
RE: YASSIN [John Derbyshire]
What on earth's got into you? You channeling Neville Chamberlain, or what? Sharon's at war. You win a war by killing as many of the enemy as you can find.
Your logic (forgive me if I am misrepresenting it) seems to be: "The killing of Yassin will get the Arabs real mad. More of them will join terrorist groups. They will be more highly motivated to kill Israelis. They will be more dangerous to the rest of us."
So what? Can you name any action by any party in any war, of which the same could not be said? I bet after we sank the Japanese fleet at Midway, the Japanese got real mad. I bet recruitment went up; I bet they were better motivated.
After the RAF bombed Berlin for the first time in August 1940, Wm. Shirer reports that: "The Nazi bigwigs were outraged. Goebbels ... now gave instructions [to the press] to cry out at the 'brutality' of the British flyers in attacking the defenseless women and children of Berlin. Most of the capital's dailies carried the same headline: COWARDLY BRITISH ATTACK..." These Germans sound pretty mad.
I guess by your logic the British attacks were a "defeat" for Britain. Whoa.
Posted at 07:55 PM
YASSIN/KLINGHOFFER [Andrew Stuttaford]
Jonah, take another look at what the editorialist is saying:
"Did Mr Sharon and his advisers consider how the spectacle of helicopter gunships rocketing an old man in a wheelchair outside his mosque would appear to the world? Did they intend to turn this merchant of death into a victim - the Palestinian equivalent of Leon Klinghoffer? "
The editorial writer is, of course, not comparing Yassin (a "merchant of death") with Leon Klinghoffer, and, unless the Telegraph has changed its entire worldview he would be appalled, and astonished, that you thought so. I am. What he is saying, and saying quite clearly, is that the particular circumstances of Yassin's death will allow him to be portrayed, however unfairly, as a Klinghoffer. He and, it should go without saying, I, obviously think that such a comparison is ridiculous - and offensive. The fact that people have now been given the opportunity to make it and, effectively, to thereby try and turn a monster into a "martyr" is further evidence that Sharon may well have made a major mistake. And that, not Yassin's death, is the tragedy.
While we're at it, let's take a look at another section of the same editorial:
"Yassin's life had been dedicated to the self-immolation of his people. The vile cult of the suicide bomber, though alien to Islamic tradition, has acquired a spurious legitimacy in the Muslim world, and especially among Palestinians - mainly thanks to clerical demagogues such as Yassin."
Yes, well put, indeed.
Posted at 07:11 PM
YASSIN, AGAIN [Andrew Stuttaford]
John, we may have to agree to disagree on this matter, I fear, but, if there was an 'excellent military case' for killing Yassin, I'd like to know what it was. Generally, a move that leaves the enemy more numerous, more motivated and, almost certainly, more dangerous is regarded as a defeat, not a victory.
Posted at 07:10 PM
I LOVE IT [Jonah Goldberg]
I think you can make a strong case that Clarke should have resigned on several different occassions if we're too take him at his word. But that's debatable. What's not debatable, it seems to me, is that if he were serious, he wouldn't write a resignation letter like this.
Posted at 06:10 PM
RE: MORE YASSIN (LESS KLINGHOFFER) [Jonah Goldberg]
Andrew - I'm sorry, but I can see the argument that the US government needs to distance itself from the Yassin assasination. In fact, I think there's considerable merit to that case. But if you think it's "well put" or a good idea to compare Yassin to Leon Klinghoffer I think you're way, way, off base. I would very much like to know how that comparison is well put. Klinghoffer was nothing more than an old Jewish man on a cruise. Sheik Yassin was the mastermind of vicious mass-murder. Is there something -- anything -- beyond the apparatus of a wheel chair that makes you think that the two men are similar? If Osama Bin Laden is in a wheelchair when we bomb him, would he be like Leon Klinghoffer too when we kill him? If Stalin was in a wheelchair, does that make him an innocent victim? What strange alchemy does a wheel chair work on a man's soul to absolve him of his crimes?
It's one thing to acknowledge the ass-backwards morality and logic that plagues much of the Middle East and deal with it as a reality, it's another thing to say that the US government should ape that logic. That strikes me as indefensible.
Posted at 05:15 PM
DIFFERENT WORLDS [Jonah Goldberg]
I'm sorry to do this, but the comparison of Sheik Yassin to Jesus just begs for a wider audience. Maybe it's because I just sent off my syndicated column on how the foreign policy debate has been taken over by the culture war and Americans just see the same facts from wildly different perspectives. Anyway, from a reader:
Posted at 05:03 PM
RE: YASSIN [John Derbyshire]
"(1) Does it matter whether the Gaza Strip is controlled by the PLO or Hamas? Yes, it does. Yes, both groups are repellent, murderous and thuggish (insert the appropriate insulting adjective of your choice), but, as George Bush himself has acknowledged, there is at least *some* hope (however remote) that the PLO - or a successor organization - will one day come to a deal with Israel. The same cannot be said of Hamas. A Gaza under the control of Hamas will be a territory that combines poverty, state failure and Islamic fundamentalism. We've been there before, and it ended in 9/11."
It ended in 9/11 because we neglected to take the kind of action in Afghanistan that Sharon just took in Gaza.
"(2) For all its faults, Abdullah's Jordan is a country the West can deal with. If Abdullah were to fall, that would almost certainly change. Yesterday's events have increased the chances that he will. That is not in America's interest, and it is not in Israel's."
The countries we "can deal with" will be the ones that respect our strength and resolution in dealing ruthlessly and fearlessly with our enemies.
"(3) War. The purpose of war is to win, not to vent. Yesterday Sharon vented."
You could make that remark about any military action. Were Hiroshima and Nagasaki "venting"? Possibly, but what does it matter? They worked. "Effective military action" and "venting" are not mutually exclusive categories. There was an excellent military case for killing Yassin. Sharon did a good thing, and the right thing.
Posted at 04:35 PM
YET MORE: ROVE, GENIUS [KJL]
I'll go one further and posit that Clarke is a Rove/Bush plant. After all, Clarke is, in effect, getting all the Democrats to cry "you should've done more to stop al-queda, even though you weren't 100% sure they would attack the U.S.
Posted at 04:25 PM
RE: ROVE, GENIUS [KJL]
From a reader"
Following up on your overseas source, there is more to the theory...
Posted at 04:23 PM
YASSIN [Andrew Stuttaford]
John, Hmmm. Let's go through a number of these points (1) Does it matter whether the Gaza Strip is controlled by the PLO or Hamas? Yes, it does. Yes, both groups are repellent, murderous and thuggish (insert the appropriate insulting adjective of your choice), but, as George Bush himself has acknowledged, there is at least *some* hope (however remote) that the PLO - or a successor organization - will one day come to a deal with Israel. The same cannot be said of Hamas. A Gaza under the control of Hamas will be a territory that combines poverty, state failure and Islamic fundamentalism. We've been there before, and it ended in 9/11. (2) King Abdullah. For all its faults, Abdullah's Jordan is a country the West can deal with. If Abdullah were to fall, that would almost certainly change. Yesterday's events have increased the chances that he will. That is not in America's interest, and it is not in Israel's (3) War. The purpose of war is to win, not to vent. Yesterday Sharon vented.
Posted at 04:13 PM
CONSERVATIVE BOOKS [John Derbyshire]
Without wishing to get into the meta-discussion about whether or not this is something we ought to discuss, I do not feel that any talk about conservative fiction (supply scare quotes if that's your point of view) should pass without a mention of George Macdonald Fraser's "Flashman" books.
Posted at 04:09 PM
THREE CHEERS FOR JOHN BOLTON [Rich Lowry]
Lawrence Kaplan has an excellent pro-John Bolton piece in the latest New Republic. Kaplan makes some deep points about the difference between conservative and neo-conservative foreign policy, but I just want to highlight here some of the points he makes about Bolton's work. It's good to see him get the credit he deserves:
-"The secret to Bolton's record is that, in a foreign policy team divided roughly between ideologues with no managerial skills and managerial types with no ideas, Bolton is that rare commodity: an operator and an ideologue."
Posted at 03:59 PM
CLAREMONT REVIEW OF BOOKS [John Derbyshire]
The Spring issue of that excellent and bodacious journal The Claremont Review of Books is now out, with articles by NR-niks (past and present) like Jay Nordlinger, Sarah Bramwell, and myself (reviewing Louis Crompton's "Homosexuality and Civilization").
Posted at 03:53 PM
RE: YASSIN [John Derbyshire]
From the New York Times editorial: "Moderate Arabs everywhere have been reacting with dismay and despair to Sheik Yassin's killing."
Oh, no! Sharon has upset all those moderate Arabs! The ones who have done so much to restrain the immoderate Arabs! The ones who have been working so hard to bring the Arab world round to acceptance of Israel's right to exist! The ones who have such great influence on Arab leaders!
What a blunder by Sharon, alienating all those moderate Arabs!
Posted at 03:48 PM
YASSIN: EXTRACTS FROM TWO OBITUARIES [Andrew Stuttaford]
One from the Guardian, the other from the (London) Times . Guess which is which.
Here's one: "Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was the spiritual and political leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. At the turn of the millennium this organisation gained infamy as one of the most savage organisations in the Middle East, responsible for a wave of suicide bombings that led to the death of countless civilians. "Confined to a wheelchair and speaking in small squeaks, Yassin had the demeanour of a fragile, pious sage. Yet he was possessed with an unswerving ruthlessness. His fanaticism inspired sacrificial devotion among men willing to kill civilians in the cause of the destruction of Israel. "
And here's another: "In truth, neither Arafat nor Yassin had Mandela's special greatness. But of the two, it was Yassin, the founder-leader of the militant Islamist organisation Hamas, who came closer. The reason was not to be found in his beliefs - which, in their narrow, obscurantist, religious frame, were far removed from the South African's lofty humanism and compassion - but in the facts of his career, and the part that certain, very personal, qualities - of selflessness, simplicity, conviction and a true sense of service - played in bringing it to fruition."
Posted at 03:36 PM
RE: YASSIN [John Derbyshire]
Andrew: I thought Alan Philipps's piece, from which you quoted, completely wrong-headed. it sounded as is it was written by Warren Christopher.
"If the Israelis do indeed pull out of Gaza, who is now to take control of the territory?"
Who cares? I doubt there can be many greater misfortunes than to be born a "citizen" of the Gaza Strip (being born Haitian comes close, I suppose); but it is hard to see how things could be any worse there than they were under the PA. It is the fate of these unhappy people to be ruled by gangsters and thugs of their own nationality and religion. I can't see that there is any more to worry about if the thugs are called "Hamas" than if they are called "PA," and I don't see that Israel should be expected to do anything about it anyway.
"It will not be lost on the Arab world that the killing of Yassin took place after King Abdullah of Jordan came to meet Mr Sharon at his farm in the Negev. This was a sort of reward for Mr Sharon's proclaimed desire to leave Gaza. Who now among the leaders of the Arab world will dare to shake Mr Sharon's hand?"
