THE RIGHT [Jonah Goldberg]
I'm getting some irate email from people about my Hitchens post. I can understand. But let me just be very clear about how big a place I consider the Right. It's brimming with all sorts of people who aren't, technically speaking, conservatives. There are Postrellian dynamists and Randian atheists and squishy Republican moderates. There are Scoop Jackson Democrats and all manner of cynics. There are more than a dozen flavors of libertarian, though perhaps not all 31 flavors residing in one quarter or another of the RIght. Again, I agree that Hitchens has little place on the Right in terms of economics, but I think lots of people who are currently considered Rightists or even authentic conservatives shouldn't be considered either if you went just by their economic views. But, again, I can't remember the last time Hitchens wrote about economics.
Posted 10:06 PM | [Link]
CONNECT THE NUCLEAR DOTS [Jonah Goldberg]
Turkish athorities intercepted 33 pounds of weapons grade uranium about 155 miles from the Iraqi border! Now, we are constantly being told that the US government, George Bush, the CIA etc screwed up by not connecting the dots leading to September 11. But the same people say there aren't enough dots for us to conclude Saddam needs toppling. Well, good God, connect this dot people. Prediction: some bozo will declare that since this uranium has been intercepted, we know that Saddam still doesn't have any and so that proves we don't need to get rid of him.
Posted 12:53 PM | [Link]
RIGHT TURNS ONLY [Jonah Goldberg]
Andrew, I do hear what you’re saying. However, let me make the contrary case. When Chambers called himself "a man of the Right" he invoked what he called the Beaconsfield position. This was, as I’m sure you know, a reference to Disraeli’s understanding of conservatism as a means of "muddling through." The philosophical upshot of the Beaconsfield position is that times change and conservatives must deal with the reality we live with rather than the reality we imagine could be. I don’t entirely agree with the Beaconsfield position (which makes sense as I call myself a conservative), but it’s essential point is that technology and the material and social desires of a given community evolve in ways that make doctrinaire conservatism very difficult.
Anyway, as I see it Hitchens has been muddling through so much he’s muddled his way out of the Left, which has refused to accept the changing times. So yeah, he may still have some affection for socialism, but he’s also already admitted that market-based economics have won the empirical and intellectual debate (it was in an interview with Reason I believe). And, more important, he almost never talks about socialism or economics. He’s a culture warrior, not a policy wonk. Also, there are plenty of conservatives, paleos and neos, who now embrace all sorts of former economic heresies, from social security to protectionism. No one thinks these conservatives aren’t on the Right.
Hitchens has been stranded on the Right as the tide of post-modern, multicultural gobbledygook has carried the rest of his old movement further out to sea. So now Hitchens stands against virtually all of the PC junk. He rejects the silly games based upon the idea that words have no fixed meanings. Yes, he still believes – no doubt partly out of pride and nostalgia – some silly or even repugnant things about the Cold War and Communism. But the Cold War no longer defines who is on the Right (and, if I recall correctly, there were quite a few Right-wingers with serious problems with the Cold War to begin with). What defines the Right these days, increasingly, is a fundamental belief in the goodness of Western Civilization, a recognition of the threats posed to it, internally and externally, and a rejection of moral relativism in all its forms.
He is no conservative. No one who hates religion as much as he does could be. But I do think these things put him on the leftward fringe of the Right.
Posted 11:08 AM | [Link]
JEW-HATRED, IN VERSE: [Rod Dreher] Here are some lines from a recent composition by Amiri Baraka, the poet laureate of the state of New Jersey: Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed/Who told 4,000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers/To stay home that day/Why did Sharon stay away? Baraka is an aging Sixties black radical. The governor of New Jersey says he doesn't have the power to fire this jerk. In fact, it is claimed that nobody has the power to fire him. I think it's just that no Jersey politician has the guts to take on black anti-Semitism. Read about the whole mess here.
Posted 10:53 AM | [Link]
NO RIGHT TURN [Andrew Stuttaford]
Jonah, I suspect (no, I'm certain) that Christopher Hitchens would be appalled to see himself described as 'a man of the right'. Far better, perhaps, would be to make the (always flattering) comparison with George Orwell. It's possible to reject socialist cant without leaving the socialist camp. Orwell broke decisively with his fellow leftist intellectuals in his willingness to renounce (and denounce) Communism. Nevertheless, a quick glance at Orwell's views on, say, the economy (governmental control, widespread nationalization and so on) reveal a man who remained firmly on the left.
So it is with Hitchens. The extreme multiculturalist piety of today's left is in many ways analogous to the Stalinist faith of its predecessors both in its self-righteousness and, ultimately, its masochism. Breaking with it should not be taken to imply that Hitchens will signing up for the GOP any time soon. A quick glance at, for example, Martin Amis' Koba The Dread (and Hitchens' shifty response to it), reveal Christopher Hitchens to be a man still firmly possessed by the delusions of his leftist intellectual heritage. Even if you take his attacks on Clinton (best summarized in that marvelous polemic No-One Left To Lie To) they are essentially a critique from the left (Clinton betrayed the hopes of 1992) rather than the right.
My guess is that in viewing the increasing rift with a number of his former comrades, Hitchens would argue that it is they, not he, who have split with the traditions of the left.
Posted 6:55 AM | [Link]
THREE YEARS LATE (2) [Andrew Stuttaford]
Rod, I'm afraid that I didn't notice how old that BBC report was either. In a way, that almost makes the story worse. Sapped by multiculturalism, the West has become so passive in the face of such threats that indignation fades and the outrage is forgotten. In the years that followed the fatwa against McNally, 'judge' Omar Bakri Muhammad continued to subsist on hatred and welfare, emerging into fresh notoriety in the aftermath of 9/11 with allegations that he had encouraged Britons to fight for the Taliban.
Here's what Memri had to say about him last year.
Posted 6:52 AM | [Link]
REVISITING FR. JUDGE: [Rod Dreher] The NYTimes has a piece today examining the legacy of Fr. Mychal Judge, who famously died at Ground Zero. So many people wish to claim him as an icon, a bandwagon the Franciscan Order is not joining, out of concern that it will diminish his humanity. One interesting point in the story is that he did not die giving last rites to a firefighter, as popular legend had it -- and when this is pointed out to one of his admirers, she says that it's better for people to believe the lie, because they need something to believe in. This must be exactly what the Franciscans are trying, wisely, to avoid. The truth is he died when he was struck by a piece of falling debris when the south tower collapsed. The fact that he was down there, in the thick of things, when no one would have complained had he been on the perimeter, makes his demise a heroic one, if you ask me. One other thing: there's a controversy over whether or not Fr. Judge was gay. Fr. Neuhaus at First Things appears to have accepted the view of Judge friend Dennis Lynch, who says he was not. But as the Times reports, Thomas Von Essen, the former fire commissioner, says Fr. Judge came out to him years ago. Not that that has anything to do with the manner in which Fr. Judge gave his life.
Posted 5:37 PM | [Link]
THE FALLACI AFFAIR: [Rod Dreher] The October issue of Commentary arrived today, and I've got to tell you, Christopher Caldwell's review article of Oriana Fallaci's forthcoming book The Rage and the Pride is worth the price of the magazine. The book, already a controversial mega-seller in Europe, is a longer version of the Italian journalist's lengthy essay about Islam and the threat she believes it poses to the West. It was written immediately after the 9/11 attacks. The book's basic view is this: 1) there is no substantive difference between Islamic radicalism and Islam itself; 2) the West is engaged in a war with Islam, including Muslims living among us, for its own survival; and 3) that too many in the West refuse to recognize this, and remain passive in the face of forces that wish to destroy our civilization. The European intelligentsia went berserk at this, and dismissed her as a fascist and a racist. A French court will, disgracefully enough, take up the case next month of whether or not the book will be permanently banned in France, under anti-racism laws. Caldwell's discussion of the book and the controversy is so rich as to defy a proper summation. He is not an uncritical admirer of the book, observing that Fallaci's overheated rhetoric at times undermines her case. Nevertheless, he concludes, "Fallaci is far more right than wrong." He points out that for all the politically correct bluster over the accusations she makes against Islam, few critics bothered to investigate her truth claims. Wishing them to be untrue, it seems, is a sufficient response. "Nothing anyone has said in this entire debate, in newspapers, in universities, in courtrooms, has directly challenged Fallaci's point that Islam itself is, if not identical to Islamism, at least its reliable ally," Caldwell writes. Why is all this important? Writes Caldwell: "At stake is whether an international terrorist movement that has declared war on the West will be able to provoke the West to disarm itself, whether through the maleficence of its agents and their sympathizers of through the naivete and kindliness of Westerners themselves. The Fallaci case is an episode -- the most important one so far -- in this agitation for intellectual disarmament."
Posted 5:11 PM | [Link]
THREE YEARS LATE: [Rod Dreher] Jacob T. Levy points out that a story from the British press I linked to the other day, reporting a fatwa issued against the gay playwright Terrence McNally, is three years old. My bad; it was presented to me as new news, and I should have checked the date on the story. If you follow the link to Jacob's blog (scroll down a bit), you'll find some encouraging news about the way a more broadly-based Muslim organization in Britain condemned the fatwa and the radical sheik who issued it.
Posted 3:44 PM | [Link]
FASCINATING LETTER [Jonah Goldberg]
I just received this in response to my column about Germany from last week.
Dear Mr. Goldberg,
Posted 3:08 PM | [Link]
THAT PRETTY MUCH SUMS IT UP, ALL RIGHT [Roger Clegg]
The left hates it when conservatives equate affirmative action with discrimination in the bad old days. But consider Maryland gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s ringing defense of, apparently, both in last night’s debate: “Well, let me tell you, slavery was based on race. Lynching was based on race. Discrimination is based on race. Jim Crow was based on race. And affirmative action should be based on race.”
Posted 3:04 PM | [Link]
AND... [Jonah Goldberg]
Here's the column in which Chris Hitchens declares he'd rather defend Western Civilization than denounce John Ashcroft.
Posted 2:58 PM | [Link]
WFB IN THE NYRB [Jonah Goldberg]
In case you missed it, here's the glowing essay on our maximum leader in the New York Review of Books.
Posted 2:56 PM | [Link]
NO COUP [Andrew Stuttaford]
Mike, I don't think that Blair is - yet - in serious trouble (although an anti-war demonstration here in London tomorrow will doubtless add to talk of a divided Labour party). What finished Mrs. Thatcher in 1990 was the perception amongst Tory MPs that the Conservative party was facing defeat at the next election, and that, after more than a decade in power, Maggie had become a political liability. The rationale for betrayal was purely a matter of political survival. In the Britain of 2002, the situation is very different. In contrast to Mrs. T in 1990, Prime Minister Blair leads a party that has every reason to feel confident about its electoral prospects : there is almost no chance of a Labour defeat the next time that the UK goes to the polls, and, unlike Mrs. Thatcher all those years ago, Mr. Blair remains reasonably popular in the country as a whole. In other words, Labour MPs currently have few worries about suddenly finding themselves unemployed. If, on the other hand, the UK and the US were to invade Iraq without UN 'authorization' and if that invasion were to go badly, everything would change. The Labour Party would find itself in deep political trouble and Blair would almost certainly find himself on the wrong end of a parliamentary coup.
Posted 2:46 PM | [Link]
THE DEMOCRATIC FOG OF WAR [Jonah Goldberg]
My column is up. On re-reading, I guess the second half is better than the first. But I report, you decide.
Posted 2:40 PM | [Link]
POST SADDAM IRAQ = ONE GIANT JORDAN? [Jonah Goldberg]
Very interesting hypothetical over at Stratfor.com about incorporating most of Iraq into one giant Hasheemite Kingdom. Thanks to Instapundit for the link (and for beating the drums about this for a while).
Posted 2:37 PM | [Link]
YEAH, RIGHT.... [Jonah Goldberg]
Civilian trials won't turn into a circus..
Posted 2:18 PM | [Link]
A COUP AGAINST BLAIR? [ Mike Potemra]
The New Republic says it could happen. It would be a disaster-whoever would replace "Tony the Tiger" (to use Kathryn's phrase) would almost certainly be an opponent of U.S. foreign policy and the Iraq war, and a hard socialist in domestic policy.
Posted 1:36 PM | [Link]
HITCHENS AND THE RIGHT [Jonah Goldberg]
Apparently Christopher Hitchens is leaving the Nation. There's some interesting stuff about it over at Andrew Sullivan Land, including an interesting little gaffe from an AP story which labled Hitchens a "conservative." Now Hitchens isn't a conservative, but I've long wanted to write a piece about how I think Hitch is a man of the Right. This is a distinction always lost on the mainstream press -- and many conservatives. Whittaker Chambers, for the record, rejected the lable "conservative" in favor of "Man of the Right" (which I've written about many times before, one example). Hitchens is a recovering socialist, sure, and he's had lots of nasty things to say about America in the past. But the fact is that, culturally, Hitchens doesn't fit on the Left of today. Even if he won't admit it, he rejects the multiculturalism of the left, refuses to to put the "movement" before the facts or what's right (as he sees them), and he seems to passionately believe that the Canon is not merely useful but essential to understanding the world. These, and other assumptions, put him at odds with the cultural left in almost every way.
Posted 12:30 PM | [Link]
BIDEN ON ANONYMOUS ACCUSATIONS [Jonathan Adler]
A former colleague passed along then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden's comments on anonymous accusations against judicial nominees from October 8, 1991: "But let me conclude by suggesting once again, the nominee has the right to be confronted by his accuser. So any accusation against any nominee before any committee which I chair, that is not able to be made public to the nominee, will not be made known to the Senate unless the individual wishes to do it all by themselves. Then it's known to the nominee. This is not a star chamber."
Posted 12:04 PM | [Link]
GOTCHA! [Sarah Maserati]
Daniel Henninger makes an obvious, but still an important and great point in his WSJ column today about the congressional intelligence hearings and the 20/20 hindsight of those Democratic congressmen: "Let's see if I understand this correctly. We all now think that we could have known that al-Qaeda was going to drive civilian airliners into American buildings or some such, and we probably knew enough to prevent these deaths from happening. But the same people who say the danger was obvious also say and write that we don't yet know enough about Iraq's military capabilities or intention to act pre-emptively against Saddam Hussein."
Posted 11:59 AM | [Link]
NOT A PARODY [Jonah Goldberg]
Ramsey Clark's letter to the UN.
