TURBULENT PRIESTS [Andrew Stuttaford]
France continues to wrestle with the implications of its large Muslim population. Now our old friend Dominique de Villepin (he’s the interior minister now) is advocating the training of ‘French’ imams. Such a notion may sound strange to Americans schooled in the tradition of separation of church and state, but it’s not a bad idea, particularly when one considers the current reality:
“The problem of radical Islamic clerics preaching a message contrary to French law and values is a pressing one: government figures show 27 Muslim prayer leaders have been deported on public order or human rights grounds since 2001 - more than half of them since last July. Abdelkader Bouziane, the 52-year-old imam of a Lyon mosque, said in an interview that the Koran authorised husbands to hit their wives, that polygamy was right, that women were not men's equals and that music was a sin. Asked whether he approved of the stoning of unfaithful wives, he replied: "Yes." He was deported on Wednesday, a week after Abdelkader Yahia Cherif. The self-proclaimed imam of Brest in Brittany had asked his congregation to "rejoice in the Madrid bombings" that killed 191 people.
“According to the interior ministry, France's 5 million-strong Muslim community, Europe's largest, is ministered to by between 1,000 and 1,500 imams. Only 10% of them are believed to be citizens, less than half speak French, and "probably a majority" are illegal immigrants. Most hail from abroad - 40% from Morocco, 24% from Algeria, 16% from Turkey and 6% from Tunisia - where any advanced religious training they receive is increasingly likely to be in fundamentalist Islamist views that clash with secular French laws.”
The struggle against extremist Islam is a battle that will be fought as much within Islam as from the outside. De Villepin’s move is welcome recognition of that fact.
Posted at 05:10 PM
CATCHING UP? [Andrew Stuttaford]
One of the obsessions with the EU’s leadership is that the bloc should catch up with the US economically. That’s a perfectly respectable aim, but the composition of a new “high level” group formed by Brussels to help that process along, suggests that this might take a while. The 13-person team is made up of representatives of, dread word, ‘stakeholders’ (defined as trade unions, business, political authorities, academics)," a stale corporatist concept that tells you that it is doomed to failure before it has even begun. Its membership comprises four politicians, one journalist (our old friend, Will Hutton, naturally), two academics, three trade unionists and, in a nod to the capitalism it is meant to be promoting, three (count ‘em) businessmen.
America can, I think, relax for now.
Posted at 12:36 PM
ANOTHER DRUG WAR VICTORY [Andrew Stuttaford]
Why do I get angry about the drug war? Oh, stories like this:
”Although prosecutors admitted Paey was not a drug trafficker, on April 16 he received a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years for drug trafficking. That jaw-dropping outcome illustrates two sadly familiar side effects of the war on drugs: the injustice caused by mandatory minimum sentences and the suffering caused by the government's interference with pain treatment. Paey, a 45-year-old father of three, is disabled as a result of a 1985 car accident, failed back surgery, and multiple sclerosis. Today, as he sits in jail in his wheelchair, a subdermal pump delivers a steady, programmed dose of morphine to his spine…”
Read the whole thing, and also notice, once again, the impact of “mandatory minimums”. They are not about justice.
Via Reason’s indefatigable Jacob Sullum.
Posted at 12:19 PM
NO FURTHER COMMENT NEEDED [Andrew Stuttaford]
“The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.”
Posted at 12:08 PM
SPECTERS OF NERVOUSNESS [KJL]
Here's an e-mail Pa. sources sent my way, that went out to Specter supporters, from Mrs. Specter late this week:
Posted at 11:42 AM
BLOK BLOCKED [Andrew Stuttaford]
Belgium’s ‘far right’ Flemish nationalist party, the Vlaams Blok, is undeniably, a party with some very unsavory elements indeed. It is also a party that has benefited from the tensions caused by mass immigration and Belgium’s continued rule by a political establishment that is as revolting as it is corrupt. Take your pick from a few recent stories, whether it’s the endemic anti-Americanism, the foreign minister’s attempt to play down his country’s genocidal role in the Congo, the arrest of a distinguished investigative journalist or the increasingly troubling suggestions of a massive cover-up of the truth behind the Dutroux pedophile murders, and one is left with the impression that Belgium is a cesspit nation, a state that is rotten to the core. Add a long history of division between Belgium’s French and Flemish-speakers to an already poisonous political mix, and it should be no surprise that the VB has been gaining traction. In last year's parliamentary elections it won nearly 18 percent of the vote in Flanders and in 2000, 33 percent of voters supported it in municipal polls in Antwerp, the region's largest city.
That, clearly, is not acceptable to Belgium’s ruling class. A court has now found that some of the VB’s propaganda has broken the country’s anti-racism law. The party has been fined and, critically, will lose the state support to which most political parties are entitled. Now, and I should stress this, I don’t know what all the offending materials said, and political parties, of course, should not be above the law. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to read this story without the suspicion that the courts are being used to achieve that which free and open debate could not. And that’s not a pretty thought.
Stephen Pollard has more.
Posted at 11:38 AM
THE OTHER WOMEN [KJL]
Here's where you can join pro-lifers in Washington tomorrow.
Posted at 11:31 AM
DMN THANKS PAT TILLMAN [Rod Dreher]
Here is what the editorial board of my newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, has to say in praise of Pat Tillman, a great man and a great American patriot. Here's an excerpt:
Pat Tillman's laid up his treasure in loyalty and selfless service to his nation, for which he gave, in Lincoln's immortal phrase, "the last full measure of ... devotion." Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a war hero of Vietnam, said yesterday that the young man's death will "seem a heavy blow to the nation's morale." To the contrary, we believe that Pat Tillman's sacrifice will inspire his fellow Americans. His life and his death bear witness to the truth that there are some ideals worth dying for, and therefore some ideals worth living for. Pat Tillman, who walked off the football field and died on the field of honor, was a great American and a great man. We are, every one of us, forever in his debt.
Posted at 11:29 AM
ROMEO AND ROMEO, SITTIN' IN A TREE [Rod Dreher]
There are times when I regret leaving NYC for the heartland. This is not one of them.
Posted at 09:57 AM
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF [Mark Krikorian]
The Senate immigration subcommittee had an important hearing Thursday on legislation to promote state and local law-enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The bill, co-sponsored by Jeff Sessions and Zell Miller, and a similar bill by Charlie Norwood in the House, are the only pro-immigration-control measures that have a chance of passing during this Congress. (Kennedy and Leahy, both on the subcommittee, are against the whole idea). The star of the hearing was the inimitable Michelle Malkin, who drew attention to the "other wall" -- not Jamie Gorelick's wall between the CIA and FBI, but the one that prevents state and local cops from making optimum use of federal immigration law to do their jobs more effectively. Also testifying was law professor Kris Kobach , a former top advisor to John Ashcroft who helped craft much of the immigration response in the immediate wake of 9/11. (He's also running for Congress.)
Posted at 09:23 AM
WASHINGTON POST TRIES NUANCE [Tim Graham]
Even though I expect the amount of column inches of coverage of Sunday's "March for Women's Lives" (please add "Except the Unborn Ones") to be greater than the "March for Life" receives annually, the Washington Post rally coverage today is rather nuanced.
The Metro section piece begins as expected, featuring the family of Gerri Santoro, a woman who died of a botched abortion in the sixties. A photo of her face-down naked corpse became a iconic image for abortion advocates. But reporter Elizabeth Williamson also includes on an almost equal plain one Kathryn Drake, who had an abortion in 1978 and instantly regretted it and found solace in Christian faith.
In the Style section, often liberal Laura Sessions Stepp writes on how "Younger Feminists Introduced New Issues, More Nuanced Positions." It features young liberals saying they wouldn't so much mind parental notification laws, or are uncomfortable with late-term abortions, or think men shouldn't be left out of the "choice" loop. It also includes Kate Michelman lecturing about the need to remain absolutist.
On the Post website, the online-discussion people even hosted an Internet chat with Janice Shaw Crouse of the pro-life Beverly LaHaye Institute. They're making it hard so far to complain about imbalance.
PS: For a peek at the problems with Post coverage of a 2001 abortion rally, see here.
Posted at 09:15 AM
Friday, April 23, 2004
GOTTA LOVE GOOGLE NEWS [Tim Graham]
Again, Why George W. Bush Must be Tried as a War Criminal Tehran Times - 3 hours agoAnd the author is an American professor and "democratic socialist"!
Posted at 06:29 PM
SHAME ON YOU, AP [Peter Robinson]
Noted by a reader, this choice paragraph from today’s Associated Press story on Francis Cardinal Arinze:
Arinze was asked whether…Kerry should not request or be given communion for his unapologetic support of human rights, including a woman's right to abortion [emphasis added].As the reader who sent this item asked, “Kerry might be denied communion because he supports ‘human rights?’ Abortion is a ‘human right?’”
Posted at 06:26 PM
TILLMAN STADIUM [Rich Lowry]
A very nice idea, from MSNBC.com: “The Republic reported that prominent Arizonans were calling on the Cardinals to name the team’s new stadium, which is currently under construction in Glendale, near Phoenix, in Tillman’s honor.”
Posted at 06:20 PM
BLEG: WILSON ON BISMARCK [Jonah Goldberg ]
I know I read somewhere -- maybe Zakaria's Future of Freedom? -- that Woodrow Wilson had written some glowing praise of Bismarck's social policies while he (Wilson) was still a political science professor. Anybody have the quote handy? UPDATE: Got it. Thanks.
Posted at 05:30 PM
ST. PAUL… [Rich Lowry]
…was a great time. The debate at St. Thomas was lively and well-received, and the crowd mostly leaned my way, thanks partly to an influx of Cornerites. 20 or so of us went out afterwards for beer and pizza and I tried to answer some of the questions apparently on the minds of so many NRO readers: “Will Jonah get a raise?” (We’ll see.) “What's Kathryn like?” (Heavenly.) “Is Ramesh as smart as he seems?” (Yes.) “Can we get more Corner postings on weekends?” (I don't know, I’ll have to talk to Andrew Stuttafford!) Thanks to everyone for coming out, especially to Scott Johnson for spreading the word at http://www.powerlineblog.com and picking up the tab, to Char for laughing at my every stab at humor during the debate, and to Tim for his theories of empire…
Posted at 05:12 PM
RE: HOME DEPOT WATCH [Rod Dreher]
Well, the deed is done. My wife is at either Home Depot or Lowe's now, buying paint. We bought our first house today, that 1918 Craftsman bungalow I mentioned a few weeks ago on The Corner. This weekend, interior painting commences. It's a strange feeling to actually own the place in which I live. The backyard has a fig tree, a plum tree, rose bushes and wisteria vines. I love this little place. My place!
Posted at 03:39 PM
RE: PAT TILLMAN, RIP [ROD DREHER]
I've just written a Dallas Morning News editorial about Pat Tillman's sacrifice. I ran across an utterly disgraceful quote from a contemptible man, Tampa Bay Buccaneer Simeon Rice, who had this to say when his former Arizona Cardinals teammate enlisted in 2002 (the whole article is here:
Someone who wasn't overly impressed with Pat Tillman's call to duty was Simeon Rice, a former Cardinals teammate who now is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Earlier this year, on Jim Rome's national radio show, Rice said Tillman "wasn't that good, not really." He went on to imply that Tillman probably wasn't going to be around the NFL much longer anyway, so joining the Army was no big deal.Pat Tillman. Simeon Rice. Which one do you want your sons to be like?
Posted at 03:37 PM
A PRO-LIFE OPTION IN D.C. THIS WEEKEND [KJL]
American Collegians for Life and Feminists for Life are cosponsoring a Women Deserve Better® Symposium on Women and abortion for college students on Saturday, April 24. Speakers include:More info here.
Posted at 03:34 PM
MORE HOME DEPOT WATCH [John Derbyshire]
Y'know, now I come to think of it, I **did** have the creepy feeling I was being watched the other day, while I was working on my tree house... (7th frame).
(Thanks to Greg Dennehy for the artwork.)
Posted at 03:19 PM
TWO LIES IN ONE SENTENCE [Ramesh Ponnuru]
of a Kerry ad: "The Supreme Court is just one vote away from outlawing a woman's right to choose."
Posted at 03:17 PM
WILL THE ELITES DUMP MULTI-CULTI? [John Derbyshire]
Australian academic Prof. Brian Galligan has written a book -- and look what it says (3rd paragraph).
Posted at 03:04 PM
MCGORY [Tim Graham]
ABC, NBC, and CNN anchors all offered warm tributes to the memory of Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory last night, but Peter Jennings couldn't even describe her as "liberal." She was just "a writer of lasting influence who had a contempt for phonies." Peter claimed she even once sang "Nearer My God to Thee" as the Washington Star closed down in 1981. But that doesn't match the columnist who greeted the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 this way: "But when it comes to preventing violence in our schoolyards, some fathead is bound to say that prayer is the solution."
Posted at 02:58 PM
IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT "WOMEN" [KJL]
Another e-mail: "Don't forget this is also the weekend of the semi-annual World Bank/IMF protest in DC (going on right now across the street from my office), and all those downtrodden college kids have their parents' credit cards and are probably staying in nicer downtown hotels than the actual IMF board members (who are also in town). So it's a good weekend for DC hotels, but we shouldn't assume it's all for the "women's health" (yuck!) march. "
Posted at 02:33 PM
I FEEL BETTER [KJL]
An e-mailer informs me: "For what it's worth, the American Planning Association annual conference is in DC this year, starting Saturday. It usually attract over 5000 planners from all over the world. "
Posted at 01:38 PM
BOOKED UP [KJL]
The feminists may just meet their turnout expectations this weekend, if the hotel situation is any indication. A visit to hotels.com shows the late booker has a few $800 rooms available, but only a few! (And Holiday Inn can cost you $400!)
If you happen to run a hotel in DC, I can probably get you some Corner readers...
Posted at 01:20 PM
MAKE CALLS FOR TOOMEY [KJL]
A friend of NRO and Toomey e-mails (i.e. it's on the up-and-up): "Conservatives across the country know how important it is to defeat Sen. Arlen Specter (RINO-Scotland) in the Pennsylvania primary on Tuesday. Here's a way for conservatives everywhere to help. Turn-out is incredibly important in this tight race, and Toomey will be running phonebanks to reach as many Pennsylvania Republicans as possible - but they can use more volunteers. Anyone who would like to make calls this weekend for Toomey's campaign - no matter where you live - can just email firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll be given scripts and phone numbers for Pennsylvania voters to contact. Remember that most cell phone plans offer unlimited weekend minutes, so this is a free and easy way to help a good cause."
Posted at 01:10 PM
HERE'S MORE ON THE LATEST PA. POLL [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted at 01:01 PM
KERRY AND VETS [Mac Owens]
You are correct that Vietnam veterans are a politically diverse group. But I believe a vast majority of them dispise Kerry for the same reasons I do—his actions upon his return. I happen to believe it is counterproductive to question his actions while “in country,” but many of my fellow veterans have persisted in pushing this point. But even if there was no question about his combat record—and I give him the benefit of the doubt—what he did by slandering us all upon his return is simply reprehensible. As far as I am concern, his weak “apology” last Sunday with Tim Russert I a case of too little, too late. The fact that thirty years after Vietnam, I and others like me still have to write pieces like I have recently for NRO and National Review is absolutely disgraceful.
Posted at 12:48 PM
SPECTER STILL UNDER 50 [KJL]
From a new polling company poll: "Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) leads his challenger, Congressman Pat Toomey (R-PA) 46%-39% in the race for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania."
Posted at 12:24 PM
JAMES DOBSON ENDORSES TOOMEY TONIGHT [KJL]
Posted at 12:21 PM
CODEBREAKING [John J. Miller]
Today, the Wall Street Journal runs my article on The Da Vinci Code here. Responses to it here. Cornerite Tim Graham recently wrote on the huge-selling novel here.
Posted at 12:05 PM
THE SENATOR, THE CARDINAL & CANNON 915 [Peter Robinson]
From a reader, canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law:
”Those…who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.”
Posted at 11:51 AM
PETE COORS IS NOT IN THE KKK [KJL]
But the New York Times looks at him and thinks of one, a murderer at that...
Posted at 11:45 AM
RE: HOME DEPOT WATCH [John Derbyshire]
Just got back from another trip to Home Depot hell, and guess what....
Hold on a minute, there's a terrible racket going on here, lemme take a look outside...
Good grief! There's an orange helicopter hovering over my house! And it' s... Aaaaaaaarrrrrggh!!!!
Posted at 11:41 AM
RE: TILLMAN'S SACRIFICE [Tim Graham]
One of my co-workers just asked how Pat Tillman's sacrifice might prompt the Rangels and Hagels to rethink the notion that only the poor, employment-challenged people are dying for their country.
Posted at 11:27 AM
STANLEY ON THE HILL [Stanley Kurtz]
Yesterday’s hearing on “Legal Threats to Traditional Marriage” was fun, exciting–and very contentious. The Democrats were loaded for bear and did everything in their power to discredit my arguments about marriage in Scandinavia and the Netherlands. As far as I’m concerned, they had no success. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. Next week I’ll have a full report on the hearing, as well as a detailed response to Andrew Sullivan’s various posts on Scandinavia. I’ll also respond to an attack on my Scandinavia argument newly published in The New Republic. Clearly, gay marriage proponents are alarmed about the traction my Scandinavia arguments have been getting. They are going to be even more upset about my work on the Netherlands–which I gave a preview of in my testimony. I’m more than happy to see the gay marriage debate finally get around to the fate of marriage in Scandinavia and the Netherlands. The more scrutiny the situation in Europe gets the better, because the fact of the matter is that gay marriage in Europe is doing serious damage to marriage. Much more next week.
Posted at 11:25 AM
HOME DEPOT WATCH [John Derbyshire]
Aisles closed off at the Huntington (L.I.) Home Depot at 4:30 pm Thursday: 4.
Check-out stations manned (out of 17): 0.
Posted at 11:21 AM
EGG IN YOUR BEER [John Derbyshire]
A lot of readers were jolted from their peaceful browsing of the web yesterday by my use of the rhetorical question: "What do you want, egg in your beer?" Many have asked me if this is some kind of Britishism.
To the contrary, I never heard it until I came to the USA. In fact, I remember precisely when and where I first heard it: from my friend Jay Bodo, a native-born American (and USMC Vietnam vet), of mixed Irish and Hungarian ancestry, in Yonkers, NY, circa 1975. I thought it a very striking expression, and asked Jay where it came from. He told me it was something his father used to say. Jay's father was in the Navy in WW2, so this agrees with the origin of the expression given here (Do a find on "egg.")
