Monday, December 30, 2002
"Chicken Hawks" the sequel: Tuesday's New York Times op-ed page has a piece by Congressman Charles Rangel advocating a return of the draft. If you remember a few months back, some anti-war protesters were attacking "chicken hawks," identified as pro-war-on-Iraq Republicans (mainly) who had never served in the military in a combat situation (i.e. you must have been shot at -- wounded is even better).
Well, Rangel takes the argument a step further.
Carrying out the administration's policy toward Iraq will require long-term sacrifices by the American people, particularly those who have sons and daughters in the military. Yet the Congress that voted overwhelmingly to allow the use of force in Iraq includes only one member who has a child in the enlisted ranks of the military ? just a few more have children who are officers.
The chicken hawk label having failed, the new test of whether you can be pro-war is if you have a child in the military -- preferably enlisted (Army, Navy, Marines), but an Air Force officer (since they are the front-line troops in that branch of the military) -- before you are allowed to support regime change in Iraq.
But that's not all. Not only are the pro-war/anti-Saddam representatives in Congress cavalier with the lives of men and women in uniform, they're also hate minorities and poor people.
Service in our nation's armed forces is no longer a common experience. A disproportionate number of the poor and members of minority groups make up the enlisted ranks of the military, while the most privileged Americans are underrepresented or absent.
While this is undoubtedly true, Rangel belittles these same individuals' choice to serve in the armed forces by suggesting that they enlist only because they have little financial choice and do not understand what service in the armed forces entails. In short, Rangel thinks that people who volunteer for the armed forces are stupid.
As evidence to rebut this, I offer my good friend Marine Sgt. Jay Stang. Check out "Jeopardy" airing March 31 and April 1, 2003, where Mr. Stang, who plays a mean bagpipe, takes home more than $20,000.
That insult aside, Rangel's solution to this is to reinstitute the draft. An idea, in the current military, economic and political climate, which is daft. We may need more troops if a second front breaks out on the Korean peninsula, but merely enlarging the military without the necessary materiel to support the increase. The proposal sounds like little more than a full-employment plan. Not to mention the fact that such an (unnecessary) increase in the military would drastically increase the budget deficit that the Democrats are continually crowing about.
Rangel's proposal to reinstitute the draft at a time in which it is unnecessary is nothing more than a rhetorical ploy to resuscitate the chicken hawk argument in a new incarnation.
Unfortunately for Rangel, it Chicken Hawk Part II won't fly either.
Religion of Peace update: This time the victims are American doctors at a missionary hospital in Yemen.
Time magazine's big mistake: Time's whistleblower trio contains an odd duck. It's the old "Mini Page" puzzle -- one of these things is not like the other.
The odd woman out is Enron's Sherron Watkins.
Well, OpinionJournal.com's Dan Ackman lays out the reason why, with an apt analogy.
A whistleblower is someone who spots a criminal inside a bank and alerts the police. That's not Sherron Watkins. What she did was write a memo to the bank robber (Mr. Lay) suggesting he was about to be caught and warning him to watch out. In response, he met with her, told her he didn't think he was robbing the bank, but assuring her he'd launch an investigation. Mr. Lay put his law firm, Vinson & Elkins, on the case. The lawyers didn't talk to Mr. Lay or to Jeffrey Skilling, the departed CEO. On Oct. 15, 2001, Vinson & Elkins issued a report concluding that the facts didn't warrant an investigation. A day later, Enron restated its financials, the first step in the chain of events that led to bankruptcy. Through it all, Ms. Watkins said zip. Many others did nothing as well, but none of them are "Person of the Year."
Bad call Time.
Friday, December 27, 2002
The latest talking points and the truth: On Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," last night, with Cal Thomas sitting in for Bill, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) outlined the Democratic strategy for attacking the Bush administration's handling of the War on Terror:
They got the Patriot Act. I voted for it. It's going to lapse in 18 months. And some say: "Have we gotten one sleeper cell? Have we found one reason why it was they were all congregating in New Hampshire? Have we found who did the anthrax attack." Listen, it's very difficult to say that President Bush hasn't gotten the tools he's asked for. We in Congress have given him just about everything he's asked for. Show me the results. I think that what Democrats, and frankly, just about all Americans are saying.
Weiner pulls a "Gore" when he qualifies part of his statement with the "some say" phrase. But I'm disappointed Thomas didn't nail him on it.
A refresher course for Democrats: The answer to Weiner's first question is at least two. That's two al Qaeda sleeper cells that we've uncovered. The one in suburban Buffalo and another in Oregon.
The next time a Democrat suggests that the correct answer is "none," suggest they pay more attention to what's happening in the world. It's not as though these stories were not adequately covered in the media.
A concession, and proof that it really is the dismal science: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's latest offering is a pessimistic assessment of the economy.
Of note in Krugman's analysis are two things:
First, Krugman, possibly for the first time (it would be nice to have access to Lexis-Nexis), acknowledges that the Bush Tax Cut has benefited the economy -- if only "marginally."
Second, Krugman seems to ignore the latest news on the economy -- a positive one.
But it has been a jobless, joyless recovery. Payrolls have continued to shrink. The number of people who have been unemployed for more than six months ? an indicator of families facing severe distress ? has risen 55 percent over the past year. And thanks to inaction by Congress and the administration, 800,000 of those long-term unemployed will lose their benefits tomorrow.
Falling stocks have also taken their toll; many older workers whose 401(k)'s have imploded can no longer afford retirement. Even as overall employment has fallen, the number of working Americans over 55 has increased 8 percent.
Thursday's news: "New jobless claims fall, but businesses still not hiring quickly." While this does not rise to the "Happy, happy. Joy, joy" news level, you'd think that Krugman would mention it.
Also, people working longer is a good thing. The longer they work, the more money that is paid into Social Security. Of course, it won't help me, I'm too young, but every little bit helps.
The rest of Krugman's piece reiterates his call for peace (no war on Iraq because oil prices would rise), federal bailouts (the federal government should go deeper into hock to bail out the state governments).
Are there any possible sources of good news?
Yes, a few. A walkover victory in Iraq could lead to sharply lower oil prices. Technology marches on, so businesses could finally decide that it's time to replace aging equipment, even though they still have plenty of spare capacity. Inventories are low; someday businesses will restock, and in so doing give the economy a boost.
Are you enthused? I'm not. I hope I'm wrong, but this doesn't look like a happy new year.
I'm predicting that Iraq will fall quickly, and the sharply lower oil prices that will result will boost the economy.
Time will tell if Krugman's analysis is correct. Of course, Krugman's analysis is colored by his politics. Bush must fail in order for Krugman's cynical view of conservatives to be vindicated. Of course, I'm a little different. I want Bush to succeed, but I don't insist that people who honestly disagree with me are greedy, selfish and evil.
Thursday, December 26, 2002
Islamofacism and poverty: A "conversation on the beach" is an example of some first-person reporting that is sometimes some of the most insightful and informative available. In the article, which was first written as a letter to a friend, an Israeli holocaust survivor describes a conversation he had with a Palestinian who is apparently a college student at Hebrew University.
Then he smiled and said," You might as well enjoy the beautiful view from "Sidney Alley" while you can. You won't be able to do so for long. If I were you, I would pack and leave for safer countries." I gave him a long look.
"Thanks for the advice, but I remember another Arab who gave the same advice to us in 1948, when the British were pulling out. He may have been your grandfather, for all I know. He lived in a village somewhere around here and he was a friend of a Jewish man named Peytan whom I knew as well.
Peytan lived in Kefar Shemaryahu across the road. One day the Arab neighbor came visiting Mr. Peytan and strongly advised him to pack and leave. At the same time, he brought out a measuring tape and began to measure the room they were sitting in.
'What are you doing?" Asked my friend.
"Look, you are going to lose your house anyway. There is no way that six hundred thousand of you can stand up to the combined might of six Arab regular armies, not to mention our Palestinian battalions. We can actually kill you with our hats!" Yes, that is what he actually said: "We can kill you with our hats." We have been good friends for a long time. You might as well give me your house rather than to someone you don't know."