Posted 11:16 AM | [Link]
HIRING CLERKS [Jonathan Adler]
Miguel Estrada is accused of blocking liberal candidates for clerkships with Justice Anthony Kennedy. While no one doubts Estrada is a conservative, I am somewhat skeptical. First, it is uncontroverted that Miguel Estrada has supported the applications of at least a few liberal candidates. Second, there is a big difference between evaluating clerkship candidates based upon their judicial philosophy and evaluating them on their politics. I have known many politically liberal law clerks who nonetheless embraced a "conservative" judicial philosophy. I should also add that having been on both sides of the clerkship interview process -- albeit not at the Supreme Court -- I am very suspicious about the charges. Much is said in the process to gauge the reaction of candidate and plumb their legal reasoning skills that could be construed as the imposition of an ideological litmus test. For instance, it is not uncommon for current clerks or other screeners to engage in Socratic questioning of applicants which would create the impression that the questioner is hostile to the applicants positions. But it ain't necessarily so.
Posted 11:06 AM | [Link]
EVEN MORE SHAME [Jonathan Adler]
Jonah, it's even worse than that. In June 2001, Senator Schumer wrote an op-ed for the NYT on judicial nominations in which he decried "gotcha" politics because such tactics have "warped the confirmation process and harmed the Senate's reputation." No matter. Rather than forthrightly claim he doesn't want a conservative Hispanic on the D.C. Circuit, Schumer attacks him with anonymous, uncorroborated charges about off-hand comments Estrada may have made about clerkship candidates. Senator Biden, for all his faults, would never have allowed such a practice when he was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Posted 11:06 AM | [Link]
CAMPUS WATCH PROGRESS [Stanley Kurtz]
Today’s New York Times has an important article about the controversy over Campus Watch. Campus Watch is the website, established by Daniel Pipes, that I defended earlier this week in “Balancing the Academy.” Campus Watch lists the work of a number of Middle East specialists whose views on the region need and deserve to be challenged. It seems that several professors in other fields, led by postmodern feminist Judith Butler, have written to Campus Watch and asked to be included among those listed. This is seen as an act of “solidarity” with those supposedly under pressure from Pipe’s “McCarthyism.” Of course, as I’ve already noted, no one complained about McCarthyism when Pipes himself, and many other prominent non-leftists scholars were named, falsely accused of racism for exploring connections between Islam and terrorism, and singled out for attack on political grounds. Instead of condemning these attacks as McCarthyism, the professors making them were given tenure as a reward. But it’s evident from the piece in today’s Times that the campaign to expose the biases of Middle East Studies that began with the publication of Martin Kramer’s Ivory Towers on Sand is now making real progress. Best of all, it its effects are beginning to spread to the academy as a whole.
Posted 10:42 AM | [Link]
PAYING FOR ILLEGAL HOSPITAL BILLS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Border-area hospitals ask for federal help.
Posted 9:45 AM | [Link]
KINSLEY ON IRAQ [Stanley Kurtz]
Michael Kinsley is a very bright and reasonable liberal, not a left-wing ideologue. That is why I find his extraordinary op-ed today so disturbing. What bothers me most about it is his notion that we don’t have enough information to decide whether to invade Iraq. For Kinsley, the fact that Tony Blair’s dossier on Saddam Hussein contained no new information means that we haven’t been given adequate facts. Kinsley seems honestly to believe that the administration has no rationale for making war on Saddam Hussein. He expresses a sense of genuine confusion about the reasons for this war that many good liberals share. There is no doubt that the administration is going to have to do a better job of explaining its rationale for war. The real issue is not Saddam’s defiance of U.N. resolutions, it is the way in which Saddam will be able to destroy the peace of the world if we allow him to have a nuclear weapon for even one day. But if Kinsley wants to see the case for war with Iraq laid out in scrupulous detail, all he needs to do is read Kenneth Pollack’s, The Threatening Storm: The Case For Invading Iraq. We don’t need to have any more information than we already do to know that we must invade. Pollack shows why. I am now most of the way through Pollack’s extraordinary chapter on the planning and conduct of an invasion, and it opens the reader’s eyes as nothing else can to what are surely the real motivations of, and constraints on, the administration’s actions right now. Pollack was president Clinton’s top Iraq advisor, and in reading this book, you hearing what a president hears as he plans for war. As I argued yesterday, if liberal skeptics truly want to understand the reasons for this war, then they are obligated to read this book.
Posted 9:26 AM | [Link]
DO WE HAVE THE FORCES TO FIGHT? [Stanley Kurtz]
It really is ridiculous to be heading into the invasion and occupation of Iraq with as few troops as we have. Read this article from today’s Washington Post and see if you don’t agree that our force levels are too low. The article shows that we are relying too heavily on reserve troops to fill in for what the regular army ought to be doing. Soon enough, this will undermine recruitment to the reserves, and we shall be even more in need of troops than we are now. Of course I’ve been saying that we need more troops, whether by paying for an expanded volunteer force, or by draft, for some time now. But it’s obvious that the current political environment will not support an expansion of our forces. So we cover the problem up by damaging the long term recruiting prospects for the reserves. The real question is what will happen after we have conquered Iraq. If things go well, the administration will have huge political capital to expend, and there will no longer be the fear that a move to expand the military could scuttle political momentum behind the invasion itself. At that point, a draft will still be unlikely, but an expansion of the all-volunteer forces will at least be conceivable. A lot will depend on whether our allies agree to help pay for the occupation of Iraq. More will depend on how many troops it will take to occupy Iraq. Any way you slice it, though, the decision to fund a larger military will likely force us into a tough choice between radical cuts in domestic spending and repeal of the tax cut. In an important sense, the apparent agreement on the war is deceptive. The public has definitely not established that it is willing to sacrifice, and even the silent opposition of many Democrats to the war has the effect of paralyzing the administration on the question of expanding the military. Again, the critical question is whether the post-war political environment will allow more space for military expansion. But for now, the public demands another cost-free war. Too bad, because this time, our lives are truly at stake.
Posted 9:24 AM | [Link]
THE NEW SAN FRANCISCO DEMOCRAT [Jonah Goldberg]
My syndicated column on Gore's speech.
Posted 9:17 AM | [Link]
SCHUMER'S SHAME [Jonah Goldberg]
Jon - I heard some clips from the Estrada hearing. It was astounding. Schumer's "argument," as you note, was dripping with smarminess and innuendo. But the upshot of it was the most outrageous part. Schumer has been imposing ideological litmus tests on nominees with reckless abandon. He considers it his duty to keep conservatives off the court by any means necessary. And now he's suggesting -- through anonymous accusers no less -- that Estrada is not qualified because he applied ideological litmus tests to clerks!?
Posted 8:58 AM | [Link]
LIFE AT NRO [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Jack Dunphy called from his patrol car, sirens and all, at 6 ayem today. No intro or anything, just "Have you ever been called from a cop car before?" It took me a few seconds.
Posted 8:40 AM | [Link]
MAYBE TEENS AREN'T ANIMALS AFTER ALL [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Teenage BOYS turn away a stripper one of the kids' fathers brings along to a football party. Makes you wonder about all those they'll-do-it-anyway-so-hand-them-condoms arguments, too.
Posted 8:27 AM | [Link]
GULF-MEDIA UPDATE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
WASHINGTON/BAGHDAD, 27 September — US warplanes struck Basra airport in southern Iraq and knocked out its radar yesterday, as Russia poured cold water on Washington’s efforts to win official UN backing for making war on Baghdad. Iraqi television said "US ravens of evil carried out another aggression at 00:45 a.m. (2045 GMT on Wednesday), targeting Basra international airport," in an attack a government spokesman called a "terrorist" act.Full Arab News story here.
Posted 8:05 AM | [Link]
IF TOM CRUISE IS WITH US... [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
...Only Barbra Streisand can be against us.
Posted 5:57 AM | [Link]
'STALIN'S VICTIMS' [Andrew Stuttaford]
In response to an earlier post commenting on CNN and its coverage of the mass grave outside St. Petersburg a reader links to
this story. Why the quotation marks around 'Stalin's Victims' ? Note also the comment that Russian officials "have said that they believe" that millions perished under Stalin. Why that qualification? Millions were murdered: it's that simple - and that horrible. CNN should just say so.
Posted 10:08 PM | [Link]
SHAME ON SCHUMER [Jonathan Adler]
I don't expect to agree with Senator Schumer all that often, but I was truly astounded by his conduct at today's confirmation hearing for Miguel Estrada. The Judiciary Committee has a long-standing tradition -- historically upheld by Senator Joe Biden -- that nominees are not confronted with anonymous accusations. Senator Schumer has also disclaimed "gotcha" politics. Yet Senator Schumer has persisted in trying to catch Estrada contradicting himself about anonymous accusations, reported in The Nation, that Estrada vetoed law clerk applicants for Justice Anthony Kennedy because they were too liberal. If this persists the Senate Judiciary Committee will have hit a new low -- and that's saying something.
Posted 10:07 PM | [Link]
ON PROGRESS AND ISLAM Mike Potemra]
Anti-Catholic bigots used to love to quote some of the propositions condemned by Pope Pius IX in his famous 1864 Syllabus of Errors. “In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship”: proposition condemned. “It has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own peculiar worship”: proposition condemned. “The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with . . . modern civilization”: condemned. As I said, the anti-Catholics had great fun with this, because it seemed to prove (to the bigots’ satisfaction, at least) that Catholics were a benighted people who sought nothing but to tyrannize over everyone else, and certainly weren’t capable of making a positive contribution to our American democracy. For a number of reasons too complicated to enter into here, Catholics turned out to be a very positive, pro-democratic force in America. In the long run, whether Islam makes similar progress is up to Muslims themselves—but we Americans can help, today, by firmly opposing all Muslim forces that engage in violence and tyranny. Oh, and before I get all the e-mails from ultra-traditionalist Catholics explaining how Pius IX’s denunciations are perfectly consistent with today’s Catholic doctrines, let me say I’m really not interested in that discussion. As long as people stop killing and tyrannizing in the name of Islam, I don’t really mind if they write complicated theological disquisitions on how this new policy (not killing and not tyrannizing) is perfectly consistent with the earlier policy (killing and tyrannizing).
Posted 10:05 PM | [Link]
BUNK FROM BRODER: [Ramesh Ponnuru]
The dean says that Bush is a "radical," not a classic conservative, since he doesn't seek "to preserve the status quo." Some of Broder's illustrations are goofy. It's normal, he says, for an incoming Republican president to propose cutting taxes, as Bush did. But: "What is different is Bush's insistence that tax cutting should continue, even with the return of budget deficits. . . . Facing deficits in his second year, Ronald Reagan acquiesced in Congress's rollback of some 1981 tax cuts. In a similar situation in his second year, the president's father made the same concession to a Democratic Congress. This President Bush has broken the pattern."
But Reagan faced deficits in his first year, too, when he proposed tax cuts. The federal government had, in fact, been in continuous deficit for over a decade. Nor can it be said that Bush I rolled back previous tax cuts--he hadn't cut any taxes. Broder's history is bunk.
So is the larger thesis that Bush's willingness to shake up the status quo is "redefining what it means to be a conservative." Who was more in line with the status quo, Reagan or Carter? Reagan wanted to reverse a half-century pattern of government growth and reverse the foreign policy of (at least) the previous three presidents. Was Gingrich trying to preserve the status quo? Republicans in the mid-'90s styled themselves "revolutionary." Where's Broder been for the last 40 years?
Posted 7:42 PM | [Link]
RE: SAVING ISLAM: [Rod Dreher] Mike, I look forward to reading Pryce-Jones article, especially coming to understand how Islam is, in his view, compatible with democracy. Contrary to that view, I'm now in the middle of Roger Scruton's terrific The West and the Rest, his meditation on the meaning of globalization and Islamic terrorism. Scruton argues that democracy as we know became possible because it emerged out of an understanding of the discrete realms of the sacred and secular intrinsic to Christianity. Islam has no such view, says Scruton; the shari'a -- Islamic law -- is valid for all. "This does not mean that Islamic societies have been governed solely by the shari'a," Scruton writes. "On the contrary, in almost all respects relevant to the government of a large society, the shari'a is radically deficient. It proceeds by the application of immensely complex sources to the individual case and, while rich in jurisprudential commentary, has produced no body of general laws." The result, Scruton writes, is that the political leaders of Islamic societies have had to promulgate laws outside the shari'a, simply to govern their countries. "But these laws have no independent legitimacy in the eyes of those compelled to obey them. They do not create a space outside religion in which freedom is the norm. On the contrary, they merely add to the constraints of th holy law the rules of apolitical order that is backed by no de jure authority, but only by de facto power. In any upheaval they are rejected entirely as the arbitrary edicts of a usurper. Hence, there is no scope in a traditional Islamic society for the kinds of purely political development, through the patient building of institutions and secular laws, that we know in the West. Change, when it comes, takes the form of a crisis, as power is challenged from below in the name of the one true Power above."
Posted 2:27 PM | [Link]
AND ANOTHER THING... [Andrew Stuttaford]
It's also curious that the BBC refer to "Al Muhajiroun - The Defenders of The Messenger Jesus" as if they were an enthusiastic, if somewhat unexpected, ally of some of this country's wilder evangelicals. In fact, Al Muhajiroun (without the benign-sounding suffix) is an ominous presence on the UK's Islamic extreme. Strange that the BBC didn't choose to point this out.
Posted 2:19 PM | [Link]
FATUOUS [Andrew Stuttaford]
Rod, that BBC story about the 'fatwa' pronounced on Terrence McNally makes depressing reading. It's also somewhat disturbing to see the matter of fact way in which the BBC refers to Sheik Omar Bakri Muhammad as a "judge of the Shari'ah Court of the UK", without any hint (a quotation mark or two would have been good) that this 'court' is an entirely unofficial body that seems to make up in malice for what it lacks in status.
If Sheik Omar Bakri Muhammad is a judge, I'm an emperor.
Posted 1:51 PM | [Link]
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH DENOUNCES CHRIST [Jonah Goldberg]
Just kidding. Something only a little less shocking; The New Republic comes out against Al Gore. (Note: they seem to be having server problems because of a Drudge link).
Posted 1:40 PM | [Link]
SAVING ISLAM Mike Potemra]
NR senior editor David Pryce-Jones is one of the world's leading authorities on the Arab world, and he has a marvelous article in the London Spectator on how the U.S. can help save Islam from its extremists. His analysis of the current situation is as follows: "South America, Russia and central and eastern Europe, and parts of Africa have all democratised in recent years. Arabs and other Muslims are almost alone in standing outside this profound historical transformation, and as a result they are increasingly unable to deal with today's world. Islam in practice tends to absolutism but it has a vision of justice and equality consonant with political democracy. What is missing in their legacy is any mechanism for enlarging separate ethnic and religious identities into a unitary nation-state." Pryce-Jones goes on to explain that the U.S. war against Iraq is a positive step toward peace and democracy in the overall Islamic world: "Destabilisation [in Iraq] is an essential prerequisite for progress. Countries like Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran may have the good fortune to be similarly destabilised. This could be the moment when the Arabs and Muslims take their place in the modern world." These are words of hope, and good practical advice. We want a world in which, in the year 2302, a typical Muslim will live in a free and tolerant society-and think fondly of the Americans who, centuries ago, played such a positive role in making it happen.