Who was going to? Bashir Assad? King Fahd? Abdullah's sole interest is to stop the West Bank Arabs from swarming across the River Jordan into his country. If he has to kiss Sharon's ring to accomplish that, he will. The rest of them are all annihilationists. Sharon lost nothing here with the "leaders of the Arab world." He had nothing to lose.
"The outside world is even more confused than before."
Well, **I** am not confused. Sharon wanted to say: "If you organize, plan, inspire, or condone terror attacks against our people, we will find you and kill you." Seems pretty un-confusing to me. The only thing I don't understand is how, when thousands of terrorist supporters came out on the streets of Gaza next day for the old guy's funeral, Sharon was able to restrain himself from sending in the air force with a few tons of napalm.
Israel, like ourselves, is fighting a war on terror. The way you do this is, you identify your enemies, then you kill them. Which part of this does Philipps not understand?
Posted at 03:06 PM
MORE YASSIN [Andrew Stuttaford]
From an editorial in today's Daily Telegraph:
"Whatever Yassin's death was meant to achieve, its symbolism is disastrous for Israel. Did Mr Sharon and his advisers consider how the spectacle of helicopter gunships rocketing an old man in a wheelchair outside his mosque would appear to the world? Did they intend to turn this merchant of death into a victim - the Palestinian equivalent of Leon Klinghoffer? Despite intensive efforts to improve Israel's image abroad, and despite sympathy for victims of suicide bombings (most recently in Ashdod), the Jewish state now looks more isolated than ever. Like Napoleon's decision to execute the Duc d'Enghien, which transformed his image from that of a liberator into that of a tyrant, Sharon's decision to execute Yassin is worse than a crime: it is a blunder."
That's well put. The US needs to be saying the same.
Posted at 03:02 PM
RE: INTIMIDATING [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
I think you've probably nailed it pretty close. Both sides in most political debates are generally extremely quick to attribute the worst possible motives to their opponents when, all too often, it's more likely a combination of wounded egos and failing to really listen to what someone is saying....
Posted at 02:59 PM
“MY NAME IS INIGO MONTOYA. I PICKED THE WRONG CANDIDATE. PREPARE TO DIE!” [KJL ]
Andrew Cline at the Union Leader in Manchester (see Cline’s piece on NRO today here, on a anti-warriors & Iraq) emails: “Mandy Patinkin the actor (Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride) apparently has fallen on hard times. I was checking presidential donor lists and found that he gave Howard Dean a whopping $311.”
Posted at 02:58 PM
THE UNDYING MEME [Jonah Goldberg]
Rick - Fair enough. I think there's a bit more room for conservatism in literature than there is in other artforms than you do, but in general I'd rather err on the side of your standard than have us go too far down the path of ideological faddishness.
Posted at 02:56 PM
KARL ROVE, GENIUS [KJL ]
A source overseas makes a wild suggestion: Maybe Karl Rove & co. encouraged (or at least didn't object to) slow vetting of the Clarke book in the hopes that it would come out snack-dab in post-primary season. The reasoning: People would be forced to hear the Clinton vs. Bush records, realize that Clarke is silly, realize that he is best friends with Kerry’s foreign-policy man, Rand Beers, and start to wonder about the whole Kerry operation.
Posted at 02:54 PM
NUANCE [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Funny, Rich: I was going to link to that Post article myself yesterday to make a point about that passage, but couldn't find that part online. Very odd. Anyway, what I was going to say was that it was great news for the Bushies, because it made it sound as though Kerry had internalized the most self-flattering version of the critique of himself. He thinks that his weakness is the perception that he's too "nuanced," when it is rather than that he is a straddler and flip-flopper; that it's that his thought is too refined, when it's that it's too calculated for his own advantage. Here's a campaign slogan: "Kerry: He's smart enough to know you're too dumb to see how smart he is."
Posted at 02:52 PM
POOR SHEIK YASSIN [Jonah Goldberg]
Here's a fun one from a reader:
If only to head-off the email from readers: 1: Of course Hitler declared war on us (December 11, 1941). 2. It's true that Yassin wasn't an "official" islamic cleric and hence he didn't issue "real" fatwas (and was sort of a bogus "spiritual leader). However, his statements were treated as fatwas by his followers and were regularly referred to as "fatwas" in the press. Oh, and, 3: I was making a joke.
Posted at 02:45 PM
YASSIN [Andrew Stuttaford]
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Alan Phillips asks some awkward questions:
"If the Israelis do indeed pull out of Gaza, who is now to take control of the territory? The Palestinian police loyal to Mr Arafat have lost all prestige compared with the militants of Hamas. The recipe seems to be for chaos, not an orderly withdrawal. It will not be lost on the Arab world that the killing of Yassin took place after King Abdullah of Jordan came to meet Mr Sharon at his farm in the Negev. This was a sort of reward for Mr Sharon's proclaimed desire to leave Gaza. Who now among the leaders of the Arab world will dare to shake Mr Sharon's hand? Much diplomatic effort behind the scenes has gone on to persuade the world that Mr Sharon is serious in his disengagement plan. Apart from vacating Gaza, it will also involve abandoning some two dozen settlements on the West Bank, in return for being allowed to annexe the larger settlements to Israel. The outside world is even more confused than before. If this is a serious proposal, it is hard to see how the disengagement has been brought forward by yesterday's events. The alternative is that it was never serious, but a bone thrown to world opinion. Perhaps it is simply a twin-track approach, but that suggests less than full commitment to Mr Sharon's goal of full disengagement from the Palestinians."
Posted at 02:35 PM
AS GOES JOHN MCCAIN... [Rich Lowry]
...so goes Chuck Hagel. I forgot to mention in my McCain thing today that Chuck Hagel naturally said much the same thing about Kerry's defense votes as McCain did. Chuck Hagel is like McCain's little brother constantly tagging along, hoping he can be like his older sibling. Asked on This Week if he agreed with the Bush line that Kerry is weak on defense, Hagel said: "No, I don't and I, I tend to agree with John McCain on this. The facts just don't measure, the rhetoric, I mean, you can take a guy like John Kerry, who's been in the Senate for 19 years, and go through that voting record. You can take it with Biden, Hagel, any of us, and pick out different, different votes and then try to manufacture something around that."
Posted at 02:34 PM
WHAT ME NUANCED? [Rich Lowry]
One of John Kerry's great strengths is supposed to be his "nuance." So did you catch Kerry denying in Sunday's Washington Post that he is nuanced? Here's the end of the Post's piece on Kerry's foreign policy (here's the link for the story, although for some reason this bit does not appear to be in the online version, although it appeared in the printed paper): "Kerry said the floor speech [supporting the Iraq War resolution] reflected 'no ambiguity whatsoever in that position and no nuance, just I think a smart, prescient position that saw the troubles down the road.
'Foreign policy is not simplistic,' Kerry added. 'They [Republicans] want it to be simplistic; it isn't. I can give you lots of non-nuanced positions. There is nothing nuanced about anything I've done.'"
Posted at 02:30 PM
THE MEME THAT WILL NOT DIE [Rick Brookhiser]
Jonah, we are men and women before we are conservatives, and that is what fiction is about.
Now I can think of novels that address particular situations that are of special interest to conservatives--the passing of old orders, etc. But such discussions almost instantly deteriorate into endless wangles about minor aspects of great writers (what does Dostoyevsky think of democracy?), or blow-the-man-down assertions that self-reliance or realism or [insert favorite virtue] are the property of conservatives.
Posted at 02:24 PM
JOHN ASHCROFT, HOMOPHOBIC HOMOPHILE [Roger Clegg]
The John Kerry for President website has an “African Americans for John Kerry” subsite, with a big section on “John Ashcroft’s ‘Horrendous’ Civil Rights Record.” Most of it attacks Ashcroft’s record on race-related issues, but about halfway through it shifts gears and has four items proving Ashcroft to be anti-gay, and then shifts again to Ashcroft’s bad appointments at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Ironically, one of the appointees then singled out for criticism is the late Hugh Joseph Beard—who was gay.
Posted at 02:23 PM
SPAIN [Andrew Stuttaford]
Ramesh, that's well said on Spain. Here's an excellent piece by Iain Murray on the Spanish vote. It's well worth reading, although he's too sanguine about the situation in the UK.. While it's true (as he says) that British voters remain a long way from 'Old Europe', the same is not true of the British government. Recent months have seen an embarrassingly naive attempt by Tony Blair to establish the UK, along with France and Germany as a sort of governing troika for the EU, an initiative that is as pointless (the EU will continue to be run by and for Brussels' bureaucratic class and, to a lesser extent, France and Germany) as it is counterproductive (it will make New Europe believe that the UK is not a reliable ally). Worse still, Spain's defection to Old Europe has greatly increased the chance that the proposed EU 'constitution' will go through, a development almost guaranteed to ensure a greater distance between UK and US foreign policy.
Posted at 02:22 PM
RE: O BEAUTY [KJL]
Yes, Peter...John Pod's reaction to the book was very similar to my reax to seeing Clarke on Charlie Rose last night. Wow. If only this man had been appointed president by someone, nothing bad would ever happen IN THE WORLD. Having overheard a conversation on a trainride home last night about how Bush better not get reelected or they'll be another 9/11, I realized, though, he could have been elected. If we held the election Monday morning....
Posted at 02:19 PM
OH BEAUTY [Peter Robinson]
Writing in the New York Post today, John Podhoretz, always tart, acute, and gorgeously readable, positively outdoes himself, letting us know exactly what he thinks of Richard Clarke's new book:
"What Clarke reveals in Against All Enemies is that - not to put too fine a point on it - he is a self-regarding buffoon."
Read John's column here. And to the reader of with whom I've been exchanging emails on the legitimate uses of condescension, I offer the column as Exhibit A.
Posted at 02:12 PM
CONSERVATIVE FICTION EMAILS [Jonah Goldberg]
Here are a bunch of the shorter emails on conservative fiction. In no particular order. I don't necessarily agree with all of them either.
Patrick O'Brian, V.S. Naipaul, Willa Cather, Tom Wolfe, W.F.B. Karen Clancy
Posted at 01:58 PM
RE: INTIMIDATING [Jonah Goldberg]
I've been thinking about this quite a bit. Isn't the most charitable explanation for all sides something like this:
Clarke banged his head against the wall about al Qaeda for years in the Clinton administration. He made significant headway in convincing his superiors of the threat if not necessarily the proper response to it. When the Bush team took over, Clarke stayed on but he was tainted by precisely that failure on the part of the Clintons to respond to terrorism. In the Bush White House he was not only a holdover who'd been demoted, but a one-note-Johnny. His one note might have been a good one, but he was unwilling to rethink foreign policy priorities the way the new guys wanted. When he was told to take a fresh look at Iraq, he bristled. He'd been working on this for years after all and his predictions of an al Qaeda attack had just come true, demonstrating in gory detail his failure to make his case successfully. Meanwhile, Bush -- during a huge foreign policy crisis -- didn't need the attitude from Clarke and he may have misinterpreted Clarke's reluctance also. So the Commander-in-Chief gave his instructions in a very forcefull way which Clarke misinterpreted as intimidation.