Posted at 11:20 AM
KERRY SHOULD BE DENIED COMMUNION [KJL]
says a top cardinal at the Vatican...this, just as Kerry is to be embraced by the pro-abortion women rallying in D.C. this weekend.
Posted at 11:18 AM
RE: TILLMAN [KJL]
Here's what Peggy Noonan wrote when he joined the Rangers.
Posted at 10:57 AM
TILLMAN, RIP [KJL]
CNN & ABC and others are reporting Pat Tillman, former NFL player who walked away from a $3.5 million contract after 9/11 to join the Army, has been killed in combat in Afghanistan. Our condolences and gratitude to his family and friends for their sacrifice.
Posted at 10:34 AM
REPORT FROM THE FRONT [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Posted at 10:31 AM
KERRY'S SERVICE [Jonah Goldberg]
I am amazed by the number of angry liberals who've written to me arguing that Kerry's service in Vietnam equals being strong on defense. Period. Time and again the argument lacks any reflection or nuance. He served nobly in uniform [and you didn't!] therefore he's strong on defense and you're a traitorous scumbag for suggesting otherwise.
There's so much that is baffling about this position. First of all, no one among the Democrats ever made anything like this argument when Clinton was the standard bearer. Indeed, countless Democrats, including Kerry, ridiculed the suggestion that service in Vietnam or the lack of it was particularly relevant. Second, it should be noted that any number of legitimately traitorous scumbags, starting with Benedict Arnold, served honorably in uniform. Third, there's this odd identity politics thing going on which treats Vietnam vets as this homogeneous bloc that Kerry gets to speak for and who all think the same way. From my own limited experience, I've found Vietnam vets to be about as diverse politically as any other [Bleg: have their been surveys on their political attitudes?]. Even on the war itself, attitudes differ dramatically.
But most of all, what bothers me is the willful abdication on the importance of ideas. It's as if Kerry's voting record and speeches are entirely beside the point, as if what a candidate has done out of uniform matters not a whit compared to what he once did in uniform. This is man-on-a-white-horse thinking and considering how much the left pretends to reject such views, the hypocrisy is offensive...and a bit scary.
Posted at 10:27 AM
TIME'S 100 [Meghan Keane]
I don't mean to start questionng the choices for TIME's 100 Most Influential People list. But are the subtitles supposed to be satirical? Here are my favorites:
Condi Rice: The Power of Proximity
Kofi Annan: Problem Solver
Kim Jong Il: Self-Confidence With Nukes
Hu Jintao: The Common Touch
Sandra Day O'Connor: Good Sense, Swing Vote
Nicole Kidman: Acting's Adventurer
Sandra Day O'Connor: Good Sense, Swing Vote
Al-Jazeera: TV as a Powerful Wind of Change
Posted at 10:00 AM
CATCH THE SPIRIT [KJL]
"Jonah's Military Guy" has updates on the "Spirit of America," Marine-TV blogdrive.
Posted at 09:52 AM
UNDERCOVERED STORY [Jonah Goldberg]
I just got back from my regular Friday morning CNN gig. For my undercover story I went with this. I am at a loss as to why the killing of two American peacekeepers by other peacekeepers hasn't been a much bigger story.
Posted at 09:38 AM
AM CASKETS [Tim Graham]
NBC's "Today" devoted an interview segment this morning on the Dover caskets issue, with conservative Sen. Lindsey Graham (what? and break the Only Hagel and McCain Rule?) and ultraliberal Rep. Jim McDermott. Graham stuck narrowly to the issue that the families are distraught enough without seeing their loved one's casket become a propaganda vehicle, and without feeling the pressure to travel to Delaware instead of waiting at home. Katie asked McDermott how much these pictures affected the Vietnam War. She did not ask: why would any American be eager to transform this war into another Vietnam?
"Today" hasn't found the time for an interview segment about John Kerry's mysterious first Purple Heart, at least as mysterious as Bush's service records, an obsession for two weeks in February.
Posted at 09:22 AM
CASKET CASE [Tim Graham]
Both ABC and NBC led the nightly news last night with the Internet release of photos of the flag-draped caskets at Dover Air Force Base. "LEADING the news?!" said my colleague Rich Noyes. They both mentioned the casket picture in the Seattle Times, and how the contractor who snapped it was fired.
Journalists love to highlight how the policy seems designed to prevent political damage. But they never highlight how easily they believe in using them to infliect political damage. Casket pictures don't advance the news story -- the Department of Defense doesn't claim that no one is dying in Iraq. It doesn't leave the dead anonymous. Casket pictures are one way the media manipulate with images. The networks last night did not note how TV elites used to highlight these images. I still remember CNN covering a Bush Uno press conference with a two-shot of caskets at Dover AFB. Don't tell me they weren't making a little live political commercial.
Posted at 08:46 AM
KERRY GETS PERMISSION TO DRIVE THE FAMILY SUV [KJL]
Posted at 08:45 AM
WOOPS [Jonah Goldberg ]
The Kerry campaign flubs a big one. From the Boston Globe:
WASHINGTON -- Vietnam combat records posted on John F. Kerry's campaign website for the month of January 1969 as evidence of his service aboard swift boat No. 94 describe action that occurred before Kerry was skipper of that craft, according to the officer who said he commanded the boat at the time. ADVERTISEMENT
Posted at 06:49 AM
SPECTRE OVER SPECTER [Jonah Goldberg ]
He's not getting it done.
Posted at 06:44 AM
I WILL GO TO TURTLE BAY [Jonah Goldberg ]
Krauthammer shoots! He scores!
Posted at 06:32 AM
"SPECTER FATIGUE" [John J. Miller]
A pollster in today's NYT says voters are growing weary of old Arlen. Here's the full story.
Posted at 06:21 AM
THE LONGEST TIME [Jonathan H. Adler]
President Bush nominated Terrence boyle to the U.S. Court of Appeals in May 2001. Yet there still has been no hearing on his nominatiuon because Senator Edwards refuses to return his blue slip, as Howard Bashman notes (from his new digs, no less). Were three years not long enough for Boyle to wait, consider that he was first nominated to the Fourth Circuit by President George H.W. Bush over 11 years ago.
Posted at 05:39 AM
TIMES ON TERESA'S TAXES [Jonathan H. Adler]
Even the NY Times wants Teresa Heinz Kerry to disclose her tax returns.
Posted at 01:20 AM
Thursday, April 22, 2004
WEISBERGISM OF THE DAY [Jonathan H. Adler]
Is this a new feature at the Volokh Conspiracy?
Posted at 08:51 PM
MOUSSAOUI TRIAL TO PROCEED [Jonathan H. Adler]
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled the federal government's prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui may proceed, AP reports. At the same time, however, the Court rejected the government's refusal to allow Moussaoui access to captured Al Qaeda operatives in federal hands. Howard Bashman has more.
Posted at 08:25 PM
MEKONG, MISSISSIPPI, WHAT'S THE DIFF? [Rod Dreher]
John Kerry, campaigning down in the great state of Louisiana (peace be upon it), took one look at the marshes and thought of -- wait for it -- Vietnam! From Reuters:
Standing at the bow of a 25-foot power craft called "Fishing Magician" inspecting coastal erosion in southern Louisiana reminded Kerry of his days as commander of a Navy "swift" boat 35 years ago.We know politicians are self-aggrandizing panderers, but this just takes the cake. However, I will say that deep southern Louisiana has, in fact, attracted a large number of Vietnamese immigrant fishermen, who came to live there precisely because it reminded them of back home. So Kerry's not entirely off the mark. Except you know he had that remark ready to go before he landed in New Orleans.
Posted at 06:12 PM
SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY [Tim Graham]
I've heard repeatedly from friends a sense of outrage that the very broadly ideological National Education Association will be sponsoring the abortion-loving "National March for Women's Lives" on Sunday in Washington. Surely someone by now had to observe that this might be the NEA's natural way of limiting class sizes?
Posted at 06:05 PM
VOUCHERS IMPROVE PUBLIC SCHOOLS [Jonathan H. Adler]
This is the conclusion of a new study Harry Brighouse blogs about here. While proponents often stress that vouchers will enable children to attend better-performing schools, these results should not be surprising. Insofar as one believes that it is market competition, more than the private or public nature of a given entitity, which leads to improved performance, one would expect that exposing public schools to competition, would improve public school performance.
Posted at 05:53 PM
GOOGLE BOMBED [Jonah Goldberg ]
Posted at 05:27 PM
RE: BLACK SQUIRRELS [Jonah Goldberg]
Re: that story Cosmo linked to, we have a particular problem with black squirrels, or rather a particular black squirrel. It's the only critter which has figured out how to access our bird feeder. We refer to him as "El Squirrelo Negro" though I just looked up the Spanish which seems to be "La Ardilla Negra." Either way, he is a formidible enemy. That black squirrel is my dog's white whale.
Posted at 05:06 PM
TERESA'S TAXES [Jonathan H. Adler]
Teresa Heinz Kerry still refuses to release her tax returns, even though her husband has relied extensively on her wealth to promote his political career and presidential campaign. This past Sunday, on Meet the Press, Kerry said he disclosed his tax returns because it is legally required, while there is no such mandate for spousal disclosure. Yet, as Bob Novak reports, there is no such legal requirement for candidates to disclose their tax returns. In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro's husband initially refused to release his tax returns, but then reversed himself due to the public outcry. Can we expect Teresa to do the same?
Posted at 04:55 PM
SAY GOODBYE TO THURSDAY [Jonah Goldberg ]
A major resource of goofy stuff about that TV show we're not supposed to discuss. Note: the "lost gay episode" is particularly disturbing.
Posted at 04:45 PM
ANALOGY FAILURE [Jonah Goldberg ]
From a Jerusalem Post story on Farouk Kaddoumi, the PLO's hard-line "foreign minister":
Commenting on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, Kaddoumi said: "If Israel wants to leave the Gaza Strip, then it should do so. This means that the Palestinian resistance has forced it to leave. But the resistance will continue. Let the Gaza Strip be South Vietnam. We will use all available methods to liberate North Vietnam."
Posted at 04:43 PM
LIBRARIANS LIKE ME? [Jonah Goldberg]
Let's not make too much of a habit of this sort of thing, this isn't a personals page. But he asked so nicely:
I'm a new library school graduate. I am very surprised that Corner reading librarians are in abundance given my experience in school and at national conferences. I've looked for some type of conservative librarian listserv, but the one that did exist is no longer active. Would you be able to post this email address? Librarians are generous when it comes to knowledge and resource sharing, and I'd like to trade business cards, so to speak. This might be a bit corny but I have been rather disappointed with the lack diversity in the field. email@example.com
Posted at 04:32 PM
IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD [Cosmo]
What's next, letting cats drive?
Posted at 04:26 PM
A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH [Jonah Goldberg]
A reader forwarded me an email from Ted Kennedy's office announcing two job openings. Here's position #2:
2) Driver for Senator Kennedy: Responsibilities will include driving, advance for events, and general administrative assistance. It is important that this individual be mature, well-organized, flexible, proactive, and hardworking. We are looking for someone who has a good head on theirs shoulders, is able to multi-task, has good interpersonal skills, and an interest in Government.
Posted at 02:57 PM
BLEGGING [Jim Robbins]
I am writing about Henry Heth, Confederate General who had served on the plains who in the 1850s. He was a friend of Kiowa chief Tohausen. According to Heth's memoirs, he was given the name "Yo-ba-me-atz" (as he related it). Does anyone know what this means, or how I can find out? There aren't many Kiowa speakers left, but hopefully many of them read NRO. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Posted at 02:22 PM
"A FINGERNAIL SCRATCH" [John J. Miller]
That's how John Kerry's commanding officer in Vietnam described the wound for which the future presidential candidate received his first Purple Heart, according to the Boston Globe.
Posted at 01:59 PM
RE: KERRY AND CATHOLICISM [Peter Robinson]
In the matter of withholding communion from Kerry and other pro-choice Catholic politicians, Ramesh, you write: "If my reasoning is correct, this is not a discretionary matter for the bishops." You argue here that bishops have no moral choice other than to withhold communion from Kerry and others, a persuasive assertion. But to avoid confusing our readers, particularly non-Catholic readers, it is worth noting that as a legal matter--that is, as a matter of canon law--withholding communion from pro-choice politicians is indeed a discretionary matter for the bishops.
What this means, of course, is that the Vatican cannot simply crack down, issuing a diktat to Cardinal McCarrick and the dozens of other American bishops who are proving so squeamish in this matter. Instead,the Vatican--and, for that matter, concerned laymen--must attempt to use moral suasion on the bishops, forcing them to confront their own negligence. Jody Bottum's article reresents a nice example of such suasion, as does your posting. As does a column Pat Buchanan wrote the other day. (Wrong about a lot these days, Pat is nevertheless exactly right about the bishops.) "Rather than act as a pride of lions defending Catholic truth," Pat wrote, "[the bishops] have, with rare exceptions, behaved like a rabbit warren."
Posted at 01:38 PM
KERRY AND CATHOLICISM [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Joseph Bottum has an article in the Standard on the subject. This seems as good a time as any to respond to the couple of emails I got taking issue with, or asking me to clarify, my remark the other day that "I think that Catholic bishops are probably obligated to withhold communion from pro-abortion politicians (after first talking with them privately)."
I think two things have often been lost in the discussion about that idea. First: The withholding of communion should be seen not as a punishment so much as an act of charity. The Catholic church teaches that the act of denying justice to the unborn (by voting for abortion) is a grave sin. The politician who persists in it is endangering his soul. To encourage him to mend his ways is to do him a favor, albeit one that he will understandably not recognize as such. Second: The church cannot fail to offer this charity. If my reasoning is correct, this is not a discretionary matter for the bishops. Thus: Even if the bishops knew to a certainty that withholding communion from Kerry would generate a backlash that helped him, and the Bush campaign were pleading with them not to do it, they would, if I am right, still have to do it for Kerry's sake.
Posted at 12:50 PM
OFF TO ST. PAUL [RICH LOWRY]
Posted at 11:55 AM
HURRAH FOR HUNTINGTON [Rich Lowry]
His new book, Who Are We?, is marvelous—a brave and necessary book. I’m writing a column on it.
Posted at 11:51 AM
AN AMENDMENT TO THAT [Ramesh Ponnuru]
A friend emails to mention that higher productivity will make the rest of the budget outlook better even if it leaves Social Security and Medicare unchanged. So the size of the budget cuts or tax hikes needed to bring the whole budget into balance would be lower.
Posted at 11:46 AM
SOCIAL SECURITY, PRODUCTIVITY, FERTILITY [Ramesh Ponnuru]
People concentrate too much on the fiscal side of the Social Security problem. But it's worth noting that higher productivity won't solve it. If higher productivity translates into higher wages, then it means higher benefits paid out of the program as well as higher revenues paid in. (Benefits are tied to wages.) So the problem is just pushed into the future. Bringing in more immigrants, or having more babies, similarly pushes the problem into the future. The structural imbalance between payout and pay-in rates remains the same.
To the extent that Social Security allows people to free-ride on other people's having children, I would favor payroll-tax cuts based on the number of kids people have. But there is no substitute for cutting future benefit levels. (Ideally, this would be coupled with private accounts.)
Posted at 11:32 AM
RUMMY [Jonah Goldberg]
No, that's not the giant rubber stamp label on my high school permanent record. I'm going to go to a lunch today at the ASNE convention where he'll be the speaker. I'm planning on asking a lot of questions with faulty assumptions and iffy facts. I know how much he loves that sort of thing.
Posted at 11:22 AM
NOW THAT I'D LIKE TO HEAR [Tim Graham]
Washington Post music critic Shannon Zimmerman reviews the latest CD from British alt-country leftist Jon Langford. One song she cites: "'The Country Is Young,'" a lovely country-folk ballad, likens America to a fat, selfish baby without once seeming condescending." That sounds like quite an achievement. She also sums the effort us as an "affectionate critique" of America. I always show my friends affection by calling them a fat, selfish baby...
Posted at 11:16 AM
RE: PRODUCTIVITY [Mark Krikorian ]
I don't want to get into an immigration/Social Security discussion just now, but Wattenberg's fellow AEI-nik, Nick Eberstadt, addressed the issue of aging population and productivity at some length in the previous issue of Policy Review. He was talking about it in the context of Japan vs. China, saying that the aging of the population caused by lower birthrates is something Japan, with its high-productivity economy, will be able to adjust to (with certain aches and pains along the way), but that China is headed for some deep trouble. As he put it: "To put the matter bluntly, Japan became rich before it became old; China will do things the other way around."
Posted at 11:14 AM
SELF-DEPORTATION [Mark Krikorian ]
The head of Israel's Immigration Police told the Knesset this week that nearly 100,000 illegal aliens had left the country during an 18-month deportation effort. Interestingly, only a third of them were formally deported, while the rest "left of their own accord." This is what happens when the governments decide to start actually enforcing immigration law: some people are arrested and thrown out, but many more get the message that it's time to go, and deport themselves. If only our own immigration police had the same political support as their counterparts in Israel.
Posted at 11:10 AM
ENVIROS AGAINST BORDER CONTROL [Mark Krikorian ]
In the wake of a big USA Today story earlier this week about environmentalists opposing expansion of the fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, comes news from yesterday's Ha'aretz that Israeli greens are trying to stop that country's equivalent effort. A letter from one of the plaintiffs in a court case against the route of Israel's security fence says, "Neither weasel nor mouse, let alone a deer, can get through." Well, that's the point!
Posted at 11:09 AM
FOR THE MARINES [Rich Lowry]
A group of bloggers (myself included) is having a pledge drive this week, in an effort to raise money for the Marines in Iraq via Spirit of America. A mention in the corner could go a long way towards what is inevitably a valuable contribution to the war effort. Thank you. This link is the relevant donation page.”
Posted at 11:03 AM
HAPPY EARTH DAY [Steve Hayward]
Happy Earth Day everyone. It's also Lenin's birthday, which may not be entirely coincidental. Confirmation that the charges against Bush are bogus comes today from, who else, the National Council of Churches, which has issued an attack on Bush's changes to New Source Review. (Please at least try to stifle a yawn.) I won't bother to link to the NCC; their website requires registration, believe it or not.
Meanwhile, Kerry is going around this week giving specific body counts of people dying because of Bush's neglect of the environment, based of course on recycled junk science. You'd think Kerry would have learned his lesson about bogus body counts in that place he once fought . . . where was that again? I keep forgetting.