Posted 1:31 PM | [Link]
SANDSTORM [Stanley Kurtz]
The most important entry into the world of blogdom that I’ve seen in some time is Martin Kramer’s new, Sandstorm. If you have any interest in the war or the Middle East, bookmark this blog. Kramer is one of Bernard Lewis’s most important students. He edits the Middle East Quarterly. Above all, he is the author of Ivory Towers On Sand, the devastating critique of contemporary Middle East studies that kicked off the battle over things like Title VI funding for the academy, and the scholarly boycott of the National Security Education Program–a program that really aim to put experts on the Middle East in our defense and intelligence agencies. (Here’s my take on that book.) Kramer’s blog is simply first rate. Today’s entry exposes the close ties between John Esposito, arguably the most prominent scholar of Islam in the academy today, and a supporter of Hamas. Esposito has argued for years that our fears of Islamists are exaggerated–that we unfairly lump many democratic moderates together with people like Osama bin Laden. But here, Esposito seems to have direct and long term ties to someone who, as Kramer shows, is anything but moderate. On the contrary, this friend and collaborator of Esposito seems to be openly rooting for the folks who brought down the World Trade Center. (Here’s my own take on Esposito.) When you get to Sandstorm, be sure to scroll down and have a look at Kramer’s important critique of Francis Fukuyama’s new article about fundamentalist Islam. That article is critically important, because it’s Fukuyama’s attempt to patch up some of the weakness of The End of History. Kramer, however, isn’t buying it. This weblog is as good as it gets. Go there. And while your at it, check out Kramer’s larger website.
Posted 1:07 PM | [Link]
ACCENTUATE THE NEGATIVE [John Derbyshire]
Andrew: I don't know if my signature has negative value, but I do recall a British politician so deficient in personality that it was said of him: When he walks into a room full of people, they all look at each other and say, "Who was it that just left?"
Posted 11:34 AM | [Link]
DON'T TRY THIS WITH THE SUITS [Jonah Goldberg]
I think Dennis Kozlowski, the disgraced former CEO of Tyco, is simply a criminal and, when convicted, he should go to jail for a long time. Anyway, my absolute favorite tidbit from the tales of his looting spree hasn't gotten much attention. At his now infamous birthday party for his wife in Sardinia. The party featured waiters in togas and faux gladiators. And, they had a full-size ice-sculpture version of Michelangelo's "David" which had vodka flowing from its you-know-what. Can you imagine putting that on your expense account? That's what the era of Clinton-greed brought us.
Posted 11:16 AM | [Link]
DO IT AL, JUST DO IT: [Rod Dreher] Yesterday, someone forwarded me an uncredited news report saying the producers of Barbershop had apologized to Jesse Jackson, Rosa Parks and the family of M.L.K. This morning, though, the NYTimes reports that MGM, the studio that released it, says no apology will be forthcoming, and certainly not a censoring of the comments that incensed Jackson. The Times also says the Rev. Al Sharpton is threatening to start a nationwide boycott of the movie this Friday, absent the filmmakers meeting Jackson's demands. One can only hope Sharpton goes through with it. He recently showed a tin ear for pop culture when his racialist alliance with Michael Jackson on the absurd charge that Sony Music was racially exploiting him (black recording artists rushed to the defense of Sony chief Tommy Mottola, and Sharpton had to back down). If Sharpton attacks this popular black movie on such flimsy grounds, I suspect many African-Americans will tell the Rotund Rev where to get off. Good. This discussion needs to happen.
Posted 10:56 AM | [Link]
PEACEFUL PAKISTANIS... [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
...kill 7 Christian charity workers.
Posted 10:49 AM | [Link]
HITCHENS [Richard Brookhiser]
Kathryn: Saw the headline, CHRIS HITCHENS IS ON BOARD, and thought for a sec you'd signed him with NRO.
Posted 9:45 AM | [Link]
POLLACK UNPLUGGED [Stanley Kurtz]
Well, I must be psychic. It wasn’t till I’d finished my blog on the signed ad on today’s New York Times op-ed page by conservative realists opposed to an invasion of Iraq that I noticed today’s featured op-ed. The Times has given an unusual amount of space to Kenneth Pollack, whose new book is the subject of my NRO piece today. In his op-ed, Pollack explains why a nuclear-armed Saddam cannot be deterred--the point I focus on in my own discussion of Pollack’s book, and the very point that refutes the professors who signed today’s ad. Pollack’s Op-Ed is important and most welcome, but you really ought to get the book. The true dimensions of the danger of letting Saddam survive only come through there. Thank goodness this book is out. Our national debate over Iraq is heating up, and the nay-sayers are going to have serious trouble coming to terms with Pollack’s arguments.
Posted 9:25 AM | [Link]
AL QUAEDA Vs. IRAQ [Jonah Goldberg]
The question of which is the bigger threat is going to be a media thumbsucker for the next couple days. They asked Bush which he thought was a bigger threat yesterday and he said he couldn't choose just one. So now the question is CNN's question of the day (or the morning, I'm not sure). It was the central criticism in Al Gore's speech: al-Quaeda should be our top priority because Iraq can wait. Etc etc. Now, I don't know which is the greater threat, because it is impossible to know what a bunch of psychopaths are ever going to do. This is one of the reasons why we call them "psychopaths" instead of, say, "bunny rabbits."
But let's remember that it has been the standing policy of the United States to be able to fight two wars simultaneously for a very long time. I know that fighting al-Quaeda isn't the same thing as, say, defending Taiwan from a Chinese invasion while attacking Iraq simultaneously. But am I crazy to think that defending Taiwan might take more troops and other military resources than a search and destroy mission for al-Quaeda? I can imagine that the war on al-Quaeda might require more intelligence resources and serve to drain some of our special forces, but so would a simultaneous war in the Persian Gulf and on the Korean peninsula, right?
Asking whether one is more of a threat than the other isn't without merit. The real question is whether or not both of them are a significant enough threat to deal with each of them -- even simultaneously. You don't say "Oh I won't kill the rattle snake in my kitchen because that gas leak is a much bigger threat." You figure out how to deal with both as quickly as possible.
Posted 9:14 AM | [Link]
PROFESSORS AGAINST IRAQ WAR [Stanley Kurtz]
Today’s New York Times op-ed page features an ad signed by 33 professors of international relations who oppose an invasion of Iraq. The statement’s authors and signers are not left-wing academics, but prominent members of the “realist” school. These professors claim that even a nuclear-armed Saddam would be deterred by the threat of U.S. or Israeli retaliation. However, it’s important to understand just how odd the views of some of these scholars are. John Mearsheimer, one of the statement’s principal authors, for example, offered his prescription for the Iraqi crisis in the latest issue of The National Interest. There he denies that the Islamic world’s hostility to America is grounded in hatred of Western culture and maintains instead that it is American foreign policy--like our stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia--that is responsible for terrorism. Mearsheimer then advocates a withdrawal of United States forces from the Middle East and reliance on states in the region to balance each other. According to Mearsheimer, our problems with Iraq can be fixed if we cozy up to Iran. And if that doesn’t work and Iran becomes a problem, says Mearsheimer, we should actually bolster Iraq in an effort to balance Iran. From this it follows, Mearsheimer argues, that we should entirely withdraw our sanctions against Iraq. In short, Mearsheimer is a believer in classic balance of power. He denies any role to cultural factors--like Muslim resentment against the West for its own failure to modernize--and sees no real danger in proliferating weapons of mass destruction. The same can be said of Kenneth Waltz, another signer of the statement. As I wrote in, “Brave New World,” Waltz actually believes that the spread of nuclear weapons to all countries will have the effect of guaranteeing a peaceful world. But for reasons I detail in that piece, Waltz is dead wrong. So before you get carried away by the idea of realist professors opposing an invasion of Iraq, think about whether you would feel safer with an end to the sanctions against Iraq and the spread of nuclear weapons to every country in the world. And for a powerful explanation of why these professors are wrong--why a nuclear armed Saddam cannot be deterred by the threat of force--be sure to read the brand new book by Kenneth Pollack, The Threatening Storm. (See my NRO piece today for details.)
Posted 9:00 AM | [Link]
EASING SAUDI FEARS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
The adding of Saudi Arabia to a list of nations from which visitors will get a new fingerprinting treatment is apparently being downplayed by the Department of Justice. In today's Arab News, a DOJ spokesman tells Saudi nationals (including the ones who are terrorists?) not to worry. The Department of Justice "considers Saudi Arabia an ally on the war in terrorism," the Arab News was told, and is not being singled out (despite the majority of 9/11 hijackers having come from there).
Posted 8:47 AM | [Link]
LOOK WHO IS HARBORING TERRORISTS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Al Qaeda camps in Iran.
Posted 8:36 AM | [Link]
CHRIS HITCHENS IS ON BOARD... [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
...an Iraq attack. (He's also leaving The Nation.)
Posted 6:05 AM | [Link]
BAD DEAL [Andrew Stuttaford]
I don't want to say anything, but that offer to bid a dollar for a half eaten jar of Marmite signed by Derb is, well, kinda insulting. According to at least one on-line vendor of British treats, the smallest (125 `grams´ ) jar of Marmite sells in this country for $2.32. That means that a half-eaten jar should sell for $1.16. The person offering to pay `at least a dollar´ for an autographed jar is, therefore, implying that John Derbyshire`s signature could actually subtract value from this product.
Posted 1:21 AM | [Link]
THAT'S GOTTA HURT: [Rod Dreher] Speaking on Hardball tonight, Rep. Dick Armey referred to Al Gore as "the former vice president and future nothing." Ouch!
Posted 10:06 PM | [Link]
INS AT WORK [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Given their general slowness and communication problems, perhaps they have not hear about the events of September 11, 2001.
Posted 4:31 PM | [Link]
TERRENCE MCNALLY [John Derbyshire]
I think what you would think I would think. As I recall, the matter arose because the Holy Family are minor saints in Islam. That is why, in Turkey, "Isa" (that is, Jesus) and "Yusuf" (Joseph) are common given names. Thus, Christians who are offended by anti-Christian art, plays, etc. should easily be able to recruit Muslims to their cause. Of course, the Christians will mostly be concerned with stopping public funding to these outrages; Muslims will lean more to the fatwa strategy... "Same bed, different dreams," as the Chinese say.
Posted 4:29 PM | [Link]
BEST-EVER ONION STORY: [Rod Dreher] The Onion's, um, archived take on a Malcolm X speech is so funny that you will have stuff coming out of your nose.
Posted 3:43 PM | [Link]
AUCTION SUGGESTIONS [Jonah Goldberg]
Keep flying in. Here's one for Derb:
"I'd shell out at least a dollar for a half-eaten jar of Marmite with an authentic Derb signature...I think the auction is a great idea!"
Posted 3:43 PM | [Link]
OKAY... [Jonah Goldberg]
It's entirely possible that Twain was being sarcastic. But about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I'm deadly serious. My latest syndicated column.
Posted 3:26 PM | [Link]
This is your link.
Posted 3:21 PM | [Link]
WHITHER DERB?: [Rod Dreher] Our own John Derbyshire opines on a novel by Michel Houellebecq, the French writer on trial in Paris for blaspheming Islam. Derb concludes that Houellebecq is a nasty piece of work, but "Naturally, we have to support the jerk. Muslims who come to live in Western countries must accustom themselves to the fact that being rude about religion, whatever you may think of the practice (I don't think much of it myself), has a long and not entirely dishonorable pedigree among us — in the case of France, going back at least as far as Voltaire. (At the court of Frederick the Great, where Voltaire spent considerable time, Macaulay tells us that: 'The absurdity of all the religions known among men was the chief topic of conversation.') For better or worse, blasphemy laws are no longer operative in any important Western country. That is how we are. If visitors and immigrants don't like it, the remedy for their discomfort is rather obvious." Well said! Now, Derb, where do you stand on the fatwa against Terrence McNally?
Posted 3:21 PM | [Link]
MY LAST ANDA POST FOR TODAY [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
It passed the House 229-189, despite the ridiculous rhetoric. Now, pray for a Senate miracle.
Posted 3:11 PM | [Link]
CONGRATULATIONS, BEN!: [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Thanks, Rod, for linking to Ben Domenech's site. I hadn't read it for a few days, and I'd missed some happy news in the young man's life. Welcome to the club, Ben. (And with this post, you can't say you have nothing to read in the Corner.)
Posted 2:58 PM | [Link]
PIM FORTUYN WARNED US: [Rod Dreher] An Islamic court in the UK has given a death sentence for blasphemy to Terrence McNally, the gay playwright who wrote a terrible, tendentious play depicting Jesus Christ as a homosexual. This is outrageous! I saw the play when it opened in New York, and reviewed it quite negatively for The Weekly Standard. Leaving aside the blasphemy, which Christian groups were right to protest, it was an embarrassing failure as art. That said, we live in a free country, and McNally is at liberty to write lousy plays offensive to Christians without having to worry about his safety. God bless America. What has happened to him in England now with the Muslims, who revere Jesus, is terrifying, and yet more evidence that Islam is a danger to civilized life in the West. Please note that I am not defending that McNally's repulsive Corpus Christi; I am defending his right to write the foul thing and have it performed in peace and safety. This is important for Christians to say, and even more important for Muslims living in the West to say (so say it!). If certain Muslims think they have the right to issue a death sentence on a man for saying what's on his mind, they are unfit for life in the democratic West, and ought to be deported to whatever tick-ridden, wife-beating, book-burning, infidel-hating Third World backwater whence they came.
Posted 2:41 PM | [Link]
CRUNCHY-CON SLAPFIGHT: [Rod Dreher] Josh Claybourn gets it but Ben Domenech doesn't. Discuss.
Posted 2:22 PM | [Link]
THEY ARE NOT AMUSED: [Rod Dreher] The Barbershop message board is full of anti-Jesse commentary.
Posted 2:16 PM | [Link]
BURKE AT THE BARBERSHOP: [Rod Dreher] I really don't want to make too much of this little comedy, but I can't quit thinking about what a truly conservative movie it is. Old Eddie's words to young Calvin at the film's climax lay out the reason Calvin's late father, from whom he has inherited the barbershop, was a successful man, though not a rich one. Eddie, who worked for Calvin Sr., explains how the father was a friend to all, and how he was willing to help out anyone who came asking. Moreover, simply by running his business in a public-spirited way -- it was a natural gathering place for the men of the community -- Calvin Sr. made the barbershop one of Burke's "little platoons," a voluntary association that promoted community and a sense of belonging, of mutual obligation that binds neighbor to neighbor. Eddie doesn't want Calvin Jr. to forget that, and forfeit the barbershop to a loan shark promising to help him (Calvin Jr.) achieve his private get-rich-quick dreams, at the expense of the community. Eddie also says that no matter how frustrating running the barbershop has been over the years, "there never was a time when I wasn't glad to be here." Some things money can't buy.
