Sunday, July 31, 2005

So, I guess the defense for the 7/21 bombers is that they were so incompetent that they couldn't have meant any harm by it. I don't think that incompetence is going to play well with British juries as a defense.
Gateway Pundit has some news about democracy protests in Nepal.
Is there some hope for the French? When a prominent French businessman can publish an essay with the title, "We French are pathetic losers" and get positive feedback from other Frenchmen, we can begin to hope that their country is waking up to what politicians and their willing supplicants in the populace have created of their country. Here is some of what he said,
"The Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry has reminded us of our [public] debt and the fact that we are living beyond our means. We knew the figures, yet no government for the last 20 years has wanted to draw a conclusion from them. The figures that attest to our decline are known to all."

He said that unemployment, at more than 10 per cent, was a "cancer that gnawed at our society", complaining that companies had lost their competitiveness and that job creation had broken down.
Sadly, I am not optimistic about the chances of reforming their overburdened welfare state. They have written so many benefits into their system, that no politician can get away with cutting anything back or those affected will raise such a fuss that the government will take it back. The farmers will block the highways with their tractors and students will take to the streets. I'm afraid that, once a country starts down that road, it will take a major crisis for the people to be willing to give up some of those nice benefits that they have grown so used to.

We see that here in the United States with Social Security. No one is willing to accept the slightest cut in what they think is due them even though they might recognize the problems we'll be facing down the road. We just have to be on our guards that we don't go any further down that road or we'll be where France is now, wishing we could change, but unable to do so.
Michael Barone assesses what the GOP and the President have accomplished so far this year and look like they're likely to accomplish.
Many conservatives have expressed dissatisfaction with the Bush administration and the Republican legislative record on the grounds that it hasn't produced the kind of massive changes that Bush has promised. Many liberals in the media and otherwise have made similar characterizations. There is some truth to these charges. But what Bush and the Republicans have been doing—you can see it most clearly on tax cuts, where they have rolled out one incremental change after another—is less to reduce government than to change it, step by step, so that it provides individuals with more choice and accountability.

In football terms it is a ground game, not a passing game. Sometimes it fails: You may be at fourth down and three to go and not get the yardage. But on CAFTA, the administration and the Republican leadership once again put points on the scoreboard.
It still strikes me as a record of two steps forward, one step back. But that is what our government is designed for. It is just not possible to push through huge changes. And even medium-sized changes necessitate a great deal of horse-trading and pork that offends us as voters but seems to be the necessary lubricant to get anything passed in Congress.
The Washington Post takes a look at Condi Rice's tenure so far as Secretary of State in a largely positive profile. Due to her closeness with the President and her own style and sense of her job, she is on her way to being one of the United States' most consequential Secretaries of State. If she means what she has said and has no interest in running for president, it will be a shame. However, that will give her more time to do the job that she is doing right now and that is no small thing.
Frances Sellars captures a lot of what I think about the idea of installing surveillance cameras all over in the U.S. as an anti-terrorism or anti-crime effort. I have no worries about our suddenly becoming a police state with our every motion detected. Face it, our lives aren't that exciting and no police organization has the time or manpower to sit every day and monitor those cameras. However, on the off chance that some crime happens at that spot, the cameras would be an invaluable aid to catching the criminals. And that makes it worth it to me. Face it. Who but the paranoid among us really care about the cameras in the bank or the department store? Why not have that same level of security in public places? Let's get over our fear of an Orwellian 1984 and face our fears of a terroristic 2005.
Mark Steyn ponders the connection between Europe's welfare state and the rise of radical Islam in its midst.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Robert Novak reports (I know, don't laugh) that Karl Rove is putting a lot of focus on a Michael Steele candidacy for Paul Sarbanes' Senate seat.
Bush political adviser Karl Rove told a closed-door fund-raiser for Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in Washington Tuesday that Steele's campaign for the Senate is a top White House priority for 2006.

Steele is running for a Senate seat left empty by retirement of Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes. The capital lobbyists who attended the event were urged to exert more effort for Steele than they usually do on an empty-seat contest. Steele, an African-American, fits in with Bush's emphasis on raising the Republican share of the black vote.
Jimmy Carter is a disgrace. Just what we need is for him to be out there criticizing Guantanamo as if he's accepted all the myths that have been spread about the place. Now, our enemies can quote a former president in criticizing the Iraq War and Guantanamo. Do we hear anything from him on how he'd fight terrorism? I know that that is not his area of expertise so perhaps he could just keep his big mouth shut.

UPDATE: Trey Jackson has the video of Carter mouthing off to criticize this government and our actions while speaking on foreign soil.
I'm no great fan of John McCain, but some people just need to lighten up. Don't get your knickers in a knot because he has a a few seconds as a cameo on Wedding Crashers. His part was innocuous and not part of the general tastelessness of the movie. The more distressing thing is that he's shown attending a wedding in the company of James Carville. That's more objectionable company for him to be in than being in a raunchy comedy.
Wendy Long has a question for the Democratic senators demanding to see Roberts' memoranda from working in the Solicitor General's office.
I wonder if the senators demanding privileged documents will be willing, in their next election campaign, to turn over all of the memos they have received giving them legal and policy advice. After all, those documents would be just as much the property of the taxpayers as privileged legal documents from the solicitor general's office.
Sure, and don't the American people need to know this kind of information before they vote for someone to hold the most powerful job in the entire world?
Max Boot notices that there is an up arrow attached to opinion of the United States in some key countries around the world.
The public opinion poll was conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, hardly a bastion of neocon zealotry. (It's co-chaired by Madeleine Albright.) Over the last three years, Pew surveys have charted surging anti-Americanism in response to the invasion of Iraq and other actions of the Bush administration. But its most recent poll — conducted in May, with 17,000 respondents in 17 countries — also found evidence that widespread antipathy is abating.