Posted at 10:53 AM
MORE RE: SULLIVAN & SCANDINAVIA [Stanley Kurtz]
One quick further note about Sullivan and Scandinavia–more detail next week. Sullivan denies the link between high Scandinavian out-of-wedlock birthrates and high rates of family dissolution. This is just wrong. One of the most widely accepted facts in comparative family sociology is the higher breakup rate of cohabiting parents–two to three times higher than among married couples. This is emphatically the case even when we are not talking about teen single mothers but about middle class couples who are together, yet unmarried, at the time of their child’s birth. This fact is widely accepted both by radical sociologists who would like to see marriage replaced by cohabitation, and by more conservative scholars who think the Scandinavian trends are deeply disturbing. And the link between parental cohabitation and family dissolution has been shown by numerous observers to apply to Scandinavia just as much as to the rest of the West.
Posted at 10:50 AM
SULLIVAN & SCANDINAVIA [Stanley Kurtz]
I’m too busy preparing for my testimony before the House Judiciary Committee (Constitution Subcommittee) today to respond to Andrew Sullivan’s entries on Scandinavia in detail. I’ll do that next week, probably on Monday. My brief comment is that there is nothing in what Sullivan says that I haven’t already covered in my Scandinavia article. Sullivan is just trying to spin the sad facts of Scandinavian marriage his way. I’ll show on Monday why that won’t work. At any rate, I’m delighted to see at least an attempt to come to grips with the reality of the effects of gay marriage on marriage in Europe. The real effects of gay marriage in Europe ought to be at the core of the debate over gay marriage. Up to now, Sullivan and others have tried to avoid that fact by acting as though Scandinavian registered partnerships had no relevance to the gay marriage question. Now it’s clear that this strategy will no longer fly. In any case, today I will testify about the Netherlands, which has full and formal gay marriage. And in the Netherlands, the effects of gay marriage on marriage itself are much easier to separate out from other causes than they are in Scandinavia. (Although the Scandinavian effect is separable nonetheless.) I’ll be making my case on the Netherlands in detail in an upcoming article. But my oral–and especially my written–testimony will convey at least the core of the argument. I will also be presenting a chart of interest during my testimony. In any case, there’s much more to come on all this.
Posted at 10:49 AM
MYSTERY SOLVED [Jonah Goldberg ]
From a reader:
Posted at 10:31 AM
WHADDYA GONNA DO? [Jonah Goldberg]
The imperialistic, capitalistic Christian Crusaders and their Jewish overlords have made video games that are so good Arab kids can't avoid playing them even though they're racist:
Cairo - Glued to computer screens in a Cairo cybercafe, Egyptian teenagers lead United States forces against China and a shadowy Middle Eastern group, while most of the country seethes in anger against US policy in the region.
Posted at 10:29 AM
WHERE IS AL GORE? [John J. Miller]
Global warming--on Jupiter (at least at the equator).
Posted at 10:26 AM
TWO ONE-HANDED ECONOMISTS [Jonah Goldberg]
First from the gub'ment the second from the private sector:
Posted at 10:20 AM
NOW THEY TELL THEM [Jonah Goldberg ]
In the wake of the Saudi car bombings, Saudi Arabia's top cleric declares that suicide bombers -- who kill Muslims, of course -- will "burn in hell."
Posted at 10:11 AM
PRODUCTIVITY [Jonah Goldberg]
From a Hill-wonk:
Jonah, your analysis on whether or not rising productivity will mitigate the problem of lower birth rates is a bit off. As far as output is concerned – you are completely correct. We can make more with less when productivity increases. With regard to Social Security, however, it’s a problem because the gross amount of taxes paid into Social Security are affected more by the quantity of workers than the quantity of output. At the moment, the cap on payroll taxes prevents the exploitation of the highly compensated (and I don’t think raising taxes is really the best way to face the demographic and fiscal challenges posed by Social Security). While it is unequivocally true that productivity in the long-run increases wages and standard of living, the demographic problem with Social Security independent of productivity is that we just won’t have enough workers paying taxes to support the vast number of retirees drawing money from the system. Outsized increases in productivity may actually serve to exacerbate the problem. This is not to say that productivity is bad – it’s not. It’s the primary means by which we increase our wages and standard of living while keeping inflation low. If anything, it’s yet another reason why Social Security needs to be modernized in the very near future so that we can avoid this kind of fiscal calamity.
Posted at 10:03 AM
MULCH FIGHT [John J. Miller]
Derb: The wife of a Democratic senator has been charged with assault following a mulch-related dispute at a Washington-area garden center. But not Home Depot. I am not making this up.
Posted at 10:01 AM
PRODUCTIVITY AND FERTILITY [Jonah Goldberg]
Emails are piling in. Let me clarify one thing. I wasn't proposing, even hypothetically, that only a handful of people work and the rest of us spend our time around the pool (or reading the Corner). No, what I guess I'm getting at it is this: Couldn't you have a system extending pretty much the trends we're already seeing in which a huge proportion of the society are in service-area and artsy-fartsy jobs and a tiny number of "productive" workers do the same amount of work it took hundreds of people to do just a few generations ago. After all, a couple guys with tractors and combines do the work of hundreds of field hands today. Anyway, economics isn't my strong point but it just seems to me that if productivity keeps soaring that the old arguments about importing labor and/or increasing the birthrate change. That's what I'm really getting at (though I'd love to discuss the Nanobot Androids all day). Am I missing something on that point?
Posted at 09:52 AM
LIBRARIANS [Jonah Goldberg]
Lots and lots of active Corner readers are librarians (draw your own conclusion about what that says about their workload). We welcome and appreciate them. Nonetheless, I do like this email:
Hi Jonah. As a professional librarian, in both the corporate and the academic world, for over 17 years I think I can provide you with some insight into why librarians are so sensitive about their image.
Posted at 09:46 AM
QUOTE OF THE DAY [Jonah Goldberg ]
Andrew Sullivan's got a doozy.
Posted at 09:35 AM
CALL HIM NICKY GREENPEACE [Jonah Goldberg ]
Nick Schulz of TechCentralStation and Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, have an op-ed together.
Posted at 09:31 AM
RE: WHO CARES!? [Jonah Goldberg ]
I've gotten a lot of email from folks dissecting that silly screed about the Patriot Act I linked to yesterday in this post. I thought I was making it clear that I tought there were all sorts of other things wrong with the op-ed other than the thing about libraries, I just was too tired to get into all of it. Anyway, lots of folks have done my work for me. I particularly like this one:
Posted at 09:25 AM
TOO-MENTUM! [Jonah Goldberg ]
He's still behind, but looking good.
Posted at 09:17 AM
ECONOMISTS NEEDED: PRODUCTIVITY & FERTILITY [Jonah Goldberg]
It seems that the issue I spent so much time boning up on at the begining of my "career" in Washington is moving back on the radar: Population trends. I used to work for Ben Wattenberg, author of the Birth Dearth and other controversial demographic polemics, and he would make me read about Total Fertility Rates in the Third World and everywhere else all day. Anyway, the other night I saw a scare-mongering documentary on Nova about population trends around the world and then yesterday I listened on NPR to an author from the New America Foundation talking about his book on the problems of declining birthrates here in the US. Plus the issue comes up more and more in the immigration and Social Security debates.
To sum it up, Americans -- like everyone else in the industrialized world -- are having too few babies. If, by "too few" you mean not enough babies to replenish the workforce going into entitlement-rich retirement. Not enough workers at the bottom of the system means not enough taxpayers to generate Social Security checks. In America we offset this problem to a certain extent with immigration. We import young workers to make up for the ones we don't manufacture at home.
Anyway, suddenly, some liberals are becoming pronatalists (i.e. someone who favors policy supporting higher birthrates) when a little more than a decade ago they were saying folks like Wattenberg were right out of the Handmaid's Tale. That's cool.
But here's my question and it is entirely theoretical (for I am still very much a pronatalist): Don't the unprecedented increases in productivity mitigate the pronatalist argument somewhat? In theory couldn't we make a comparatively small handfull of workers (or, heh, nanobot androids) so productive that we wouldn't need that many more workers? Is there anything in the realm of pure economic theory which says that a very large society couldn't simply exploit the highly productive (and therefore highly compensated) labor of a relatively small few? Or am I missing something having been absent from this issue for so long?
Posted at 09:13 AM
FRASIER FOR PRESIDENT [KJL]
Dorothy Rabinowitz has a delightful interview with Kelsey Grammer in the Journal today.
Posted at 09:01 AM
VIRGINIA IS FOR TAXERS [John J. Miller]
NR's Meghan Keane scores a two-fer this week against tax-raising Republicans in Virginia: Her articles on NRO and on the American Spectator website are well worth reading.
Posted at 08:14 AM
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
ANOTHER RHYMING CHALLENGE FOR DERB [Peter Robinson ]
(Don't blame me. It's one of the couple of thousand words I've learned by reading WFB.)
Posted at 11:09 PM
A LITTLE HISTORY AFTER HOURS [Peter Robinson ]
In a posting the other day entitled “God Still Loves the Big Battalions,” I put up an email in which a reader described a vast operation that had been carried out by American troops in postwar Germany. (The troops, my correspondent said, had swept through Frankfurt, collecting illegal weapons and rounding up bad guys. His point? That if we had more troops on the ground in Iraq, they’d be able to carry out similar sweeps of such places as Falluja and Basra.) Intrigued, another reader went to the history books.
Herewith an email from this second reader, which nails down the facts very smartly:
I was intrigued by this idea of half a million soldiers doing house-to-house searches in Frankfurt. What I found was that it was not limited to Frankfurt, that it was called "Operation TALLYHO", and that it occurred on the weekend of 21 July 1945.“The serious intention of the American troops.” Here’s to hoping that by this time next week certain miscreants in Iraq will have been likewise impressed.
Posted at 11:07 PM
RR & NEOCONS [Peter Robinson ]
What a high pleasure, Jonah, to see you execute historical justice in your posting below. As you write:
It was Reagan who re-moralized American foreign policy after years of Nixonian detente and it's simply not accurate to say that Reagan did so solely or even primarily as a mouthpiece for the neocons.Not only inaccurate, but demonstrably absurd, as anyone who reads Reagan’s speech on behalf of Goldwater’s presidential candidacy will recognize. The date of that famous speech was 1964, long before any of the neocons had emerged.
The founders of the neoconservative movement, Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, are redoubtable men—brilliant intellectuals, skilled and prolific writers, patriots. But the suggestion, which has appeared here and there in recent appreciations of their work, that they somehow handed Ronald Reagan his platform—that before they came along Reagan had nothing but good political instincts and a genial personality—is flatly ahistorical.
Posted at 10:52 PM
IRAQ, VIETNAM & HITCH [Peter Robinson ]
Christopher Hitchens pitches another gorgeous polemical fastball:
Here is how the imperialist plot in Iraq was proceeding until recently. The Shiite Muslim pilgrimages to Najaf and Karbala and the Sunni pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina had been recommenced after a state ban that had lasted for years and been enforced in blood. A new dinar had been minted, without the face of the dictator, and was on its way to becoming convertible. (Indeed, recent heists at the Beirut and Baghdad airports suggested that the Iraqi currency was at last worth stealing.) The deliberately parched and scorched wetlands of the south were being re-flooded. At the end of June, the American headquarters was to be converted into an embassy. At that point, almost $100 billion was to become available for the reconstitution of the Iraqi state and society. By the end of the year, campaigning would be under way for the first open election in Iraqi memory, and the only such election in the region (unless you count Israel)….To read it all, click here.
Posted at 10:51 PM
MICHAEL JACKSON'S BEEN INDICTED [KJL]
Certainly feels long overdue
Posted at 10:02 PM
P.S. [Jonah Goldberg]
I do hope no one thinks it too inappropriate that I pass on tidbits from pops. If it helps, it's not like I post all of them.
Posted at 08:36 PM
ORANGE [Jonah Goldberg]
Derb - Please take this in the spirit it was meant. From Poppa Goldberg:
Posted at 08:34 PM
RE: FROM YAO TO MAO [John Derbyshire]
The voice of hoi polloi: "Derb--Do you live under a rock? You mention Yao to a bunch of Americans and expect them to think of an Emperor from the mythical period? Every American knows Yao is Yao Ming, the all-star center for the Houston Rockets. He's on TV every night in the NBA Playoffs, Gatorade commercials, and Visa commercials. If I see a course entitled 'From Yao to Mao' I'm thinking it covers the period from that little midget bastard ChiCom to the 'Great Wall of China' Yao Ming. Of course, I'm an idiot, so my interpretation means nothing."
Thanks; but what, pray, is "NBA"?
(We are all idiots, sir; just about different things.)
Posted at 05:17 PM
WHO CARES!?!? [Jonah Goldberg ]
I'm too tired to wade into or care about all of this, but I love this part:
Under Sections 126, 128, 129, 321 and 322 of the Patriot Act, the government can search credit records, library records and homes of suspected terrorists or, as the Bush administration says, “enemy combatants” without obtaining a warrant. Someone someday is going to check your library records, people, so I suggest you be careful. [Emphasis mine]Me: Let's just stipulate that all of this is true, why do people think that their library records constitute the holy of holies of privacy? Personally, I'd be much more bummed if the state searched my home or my credit card purchases than my library transactions.
What is so sacred about libraries? What, aside from access to internet porn, is so sensitive that critics of the Patriot Act single out libraries above all other things? Seriously, what's the worst case scenario? I mean even if you took out the most radically subversive tracts in history, no one would care. And for most of us it'd be funny, not scary. Dear God! The G-Men know I'm reading back issues of Cracked and Omni!
Posted at 05:07 PM
TAX EQUITY [Ramesh Ponnuru]
David Cay Johnston's latest attack on Bush's tax cuts is one of his weirdest. Supposedly the tax code now violates principles of "horizontal equity" (similarly situated people should pay the same rate) and "vertical equity" (people with a greater ability to pay should pay more) that were valued by the citizens of Athens, John Locke, Adam Smith, and even the Cato Institute.
Johnston uses the Bush and Cheney tax returns to illustrate the supposed problem. The Cheneys had more than twice the income of the Bushes but paid about the same in taxes. The Cheneys paid a lower tax rate than most people in their income range. Much of the difference, as Johnston acknowledges, has to do with the taxation of dividends. But a reduction in the double taxation of dividends is compatible with both horizontal and vertical equity; it just changes the definition of that equity. To make the point as simply as possible: If all the dividends were taxed at the individual level and left untaxed at the corporate level, Johnston's "problem" would go away--yet nothing substantial would have changed.
It all depends on definitions of terms such as "income"--and "equity." Here's Johnston: "The Bush and Cheney returns also show the collapse of vertical equity, under which one's tax burden rises with income and which the libertarian Cato Institute calls a 'bedrock American principle.'" I googled "cato institute 'bedrock american principle'" and got an article that does indeed suggest that at least one Cato policy analyst is against something he calls "vertical inequality." But this analyst means something quite different from what Johnston means. He fairly clearly is suggesting that it is unfair to tax someone at a higher rate just because he makes more money. That's not quite what Johnston has in mind.
Posted at 04:26 PM
RE: IMPOSSIBLE RHYMES [John Derbyshire]
"Purple"? Oh Lord.
Doctor said to policeman: "A burp'll,
If stifled, make you turn purple."
Replied cop: "Then you'll be
The same color I see
As, when held in a chokehold, a perp'll."
How many of these darn things are there?
Posted at 02:56 PM
FROM YAO TO MAO [John Derbyshire]
Since it had a full-page ad in NRODT, several readers have asked me my opinion of The Teaching Company's 36-lecture course on Chinese history, under the rather too-cute title "From Yao to Mao." (Yao was an emperor of the mythical period.) Well, I bought it and have started in on listening to it -- first two lectures so far. Hard to form much of a judgment at this point -- I have only just reached the Bronze Age. Prof. Hammond speaks well, with not too many irritating mannerisms, and seems to be in command of his material. He had nothing to say about the controversies surrounding Chinese archeology, but there is a case to be made for saying nothing in a course like this, and just giving the consensus opinion, so I won't mark him down for that. I'll report back when I'm deeper into the lectures.
Posted at 02:54 PM
LIBERTARIANS IN NAME ONLY [Meghan Keane]
More good stuff from The Onion:
Libertarian Reluctantly Calls Fire Department
Posted at 01:38 PM
IN THAT DEMOCRACY, IRAN [KJL]
Radio Free Europe:
Reporters Without Borders is expressing outrage over the treatment of ailing 75-year-old journalist Siamak Pourzand, who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2001. Pourzand, who is now in a Tehran hospital after suffering a heart attack, has reportedly been chained to his bed by authorities.Pourzand is the father of activist Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, who has written for NRO. Read the whole news on the latest.
Posted at 12:59 PM
QUID PRO QUO [Mark Krikorian]
QUID PRO QUO Honduras is following Spain's lead and pulling its troops out of Iraq. In light of this decision, it would seem appropriate to reassess our extension of "temporary protected status" for an estimated 87,000 Honduran illegal aliens in the United States. This status was originally granted because the damage to Honduras' infrastructure from Hurricane Mitch in 1998 was thought to be such that returning their illegals would present a hardship to the country. Well, their airports should be working again now, so it's time for the illegals to go home.
Posted at 12:54 PM
IMPOSSIBLE RHYMES [John Derbyshire]
"Silver"? No prob. (Though you need to fuse the last three words when saying them.)
When young, my hair not yet silver,
I dated a girl name of Jill. Ver-
mont's where we met;
She just wanted to pet,
But in Burlington I had my will of her.
Posted at 12:50 PM
DERB STARTS AVALANCHE [John Derbyshire]
Posted at 12:49 PM
HELP—THE ENVIRONMENT [Rich Lowry ]
One topic I’m going to have to address with Corn is the environment. I know almost nothing about it. If anyone can suggest good overviews in defense of the Bush record, I’d appreciate it. (I saw the David Brooks column the other day.) Thanks.
Posted at 12:41 PM
"FISKING" [Jonah Goldberg]
A reader writes:
Jonah, I fear you may be missing the point. "Fisking" would seem to mean simply a technique made by possible by the miracle of cut-n-paste. A "fisking" occurs when a text is copied and then responded to (yes, more often than not in a smarmy fashion, but let's let that pass) piece by piece. Thus when Sullivan says he "fisked" the N.R. editorial he doesn't mean he destroyed its arguments (though he may believe he has). Rather he is simply letting us know that he will be using this blog friendly method of response. He has copied the article and will be inserting his own comments in responce to lengthy quoted (cut-n-pasted) passages. CHUNK OF ORIGINAL TEXT. Comment. NEXT CHUNK OF ORIGINAL TEXT. Comment (most likely self-satisfied) And so on . . . Got it?
Me: Yes, I got it. But I'm afraid in the hot-house environment of the web, the original meaning has been overgrown by weeds. I was not referring to Sullivan's intent when I criticized the word, but to its new conotation.