Posted 2:07 PM | [Link]
ANOTHER IMPORTANT REMINDER [Jonah Goldberg]
Rod, Mike, I agree with you guys that Jackson’s a boob, Flannery O’Connor is great and that yanking books just for PC hysteria is a bad idea. However, since I’ve been cast in the light of NR’s Comstock, I thought I’d point out that even Mark Twain himself wanted his book banned from some libraries.
Both Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer were removed from the Children's Department of The Brooklyn Public Library in 1905. They were designated "bad examples for ingenuous youth." A librarian who opposed the ban wrote to Mark Twain seeking his support. Twain sent the following letter:
Nov. 21, '05.
Now, I'm not in favor of pulling Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn from libraries, but let's at least give a small nod to the fact that some material actually can be banned from libraries without the sky falling.
Posted 2:06 PM | [Link]
JOHN KASS POPS JESSE: [Rod Dreher] Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass quotes the radio interview in which Jesse Jackson admitted he hadn't seen Barbershop. This is a swell hit piece, one that raises other questions about Jackson's public foibles. NOTE: You have to register with the Chicago Tribune website to read the column. Bleah.
Posted 1:57 PM | [Link]
AN IMPORTANT REMINDER Mike Potemra]
Rod, your cautionary words are well taken. Over the long haul, a country can only be as free as its citizens will allow it to be. The First Amendment is an important weapon we can use to defend freedom-but we must have the guts to use it; like any other constitutional provision, it is not self-enforcing. That's why it's so important that we cultivate a strong sense of the morality of freedom of speech, and defend it from would-be censors (like Jesse Jackson and the rubes who hate Flannery O'Connor). I defend their right to be "pig-ignorant"; but we have to resist their attempts to force all other Americans to be the same way.
Posted 1:08 PM | [Link]
NRO AUCTION? [Jonah Goldberg]
NPR is running an auction as a fundraising tool. Some of the items are weird. Nina Totenberg's notes from a Supreme Court sessio, for example. For the life of me I can't figure out why someone would pay a large dollars for the words "save abortion" and "I hate Clarence Thomas" written over and over again. Still, others might raise some moolah for their cause, lunch with Cokie Roberts for example.
So this got me thinking, maybe NRO should have an auction too? Sure, people would pay big money for lunch with WFB. But would people bid for a play date with Cosmo? How about Rod's notes from an anti-globalization rally ("too many smelly Marxists.....can't breathe!). Maybe people would pay to have Corner posting privileges for a week, or forever? How much is it worth to watch me eat a brick of pepper jack cheese? Anybody think this is a good idea?
Posted 1:05 PM | [Link]
EAT YOUR GREENS? [Andrew Stuttaford]
Returning carnivore Paul Weller will now also be able to enjoy that moment in Ninotchka, when the self-righteously austere commissar (played, of course, by Garbo) orders "raw beets and carrots" for her dinner. The waiter's reply?
"Madame, this is a restaurant, not a meadow".
Posted 12:56 PM | [Link]
AS THE TALMUDIC SCHOLARS MIGHT SAY... [Jonah Goldberg]
Cows taste good, the rest is commentary.
Posted 12:53 PM | [Link]
CHANGE OF COURSES [Andrew Stuttaford]
Drew Barrymore is not the only former vegetarian celebrity to have seen the error of her dinner plates. British rock musician Paul Weller is apparently back in the carnivore camp. When asked (according to the London Sunday Times) what this "symbolized", he replied "It was symbolic of 12 years of being bloody hungry."
Posted 12:41 PM | [Link]
THREE CHEERS FOR THE FRENCH! [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
I'm serious. French troops rescue 100 American shoolchildren in a Christian Ivory Coast school.
Posted 12:40 PM | [Link]
NOT SO FAST, MIKE: [Rod Dreher] What do you mean Jesse Jackson won't prevail in his efforts to get Barbershop censored? If he doesn't, it will only be because the filmmakers and MGM Studios refuse to kowtow to his pressure. Jesse has gotten quite rich and famous by intimidating businessmen into doing his bidding. There's nothing in the First Amendment that would prevent MGM from doing exactly what Jesse Jackson wants them to do. I am reminded of a case down in Louisiana that still sticks in my craw two years later. A black Catholic priest and some angry black parents of Catholic schoolkids went to the bishop of Lafayette to complain that their kids had been assigned to read Flannery O'Connor's short story "The Artificial Nigger." The story is a devastating portrayal of the psychological roots of white racism. O'Connor, of course, is one of the greatest Catholic writers (and writers, period) America has ever produced. Neither the priest nor the parents had read the story, but they demanded the bishop ban it. Not only did the bishop cravenly comply, but he banned from diocesan high schools any book with the word "nigger" in it. So long Mark Twain! Fare thee well, William Faulkner! See you later, Ernest J. Gaines! The First Amendment only protects speech from being banned by the government. It does not protect it from ignoramuses.
Posted 12:38 PM | [Link]
MEANWHILE ON THE SENATE FLOOR... [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
...Tom Daschle goes mad.
Posted 12:32 PM | [Link]
SLAUGHTERING [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Not to pick on Louise Slaughter (D., NY), but just now on the House floor she warned that "women will die" if the Abortion Anti-Discrimination Act is passed. Most congressmen seem to get that that's a completely illogical scare tactic. But not everyone. Slaughter, in a out-of-order debate with Chris Smith (R., NJ), argued that if a woman walks into a hospital, bleeding, because of a botched abortion somewhere else, doctors will let her die rather than treat her, the woman with the Scarlet AB, presumably, on her bloodied clothes. Now, first of all, her hypothetical nightmare has nothing to do with this very specific bill. But stop to think about this: People really believe this stuff.
Posted 12:29 PM | [Link]
NO WHODUNNIT (2) [Andrew Stuttaford]
More from CNN International (the absence of a Fox News International is not good for my blood pressure): a reference to how the discovery of a mass grave (of around 30,000 people) outside St Petersburg gives "support" to "theories" that many thousands of the people who disappeared from that city during the Stalin purges were, in fact, murdered.
Posted 12:27 PM | [Link]
BLAMING AL QUAEDA [Jonah Goldberg]
Andrew, actually not enough has been made of it. Reuters is the worst culprit. They flatly refuse to say al-Quaeda did it even though Osama Bin Laden is on tape saying he did it. For example, a recent Reuters story reported, "The United States has blamed al Qaeda for the Sept. 11 attacks that killed about 3,000 people." You'd think they could at least say "which claimed responsibility for the attacks" or something like that. Of course, Reuters won't use the word terrorist without quotation marks either.
I think this actually raises a more fundamental problem with global media companies. Sometimes they seem awfully tempted to kowtow to the sensibilities of their foreign readers. This can be harmless but not when you're splitting the difference with propaganda and outright lies.
Posted 12:25 PM | [Link]
NO WHODUNNIT [Andrew Stuttaford]
Just heard in a newscast on CNN International: a description of Al Qaeda as the organization "blamed for" the 9/11 attacks. I'm sure that I am far from being the only person to have noticed (and commented on) this, but it does seem like a curious way to refer to the bin Laden gang. It's designed, presumably, to show 'objectivity', but the cost is clarity. Al Qaeda is, indeed, "blamed for" for those murders, and for a very good reason. It carried them out.
So why not just say so?
Posted 12:13 PM | [Link]
RIGHT ON, ROD! [Mike Potemra]
I am not a veteran Jesse Jackson basher; whenever I have disagreed with Jesse in the past, I have pretty much shrugged and said, "OK, he's kind of a quack, but he's entitled to his opinion; it's a free country." I still, of course, believe that Jesse is entitled to express his own opinions on anything whatsoever; but the fact that he doesn't extend the same courtesy to people who express views other than his own shows him to be a hypocrite of the worst kind. And there's a very important deeper principle here. Let's say 50 percent plus one voter in some locality were to decide as follows: Our "community" agrees with Jesse Jackson, and we want to defend our "community values" against the "moral relativists" who say Jesse Jackson might actually be wrong-so we're going to cut scenes from that movie that we think are "obscene" violations of the values we hold dear. What would happen? Put simply, the First Amendment would not let them get away with it. It's sad that Jesse Jackson, a guy who became famous by fighting for the rights of minority groups, now wants to stamp out dissent; but it's heartening that he will not prevail. This is America, and in America, in general, the enemies of freedom do not win.
Posted 12:12 PM | [Link]
REVVUM JACKSON: IT GETS WORSE: [Rod Dreher] Readers are writing from all over to say they heard it reported on their local radio station this morning that Jesse Jackson now admits he's never even seen Barbershop, though he is trying to get the movie censored for hurting his feelings. If true, what a boob. If anybody has a link to a print article reporting this, send it on.
Posted 11:30 AM | [Link]
DON'T BLAME ME FOR THE WASTED MINUTES YOU'LL SPEND ON TODAY'S COOL SITE OF THE DAY[Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted 11:20 AM | [Link]
AND THAT GOT ME THINKING.... [Jonah Goldberg]
I wonder who the various contributors of the Corner consider to be the worst US Senator. This need not be a partisan thing. Which Senator regardless of party exemplifies all the things which make Senators annoying? I mean the ability to say the most words with the least substance, the Gore (and Orrin Hatch) like tendency to claim credit for every positive social and legal development in the world and so on.
Posted 11:14 AM | [Link]
PERSONAL POINT OF NO PARTICULAR ORDER [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Jonah, I don't like Tom Harkin either. He went to my alma mater. This makes me dislike him even more.
Posted 11:11 AM | [Link]
LOGIC 101 [Jonah Goldberg]
I do not like Tom Harkin. Tom Harkin is in trouble. This makes me happy.
Posted 11:07 AM | [Link]
MISS AMERICA STUMBLES [Jonah Goldberg]
The Miss America pageant was a ratings bomb. My un-PC theory is that it's because the beauty pageant has become so determined to prove it's not a beauty pageant that the women aren't that good looking anymore. Like it or not, people still watch beauty pageants to look at beautiful women. I didn't watch much of it, but it seemed pretty clear to me these were nice-looking women, but hardly the best looking women in America. I wonder what would happen if, say, Fox ran a real beauty pageant which just looked for the best looking women, period.
Posted 10:59 AM | [Link]
OVER AT THE ARAB NEWS [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Top story: "Saudi Arabia said it was time for the UN Security Council to act against Israel’s 'oppressive and terrorist campaigns' against the Palestinian people." Well, switch some words around, and they're right. One wonders what Israel critics would say if the tables were turned and the Israelis actually did sponsor the murder of innocents.
Posted 10:51 AM | [Link]
WHO ARE IRISH TRAVELERS? [Dave Kopel]
Intense media coverage of the Toogood case has led many people wonder who "Irish Travelers" are. Well, there about fifty thousand of them in the United States, and eighty-six thousand worldwide. Also known as Tinkers or Menceir, they speak a language known as Irish Traveler Cant, also called Shelta, Sheldru, or Gaemon. Linguists explain that Shelta is derivative of Gaelic, and is not associated with Gypsy languages, even though Travelers and Gypsies follow somewhat similar lifestyles. Shelta is classified as a cryptolect, a private language which helps group members maintain solidarity and secrecy. Irish Travelers immigrated to the United States in the middle and late 19th century; they originally specialized in the horse and mule trade, but the decline in this part of the economy led to their current specialization in the sale of goods and service. A website about the Travelers in Ireland details the conflicts between Travelers and the rest of the Irish population, explains Traveler culture, supplies a Shelta/English lexicon, and offers links to other websites about Travelers. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper lists a half-dozen serious crimes committed by Travelers in the U.S. between 1992 and 2001. But for just about any community of tens of thousands people (e.g., Catholic Priests and other Religious; or residents of semi-populous cities or counties; or employees of large corporations), one could compile lists of several serious crimes perpetrated by a few dozen members of the community, over the course of a decade. Mr. Roeper notwithstanding, we should be hesitant about using a few crimes committed by handful of people as a basis for condemning an entire group -- especially when we have little personal knowledge of the group.
Posted 10:44 AM | [Link]
NRO READERS GET IT [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
I'll continue the trend of the morning: A reader writes, getting the bizarreness of the crusade against hospitals that choose to not perform abortions out of conscience: "This whole issue is surreal. Aren't there hospitals that don't do transplants? And hospitals that don't do brain surgery? And hospitals that don't turn men into women and vice versa?
So why can't there simply be hospitals that don't do abortion without the government's asking why?"
The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act before the House this week is that simple.
Posted 10:33 AM | [Link]
TWO POINTS FROM THE MAILBAG [John Derbyshire]
1. A reader living in the West Bank emails me to say that a lot of people from metropolitan Israel are moving to West Bank settlements in anticipation of an Iraq war. There reasoning is, that Saddam won't lob missiles into the West Bank. I'm not sure about the reasoning--it assumes that Saddam gives a fig about killing brother Arabs, which is not obvious to me--but this is a nice instance of the Law of Unintended Consequences--the danger posed by a crazy Arab dictator actually strengthening the settlement movement.
2. A different reader, who served in the Gulf War, tells me that the stuff you hear about military operations being impossible in the heat of summer because soldiers can't function in protective gear, is all b-s. The suits you have to wear to protect against nuclear, chemical and biological attacks (the current acronym is MOPP suits) add a layer of discomfort, but don't incapacitate, even in 120-degree climate. Plus, US forces are now terrifically good at night operations--and as everyone knows, deserts are cold at night. Plus, the enemy is fighting on the same battlefield, and their MOPP gear is old 1970s-era Soviet stuff, way more cumbersome and unreliable than ours.
Posted 10:26 AM | [Link]
AL DISAGREES WITH AL TOO [Jonathan Adler]
In his recent speech on Iraq policy, Gore trumpeted his support of the Gulf War, and his dismay that the U.S. didn't finish the job. Indeed, Gore said he "felt betrayed by the first Bush administration's hasty departure from the battlefield." Yet as Fox News reported, Gore was singing a different tune in 1991. Speaking on the Senate floor, Gore said then that "President Bush should not be blamed for Saddam Hussein's survival to this point. There was throughout the war a clear consensus that the United States should not include the conquest of Iraq among its objectives. On the contrary, it was universally accepted that our objective was to push Iraq out of Kuwait, and it was further understood that when this was accomplished, combat should stop."
Posted 10:23 AM | [Link]
CENSORSHIP [Jonah Goldberg]
Another interesting note from dear old Dad.