"His advice reminded me of your advice. Yet during the 1948 war, that was forced on us by you, your 'grandfather', not only didn't get the house in Kefar Shemaryahu, but he lost his own house and became a refugee. And now he is blaming it on the Jews. Fifty-five years later he still sits in the camp. His views haven't changed much. He still wants not only his house back, but he wants the house in Kefar Shemaryahu, of his Jewish friend as well. Will he ever get it? I doubt it."
"Yes, he will get it! And you know why? Because in 1948 they were all cowards! Today, our generation is proving that we are not! Eighteen determined men with carton cutters who were not afraid to die, defied the big American might, causing them thousands of dead and trillions of dollars worth of lbosses. We found out that we can bring the Western capitalist system to its knees, and we shall do so! It is a shameless selfish system that causes endless human misery around the world, especially in the third world countries and for Islam. It is time for it to go!" It was obvious from the way he said it that he didn't say it for the first time.
Remember, this kid is a college student -- so much for education and wealth being a salve for racism and hatred. If you're interested, there's also a discussion of this topic going on over at LittleGreenFootballs.com.
As I mentioned before, thanks to a benefactor, I just finished reading Oriana Fallaci's "The Rage and The Pride." In the book, Fallaci is really issuing a wake up call to Italy, and by extension Europe and that part of America that is represented by that band of great thinkers like Susan Sarandon, Noam Chomsky, Jane Fonda and Susan Sontag. (Fallaci has some very strong words for Fonda, especially, after the two had a run in back in the 1970s after they both visited North Vietnam during the war.)
Fallaci's point, one which many, including myself, have made is that there will be no truce with Islamofacism. There will be no truce with radical Islam. It is them or us. They have declared war on civilization, and there will be no quarter. Iraq is the first domino. Once it falls, Iran will fall on its own. After that, change will come in the Middle East -- one way or another.
Unfortunately, for we who value human life, many civilians will die. Hopefully Islam can come out of the dark ages and learn tolerance for other faiths.
But don't hold your breath.
Maybe he should stick to economics: According to Donald Luskin, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's grasp of history is iffy at best.
Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Religion of Peace update: Some "freedom fighter" tossed a grenade into a church in Pakistan, killing three girls.
As of the latest report, no one has claimed responsibility for the cowardly attack -- but (*sarcasm on*) I'm betting it was the Hindus. They do it all the time. (*sarcasm off*)
Tuesday, December 24, 2002
Religion in China: Today's Washington Post has an interesting article on the growth of Protestantism in China and how the government is responding.
One thing I noticed in the story, however, is what I would consider a lack of elementary religious knowledge. Or, at least, an unwillingness to call a spade a spade.
Some Chinese churches push the envelope of Protestant doctrine. Eastern Lightning, for example, is a fast-growing group started several years ago that believes the Bible is passé. In a throwback to a 19th-century Chinese rebellion led by a man who said he was Jesus's younger brother, Eastern Lightning holds that Jesus's sister has come to Earth and is Chinese.
"Push the envelope?" This is what any Protestant church would classify as a cult. Jesus' sister!?
Monday, December 23, 2002
A new assault on the environment: In the past, when the Bush administration has been poised to destroy the environment, be it his "Clear Skies" initiative or arsenic in drinking water, the New York Times editorial page and its writers have written to the rescue. The Times has spared no amount of vitriol when it comes to protecting the environment from Republicans.
In today's paper, the Times tackles a new plan to use the banned pesticide DDT around the world -- and pronounces it good!
he world is losing the war against malaria. Once considered near eradication, malaria today kills more than a million people a year in Africa alone. One reason is that wealthy nations have limited the use of one of the best weapons, a pesticide that once saved hundreds of millions of lives.
Today, malaria control relies mainly on insecticide-treated bed nets and drugs, most of which have lost effectiveness as malaria grows resistant. DDT, which is sprayed on the inside walls of houses twice a year, is used in only about 24 countries. Wealthy nations that banned DDT at home will not pay for its use elsewhere. But the poorest nations depend on such donations. America used DDT to eradicate malaria, as did southern Europe and India.
The developed world has been unconscionably stingy in financing the fight against malaria or research into alternatives to DDT. Until one is found, wealthy nations should be helping poor countries with all available means ? including DDT.
After recovering from the shock of the editorial, I concur with the Times' editorial. One of the benefits of going to a school with a good agriculture program, was the opportunity to take a (required) class on "Agriculture and American Life." One of the classroom exercises was a debate on using DDT in the developing world. Being assertive (and a loudmouth) I represented the developing world in a four-way debate between the U.S., U.N. and environmental groups.
My method of attack was similar to that of the Times' editorial -- people are dying, DDT is cheap, and the rest of the world isn't helping. You (the U.S., Europe and the rest of the first world) used it when you needed it, and now you want to bar us from using it.
Needless to say, I won.
Saturday, December 21, 2002
Religion and public life: There's a couple of pieces of news today on what appears to be a new religious test for office. While liberal commentators often like to compare religious conservatives to the Taliban, it's the liberals who are acting like the Taliban. If you fail to meet their requirements (atheism or "culturally" Christian -- that is, you go to church on Christmas and Easter -- if then), then you're obviously unqualified for public office. Call it the John Ashcroft standard.
From today's New York Times:
[T]he California Supreme Court is considering a proposal that would forbid the 1,600 judges in the state to belong to the Boy Scouts because of its refusal to accept gays.
California judges are prohibited from joining groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation, but nonprofit youth organizations are exempt. The Supreme Court took up the proposal to consider changing the rule at the request of bar associations in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Ever since the Supreme Court said that the Boy Scouts of America can determine its own membership policies, liberals have been out to get them. They have tried to get various United Way organizations to kick out the Scouts. They have mounted a PR campaign against them.
And now they're trying to limit who can be associated with them.
Let's state right off, that if the California Supreme Court is stupid enough to go through with it, they're going to get slapped down -- for the very same reason they did in the Boy Scouts case -- the right of association.
Of course, the Boy Scouts did have something to day on the issue:
A spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America reacted with outrage to the proposal, which was announced on Thursday.
"It would be wrong, inappropriate and unconstitutional," the spokesman, Gregg Shields, said. "The proposed policy would be just as inappropriate as a policy forbidding judges from being Roman Catholic or Baptist or Orthodox Jewish or any of numerous faiths which share the Boy Scouts' views."
And it's not just on the state level. Despite what the Constitution says, liberals have no problem creating a religious test for office.
Last week the New York Times reported that President Bush was considering nominating me (Douglas W. Kmiec) to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. While many friends from my days in the Justice Department, former students now practicing at law firms across the country, and sitting judges wrote or called to encourage this development, a stark, inside-the-Beltway question emerged from the report: Can an avowedly pro-life Catholic actually serve on such court?
The Times noted fairly that over my 25 years teaching law, I have "written about the need for judges to interpret the Constitution with an eye to what . . . scholars call 'natural law.' " Properly, the report traced this conviction not to a particular religious belief but to the country's fundamental incorporation document--the Declaration of Independence.
It was my assumption that the average, well-informed citizen would find all this to be rather more basic than controversial, but this is not the way of activists with fax machines in Washington. By the afternoon, the speculation of my nomination produced an overly heated press release from an organization that styles itself the Alliance for Justice--a group that generally opposes Bush nominees, but apparently has a special dislike for those who are pro-life.
And some like to claim there's no hostility towards Christianity in the public square?
What rock are they hiding under?
Friday, December 20, 2002
Web advertising gone mad: It seems as though the bane of Web surfers everywhere -- the dreaded pop-under ad -- is getting even more annoying. According to this report over at CNet's News.com, new ads will "kick" you to Orbitz, or another advertiser using similar technology, merely by moving your mouse over the ad. No clicking required.
The brain-dead advertising representative doesn't see anything at all annoying about this new technology.
"The enormous success for Orbitz is directly related to these pop-unders," said Mark Rattin, creative director for Chicago-based Otherwise. "There's an enormous segment of the population that are appreciating these ads."
Anyone seen that Bud Light "Whack-a-mole" commercial? That's what needs to be done to this turkey.
The only people appreciating these ads are software-makers who write programs to disable the things.
One more reason why Orbitz will never get my business.