Posted at 12:36 PM
ATTENTION MINNEAPOLIS-AREA CORNERITES [Rich Lowry]
Mmmm, beer and pizza. I just talked to Scott Johnson over at powerlineblog.com. We are planning to go somewhere for some cheap eats—probably at a local pizza place—after the debate in St. Paul tomorrow night. (It's me versus David Corn on the 2004 election at 7:30 p.m. at the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center at the University of St. Thomas.) Anyone interested is welcome to join me and Scott afterward for some conservative fellowship.
Posted at 12:35 PM
NEW BUSH AD [Rich Lowry]
Script for “Doublespeak”
Posted at 12:32 PM
POKE THE BUNNY [Jonah Goldberg]
Go ahead, poke it.
Posted at 12:30 PM
MY KIND OF ADS [Jonah Goldberg ]
From the Onion.
Posted at 12:28 PM
MY TWO CENTS: DITTO [Jonah Goldberg]
I think Ramesh and Rich have done much better job than I could responding to Sullivan. I'd just like to add two points of agreement with Ramesh.
First, on the neocon thing. I know I've gotten too deep into this before, but Ramesh is exactly right. There's a double-spin on the history of conservative foreign policy which has been orchestrated in tandem by the leading neocons and by their liberal admirers. The idea that the mainstream conservative movement after 1945 was first and foremost "realist" or even isolationist in its orientation is largely myth. Many neocons, legend has it, had an annoying habit in the 1960s and 1970s of acting as if they "discovered" anti-Communism and that their ideological arguments were needed to provide the Right with backbone. This is nonsense. The neocons were more often less ideologically hawkish and more "realist" than the folks at National Review -- who were championing rollback, not containment. The real realists on the Right were in the Republican Party, not the conservative movement: Eisenhower, Nixon, Kissinger et al. The Goldwater-Reagan crowd criticized detente more passionately than even those idealistic neocons did. It was Reagan who re-moralized American foreign policy after years of Nixonian detent and it's simply not accurate to say that Reagan did so solely or even primarily as a mouthpiece for the neocons. The difference was and is that liberals tend to listen to the neocons more and hence conferred upon them a significance and aura of originality they did not deserve. This is just part of a long, long story of liberals trying -- and largely successfully -- to decide which conservatives are "legitimate" or "serious."
I get emails from bloggers telling me they've "fisked me" all the time and, putting aside the fact this sounds like something unpleasant in a prison shower, when I read what they wrote I usually just think they've criticized me in fairly unimpressive ways. Leave it to the readers to decide who's been "fisked." None of this is particularly directed at Sullivan, but he may not fully appreciate the degree to which the meaning of the word has changed.
Posted at 11:28 AM
DERB STARTS AVALANCHE [John Derbyshire]
Posted at 11:20 AM
POUND HALL--CORRECTED [John Derbyshire]
Innumerable readers has pointed out that Pound Hall at the University of Nebraska is named not for Ezra Pound but for Louise Pound (its full name being Louise Pound Hall), wife of Nathan Roscoe Pound and distinguished alumna herself. Here's a page about her.
One reader, henceforth my Nebraska Guy, adds: "Not sure about if she held any views comparable to those of Ezra Pound, although I'm told fellow famous Nebraska Willa Cather had a serious crush on Louise Pound while they both attended school here. I suppose Freud would read something into the fact that Cather and Pound Hall are connected but why go there?"
Posted at 11:18 AM
TREE HOUSE [John Derbyshire]
Tom. Tracey, Ben and Olivia alert me to the tree-house exhibit upcoming (end of May) at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. You can check out the designs here. Tom adds: "Be aware that the Morton Arboretum is very Political and Environmentally Correct but the tree houses are great to look at."
My own modest effort in this sphere now has the floor structure complete (last 2 pictures). I regard this as the end of Phase 1.
Next I need to figure out where to put an access trapdoor, make it, make a rope ladder, fix it, and lay down some floorboards. That will be phase 2.
Posted at 11:15 AM
IF HAROLD MEYERSON IS RIGHT [Ramesh Ponnuru]
--and a President Kerry will be unable to spend as much as he wants to spend because of Bush's deficits--doesn't that validate one of the central arguments for Bush's tax cuts? That (now widely ridiculed) argument held that the tax cut would, precisely, restrain spending--so we would end up with a $534 billion prescription-drug benefit instead of a $1 trillion one, for example.
Posted at 11:15 AM
RE: BOURGEOIS GENIUS [John Derbyshire]
From a pal in Denver: "Derb---Any discussion of this subject is incomplete without mentioning the greatest of the kind: philosopher, author, postmaster, physicist, diplomat, printer, satirist; self-help association, library, college, and fire brigade founder; this fellow also had something to do with getting a fledgling nation to adapt a bicameral legislature."
Posted at 11:12 AM
LYRICAL [John Derbyshire]
There comes a moment in every parent's life when his kids learn the thing about there being no rhyme for "orange." If the kids know that the parent is an amateur versifier, a challenge is then presented. I have risen to the challenge.
The Sierra Nevada's a snow range.
When the sun's way down low it glows o-range.
At sunset or sunrise
It's a treat for the eyes;
Other times it's a dull status quo range.
Posted at 11:11 AM
MORE ANTI-“FISKING” [KJL]
E-mail: “Maybe I am old, but I just don’t get the whole “fisking” thing. Sullivan seems to use it as a kind of battle cry/insult that shows that he has completely destroyed the object of his criticism; however, I find that I am usually am left unsatisfied after reading someone’s self proclaimed fisking. This was the case with Sullivan’s NR fisking. It seems like false advertising to me.”
Posted at 11:08 AM
APPLEBAUM VS. POWELL [Ramesh Ponnuru]
She faults him for not going to Europe much before the war to make the case for the administration's policy. The obvious explanation for that failure is that Powell didn't want to sell a policy in which he did not believe. I wonder if another factor was also at work: He may have felt he needed to stay in Washington to keep an eye on Rumsfeld.
Posted at 11:04 AM
MAKE THAT 1990 [Ramesh Ponnuru]
in the "our Iraq editorial" post. Sorry about that.
Posted at 10:59 AM
MY FRIEND DOUG KERN [Ramesh Ponnuru]
has a very nice short essay at TCS. It's a review, sort of, of Peter Singer's new book.
Posted at 10:30 AM
OUR EDITORIAL ON IRAQ [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Just a few points to add to those Rich has already made:
1) National Review came out for regime change in Iraq in the very first issue that appeared after the invasion of Kuwait--in 1991. Maybe "[t]he war to depose Saddam was always an unlikely war for conservatives," for the reasons Sullivan gives, but that is never the way it has looked to my supposedly Tory colleagues.
2) Sullivan makes a distinction between a "blind realism" that doesn't see the strategic advantage of transforming the political culture of the Middle East and a better realism that does. He puts NR in the camp of the blind--immediately after quoting a paragraph from our editorial that takes his visionary view! (NR: "And forging a non-fascist, non-radical, non-hostile government in Iraq could affect the entire region's geopolitics for the better.")
3) Neoconservatives are constantly claiming to have added to conservative foreign-policy thought a recognition that ideology matters; Sullivan seems to buy this assertion. I don't. Conservatives didn't need to wait for Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz to see that the Soviet Union's communism mattered. Certainly NR was never blindly realist in the 1950s and 1960s.
4) This is just a general complaint about the blogosphere, not a specific criticism of Sullivan's piece: Of all of blogdom's self-congratulatory tropes, the term "fisking" is easily the most annoying. As far as I can tell, all it means is "criticizing with an unjustified air of having crushed the other side." More than half the time I read Person A's "fisking" of Person B, I leave thinking that Person B has the better side of the dispute--and many times I leave thinking Person A lacks basic reading-comprehension skills. Please, everyone, drop it.
Posted at 10:18 AM
MY MARRIAGE NEWS [Stanley Kurtz]
I have been invited to testify before the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing on “Legal Threats to Traditional Marriage.” The hearing will be held tomorrow, Thursday, April 22, at 2:00 p.m., and will be chaired by Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio). My testimony will preview my upcoming project–an account of the fate of marriage in the Netherlands in the wake of the successful decade-long campaign there for gay marriage. In my testimony–and soon in a more detailed follow-up publication–I will show that gay marriage has undermined marriage in the Netherlands. This is notable for two reasons. First, the situation of the family in the Netherlands makes it possible to isolate the causal effects of gay marriage with particular clarity. Second, in the Netherlands we now have full and formal same-sex marriage, rather than simply marriage-like registered partnerships. The full version of my case, which I will publish in the not too distant future, will add considerable evidence and argument to the relatively brief account of the situation in the Netherlands that I will offer in my testimony. Yet my oral–and especially my written–testimony will convey the broad outlines of my soon to be published case. The hearing will be webcast live here. And afterwards a record of the webcast and of the written testimony should be available here.
Posted at 09:11 AM
NO, NO [Cosmo ]
For best taste , shake vigorously and leave in driveway.
Posted at 09:06 AM
NO, NO [Cosmo ]
For best taste , shake vigorously and leave in driveway.
Posted at 09:05 AM
READING READERS [Stanley Kurtz]
At his blog Sandstorm, Martin Kramer has just published the surprising results of his reader survey on what to do about federal funding for Middle East Studies (i.e. Title VI). Then Kramer rightly draws the lesson. This is definitely worth a look.
Posted at 09:03 AM
A REAL TIMEWASTER [Jonah Goldberg ]
Seriously, this game is a waste of your time. Do not play it.
Posted at 09:00 AM
SADDAM BRIBED U.N. [KJL]
More on the Oil-for-Food scandal.
Posted at 08:06 AM
RUSH VS. WOODWARD [KJL]
Posted at 07:13 AM
WISHING HIM A DIGNIFIED DEFEAT [Jonah Goldberg]
The United States has had no better friend than Tony Blair over the last few years, which is actually different from saying we've had no better friend than Britain. Yes, the British -- as always -- have been our go-to guys, our wingmen, our hombres, but were it not for Blair it's not clear that the British would have gotten our backs on this one.
Nevertheless, Blair is staking his job on a new EU referendum. And, if the choice is between the abolition of Britain and the abolition of Blair's tenure then I think I'm going to have to hope for the latter.
Posted at 06:53 AM
ALL-AROUND KUDOS [KJL]
Hugh Hewitt--whose show I do every Tuesday at 6:20 pm EST--has a consistently clever, funny, insightful show. there's a list of stations here, and you can, of course, listen online daily.
Posted at 05:43 AM
AT LEAST 68 DEAD [KJL]
in a Basra bombing.
Posted at 05:34 AM
HA, JONAH! [KJL]
First post of the day is MINE. I know you wanted it. Could feel it in the air.
Besides I had to do something, since I can't read Rick's post.
Posted at 12:21 AM
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
"DEFINING GOD" [Jonah Goldberg]
A few emails on the whole defining God thing. The last emailer makes a good point about the word "creature" but then again that's the point of the dilemma, you don't know whether the "being" is a creature or the Creator. For the record, I agree that God defines you and not the other way around. The problem of course is coming up with a definition for That Which Defines Us. Some people and some religions can give themselves over to the mystery, contenting themselves with the un-definability of God. But even they must come up with some way of understanding what they don't understand, if you understand what I'm saying and by that point we are way deep into semantics.
Hey, it's late. Anyway, I am not looking to launch a big philosophical comparative religion debate here, in part simply because I won't be around much tomorrow to read the email, I'm not particularly qualified, and this Euthrypo thing has gone on long enough. Anyway, the emails:
Posted at 11:20 PM
IX-NAY ON THE ELSEA-CHAY [Tim Graham]
It's bad enough to have to watch Hillary plug the new paperback edition with Larry King. ("Cleveland, hello, you're kissing Hillary Clinton's ring.") Did CNN have to follow-up with Rep. Jane Harman (Bill Bennett's dark horse for the veep spot) telling King how amazing Chelsea has turned out, what great parenting she received?
Repeat after me: it is unfair to declare the press off limits to this teenager/young adult for eight years and more, killing the chance of any critical articles a la Dubya's Tequila Twins, and then turn around and exclaim about her model (censored) behavior as a way of puffing her parents as wonderful people. If they were such wonderful parents, maybe they would have stayed in Arkansas, or skipped the intern Olympics.
Chelsea may be a doll. She may also be a drunk. (I bought the Globe -- the supermarket tabloid, not the Boston bulletin board for liberals -- with Chelsea looking quite kablooey on the cover, since it was a refreshing step away from the Model Child propaganda.) My distaste really has nothing to do with her, but about the manipulated image of her for her parents' never-ending political ends.
Posted at 11:17 PM
ACTUALLY...EUTHYPRO & TREK [Jonah Goldberg]
It occurrs to me that there were any number of Star Treks (original series) that touch on this very theme. I don't what I was thinking. There was the episode where they worship the false (computer) God Landru and there was the episode where all the blond Aryan types feed fruit to the giant dragon head. (Sorrry no links as I am working on the Missus' computer and it's too much of pain). I'm sure there are other episodes which don't immediately come to mind.
Posted at 11:09 PM
THOUGHTFUL, MODERATE EXTREMISTS [Tim Graham]
K-Lo, John O'Neill was very passionate, but the more amazing part was Kerry aide Michael Meehan spinning furiously right after him. Get a load of this paragraph:
"And John Kerry had seen a lot in his time over there, four years in the Navy. And he earned the right to come back and say, we've got to come and stop this war. And he did join the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. It was a group of thoughtful people, moderate people who wanted to end the war. It's people who have gone on to fight for Agent Orange relief, to go on and fight for veterans' benefits."
Yes, VVAW, a group chock full of thoughtful, moderate people who went on to debate assassinating U.S. Senators who favored the Vietnam War.
Posted at 10:55 PM
DON'T READ THIS, KJL [Rick Brookhiser]
Skip the Star Trek re-runs, Jonah, the answer was in the movie with the rogue New Age-y Vu---n in the final scene where Capt. K--k says to "God," "Why does God need my ship?"
Posted at 10:54 PM
USA TODAY EDITOR RESIGNS [Rod Dreher]
...over Jack Kelley scandal.
Posted at 10:50 PM
RE: POLITICS AND RCS [KJL]
I agre, Rod, and think that any Catholic who thinks that there's a real political--as in Novemeber--benefit to bishop reprimands, for Republicans, might find himself very disappointed.
Posted at 10:48 PM
RE: CATHOLICS AND REPUBLICANS [Rod Dreher]
This whole "Catholic vote" issue is pointless. There's no such thing as the Catholic vote; American Catholics vote like everybody else. I think the bishops should chastise pro-choice politicians for the good of the Church, not because I think it's going to do a bit of good in our politics. The kinds of Catholics who consider the bishops to have any sway over their own moral decision-making are almost certainly the kinds of Catholics who are so scrupulously observant that they'll vote pro-life anyway -- which is to say, for Bush. I think the bishops might make a difference for observant Catholics who'd like to vote for Kerry, but who perhaps have a bad conscience over his extreme pro-choice position. If they gave Kerry any kind of pass, that would help -- but honestly, how many of those kinds of Catholics are there, anyway?
And then there's what I call the "Mote-Plank Factor," which the invaluable Diogenes over at the Catholic World News blog discusses here.
Posted at 10:05 PM
JOHN O'NEILL ON CNN [KJL]
Here's the transcript.
Posted at 09:19 PM
SERENITY NOW [Jonah Goldberg ]
There's a huge shake up at ABC, according to the Financial Times. What I didn't know was that George Costanza's arch-nemesis was the Chairman:
In a sign of continuing turmoil at Walt Disney, the US entertainment giant on Tuesday announced a sweeping management shake-up at ABC, its troubled television network. Advertisement
Posted at 09:15 PM
GET THE BUTTER -- ARLEN IS TOAST! [Jack Fowler]
Yet even more good poll numbers out today for Pat Toomey. Survey USA poll shows Specter-Toomey at 50 to 44 percent among "certain" voters -- that's the same 6-point spread as the last poll the firm conducted two week ago. But among "likely" voters Toomey has made big headway in a fortnight -- he trailed Specter by 17 points in early April, but has now pulled to within 11 (and there are a lot more "likely" voters than "certain" -- so percentage points here mean more). Here's the details. Toomey has the Big Political Mo, he has had it for over a month, and there is no sign at all that there will be any let-up. I have a good feeling (it wasn't the General Tso Chicken!), and I say the Toomey Express crosses the finish line ahead of Specter, and maybe by more than a cow catcher. April 27th should be a great day for Toomey and the people of Pennsylvania, a bad day for Specter (who has spents gazillions in this race), and also -- whether or not Toomey pulls off this mega-upset -- a shameful day for those erstwhile conservative lawmakers and Beltway sucker-uppers who have been telling Keystone Staters that Arlen Specter is a near-Reagan loyal Republican.
Posted at 09:13 PM
POPPA G. AND EUTHRYPO [Jonah Goldberg]
In re all the email about Plato's Euthrypho, this touches on a subject my dad has talked about for years. I don't think it's in Euthrypho (or in Star Trek), but where this dilemma leads to is the definition of God.
For example, if you see a miracle in the desert, such as a forest appearing instantaneously, and a supernatural being takes credit for it, all you can conclude is that the supernatural creature is supernatural, but you don't know if he's (or she, as the case may be) is good or evil.
If this being commands you to do abominable things -- such as commanding Abraham to kill his son Isaac -- you could reasonably conclude that this being is the devil, but of course we are applying our own instinctive appraisal of what is good and what is bad. Or, we could have done what Abraham did, which is assume that this creature was good and is God, and that whatever he commands has to be for good, either in the short or long run. But the bottom line is that we are defining God, because without us doing that he just as well might be the devil, especially since the ways of God are mysterious and the devil is a liar. The saving grace in Judaism, my dad always taught me, is that we question God at every turn.
It's a question he's always discussed with me and which has always fascinated him. Personally, I'm not sure the question is answerable to the satisfaction of everybody. But in the off chance that it is, I keep watching reruns of Star Trek.
Posted at 09:08 PM
RE: SULLIVAN V NR [Jonah Goldberg]
I think Andrew Sullivan makes some fine points, but I also think he's over-reading the editorial in an attempt to find more wobbliness than there is in it. Still having had nothing to do with putting the editorial together, I think there are other folks around here who can defend it. What I do find pretty ironic is that he's getting so steamed about NR when the magazine he's writing in -- and with which he's still closely associated -- has virtually an entire issue dedicated to Iraq-panic on a level far out-stripping anything he can find in NR's editorial or between its lines.