The most pervasive censorship, of course, is the copyright law, which prevents all of us from using other people's creations. The concept is very logical, but the extent and application are almost arbitrary - the length of protected copyright has varied enormously and of course is the topic of constant debate between copyright owners and disseminators. Plagiarism as a crime makes sense but has to be weighed against the social benefits of wide dissemination. If an obscure writer creates a brilliant work but nobody reads it - and his work is then plagiarized by a writer whom everybody loves and reads, thereby informing and uplifting millions of people, then perhaps a greater social good has been performed, at least in the short run. In the long run, however, it could stifle creativity. In any event, copyright and plagiarism aren't black and white issues and the FFathers - and indeed the Romans - knew the stakes were high in formulating these laws.
Posted 10:06 AM | [Link]
NASSER [Jonah Goldberg]
Interesting email from Poppa Goldberg (who used to run the North American News Alliance AKA NANA):
Your column reminded me that one of the rare instances of the use of poison gas was by Nasser. In 1958, Nasser inspired Egypt and Syria to combine as one nation, the United Arab Republic (citizens were called, simply, Arabs, and it was to be the beginning of a universal Arab state). Yemen joined the UAR within a few months, and the name was changed to United Arab States. Officers in Yemen then rebelled and Egypt tried to put them down, without doubt using poison gas. This was a dirty, secret little war - it so happens that NANA had a very reliable reporter there (I believe former LA Times guy, who later went back to LA Times). Nobody paid much attention to it, but it went on for a few months. I tried to find a reference to this in google but no luck. World Almanac doesn't mention it, nor Columbia Encyclopedia, but I'm sure any standard history of Yemen would cover it, that is, the war - but the poison gas, maybe. The United Arab States broke up a couple of years later when Syria pulled out.
Posted 10:03 AM | [Link]
NR'S ARROGANCE [Jonah Goldberg]
Hugely (and surprisingly) positive response to yesterday's G-File. Here's one which went the other way:
"While I agree that certainly America isn't an imperialist country, your article, in what must be unintended irony, was so obnoxious arrogant and self-satisfied that I can utterly understand why other people hate us. They hate us because of self-absorded, blinkered jerks like yourself! I live in Korea and have to explain idiots like yourself, saying "not all Americans are so conceited" etc etc -- man, you guys at the National Review sure make it hard for a guy to live abroad."
Posted 9:22 AM | [Link]
DOLLY PARTON.... [Jonah Goldberg]
Was profiled this morning on NPR. She's come out with her like 8 billionth album. One of the songs is her version of "Stairway to Heaven," and I'll be damned if it isn't pretty good.
Posted 9:04 AM | [Link]
NO GORE-LIEBERMAN '04 [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Joe disagrees with Al over Iraq.
Posted 8:10 AM | [Link]
MIKVA'S MISTAKES [Jonathan Adler]
The primary witness at Senator Schumer's "balance" hearing was Abner Mikva, former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Mikva was introduced as an expert on judicial and legislative matters due to his experience in all three branches of government. (Mikva also served as a Member of Congress and as White House Counsel for President Clinton.) Funny, then, that Judge Mikva repeatedly referred to his former court as the "D.C. Court of Appeals." That would be this court, which is the judicial branch of D.C.'s local government. The court upon which Mikva sat, however, was this court. There's quite a difference between the two courts. Indeed, the former is never mistaken for the "second-highest" court in the land.
Posted 11:45 PM | [Link]
SCHUMER'S SEARCH FOR BALANCE [Jonathan Adler]
Senator Schumer presided over a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing today on the need for "balance" of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Most observers believe the hearing was designed to lay the predicate for Democratic opposition to D.C. Circuit nominees John Roberts and Miguel Estrada, the latter of whom has a confirmation hearing on Thursday. (See the Post story on Estrada's nomination here.). Senator Orrin Hatch suspects Schumer's agenda, and said so. The question is whether Republicans will be able to do anything about it.
Posted 7:40 PM | [Link]
COMMON GROUND! [Mike Potemra]
But the issue of "taxpayer subsidies" you bring up at the end of your last post, Jonah, is the central one. I agree with the principle Dana Rohrabacher and others have expressed when arguing against offensive NEA art grants: "on your own time, on your own dime." That, I think, is a reasonable-and constitutional-place to draw the line; and I'm pretty sure you and I are in agreement on that.
Posted 7:24 PM | [Link]
A DIVERSION [Mike Potemra]
I must say, Jonah, one particular line in your response made me chuckle: "I believe . . . that universities are more than job-training programs. They are incubators for good character and good citizenship." Realistically, at this point, I'm impressed with many universities if their graduates can back up their left-wing diatribes with more than just a couple of verses beginning "Hey hey, ho ho"; to ask these universities to be job-training programs seems to me, at least for the short term, quite shockingly unrealistic--and to think of the kind of "character" and "citizenship" these schools are seeking to "incubate," well, it is to shudder. (Fortunately, many-if not most--kids go to college just because it's the only ticket to white-collar jobs; and once they're out of school they forget all the PC nonsense the profs tried to indoctrinate them with.)
Posted 7:24 PM | [Link]
CENSORSHIP AND ITS ENEMIES [Mike Potemra]
We have avoided the slippery slope toward tyrannical censorship not because censorship itself is a cheerfully benign concept, just waiting for wise and benevolent politicians (you know, Cynthia McKinney and her pals) to give it content, but because we have a First Amendment--and brave Americans who are willing to stand up for it against misguided temporary majorities who fear speech they disagree with. (One such brave American is Sen. Mitch McConnell, who stood up against both the "campaign-finance-reform" travesty and efforts to ban flag burning.) Look at other countries that lack this depth of constitutional opposition to censorship: You end up with situations like the Houellebecq trial in France, where a guy is being tried by the government just because he says something less than nice about Islam.
Posted 7:23 PM | [Link]
MORE MILITARY 411 [Jonah Goldberg]
From a reader:
I thought you might enjoy hearing about an example of the environmental craziness unleashed in the Clinton military. As a military engineer, I was involved in an F-16 test program at Edwards AFB, CA. Evidently there was some endangered desert tortoise that was indigenous to the area. Before we could fly over that portion of the range, the base wildlife personnel had to comb the area and remove any tortoises, noting their location for subsequent return. This was required to lessen the impact upon them. Being first an engineer and second a smart aleck, I pointed out that important data was missing. To truly lessen the impact to the tortoise, their heading and speed should be taken at the time of pickup, then the tortoise could be placed in the projected position he would have reached if undisturbed. While this was a joke (and perhaps only funny to another engineer), the civil servant I mentioned it to thought it was a good idea. Hopefully, I didn't
inadvertantly set base environmental policy.
Posted 6:37 PM | [Link]
MY APOLOGIES AND THANKS [Jonah Goldberg]
My apologies for the typos in today's G-File. All my fault. And thanks for the kind words, despite the typos.
Posted 5:38 PM | [Link]
LASTLY… [Jonah Goldberg]
It's not just the FCC and the public airwaves that are the issue. Most censorship is not a blanket ban. It comes in the form of regulation. You may not sell porn magazines to children. You may not scream fire in a crowded theater (but you may in an empty one). You cannot striptease in a Church and you may not address a fellow Senator as "you" on the floor of the Senate. You cannot sell child pornography on the (non-publicly held) internet and you shouldn’t be able to sell it anywhere, period. These are all forms of censorship -- if your activity falls outside the law. I have no problem with any of this in principle and the fact that it has been going on for centuries without us sliding down a fictional slippery slope toward tyranny demonstrates that censorship need not be abused. As I’ve written before, free speech in this country is rotting from the inside out because "sophisticated people" support campaign finance reform, which regulates vital political speech while they simultaneously believe goofy sexual antics and anti-religious smears should have such wide latitude that taxpayers should even subsidize them.
Posted 5:19 PM | [Link]
SECONDLY…. [Jonah Goldberg]
You say: "The Left with its 'hate-speech codes,' for example, is seeking to silence those who disagree with it politically. To admit this principle--that government should aid such a partisan crusade through state censorship--poses great dangers. "
Um, Mike, when did I say that the government in principle or in reality "should" aid these groups? I didn't say it because I do not believe it. But, if only because I will not be cowed on this point, I will say that I have no problem in principle with some form of speech code on a college campus, if it is part of a general honor system the likes of which most schools had in this country until fairly recently. Mike, you may believe that a college student should be immune from discipline if he goes around screaming "nigger" or "kike" or saying abominable things to women. I believe -- along with Johh Locke and Thomas Jefferson -- that universities are more than job-training programs. They are incubators for good character and good citizenship. And that means regulating and censoring such speech when necessary. The problem with the speech code groups is not necessarily the speech codes, it’s the Orwellian way in which they want to use them.
You may, in a surprising bout of moral relativism, think that building good character and good citizenship within the American and Western tradition, is merely a "a particular social agenda" and a "malady," and that's fine. I say it's what separates us from the barbarians.
Posted 5:14 PM | [Link]
YEAH, "VALUE-NEUTRAL" [Jonah Goldberg]
Mike, sorry, I was out with my laptop working on my syndicated column. My response:
I agree that censorship is usually used or advocated by some party with a value-laden agenda. And yes, I concede that Lefties are trying to silence those they disagree with. But that doesn't change the fact that censorship is a value neutral tool. Sure, it is a very dangerous tool in the sense it is easily abused, but that doesn't make it evil or sinister. Guns are also easily abused and very dangerous and value neutral. It is what you do with a gun and why you do it that determines the morality of your actions. A baseball bat has no moral content -- until you use it to bludgeon an innocent person.
Posted 5:09 PM | [Link]
WHERE'S THE HYPOCRISY? Mike Potemra]
The current issue of New York Press lambastes Catholics as "hypocritical" for expressing outrage at the recent sex-in-St.-Patrick's stunt: "Catholic groups were in a frenzy . . . the Catholics went nuts . . . Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the courthouse to jeer the couple. . . Why weren't these same people in . . . any of the dozen other places where hundreds of priests were being charged with molesting thousands of young boys (often on church property)? Why weren't they 'outraged' about that? Was it just because there was a woman involved? The blatant hypocrisy in this snit about a silly radio show, though not surprising, is still mind-numbing." My purpose here is not to pile on to the St. Patrick's controversy, about which far too much has already been written, but to challenge the veracity of New York Press's basic allegation. In what universe was there no Catholic outrage over the pedophilia scandals? For heaven's sake, in Boston there were even crowds of Catholics marching in the streets, calling for the head of their own Cardinal. If there were any more outrage among Catholics on this issue, we'd have people getting lynched just for wearing a Roman collar.
Posted 4:25 PM | [Link]
I AGREE WITH JONATHAN: [Ramesh Ponnuru]
this time at least, on federalism: If federal action is not constitutionally permissible, it should not be undertaken without constitutional amendment. I think federal action on embryonic stem cells can be justified on the same constitutional basis as a ban on cloning. Jonathan and I debated that here a few months ago. I'd be happy to resume that conversation, Jonathan--just please not today; I'm crashing on a speech I have to deliver tonight.
Posted 4:22 PM | [Link]
IS THE DEATH PENALTY UNCONSTITUTIONAL? [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
A federal district court judge today says so.
Posted 3:53 PM | [Link]
FEDERALISM: TWO QUESTIONS [Jonathan Adler]
It seems to me whether we are talking about the application of federalism to stem cells, assisted suicide, duck ponds, or gun-free school zones, it is important that we recognize that there are two questions we need to ask. First is whether the Constitution resolves the matter. There are some things that are simply beyond the federal government's purview, whether we like it or not, just as there are other things the Feds have clear jurisdiction over, even if we would rather leave those matters to the state. If we conclude that the federal government has sufficient authority under the Constitution to regulate a given question then, and only then, should we consider whether Congressional legislation is worthwhile. In the case of stem cells, there is no question in my mind that the federal government has the authority to put restrictions on federal research dollars. I wonder, however, whether an outright prohibition on all privately funded stem-cell research passes constitutional muster.
Posted 3:51 PM | [Link]
RAMESH, YOU'RE KIDDING [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
I thought the Brownback bill was intended to not only shut down stem-cell research, but kill people.
Posted 3:50 PM | [Link]
GRIFTER CHILDREN: [Rod Dreher] Over the weekend, I questioned in The Corner whether or not the state had gone too far in removing Madalyne "Mommie Dearest" Toogood's children from her family's custody, and put them in foster care. Since then, we've learned that Toogood's extended family, with whom the children might have stayed, helped her escape. And now we find out that she's part of some sort of clannish nomads with a reputation for grifting their way around America. Richard Roeper finds reasons why the Toogood kids might be better off in foster care.
Posted 3:42 PM | [Link]
”AVENGING”: [Rich Lowry]
Just reading through Gore’s speech. There are a lot of objectionable things about it. Among them: He says we should be “avenging” the 3,000 dead from Sept. 11. Actually—as Rumsfeld I believe pointed out the other day—revenge is not an acceptable motive for U.S. military action. Only self-defense is.
Posted 3:40 PM | [Link]
CENSORSHIP AS METAPHOR [Mike Potemra]
But Jonah is on to something when he says we should be grateful for the "censorship" exercised by the TV networks (whose choices, he correctly points out, were shaped by government censorship). The TV networks create a product, and exercise judgment over its content based on what they believe viewers will accept. That is a perfectly legitimate exercise--and I am free to reject their products if I dislike the judgments they make. For example, Ann Coulter's marvelous new book Slander describes in great detail how bias against conservative views is at the root of many choices made by network news divisions. They "censor" the news, in a metaphorical sense; and, in a similar metaphorical sense, I "censor" them by not watching their channel. Because, thankfully, government censorship in this country is effectively limited to "time, place, and manner" restrictions, there are many other venues for speech-and in them, I can find content that is more rewarding. Jonah is right to praise what he calls "local censorship" ("We could probably use more, and should certainly allow more, censorship at the local level") as long as it's local enough: not the state senate, not the city council, not Edna Mae Snoop across the street with the high-powered binoculars--but ordinary folks like you and me making choices about what we read and watch.
Posted 3:39 PM | [Link]
VALUE-NEUTRAL, HUH? [Mike Potemra]
"Value-neutral" is the key phrase here. In reality, the reason any political activist favors censorship in a particular case is precisely because it is NOT value-neutral. The Left with its "hate-speech codes," for example, is seeking to silence those who disagree with it politically. To admit this principle--that government should aid such a partisan crusade through state censorship--poses great dangers. Jonah notes a special case in which government does exercise such a function--the public-owned broadcast airwaves. But unless we want to extend government ownership to other means of communication--books and CDs, for example--we should try to limit government censorship to that single loophole. (If, that is, we want to be conservatives; I could easily envisage, say, a Paul Wellstone seeking to nationalize National Review Online.)