Separation of Church/State issues: In James Taranto's "Best of the Web Today" he refers to the following story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
I can't make this stuff up:
A Venango County elementary school performance was canceled after parents objected to scenes in which third- through fifth-grade students re-enacted human sacrifices in the Aztec civilization.
The performance, titled "Bizarre Bazaar," was supposed to be the culmination of a monthlong social studies program to teach students about world cultures, including the Chinese, ancient Egyptians and Aztec Indians.
Administrators at Pleasantville Elementary School in the Titusville School District canceled the Tuesday night show after some parents who watched a rehearsal felt parts of the program were inappropriate for their young children. "Bizarre Bazaar" was to be acted out before first- through fifth-graders at the school in Venango County north of Pittsburgh.
"I was very disappointed that those in charge . . . didn't see anything wrong with this type of production, especially around Christmas," said Keith Klinger, the father of first- and third-graders at Pleasantville Elementary. "I had no problem with it up until the violent content of the human sacrifices."
Taranto suggested that they might have considered sacrificing a goat instead.
But really, where was the ACLU on this? Human sacrifices were part of the Aztec religion. You know they'd be screaming bloody murder if there was a Christmas play -- and school administrators are so conditioned that they know to not even try it.
However, any non-Christian religion always seems to bypass the Church/State line under the guise of multicultural instruction.
Of course, there's always the issue of school violence. Don't they think brutal human sacrifice may not be the sort of thing that you want to teach young children?
Someone needs to take those teachers and administrators out behind the woodshed and give them a beating.
The Two Towers: I saw the latest installment of Director Peter Jackson's epic trilogy on Wednesday. Yes, I know it's two days later -- but I've needed the time to really digest it. The film is excellent, and should, once again, be nominated for a fistful of Oscars.
The Two Towers is about the primal battle of Good vs. Evil (as is the rest of the trilogy). And several times during the film I found myself noticing an eerie parallel between Man's battle with Sauron and Western civilization's battle with Islamofascist terrorism.
The special effects, costumes and make-up artistry, were amazing in the first installment -- but they're even better in the second.
The battle for Helm's Deep is amazing, likely one of the best sequences I've ever seen on film -- far better than anything in the Star Wars movies. (I know that's sacrilege for some, but get over it.)
One word: Ents!
Gimli's got some really good one-liners.
Eowyn (aka Miranda Otto) -- hubba, hubba. (Most of the pictures over at imdb don't do her justice.)
In short, it's well worth the $7-$10 dollars it'll cost you.
One more year until the finale -- I can't wait.
Rip Van Krugman: Today's offering from New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is more of what we've come to expect from the Democrats' snarky hatchet man.
I'll start with the last part first, because it is really the central issue.
It may be that the bad few weeks the administration has just had were the result of random events. But I think the public is finally waking up to the fact that the people in the White House know a lot about gaining power, but not much about what to do with it.
Krugman's column is all about the fact that the Republicans got themselves elected, but have no policy -- on anything. You see, the common people are stupid, the Democrats have the right plan (for everything) and the last election was just a big mistake.
Krugman's trying to rewrite history. Remember back just a few weeks ago, when Democrats were trying to figure out what went wrong Nov. 5? The consensus, from pundits and Democratic party operatives themselves, was that the Republicans had a plan, and the Democrats didn't.
Now Krugman's trying to rewrite history. Did he nap through that unpleasant episode or is he just in denial?
The remainder of Krugman's column is just a recount of his last dozen or so columns.
1) Obligatory cheap shot at Trent Lott (Can't resist kicking a man when he's down).
2) Accounting scandals (Typical gun law argument -- we need new laws, even though they broke existing ones).
3) Economic team (Bush picked them, so they're useless).
So, if he's got no ideas for a new column, he'll just combine them and recycle old ones.
Time for another vacation.
Thursday, December 19, 2002
On the "states rights" codeword: Steven Hayward over at National Review Online has a piece defending former president Ronald Reagan from the false and frivolous racism charges with which some race-baiters have tried to tar as many Republicans as they can.
To be sure, it is difficult to imagine that Reagan was oblivious to the historical baggage of the phrase "states' rights" in Mississippi, and it cannot be ruled out that he was conscious of the problematic implication of his choice of words, just as Jimmy Carter was not presumed innocent of his use of "ethnic purity" in 1976. But "states' rights" was a sound principle of federalism that was debased by Democratic party rule in the south, for which it is not Republicans who owe an apology. Reagan had a long and well-known record of criticizing centralized government power, and this is how the media at the time interpreted his statement. "Most of those at the rally," the New York Times reported, "apparently regarded the statement as having been made in that context." And as a westerner Reagan had fully associated himself with the "Sagebrush Rebellion," for whom "states' rights" had no racial content, but rather meant wresting control of land from Washington. This was far from an outlandish or minority view. The same day Reagan made his "states' rights" remark in Mississippi, the National Governors Association issued what the Associated Press described as "a militant call for reduced federal involvement in state and local affairs." Arizona's liberal Democratic Governor Bruce Babbitt wrote in a New York Times op-ed article that "It is time to take hard look at 'states' rights' -- and responsibilities -- and to sort out the respective functions of the federal government and the states." I missed where Jack White added Babbitt to his roster of racists (never mind Carter's calculated appeal to "ethnic purity" in 1976).
To liberals, however, employing the phrase "states' rights" in any context is to waive the bloody shirt of racism and segregation. Little time was wasted in accusing Reagan not simply of pandering to old-fashioned segregationist sentiment in the south, but of actively sympathizing with it. Patricia Harris, Carter's secretary of Health and Human Services, told a steelworkers' union conference in early August: "I will not attempt to explain why the KKK found the Republican candidate and the Republican platform compatible with the philosophy and guiding principles of that notorious organization."
Go read the entire thing.
On a related note: James Carville has forgiven Trent Lott. I still think Lott should step down as majority leader, but I also think the man has "apologized" enough.
Carville, also a co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," faxed a letter to Lott's office Wednesday, both accepting the senator's apology and pledging not to criticize him further for comments made recently or for comments Lott has made in the past on the issue of race.
"If, as you have claimed, your recent troubles have truly spurred you to seek redemption and find ways to improve race relations in this country, I applaud you," Carville wrote.
"Remember, Senator, we all make errors. Committing errors is not a tragedy, but failing to learn from them is a grave one. You say you've learned. I believe you. That settles it."
I seldom agree with Carville, but he's done the right thing. It would be nice if others would follow his lead.
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
More on our friends the Saudis: The American people aren't buying Saudi Arabia's PR offensive, with good reason.
Two more Westerners -- one of them a Canadian -- have stepped forward with allegations that they were tortured by Saudi officials who wanted them to confess to bombings in Riyadh.
The allegations will be aired tonight on the CBC program The Fifth Estate.
Ron Jones, a British accountant, was injured in a bomb blast outside a bookstore in Riyadh in March, 2001. He said he suffered scorching along the left side of his body, but was taken from hospital to a jail where he was beaten with a cane on the soles of his feet in an attempt to get him to confess to the bombing that injured him.
"He just swung this cane on to the soles of my feet and then he screamed at me, 'Don't move your feet.' The pain was absolutely excruciating," Mr. Jones said.
"I was screaming 'I haven't done anything, why are you doing this?' and the more I screamed, the more they hit.
"I remember saying to them, 'I'll tell you anything you want, just please don't hit me again.' "
Mr. Jones had been in the company of a Canadian at the time of the bookstore bombing. The Canadian was also detained by Saudi authorities and said he suffered beatings and sleep deprivation during his 60 days in a Saudi jail. He was spirited from the country by Canadian authorities, who told him not to talk to the press. His name has never been released and he has requested anonymity.
And the Saudis like to complain about some of their terrorist countrymen being held at Guantanamo Bay.
Once Iraq falls, Iran will follow. Give it a few more years and things in Saudi Arabia will change -- one way or another.
The Wahhabi strain of Islam that has its home in Saudi Arabia cannot exist side-by-side with Western civilization. One of them's got to go -- and we have a much better military.
Bill Clinton go away: That paragon of morality, impeached former-president Bill "Slick Willy" Clinton accuses Republicans who criticize Sen. Trent Lott of being hypocritical.