Now, just because this is the most charitable explanation doesn't mean it's the most likely. Frankly, if Clarke truly believed that Bush was looking for manufactured evidence of Iraq's complicity he should have resigned in a very public way. Indeed, if he thought the Clinton administration's failure to strike al Qaeda was as ill-advised as he's indicated in the past, he should have resigned in the 1990s.
Posted at 01:46 PM
GARRY WILLS: SLOPPY AT BEST [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Here's what the man writes in the New York Review of Books: "Perhaps it is easier for Gibson than for some others to feel associated with his film victim, since his own movie characters have often been pulverized, brutalized, mangled by evil men and sinister organizations. If, in this case, he is the man being persecuted, who are his persecutors? The movie's critics are. They are the real Christ-killers. Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor of National Review, said of the film that those 'who choose to mock it' are 'Christophobes.'"
If Wills had read one paragraph further into my article, he would have come across this passage: "[Christians] should be careful to avoid the temptation to make of this movie more than it is. . . . Mel Gibson's Passion is not Christ's Passion. You can mock the first without mocking the second, although you can also of course mock both." My point was that some but not all critics of the movie would be people who hate, fear, or otherwise dislike Christianity. That hardly seems controvertible. Even if I'm wrong, the point I was making was not the one Wills attributes to me.
Posted at 01:45 PM
RACHEL CORRIE AWARD [Jonah Goldberg]
Don't you think it should be posthumously awarded to Sheik Yassin? After all, I'm pretty sure he wrote some scintillating fatwahs on blowing up little kids.
Posted at 01:30 PM
THE FACE OF SAUDI "REFORM" [KJL]
13 academics arrested
Posted at 01:26 PM
"INTIMIDATING" [Rich Lowry]
The New York Times has identified three people who confirm Dick Clarke's account of President Bush asking him to look into any potential Iraqi involvement in 9/11. But two of them disagree with Clarke's key contention that Bush was "intimidating" when he made this request. Former Clarke aide Roger Cressey says of the alleged intimidating tone, "I'm not going to get into that. That is Dick's characterization." Also according to the Times: "In addition to Mr. Cressey, at least two other former officials with knowledge of what occurred in the Situation Room that day also backed up the thrust of Mr. Clarke's account, though one of the two challenged Mr. Clarke's assertion that Mr. Bush's demeanor and that of other senior White House officials was intimidating." Why didn't 60 Minutes include this information in its report Sunday? Was it because its reporting was lacking, or because it was inconvenient?
Posted at 12:37 PM
WHERE WAS AL GORE? [Rich Lowry]
Something I've been wondering: If the Clinton administration was so obsessed with al Qaeda and accutely aware of its threat, why didn't Al Gore bring it up prominently in the 2000 campaign? He was a top-level Clinton official, right? So he should have shared this obsession. And what better form to educate the public about this threat than a presidential campaign.
Posted at 12:31 PM
KERRY AND MCCAIN [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Interesting theory, Rich. I don't quite understand what McCain's comments meant. He said that Kerry was not weak on defense, but that of course he would have to defend his record in the campaign. Now that could mean at least two things: 1) Kerry's got a voting record, although but I predict he will have to deal with more political attacks because that's the way campaigns are. Or 2) Kerry's a very tough guy, very pro-defense in some sense, but I'm not trying to defend his actual voting record. If it's the latter, which is what seems the most natural interpretation, it doesn't really mean much, does it? That's of course how the Bush campaign has chosen to interpret it. Oh I should also remember another alternative: 3) I'd like to screw around with the Bush campaign without really compromising my own hawkish foreign-policy views.
Posted at 12:06 PM
BERLAU ON BUSH'S BUDGET CUTS [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Posted at 11:54 AM
ROBBY BENSON [Rich Lowry]
Jonah, I didn't realize we were still on-air when I asked, “Who is Robby Benson?” (Sounds like a headline for a Wall Street Journal editorial.) When I walked back into the green room I was very worried that one of the guys sitting there might be Robby Benson, after I had just inadvertently dissed him. Fortunately, none of them was Robby Benson--whoever that is.
Posted at 11:40 AM
THE MOVIEGOER [Rich Lowry]
Steve, I loved The Moviegoer and don’t think Percy was ever as good again—all the rest of the novels kind of blend together for me.
Posted at 11:37 AM
MAGGIE NO [Ramesh Ponnuru]
“The reality is that there is going to be a national definition of marriage. The question for Congress is whether it will be the novel definition now being foisted upon us by the courts, or the one affirmed by the vast majority of the American people.” In the absence of an amendment, I agree that the courts will impose a national definition of marriage that includes same-sex marriage. But Gallagher has not shown that it is impossible for an amendment to block this nationalization. And if her political judgment is wrong, the question before her is this: Does she so desire a national definition of marriage that she is willing to fight a losing battle that lets the courts impose what she regards as the wrong one?
Posted at 11:32 AM
THE POLITICS OF IT [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Finally, Gallagher says that there is no reason to switch amendments because support for the FMA is “growing fast.” Maybe it’s growing in the polls. But it is not growing much among senators. Given the speed with which legal developments are taking place, the strategy for enacting the FMA has to be either to persuade/scare enough existing congressmen to enact it in 2004, or to flip enough seats in the upcoming elections on the issue that it can pass in 2005.
The former strategy will require at least 20 Senate Democrats to sign on. That’s two-fifths of the Senate Democratic caucus. Anyone care to come up with a list of 20 Senate Democrats who can in theory be gotten? Or to put it another way: The 34 most liberal senators can stop any amendment they want to stop.
On either strategy, it makes sense to find ways to deprive the opposition of its favorite talking points. The opponents manifestly do not wish to spend most of their time defending the judicial redefinition of marriage without a public vote. They are much happier talking about states’ rights and the like. Why not take away that option?
Posted at 11:29 AM
MORE “PROBLEMS” [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Alleged problem two: “On its face, the Hatch language appears to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman for the purposes of federal law.” Here Gallagher has found a possible ambiguity in Hatch’s wording, one that could perhaps be fixed by changing “in each state” to “for each state” in the first sentence. But this is a fairly niggling criticism, considering that the text of her own preferred amendment just changed in the Senate yesterday. It’s not a criticism that gets to the heart of the question.
Alleged problem three: “It won’t protect defense-of-marriage laws from being overturned by a Supreme Court already signaling its interest in affirming same-sex marriage as a civil right.” Since Gallagher does not expand on this point, I’m not sure why we are supposed to believe it. As far as I can tell, she’s wrong. State defense of marriage laws typically have two components: They define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and they deny recognition to same-sex marriages contracted elsewhere. Under the Hatch language, the Supreme Court has to defer to the state legislatures on the definition of marriage (sentence one) and cannot use any provision of the Constitution to compel a change in that definition (sentence two). Nor can the Supreme Court use the Constitution to compel recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages, since that would require that benefits be granted in violation of sentence two.
Alleged problem four: “Leaving the matter to the states amounts to conceding that marriage is not a key social institution.” I don’t see this at all. Gallagher knows perfectly well that the failure to include a definition of marriage in the Constitution up until now was not a matter of Americans’ not understanding that marriage is a key social institution. It is necessary to include it now, on her account, because the institution faces a particular threat. But what is the nature of that threat? The reason advocates of an FMA have always given for why a constitutional amendment is necessary is that it is the only way to stop state and federal courts from redefining marriage. If an amendment other than the FMA can accomplish that goal, and indeed accomplish it better because it can actually be enacted, what’s the argument for asking an amendment to do more? The Hatch language does not concede that marriage is not important; it recognizes that the action to be concerned about blocking is the judicial imposition of same-sex marriage (or civil unions).
Posted at 11:26 AM
GALLAGHER'S FIRST PROBLEM [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Hatch’s amendment reads as follows: “Marriage and its benefits in each state shall be defined by the legislature or the people thereof. Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to require that marriage or its benefits be extended to any union other than that of a man and a woman.” According to Gallagher, “There are many problems with this language.” Alleged problem one: “Courts that have discovered a right to same-sex marriage in general commitments to due process or equal protection are no doubt capable of discovering that ‘the people’ have a right to same-sex marriage.” The suggestion here would appear to be that a state court, for example, could say that “the people” of the state had, in some fashion or other, approved of same-sex marriage when they had not. It could, in a flight of fancy, decide that “the people” who lived together in same-sex unions had defined marriage.
Now any case for a constitutional amendment on marriage has to begin with a suspicion of judges, or at least some important subsets of them. But this suspicion cannot become paranoia. If you are willing to assume that judges can do anything they want with any constitutional text, then there is no point to passing any amendment. Willful judges will be able to read Gallagher’s preferred FMA in abstraction from its clear intent, too.
Posted at 11:23 AM
A DEMOCRACY AMENDMENT [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Part of the problem is that, like several defenders and opponents of the Hatch amendment, she regards it as a “federalist” approach. It is more federalist than the Federal Marriage Amendment, because it leaves state legislatures with the legal authority to create same-sex marriage. But it is not a purely federalist amendment, because it restricts state courts. The thrust of the amendment is not to grant power to the states rather than the federal government so much as it is to grant it to (state) legislatures rather than (state or federal) judges.
Posted at 11:21 AM
MAGGIE NOW [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Maggie Gallagher has an article in The Weekly Standard arguing that we need a national definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and condemning the alternative “federalist” approach taken by Senator Orrin Hatch. (She says that Hatch’s proposed constitutional amendment “is said to be fast gaining ground among GOP senators.” I don’t know who is saying that, and I wish it were true, but it does not track with my own reporting.) I agree with several of Gallagher’s subordinate arguments, and in particular with her refutation of the claim that the definition of marriage has historically been a matter for the states. But I think her criticism of Hatch is largely mistaken.
Posted at 11:17 AM
SADDAM & 9/11 [Rich Lowry]
This is a good point about the costs of containing Saddam.
Good column. However, I don't agree with your contention that, "The invasion of Iraq two years later angers Clark most now. On 60 Minutes, he blamed the Madrid train attacks on the U.S. invasion. Has it slipped his mind that al-Qaida attacked U.S. targets throughout the 1990s and carried out Sept. 11 well before the United States toppled Saddam Hussein?
As we know, al Qaeda was essentially formed as a response to our effort to contain Saddam by keeping troops in Saudi Arabia. In his 1998 call to arms, bin Laden makes clear that his number one beef with the US is Iraq and US troops in Saudi Arabia. So Iraq was always an issue with al Qaeda. It was only after 9-11 that the Palestinian issue was even raised.
This is what has mystified me for so long. Everyone is looking for a 9/11-Saddam connection and it is right there. No Gulf War, no troops in Saudi Arabia; no troops in Saudi Arabia, no al Qaeda and no 9-11. Did Saddam send the killers? No. But would the killers have been sent absent Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and his refusal to disarm? We'll never know for sure. In any case, Saddam does bear some responsibility for 9-11.”
Posted at 11:12 AM
THIS MEME WON'T DIE [Jonah Goldberg]
Rick - Lord knows I'm sympathetic with your position. I wasn't looking for ideological conservatism or anything like that. Just sort of the classics of literature which appeal to the eternal verities and that sort of thing. One of the reasons I don't have any definitive answers is that, like you, I've never really read fiction for its "conservative" insights, but rather for its insights, pure and simple. Still, don't, say, Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy represent a kind of small-c conservatism worth mentioning? Don't Heinlein or Walker Percy have views of human nature which gibe with the conservative spirit?