Posted at 06:30 PM
ON CNN [KJL]
John O'Neill, the Vietnam vet who debated John Kerry on the Dick Cavett show in 1971 was just on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. Thank you, NR's Alex Rose, for bringing him to the America's (and CNN's) attention. (If you subscribe to NRODT, you know, having read Alex's piece on him.)
Posted at 06:14 PM
YET FURTHER PROOF SPECTER IS NOT ONE OF US [KJL]
He didn't photoshop Clinton out of that picture.
(I'm kidding. Now I'm going.)
Posted at 06:00 PM
FAST TRACK REVISITED [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I started a conversation with Jacob Levy about congressional approval of trade agreements last week and then got too busy to continue it. Levy argued that trade agreements are most reasonably seen as treaties and thus require 2/3ds approval from the Senate to conform to constitutional requirements. The current practice is to pass the agreements with a majority vote of the House and the Senate. Also, Congress, by passing "fast track" or "trade promotion authority" legislation, commits itself to considering the trade agreements without amendments (on the theory that other countries will not conclude agreements if their terms are up for grabs on the floor of the House).
Levy worries that the practical consequence of taking his constitutional concern seriously would be an end to trade liberalization. But perhaps his constitutional argument is a reason for going about that liberalization in a different way. Congress can (and should) repeal tariffs and quotas unilaterally. If trade agreements were replaced by what Brink Lindsey has called "co-ordinated unilateralism," the constitutional objection would fall away. And free traders would be able to make economically sound arguments for their objectives.
Posted at 05:56 PM
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE... [Meghan Keane]
Arlen Specter really doesn't do a very good job of dissuading Republicans that he is friends with the wrong people. Dollars from George Soros and Teresa Heinz Kerry were one thing, but it gets better. He included these photos in his 2000 autobiography, A Passion For Truth. Of course he's resistant to giving Saddam the death penalty - some of his best friends are dictators.
Posted at 05:27 PM
VERY GOOD POINT ON DIONNE [Jonah Goldberg ]
Posted at 04:37 PM
DEMOCRATS V REPUBLICANS [Jonah Goldberg ]
Posted at 04:33 PM
WHERE THE POP IS TRISTAN DA CUNHA? [John Derbyshire]
South Atlantic. Hang a right at St Helena & keep going.
Posted at 03:49 PM
CATHOLICS AND REPUBLICANS [Ramesh Ponnuru]
There's been an official Republican response to that Democratic "scorecard" I mentioned last week. NRCC spokesman Carl Forti makes a number of points that I think are true: The Democratic scorecard-makers do not vote according to Catholic teaching on a number of important issues, and the scorecard ignores some of these issues. But is it really wise for Republican spokesmen to be taking positions on what Catholic teachings are or who is voting with them? This isn't too far from having the NRCC say who is a good Catholic and who isn't. I can't imagine that this will go over well. To switch subjects slightly: I think that Catholic bishops are probably obligated to withhold communion from pro-abortion politicians (after first talking with them privately). But I really wouldn't want to see Ken Mehlman taking a position on the issue. The points Forti made should be left to lay Catholic organizations to make.
Posted at 03:23 PM
RE CLARKE & BUSH [Jonah Goldberg]
Lots of email making this point:
Jonah, Regarding your post on the Woodward and Clarke books: Your premise is both logical and factual: the two books should be accepted by the left and leftish media as a refutation of the Bush as puppet - Bush as liar crowd. You seem to miss the more salient point - one which you have written about extensively: there is no logic to the left or leftish media. The claims get reported as fact and when refuted, they do not correct, they simply move on to the next one.
Posted at 03:13 PM
OIL [Jonah Goldberg]
This reader makes a good point:
Perhaps I missed the subtleties, but I always thought the "It's all about Oil" argument was just an adoption of the war protestors' "No Blood for Oil" mantra. And as I understood that "argument," it wasn't a nuanced claim that Bush was invading Iraq so that he could get more/cheaper oil from Saudi Arabia — it was that he planned to co-opt (or outright steal) oil from Iraq. So, as far as I can see, Woodward's claim — whether right or wrong — does not validate the anti-war "Oil" argument.
Posted at 03:09 PM
SENATOR & UNICORN [John J. Miller]
A string of Philadelphia-area newspapers has picked up my NRO article on how Arlen Specter helped a murderer skip bail some years ago. Here's a fresh link.
Posted at 03:05 PM
KERRY'S REFUSAL TO RELEASE MILITARY RECORDS [KJL]
Wasn't it a huge outrage before the Bush campaign managed to come up with records? Am I missing the current outrage over Kerry's?
Posted at 02:52 PM
TRAVEL TIP [John Derbyshire]
"Dear Mr. Derbyshire---Thank you for the piece you posted on Tristan da Cunha in The Corner. I traveled to that island in January 2002 and had a great time. I am delighted to see that they now have their own web page. For all their isolation, supposedly the most isolated settlement on earth, they are nice, normal people and fun to get drunk with. If you really want to get away from it all I recommend a trip to Tristan. It is 5 days out from Cape Town on the RMS Helena (one of the last Royal Mail Ships) 4 days in the islands and another 5 days back via Gough Island in the roaring 40s. It will give you good standing among travel snobs and no one will ever tell you that 'you should have seen it before the tourists ruined it.'
"By the way, if you hadn't given up your British citizenship you could have applied for the position of British administrator. Not only is Tristan one of the last colonies, I am sure it is the last colony that actually makes money due to the rich lobster fishing."
Darn it, I always fancied myself in one of those plumed helmets.
Posted at 02:16 PM
WOODWARD AND CLARKE FOR BUSH [Jonah Goldberg]
With all the hullahbaloo about the Woodward book, it'd be easy not to notice that the book helps Bush in a number of key ways, much as the Clarke book did.
First of all, it needs to be reiterated that Bush's critics from the Salon-Moore-Deaniac-Naderite crowd have not had consistent lines of attack on him. They've accepted the proposition that all criticisms of Bush are valid, including the ones which contradict each other. So just as a matter of math, the Clarke and Woodward books eliminate numerous criticisms which thrived in an environment of ignorance. By embracing Clarke and Woodward's accounts critics of Bush cannot have the luxury of also embracing theories which are directly contradicted by Clarke and Woodward.
I've already mentioned, for example, Joe Conason's lost outrage over Bush's plane ride after 9/11.
Now, the Woodward
As for the other "controversies" from the book -- that Bush allegedly decided earlier than previously revealed that war was on the table, that the Saudis agreed to sell cheap oil around election time, that Bush didn't consult with Cheney, Rumsfeld or Powell when he made the final decision -- these also undercut some of the favorite lines about Bush.
For example, the notion that Bush was determined from the begining to go to war runs -- and always has run -- completely counter to charge that he was pushed into war by the perfidious warmongering Jews and/or honorary Jews called "neoconservatives." If Bush was always fixated on toppling Saddam, for dad or whatever, then Paul Wolfowitz couldn't have Jedi mind-tricked him into doing it for Israel.
I should add that Woodward doesn't say Bush was set on war from the outset, merely that he was determined very soon after 9/11 which is a very defensible position.
Also, if Bush didn't consult with Cheney until late in the process, it's harder -- though not impossible -- to argue that Cheney's the real power behind the throne.
As for the Saudi allegation, this one is the exception in that it does help the "war for oil" thing. But I'm not sure I buy it or that it has legs. Still the scandal here, if it's true, isn't that the Saudis agreed to lower the price of oil, it's that they haven't lowered it already. And, aside from the fact that it is impossible to prove such a deal exists or even to prove that Woodward got the story right, I'm not sure Democrats will get a lot of mileage shrieking about unfairly dropping oil prices come August and September.
Posted at 02:12 PM
"TORY-WIMPY" [Jonah Goldberg ]
Andrew Sullivan Vs. National Review.
Posted at 01:53 PM
MODEL UN [Jonah Goldberg]
President Bush's niece has been named the spokesperson for some UN hunger thing. Now here's the only interesting question: Which was more helpful in getting her the position? The fact that she's hot or the fact that she's Bush' niece? I'm voting hot, but scholars will probably debate this for generations.
Posted at 01:36 PM
WHOAH [Andrew Stuttaford]
Suddenly I feel like a Hamas high-up, goin' along, doing my thing and then suddenly... Jonah, yes, I thought (and think) that the killing of 'sheikh' Yassin was unhelpful to US efforts in the Middle East, but don't interpret that point of view as meaning that I always think that the elimination of Hamas leaders is a mistake. On the contrary. To take one even more recent example, EU leaders may have complained about the killing of Yassin's successor, the late Dr. Al-Rantisi, but, for my part, I can see no valid objections to it, legal, moral or political.
Posted at 12:47 PM
OUR MAN UP NORTH [Jonah Goldberg ]
From a Canadian sympathizer:
Posted at 12:40 PM
TO WHOM DID YEATS LOSE HIS VIRGINITY? [John Derbyshire]
Readers are clamoring to know, I have no idea why. Here's the lady.
Posted at 12:36 PM
THIS IS NOT A FAKE QUOTE [Tim Graham]
One of our eagle eyes in the office found this paragraph in the May edition of Interview magazine, a preview of Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill, Vol. 2" from a writer named Lewis Beale:
"She's baa-ack! The Bride (Uma Thurman) is once again out to wreak vengeance on the assassins who left her for dead. Tarantino's aorta-spewing mayhem may appear sophomoric, but his black humor seems enlightened next to Mel Gibson's recent forays into ultraviolence."
Posted at 12:34 PM
GLENFIDDICH! [Jonah Goldberg]
Or whatever it was Arlen Specter said when he invoked Scottish law to vote "not proven" during the Clinton impeachment trial.
I think you could do a bunch of ads keying off that vote -- maybe complete with one of Specter's meandering pompous explanations of same -- and then asking the rhetorical question(s):
Is Specter a reliable conservative?
Is Specter fiscally responsible?
Is Specter a good steward for our state?
Maybe if it's too late for TV ads, Toomey could get a good call-and-response from a crowd of college Republicans?
Posted at 12:17 PM
MORE ST. PAUL DEBATE INFO [Rich Lowry]
Posted at 12:15 PM
NO WAY, ABSOLUTELY NOT [John Derbyshire]
A reader takes exception to part of the Chesterton piece I posted, viz.: "The second-rate great man is on his knees to other men, like Whitman." Says my reader: "Given that Whitman was a homosexual, I think that was not a very nice thing to say."
Not going there, no, no, not. No further e-mails on this sub-topic, please.
Posted at 12:11 PM
TOOMEY FOR SENATE [John J. Miller]
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review endorses Pat Toomey over Arlen Specter. A memorable paragraph: "From matters constitutional to those fiscal, Specter is a twisting, porking, Scottish law-invoking wild-card sophist whom Republicans serious about reforming government can no longer afford or trust. Specter as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee? Horrors!"
Posted at 12:04 PM
THE NEWS FROM TRISTAN DA CUNHA [John Derbyshire]
"Unlike last year, the potato harvest on Tristan has been especially good."--from The Tristan Times
Don't say we don't keep you informed.
Posted at 11:54 AM
BLAMING BUBBA [From a reader: About the WaPo poll numbers. And notice how closely they dovetail with the USA Today/ CNN /Gallup...]
From a reader:
About the WaPo poll numbers. And notice how closely they dovetail with the USA Today/ CNN /Gallup poll that came out yesterday. One particularly sweet nugget when you go deep into the numbers in polls - slightly more Americans blame Bubba than W. for 9/11. That must hurt Big Media bad.
Posted at 11:51 AM
KERRY'S ADS [Jonah Goldberg ]
Ryan Lizza offers an explanation.
Also: I shouldn't have put Wisconsin in the safe-Democratic column in my earlier post.
Posted at 11:38 AM
THE ARCHIVIST BACKLASH [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Whoa there, bub. As an archivist myself, I can say there's a bit more to this than perhaps you know. The archival world (or at least the hothouse of the Archives Listserv) has been debating this over the last week or two, and despite the usual liberal slant of many of the members, there are some real questions. In the first place, since the current AoUS is not officially stepping down until July, 2005, W is kinda jumping the gun on bringing in a replacement. There are reasons for it (skip hearings if you can, and what if W loses in November), but it is a little premature. My concerns are less about the politics of it than Dr. Weinstein's appropriateness for the post. While he is clearly a scholar, he has no background that I'm aware of in either archival or records management, nor does he seem to have a great deal of general management experience. That doesn't eliminate him from consideration (John Carlin was governor of Kansas prior to his appointment), but I do think he should be asked some key questions about managing the nation's archival materials and his strategic plans for the future of NARA. I recognize the issue is a tempest in a teapot, given all else we need to worry about these days, but archival records will (hopefully) remain long after the rest of us are gone. As an archivist and a citizen, I do think we have a responsibility to preserve our heritage, and the person chosen to lead us in that area should be vetted properly. My 2 cents.
Posted at 11:18 AM
RE: BOURGEOIS GENIUS [John Derbyshire]
From a faithful reader in Michigan: "Mr. D.----Riemann."
Well, yes; or practically any other mathematician. The great challenge of writing a pop-math book is to try to dig out some interesting anecdotes from the lives of great mathematicians, who for the most part are stultifyingly bourgeois.
The argument -- I mean, Chesterton's argument, and my argument -- gets interesting only in literature and the arts, where the myth of the inspired, antisocial bohemian genius has taken firm root in the public mind. So much so that even a firmly bourgeois genius like Yeats -- who seems not to have lost his virginity until age 30, and whose first comment on being told he had won the Nobel Prize was "How much is it?" -- feel the need to affect floppy cravats and strike brooding poses.
Posted at 11:13 AM
CLONING AND THE SOCIAL RIGHT [Ramesh Ponnuru]
I've got an article on the subject at TechCentralStation.
Posted at 11:11 AM
"WHO CARES?" [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
Jonah, Is there any chance that NRO will talk about anything less esoteric and more in touch with 6 pack Conservatives? Yeats, Milton. Ockham? Who cares beside you guys? Home Depot OTOH.....
Posted at 11:05 AM
STOP THE ARGUMENT I WANT TO GET OFF [Jonah Goldberg ]
From a reader:
Posted at 10:51 AM
BOURGEOIS GENIUS [John Derbyshire]
A couple of days ago on The Corner, writing about Yeats, I offered the notion that: "While arrogant, irresponsible, rules-don't-apply-to-me egotists of the type so memorably described in Paul Johnson's book Intellectuals -- Shelley, Hemingway, etc. -- have certainly given us much, the true greats are sober, decent, and bourgeois types."
A reader points out that this case was made very eloquently by Chesterton, in a chapter titled "On the Wit of Whistler," in his book "Heretics." The essentials:
"The artistic temperament is a disease that afflicts amateurs. It is a disease which arises from men not having sufficient power of expression to utter and get rid of the element of art in their being. It is healthful to every sane man to utter the art within him; it is essential to every sane man to get rid of the art within him at all costs. Artists of a large and wholesome vitality get rid of their art easily, as they breathe easily, or perspire easily. But in artists of less force, the thing becomes a pressure, and produces a definite pain, which is called the artistic temperament. Thus, very great artists are able to be ordinary men-- men like Shakespeare or Browning. There are many real tragedies of the artistic temperament, tragedies of vanity or violence or fear. But the great tragedy of the artistic temperament is that it cannot produce any art...
"It need hardly be said that this is the real explanation of the thing which has puzzled so many dilettante critics, the problem of the extreme ordinariness of the behaviour of so many great geniuses in history. Their behaviour was so ordinary that it was not recorded; hence it was so ordinary that it seemed mysterious. Hence people say that Bacon wrote Shakespeare. The modern artistic temperament cannot understand how a man who could write such lyrics as Shakespeare wrote, could be as keen as Shakespeare was on business transactions in a little town in Warwickshire. The explanation is simple enough; it is that Shakespeare had a real lyrical impulse, wrote a real lyric, and so got rid of the impulse and went about his business. Being an artist did not prevent him from being an ordinary man, any more than being a sleeper at night or being a diner at dinner prevented him from being an ordinary man.
"All very great teachers and leaders have had this habit of assuming their point of view to be one which was human and casual, one which would readily appeal to every passing man. If a man is genuinely superior to his fellows the first thing that he believes in is the equality of man...
"To very great minds the things on which men agree are so immeasurably more important than the things on which they differ, that the latter, for all practical purposes, disappear. They have too much in them of an ancient laughter even to endure to discuss the difference between the hats of two men who were both born of a woman, or between the subtly varied cultures of two men who have both to die. The first-rate great man is equal with other men, like Shakespeare. The second-rate great man is on his knees to other men, like Whitman. The third-rate great man is superior to other men, like Whistler."
Posted at 10:42 AM
BROOKS [Jonah Goldberg]
Nice, solid column.
Posted at 10:38 AM
YESTERDAY'S BATTLES [Jonah Goldberg]
Interesting email from a reader:
The reader who wrote in to say:
Posted at 10:29 AM
OUTRAGE! [Jonah Goldberg ]
No, not really. But it is interesting that the Russian effort to "eliminate" Chechen "rebel leaders" is treated so matter-of-factly, while Israel's similar efforts at killing Hamas leaders receives so much outrage. And I don't mean the complaints from the EU diplomats (and our own Andrew Stuttaford) about how the assasinations of Hamas leaders aren't "constructive" to the peace process, I mean the folks who have actual moral objections to the killings. If it is wrong to do this this sort of thing it's wrong everywhere, right? Oh, and spare me the argument that the Russians are at war and the Israelis aren't. Any state will be at war with any group, like Hamas, dedicated to its violent destruction, or that state won't be around very long. Indeed, Russia's survival is hardly at stake in Chechnya, Israel's certainly would be if it didn't contain Hamas.
Posted at 10:24 AM
FAUX CONSERVATIVES FOR CONSERVATION [Jonathan H. Adler]
REP America, a "Republican" environmental organization and ConservAmerica, a "a non-partisan sister organization dedicated to building a conservative constituency for conservation" are hosting a May conference in New Mexico, "Land Conservation for Conservatives." The only problem is that there is nothing conservative about the conference speakers or the two groups' overall agenda. Rather than seeking to promote conservation through conservative principles, these organizations promote greater federal land acquisition, restrictions on private land-use, and incerased regulation. In other words, it's the same old big-government environmentalism offered by the Sierra Club, et al. There is a sound conservative case for conservation, done in a conservative fashion, but these green RINOs are not promoting it.
Posted at 10:14 AM
KERRY'S TROUBLES [Jonah Goldberg ]
Despite one of the last relentlessly negative media campaigns in recent memory, Bush is ahead in the polls on various key issues and in the head to head match-up according to the latest Washington Post poll . Personally, I think the poll obsessions are overdone, but this would seem to show that Bush's ads are working and Kerry's attacks aren't. Indeed, what's more interesting is that Kerry's buying ads in "key states" -- i.e. normally safe Democratic states: New York, California, Washington, Wisconsin and New Jersey.