Posted 3:38 PM | [Link]
LET FREEDOM RING, JONAH!Mike Potemra]
Occasionally, people on the Right as well as on the Left will celebrate censorship when it appears to further a particular social agenda. Our friend Jonah Goldberg appears to be succumbing to at least the early stages of this malady. http://www.townhall.com/columnists/jonahgoldberg/jg20020924.shtml
I care about Jonah (insert Al-Gore-sigh sound effect here), so I guess it's my duty to stage an intervention--to isolate this virus before it spreads throughout his system and poses a threat to Cosmo's supply of dog food. Here's the crucial passage in Jonah's column: "If a cop busts down your door and arrests you for your political views, then his policing is tyrannical and unjust. But if a cop busts down your door and arrests you because you're a murderer, then his policing is good and just. The same holds true with censorship, it is an entirely value-neutral and legitimate government power that is only bad when it is abused."
Posted 3:37 PM | [Link]
WHAT CALIFORNIA HASN'T WROUGHT: [Ramesh Ponnuru]
As far as I can tell, the most aggressive part of the California stem-cell bill is its requirement that fertility-clinic doctors tell their patients that they have the option of donating any excess progeny generated by the treatment to science. Otherwise, what does the bill do? It allows 1) research on stem cells taken from adults, 2) research on stem cells taken from embryos left over at IVF clinics, 3) research on stem cells taken from cloned embryos, and 4) the destruction of those embryos to harvest the stem cells. All of these items are already legal under both federal and California state law--all President Bush did last year was to restrict federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. Nobody has even contemplated banning 1, 2, or 4, and most everyone seems to want the government to encourage 1 (although I don't, on generally libertarian rather than specifically pro-life grounds). The alleged conflict between federal and California law does not exist. There would be a conflict only if Congress actually passed a bill to ban cloning (which I hope it will next year), or banned embryonic stem-cell research funded by the private sector or the states (which, again, isn't being contemplated, although I wish it were), or banned adult stem-cell research (which nobody advocates).
As for that Washington Times link Kathryn included: This is at least strike 2 for Ellen Sorokin. First there was the NEA fiasco. Now she's saying that the Brownback cloning-bill ban "could effectively shut down all U.S. stem cell research." That's not even close to being true.
Posted 2:37 PM | [Link]
TIMES PICKS ON ARABS: [Rod Dreher] New York Press is out this week with its mammoth, entertaining "Best of Manhattan 2002" issue. There's some really funny stuff in there, like this entry: "Best Harrassment of an Arab in the Wake of 9/11: ... It's two weeks after the World Trade Center massacre, and w're visiting our favorite pita place in the former shadows of the WTC. Maybe we're gullible enough to think that we're showing support for a local Arab-American. We ask if he's had any kind of harassment. 'There was this one woman,' he explained, 'who came in from The New York Times. She kept telling me that she understood if I hated America. I finally told her not to come back until she wanted to write about my business.'"
Posted 2:06 PM | [Link]
WELCOME TO SWEDEN [Andrew Stuttaford]
It may be my imagination, but the passports of passengers arriving at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport seem to be be subject to more scrutiny these days. Combine Swedish thoroughness with Swedish directness and the results can be devastating. After second, third and fourth glances from the customs officer, my passport was returned to me this morning with this comment, "The photo does not seem like you. You look much older now."
Even Norm Mineta isn't that brutal...
Posted 1:47 PM | [Link]
TERRORISM QUIZ [Melissa Seckora]
Q: Who said, "To those of you who doubt our resolve in America, listen closely. If you plot terror or act on those designs, within our borders or without, against American citizens, we will hunt you down and stop you cold"?
A: Al Gore, 1996
Posted 1:47 PM | [Link]
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
This time I'm talking about banning stuff from The Corner (instead of airplanes): What was I thinking bringing up Transformers? ("Toy transformer robots (this toy forms a toy gun).")
A reader writes: "It's also significant that Megatron and Shockwave are singled out and banned from airplanes -- "Toy transformer robots (this toy forms a toy gun)". What about the rest of the Decepticons? What about Starscream, who turns into a fighter jet with missles?"
Posted 1:34 PM | [Link]
THIS GUY COULD BE TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY! [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
From a reader: I realize the list isn't meant to be all inclusive (indeed, it says so right on the site) but there are some notable absences.
The stylus on my Palm is metal and easily concealable. So are pens and pencils. It seems foolhardy to ban pen knives but not fountain pens. In addition to being sharp, fountain pens can also be used to discharge ink in a persons general direction, particularly into the eyes like mace.
Also, they outlaw bullwhips, but not other items in the same family (cat o' nine tails, and other implements associated with the the Marquis de Sade). Nunchaku are outlawed, but not morningstars or other articulated clubs. Why pick on the implement with only one hinge point? A classical flail has hundreds....And what about canes? A walking stick is just as dangerous as a ski pole-- probably more so-- but no mention is made of them. After all, the security forces obviously consider little old ladies to be threatening, and little old ladies often use canes. Why not deprive this menace of a weapon? And speaking of little old ladies, why confiscate scissors but not knitting needles or hatpins?...And why can I bring a tennis racket (or racketball racket) on a plan, but not a baseball bat? Granted, rackets are not as hard as bats, but a racketball racket is shorter and more easily deployed in a confined area like an airplane cabin-- a veritable "assault" racket. (When will congress do something to protect our children from the flood of short rackets--Sunday-afternoon specials--that criminals in white shorts use to prey on the innocent?)...
Posted 12:50 PM | [Link]
GOODYBE, ORANGE[Kathryn Jean Lopez]
The homeland color-code alert is going back to yellow. So we are safer than yesterday but still need to be on alert. Act accordingly.
Posted 12:26 PM | [Link]
ARE BOX-CUTTERS IN THE WRONG HANDS CONSIDERED "RELIGIOUS KNIVES"? [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
From the Department of Transportation's website: Items you should not try to sneak on airplanes.
Posted 12:14 PM | [Link]
NORMAN'S DROPPING RANDOM AIRPORT SCREENING [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted 12:11 PM | [Link]
HOPE THE PENTAGON WINS (AS USUAL): [Rich Lowry]
From WSJournal today: “At the same time, another bitter debate between the Pentagon and State Department has slowed down the push for a new United Nations Security Council resoultion demanding Iraq's disarmament. During the weekend, Pentagon officials began arguing for new language in a draft resolution that would authorize near-immediate military action against Iraq.
The Pentagon version would declare Iraq 'in material breach' of U.N. resolutions and state that 'no further evidence is needed' to demonstrate that, and would set a deadline of just a few days for Iraq to begin complying. State officials argue that the 'no further evidence' wording and the brief deadline have no chance of getting through the council, and appear to be a bid by Pentagon hard-liners to cut the U.N. out of the process altogether."
Posted 11:50 AM | [Link]
FEDERALISM WOO-HOO! [Jonah Goldberg]
For the record, I love federalism! The stem cells thing might fall into one of the exceptional categories -- like slavery -- where the Federal government should trump states' rights. But I do find it fascinating to watch as the Left increasingly embraces states' rights on everything from gay marriage to stem cells while the Right is becoming more enamored with federal power. Hypocrisy abounds on both sides, but the Left is worse for a bunch of reasons. After all, they were the ones who forced conservatives into the federal activism game in the first place by making every issue Uncle Sam's business. Now they cry foul when, for example, John Ashcroft says that he can abrogate state assisted suicide laws. Welcome to our world lefties.
Posted 11:44 AM | [Link]
TROUBLESOME???: [Rich Lowry]
From the AP:
"Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House's second-ranked Democrat, said Monday she didn't think Democrats would offer a single alternative to the Bush proposal. Her party, she said, was working on a number of different approaches she hoped would become a part of the resolution Congress finally votes on.
'They're talking now about liberation. Those are troublesome words,' Pelosi said."
Posted 11:38 AM | [Link]
Joel Mowbray gets results. Just got a letter from the attorney general of Connecticut that objects to Mowbray’s article pointing out how weird it is that Connecticut left Erskine Bowles off its suit against Forstmann Little—then, at the end, drops this little bombshell: “Since our original case was filed, we have learned of additional information that does provide an appropriate basis for suit against Mr. Bowles and Mr. Lewis. Accordingly, I have filed suit against them, and will continue to pursue the matter vigorously.”
Posted 11:36 AM | [Link]
ABORTED DEBATE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
A related but somewhat tangential observation: Whenever stem cells come up anymore I am continually dismayed by how useless any conversation, reporting, etc. about them are. The debate is stalled right where it was over a year ago, when it was the biggest issue of the summer, pre-9/11. This morning on The Today Show, for instance, Katie interviewed Christopher Reeve who explained how abortion politics are stunting his (amazing) progress. That’s it—and who is going to argue with Christopher Reeve? Any fair airing of the facts of stem-cell science and promise would have us talking about alternatives to embryo experimentation, but, that would be a lot harder than the work the media does now.
Posted 11:28 AM | [Link]
ANYBODY UP FOR A LITTLE FEDERALISM DEBATE? [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Some pro-life groups are lobbying Congress to put a stop to states making their own embryonic-stem-cell-research laws (like California has just done).
Posted 11:26 AM | [Link]
THE WAGES ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
The Washington Times is on part two of a revealing series.
Posted 11:07 AM | [Link]
BELLESILES UPDATE [Melissa Seckora]
The Emory student paper reports that Michael Bellesiles has appealed the results of the external panel the university convened to investigate Bellesiles's research (and book Arming America ). The story is here.
Posted 11:03 AM | [Link]
GIVE ME THAT OLD-TIME DIPLOMACY: [Rod Dreher] I was this morning reading a newspaper story about German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder being in hot water with American leaders over his party's anti-American campaign rhetoric. Matthew, my three-year-old, saw the photo of Schroder and wanted to know who he was and why he was in the paper. "He's the boss of Germany," I said, "He's in the paper because he and his friends said mean things about America and President Bush. President Bush is mad at him." Said my kid, "Is President Bush going to get his sword out of his scabbard?" Now there's a thought.
Posted 10:48 AM | [Link]
"EVERY MAN'S BATTLE" [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Billy Graham gets it:"To read the papers and the magazines you would think we were almost worshiping the female bosom." And, there are evidently men not as strong as you, Jonah.
Posted 10:40 AM | [Link]
WHAT IS SEXY? [Jonah Goldberg]
I know I've written about this before, but I just love the Victoria's Secret commercials. Of course, I am not referring to the super-hot chicks in the frilly laced up duds with the garters and all that. I'd much rather watch a commercial about how children need a nutritious breakfast -- featuring plenty of puppies and kitties. But I am willing to suffer in silence at those sultry images because I think the ads are so hilarious.
It's hard to expain why I think they're so funny, but I'll try. Normally, when you ask "What is sexy?" people who want to seem smart and sophisticated say things like "a good sense of humor" or "brains" and so on. In other words, to ask "what is sexy?" is to expect an un-obvious answer in cosmopolitan circles. The Victoria's Secret ads turn all that on its head by stating the frick'n obvious. I mean is anyone shocked that a 6 foot tall, hyper-augmented woman traipsing around in lingerie is sexy? Think about it this way. Imagine how funny it would be if, say, Barbara Walters asked some allegedly super-sensitive poet-icon-tool like Ethan Hawke, "Ethan, what is an intellectual and urbane man like you looking for in a woman?" And imagine if in response Hawke said without hesitation: "Huge cans and a really slutty attitude."
That's essentially what these Victoria's Secret ads are up to and nobody seems to get it. Or maybe I'm crazy.
Posted 10:24 AM | [Link]
MY PRO-CENSORSHIP COLUMN [Jonah Goldberg]
Is up over at Townhall.
Posted 9:42 AM | [Link]
THE 411 ON MILITARY PREPAREDNESS [Jonah Goldberg]
I've gotten a bunch of interesting email from former and current military types as well various consultants regarding my query about the military being better today but also having been neglected by Clinton. Here's an interesting one from a retired Navy officer (who was a student of Mack Owens!):
Jonah, part answer to question number two. As someone who was in the latter end of a Navy career during the Clinton decade, it was not budget cuts per se, but the priorities and political agendizing [sic] which was distracting to readiness and morale. To wit:
Posted 8:50 AM | [Link]
GET THE DOSSIER HERE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted 6:08 AM | [Link]
IRAQ ATTACK IS IN THE AIR [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Tony Blair releases the much-anticipated dossier against Saddam Hussein.
Posted 5:35 AM | [Link]
GORE ON IRAQ [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Posted 10:02 PM | [Link]
HERE'S AN IDEA[Kathryn Jean Lopez]
A friend suggests:
W should put Ramesh on the Sixth Circuit with a recess appointment. Good
Posted 9:56 PM | [Link]
COLUMBIA'S BAND: AN ALL-PURPOSE OFFENDER: [Rod Dreher] A Corner reader who is an alumnus of Columbia University's band writes to say that in his day, the band "was certainly multicultural, both in membership and in that it offended every single group, religion, professional category etc. It was thanks to the Band that, marching on the field at Harvard at halftime in my very first Columbia football game (Fall 1988), I helped form a rectangle that advanced between two parallel lines, then veered off through one of them. The script? A gag about Chappaquiddick that culminated in the Band (badly) playing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" We drove TK from the stands. Harvard formally demanded an apology." Oh, that's too, too good! If you want to see the script for the deliciously disgraceful performance, it's here.
Posted 6:06 PM | [Link]
WELL... [Jonah Goldberg]
In order preempt a pre-retaliatory strike, I shall decline to answer that.
Posted 5:50 PM | [Link]
RE: JONAH AND PRE-RETALIATION: [Rod Dreher] Jonah, do you mean something like, "Oh hell, I've already been out so late I'm going to be in the doghouse for days, let's have another round or two, fellas"?
Posted 5:21 PM | [Link]
THE TYRANNY OF TITLE IX [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
The New York Times sports pages make a discovery: that men's sports are being discriminated against. This stuff may come as no news to readers of The Corner, but to NYT readers, it's brand new. A very good sign...
Posted 5:14 PM | [Link]
JONAH...: [Rich Lowry]
1) No--testing, development, are proceeding apace, and it's in the new National Security Strategy document.
2) Robbins or Owens would be better to answer, but this question also came up in our editorial meeting this morning and I think the answer roughly is: we've got fantastic technical stuff, but have let more mundane things--re-fueling planes, etc.--slide and need more personnel (although, Bush is not blameless on this front himself, as Mark Helprin argued in NR a few months ago).
Posted 5:13 PM | [Link]
MORE RETALIATION: [Rich Lowry]
“Nevertheless, here's why Israel will not retaliate, if the US doesn't want her to (whether Israel should or not is just shy of irrelevant):
1.) If the US (and sundry allies??) is currently attacking Iraq, what more could Israel do? Israel won't risk souring relations with the US for national pride (although domestically in Israel this is an important issue, admittedly).