"How do they think they got a majority in the South anyway?" Clinton told CNN outside a business luncheon he was attending. "I think what they are really upset about is that he made public their strategy."
He added: "They try to suppress black voting, they ran on the Confederate flag in Georgia and South Carolina, and from top to bottom the Republicans supported it."
Bill, just go back into your hole. We don't need morality lessons from you.
Apparently in Clinton's -- and a whole lot of other liberals' world -- every Republican is part of the "vast, right-wing conspiracy" that wants to keep the "people" down. Voters aren't buying it, as witnessed by the last election, and all of Clinton's, Krugman's and Gore's outrage won't make it true.
Republican is not synonymous with "racist."
Frankly, I'm getting sick and tired (and hopping mad) every time some pompous ass tars Republicans with the brush.
Republicans aren't the ones, when it comes to jobs or college admissions, who state that everyone is equal (only some animals are more equal than others.)
Republicans are the ones that judge people as Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated: "not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Frankly, I'm missing the medieval days when you could prove the objective truth of a statement by a contest at arms -- God would give the right one the power to prevail.
I'd like to challenge Bubba to a fistfight.
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
I'm gonna miss him: Christopher Badeaux is hanging up his blogger's cap. I'm gonna miss him. Go check out his adieu.
Monday, December 16, 2002
Tips for visitors to Iraq: The Happy Fun Pundit has a list of do's, don'ts and questions to ask. They pick on Sean Penn, but Nicholas Kristof could've used a few of them when he visited earlier this year.
When they offer to take you to the children's hospital, refuse. They always take you to a children's hospital. There is nothing to learn there, other than that Iraq has children, and they sometimes wind up in the hospital. Your time would be better spent staying home and watching reruns of "ER".
Likewise, ignore the baby food factories, the glorious arts and entertainment facilities, and the city's best eating establishment. If you want to be taken seriously, learn to at least recognize when someone is trying to blow sunshine up your ass. Potemkin villages have fooled nitwits like you for decades. By now, you should know better.
Read the whole thing, it's enlightening.
Replace "religion" with "race" in ...: Paul Krugman's latest column and the storm of criticism around Trent Lott's statements would be look like a gentle breeze.
The only identifiable group that it is still OK to demonize on the pages of The New York TImes are conservative Christians.
Krugman's latest takes aim Christians as part of a grand, undeniably evil plot, to create a theocracy in America.
The media were shocked, shocked to discover that prominent Republicans have a soft spot for segregation - something that was obvious long before Mr. Lott inserted his foot in his mouth. One of these years they'll be equally shocked to discover that prominent Republicans have a soft spot for theocracy.
It was obvious that Republicans were segregationists long before Lott's statement? Where were you Paul Krugman, warning us of this obvious evil beforehand?
It's also interesting that Krugman is able to connect a deep (though misguided in Krugman's view) religious faith to the evil of segregation -- seeing how it was Christians who led the abolition movement that resulted in the end of slavery, and also led the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and '60s.
Of course, the administration insists that the new policy isn't intended to allow government-funded proselytizing. And it would surely deny that by explicitly permitting religious discrimination in hiring - organizations that receive federal contracts can "take faith into account in making employment decisions" - it is opening up a new source of patronage for its friends on the Christian right.
Why am I not reassured?
Because, though you are a talented economist, when it comes to understanding politics you're a talentless hack?
As for allowing faith-based charities "discriminate" in hiring, Krugman would like, to suggest a likely example, to force a group like The Salvation Army to hire atheists. Krugman is an advocate of the kind of political correctness that tried to force homosexuality and atheism on quasi-religious organizations like the Boy Scouts of America.
What's next? Does the NAACP have to extend a job offer to the head of the racist World Church of the Creator?
That's laughable of course, but when Krugman screams "discrimination" these examples are the practical realities that he is advocating.
By the way, one piece of that biblical worldview involves scientific education. After the Columbine school shootings, Mr. DeLay suggested that the tragedy had occurred "because our school systems teach our children that they are nothing but glorified apes who have evolutionized out of some primordial mud." Guns don't kill people; Charles Darwin kills people.
Mr. DeLay isn't an obscure crank; he's the most powerful man in Congress. Still, is he an outlier? No. Don Nickles, now challenging the wounded Mr. Lott for Senate leadership, is less given to colorful statements, but is as closely aligned with the religious right as Mr. DeLay.
Krugman on Columbine! An advanced degree in economics allows him to casually dismiss any debate on the question of whether or not hostility toward the church and/or God (the cornerstones of American society since the founding of our nation) in the public square, may be partially responsible for creating the kind of anger, hatred and despair that led two youths to kill 12 classmates, 1 teacher and themselves.
I'm willing to put big money on the fact that Krugman wouldn't so casually dismiss DeLay's statement if he, like Gore, Lieberman, McCain and others, blamed violent video games or Marilyn Manson for encouraging Klebold and Harris' murderous acts.
And the influence of the religious right spreads much further. The Internet commentator Atrios, who played a key role in bringing Mr. Lott's past to light, now urges us to look into the secretive Council for National Policy. This blandly named organization was founded by Tim LaHaye, co-author of the apocalyptic "Left Behind" novels, and is in effect a fundamentalist pressure group. As of 1998 the organization's membership contained many leading Congressional figures in the Republican Party, though none of the party's neoconservative intellectuals.
The Horror! The Horror! A fundamentalist pressure group! Oh, my!
God save us!
If these groups continue to be formed, soon there will be a pressure group named...the National Organization for Women. And then...yes, I can see it now....Emily's List.
George W. Bush gave a closed-door speech to the council in 1999, after which the religious right in effect endorsed his candidacy. Accounts vary about what he promised, and the organization has refused to release the tape.
Ohhh...Krugman must have gotten his membership card to the "Black Helicopter Club" in the mail yesterday. It's a plot worthy of a Robert Ludlum novel.
But it's notable that he appointed John Ashcroft as attorney general; Mr. Ashcroft gives every appearance of placing his biblical worldview above secular concerns about due process.
Ohhhhh....He said "Ashcroft." Aren't you scared now?
Please, someone help me with this: Exactly what does a "biblical worldview" say about due process? I must've missed the the verse in Sunday school where it said: "Thou shalt not detain illegal immigrants indefinitely." (Can anyone suggest the basis for a lawsuit against my Sunday School teachers who were obviously derelict in their responsibilities?)
I'd like to think that the furor over Trent Lott's nostalgia for Jim Crow, hidden in plain sight for years, would serve as a signal to ask about other uncomfortable truths hidden in plain sight. But I suspect that it won't, that we'll soon go back to worrying about politicians' haircuts.
And then, years from now, when it becomes clear that much public policy has been driven by a hard-line fundamentalist agenda, people will say "But nobody told us."
A "hard-line fundamentalist agenda?" I think the vast majority of Christians would simply be happy to be treated with simple respect in the public square, instead of the demonization that so many liberal commentators seem too eager to pour on them.
Sunday, December 15, 2002
More on the Saudis and kidnapping: On OpinionJournal.com from William McGurn.
For months now Prince Bandar has watched American distrust of Saudi Arabia climb even as his kingdom is spending millions to fix its battered image. But the exodus of three founding partners from the Saudi's U.S. public relations firm, Qorvis Communications, suggests that the Saudi ambassador's problem is not limited to the American public. Apparently even the people selling the Saudi line aren't buying it.
Read the whole thing, and remember: The Saudis are not our friends.
The view from the emergency room: I spent four hours today in the Grossmont Hospital emergency room, and I'm happy to say that the medical system in La Mesa, Calif., appears to work reasonably well.
I was injured playing football with some fellow Union-Tribune employees. I thought I may have dislocated or broken my wrist, but, thankfully, the X-rays revealed only an extremely nasty bruise.
In my four-hour stay in the emergency room I saw some very interesting things. But the highlight of the trip was a 55-year-old man who came in because he had been vomiting.
Interesting facts to note about this man: 1) He said he was 55, but he looked 85. Some people have hard lives, and this guy obviously did. Doctors and nurses could not believe that the man was only 55. 2) He was proud to note the fact that he had 28 siblings. Apparently his father got around -- 29 kids by 5 different women.
A gem from National Review ODT: (That's On Dead Tree for the acronym-challenged).