I can think of a bunch of reasons why Kerry would need to do that, but I can't think of any that would count as a good sign for the Kerry campaign.
Posted at 10:14 AM
CONGRATS [Jonah Goldberg ]
To Allen Weinstein, Bush's pick to be the new archivist of the United States.
Posted at 10:06 AM
RE: PRE-TEEN DIALECTIC [Rick Brookhiser]
"'Shut up,' he explained."
(I believe that was written by Damon Runyon)
Posted at 10:06 AM
RE: PRETEEN DIALECTIC [John Derbyshire]
A reader: "Mr. Derbyshire---At first glance it seemed to me a dialog between a liberal talking head (Miss Derbyshire) and a conservative (Master Derbyshire)."
Well, yes. See, the liberal is attempting to shut down debate, the conservative persists in asking awkward questions. Hey, my kids could go on Hannity & Colmes!
Posted at 09:53 AM
TOOMEY'S MO [Jonah Goldberg]
With a week to go: 49-44 and closing.
Posted at 09:34 AM
BE SURE NOT TO MISS... [KJL]
Ramesh Ponnuru vs. Jonathan Chait debating pre-9/11 intelligence, in a new feature jointly sponsored by NR and The New Republic. Check in here, and come back later for Ramesh's seocnd-day reply to Chait.
Posted at 09:33 AM
NO MORE CZARS [John J. Miller]
Larry Reed of the Mackinac Center on why we don't need government "czars"--or pharoahs, shoguns, or sachems.
Posted at 09:25 AM
AIDS & PORN [Jonah Goldberg]
Look, I don't wish AIDS on anybody and I wish the people who had it didn't. But the coverage of the "outbreak" of AIDS in the porn "community" makes me think the journalists are striving to keep a straight face. They make it sound like this is as "troubling" and "surprising" as an outbreak of TB at a daycare center. Yeah, yeah, I know the porn industry -- at the top end -- takes a lot of precautions. But the pearls of wisdom your grandmother gave you still hold true; If you shag dozens and dozens of dudes you don't know for money (or for shiny beads) you shouldn't be surprised if you catch something.
Posted at 09:22 AM
FORGET HOME DEPOT [Mark Krikorian ]
John, I can't figure out the self-checkout lines at my neighborhood Home Depot either. But despair not -- just go to Lowes instead (there appears to be one in Suffolk County). My father-in-law is a contractor and he avoids Home Depot like the plague, in favor of Lowes. And pace Jay Nordlinger's paean to Wal-Mart, my wife finds Target to be immensely preferable. Maybe the giants have gotten arrogant and lazy, and the competition is taking advantage.
Posted at 08:50 AM
CJR THROWS A DART [Tim Graham]
The "Campaign Desk" blog of Columbia Journalism Review laments how Tim Russert "veered into irrelevance" by dredging up the National Review article by Mac Owens on Kerry's curious anti-war claims. (Could you believe Kerry trying to wiggle out of all his wild overstatements with the "youthful indiscretion" spin?)
Posted at 08:37 AM
GOOD POLLING NEWS [Tim Graham]
The Washington Post reports today: "President Bush holds significant advantages over John F. Kerry in public perceptions of who is better equipped to deal with Iraq and the war on terrorism, and he has reduced the advantages his Democratic challenger held last month on many domestic issues, according to a Washington Post-ABC News Poll."
Bush beats Kerry and Nader 48-43-6. On the economy, Bush has erased Kerry's 12-point edge. See MRC later to see if ABC gives this as much attention as the Post does.
By the way, the Bush-impeachers at Buzzflash.com are demoralized, carrying the headline: "According to Latest Poll, Half of Americans are Drinking the Kool-Aid and Still Approving of Bush. 63% Approve of His So-Called 'Campaign Against Terrorism.' The World Must Think That We are a Nation of Lemmings."
Posted at 08:26 AM
ALL HE CAN SAY IS "CONFESS, YOU SWINE!" [John Derbyshire]
Apropos my blogs about NKVD execution techniques yesterday, should you feel the need for an NKVD-officer doll to keep your Ann Coulter doll company, you can buy one here. Note his sidearm is a Tokarev.
Posted at 08:21 AM
PRETEEN DIALECTIC [John Derbyshire]
I can hear Nellie (11) and Ollie (8) having a conversation in the kitchen. Here is a transcript of the conversation so far.
ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?" ND: "Shut up." OD: "Why?"
Posted at 08:17 AM
TREEHOUSE [John Derbyshire]
Two good thought-provoking points from readers about my tree-house construction.
1. The Y-supports at the sides. That's some length of beam (around 9 ft.) to be doing vertical support. Watch out for warping and bending.
2. The south support of the first north-south beam resting free & sliding in the secondary crotch. This is going to wear away at the crotch as the tree shifts. Needs some reinforcement.
Neither is critical, but both need further thought.
Posted at 08:16 AM
DISAPPOINTING [John J. Miller]
President Bush on the stump yesterday: "I'm here to say it as plainly as I can: Arlen Specter is the right man for the United States Senate."
Posted at 06:26 AM
CORNER DAYBOOK [KJL]
A worthwhile-sounding lunch conference in D.C. today (I'm a huge Ethics and Public Policy Center fan):
April 20th, from noon to 2pm, the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington will host a discussion of proliferation Issues and weapons of mass destruction in the wake of the Iraq war, featuring Three of the nation's leading experts on weapons proliferation: Henry Sokolski Of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment, and Tom Cochran of the Nuclear Policy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. They'll talk and debate about what Recent revelations about the A.Q. Khan network have taught us regarding the channels of proliferation; what Libya's recent conversion on the weapons question (and revelations of its substantial weapons programs) mean; what current thinking is regarding Iraq's pre-war weapons programs; and how the Bush doctrine now looks, a year after the Iraq war began. The event is open to the public, and food and drinks will be available. You can get more information, and RSVP, here.
Posted at 05:47 AM
Monday, April 19, 2004
SORRY ORSON [Rod Dreher]
A couple of readers wrote to correct my assertion that Mormon sci-fi demigod Orson Scott Card is a conservative. They tell me he's more like a blue-dog Democrat. My bad. My sci-fi fan friend who sends me smart stuff OSC writes on politics from time to time must only be sending me the right-wing stuff.
Posted at 09:31 PM
BOOK DEALER DEALING TO THE UNIFORMED [KJL]
A book dealer who reads NRO e-mails:
Just as an aside, speaking as a used book dealer who does most of his business through Amazon and who has consequently been shipping A LOT of used books to Iraq for the past year, I can say without hesitation that the biggest sellers have been Science Fiction and Fantasy novels (actually, more the latter than the former). At the moment I have four orders getting ready to ship to APO AE addresses (and based on the unit designations, I'm pretty sure at least three of those are heading to Iraq), and of those four three are Fantasy novels (one David Eddings, one Katherine Kurtz, one R.A. Salvatore) and the other is SF (S.M. Stirling, and in some ways is more quasi-Fantasy than true SF).
Posted at 09:19 PM
JACK BLACK [John Derbyshire]
Consensus of readers: JB is a very funny guy with a natural talent. However, he is also a gibbering lefty, a founder member of the Bush-is-Hitler crowd.
So if a performer's politics gets in the way of your enjoying his performances, avoid Jack Black. I am mostly not bothered (love Paul Robeson's voice), but if you're differently disposed, I won't argue.
Posted at 09:12 PM
LOWRY ON O'REILLY [John Derbyshire]
Great showing on the Factor, boss, & congratulations on getting a word in edgewise against Clarence "motor-mouth" Page.
Loved Page's line about "journalists should be asking a lot of questions about this war." Oh, yeah; the older generation of lefty journalists want to create the glory days of 1968-75, when they brought down a President & lost us a war. The younger generation want to recreate it.
Is there any way we can EVER win ANY war with a leftist, anti-American journalistic establishment?
Posted at 09:09 PM
TORT LAWYER LAND [Kate O'Beirne]
While impressed and charmed by Derb's treehouse efforts, I feel obliged to make sure that his citizenship course covered a quaint little doctrine of ours that could be relevant. Has Derb explored the extent of a homeowner's liability if the unfortunate fellow is found to have an "attractive nuisance" on his property? Is Derb's lovely dog a Rotweiler? From a self-loathing lawyer. . .
Posted at 05:43 PM
HOME DEPOT HELL [John Derbyshire]
This darn place is going to the dogs. As if the aisle-closing business wasn't bad enough, I have now encountered a new annoyance.
The Home Depot has introduced self-check-out stations. Fair enough, and a convenience, if you have just small items & no complications. However, there are now situations -- I just encountered my second -- where Home Depot employees apparently feel that the self-check-out business relieves them of the need to man check-out stations altogether. If for some reason you can't check yourself out, there may be no regular check-out stations manned. (Personned, whatever.)
I gotta stop using this store.
Posted at 05:30 PM
DAVID FRUM IS BACK [KJL]
Posted at 05:27 PM
DO YOU KNOW [Ramesh Ponnuru]
what's wrong with Cuba? The one thing they need that would make life better? Affirmative action, that's what.
Posted at 05:24 PM
RE: ARE THERE ANY CONSERVATIVE BOOKSTORE CLERKS? [John Derbyshire]
A slight correction from a fan of bookstores: "Dear Derb---Easy there big guy! Your Canadian correspondent has some valid points and I do think that many in the bookstore world tend left, but I also think you are going a little overboard. Having worked in two bookstores (both in relatively liberal Northeastern states) for a few years after college before starting my current career, there is one key thing I learned: These are businesses in a very competitive industry. They must make money to survive. As an example of this, the first bookstore I worked in was very left wing and is no longer in business. They indeed offered almost no conservative authors. The other bookstore I worked in was a Waldenbooks and was very good at covering all sides of the spectrum. They did not do this out of any other reason besides the profit motive. Indeed, my manager would have had a conniption if you suggested NOT ordering or displaying a best-seller due to your political beliefs on either side (there were also several conservatives on staff whereas I was alone in the other place - basically a mole). This Waldenbooks is still in business. Draw your own conclusions."
This speaks to the point that capitalism is basically apolitical. Corporations run by conservatives hold "diversity" seminars for employees not because they believe it does any good, but to stay out of trouble so they can keep making money. 1930s German firms posted Nazi propaganda in their workplaces not because capitalism is the economic face of fascism, but because they too wanted to stay out of trouble, etc., etc.
Posted at 05:17 PM
I'M A MARINE, WOMAN! [KJL]
These e-mails are so sweet, and this one made me laugh: "I can only echo the sentiments of the Soldier regarding the necessity of quality books in Iraq. Although I to appreciated the thoughtfulness of those who took the time to send books to us, on several occasions I remember wishing that the sender had not sent us so many secondhand romance novels. I am a Marine for crying out loud, I don't read that stuff. Any of the titles on your top conservative book list would be fine. This, like the suggestion of the aforementioned Soldier, is made selflessly since I have just returned."
Posted at 05:00 PM
RE: BULLETS AND HEADS [John Derbyshire]
The definitive reader post on this, and TOTALLY the last word. Strong stomach required towards the end.
"Ye gentle reader cited is not correct, the Makarov was developed after WW II ... and thus, while very likely used to commit executions since the days of Khruschev, was not the tool of choice for killers such as Yagoda.
"The two common handguns in the 1930's would be the Nagant revolver, developed under the Tzar in the 1890's, and the Tokarev autopistol, based on the work of John Moses Browning. Both fired a .30 bullet, the revolver out of a curious tapered cartridge in which the bullet was seated all the way into the brass, the automatic in .30 Tokarev, a cartridge very similar to .30 Mauser, the cartridge pioneered in the C-96 or 'broomhandle' Mauser (Churchill carried one at Omdurman)...
"The NKVD cellar executions involved a close range shot to the back of the head, as your book tells you. The autoloaders would likely not be used because there's no need for more than one or two shots, and the revolvers would do; plus likely the autoloading Tokarevs were symbols of rank, and not to be handed out to executioners. Thus the most likely handgun is the .30 Nagant revolver.
"Legend has it that the Lubiyanka executioners sawed off about 2 inches of the barrel of their Nagant revolvers, since the front sight wasn't needed and sometimes hung up on the victim. They also might need to grab and hold their victim if he or she got desperate at the very last instant, so the short barrel was considered a requirement. Again, this is legend, not documented.
"IIRC the Nagant fires a 90 grain bullet at 1000 f/s or so (7,000 grains == 1 pound, typical 9x19mm bullet today is 115 grains), a metal-jacketed bullet from such a gun might well go all the way through a human head, but a lead bullet would likely deform enough that it would remain within the victim.
"The executioners already had the older handguns, likely they had the older, lead-bullet, slower-velocity ammo as well. So it is likely that indeed the executioner had to chop open the heads of Kamenev and Zinoviev in order to dig out the bullets for Yagoda."
Posted at 04:52 PM
POWELL CALLS THE BOB WOODWARD BLUFF [Michael Graham]
Powell just denied he found out about the military plan in Iraq AFTER Prince Bandar. He just told Hannity he helped develop the plan and knew Rumsfeld was meeting with Bandar.
Posted at 04:33 PM
RE: THINGS I NEVER KNEW [John Derbyshire]
I have stirred up a little service rivalry here:
"Derb---You should note that SMACKs (Soldier Minus Ability Coordination & Knowledge) at the Air Force Academy (freshmen) memorize **all** the verses of our national anthem, unlike like our lazy counterparts at West Point who apparently only memorize the first and last.
"Altimeter Check: 'Sir, my altitude is 7,258 feet above sea level; far, far above that of West Point or Annapolis.'"
Posted at 04:26 PM
OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM [John Derbyshire]
After reading this great essay, I don't feel so bad about being an Asimov fan. (He was a liberal, though of the tough old style, not a modern-type weepy hand-wringer.)
Posted at 04:11 PM
RE: TREE-HOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON [John Derbyshire]
"Derb---I take you at your word that you're building a treehouse, sir - but I have to say, in its current state of completion and with the ropes dangling down, there's more than a hint of the gallows about the whole contraption."
Well, it **is** intended to be a tree house; but as a strong believer in capital punishment, I am willing to lease the structure out for short periods to any jurisdiction that has an interest...
Posted at 03:53 PM
RE: "BAD" FORTUNE [John Derbyshire]
Peter: Nice comment on the Fortune piece. The word that stopped my eye was "individualistic," in the sentence: "Either way, such a trend, if sustained, could drive human culture off its current market-driven, individualistic, modernist course, gradually creating an antimarket culture dominated by fundamentalism--a new dark ages..."
Hard to think of anything MORE conducive to individualism that the belief that every person has an immortal soul, and has duties to his creator that transecnd his duties to state or nation.
There is at least this much truth in the piece though: A few oddball sects like the Shakers aside, nobody breeds like religious fundamentalists. My wife used to work in a New York City fabric store patronized by conservative Hasidim. She said it was unusual to see a female customer of child-bearing age who was not pregnant. Similarly for conservative Muslims, Christians, etc.
Someone, I forget who, has pointed out that if the main criterion of species success is the ability of the species to reproduce itself, then what Mother Nature wants for human beings is for us all to be religious fundamentalists
Posted at 03:48 PM
RE: TREE-HOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON [John Derbyshire]
Some fascinating stuff coming in from readers. Sample:
"John---A hole can be drilled through the center of a beam (wood or metal) without substantially reducing its capacity to bear a load. At the risk of getting too deep into structural design theory, there exists a neutral axis that runs through the longitudinal center of a beam. In a typical beam loading condition, the top of the beam will be in maximum compression and the bottom will be in maximum tension. As this transition occurs in a linear fashion through the cross-section of the beam, there is zero stress at the neutral axis, to comply with the 'laws' of statics. Therefore, any removal of material at or near the neutral axis will not meaningfully affect the load carrying capacity of the beam. I mention this to you because it may be quite cumbersome to design all your connections to avoid drilling through the center of a beam. On the other hand, this could become an interesting design detail that would distinguish your tree house."
Other readers have warned me that a tree house is every wasp colony's favorite place to build a nest, so when you come back from summer vacation, check carefully before entering.
Posted at 03:46 PM
THIRD WAY IN IRAQ [John Derbyshire]
I guess it's true that we Americans have no taste for imperialism. Reader voting on my "Third Way In Iraq" piece is overwhelmingly for the First Way.
Here's a representative voice. I like the cut of this guy's jib:
"Mr. Derbyshire---I'll take door number 1, Monty. Let's make it clear to all the world that you sign your death warrant when you kill Americans. I don't care if it costs $10 billion a year for the next 50 years. Say it quietly but firmly, and then do it. To paraphrase the Marines - 'America - no better friend, no worse enemy'. Use my name if you like. My opinions are not a secret. Best regards, Donald M. MacQueen."
Posted at 03:03 PM
THINGS I NEVER KNEW [John Derbyshire]
From a reader, after I had boasted a while ago about knowing the second verse of the National Anthem: "Every West Point cadet memorizes the fourth verse of the National Anthem, but you may be alone with the second."
I never knew that.
Here's the fourth verse of our National Anthem:
O thus be it ever,
Posted at 03:02 PM
GOD STILL FAVORS THE BIG BATTALIONS [Peter Robinson]
From an officer in the U. S. Army:
In WW II, our first aim was to conquer the Axis....When you conquer a people, then you must use overwhelming force to impose your will and to secure the place. Later, you ease up as the populace gets used to free markets, rule of law etc.
Posted at 03:00 PM
BAD "FORTUNE" [Peter Robinson]
From a reader, a good catch--and an acute piece of analysis:
I was reading Fortune magazine (current issue with Trump on the cover) and came across a pretty astonishing paragraph. It's at the end of an article by Phillip Longman, author of "The Empty Cradle". The article deals with declining fertility rates worldwide and their effects on worldwide wealth and economic growth. Toward the end of the article Longman writes:
Posted at 02:57 PM
CHRIS ROCK AND JIMMY THE GREEK [Roger Clegg]
I watched the Chris Rock special on HBO this weekend. Very coarse of course. But my beat is affirmative action, not general cultural decline, so let’s go there.
Rock acknowledges that he would not give a preference to a less qualified applicant over a better qualified one because of race; he says that he supports affirmative action only as a tiebreaker. In the real world, that’s a significant limitation, since it is very rare that two candidates for a job, a contract, or a college slot are going to finish in a dead heat.
He justifies the use of race because of the still-felt effects of slavery--which is probably the most popular justification but, it must be said, is one that is legally a nonstarter since the Supreme Court has rejected it.
And what are the still-felt effects of slavery? This is where it gets really interesting. Rock gives two examples.