2.) Like in Gulf War I, the US will simply not hand over the "friendly fly" codes, or whatever they're called. Israeli aircraft would then have to brave both Iraqi & US air-to-air and ground-to-air defense. Why risk it?
3.) This is conjecture, but according to an expert (Amatzia Baram of Haifa U), Saddam will not unleash WMD until troops enter Baghdad--in fact, the orders apparently (in gulf I) were to fire everything at Israel if communications are cut off b/t Saddam and whoever holds the key. Admittedly this is the same point as #1, above, but if the US is in Baghdad, where is Israel going to retaliate? (This is also why Israel would never respond to WMD with nuclear weapons, even if they were to respond in some other way).”
Posted 5:13 PM | [Link]
AN E-MAIL: [Rich Lowry]
"RE: `friendly fly' codes.
FYI: The correct name is IFF for Identification Friend or Foe."
Posted 5:13 PM | [Link]
DESERT RATZINGER Mike Potemra]
I am sure I am not alone in being disappointed by Cardinal Ratzinger's comment that our war plans for Iraq are immoral unless we have the backing of the United Nations. "It is necessary," the Cardinal said, "that the community of nations makes [such a] decision, not a particular power"-a statement that appears to elevate the condemnation of unilateralism into a central principle of morality in international relations. It's easy, in one sense, to understand how Ratzinger came by this belief: When he was a small boy growing up in Germany, his nation's soul was seized by expansionist militarism, and its depredations could have been prevented had the world community agreed to act in defense of the principle that unilateral military actions are prima facie immoral. But different fact situations require different judgments: The cause of the United States in its struggle with the Iraqi regime is just, and does not become less so if others choose not to join it. Cardinal Ratzinger is a good man and a devout son of the Catholic Church; but in expressing in these terms his reservations about our war effort, he has done a disservice to the cause of world peace.
Posted 5:12 PM | [Link]
TWO QUESTIONS [Jonah Goldberg]
Nothing like making work for your boss. But I have two questions for Rich that I've been meaning to ask him since he's such a NDG (National Defense Guy).
1. Is Star Wars dead? In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 people argued about missile defense a lot. I haven't heard a peep about it in a long time.
2. Throughout much of the 1990s we (meaning us pro-military conservatives) argued that Bill Clinton was dismantling the military through draconian budget cuts etc. Now, amidst all the Iraq-invasion talk, I'm constantly reading and hearing that the military is vastly more effective than it was during the Gulf War. Don't these things conflict with each other?
I'm not trying to be a contrarian, I just don't know what the answers are.
Posted 4:41 PM | [Link]
ANOTHER SMART (IF LONG) E-MAIL: [Rich Lowry]
"I think you miss the point of Israel reserving the right to retaliate. It has, I think, two fundamental purposes. First, reserving the right to retaliate is not the same thing as choosing to retaliate. Not only must Israel reserve that right as an expression of its independent sovereignty, but it is good for both the US and Israel for Israel to do so. Neither nation benefits when Israel is seen as a mere appendage of the US. And for Israel to effectively surrender its fundamental responsibility of self-defense to the US is to bolster the arab world's (and much of the rest of the world's) impression that the US and Israel are somehow linked, and that when the US acts, Israel is behind it and vice-versa.
I basically agree with you, however, to the extent that what you mean to say is that Israel should not retaliate MERELY to exercise its sovereign right of self-defense. The decision whether to retaliate is fundamentally pragmatic. Which brings me to my second point: Israel must reserve the right to retaliate because it knows that the US and its interests do not perfectly coincide with respect to battlefield tactical decisions. Depending on the conduct of the war, the US MAY find that eliminating Saddam's ability to strike Israel is a lower priority than other concerns. If that happens (and I suspect the US will want put preventing Saddam from hitting Israel pretty high on the list) then Israel must act to defend itself. The risk of biological or chemical attack is simply too great a threat to such a small nation that it can wait until the US shifts resources to Israel's defense should the US have other concerns.
This second point is important also in preserving Israel's deterrent capability. If the US knows that Israel will respond if the US does not disable Saddam's ability to hit Israel, the US will place a greater priority on defending Israel. That can only help bolster Israel's deterrence. Other nations know that one way (Israel) or the other (US) an attack on Israel will be met with overhwelming and incapacitating force. And such a response will be quick enough to preserve the State of Israel."
Posted 4:35 PM | [Link]
"PRE-RETALIATION" [Jonah Goldberg]
Rod, as a married man, I'm astounded you are unfamiliar with the concept.
Posted 4:26 PM | [Link]
CHEERS AND JEERS: [Rod Dreher] The Catholic League is angry at Columbia University over an incident at Saturday night's football game between Columbia and Fordham, which is, of course, a Catholic school. During the halftime show, Columbia's announcer said, "Fordham's tuition is going down like an altar boy." The crowd cheered, according to the League. Bill Donohue wants an apology from Columbia's president and athletic director, and notes that the crowd's cheering at the insult shows "that all the campus talk about multiculturalism, diversity, inclusion and tolerance means very little when applied to Catholics."
Posted 4:25 PM | [Link]
A THOUGHTFUL E-MAIL: [Rich Lowry]
A couple of comments on your thoughts that Israel shouldn't retaliate:
1. We should probably trust Israel to be the best evaluator of it's deterrent capability. If they think it was diminished by not retaliating in 1991, then it probably - though not definitely - was.
2. A case could be made that the U.S. imploring Israel not to respond in fact made the Scud attacks more likely, and thus clinched their launch - although this might conflict with the stated rationale for the Scuds in the first place, namely to get Israel to respond. But it still gave Saddam a free shot. And this time around, Israel's muscular posture in advance of any such attacks could actually prevent them through deterrence. Not of Saddam, but whomever is ordered to fire the missiles or elsewhere in the chain of command.
3. What does it matter any way? Since when have Arabs ever shown the ability to be persuaded that America and Israel are not cooperating? They make that argument incessantly - accurately and inaccurately - anyhow so Israel's involvement militarily doesn't strike me as particularly harmful."
Posted 4:13 PM | [Link]
DO THEY TEACH THAT AT THE FLETCHER SCHOOL?: [Rod Dreher] Rich, I'm interested in hearing more about your concept of "pre-retaliation." It seems to me to merge diplomacy, warfare and metaphysics.
Posted 4:11 PM | [Link]
THE TROUBLE WITH DEMOCRACY [Jonah Goldberg]
Rich, good point(s) and I certainly agree that pro and anti-Israel posturing can be unthinking. The reason for being of the Jewish State, I might point out to your correspondent, is that there be a sovereign Jewish State. Choosing not to retalliate won't make Israel disappear in a puff of metaphysical pyrotechnics. Sovereignty doesn't mean always fighting back. It means always having the choice.
Which raises my point about Israel being a democracy Rich. It's probably in Israel's interest to stay out of the fight (I'm less convinced than you, but if America's friendship is at stake, then it's obviously in their interest). That said, your example of India and Pakistan is instructive, but not necessarily overwhelming. If India were attacked with a nuclear bomb or a chemical weapon, I find it hard to believe it would not retalliate -- America's preferences be damned. India's been able to restrain itself in part because Pakistan's attacks have remained relatively low-scale. Again, if Iraq chucked a few scuds at Israel purely for political effect, the Israelis would be foolish to take the bait. But there is a threshold which can be crossed. I don't want to say, "if Saddam kills fifty Israelis, Israel should shrug it off, but if he kills 51 they should bring on the whup-ass." But just because I can't locate the line, doesn't mean the line isn't there.
Posted 4:03 PM | [Link]
JONAH, TELL THE TRUTH [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
You're celebrating National Day.
Posted 3:43 PM | [Link]
THANKS FOR…: [Rich Lowry]
…all the e-mails on the Israeli retaliation question. I have to say I don’t find them very convincing, however. A lot of emotional posturing like this: “To prevent Jews from defending themselves, no matter how ably someone else defends them, is to undermine the Jewish State's entire reason for being.” Give me a break.
Also, on Jonah’s point that Israel is a democracy, so would find it hard not to retaliate—so what? We ask allies to do difficult things all the time (it’s been difficult for India not to retaliate against Pakistan, and it too is a democracy). Besides which, presumably even before it launches anything, Saddam’s regime will be in the process of paying the ultimate price—its destruction at the hands of the U.S.
(I haven’t entirely thought this through—but it seems to me that a U.S. pre-emptive attack is in effect a pre-retaliation for anything Saddam does, making a traditional Israeli retaliatory attack totally un-necessary. Again, what is Israel going to do that we’ won’t be doing already?)
So, if Israel wants to maintain its deterrent threat (as it should), it should focus the effort on the West Bank and elsewhere, and not interfere with a war being waged by its most important ally.
Posted 3:41 PM | [Link]
ONLY IN AMERICA [Jonah Goldberg]
A reader points out that Ms. Toogood (the child-beater) was caught on video beating the tar out of her kid while trying to put her in her child-safety seat.
Posted 2:52 PM | [Link]
G-FILE TOMORROW, TRAIN WRECK TODAY [Jonah Goldberg]
Just an FYI.
Posted 2:45 PM | [Link]
AFFIRMATIVE DISCUSSION [Stanley Kurtz]
Last month, in “Fair Fight,” I reported on Worth v. Martinez, and important legal challenge to federal affirmative-action programs just filed by the Center for Individual Rights. Now National Journal columnist Stuart Taylor has come out with an excellent discussion of the legal and political dimensions of the case. And follow this link for more information from the Center for Individual Rights on Worth v. Martinez.
Posted 2:00 PM | [Link]
RE: TODAY IS SAUDI ARABIA'S NATIONAL DAY: [Rod Dreher] Mazel tov!
Posted 12:48 PM | [Link]
WWW.DHIMMITUDE.ORG: [Rod Dreher] "But Islam has a history of being tolerant of Jews and Christians," some of you are writing. See what Bat Ye'or has to say about that.
Posted 12:46 PM | [Link]
FROM THE MAILBAG: [Rod Dreher] A Muslim reader of good will responds to my book review today: "I read your article, and must admit that I've had doubts myself about the nature of Islam and its perceived tolerance of violence against non-Muslims. As a Muslim American, I suppose I am inherently defensive about what Islam teaches, particularly since I am witness to the many good things that Islam offers to people. The events of September 11 have certainly provoked me to think anew on this matter. Given your skepticism about a possible refutation of Spencer's arguments, I can certainly sympathize with you that nothing, at least in the geopolitical stage or even in the theological arena, has been raised in the Islamic world to offer an alternative to the moral ambivalence that so permeates Muslims in attitudes towards terrorism, bigotry, and the U.S. Unfortunately, I cannot explain away this situation. In my heart of hearts, I do believe Islam is a force for good. But how can I explain what's going in the Islamic world today? Ultimately, despite this despair (which as a Muslim, I share), I am comforted in the belief that in Lincoln's words, 'right makes might,' and that the Islamic world will eventually be saved from its current ignorance." He offers that Washington Post story I linked to earlier, the one about Catholic Rwandans disgusted by the clergy's participation in the massacres now converting to Islam as a way to bring peace to their country, as an example of Islam's potential for good. I take that final point, but have to ask what would happen if those new Muslims wanted to revert to Catholicism?
Posted 12:14 PM | [Link]
AS A MATTER OF FACT... [Jonah Goldberg]
I knew more than a few teenagers who got violent precisely because of a lack of teen sex. Or at least, that was their excuse.
Posted 11:32 AM | [Link]
SEX AND VIOLENCE: [Ramesh Ponnuru]
Joel Mowbray writes that Erika Harold, the new Miss America, "is cunning enough to know that you can't talk to teens about violence without discussing the risk factors that contribute to dangerous behavior: drugs, alcohol — and teen sex." Huh? How exactly does teen sex lead to violence? How often? I'm willing to be convinced, but the link is not immediately obvious.
Posted 11:28 AM | [Link]
SECOND THOUGHTS ON DIAPERS [Jonah Goldberg]
Maybe it's because I was up so late working, but I think I may have been overly cranky toward Neuharth on the whole diaper thing. The column made me cringe, but I can see how a lot of older people really struggle with this. After all, nobody could mention breast or prostate cancer not too long ago. Maybe Neuharth is doing the right thing here. I still don't like his column, but this probably wasn't the right one to pick on him about.
Posted 11:14 AM | [Link]
YES, BUT.... [Jonah Goldberg]
Rich, in general I agree but a few caveats: The bug-out of Lebanon wasn't really that hasty in reality. It was hasty in its appearance, and that's all that matters in that part of the world. As for the retalliation, I think it does depend on what Iraq does. If they lob a few scuds into an abandoned building, then it's certainly not worth it for the Israelis to strike back. But what if Saddam uses chemical weapons on Israel, killing thousands? It's very hard to see how Israeli politicians refuse to strike back. It is a democracy after all. Also, I can see Arabs being able to argue this whole thing round or flat. If Israel does nothing because America has declared it will do Israels fighting for it, doesn't that hurt America's cause too? I mean if America smacks around Iraq after Iraq whacks Israel, won't the Arab League say "Aha! It is exactly as we said! America's going to war for Israel and it's expansionist blah blah blah." In other words, if Israel attacks Iraq while America is attacking Iraq, it may indeed look like it's a war of America and Israel against the Muslims. But if Israel stays out, it may still look that way. Regardless, I agree that it would be best if Israel stayed on the sidelines as long as possible. But I hardly think that a benched Israel would be the boon to America's PR campaign that Rumsfeld and others seem to think it would be.
Posted 11:09 AM | [Link]
I DON’T BUY IT: [Rich Lowry]
I don’t think Israel needs to retaliate to an Iraqi strike. What would they do that we wouldn’t be doing already—taking out scuds, hitting Baghdad, working to end Saddam’s government? As for for weakening Israel’s deterrent threat, it should be clear to all that this is a special case and that Israel isn’t hitting back because we’re doing it for them. I don’t think Israel lost anything by not hitting back in 1991. The thing that created a sense of Israel’s weakness was instead the hasty bug-out from Lebanon. We’ll hear from many Israel supporters that Israel is a “sovereign country,” etc., etc, so why can’t they do what any other country would do in the circumstances? The answer is that they are also a U.S. ally, and with that comes certain responsibilities and obligations—like staying out of an Iraq fight if we think it would make our job harder.
Posted 10:10 AM | [Link]
FOOT IN THE MOUTH, AND OUT OF THE DOOR [Andrew Stuttaford]
The deputy leader of Germany's FDP, Juergen Moelleman, has now resigned. The FDP (Germany's free market 'champion') was slated to be the other half of the center-right coalition. The FDP's failure to meet expectations played a major part in Stoiber's defeat. Moelleman has long been well-known as a strong advocate of closer links to the Arab world, but comments he made in the
course of the election were thought by many to have tipped over into anti-Semitism, something that did not help the FDP's campaign.