How many times during the midterm campaign did Democrats say that a vote for Republicans was a vote to abolish Social Security, ban abortion, gut environmental laws, and put right-wing extremists on the bench? The people voted. Let the fun begin!
Which brings me another opportunity to point out that a subscription to National Review is still on my Wish List over at Amazon.com. Thanks to a poor billionaire contributor, I'm currently reading Oriana Fallaci's "The Rage and the Pride." A short book report will be upcoming soon.
Saturday, December 14, 2002
Mark Steyn is a genius: You can read his latest here, at OpinionJournal.com. It's about doomed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
In his summary of Kerry's faults, (the fact that he's a Massachusetts liberal is at the top) Steyn points out that Kerry is opposed to the death penalty.
Steyn points out the twisted logic Kerry displayed on a recent interview on NBC's "Meet the Press." Kerry repeated his anti-death penalty stand, saying that life in prison was a harsher punishment for convicted criminals.
BUT, there was an exception. Kerry said he was not opposed to executing terrorists, like Osama bin Laden, who attack America.
Think about it.
Kerry would like to give terrorists that attack America a lesser punishment (in his opinion) than he gives your average murderer.
Then again, maybe he really doesn't think that life in prison is a harsher sentence.
Friday, December 13, 2002
The other face: The Democratic Party has long proclaimed itself the friend of the "average American," taking the side of the "people against the powerful."
But, that's the face they show the public, with the connivance of the national media -- The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN.
The hidden face, is one seldom seen, it's the face of the Democratic Party that doesn't hold the views of the vast majority of Americans.
It's a party that preaches family values, yet defends the adulterous actions of Bill Clinton and Gary Condit.
It's a party that preaches equality, but defends quotas for their favored constituents.
It's a party that preaches tolerance, yet supports candidates like Cynthia McKinney who blame the J-E-W-S for the evil in the world.
It's a party that scrutinizes the judicial nominees from the opposition party for the slightest sin, yet supports Rep. Alcee Hastings -- an impeached judge.
It's a party that says it respects women, yet dismisses the actions of Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose actions led to the death of a woman.
It's a party that says it supports the military, yet cuts the defense budget at every opportunity.
It's a party that claims to support the ability of common people to sue the powerful, yet instead supports trial lawyers who get multimillion dollar judgements in class action cases, lining their pockets with hefty fees while the people wronged get coupons.
It's a party that claims to care about the integrity of the voting process, yet its violates state law by using the polling places for get-out-the-vote offices.
It's a party that claims to care about the poor, yet created a welfare system that kept people in poverty, dependent on the government for handouts.
It's a party that pretends to care about the homeless all the time, but in reality only cares when a few cigarettes will get a homeless person to pull the right (left?) lever.
Is this an unfair and cynical view of the Democratic party?
Is it wrong to paint an entire political party as -- at best -- out of touch with the American people; and at worst downright evil?
Well, this is unfair at best, and outrageous at worst.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Thankfully Democrats aren't going overboard on this Trent Lott thing: Except for the New York Times editorial page. Specifically, columnist Bob Herbert.
Look, Lott said something very stupid. It definitely hurt his reputation, and it is also hurting the Republican party. Lott should probably step down as Senate Majority Leader.
But, Bob Herbert goes too far.
But Mr. Lott is not the only culprit here. The Republican Party has become a haven for white racist attitudes and anti-black policies. The party of Lincoln is now a safe house for bigotry. It's the party of the Southern strategies and the Willie Horton campaigns and Bob Jones University and the relentless and unconscionable efforts to disenfranchise black voters. For those who now think the Democratic Party is not racist enough, the answer is the G.O.P. And there are precious few voices anywhere in the G.O.P. willing to step up and say that this is wrong.
What a steaming load of crap. Does Herbert, an intelligent man, really believe the tripe that the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons, hatemongers both, peddle?
Willie Horton, does Herbert forget that it was Democrat Al Gore that first brought up that name in a primary debate?
I'll see you're Willie Horton and raise you a James Byrd. Talk about disgusting, racist, inciteful advertising.
I'll see your Bob Jones University, and raise you just about every other college campus on this nation. (By the way, I'm not defending Bob Jones -- I think they've got problems too.)
As for the few voices...Herbert must be legally deaf.
See, but a grand conspiracy against blacks need more than just a senator from Mississippi.
So Herbert finds a president.
Much of the current success of the Republican Party was built on the deliberate exploitation of very similar sentiments. One of the things I remember about Mr. Reagan's 1980 presidential run was that his first major appearance in the general election campaign was in Philadelphia, Miss., which just happened to be the place where three civil rights workers ? Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney ? were murdered in 1964.
During that appearance, Mr. Reagan told his audience, "I believe in states' rights."
Wow! Didn't know Regan advocated the murder of civil rights activists did you? It's more than a little bit scary that a columnist for the New York Times actually believes that the Republican Party is nothing more than a latter-day Ku Klux Klan.
Herbert's entire slander is laughable to the vast majority of Americans, but there are some who believe what they read on the Times' editorial page. (These people should probably have their heads examined.)
I'll be curious to see the response Herbert's column generates. It's outrageous. But I guess it's to be expected from the party without ideas and without a "destruction" machine.
Over at the Wall Street Journal, John Fund offers a little historical context that Herbert seems to lack.
But criticism of Mr. Lott has also come from the right. The four Republican appointees to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, who include civil-rights scholar Abigail Thernstrom, issued a joint statement in which they said his comments "were particularly shameful coming from a leader of the Republican Party, the party of Abraham Lincoln, and the party that supported all of these essential steps forward far more vigorously than the Democratic Party, which at the time was the home of Congressional southerners committed to white supremacy." The landmark 1964 Civil Rights legislation, as historians have noted, could not have passed without lopsided support by Republicans. Twenty-one Senate Democrats voted against the bill, but only six Republicans voted nay--although one of them was Barry Goldwater, the party's presidential standard-bearer that year, who opposed it on libertarian rather than racial grounds.
Oh, and one of those southern senators who voted against the bill was none other than Al Gore's father -- a Democrat.
Fund also notes that last year the liberals gave one of theirs an undeserved pass.
The crescendo of criticism now coming in comes from all the usual suspects, including liberals who gave a complete pass last year to Sen. Robert Byrd, then the Appropriations Committee chairman, when the West Virginia Democrat and former Ku Klux Klan member referred to "white niggers" in an interview with Fox News Channel's Tony Snow.
Is Trent Lott a racist? Maybe, maybe not. That is a valid point to debate.
Is every registered Republican a racist. No. And Herbert slanders every one when he says that.
Well, this is interesting: It's now been widely-reported that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers may have used Mace or some other chemical to help takeover at least one of the hijacked planes.
But what hasn't gotten a heck of a lot of press is this final paragraph:
Last week, a German investigator testified that the business card of a diplomat from the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Berlin was found in (Mounir) el Motassadeq's apartment. On Tuesday, the embassy said the diplomat did not know the suspect and the embassy did not know how el Motassedeq got the card, Schulz said.
Now, with just about any other country, I'd buy the denial.
But not with the Saudis, sorry.
The Saudis are not our friends.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Jimmy Carter and the Peace Prize: I just saw a bit of Carter's speech after he was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize.
War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always evil. Never good.
War is always evil. Never good?
The Revolutionary War? Evil or Good?
The Civil War? Which resulted in the end of slavery. Evil or Good?
World War II? Which stopped the complete genocide of the Jews in Europe. Or the War in the Pacific that halted the systemic murder of Chinese and Filipinos (among many others) by the Japanese. Evil or Good?
Carter has done some admirable work since his presidency, especially with Habitat for Humanity, but it's statements like this one that demonstrate why he was soundly defeated by Ronald Reagan.
During times of war, be it the Cold War or the War on Terrorism, America needs leaders who understand good and evil.
I watched Al Gore on ABC's "This Week"...: And I'm becoming convinced that he will find it very difficult to win the Democratic nomination, let alone the presidency, should he choose to run for President again. He still came across as arrogant and professorial -- something that hurt him in the debates and the last election.