Posted at 10:59 AM
GEEZ—DID WE EVEN GET OUR 15 MINUTES IN THE VANITY FAIR WORLD? [KJL ]
Skimmed the Wolcott piece on blogs in VF this month. He says: “Liberal blogs are now where the bonfires blaze. They set the tempo, push the debate, and crack the best jokes.” Seems to me there’s a bit of the first two on the Right (ahem, here, among other places) and though I’ve never cracked a good joke, I’ve seen a few of them in these parts. So, anyway: Discuss.
Posted at 10:47 AM
What a wonderful answer!
Posted at 10:46 AM
BEST CONSERVATIVE FICTION [Rick Brookhiser]
Stop this meme before it kills again. Best conservative movies, best conservative fiction, best conservative breakfast cereal--how about just the best?
Posted at 10:39 AM
RE: BEST CONSERVATIVE FICTION [Steve Hayward]
Now you've done it, Jonah--you've set off what promises to be a week-long derby of favorite conservative fiction from Cornerites. The usual suspects--Jane Austen, etc.--are as certain to show up as the cherry blossoms on the mall. Oh well, why not.
Lately I've been rereading Jean Raspail's controversial 1973 novel < I>Camp of the Saints, which is a before-its-time yarn about immigration and multiculturalism (in France, no less). The book was savagely attacked by the Left as a racist tract, which should be recommendation enough. (NR's Jeff Hart gave it a glowing review in NR when it came out.) Old paperback editions are easy to come by on all the usual online book-search services, and it is very timely in the age of Islamofascism.
I'm rather partial (as is WFB) to Walker Percy's novels. His last, The Thanatos Syndrome, is very topical in this age of cloning and genetic research, but so is its terrific prequel, Love in the Ruins. And isn't it about time for a revival of John Kennedy O'Toole's Confederacy of Dunces? Didn't Rod Dreher mention some time ago that someone was talking of making a film of Dunces? It would be a sort of Anti-Passion, I suppose.
And just last week I was rereading Evelyn Waugh's first novel, Decline and Fall. Who can resist a book where we are introduced, in the second sentence, to a character with the name "Sir Alastair Digby-Vane Trumpington"? And in that vein, let us genuflect before P.G. Wodehouse, perhaps the best of conservative comic novelists. Now Jonah, for God's sake, don't ask about films, or we're really in for it.
Posted at 10:37 AM
WILLIAM KRISTOL ON SPAIN [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I agree with the bottom line of this editorial: our public diplomacy in Europe is terrible, crisis-level terrible, and has to be fixed. I also think that he has a nice line on the Spanish election: "Some say that the election result was an expression of democracy. That's true. It was an expression of a popular willingness to retreat in the face of terror." Obviously there is a lot of truth to this comment. But I cannot completely agree with it. What would you do if your government, in the immediate aftermath of a terrible attack, seemed to be directing you to the wrong culprits as a way of avoiding political damage? If I were a Spaniard, I probably would not have voted for the Socialists under the circumstances. But then again I might have--and I can certainly see 7 to 10 percent of the electorate feeling that way.
Posted at 10:36 AM
HAMAS/AL QAEDA [Andrew Stuttaford]
Jonah, I think that I might draw somewhat different conclusions than you do you. As I wrote yesterday, there's no need to shed any tears over Yassin. Nevertheless, when we look at his killing, it's necessary to ask again what it has achieved. The idea, reported by Steve, that it was designed to make it clear that an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was not a 'retreat,' is, alas, both plausible and deeply disturbing. Macho gestures are no substitute for an effective policy. Frankly, it's difficult to think that Yassin's death will do anything other than further 'Islamicize' Palestinian militants, something that al Qaeda is, as we have seen, already trying to manipulate to its own advantage. This can't be good for Israel and it also raises the question as to whether yesterday's action has added to the threats facing the US. Of course there should be no illusions, Hamas was not exactly a friend of America before yesterday. Nevertheless, it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that the boost that Yassin's death is likely to give to Al Qaeda and others on the Islamic extreme is bad news for the US. Given that fact it is entirely reasonable for this country, a very generous supporter of Israel after all, to query what has been done. That's not appeasement, it's commonsense.
Posted at 10:34 AM
THE NRODT NEWSTAND [KJL]
The current issue's cover:
For a quick tour of the April 5 issue, click here.
Posted at 10:27 AM
FEROCIOUS? [Tim Graham]
The first words I read on the front page of the Washington Post today: "President Bush's top aides launched a ferocious assault on the former White House counterterrorism official who accused Bush of failing to act on the al Qaeda threat before Sept. 11, 2001, and strengthening terrorists by pursuing a misguided focus on Iraq."
If you keep reading the piece by snarky Bush-hater Dana Milbank and liberal Mike Allen, the "ferocious" response is either defined by the numbers of interviews granted, or spokesman Scott McClellan calling Clarke's rather ferocious attacks on the president "deeply irresponsible, offensive, and flat-out false." You could argue that this is the problem with the Mister Rogers tone of the White House response to domestic opponents: when they respond in kind, reporters think it's rhetorical pro wrestling. <
PS: Of course, the Post also enjoys that Sen. Chuck Hagel is not only seconding McCain's line that Kerry is NOT weak on defense, Hagel is demanding that Bush treat Clarke's selling spree seriously. Primary challenge, anyone?
Posted at 10:23 AM
A PUBLISHER’S DREAM [KJL ]
At the 9/11 hearing, former Rep Tim Roemer (D., Ind) just held up Richard Clarke’s book for a minute or so for his national audience. You can’t train TV interviewers to do that so well.
And, someone at S&S should get a raise: obviously change in pub date was worthwhile.
Posted at 10:12 AM
9/11 HEARINGS [KJL]
Can be watched/heard at c-span.org at 9 EST.
Posted at 08:52 AM
OUTSOURCING [Jonah Goldberg]
Dan Drezner's piece on outsourcing is up and worth reading.
Posted at 08:50 AM
YES, BUT... [Cosmo]
There's no cable.
Posted at 08:49 AM
BEST CONSERVATIVE FICTION? [Jonah Goldberg]
A reader asked me for the classics and/or best (not always the same thing) of conservative fiction. I confess that I don't have many good answers beyond Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I'd probably just end up cribbing some lists from Russel Kirk and mentioning -- obviously -- Derb's Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream. Suggestions from Miller? Derb? Other bibiliophiles?
Posted at 08:40 AM
WHO'S ROBBY BENSON [Jonah Goldberg]
Rich just did a very nice job on Fox & Friends. At the end of his segment they teased the next -- a "where is he now?" bit on Robby Benson. One of the guys asked Rich, "Hey, is Robby Benson in your book?" And -- even as they cut away -- you could hear Rich ask in a low whisper "Who's Robby Benson?" Oh Rich! Don't you remember One on One.
Posted at 08:35 AM
HAMAS AL QAEDA LINK [Jonah Goldberg]
The fact that Al Qaeda is calling for revenge for Yassin's killing demonstrates how wars cause everyone to choose sides. That's how wars work. Much like Qaeda's interest in American failure in Iraq, it was in evitable that the terrorist group most dedicated to destroying one democracy would would become a natural ally for the terrorist group dedicated to destroying us. This doesn't mean that there's active cooperation between the two organizations. But it does mean that al Qaeda understands that Hamas sympathizers are natural recruits to be al Qaeda sympathizers. Opponents of America's friendship to Israel will no doubt claim that this opportunistic joining of forces -- at least rhetorically -- could have been avoided if we took the position that Israel's fate is of no concern to us whatsoever. But if that doesn't fit Churchill's definition of appeasement -- i.e. feeding your friends to the alligator in the hope he'll feed you last -- I don't what does.
Posted at 08:30 AM
NICOSIA, VERSIONS I & II [Tim Graham]
The WashPost reports today that radical left war protester John Kerry (okay, they didn't use the "radical left" part) and his Vietnam Veterans Against the War were monitored by the FBI, relying on documents from California author Gerald Nicosia. (Laura Blumenfeld and Dan Balz then go to liberal historian/Kerry flack Doug Brinkley on how Nixonites saw Kerry as a "young demagogue." If you saw Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony on C-SPAN Sunday night, you'd say that's about right.) But for another look at what Nicosia is saying about Kerry, see how Marc Morano of CNSNews.com reports it. Nicosia says Kerry is lying about what he did and said in 1971 as he decided to split from the VVAW. Nicosia provides documents for that, too. Nicosia also suggests Kerry could be lying when he denies being present when VVAW members met in Kansas City in November 1971 "to discuss the possibility of assassinating U.S. senators still committed to the Vietnam War." Wouldn't that make FBI surveillance sound like a decent idea?
Posted at 07:32 AM
TODAY'S CHEX-SPEW MOMENT [Tim Graham]
On ABC, Charles Gibson asks if the White House has ever mounted a "full court press" against an author like Clarke. Stephanopoulos says "no." Stephy and Co. did exactly that to Gary Aldrich, getting him knocked off a slate of TV interviews!
Posted at 07:26 AM
KERRY DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM A FOREIGN LEADER (CHAVEZ) [KJL]
Posted at 06:00 AM
Abe Foxman is already attacking Gibson's next embryonic idea of a movie: "Thanks for trying to make it up to us, but no thanks," Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League told The Sunday Times. "
Posted at 05:39 AM
FOR THE "STEM CELLS ARE NOT MIRACLE CURES" FILES [KJL]
Posted at 05:33 AM
YASSIN AND MLK [KJL]
Rami Khouri, who I believe is editor of the Beruit Daily Star, just equated Yassin with Martin Luther King Jr. on Nightline. The context being: you kill MLK Jr, you don't kill the civil right movement...you see where this is going. Somehow, though, I must have completely forgot about King's terror preaching.
Posted at 12:07 AM
Monday, March 22, 2004
CLARKE ON THE PUB DATE [KJL]
He said, on Charlie Rose (as I know I heard him say at some point earlier in this frenzy), that the administration sat on the book, that it was ready to be published in November.
Posted at 11:48 PM
"VERY CLOSE" [KJL]
Clarke says he is "very close" to George Tenet. Clarke just refused to ask a bunch of questions from Charlie Rose for fear of getting "George" in trouble, suggesting Tenet would agree with the Clarke version of the world--saintly Clinton holdovers, ready to free the world from al Qaeda, if only the Bush family were not so Saddam-obsessed. This does remind you that, whatever Tenet thinks of the Clarke book--which we're not about to find out any day soon--Tenet is part of an old thinking (see Lowry's Legacy, too) who are still running the CIA. Let me refer you to Michael Ledeen, Oct. 1, 2001:
That's asking a lot. In practice, it's unreasonable to expect this of a professional civil servant unless it is clear that there's an unbreakable mandate for the mission. There is only one way to demonstrate that: to remove the people who have failed in the past. Of late, we have begun to hear calls for the resignation of George Tenet, and certainly someone should be held accountable for the colossal intelligence failure that made life easy for the September 11th mass murderers. But it is important that President Bush not single out one or two individuals, and then pretend that a couple of new people can turn the whole thing around. He (or Ridge, on the president's authority) should ask for the resignations of the whole lot of them, from the (Clinton-appointed) FAA chief to the heads of the various counterterrorist units and the counterintelligence top guys as well. If Louis Freeh were still at FBI, he should go along with the others (hell, he should have gone once the Hanssen treason was discovered).