Posted 10:05 AM | [Link]
AL NEUHARTH WEARS DIAPERS [Jonah Goldberg]
I’ve juts learned that an estimated 1.69 billion adult diapers will be sold in the United States this year. That suggests a lot of people wear adult diapers (or, I suppose, a very small number of people go through an amazingly large number of diapers). Fine, that's their business. I have no brief against the excretory-challenged and there is no reason to assume that just because someone wears adult diapers he or she cannot be a productive member of society. However -- and I say this as perhaps the most self-indulgent columnist in the business today -- if you decide to write an earnest column about your diaper-wearer status in a national newspaper, it may be time to hang up your cleats. Can you imagine the fear and loathing over at USA Today’s editorial room as they wait for the boss’s column to come over the transom?
Posted 9:38 AM | [Link]
THE GENIUS OF MATT LAUER [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
As part of the continuing ode to West Wing and "the genius of Aaron Sorkin," Matt Lauer interviewed Emmy winners Sorkin, John Spencer, and Stockard Channing on the West Wing set this morning. In framing one of his questions, Matt utters the brilliant observation: “We may be a country at war in the not-too-distant future.” Where have you been during the past year, Matt?
Posted 9:01 AM | [Link]
THE "MIXED-MARRIAGE PROBLEM" [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Aliya, 23: "I don’t want to go to the US or contact my mother." Aysha, who is 29, said: "We want her to leave us alone and we will not rest until she is dead."
The Arab News writes on the case of Pat Roush's daughters, the ones kidnapped and brainwashed by their Saudi father. Of course, it doesn't mention captivity, brainwashing.
Posted 8:59 AM | [Link]
TODAY IN SAUDI ARABIA [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
It's National Day, the day the kingdom became the Kingdom.
Posted 8:52 AM | [Link]
MISS AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Erika Harold, the new Miss America, is big on abstinence education, as Joel Mowbray writes on in a piece on NRO upcoming this ayem. This morning on The Today Show I looked forward to her getting into a debate with Ann Curry, who asked her, "So you now have a platform. What do you want to say?" The audio was down, so Curry congratulated her win and the segment was over. Conspiracy, anyone?
Posted 8:41 AM | [Link]
WHERE Y'AT? THIRTY FEET UNDER, DAWLIN': [Rod Dreher] On Friday night, Bill Moyers' show on PBS broadcast a terrifying report on what would likely happen to New Orleans if it sustained a direct hit from a major hurricane. Because the city sits at the bottom of a bowl, bounded by the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, water breaching the levees has nowhere to go. Experts were saying if a powerful hurricane hit just right, it could inundate the city with 20 to 30 feet of water. New Orleans would virtually cease to exist. Because it takes so long to evacuate, experts estimate 100,000 people would die. It would be a catastrophe without precedence in American history. Well, just now on CNN, the weatherman said that Hurricane Isidore is going to move out into the Gulf and become a "major hurricane." And: "Its bullseye right now looks like New Orleans."
Posted 8:33 AM | [Link]
HERTA HURT [Andrew Stuttaford]
CNBC is reporting that Herta Daubler-Gmelin, Germany's "Bush is like Hitler" Justice Minister is stepping down from her ministerial post.
Posted 8:23 AM | [Link]
SOME HISPANICS NEED NOT APPLY [Jonathan Adler]
D.C. Circuit court nominee Miguel Estrada will receive a hearing from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. While it is undisputed that Estrada is a brilliant lawyer with impeccable credentials, some Hispanic activist groups find his nomination controversial. One such group, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, is actually opposed to Estrada because he is an insufficiently authentic Hispanic American (i.e. he is conservative). Although Estrada, a Honduran immigrant, arrived in this country as a teenager, and rose to the top of the legal profession, PRLDEF feels "he lacks the sensitivity and perspectives shared by the majority of Hispanic-Americans in our country."
Posted 8:15 AM | [Link]
YOU SHOULD BUY THE WALL STREET JOURNAL TODAY [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Because David Pryce-Jones is in there but not on OpinionJournal. He is on "The End of the Pax Britannica."
Posted 5:40 AM | [Link]
RE: LITTLE HELP [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Jonah, you're very trusting that Lowry doesn't read The Corner.
Posted 5:16 AM | [Link]
RE: FAIR ENOUGH [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Jonah, consider that I may want some of you out of the country.
Posted 5:16 AM | [Link]
JUDGMENT: [Rod Dreher] Let's sing, all together now: "They will know we are Christians by our lu-u-uu-u-uu-v...."
Posted 2:10 AM | [Link]
GERMAN ELECTIONS (2) [Andrew Stuttaford]
The key to Schroeder's win was the success of his coalition partner, the endlessly irritating Green Party, which has, undoubtedly, benefited from anxiety over a possible US invasion of Iraq as well as suspicion that the country's terrible summer floods were something to do with global warming.The Green share of the vote seems to have risen from 6.7% to nearly 9%. Meanwhile, Stoiber's potential coalition partner, the FDP (the most market-friendly party in Germany - not a difficult title to win) appears to have seen its percentage of the vote rise from 6.2% to over 7%, far less than had been expected earlier in the campaign. Amongst the reasons for the shortfall: allegations of anti-Semitism against the party's deputy leader.
The man of the night however was the Greens' Joschka Fischer, looking at a further turn as Germany's foreign minister - not a cheerful prospect for the White House.
Posted 12:00 AM | [Link]
LITTLE HELP [Jonah Goldberg]
The reason I’m up is twofold. Or maybe it’s onefold. Or fluff and fold. Whatever. I’m up because I owe Rich an article for the mag and I owe a column for The American Enterprise (I’m their media columnist). I know what I’m writing about – sort of – for NR (Rich won’t like that "sort of"). But, I can’t figure out a topic I like for TAE (I even wrote a whole column and threw it away). If somebody has a good idea for a press criticism piece let me know. But please, don’t send an single biased quote from some journalist and say, "write about this." I grow very weary of typical conservative media bias stories. Not because they’re inaccurate but because they are boring in their predictability. Anyway, serious ideas only please.
FAIR ENOUGH… [Jonah Goldberg]
But Kathryn, aren’t you a little concerned that everybody wants to leave the country rather than serve in your cabinet?
Posted 11:48 PM | [Link]
GERMAN ELECTIONS [Andrew Stuttaford]
There are some bright spots in tonight's election result, which saw, let it not be forgotten, a shift in votes away from the existing SPD-led coalition, even if it appears that it has, after all, managed to cling on to power. The Justice Minister, who, last week, allegedly compared Bush to Hitler, lost her own parliamentary seat with an above-average swing against her (unfortunately, under the German system of proportional representation, she will return to parliament anyway), and there seems little doubt that the sort of crude anti-Americanism she appeared to be embracing cost the Left a more substantial majority than that which they are now likely to enjoy. At the same time, Schroeder's isolationist rhetoric may have taken support from the PDS, the 'reformed' former Communist party. As a result, the PDS' Berlin Wallmongers seem to have failed to secure enough votes or constituencies to reach the minimum level required to ensure any seats in parliament. If this is confirmed, the absence of that particular source of tacit support may well be a setback for Schroeder as he struggles to maintain control over a closely divided chamber.
Posted 11:12 PM | [Link]
AS FOR ME: [Rod Dreher] Just because I've said unkind things about Jesse Jackson, that's no reason to put me on the US Civil Rights Commission. If you appoint me, I'll stay only long enough to give Mary Frances Berry a civil left, then yield my seat to Ward Connerly. How about making me ambassador to the Netherlands? It'll mean stroopwaffels from sun-up to sundown for me. Or even better, to someplace where there's good eatin', like Italy or Thailand (I guess I've blown my chance at a Vatican ambassadorship, nyuk nyuk)?
Posted 10:08 PM | [Link]
JONAH, JONAH, JONAH... [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
...you know me better than that. You know that was just a subtle way to get Corner readers to come up with their clever admin spots for you. Ambassador to France, of course, is among the most popular, so far. Veep is another popular one, so you can continue to file from undisclosed locations. So far there are some funny ones, including ..
..."Chairman of the FCC? (Free licenses to stations with "Simpsons" and "Star Trek")," Assistant to Defense Secretary Cosmo, and "Somebody's gotta stay at NRO to write glowing stories about your administration."
Posted 9:58 PM | [Link]
TO BE HONEST... [Jonah Goldberg]
I'd prefer Ambassador to the Court of St. James or White House spokesman, if only to say shut up to Helen Thomas.
Posted 9:56 PM | [Link]
KATHRYN! [Jonah Goldberg]
I am shocked and dismayed that you have a hard time thinking of good jobs for me in your cabinet. Personally, I think I would make an outstanding ambassador to France, among other obvious choices.
Posted 9:45 PM | [Link]
NOW YOU'RE TALKING, ANDREW [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
This president run COULD be quite interesting. Ramesh to the Supreme Court. Andrew ambassador to the U.N. Derb ambassador to China. Rod, U.S. Civil Rights Commission. Jonah, Jonah, Jonah....hmmm...
Posted 8:46 PM | [Link]
"BRITAIN'S LARGEST MINORITY" [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Revealing book review from Fr. George Rutler on religion in Britain.
Posted 8:39 PM | [Link]
THE CULT OF WEST WING [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
"The genius of Aaron Sorkin" may wind up being the most uttered phrase by the end of Emmy night.
Posted 8:34 PM | [Link]
THEY'RE HIGH-FIVING IN BAGHDAD [Jonah Goldberg]
Schroeder won the election.
Posted 7:51 PM | [Link]
RE: THE CHILD-BEATER [Jonah Goldberg]
As with most people I have no sympathy for the woman who beat her kid. The only issue of interest to me is raised by the camera which caught her. Where's the ACLU? Where are the hyper-concerned libertarians of the left, right and center who consider public cameras a threat to the Liberal Order? Please don't tell me it's because this was a privately owned camera you have no objections. If this had been a government-owned camera I doubt you folks would have pulled your heads out of the sand. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge advocate of public cameras. I'm pretty agnostic on the issue actually. But for the people who scream "Big Brother!" whenever such ideas are proposed, you might at least want to get on record explaining that catching this woman doesn't justify such intrusions. Otherwise, it will be more difficult to take you seriously down the road. Just a little advice.
Posted 7:43 PM | [Link]
GO K-LO GO [Andrew Stuttaford]
On the other hand, Kathryn, think of the fun we would have watching you appoint people to your administration. Lowry could go to the Department of Labor, with the specific responsibility of raising the minimum wage...
Posted 5:24 PM | [Link]
RE: ME FOR PRESIDENT [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Readers are against the idea. Here's one reason why: "I am very much against this idea. As rough as she is on everyone of you for being late with your 500 word essays, can you imagine what it would be like to file with her administration for an extension for tax filing?"
Posted 5:13 PM | [Link]
LAWYERS [Andrew Stuttaford]
My comment criticizing "America's lawyers" for their involvement in the harassment of the tobacco companies has prompted a rapid return of fire from one attorney pointing out that "the vast majority of lawyers either perform simple transactions for small businesses and individuals or work for law firms that help American business do its job". Of course that's correct (full disclosure: I'm a lawyer by training myself), even if it seems a little over-sensitive to feel the need to point it out. A reference, say, to "France's voters" being restless and discontented would not necessarily have to mean that every French voter is restless and discontented (OK, bad example). In addition, it is quite true, as my correspondent notes, that tobacco companies are defended by, ahem, lawyers. Fair enough. It may also be the case that many other lawyers disapprove of the tobacco litigation, and, more specifically, its impact on the democratic process, but if they do so we don't hear enough from them. What evidence there is does not suggest that the legal profession is embarrassed by the activities of the tobacco trial lawyers. On the contrary, to take one example, when presented with the opportunity to join in the nicotine wars what did many of the states' attorney-generals do?
They jumped into the trough.
Posted 4:21 PM | [Link]
WAY TO GO? [Andrew Stuttaford]
Here is a selection of entertaining ways to be 'buried' in the aftermath of that inevitable encounter with the Grim Reaper. Options now on offer include being shot into space, transformed into a diamond, and sprinkled onto a painting.
Free enterprise delivers again..
Posted 2:35 PM | [Link]
A TRIUMPH IN THE DRUG WAR [Andrew Stuttaford]
The case that prompted the South Dakota initiative was the prosecution of Mathew Ducheneaux. This menace to society turns out to be a quadriplegic, whose offense was to have been puffing on a joint at a jazz festival. According to the New York Times, Ducheneaux claims that he used the marijuana to "alleviate the leg spasms that have tortured him" since becoming a quadriplegic after an auto accident. If that's true, the application of the law is an exercise in cruelty. Even if it is not, his prosecution underlines yet again the waste and the pointlessness of marijuana prohibition.
Posted 2:13 PM | [Link]
JURY NULLIFICATION [Andrew Stuttaford]
There's a thought-provoking article in today's New York Times on a voter initiative from South Dakota which would allow criminal defendants to concede their guilt in a trial but nonetheless argue for acquittal on the grounds that the law was misguided or too harsh. It would, in essence, be a form of codified jury nullification. My own personal jury is still out on this one, but I suspect that, despite its pleasing libertarian appeal, passing the initiative would be a mistake. The reach of some modern laws (backed up, all too often, by absurdly harsh mandatory sentences) is, quite clearly, oppressive. At the same time, widespread jury nullification runs the risk of making a shambles of the legal system and a mockery of democracy. Those risks are in the end, probably, too great to run.
In the annals of hypocrisy, however, a special mention may have to go to what the New York Times describes as the 'establishment bar' in South Dakota. Perhaps South Dakota lawyers are more sympathetic characters than their counterparts elsewhere in the US (I hope so) , but it's a bit much to read that they too are concerned that a legal device may be "antidemocratic". In their relentless - and moneygrubbing - harassment of an industry dedicated to the manufacture of a perfectly legal product (tobacco), America's lawyers have shown a contempt for the regular political process far greater than that displayed by jury nullification.
Posted 1:47 PM | [Link]
WEB MOMENT [Andrew Stuttaford]
Brad, the reader who sent in the story about Zimbabwe lives in Virginia. He had noticed the story, which comes from a British newspaper, on the website run by Australian blogger, Tim Blair.
Posted 12:56 PM | [Link]
MORE FROM THE MADHOUSE [Andrew Stuttaford]
A reader writes with this story from Zimbabwe. The latest beneficiary of Mugabe's landgrab is Anne Matonga a (white) Briton married to Bright Matonga, a Zimbabwean who studied in the UK a few years ago. The most grotesque moment in the whole squalid saga? The comments reportedly made by Anne Matonga to the farmers being evicted to make way for her:
'Get off our land: we are taking back what you stole from our forefathers'.
Our Forefathers, Mrs. Matonga?
Posted 12:47 PM | [Link]