George Stephanopoulos did an solid job questioning Gore on his newfound support for a single-payer health care system. Though Stephanopoulos did press him, Gore seemed to have little idea exactly what his system would look like except for the broad outlines:
1. It wouldn't be like Canada's.
2. The government may or may not be in charge of it.
3. Too much health care funding is wasted with the current system.
Apparently, Gore would like to centralize all of the small bureaucracies into one giant bureaucracy. Of course, the only thing worse than a big bureaucracy is an even bigger bureaucracy.
However, I will give credit where credit is due. Al Gore made a refreshingly honest point when asked by Stephanopoulos about Sen. Bob Kerry's proposed "Tax Holiday" on the first $10,000 of payroll taxes.
Gore replied that something like that may be a good thing for the economy, but we need to be careful when dealing with any tax that directly funds Social Security.
Bravo! A bit of honesty and accuracy!
Monday, December 09, 2002
First off, I'm not going to defend...: Sen. Trent Lott's widely-reported remark at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party.
But Paul Krugman's latest column does contain some whoppers.
[A] man from Mars ? or from Europe ? might expect Mississippi voters to favor progressive taxation and generous social programs. After all, the state benefits immensely from the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson: it doesn't pay a lot of federal taxes because it has the lowest per-capita income in the nation, and it does receive a lot of aid. Unlike, say, New Jersey, which pays far more into the U.S. Treasury than it gets in return, Mississippi is a major net recipient of federal funds.
But Mississippi is, in fact, the home of Trent Lott ? a leader of a party determined to roll back as much as it can of the Great Society, perhaps even the New Deal. Why do Mississippi and its neighbors support politicians whose economic policies seemingly run counter to their interests?
Well, geez, if you set it up that way...the only conclusion I can draw is that Mississippi voters are stupid. Apparently, so is everyone outside of the top 1 percent of income earners who vote Republican.
They want to roll back the Great Society? Good. Memo to Krugman: the Great Society didn't work. That was part of the welfare reform act passed a few years ago and signed by a Democratic president.
Fifty years ago the politics of race in America weren't at all disguised. Jim Crow laws both impoverished and disenfranchised Southern blacks; Southern whites voted for politicians who promised to keep things that way. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act ended overt discrimination. Yet race remains a major factor in our politics.
Indeed, this year efforts to suppress nonwhite votes were remarkably blatant. There were those leaflets distributed in black areas of Maryland, telling people they couldn't vote unless they paid back rent; there was the fuss over alleged ballot fraud in South Dakota, clearly aimed at suppressing Native American votes. Topping it off was last Saturday's election in Louisiana, in which the Republican Party hired black youths to hold signs urging their neighbors not to vote for Mary Landrieu.
The leaflets in Maryland -- yeah, it was news at the time -- they found a total of .... Four? Besides, if some lame leaflet like that scares you away from voting, then maybe you shouldn't be voting in the first place.
I hate to sound elitist, but it's really an issue of caring enough to be informed about basic civics. Krugman's new saying seems to be: "Democratic voters -- only slightly less stupid than Republicans."
The ballot fraud in South Dakota, to Krugman, is nothing more than a "fuss" that was designed in hopes of "suppressing Native American votes."
Notice how Krugman manages to turn the fact that a Democratic party worker filled out several hundred bogus voter registration cards into the Republicans fault.
According to the "right-wing" Fox News report way back in October:
According to officials, the FBI has uncovered the registration of minors, dead people, and people who do not exist. Many of the registrations have included bogus names and invalid addresses.
Investigators said in one case a woman was registered to vote a week after her death.
They have also found multiple absentee ballots distributed to the same registered voter but returned with different signatures, the officials said.
The case was brought to the attention of the South Dakota attorney general's office when county auditors began discovering problems with absentee ballot requests and votes. State Attorney General Mark Barnett said the investigation has been ongoing for two weeks.
Barnett said that he hoped invalid absentee ballots haven't been filed. Absentee voting began Sept. 24 and the registration deadline is Oct. 21.
"I don't even want to think about it," Barnett said. "A lot of absentee ballots are going to get looked at."
Would Krugman be so nonchalant about this if Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) had lost by 500 votes to a Republican?
A friend of mine recently told me that Krugman's dishonest, incredibly partisan columns are only hurting his chances at winning the Nobel Prize in Economics that a substantial portion of the left believes he deserves.
Personally, I'm not so sure -- I'd kinda like to have my own tagline -- just like James Taranto.
Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize for Economics in ....
Ummmm....then maybe they're not so outrageous: James Taranto, the author of the indispensible "Best of the Web Today," in an item entitled: "Will the Saudis Conquer Rome?" refers to a Web article translated by the also-indispensible Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
The Middle East Media Research Institute translates a Web article by Sheikh Muhammad bin Abd Al-Rahman Al-Arifi, imam of the mosque at Saudi Arabia's King Fahd Defense Academy:
We will control the land of the Vatican; we will control Rome and introduce Islam in it. Yes, the Christians, who carve crosses on the breasts of the Muslims in Kosovo--and before then in Bosnia, and before then in many places in the world--will yet pay us the Jiziya [poll tax paid by non-Muslims under Muslim rule], in humiliation, or they will convert to Islam.
OK, this is silly. Rome is not about to fall to the Wahhabis. But how come when Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson say foolish things about Islam, Third World Muslims go on murder sprees and all right-thinking Westerners condemn them, while Muslim clerics are able to say stuff like this without anyone batting an eye?
Are what Falwell and Robertson saying about Islam really "foolish" considering these very sorts of things that Taranto is pointing out? Falwell and Robertson say Islam is a religion of violence, not peace, then to publicizes a bit of rhetoric that would seem to support their point -- and chides Falwell and Robertson.
Sunday, December 08, 2002
We don't want to do anything about it, we just want to complain: That's the word from Amnesty International after Great Britain, late last week, released a dossier detailing (with substantial contribution from human rights groups like Amnesty International), human rights abuses under Saddam's regime.
(Amnesty International's) secretary general, Irene Khan, wrote recently that "this selective attention to human rights is nothing but a cold and calculated manipulation of the work of human rights activists. Let us not forget that these same governments turned a blind eye to Amnesty International's reports of widespread human rights violations in Iraq before the Gulf War."
What's worse than all the human rights abuses taking place in Iraq?
Doing anything to stop it.
Idiots of the week: Irene Vandas and Jennifer Ziemann of Vancouver, B.C.
Opposition to a war on Iraq has a long way to go before it rivals the draft-card burnings and demonstrations against the war in Vietnam in the 1960s, but a new anti-war movement is growing muscle. Some Canadians already have left for Iraq to serve as human shields against bomb attacks on Baghdad. More will follow before Christmas.
Irene Vandas and Jennifer Ziemann of Vancouver are heading to Iraq on Friday. Vandas, a 32-year-old registered nurse, and Ziemann, a 30-year-old home-care worker, will fly to Amsterdam, board a plane to Amman, Jordan, then drive into Iraq all the way to Baghdad where they will live with Iraqi civilians. There, they will join friends Linda Morgan and Irene MacInnes, two Canadians who travelled to Iraq in mid-November.
The four Canadians, sponsored by an anti-war organization called Voices in the Wilderness, have volunteered to be human shields in an effort to dissuade American-led forces from attacking Iraq. "I'm not too scared," Vandas told CBC News Online the day before she left. "I think it will be a powerful experience."
These are people who, though they have no brains, are putting their bodies where their mouths are -- with a murderous dictator.
If only Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag and Robert Fisk held to their beliefs as strongly.
Saturday, December 07, 2002
Race and college admissions: John McWhorter has an excellent piece in Sunday's Washington Post arguing that the only basis for lowering admissions standards is for socioeconomic reasons.
The question we need to ask, then, is why schools must lower standards to have a decent number of middle-class black students on campus. Over the past few years, a study by the Minority Student Achievement Network of 15 middle-class school districts has shown that black students tend to lag severely even in well-heeled suburbs, despite mentoring programs and well-sensitized teachers.
And one of the main reasons for this is cultural. In the late '60s, partly in response to the racism so much more prevalent then, black teens began teasing peers who strove to do well in school as "acting white." Several academics have examined this sad phenomenon, which is so entrenched in young black culture that one could barely grow up African American and miss it.