Posted at 11:46 PM
PUB DATE [KJL]
Jim Wilkinson, deputy White House national-security adviser pointed out on Hardball tonight and on Hannity and Colmes that, according to Publisher's Weekly of Jan 26th 2004, the Clarke book was supposed to be April 27th. I imagine it's just a coincidence that the book is coming out, instead, the week of Clarke's 9/11 testimony.
Posted at 11:37 PM
EYELESS IN GAZA [Rick Brookhiser]
My AOL headline says, "Otrage in Gaza Over Killing." At long last, revulsion against terrorism?
Posted at 11:31 PM
DON'T BE SHOCKED [KJL]
but Bryan Preston senses bias at the LATimes:
Two salient facts left out by different reporters working for the LA Times, one leaving out the fact that George W. Bush was a fighter pilot, and the other leaving out the fact that John Kerry is lying or, at best, failing to recall a meeting he attended that featured discussion of a plan to assassinate American politicians. If you're looking for a pattern, both omissions help Kerry.
Posted at 08:44 PM
ANOTHER SIGN THAT ISRAEL ARE THE GOOD GUYS [KJL]
The Knesset bans human cloning.
Posted at 08:01 PM
WARMING NOT SO BAD [Jonathan H. Adler]
More evidence that global warming may be likely -- but is likely to be far less severe than environmental activist groups would like to acknowledge.
Posted at 07:12 PM
NEW SLOGAN [Jonathan H. Adler]
Proposed for Democrats for Bush: "I voted for John Kerry, before I voted against him."
Posted at 07:12 PM
CNN, MEET THE BLOGOSPHERE [KJL]
Blogger Tim Blair found more celeb donors.
Posted at 06:04 PM
A DIRTY WORD [KJL]
We better do a tally on how many right-leaning women are married to convicts. From Parade Magazine (March 14):
Q. Both Menendez brothers got married in prison, and I read that accused murderer Scott Peterson is inundated with love letters and proposals. Why do these guys appeal to women? —Dave Sears, Bloomington, Ind.[Emphasis mine]
Posted at 05:58 PM
NR DIGITAL IS READY TO BE ALL YOURS [KJL]
There was some extensive server maintenance happening here in NR-land so the usual NR Digital posting of Friday was delayed to Monday—apologies for that, should not happen again. It’s up now and read for you (you can do that here if you’re all signed up)—in case you don’t know, any subscriber to the print version of NRODT is automatically a Digital subscriber. (Sign up for the paper version of the paper magazine here.) But, you can also subscribe to the Digital version only. (Do that here.)
In the current--the April 5 issue of NRODT—Ramesh Ponnuru analyzes the death of compassionate conservatism in “No More Mr. Nice Guy” (Dubya’s the non-nice guy). Kate O’Beirne, meanwhile, advises us to chill—it’s too early to panic about the Bush campaign. David Frum reminds you that Bush is your one and only choice—and not an echo. Tad DeHaven,though, does take the time to blast the president’s spending. Byron York takes a look at who those 9/11 families campaigning against campaign commercials are. John J. Miller remembers the last American to die in the Cold War. But there is more. There is Anthony Daniels on Hait. There is Terry Teachout, Jay Nordlinger, John Derbyshire (on your teeth), Michael Knox Beran, Douglas Sylva, Thomas Hibbs, David Pryce-Jones, Steve Moore, Lee A. Casey & David B. Rivkin Jr., Richard Pipes AND MARK STEYN. SO CHECK IT OUT NOW.
Posted at 05:47 PM
FOX & FRIENDS [Rich Lowry]
I’m scheduled to be on at 8:20 tomorrow morning.
Posted at 05:06 PM
THE JAPANESE NAVY [Jonah Goldberg]
Not that I think it's a serious possibility, but if it ever is...this should be all the incentive the US Navy would ever need to ensure that it never loses in any war games against the Japanese.
Posted at 05:03 PM
COMPARTMENTALIZATION OF TERROR [Jonah Goldberg]
Sorry I haven't been around today, I had to GSD (get "stuff" done). I agree with a lot of folks that the Yassin assasination will not obviously make things better for Israel in the short, medium or long run. Nevertheless could we lose all of the clever categories here? I was listening to NPR discussing the Yassin attack earlier. Several people asserted that Yassin wasn't from the military arm of Hamas. Rather, he was merely a "spiritual" and political leader. Never mind that the "military" wing of Hamas received "spiritual" instructions from Yassin which in effect authorized mass murder. It seems to me that the West bought itself a pile of trouble when it started accepting these dichotomies between "military" and "civilian" arms of the same terrorist organizations. Did it start with the IRA?
Posted at 04:41 PM
THE D.C.-HOLLYWOOD SCENE [KJL]
On Inside Politics on CNN earlier, a list of actors who have donated to Kerry were noted. Then, Judy Woodruff said, the only celeb they could find who had donated to W. this cycle is: Ben Stein.
Posted at 04:35 PM
CLARKE ON WMD [Rich Lowry]
A White House official today highlighted these old comments by Richard Clarke. On NPR back in March 2003 he said of Iraq, “After all, they’ve had weapons of mass destruction now for about 20 years.” Back in 2000, before 9/11, he said, “We should have a very low barrier in terms of acting when there is a threat of weapons of mass destruction being used against American citizens. We should not have a barrier of evidence that can be used in a court of law.” This is certainly the standard the Clinton administration acted on, at least some of the time. It took out a pharmaceutical plant in 1998 in the Sudan based on the probably mistaken belief that it was manufacturing chemical weapons. Clinton officials defend that attack to this day, which makes it kind of rich that they so harshly criticize Bush for acting on much firmer evidence in Iraq.
Posted at 04:33 PM
THE FMA CHANGES [Ramesh Ponnuru]
It's been amended. It had barred (among other things) the interpretation of any state or federal law to require that the legal incidents of marriage be conferred on any unmarried couple or group. That provision has been taken out--as Eugene Volokh and I suggested for slightly different reasons. This amendment to the amendment makes it clearer that a state legislature can adopt civil unions under the FMA.
Posted at 04:27 PM
I’M TOLD RICHARD PERLE WILL BE DEBATING RICHARD CLARKE TONIGHT ON CHARLIE ROSE [Rich Lowry]
Posted at 04:19 PM
CLARKE ON THE CLINTON YEARS [KJL]
Richard Clarke, March 20, 2002:
Frontline: In January 2001, you wrote a memo where you basically stated there are more attacks coming, [that] Al Qaeda cells are here. What was that memo? What was the reason for it looking back at it now? How right did you get it?More here.
Posted at 03:58 PM
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KATHRYN! [Rich Lowry]
Today is the day when, unbeknownst to the world, National Review Online would become possible. We mark it here at NR with gratitude just short of idolatry.
Posted at 03:50 PM
OUTSOURCING CTD. [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Regarding my previous post on this topic, 2 emails:
1) "Interesting--just curious, does George Will e.g. think that persons who lose jobs to domestic competition are less entitled to help than persons who lose them to foreign trade?
"Haven't studied these issues but 'instinct' says: people who lose a job to foreign competition and to domestic competition, where the competition is extra-regional in source, have more weight policy-wise than those persons whose loss of job is a result of intra-regional compeition. The key thing is to avoid disruption of local communities, family life as much as possible via migration to other parts of the country."
My response: Assuming that federal-government action can serve the long-term interests of communities in the way my correspondent suggests, wouldn't the issue be the extent of job losses in a community rather than the location of the competition? Whole industries can just decline, not because there are more efficient producers of the good in question in some other region or country but because there is less demand for it, there is a substitute good, etc.
2) "The reason (or at least a reason) a person displaced by foreign competition is more entitled to federal aid then one injured by domestic competition is that we owe our countrymen more than we owe foreigners. We all exist under equal laws and have equal rights. However, foreigners have no entitlement to our markets, as our countrymen do by natural justice and the dormant commerce clause of the Constitution. The benefits of foreign trade are a net benefit but they do not benefit all Americans equally. In order to continue political support and moral support for free trade (especially with unfree states) some help for displaced workers of that policy can be considered, where it would simply be robbing Peter to pay Paul to do it domestically."
My response: I don't think this argument works. Whether we owe more to our countrymen than to foreigners is irrelevant here; my question was not, after all, whether we should compensate foreign worker for losing American market share as much as we compensate American workers. I don't see how anyone has any "entitlement" to having their product sold in America in the quantities and at the prices they want, wherever they're from. Intra-national trade can be said, just as international trade, to benefit Americans unequally. It may be, as correspondent 2 says, that protection for workers displaced by foreign competition--assuming you can identify who they are--makes sense as a way of buying political support for free trade. But the moral justification still eludes me.
Posted at 03:44 PM
SIMON AND SCHUSTER, LOVESHACK FOR LIBERALS [Tim Graham]
Rush and others make an important point when they note that Viacom owns both CBS and Simon and Schuster, whose Free Press imprint is selling Dick Clarke's book. In recent years, Simon and Schuster has made a lot of money in the Clinton-loving market with Hillary Clinton and James Carville books (and when Carville was busy, Paul Begala's Bush-bashing book). Ron Suskind's book bashing Bush through Paul O'Neill was also a Simon and Schuster book. Shouldn't they be seen as just as liberal an outfit as Regnery as seen as conservative?
Posted at 03:36 PM
CONDI RICE ON AMERICAN MORNING [KJL]
The transcript is here.
Posted at 02:22 PM
RE: WHY KILL YASSIN? [Steve Hayward]
Prof. Jeff Sikkenga of Ashland University provides a good answer to Andrew's query on NoLeftTurns:
Why did Israel kill Sheikh Yassin, the founder of HAMAS? Obviously, they know this ups the stakes even more in the conflict with the most radical elements among the Palestinians.
So why? I don't think it's a coincidence that the action follows immediately on the heels of Benjamin Netanyahu's agreement to give provisional support for the phased withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank in conjunction with continued building of Israel's security barrier. This means that the plan will very likely make it through Sharon's cabinet and become a reality.
If so, Israel knows that it must withdraw settlers on terms of strength, or its pullout will be trumpeted by its enemies as a sign of weakness, as happened with the military withdrawal from southern Lebanon. So look for even more audacious strikes in the weeks ahead against HAMAS, Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aksa Brigades, especially the kind of strikes that can help certain elements within the PA to take more authority once Israel has withdrawn and given up day-to-day control over Gaza and most of the West Bank.
Notwithstanding the revenge attacks to come, Israel really ius changing the security equation, and it looks like the Palestinians are in trouble.
Posted at 02:18 PM
Left-wing Irish pols want Bush's Secret Service detail unarmed when he's there this summer.