The first is that slavery explains black dominance in athletics. Slave owners bred their strong black men with their strong black women to create “superslaves” (I think that was his term), and that’s why today blacks are “10 percent of the population and 90 percent of the Final Four.”
Sound familiar? Here’s what “Jimmy the Greek” Snyder said in January 1988: ''The black is a better athlete to begin with because he's been bred that way, because of his high thighs that go up into his back. And they can run faster and jump higher because of their bigger thighs.'' He added: ''This all goes back to the Civil War, when, during the slave trading, the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so they could have a big black kid. That's where it all started.'' Snyder was fired for this. (Also, this is obviously no justification for affirmative action, since it would be an advantage, not a disadvantage.)
The other example Rock gives of a lingering effect of slavery is even more startling. Just as strong blacks were singled out for breeding, smart blacks were singled out for being killed. Rock then goes off on a riff about how, in those days, blacks would be selling printed pages--forbidden to slaves--rather than crack. But if he had completed this thought, it would have been … what? That blacks are now less intelligent because of selective breeding? I haven’t heard even David Duke make that argument.
I know, I know. Chris Rock is a comedian, not a social scientist. Still, it’s interesting and telling that he would make such a limited and unserious defense of racial preferences.
Posted at 02:55 PM
BULLETS AND HEADS [John Derbyshire]
I'm not sure what it says about NRO readers, but I am learning much, much more than I really wanted to know about the interactions between bullets and human heads. A reader reports knowledgably: "I'm pretty sure that the service pistols used by the Soviets were called Markarovs and fired a proprietary shell called a 9mm Markarov, which was a shorter, underpowered little brother to the 9mm europellet. Couple that with the 'standards' usually associated with soviet industry, and its no wonder the bullet never escaped the cranium. Try it with a modern shot and you'll have a nice messy wash on the wall."
Posted at 02:52 PM
RE: TREE-HOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON [John Derbyshire]
Yeah, yeah, I know my back fence is in a sorry state, and the back of my garage likewise.
Just because I work for a class outfit like National Review, doesn't mean I have totally renounced my white-trash origins. "You can take the boy out of the Bronx, but you can't take the Bronx out of the boy."
(Although, for the record, I'd like to note that we have a firm coming in to give the property a new fence at the end of this month. The garage? Maybe next year.)
Posted at 02:40 PM
ARE THERE ANY CONSERVATIVE BOOKSTORE CLERKS? [John Derbyshire]
A reader from the Friendly Giant To Our North: "Dear Mr. Derbyshire---To answer your question: Yes, there are some. There's at least myself, and I'm Canadian, no less. I can sympathize with the writer of letter you posted - the retail bookstore world is so profoundly, blindly leftist (and likewise assume that everyone else must be too) that they often don't even notice it. You would not believe the trouble I've had trying to order in any conservative books; the best I've been able to do is reorder sold-out David Frum, and then only because the manager recognized him as a newspaper columnist. Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rich Lowry - all turned down, because our head office buyer in Toronto thinks they're "icky." She favours ordering crateloads of Michael Moore (which, unfortunately, sell) and Noam Chomsky and Al Franken (which, thankfully, don't). Her token centre-right titles are Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations, Bernard Lewis' several works on Islam and Shake Hands With the Devil (possibly not well-known in the American market; a local favourite, possibly because Gen. Dallaire often stops by to sign copies). I tend to be gently humoured; often, my order suggestions are rebuffed at the store level, so as not to frighten the buyer too much. Imagine if she knew there was someone in the store who noticed and resented her remarkable selection bias? Heavens!"
I must say that, joking aside, I think this is pretty awful. As a book-lover & lifelong patron of bookstores, I am depressed & mildly outraged to learn that this noble business (Samuel Johnson's father was a bookseller) has fallen into the hands of puritanical lefties.
Perhaps the world of conservative thought & authorship owes more than we know to Amazon.com. Reading emails like the above, I wouldn't care if they put the physical bookstores out of business altogether. And I never thought I'd hear myself say THAT.
Posted at 02:24 PM
THAT SUBVERSIVE, MR. JACK BLACK [Peter Robinson]
Well, yes, Jonah, I suppose the message in “School of Rock” is a tad...subversive. But my kids were well-insulated. About twenty minutes into the movie, I simply asked aloud, “Could this ever happen at St. Ray’s?”
“No way, Dad,” the kids replied, laughing at the very idea. “Sister Ann Bernard would never allow it.”
From that point on, the movie was simply a gorgeous farce.
Posted at 02:12 PM
WHEN THE FIGHTING STOPPED [Peter Robinson ]
Comparing the end of the Second World War with our occupation of Iraq, I asserted in a posting over the weekend that when the fighting stopped in Germany, Italy, and Japan, it stopped. Several readers have pointed out that this wasn’t quite so.
From one reader:
It's my understanding that Werewolf guerilla attacks-- sabotage, mining roads, poisoning food and water, setting often-lethal traps for allied soldiers-- continued in Germany on a regular basis for months after V-E Day, and that the last incident may have been as late as 1947.And from another:
[A]lthough major hostilities ended when the war ended, significant hostile incidents occured in Germany for many months after the surrender. Nothing like the current fighting in Iraq, though.All this is true, as also that the odd Japanese holdout was being picked up on this or that Pacific island throughout the 1950s—I seem to recall that one Japanese soldier was found holed up in a cave somewhere or other in the mid-1960s. I thank our readers--what readers!--for insisting on accuracy. But of course my point remains. In Germany, Japan, and Italy alike, the society itself surrendered, accepted the allied victory as valid—remember that famous photo of Hirohito paying a visit on MacArthur?—and got on with the work of reconstruction. Where opposition to the allies continued, it did so, so to speak, only on the fringes.
The situation in Iraq is different.
Posted at 02:06 PM
TREE-HOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON [John Derbyshire]
My mention of the fact that I am building a tree-house excited a surprising amount of reader interest. I have therefore put up a page on my website, with pictures showing progress so far.
I shall add more pictures as work progresses. Note that it's a one-man project, and the one man doesn't have a whole lot of spare time, so progress will be slow.
Reader comments, suggestions and warnings will be appreciated.
Posted at 02:01 PM
RE: SOLDIERS' BOOK PILE [KJL]
A soldier e-mails:
Thanks for plugging the program to donate books to Iraq, but I'd be grateful if you could also suggest that readers donate some GOOD books -- conservative political books, history, etc. Things that are both worth reading and enjoyable. I'm here in Baghdad and we are swimming in America's second-hand pulp novels. Not that we don't appreciate the thought and I'm sure there are some people who go for that, but when a book with some real merit pops to the surface we end up fighting over it like hyenas tearing into a carcass. Just a suggestion -- and I'm going home soon (insh'allah), so I make it selflessly...
Posted at 02:00 PM
FOX [Rich Lowry]
I'm scheduled to be on Shep today around 3:00 and then again later on O'Reilly at around 6:00.
Posted at 01:27 PM
IT'S ALL RELATIVE [Jonah Goldberg]
The consensus so far is that I'm wrong. Two emails:
And, from a Philosophy Prof:
Posted at 01:15 PM
JOHN NEGROPONTE [KJL]
our current ambassador to the U.N. will be names ambassador to IRaq, according to news reports (don't see online yet).
Posted at 12:57 PM
ERR AMERICA [ Jonah Goldberg ]
The LA Times realizes, reluctantly, that "Air America" is just bad.
Posted at 12:51 PM
SOLDIERS ON OUR MIND [KJL]
I know Jonah mentioned this earlier this month, but if you haven't jumped on it, you might want to send some books to soldiers. See here.
Posted at 12:50 PM
TORONTO STAR [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
As a Toronto resident (yes, you have fans in Canada) I have to put up with Canada's version of Pravda. They predicted that Donahue's show would succeed and provide a launching base for MSNBC and the left in AMerica.
Posted at 12:24 PM
RE: RELATIVITY BLEG [Jonah Goldberg]
Thanks for all the suggestions. Or I should say thanks for the same suggestion over and over again. About thirty people have suggested the first chapter of Paul Johnson's Modern Times which -- I should have mentioned -- I did know about and have read. Johnson's very useful on this point and I quote him. But he mostly asserts the impact of Einstein and relativism rather than offer the sorts of examples I'm looking for. What I'm in search of are explicit examples of intellectuals, artists and journalists citing Einstein's relativity as proof of moral or artistic relativism's validity. It seems to me that Einstein-induced moral relativism (which good Albert rejected absolutely) is a good example of the naturalistic fallacy. Or am I wrong?
Posted at 12:20 PM
IT AIN'T OVER 'TIL THE ALIEN WINS [Mark Krikorian ]
The whining by lawyers in Denver about a DHS pilot program there shows why it's so hard to enforce the immigration law. The program, which started in Hartford and spread http://www.immigration.com/newsletter1/iceprogilegalaliens.html last month to Denver and Atlanta, merely involves detaining aliens who have been issued a final deportation order -- rather than letting them post bond and disappear into the crowd. This is long overdue, since very few people who are ordered deported ever leave -- the number of deportation absconders is now over 400,000. But the immigration lawyers persist http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%257E11676%257E2084807,00.html in speaking of the "chilling effect" of "extremely aggressive" measures which are "terrifying" to illegal aliens. Well, good. As the local DHS guy in charge of detention and deportation said of the appeals process, "But when that process is completed, there is an ending out there, and people have to recognize that."
Posted at 11:38 AM
ENFORCE THE LAW? NOT US. [Mark Krikorian ]
A rumor has been spreading in Houston that federal authorities are actually going to start enforcing the immigration law -- and illegals are scattering http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/topstory2/2509369 . More proof that we can enforce the law if we want to. But what does the government do? Deny the rumors! The Houston Chronicle related the DHS spokeswoman's response: "Immigration agents may visit a work site in search of an illegal immigrant who is also a criminal fugitive, she said, but they would not arrest others there." Of course not.
Posted at 11:36 AM
NO LICENSES THIS YEAR [Mark Krikorian ]
The bill to give illegal aliens Florida drivers licenses is dead for now , despite the support of Gov. Jeb Bush, who might well have suffered Gray Davis's fate had he followed through. The sponsor of the bill, Miami Republican Sen. Rudy Garcia, persisted in framing the issue as whether the applicants' identity could be properly verified, rather than whether illegal aliens should be incorporated into our institutions in the first place. And even the security hurdle is insuperable -- foreign governments would be relied on to vouch for their own citizens. Mexico's consul general in Miami said information supplied by his government is "absolutely trustworthy" -- this on the same weekend the Washington Post ran a long piece on Mexico's seemingly ineradicable culture of corruption .
Posted at 11:29 AM
YOU NEED THIS POSTING LIKE YOU NEED A HOLE IN THE HEAD [John Derbyshire]
I am not going to take issue with Michael Ledeen's military sources (quoted in Michael's piece on the site today) that a bullet passes straight through the head without stopping. For high-speed, heavy, rifle or machine-gun bullets, this is very likely true. That it is not the case with handgun rounds is illustrated by a very grisly story in Simon Sebag Montefiore's book Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, which I have just been reading. (And which David Pryce-Jones reviews in the new NRODT.) If you have a weak stomach, or have just finished your Egg McMuffin, you might be wise to stop reading this post now.
Stalin's NKVD boss G.G. Yagoda, was personally present at the execution of Old Bolsheviks Zinoview and Kamenev on August 25, 1936. It was the normal style of Soviet execution -- shooting through the back of the head with a pistol. Then
"The bullets, with their noses crushed, were dug out of the skulls, wiped clean of blood and pearly brain matter, and handed to Yagoda, probably still warm. ... Yagoda labeled the bullets 'Zinoviev' and 'Kamenev' and treasured these macabre but sacred relics, taking them home to be kept proudly with his collection of erotica and ladies' stockings."
Yagoda was himself shot two years later. The bullets were found among his possessions and given to his successor, N.I. Yezhov. Yezhov was shot in his turn (in 1940, after "confessing" to having been an English, Japanese and Polish spy). I don't know what happened to the bullets.
Posted at 11:27 AM
BE AFRAID [Jonathan H. Adler]
Be very afraid -- for the future of health care.
Posted at 10:26 AM
TAX CUT PORK [Jonathan H. Adler]
Congress is under the gun to repeal a $5 billion export subsidy that violates interantional trade law and replace it with tax breaks that will largely benefit the same domestic firms. Should Congress fail to act, Europe will be allowed to impose sanction sagainst U.S. exports. The legislation should be easy. Yet, as the Washington Post reports, it's become a feeding frenzy for pork:
The 930-page epic is packed with $170 billion in tax cuts aimed at cruise-ship operators, foreign dog-race gamblers, NASCAR track owners, bow-and-arrow makers and Oldsmobile dealers, to name a few. There is even a $94 million break for a single hotel in Sioux City, Iowa.Don't these guys have any adult supervision?
Posted at 10:22 AM
FRIST V. DASCHLE [Jonathan H. Adler]
The Senate Majority Leader is going to South Dakota to campaign for John Thune against Tom Daschle.
Posted at 10:03 AM
THE MANY SIDED SCHIZOPHRENIA DEBATE [ Jonah Goldberg ]
Sigh, some folks are coming to the defense of the Canadian. Let me just be clear, I don't care if the author is right or wrong about the medical condition known as schizophrenia. The word shizophrenic means, among other things, split by opposing qualities. What I was mocking was Canadian political correctness.
Posted at 09:54 AM
NO OIL FOR WAR? [Michael Graham]
Jeff Greenfield of CNN says the most disturbing revelation on "60 Minutes" last night was Bob Woodward's claim that the Saudis plan to flood the international market with oil to bring down gas prices in time for the American election. To which I say "Great!" Why shouldn't the Saudis help out the president who's bravely led a coalition against an enemy on their own border, an enemy who has repeatedly threatened to invade Saudi Arabia?
If the Democrats want to argue that having President Bush in office means oil-rich nations will try to help out the American economy, go right ahead. If these nations were driving gas prices up in order to punish Bush, you can bet Teresa Heinz Kerry's dead husband's last dollar that the Democrats would be holding Bush responsible.
Instead, they’re helping a brother out. What's the prob?
Posted at 09:05 AM
WHY ARE CANADIAN LIBERALS SO LAME? [Jonah Goldberg ]
From the Toronto Star:
I await the backlash from schizophrenics -- and schizophrenics.
Posted at 08:47 AM
BLEG(S) [Jonah Goldberg ]
Instapundit linked to this interesting article about the racist roots of gun control. For the record, I am always interested in these sorts of subjects, i.e. the illiberal roots of "liberal" legislation. Please feel free to send me articles, book reccomendations etc on the subject to my JonahResearch email account.
Also, I've been searching for a good chapter or essay on the cultural and political effects of Einstein's theory of relativity. Lots of books and articles make brief references to the rise of "relativism" in the wake of Einstein's general theory. For example, Paul Dirac, a Cambridge mathematical physicist complained that “relativity came along as a wonderful idea leading to a new domain of thought. It was an escape from the war…Relativity was a topic that everybody felt himself competent to write about in a general philosophical way.”
There must be extended discussions of this somewhere. I'm not looking for a 500 page book on this as it is a small part of my research. But if there are a couple of good scholarly essays on the subject, brimming with examples, I'd love to see them. Again, please send suggestions to my research email addy.
Posted at 08:42 AM
WHAT WOULD FAREED SAY? [Jonah Goldberg]
I just got this automated email from Amazon:
We've noticed that customers who have purchased books by Joseph de Maistre often enjoy books by Fareed Zakaria. For this reason you might like to know that Fareed Zakaria's newest book, The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, will be released in paperback soon. You can pre-order your copy at a savings of 30% by following the link below.
Posted at 08:32 AM
SOR [Jonah Goldberg]
Tim - I don't disagree with any of that. And again I really do like the movie and think this is all pretty academic. Nevertheless, if you figure that only, say, 1 in 10,000 relatively dedicated kids have any real success in rock & roll you have to assume as a matter of statistics that most of the kids in his class won't make it. In other words, these promising kids have been given the false hope and impractical ambition to become rock stars. If this was a movie about inner city black kids being told by their teacher to stop studying math, english, history etc in order to "stick it to the man" and become basketball stars, I think my point would be more obvious. Also, the personal growth Black enjoys is basically irrelevant since A) there's no evidence that he ever gave up his "rock is everything" mantra B) and his after-school program is more likely a sop to the parents since it's not like Jack could keep teaching rock to the exclusion of all other subjects.
But look (and I'm addressing persnickety readers now), the point of my comments could -- and rightly should -- be taken just as much as a caution to conservatives who want to blow every movie out of proportion. Sure, the message in School of Rock is problematic, but it's still a lot of fun. And if, say, Pat Robertson were going batty about the movie I would be saying, lighten up it's only a movie.
Posted at 08:29 AM
RE: ROCK SCHOOL [Tim Graham]
Jonah, you're absolutely right about the message you could take from SoR. On the other hand, consider how the Black character grows: from wanting to cheat the school and deny the kids any education, to developing a great enthusiasm for teaching, giving the kids confidence in their abilities, and ultimately acting like a parent in protecting the kids from the lamer rock musicians at the contest. The film ends with Black's character running an after-school program after profusely apologizing for all the lying he did. All in all, the politics of it sort of balance into a traditional American film formula: underdogs find their inner strengths and triumph and live happily ever after.
Posted at 08:02 AM
RE: YOUR BASIC QUESTION [Jonah Goldberg]
Kathryn - I've thought about that a lot too. It seems to me that Woodward is the greatest of all possible positions, he's an institution larger than the president. Here's how I see it. Everyone in Washington knows Woodward's going to write the book and the book will get huge publicity. Moreover, everyone believes that Woodward screws those who don't give him access and quotes. So if you look at it like game theory, what choice does the president really have? He can either help Woodward and hence encourage more favorable treatment in the book -- both as a quid pro quo, but also because Bush gets to actually have his say -- or he can snub Woodward at which point the author has ever incentive and few other choices but to lean more heavily on those who speak negatively about the President.
I haven't followed the Kremlinology of all this that closely, but it seems to me that Bush is actually getting some good news out of this. It sounds like Bush has put a lot of the "blame" on Tenet (WMDs are a "slam dunk" indeed) and clarified that Cheney and Rumsfeld were not calling the shots. There's no way Woodward would have written that if Bush hadn't cooperated.
Posted at 07:25 AM
BUSH'S CABLE ADVANTAGE? [Tim Graham]
Today the WashPost investigates a common Democratic beef: President Bush allegedly receives three times as much live cable news coverage as John Kerry. Democratic strategists have been complaining about this almost from the beginning of the Dubya presidency, even though the cable-news emphasis on the White House helped Clinton in 1996 and throughout the scandalous second term.