"Nerd," a word familiar to children of all races, is one thing. But to accuse a child of "acting white" is to accuse him or her of racial self-hatred. Given a choice between scholarly success and peer acceptance, the typical sixth-grader will choose the latter.
McWhorter's essay reminded me of an African-American guy I knew back in high school. When I went to my 10-year reunion a couple of years ago, I talked to him and he agreed to treat me after I have my first heart attack -- he's a cardiologist.
He was very bright, and was in a number of Honors/Advanced Placement classes in our freshman and sophomore years, but then he dropped out and started taking regular college prep classes. I never really figured out why, but now I suspect that McWhorter may have identified the reason. And I think it's safe to say that our school was not really divided by race, socially speaking.
He still graduated with honors, but it's much easier to blend in in college prep classes than it is in honors classes.
If I remember, I'll ask him when the 20-year reunion comes along.
Thankfully, that's still quite a ways off.
Thursday, December 05, 2002
Idiot on the Bench: Today's winner of the "Idiot on the Bench" award goes to Ninth Circuit (surprise!) Judge J. Clifford Wallace. Wallace turned down an appeal for asylum from a Chinese couple who feared (rightly) forced sterilization if returned to their country.
Wallace wrote in his opinion:
While one may condemn the way Xu (Ming Li) was treated as inconsistent with human rights, we cannot say that the record compels us to conclude that her treatment was an 'extreme form of cruel and inhuman treatment,' or that she would likely face such treatment on her return.
What treatment did Xu experience?
At the exam, she was held down while a doctor examined her "private parts,'' Xu, then 19, said according to court records.
Xu said she was told she would receive similar tests in the future, and if found pregnant, would be subject to an abortion. She said officials told her her boyfriend, Xin, then 21, could also be sterilized.
"I was so scared. I was yelling. I was making noises,'' Xu said, according to court documents, adding that officials threatened her, "For the rest of your life you cannot have child.''
You'd think that a court based in San Francisco -- where "choice" is practically a religion -- that a woman in danger of having her choice taken away from her would be immediately granted asylum.
Well, you'd think that, except for the fact that that Xu's choice isn't the PC one.
Li told him to stop interfering, and that she planned to have many babies with her boyfriend.
Goldberg tells it like it is: National Review's Jonah Goldberg has an excellent piece on Muslim leaders' claims that Islam is a religion of peace. Goldberg's argument, in short, is: Denounce violence and don't equivocate.
Civil disobedience, free speech, Christian-phobia and the courts: National Review's Rod Dreher wrote a good backgrounder on the case of NOW v. Scheidler. It's a good read.
While I'm pro-life, I'm stridently opposed to violence at abortion clinics. My definition of violence for this case is rather broad. I would include: shooting doctors or clinic employees; stalking the same; bombing clinics; defacing clinic facilities; even yelling and screaming at doctors or at women seeking their services.
I also think that pro-lifers hurt their own case when they march around public places, especially schools (some have even targeted elementary schools), with huge posters bearing images of aborted fetuses.
Unfortunately, over the years, some zealous extremists (the aforementioned killers, bombers and vandals) caused the Congress and then the Courts to go too far. The Congress passed the FACE act, which the Supreme Court later upheld.
The law "makes it illegal to block access to any clinic where abortions are preformed, or to injure or intimidate women seeking abortions or members of the clinic staff. " [emphasis added]
The word "intimidate" in the FACE act has an effect similar to the "health" exception so common in abortion law. In getting an abortion, the "health" provision allows a woman to have an abortion up to the actual birth of a child, similarly, the "intimidate" provision can be used as an incredible cudgel to quash pro-life protest. No longer can a person stand outside a clinic entrance and offer a pamphlet to a woman entering the facility. Holding signs? Not allowed.
The thing is, that the FACE act discriminated solely based on the content of the speech. Pro-life protestors must stay back a set number of feet. Anyone else can enter the zone. You could conceivably have someone standing at the clinic entrance passing out "coupons" for a cheaper abortion at a competing clinic -- but someone handing out coupons for free exams at a abortion alternative service at the exact same location could be arrested.
Of course, there's no similar safety zone around churches to keep pro-choice protesters away.
It's not the same you say? Pro-choicers don't have a history of vandalizing churches, or blocking the entrance to houses of worship.
But gay-rights advocates have. Why has there never been a drive to protect access to houses of worship?
Maybe it's because Christians are a never seen as victims -- at least in the American media. When there are attacks targeted at Christians in Africa, it's often described as "Muslims, Christians clash." However, in every objective analysis of the situation, it's usually Christians the target of an angry Muslim mob -- as was the case just last week in Nigeria.
Going back farther, in the 1980s there were numerous anti-abortion protests here in San Diego, including the blocking of clinic entrances. When police officers would come to remove them, they would go limp and were carried away. Not much different than other non-violent protests -- from the civil rights movement of the '60s to just about any college campus with aggrieved students.
But here in San Diego, officers decided that they weren't in good enough shape to pick up people, so they started using nunchakus -- two short wooden sticks connected by a cable or chain -- similar to what you see in any martial arts movie. Nope, police didn't beat protesters with them. Instead, they would put a protester's wrist in the nunchakus and squeeze. Inflicting a lot of physical pain on non-violent protesters.
There was no outcry from the ACLU or any other civil rights organization.
Because being pro-life isn't politically correct, of course. And most thought those pro-lifers got what they deserved.
Which brings us back to the case argued before the Supreme Court.
If RICO had been in effect back in the 1960s, segregation would have likely lasted much longer, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would have ended up in the poor house.
If the court allows the lower court ruling to stand, civil disobedience will cease to be part of America's political culture.
That would be a tragedy.
Wednesday, December 04, 2002
Our friends the Saudis: The World-Tribune is reporting that the Saudis are trying to rally other Arab states against the possibility of creating a democratic government in a post-Saddam Iraq.
Saudi Arabia is working to form an Arab coalition to oppose any U.S. drive to impose democracy on the Middle East.
Arab diplomatic sources said the kingdom has been consulting with Egypt, Syria and the Gulf states regarding the ramifications of post-Saddam reforms in Iraq. The sources said Saudi Arabia is concerned that it will be the next target of the Bush administration.
"The Saudi efforts want to ensure that no major Arab country will plot against Riyad or any other regime targeted by the United States," a diplomatic source said. "While Washington opposed Iraq on the issue of weapons of mass destruction, the Saudis are worried that Washington will use the banner of democracy."
Why are the Saudis so worried? After all, there's a democracy in Iraq right now! At least, I do remember something about an election...
McCain-Feingold a failure: So says its supporters!
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
Seeing how this is a pretty good day to do it: In the spirit of Christmas cheer inspired by my father, I have created my own wish list for this holiday season.
When my father taught U.S. Hoystory at Santana High School, during the month of December he would write what he wanted for Christmas on the board -- encouraging his students to express their generosity. Among the items would often be listed a 1965 Ford Mustang convertible. Understanding that this was a bit expensive, he would suggest the students get together and pool their funds to make it happen.
Often the best he got was a Matchbox version of the car.
So, if you're a regular reader and are looking to contribute something, take a look at the wish list. There are some expensive items there (I would encourage the "wealthy billionaire" readers to purchase one of those -- the "poor billionaire" readers could buy a book). I also have those tip jars to the left if you're so inclined. Money put in the tip jar will help me purchase a condo here in expensive, but sunny, San Diego.
This has been the shameless banging of the tip jar for the month. We now return you to your regularly scheduled reading.
Having it both ways: Sen. John Kerry (Super-D - Mass.) kicks off his campaign for his party's 2004 presidential nomination by taking aim at the Bush tax cut.
"The largest cost of the Bush tax giveaway will not be borne by any of us here today -- it will be paid for by our children. We're borrowing from Social Security and Medicare to put money in our pockets today -- and sticking our children with the bill."
To focus tax relief on lower and middle income workers, Kerry proposed "a payroll tax holiday" on the first $10,000 of income, meaning no Social Security tax could be collected on that amount.
According to Kerry's logic, Bush is putting Social Security in danger with his tax cut that doesn't touch the tax that funds Social Security, while Kerry is proposing a "tax holiday" that directly affects the amount of money going into the sacred Social Security lockbox.