Posted at 02:16 PM
NEWS FROM THE MELTING POT [Andrew Stuttaford]
Posted at 02:14 PM
CHENEY ON CLARKE [KJL]
The vice president went on Rush today.
Posted at 01:55 PM
TAIWAN BLUES AND GREENS -- A DIFFERENT OPINION [John Derbyshire]
From a reader: "As a Republican economist living in Taiwan, I think your comparison of the KMT and Republican Party is rather far-fetched. One's views toward China largely determine whether one is Green or Blue, so on economic issues there is more difference within the parties than between the parties. The only exception is trade with China and that is no more an economic question than trade with the USSR during the Cold War was an economic question.
"The environmental policies of the DPP central government and the KMT Taipei City government are equally annoying. One way in which the KMT is similar to the Democratic Party is that government bureaucrats, educators and the press are as strongly KMT here as their American counterparts are Democratic. For this reason, it is very hard to imagine that the DPP could successfully cheat in an election or fake an assassination. At least 3/4 of the vote counters are Blue.
"I think the reason that the Blues and the Democrats both attract bureaucrats, teachers and reporters is that like Democrats, the Blues tend to believe in the superiority of experts and have a strong Chinese respect for education and the ability to pass academic tests. Blues like to stereotype Greens as uneducated. Greens are mainly Taiwanese (often small businessmen) who feel disadvantaged within the Mandarin-Chinese education system and their sceptical view of intellectuals reminds me of American Republicans.
"As far as social policy is concerned, Pres Chen often panders to left-wing PC groups, but the younger generation in the KMT, the Taipei mayor for example, are trying hard to keep up with him on this front. Since the average Green voter is more rural than the average Blue voter, they often have more traditional values. Pres Chen can officiate at gay marriages because the average green voter has never met a gay person and has no more opinion on gay marriage than he has on inter-species marriages among zoo animals.
"Although I prefer some of the Blue policies and many of my friends are Blues, I tend to lean Green. Partly this is because I am very suspicious of China, partly it may be the influence of my Green Taiwaneese wife, but I think mainly it is because unlike the Republican 'daddy' party, the KMT really is domineering and paternalistic.
"Both the Republicans and the Blues believe strongly in absolute moral values, but Republicans think that the man on the street usually understands these values better than high-falutin intellectuals and government experts. The Blues think these moral absolutes are understood mainly by the government and the properly-educated classes and that the unwashed masses have to be force-fed these truths."
Posted at 01:48 PM
AHMED YASSIN [Andrew Stuttaford]
Yassin was, undeniably, a bad man and there's no need to shed many, or any, tears over him, but can anyone explain what, exactly, was achieved by his killing?
Posted at 01:42 PM
WHERE'S THAT THING THAT BLOCKS DERB'S E-MAILS? [John Derbyshire]
Julius Caesar, 3.ii:
Listen up, people:
I'm only here for the funeral, I swear....
Posted at 01:41 PM
SOMEONE MAKE HIM STOP [John Derbyshire]
SEYTON Yo boss, the Queen's snuffed it.
MACBETH Pity she couldn't have held out a while.
I'd have had more time to deal with it.
Not enough hours in the day, if you ask me.
It's like one friggin' thing after another
Till the Big Crunch or whatever;
And we don't seem to get any smarter.
Frankly I've had enough.
It doesn't seem real. You run around a while
Dealing with stuff; then you die.
It's like you're listening to some retard tell a story,
Yelling and emoting, like,
But never getting to the point.
Posted at 01:35 PM
PREEMPTIVE STRIKE [KJL]
Yes, today is my birthday (it's going around). But, more importantly, it is Andrew Stuttaford's birthday today, too. If you can't find either one of us, we're probably off pretending to be younger than we are.
MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY (no offense, Andrew), though, it is Captain Kirk's birthday.
I'll one up Jonah though: skip the cards and diamonds this year--and thanks for the 20 refreshes for Jonah's 21st--but how about a subscription to NRODT or NR Digital? (The wonder of life--birthdays as commercial opportunities!)
Posted at 01:27 PM
SEE NO EVIL, READ NO EVIL [KJL]
Did a Kerry staffer seize and destroy a pro-life sign at a Kerry rally?
Posted at 01:19 PM
SONNET 18 [John Derbyshire]
I was just clearing my throat:
I might say you're just like a summer's day
'Cept you're, like, cuter, and don't make me sweat.
We get bad weather even in May,
And summer doesn't last long anyway.
Sometimes it's, like, too hot, you know?
Then other times it's cloudy.
Anyway, things all go downhill,
One way or another.
But you'll stay cute for ever
And never lose your looks,
Even when you're dead! -- Metaphorically, I mean.
'Cause I've written you up and put it on the Web.
As long as browsers browse and servers serve
You'll be online. Do I sound like a perv?
Posted at 12:38 PM
CLARKE ON IRAN [Jim Geraghty]
More on Clarke from that April 2, 2000 Washington Post article: "After the bombing of the Khobar Towers apartment buildings used by U.S. military personnel in Saudi Arabia in June 1996, associates say, Clarke prepared a memo for Clinton arguing that Iran was behind the attack. Much to his annoyance, then-national security adviser Anthony Lake quashed the memo on the grounds that the case against Iran was circumstantial at best. (Evidence subsequently provided by the Saudis has convinced many U.S. intelligence officials that Clarke's instincts were right.)
"...As the millennium countdown continued, the Clarke team moved its operations to the Y2K Center at 1800 G St. NW, where they set up a secure communications facility. Most of the team was dressed informally, but Clarke wore a tuxedo. Shortly after midnight, he received a congratulatory phone call from Sandy Berger, who was at the Lincoln Memorial with Clinton. "It's still too early to celebrate," Clarke told Berger, referring to fears that the terrorist cell linked to an Algerian arrested near Seattle in mid-December, Ahmed Ressam, might still be planning an attack on the West Coast.
It was too early to celebrate in a larger sense as well. "It's not enough to be in a cat-and-mouse game, warning about his plots," Clarke says, referring to bin Laden. "If we keep that up, we will someday fail. We need to seriously think about doing more. Our goal should be to so erode his network of organizations that they no longer pose a serious threat.""
So it sounds like Clarke was saying the right things back in the '90s and before 9/11. But today he seems to have no recognition of what the world, or domestic political reaction would be, had Bush attempted to "erode bin Laden's network" by invading Afghanistan in early 2001. The anti-war movement we see today would be defending the Taliban as victims of unilateral, preemptive, American imperialism. U.S. troops would still be in Saudi Arabia, Saddam would still be in power, and much of the world would believe America was attacking Osama "for no good reason", based on a vague threat of future attacks that could never be verified.
Hey, did Leslie Stahl ask Clarke if he still thinks Iran was behind the Khobar Towers attack? If they were, would that justify... "post-emptive" U.S. retaliatory strikes against Tehran?
Posted at 12:19 PM
WHITE HOUSE ON CLARKE [KJL]
Here's a "myths vs. facts" White House release.
Posted at 12:17 PM
HAMLET ACT 3 SCENE 1 [John Derbyshire]
HAMLET: Should I top myself, or what?
I like can't make up my mind.
Should I put up with this s**t that happens,
Or go with self-assertion, which might get me dead?
Getting dead is really just like crashing,
And you're like totally out of all this stuff flying around -- Hey.
Trouble is, if dead is just like zonking out,
Could be you get, like, dreams. Eeeuiw.
I mean, if you think about it,
The kind of stuff you see when you're dead --
(Like that Robin Williams movie, you know?)
Really makes you wonder.
That's why people keep going, I guess....
Posted at 12:15 PM
BEERS & CLARKE [KJL]
Dick Clarke and Kerry adviser Rand Beers are teaching a Harvard class together this semester
Posted at 12:01 PM
CLARKE ON PREEMPTION [Jim Geraghty]
From an April 2, 2000 Washington Post profile of Richard Clarke:
"We should have a very low barrier in terms of acting when there is a threat of weapons of mass destruction being used against American citizens," says Clarke, brushing aside suggestions that a preoccupation with bin Laden has caused errors in judgment, such as the decision to retaliate for the attack on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998 by bombing a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, Sudan, suspected of producing chemical agents. "We should not have a barrier of evidence that can be used in a court of law," Clarke says.
He compares the current threat of global terrorism with the situation faced by Western democracies in the period leading up to World War II, when appeasement carried the day. Imagine what would have happened, he says, had Winston Churchill come to power in Britain five years earlier and "aggressively gone after" Nazi Germany. Hitler would have been stopped, but in all likelihood, Clarke says, Churchill would have gone down in history "as a hawk, as someone who exaggerated the threat, who saber-rattled and did needless things."
In other words, people would say about Churchill pretty much what Clarke is saying about Bush right now... too bad Bush believed in a "low barrier" about WMD and did not use "a barrier of evidence that can be used in a court of law."
Posted at 11:57 AM
CLARKE’S RECORD [Michael Graham]
From that piece KLo linked to last night: "In 1986, as a State Department bureaucrat with pull, he came up with a plan to battle terrorism and subvert Muammar Qaddafi by having SR-71s produce sonic booms over Libya. This was to be accompanied by rafts washing onto the sands of Tripoli, the aim of which was to create the illusion of a coming attack. When this nonsense was revealed, it created embarrassment for the Reagan administration and was buried.
”In 1998, according to the New Republic, Clarke ;played a key role in the Clinton administration's misguided retaliation for the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which targeted bin Laden's terrorist camps in Afghanistan and a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan.' The pharmaceutical factory was, apparently, just a pharmaceutical factory, and we now know how impressed bin Laden was by cruise missiles that miss."--Globalsecurity.org columnist George Smith, writing in February 2003.
Posted at 11:31 AM
CLINTON VS. BUSH IN THE WAR ON TERROR [Michael Graham ]
The most damning charge Richard Clarke makes is that the Bush administration has waged a less effective war on terror than the Clinton administration. When I say "damning," I mean damning to the credibility of Mr. Clarke.
A cursory internet search reveals story after story (including an author interview by KJL) in which Clarke makes it clear that the Clinton administration had the opportunity to take out Osama, had the understanding of how dangerous he was, and still chose not to act.
Then again, it's hard to overlook Clarke's own culpability: the first World Trade Center attack, the attacks on two US embassies in Africa, the Kobar towers, the USS Cole--all of these were conducted by the same enemy on Richard Clarke's watch. And the September 11 attacks were plotted and funded then, too.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration's "botched" anti-terror policy since 9/11 has coincided with more than two years in which there hasn't been a single, successful terror attack on American soil.
The Clinton/Clarke strategy gave us a steady stream of terror attacks against Americans, leading up to September 11. The Bush/Condi strategy has given us a nation thus far free of terror, plus the toppling of two pro-terror governments and a sudden surge in good behavior from Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and others.
Clarke finds it "unbelievable" the President Bush is running on his record against terrorism. I find it "unbelievable" that Clarke is criticizing anyone else.