But here's where the Democratic beef crumbles into hash: 1. The study period. The Post's time period -- from Kerry's victory on March 3 through April 16 -- is a finicky time period to choose, when Kerry took eight days of vacation and the media took a rest from Democrat coverage once the primary race seemed to be over. If the Post had included the time from the Iowa caucuses in late January to March 3, the ratio of coverage would look more balanced. Kerry and the other candidates got hours and hours of cable news time in debates and election-night speeches, and each and every Democratic candidate attacked Bush.
2. The scrutiny imbalance. In the Post's study period, the Bush campaign has been pounded by all the media campaigning on Kerry's behalf. In early March, the TV news elite created a critical frenzy about Bush's supposedly wildly controversial campaign ads which used 9-11 footage for a second or two. In late March, the new book by Richard Clarke injected partisan energy into the 9-11 Commission, and April is now being underlined repeatedly as a bad month for the Iraq reconstruction effort. Bush has been relentlessly scrutinized, as reporters demanded last week in the East Room that he take responsibility for September 11 and admit his incompetence.
In the meantime, what scrutiny has John Kerry received? Lots of demands he take dreamy John McCain as his running mate. Lots of free passes for his gaffes, from the one about how he voted for the Iraq reconstruction bill before he voted against it, to the muttering to unionists about how Republicans are a bunch of crooked liars. And the very same WashPost was running goofy stories by Dan Balz about how Kerry is really a "centrist." Bush can only dream about the kind of media coverage Kerry's receiving.
3. What reporters say. So Bush has received three times as much cable coverage. Even if so, hasn't he also received about ten times as much criticism and negativity? Don't just count minutes of live speeches. What do reporters and anchors say, not to mention the parade of guests and experts? You would find that Kerry's getting a fantastic ratio of positive to negative press, a ratio Bush could only dream about.
Posted at 07:15 AM
RE: SCHOOL OF ROCK [Jonah Goldberg]
I just happened to see "School of Rock" for the first time this weekend too. Unlike Derb & Co. I knew very well who Jack Black was (I love "Tenacious D" -- most decidedly not for little kids Peter). But I just couldn't get away to see it in the theaters. Anyway, I thought SoR was hilarious. It was the first film actually written for Black and it showed -- a lot of his other films were a mis-match.
So, I thought it was great, funny and I will see it many more times. But: since this is National Review and all, I thought I would make one cultural point. If anything like this actually happened in real life -- i.e. a rock-and-roll dufus taught your kids under false pretenses that there was no higher goal in life than to be a rocker and "stick it to the man" -- not only would parents be furious, it is objectively true that this would be an absolutely disastrous event in the lives of most of the kids in that class. Indeed, it may have been funny and easily dismissible as comedy, but the message of SoR is precisely the message -- minus the sex -- that conservatives complain about most: an ideological, all-contexts contempt for authority, traditional learning and "bourgeois" success.
Just throwing it out there.
Posted at 07:12 AM
DON'T LET THE MULLAHS HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT [Jonah Goldberg]
Posted at 06:58 AM
SPAIN RECALLS IRAQ TROOPS [KJL]
Posted at 05:17 AM
SKITTLES, COOKIES, AND MORE [KJL]
An regular Corner reader from Baghdad e-mails:
on the Rod Dreher post below, I don't dispute it. but we're not going to be starving here. This is, after all, a war zone, so we are under no illusions. We'll probably draw MREs, but save them until we've eaten up all of our Sour Skittles and Girl Scout cookies first. Sympathetic Cornerites can mail us more Skittles (of all varieties) and Girl Scout cookies (of all varieties) to: CPA/CJTF-7 PAO, Baghdad, APO AE 09316
Posted at 01:32 AM
SPECTER VS. TOOMEY [KJL]
Steve Hayes on the race.
Posted at 01:25 AM
WAS IT OIL-FOR-TERROR? [KJL]
Claudia Rosett raises more questions about what exactly was being done with U.N. Oil-for-Food money here.
Posted at 12:11 AM
Sunday, April 18, 2004
MY BASIC QUESTION [KJL]
Why does the president sit down with Bob Woodward in the first place? We have, evidently, in the Woodward book, based on 60 Minutes and Post excerpts, a portrait of a simple-minded Christian who thinks he was sent by God to give the whole world freedom, and who doesn't consider himself accountable to Congress, the Constitution, or anyone else. Which would just a typical Beltway book--one current account of history, from the angle of its main sources or writer--if it weren't for the legitimacy stamp it gets from having the president as one of its only on-the-record sources.
Posted at 07:41 PM
POWELL IN THE DARK [KJL]
Condi Rice responds to the Woodward book:
"I just can't let this impression stand," Ms. Rice said on CBS. "The secretary of state was privy to all of the conversations with the president, all of the briefings for the president. They were in almost daily contact about what was going on at the United Nations."
Posted at 07:09 PM
DEFENDING GLOBALIZATION [Jonathan Adler]
Daniel Drezner reviews Jagdish Bhagwati's In Defense of Globalization and explains why multinational corporations don't give cancer to puppies in today's NYT book review. It's worth a read.
Posted at 05:52 PM
BATTERING THE BEER MAKERS [Jonathan Adler]
Lose an underaged loved one in a tragic drunk-driving accident? Don't blame the drunk driver, blame the beer company! At least, that's the approach one grieving mother is taking. As William at Southern Appeal notes, "In a sane world, this suit would be thrown out of court in a New York minute." Alas, I would not bet on it.
Posted at 05:51 PM
WHY GORELICK MUST GO [Michael Graham ]
Proof positive that Jamie Gorelick's presence on the 9/11 Commission is a conflict-of-interest nightmare can be found in today's Washington Post. This proof comes from a most unlikely source: Jamie Gorelick. In an op-ed for the Post today, the 9/11 Commissioner herself says:
"the memo I wrote in March 1995 -- which concerns information-sharing in two particular cases, including the original World Trade Center bombing -- permits freer coordination between intelligence and criminal investigators than was subsequently permitted by the 1995 guidelines or the 2001 Thompson memo. The purpose of my memo was to resolve a problem presented to me: facilitating investigations on both the intelligence side and criminal side at the same time."
This isn't a panelists' conclusion or recommendation: It's testimony. In fact, given the importance of the CIA/FBI breakdown in 2001, this is key, vital testimony. Gorelick should be making this argument under oath, not under political fire and in the Washington Post. Thanks to Gorelick's extensive admission of direct involvement in the CIA/FBI communications guideline issue, the burden is no longer on Commissioner Gorelick. It's on the 9/11 Commission itself. How can they have a thorough investigation of the intelligence failures of 2001 WITHOUT Gorelick's sworn testimony?
If she does not testify, then the entire 9/11 Commission's report can be rightfully ignored. For such a direct, glaring oversight will show that the Commission's agenda is something other than a complete and thorough investigation of all parties involved. If Gorelick doesn't quit, then the rest of the Commissioners should.
Posted at 05:50 PM
DELAYED EASTER LETTER [Rod Dreher]
From a US soldier stationed in Baghdad, whose mother is a friend of mine:
Dear Family and Friends,
I meant to send you out an Easter letter but events have not allowed me as much leisure as I would hope for. This is a polite way of saying that events have us tied by a rope to the back of a car and are driving much faster than any of us can run. So we are dragging a bit.
On a personal note, I watched Full Metal Jacket the other night. It turned out not to be just the film to take my mind away from a difficult situation in which the US is fighting for Democracy among an Asian people who have no use for it whatsoever.
A few things that have not been widely circulated are:
+ We are told that our food supplies are down to 6-days of food left in the Green Zone. Of those 6 days, after tomorrow, it will be MREs. Water is about the same.
On a positive note, there’s plenty of beer, girl-scout cookies and sour skittles about.
+ 82 convoys have been hit in the past 10 days. 200 civilian contactor truck drivers have quit their jobs to go home.
Posted at 05:37 PM
IRAQ AND UNHAPPY READERS [Peter Robinson ]
On Iraq, a number of readers have sent emails, which, like this one, have proven scolding or disappointed:
I don't know what volume of e-mail you've received in negative reviews of the NR editorial but I'm one who found it to be poorly reasoned, diffident and as naturally full of holes as mesh. Really a shock from NR--or perhaps not. To be frank, I'd try to avoid the patrician eye-roll on establishing democracy, pardon the meme, "where there is no tradition." Japan's military cabal wasn't exactly pluralist, and the Meiji period was little more than oligarchical modernization. The island didn't know individual liberties from Ragtime, and yet MacArthur's most sweeping reforms were done before the seven-year occupation was half over. Different from Iraq, yes, but then different from Germany. And Italy.But neither the NR editorial nor my own posting, below, represents an attempt to back away from the project of rebuilding Iraq. What they represent is an effort to sort out our priorities. A stable currency, property rights, a functioning economy, basic public order (note that in Japan, Germany, and Italy alike, once the fighting stopped, it stopped)—each of these is at least as important to the future of Iraq as any set of electoral arrangements. Undemocratic nations are capable of making enormous progress (Taiwan under the Kuomintang, Hong Kong under the British, or, for that matter, Kuwait during these past few years under its own royal family) while democracies that lack the necessary legal and economic undergirding can dissolve into chaos (the Weimar Republic). A working democracy in Iraq would certainly represent a stunning achievement. But we need to be realistic about what we can and cannot accomplish in the space of a few years—and to put first things first.
Posted at 05:35 PM
FOR DESPERATE PARENTS (SUCH AS ME) [Peter Robinson ]
From a reader, a truly useful suggestion:
When you are considering a movie for your kids – or yourself for that matter I guess--I would suggest you check out a movie website called Screen It at www.screenit.com. This woman (maybe she has a crew) reviews movies on the basis of content and not artistic quality. She goes into everything from Nudity/sexual content to smoking (don’t tell Stuttaford), disrespectful behavior, intensity or scenes, etc. She has over a dozen different categories designed to give us a “heads up” on what type of stuff and how much. For example she does not just say “Nudity” but describes what is seen on the screen--not in a prurient way (unless one is really desperate!), but matter of factly.
Posted at 05:33 PM
AN IMAM AT ETON? [Peter Robinson ]
Why, Andrew, just 20 years ago, Eton was still casting a wary eye on Catholics. Forbidden to say mass in the chapel, the priest who ministered to Catholic Etonians had to bring a portable altar with him when he turned up every Sunday morning.
Posted at 05:31 PM
CLASS [Andrew Stuttaford ]
Here’s more (via the Babalu blog) on that incident at the UN in Geneva (see the post on The Corner yesterday) when a Cuban ‘delegate’ beat up an anti-Castro activist, Frank Calzon. The delegate had had to be subdued by Mace-spraying UN guards. Here’s what Calzon had to say later:
“The important thing is the situation in Cuba, where there are no UN guards with Mace to protect the fundamental rights of the Cuban people.”
That’s well said.
Posted at 05:25 PM
TIMEO SAUDI…. [Andrew Stuttaford]
The Greek government has just agreed to plans to build a mosque in Athens, the first since that country’s Muslim colonialists were driven out nearly two centuries ago. Fair enough, the city’s Muslim immigrant minority should be allowed somewhere to worship. Of course they should. That’s what freedom is all about.
What is unacceptable is that the Greeks have accepted money from ‘king’ Fahd of ‘saudi’ Arabia to build it. Fahd is a disgusting individual, a disgrace to humanity, a decaying voluptuary of extraordinary moral, economic and political corruption, a man who turns everything he touches to filth, gold-plated filth, but filth nonetheless. His family presides over a regime where the incompetence is only matched by the cruelty and the greed, a sinister collection of totalitarians so hostile to independent thought that, to take one rather ironic example, they prohibit the construction of any church on their own territory.
To allow this ‘king’ to fund construction of a mosque in the West is an extraordinary declaration of moral weakness. Worse still, any mosque funded by this man will almost certainly peddle the wahhabist superstition that is now inflicting so much misery throughout the world. The Greeks should know better than this. The money should be flung back in Fahd’s face.
Ahead of the fall of Troy, a wise man said that he feared the Greeks when they came bearing gifts. He was right to worry. Well, these days, whether it’s in Athens, London, Washington DC or Crawford, Texas, we would do well to remember the same about the Saudis.
Posted at 05:22 PM
DECLINE AND FALL [Andrew Stuttaford]
Never knowingly out-depressed, "Theodore Dalrymple" can be an astringent read, but it’s not necessary to agree with everything he says to find this new piece from City Journal well worth study.
[On the oppression of women in many Islamic communities] “Here, for once, are instances of unadulterated female victimhood, yet the silence of the feminists is deafening. Where two pieties—feminism and multiculturalism—come into conflict, the only way of preserving both is an indecent silence.”
[On the paradox of increasing Islamic fundamentalism in the West ] “The Muslim immigrants to these areas [of the UK] were not seeking a new way of life when they arrived; they expected to continue their old lives, but more prosperously. They neither anticipated, nor wanted, the inevitable cultural tensions of translocation, and they certainly never suspected that in the long run they could not maintain their culture and their religion intact. The older generation is only now realizing that even outward conformity to traditional codes of dress and behavior by the young is no longer a guarantee of inner acceptance (a perception that makes their vigilantism all the more pronounced and desperate). Recently I stood at the taxi stand outside my hospital, beside two young women in full black costume, with only a slit for the eyes. One said to the other, “Give us a light for a fag, love; I’m gasping.” Release the social pressure on the girls, and they would abandon their costume in an instant.”
[On the link between Islam and authoritarian rule] “The problem begins with Islam’s failure to make a distinction between church and state. Unlike Christianity, which had to spend its first centuries developing institutions clandestinely and so from the outset clearly had to separate church from state, Islam was from its inception both church and state… Muhammad’s power was seamlessly spiritual and secular… and he bequeathed this model to his followers. Since he was, by Islamic definition, the last prophet of God upon earth, his was a political model whose perfection could not be challenged or questioned without the total abandonment of the pretensions of the entire religion. But his model left Islam with two intractable problems. One was political. Muhammad unfortunately bequeathed no institutional arrangements by which his successors in the role of omnicompetent ruler could be chosen…Compounding this difficulty, the legitimacy of temporal power could always be challenged by those who, citing Muhammad’s spiritual role, claimed greater religious purity or authority; the fanatic in Islam is always at a moral advantage vis-à-vis the moderate. Moreover, Islam—in which the mosque is a meetinghouse, not an institutional church—has no established, anointed ecclesiastical hierarchy to decide such claims authoritatively. With political power constantly liable to challenge from the pious, or the allegedly pious, tyranny becomes the only guarantor of stability, and assassination the only means of reform. Hence the Saudi time bomb: sooner or later, religious revolt will depose a dynasty founded upon its supposed piety but long since corrupted by the ways of the world…”
[On Islam’s future] But the anger of Muslims, their demand that their sensibilities should be accorded a more than normal respect, is a sign not of the strength but of the weakness—or rather, the brittleness—of Islam in the modern world, the desperation its adherents feel that it could so easily fall to pieces. The control that Islam has over its populations in an era of globalization reminds me of the hold that the Ceausescus appeared to have over the Rumanians: an absolute hold, until Ceausescu appeared one day on the balcony and was jeered by the crowd that had lost its fear. The game was over, as far as Ceausescu was concerned, even if there had been no preexisting conspiracy to oust him…Islam in the modern world is weak and brittle, not strong: that accounts for its so frequent shrillness. The Shah will, sooner or later, triumph over the Ayatollah in Iran, because human nature decrees it, though meanwhile millions of lives will have been ruined and impoverished. The Iranian refugees who have flooded into the West are fleeing Islam, not seeking to extend its dominion, as I know from speaking to many in my city. To be sure, fundamentalist Islam will be very dangerous for some time to come, and all of us, after all, live only in the short term; but ultimately the fate of the Church of England awaits it. Its melancholy, withdrawing roar may well (unlike that of the Church of England) be not just long but bloody, but withdraw it will. The fanatics and the bombers do not represent a resurgence of unreformed, fundamentalist Islam, but its death rattle.”
Fascinating. Take the time to read the whole thing.
Posted at 05:15 PM
FLOREAT ETONA? [Andrew Stuttaford]
Eton, the most famous and, with the greatest respect to my alma mater, probably, the finest of the English ‘public’ (private) schools is to appoint an ‘imam’. Nothing wrong with that. The school has Muslim pupils, and their spiritual needs should be catered for. More worrying is the suggestion that this cleric’s functions will also include helping other pupils ‘gain an understanding of Islamic culture and thought’. Again, fair enough, but only so long as he is not the sole source of such information. One of the problems with our understanding (such as it is) of Islam is that too much of it (normally pap of the ‘religion of peace’ variety) comes through the conduit of true believers, men who are unlikely to be objective in assessing the strengths and considerable weaknesses of their faith, let alone its decidedly mixed contribution to history. A proper understanding of Islam is essential these days, but, so far as anything can be, it must be objective, and an ‘imam’ will not be that. He can’t be. Yes, yes, before anyone writes to complain, I should stress that if I wished to give pupils an ‘understanding of Christian culture and thought’ I wouldn’t leave that solely to priests either.
Posted at 12:27 PM
WILL HUTTON [Andrew Stuttaford]
Will Hutton is one of Britain’s better-known political commentators (I’ve linked to him a few times on the Corner). A shining beacon of self-regard, self-righteousness and that sublime, almost surreal, stupidity that only the truly ‘intellectual’ can aspire to, he has made a career out of being wrong about almost everything, but today he has contributed to the merriment of the nation, and that's something for which he should be thanked. So, thanks Will! I'll leave it to the Daily Telegraph to tell you a little more about this paragon of progressive thought:
“Will Hutton, Britain's foremost critic of capitalism and an outspoken advocate for affordable social housing, is married to a property developer who has made a fortune out of selling and renting inner-city properties, often at rates which local council housing officers describe as exorbitant.”
Well, unless Hutton, perish the thought, is an utter hypocrite, that must make for interesting chatter over his breakfast table.
Posted at 12:21 PM
KINGSTON COMES [Tim Graham]
My dad and I lucked into several nice tours yesterday of the Fredericksburg-area Civil War battlefields at The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. We walked through the woods at the first site, led by a tour guide with the Civil War Roundtable of Kingston, Ontario. Who knew the Canadians organized groups of Civil War buffs? They even have a website.
At Spotsylvania, the National Park historian told us fascinating stories about that nasty battle (including hours of hand-to-hand combat at "The Bloody Angle") for about an hour. It really does help you understand the battles to walk the battlefield. I haven't read a single Civil War book from cover to cover so far, but my old man is still teaching me new things.
Posted at 10:46 AM