Let me say that I'm not ideologically opposed to Kerry's "tax holiday" idea -- I sure could use the extra money -- because Social Security is so broken, that the money "lost" by such a transaction is a pittance. However, there should be a rule against using the Social Security scare tactics that Democrats have come to know and love, while at the same time exacerbating the "problem" by cutting FICA taxes.
Choose one argument or the other, but not both.
Reading comprehension problem, or willful mischaracterization (aka lie)?: I was skeptical upon reading New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's latest column attacking the Wall Street Journal editorial page.
[C]arping critics of the conservative movement have been known to say that its economic program consists of little more than tax cuts, tax cuts and more tax cuts. I may even have said that myself. If so, I apologize. Emboldened by the midterm election, key conservative ideologues have now declared their support for tax increases - but only for people with low incomes.
Krugman's Exhibit A (the source of the vast, right-wing conspiracy) is the The Wall Street Journal. Is it advocating raising taxes on low-income people as Krugman claims? I suspected that couldn't be true.
It turns out I was right. You can find the Journal editorial Krugman cites here. Krugman's characterization of the editorial as advocating higher taxes for the poor is an outright lie. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
Here is the relevant portion of the Journal editorial:
This complicated system of progressivity and targeted rewards is creating a nation of two different tax-paying classes: those who pay a lot and those who pay very little. And as fewer and fewer people are responsible for paying more and more of all taxes, the constituency for tax cutting, much less for tax reform, is eroding. Workers who pay little or no taxes can hardly be expected to care about tax relief for everybody else. They are also that much more detached from recognizing the costs of government.
All of which suggests that the last thing the White House should do now is come up with more exemptions, deductions and credits that will shrink the tax-paying population even further.
What the Journal is suggesting that the tax code not be used as a method of redistribution of wealth -- and that everyone should pay some income taxes -- even if it is a relative pittance compared with the wealthy.
While I am not necessarily opposed to having the very poor exempted from income taxes -- it's certainly a subject worthy of debate.
Nowhere in the article does the Journal advocate raising taxes on the poor.
Krugman is a liar.
End of debate.
Monday, December 02, 2002
Mark Steyn on Canadian/European anti-Americanism: It's columns like this one that make me want to be like Steyn when I grow up.
Most Canadians and most Europeans are kind, gentle people but, Bush-wise, they're the ones who are mentally challenged. The "moron" line is simply inadequate: no rational person can believe a twice-elected Texas Governor, successful US President and overthrower of the Taliban is a moron unless a majority of Americans are morons, too. And in that case how come the morons have a global dominance unparalleled in history? As with those wacky Arabs and their Zionist conspiracies, Euro-Canadian anti-Americanism is a psychosis.
In fairness to the late Ayatollah Khomeini, when he dubbed the US the Great Satan he at least understood that America is a tempter, a seducer: his slur attempts to explain its appeal. Calling America the Great Moron, by contrast, is just feeble. I happen to like moral clarity myself, but I can appreciate that for some tastes Bush's habit of dividing the world into "good" and "evil" and using these terms non-ironically might seem a little simplistic. But it's nowhere near as simplistic as dividing the world into "I'm right" and "you're stupid".
And this guy was Clinton's economic adviser? Gene Sperling had on op-ed piece in Sunday's Washington Post offering an alternative to the Bush Tax cut that Democrats would probably be well-advised to adopt. Democrats taking any position is a good thing in a democracy.
But I do have to take issue with one of Sperling's statements as either: A) a scare the old-folks tactic, or B) evidence of a basic misunderstanding of our tax system. Sperling is knowledgeable enough so that it's not the latter, so it must be the former.
Before any Democrat -- or moderate Republican -- makes the political calculation to just go along with making every element of the Bush tax cut permanent, he or she should understand how even the most modest tweaking of the tax cut for high earners could make a crucial difference for national savings, homeland security, Social Security and our ability to address the country's most compelling challenges in education, health and poverty. [emphasis added]
Social Security is funded by the payroll tax. The Bush tax cut had no impact on the payroll tax.
Another one bites the dust: The Washington Post's William Raspberry becomes the latest columnist to succumb to the simpleminded analogy that conservative Christians in the U.S. are like the Taliban -- only in a developmental stage.
People for whom religion is the source of wisdom and truth, whose religious and civic lives are seamlessly connected, and who hold governmental authority must be greatly tempted to do what they can to place truth on the throne. Maybe they have to make the effort.
But isn't that just the effort that was made by the Taliban? Doesn't that urge, or something like it, drive the religious zealotry that, ultimately, justifies much international terrorism? Aren't those right-thinking clerics in Nigeria who want to stone that allegedly adulterous woman to death (but who seem willing to look the other way with regard to her sexual partner) acting out of their sense of truth?
Raspberry needs to look at his history books. The founders of this country were fleeing from precisely the sort of thing that Raspberry describes. The conservative Christians who have been entrusted by the electorate with various positions of power know and appreciate this fact.
We are a long way from establishing anything like the Taliban in America -- but not far at all from having imposed on us a version of truth that would justify the suspension of our civil liberties and other constitutional inconveniences. We won't stone anybody to death for objecting to having their computers downloaded, or for declining to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or for skipping the "under God" addendum. But there are those who would extract a price for these breaches -- and evidence that the rest of us might let them -- if only for the duration of the "crisis."
First, editors do have jobs to do, even when dealing with columnists -- "computers downloaded?" Is this guy still using a typewriter?
As for the pledge -- if someone wants to drop the "under God" or refuse to state it that's their choice. That Raspberry seems to equate the criticism or even condemnation of those that do that to fatwas that are a dime a dozen in Islamic countries is laughable.
It's obvious from the column that Raspberry is struggling with a parallel that he sees between conservative (or radical) Islam and conservative Christianity. To Raspberry, one conservative is much like another. Unfortunately, that's not really true. If Raspberry could simply acknowledge that Christianity and Islam are different, then he'd sleep much better at night.
Sunday, December 01, 2002
Free speech, history and the courts: If you haven't read it, check out George Will's latest column on the Incumbent Protection Act, aka McCain-Feingold.
Will points out that the purpose of McCain-Feingold, in the very words of its supporters, was to prevent negative ads run against them -- not to prevent the appearance of corruption. The NRA was one of the prominent targets of the legislation, and is one of the many fighting the legislation in the courts.
The NRA's lead attorney, Charles Cooper, argues:
The Supreme Court has held that the only permissible reason for restricting campaign expenditures is to prevent corruption of public officials or the appearance of it. But how can corruption or its appearance arise from political communications by a voluntary membership organization whose communications are paid for by 4.3 million members who make themselves heard by pooling dues and contributions that average $30?
Cooper, using language from the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, writes that the NRA's voice reverberates in Congress because the organization is "millions of Americans speaking in unison. That 'is not a corruption of the democratic political process; it is the democratic political process.' "
I certainly hope that the courts have the good sense to strike this down, but you can never tell. I thought that many of the restrictions on peaceful anti-abortion protestors would have been struck down when challenged in the courts, but I was wrong.
Let's hope that the courts don't choose to go further down that road.
*UPDATE* I just read The Washington Post's preview article on the upcoming court case. I found the following case study being presented by the bill's supporters to be very interesting.
One example cited in the legal filings concerned Citizens for Reform, a murky nonprofit corporation. In 1996, the group paid for television commercials in several congressional districts, including Montana's lone House district, where Democrat Bill Yellowtail was running against Republican Rick Hill.
"Who is Bill Yellowtail?" the commercial asked. "He preaches family values, but took a swing at his wife. And Yellowtail's response? He only slapped her, but 'her nose was not broken.' . . . Call Bill Yellowtail. Tell him to support family values."
Yellowtail lost to Hill in the election.
I'd defer to an expert on Montana politics as to whether the ad in question was as decisive in the election as the Post's reporting seems to suggest.
But my question is this: This is supposed to be bad? Excuse me, but I want to know what kind of person my congressman/woman is. I want to know if the guy beats his wife. There's no indication that this charge was proven false. While a little distasteful, I think this is one of the good things about issue advocacy ads. It's information about a candidate that many people might not have known; information that is important to the electoral process.