Posted at 11:30 AM
LESLEY'S WHOPPER [Tim Graham]
Anyone watching Lesley Stahl last night setting up the latest anti-Bush media frenzy should remember this interview from last year, recently nominated at our Dishonor Awards. Here's the funniest part:
Cal Thomas: “Can you name a conservative journalist at CBS News?”
Stahl: “Well, I don’t know of anybody’s political bias at CBS News. I really think we try very hard to get any opinion that we have out of our stories, and most of our stories are balanced.”
Posted at 11:11 AM
RE: MUSTARDIANS [Tim Graham]
Jonah, I'm told CNN referred to Sheik Yassin last night as a "revered leader." Maybe to your pals in Hamas, but to the wider world? Charles Manson was also a "revered leader," as was Hitler, yada yada.
Posted at 11:09 AM
KRAMER'S TREASURE TROVE [Stanley Kurtz]
Our system of federal subsidies to academic programs of area studies–including Middle East studies–is not working. Problems of political bias in the academy aside, our government subsidized area studies programs are simply not doing what they’re supposed to do–creating a pool of potential recruits to jobs in the diplomatic corps, or defense and intelligence agencies. Martin Kramer has the details on the poor performance of the government subsidized academy–and on those who would hide the truth about this failure. While you’re at it, have a look at Kramer’s new quick reaction feature, Sandbox, which is at the bottom of his weblog, and at its own URL. Kramer updates Sandbox with responses to breaking events on the battle for HR 3077–the bill that would reform our system of subsidies to Middle East studies and other area studies programs. But Sandbox is also a great place to go for fascinating tidbits on the Middle East–like Kramer’s quote today from Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the leader of Hamas just dispatched by the Israelis.
Posted at 11:08 AM
AND YOU TOO, BRUTUS? MODERNIZING SHAKESPEARE [KJL]
Derb, this one is for you, courtesy of Terry Teachout.
Posted at 10:52 AM
AND YES, YES, YES...A THOUSAND TIMES YES [Jonah Goldberg]
I've noticed that Yassin looks like the evil wizard Saruman.
Posted at 10:39 AM
PRO-AMERICAN CANDIDATE WINS IN EL SALVADOR [KJL]
Posted at 10:34 AM
LET'S KEEP AN EYE ON THE MUSTARDIAN INSURRECTIONISTS! [Jonah Goldberg]
Yesterday I heard a CNN news update anchor report that "Mayo-ist" rebels in Nepal were intensifying their attacks. Of course she meant "Maoist" but I kind of like the idea that troops loyal to various condiments would be launching attacks. Let's hope the beleagured government forces can ketchup.
Posted at 10:33 AM
TAIWAN MARKETS DOWN [John Derbyshire]
From Larry Henry: "Taiwan's stock market is down about 7% this morning. World markets are all lower, on general concerns over terrorism and instability. Here's the latest note from briefing.com: 'Gapping Down: Asian stocks weak on Taiwan election turmoil: AUO -8%, SMI -8%, TSM -8%.....'"
Posted at 10:31 AM
DERB -- MORE SELF-PROMOTION [John Derbyshire]
Please note also -- let's get all the self-promotion over before coffee break -- that Harold Edwards' review of PRIME OBSESSION in that excellent journal THE MATHEMATICAL INTELLIGENCER can now be read on-line
(He actually reviews all three of the Riemann Hypothesis books that came out last year. You don't care about those other guys, though; just scroll down to where he talks about my book.)
This review was worth a dozen others to me because Prof. Edwards is himself the author of the definitive book (hard math, not pop math) on Riemann's zeta function. For an account of my adventures getting hold of a copy of that book, see here.
Posted at 10:30 AM
COULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED TO A NICER GUY [Michael Graham]
Has anyone else noticed the dearth of discussion about what Hamas has been up to under the leadership of Sheik Yassin? I have yet to see a single story even estimating the number of deaths attributable to Yassin's preaching of jihad to his fellow Muslims.
Here's a list that, apparently, has escaped the notice of every news room in America.
Posted at 09:45 AM
DERB--THE INTERVIEW [John Derbyshire]
My interview with Frank Fleming is up this morning on the IMAO blogsite.
In it I speak out on matters which I have formerly kept silence about, notably my relationships with other giants of the blogosphere -- Jonah Goldberg and Andrew Sullivan. This should push Martha off the front pages.
Posted at 09:23 AM
RE: TAIWAN [KJL]
Derb has written a great big-picture piece on Taiwan, too, fyi, here.
Posted at 09:08 AM
TAIWAN [John Derbyshire]
From a reader in Taiwan:
"The way the polling station where I live was set up was like this. You vote with a secret ballot for the president. (People can see that you vote but not who you vote for) After you vote for the President you had to go and get another ballot and go to a separate place in the same building to vote for the referendum. Again people could not see if you voted YES or NO but they could see if you voted at all. Since the KMT strategy was to have people vote for them for president and then not vote at all in the referendum this set up means that the KMT could keep a close eye on how people voted. This let them either make sure the voters they bought stayed bought or for their neighbors to intimidate them later. Since the setup of the polling stations was decided by local government and most local governments in the northern half of the island (where about 60% of the people live) are KMT most of the polling stations were set up like this.
"It will be interesting to see if the election scrutiny the KMT is asking for backfires on them. After all, even as a foreigner I know that they were buying votes in my city, the going rate was 30$-60$ US (about 2 days pay for the average Taiwanese) I actually hope the investigation reveals the vote buying on both sides as that will help Taiwan's democracy in the long run.
"The important thing about the referendum was not the result but the fact that they had one at all. China hates then idea of any expression of Democracy in Taiwan so they wanted people not to vote at all. The KMT listens to their masters in Beijing."
Posted at 09:07 AM
Ross Munro was an election observer and reports from there on NRO today.
Posted at 08:56 AM
YES... [Jonah Goldberg]
Yesterday was my birthday. No need to send cards or emails, but if everyone in solidarity could hit refresh on the Corner 20 times today that would be great.
Posted at 08:45 AM
GREAT PEACE PICS [Jonah Goldberg]
Peace through dumbness!
Posted at 08:44 AM
CLARKE [Jonah Goldberg]
Almost all I know is what I saw on "60 Minutes" last night. I need to do more homework. But it seems to me that Clarke cannot simply be dismissed as a jerk with an agenda (as I am perfectly comfortable doing with Joe Wilson). That said, that doesn't mean we have to buy everything Clarke says without skepticism. The first point, which I think "60 Minutes" did a masterful job of blurring is that Clarke's criticism is twofold, with part 1 being very different than part 2.
His critique of pre-9/11 Bush says that Bush and his crew weren't particularly interested in Clarke's opinions. Clarke takes this as an outrage, and it may well be that it was stupid on the Bushie's part to ignore him (that's certainly turned out to be true politically). But it's sounds like Clarke was an embittered holdover from the Clinton administration who was kept on out of an admirable desire for continuity. Clarke basically confirmed this when he admitted that he was upset about his demotion from Cabinet level status. He just said -- through clenched teeth -- that he wasn't angry enough to quit right away. I guess he wanted to bide his time for a book.
He also complains that the Administration was "too" concerned about Iraq when it took over. Well, A) this isn't news and B) this is debatable given what Clinton himself had said publicly about Iraq's WMD programs. Obviously, in retrospect, the Bush administration did not concentrate on al Qaeda enough as Clarke suggests. And -- if true -- the allegation that the Bushies ignored the pre-9/11 chatter to the extent Clarke claims is a serious one.
But, it strikes me as a shocking example of blame-dodging for the guy who ran Bill Clinton's anti-terrorism agency to be making these charges. After all, if there's one guy more completely culpable for the growth of al Qaeda over the last decade you'd think it would be Clarke. Of course, his defense might be that Clinton didn't listen to him enough (Where's my copy of Legacy). But that's not Clarke's charge. Rather, he charges -- according to "60 Minutes'" telling that all of the serious mistakes on this front were made by Bush & Co.
Clarke's critique of post 9/11 Bush is quite vague beyond Clarke's opposition to the Iraq war. Again, this can be a serious argument, but it's nothing new and beyond his stature, he offers nothing new to it. The substance of his major critiques beyond that were that Bush and Rumsfeld were too eager to hit Iraq, not Afghanistan. Maybe so, but Bush quite quickly ended up following precisely the course Clarke had reccomended, i.e. hitting Afghanistan. Clarke tries to make it sound like Bush was willing to falsely blame Iraq for 9/11, but this charge is flimsy in Clarke's own telling (Clarke got that sense, but never heard those words) and the more charitable interpretations are the more plausible -- i.e. Bush & Co. thought it was Iraq but were persuaded by the facts that Afghanistan had to be the first target. A-ha, says Clarke, but the Bushies were willing and eager to have Iraq be the second target. True enough. But here again we are back in to a fairly conventional anti-war argument. That Clarke made it from the inside of the White House at least demonstrates that those who claimed the White House suffered from group-think were wrong.
Posted at 08:34 AM
Did the rounds this morning, and I'm told was effective on CNN. Will post transcript when available.
Posted at 08:24 AM
YASSIN [Jonah Goldberg]
It's no shock that a group of fanatical murderers like Hamas is vowing to exact revenge for the death of their charismatic leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. But spare me the talking points, already emerging from Palestinian leaders and other apologists for murder that he was just a frail old man in a wheelchair. The issue is not whether he was or wasn't, let's stipulate that he was a frail old man in a wheelchair. The issue is that he was behind the organized murder of hundreds of old men, old women, little kids, fathers, mothers et al. I have no doubt that we'll be hearing a lot of moral equivalence about this. But let's not confuse arsonists with fire fighters. An old woman on a bus is not the same thing as a hateful carbunkle of a human who plans, advocates and celebrates the murder of innocents.
Posted at 08:15 AM
DICK CLARKE'S AMERICAN GRANDSTAND [Tim Graham]
Dick Clarke was live on ABC this morning while Rice handled the other two networks. My overwhelming first impression is that it's a little odd to let a guy who sat for many years in the White House while the Clintons did zippy claiming that the Bushies did "nothing" before 9-11. The nets are playing down the fact that he was a Clinton aide, and they're certainly not asking the are-you-a-bitter-partisan questions they would ask if the internal dissenter were in a Democratic administration. (Even Colin Powell would have been hammered somewhat if he had done a Clinton-sucks book in 1995.) If Clarke had written a book on Clinton that came out two years ago, he would have been ignored just like Rich Miniter's book, which cites Clarke, was).
Posted at 08:02 AM
Rice, without Lauer, is in the Washington Post today.
Posted at 07:36 AM
CONDI RICE ON TODAY [KJL]
Does the adminstration have a good defense against Clarke? Perhaps we'd know if Matt Lauer let Condi Rice talk this morning on The Today Show. The show opened with Clarke unobstructed, an excerpt from 60 Minutes (and a short clip from a Dan Bartlett interview), but letting Rice complete sentences was not a major part of Lauer's plan this morning, as he interviewed her. Meanwhile, as I write, Wesley Clarke is reacting to Rice, acting as Clarke stand-in, with a mostly enabling Ann Curry.
Posted at 07:17 AM
THANKS-BUT-NO-THANKS FILES [KJL]
Arafat praises The Passion
Posted at 06:10 AM
48 KERRY/46 BUSH; WITH NADER, A TIE [KJL]
New Zogby numbers.
Posted at 05:48 AM
WHAT'S COOKING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER [KJL]
College Republicans hold an affirmative-action bake sale. Photos here.
Posted at 05:47 AM
DA PUNK IS RIGHT [KJL]
Posted at 05:39 AM
"SHARON HAS OPENED THE GATES OF HELL" [KJL]
Posted at 05:28 AM
Sunday, March 21, 2004
ISRAEL KILLS HAMAS LEADER [KJL]
Posted at 11:02 PM
C-SPAN ROCKS [KJL]
C-SPAN, which is celebrating its big 25, showed John Kerry's 1971 congressional testimony tonight. sorry I didn't warn in advance, just realized myself.
Posted at 11:00 PM
"LEGACY OF MISCALCULATION" [KJL]
One read on Clarke.
Posted at 10:50 PM
OIL-FOR-FOOD: DIGGING DEEPER [KJL]
A new piece by Claudia Rosett.
Posted at 10:03 PM
RE: CLARKE [Mark R. Levin]
Since Clarke et al oppose preemption, what exactly would they have had Bush do about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda? Clinton had several clear shots at taking out bin Laden, but refused. He treated the entire matter as one for law enforcement to handle. Bush never had a clear shot at bin Laden. And if he did, and was successful at taking him out, then what? Congressional investigations and books by Clinton holdovers condemning Bush for killing bin Laden?
And I don't buy the premise that Bush was so occupied with Saddam Hussein that he failed to see al-Qaeda. Where's the evidence other than some unsubstantiated comments by self-promoting authors who are hardly unencumbered by political taint?
Posted at 06:23 PM
AL QAEDA HAS "SMART, BRIEFCASE BOMBS"? [KJL]
Posted at 06:07 PM
CLARKE COMMERCIALS [KJL]
A Madness-watching reader e-mails: "Does anyone out there besides me think that CBS, by airing the promo for the Clarke interview over and over and over again during the NCAA Tournament, is jumping on what they percieve to be a golden opportunity to plant in as many Middle American minds as possible the idea that Bush is a lying screw-up? Just a thought."
Posted at 05:44 PM
ADMIN NOTE/REMINDER [KJL]
NationalReview.com e-mail addresses are down--and have been since Wednesday (for maintenance). Please e-mail email@example.com if you need to read me/NRO.
Posted at 04:43 PM
THE VIAGRA MONOLOGUES [John Derbyshire]
My favorite news story of today: "Monogamy is for chumps." There's a tie-in with the gay marriage business here somewhere, if I could only figure out where.
Posted at 04:42 PM
"REPEATED TUMBLES" [KJL]
Maybe Kerry does fall after all?
Posted at 04:25 PM
FLYING MONKEY ALERT [KJL]
Today is Jonah's birthday. I assume he is 21 again. (Happy, Happy.)
Posted at 04:22 PM
CLARKE & THE COMMISSION [KJL]
Clarke is notgoing to be just a Monday story-for certain. He'll be the star Wednesday, at the 9/11 commission hearing. Insider guy tells me:
Here's the story Clarke may be helping the Commission Dems fly: Even though the Cole bombing happened on Clinton's watch (Oct 2000), it was really too late in his term to have reasonably expected him to do anything about it; therefore the failure to retaliate against bin Laden (and, as the story goes, to neutralize him so that 9/11 could have been prevented) is Bush's fault. I think Clarke will be there to say this, and to tell the Commission -- as [he'll be telling the world on CBS Sunday night]-- that he was Cassandra screaming for something to be done about bin Laden prior to 9/11 but he couldn't get the Bush people to listen.
Posted at 04:18 PM
THE CLARKE ERUPTION [KJL]
Next week promises to be Richard Clarke's 15 minutes. But, from the sounds of it, it's also going to be a pain in the side that will become part of the Dem mantra during the course of the campaign-more effective, but in the grand tradition of a Paul O'Neill.
An insider gives me a little Clarke backstory:
Richard Clarke was a fairly low level functionary in the Reagan and Bush 41 admins before rising in the Clinton admin to a virtual cabinet level post of national counter-terrorism coordinator, a job that really no longer exists because strategy of the current admin is to eradicate al Qaeda, not merely to contain it with extraditions and prosecutions -- which means it is now in the hands of the NSC & DOD, where it should have been all along. When Bush II came in, among the first things he directed was an entire rethinking of the anemic Clinton anti-terror strategy (at the actual cabinet and NSC level -- meaning Veep, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Tenet and their deputies), which demoted Clarke. BUT, rather than firing Clarke the prez kept him on with the understanding that he should continue doing his important work while the new strategy was being developed and implemented (which took some time both b/c of the nature of the task and the happenstance that the controversy over the election meant that a lot of important admin staffing was not completed until well into summer 2001).
Posted at 04:15 PM
FRANCOPHILE [Mark Krikorian]
Maybe everyone else already knew this, but something in today's Post makes Kerry's worldview entirely clear to me: "Kerry's father, a longtime State Department diplomat. . ." I don't mean this as simplistic State Department-bashing. The reason I didn't pursue the Foreign Service as a career was my experience with so many Foreign Service kids while an undergrad at Georgetown -- they all seemed to wish they were French, or at least Canadian, because they simply hadn't grown up as Americans, and I didn't want that for my own kids. I know I'll get angry e-mails about this, and it obviously doesn't describe all the children of Foreign Service officers, but I found that in general America was for them an occasional vacation destination, the place where grandma lived, the Old Country their parents had lived in before they emigrated to post-America. So Kerry looks and acts European because he actually wishes he were European.
Posted at 04:13 PM
YOUR BIAS IS SHOWING [Mark Krikorian]
There was an unintentionaly amusing hilarious phrase in the Time magazine story on stay-at-home moms that Rich used as the starting point for his syndicated columm -- http://www.townhall.com/columnists/richlowry/rl20040318.shtml -- "the family-friendly International Planned Parenthood Federation."
Posted at 04:11 PM
FREE NR KID'S BOOK STORY [Jack Fowler]
Posted at 04:08 PM
DIET PEPSI'S NUTRASWEET DREAMS [Tim Graham]
I'm with the new subscriber. Diet Coke tastes icky to me, although the new lemon and lime combinations make it better. Diet Pepsi is my office drink of choice, slurped down in successive two-liter bottles. (I'm not a "coffee achiever," not without a pile of hot cocoa or cream in it.) Any work mate who notices my "pop" thing (hey, I'm from Wisconsin) gets told, "If they stabbed me and ate me, I'd taste marinated in Diet Pepsi."
Posted at 04:05 PM
KIDS POST VERDICT [Tim Graham]
Even as he tries to argue the Washington Post has produced "excellent" coverage of the homosexuality debate and praises the "Kids Post" treatment of gay issues, ombudsman Michael Getler today admits the glaringly obvious: "The paper has also had a number of feature stories in recent months about same-sex couples and gay marriage. That's understandable because it goes with the news flow. But critics who say the paper has had few, if any, features portraying opponents of this social change in a positive or even neutral light have a point. The overall picture, it seems to me, could use more balance."
Posted at 04:04 PM
CLASH OF VICTIMS [John Derbyshire]
One of my favorite kind of news story is the one where PC collides head-on with itself, the interests of one Designated Victim Group (in this case, illegal immigrants -- oops, I mean "undocumented workers") crashing into the interests of another (here Native Americans). In this delicious story from the LA Times, Open Borders meets Native American Rights.
Posted at 04:03 PM
NYT CATCHES UP TO NRO [Rick Brookhiser]
Interesting story by Neil McFarquhar yesterday on stirrings in Syria (sorry for the day late posting, but we of The Corner spend our weekends in idle dissipation, except for Andrew. Thank God Brittania still reads Samuel Smiles).
Posted at 03:56 PM
FRENCH ELECTIONS [Andrew Stuttaford]
It’s the first round of voting in French local elections – and another bad day for Jacques Chirac and, quite possibly, an even worse one for his prime minister. Exit polls are showing the mainstream Right on around 33%, the Left won about 40% and the National Front look to have taken roughly 17%. The low vote for the current government reflects popular distaste for recent attempts to bring France’s economy into, say, the mid-1980s (the 21st Century will take a little longer), while the tally for the National Front, roughly unchanged since the last Presidential election, speaks for itself. The second round of voting will be next Sunday.
Posted at 03:52 PM
GREAT MOMENTS IN ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION, CONTINUED [Andrew Stuttaford]
But will dihydrogen monoxide hurt 'the children'?
Posted at 03:50 PM
SNUBBED? [Andrew Stuttaford]
Was it something that John Kerry said?
Posted at 03:49 PM
DR WHO [Andrew Stuttaford]
He’s baaack…to be played by a new actor, but a Tory MP sounds a warning note:
"As for Christopher Eccleston, it's great casting because he's a very talented actor. I just hope he remembers he's not playing a socialist time peasant, but an aristocratic Time Lord, and that he demonstrates that he can smile as well as scowl. The whole point about Doctor Who is its very light humour. Without it, the show would be just a bunch of upended rubbish bins talking in silly voices and waving egg whisks."
Posted at 03:46 PM
KERRY'S TEMPER [Andrew Stuttaford]
OK, he doesn’t really deserve it, but maybe it’s time to give tumblin’ John a break. Yes, his remarks about that secret service agent were churlish, to say the least, but anyone can lose their temper from time to time. Still, Kerry’s command of some of the rougher parts of the English language does raise one rather intriguing question given the current frenzy over at the FCC. Will the networks have to tape delay his press conferences?
Posted at 03:44 PM
WON'T BE KILLED BY THE REVIEWS [Andrew Stuttaford]
I’ve heard of actors ‘dying’ on stage, but this….
Posted at 03:41 PM
D'OHNUTS [Andrew Stuttaford]
Jonah, over to you.
Posted at 02:42 PM
NYT IN OUTER SPACE [KJL]
Dennis Powell, occasional NRO contributor, who is at work on a space-tech book e-mails: "In today's business section, the New York Times has a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/21/business/yourmoney/21mars.html?pagewanted=print&position=">story which questions whether NASA and the U.S. aerospace industry are in good enough shape to undertake a trip to Mars. The story cites the retirement of experienced engineers and the shortage of new blood to replace them. As has been the case with just about every story dealing with the president's space initiative, the Times misses the point or, in this case, multiple points: of course we're not ready to go to Mars. We won't be for decades, and no one has ever claimed otherwise. In my href="http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/powell200312030858.asp">first n.r.o. piece on the subject I accented the plan to return us to the moon, as did (and do) the people I talk to in government and industry. And the coverage that followed that article did, too. But the president mentioned Mars when he spoke January 14, and that mention has been used to belittle the plan ever since. The plan is to return to the moon both for itself and to learn the things that will enable us oneday to get to Mars. It is also to produce the kind of program which will inspire a new generation of aerospace engineers, so that they will replace the retirees. The space shuttle, with not much new technology over the last 25 years, failed to excite young engineers in the way that Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo did in the 1960s."
Posted at 07:55 AM