The percentage of people holding a favorable impression of the United States increased in Indonesia (+23 points), Lebanon (+15), Pakistan (+2) and Jordan (+16). It also went up in such non-Muslim nations as France, Germany, Russia and India.

What accounts for this shift? The answer varies by country, but analysts point to waning public anger over the invasion of Iraq, gratitude for the massive U.S. tsunami relief effort and growing conviction that the U.S. is serious about promoting democracy.
And there's a down arrow for Muslim extremism and Osama Bin Laden. Perhaps the message is sinking in that terrorism achieves nothing for these Muslims except killing innocent people.
I think we should start a pool. Starting now and going to election day, 2008, how many columns will Eleanor Clift write celebrating Hillary Clinton and Clinton's clever, yet sincere political moves? Any predictions. I'll start the bidding at 15. I'm not counting the one this week. Do I hear 20?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Blogging might be a tad lighter in the next week as I'll be traveling. I'm going to be making my way to Ohio to take this class on the American Revolution at Ashland University. If you're a history teacher and not aware of the Asbrook Center at Ashland, you should be. They offer wonderful teaching resources for American history as well as many free summer institutes for teachers. I use their site all the time to get primary documents for my students to look at. The Ashbrook Center is also the host of the No Left Turns Blog which I always enjoy.

On my way to and from the seminar, I'm going to be doing something that I've wanted to do for a long time and that is tour several of the Civil War battlefields. I don't know how many I'll have the time and stamina to cover or if the weather will cooperate, but I'm very excited. I'll still have the trusty laptop with me and if the connections everywhere work out as advertised, I'll still be able to satisfy my blogging addiction.
Charles Krauthammer and David Gelernter, two of the smartest writers out there, both have very good columns today advocating more profiling as we check for terrorists here in the United States. Here is Krauthammer:
Assuaging feelings is a good thing, but hunting for terrorists this way is simply nuts. The fact is that jihadist terrorism has been carried out from Bali to Casablanca to Madrid to London to New York to Washington by young Muslim men of North African, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin.

This is not a stereotype. It is a simple statistical fact. Yes, you have your shoe-bomber, a mixed-race Muslim convert, who would not fit the profile. But the overwhelming odds are that the guy bent on blowing up your train traces his origins to the Islamic belt stretching from Mauritania to Indonesia.

Yet we recoil from concentrating bag checks on men who might fit this description. Well, if that is impossible for us to do, then let's work backward. Eliminate classes of people who are obviously not suspects.

We could start with a little age pruning -- no one under, say, 13, and no one over, say, 60. Then we could exempt whole ethnic populations, a list that could immediately start with Hispanics, Scandinavians and East Asians. Then we could have a huge saving, a 50 percent elimination of waste, by giving a pass to women, except perhaps the most fidgety, sweaty, suspicious-looking, overcoat-wearing, knapsack-bearing young woman, to be identified by the presiding officer.

You object that with these shortcuts, we might not catch everybody. True. But how many do we catch now with the billions spent patting down grandmothers from Poughkeepsie?

You object that either plan -- giving special scrutiny to young Islamic men, or, more sensitively, just eliminating certain demographic categories from scrutiny -- will simply encourage the jihadists to start recruiting elderly Norwegian women.

Okay. We can handle that. Let them try recruiting converts, women and non-usual suspects for suicide missions. That will require a huge new wasteful effort on their part. And, more important, by reducing the pool of possible terrorists from the hundreds of millions to, at most, the tens of thousands, we will have reduced the probability of an attack by a factor of 10,000. Those are far better odds at far less cost to us in money and effort. And infinitely less stupid.
And here is Gelernter:
If I'm carrying a bulky backpack and you look Middle Eastern, and both items belong in the profile — why should I be stopped and not you? Equality doesn't mean you get a pass or special privileges just because your skin is dark or you appear Middle Eastern.

You might argue that dark-skinned people are a special case, given the way the United States has treated them. I agree — we have treated them so solicitously, and worked so hard to suppress racial prejudice, that dark-skinned people owe their country the benefit of the doubt.

The U.S. doesn't deserve gratitude for not doing wrong. But no nation in history has ever worked harder to correct a fault than the U.S. has to end racial prejudice. We've earned the right to expect everyone who fits a security profile to grin and bear it.

Which doesn't make it any less of a pain to match a profile. As a graduate student traveling alone in early-1980s Europe, I sometimes matched terrorist profiles and got stopped. (In those days, European terrorist groups were bigger problems than Islamic terrorism.)

Today, I look like a bearded, troublemaking professor, and I still get stopped occasionally, in airports.

But the fact remains that profiling is logical in loads of circumstances, from deciding who should get flu shots to choosing whom to chat with when you don't know anyone at a party. Profiling means making smart choices when you have nothing but externals to go by.

Good citizenship — remember that phrase? — requires that we cooperate with the authorities as they work to head off the next terror attack. John F. Kennedy, a Democrat and the nation's first neoconservative president, put it well: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

How to deal with profiling? Take it like a New Yorker, with a shrug.
Radioblogger has up Hugh Hewitt's interview with Mark Steyn discussing the London bombings, the Roberts nomination, fighting terrorism, the splintering of the AFL-CIO. As always, Steyn is entertaining and perceptive. (Link via Conservative Grapevine)
Remember when the term "litmus test" for judicial nominees used to refer to conservatives on the abortion issue? Well, who does it sound like who has a litmus test now?
Roger Pilon has a great defense of the Federalist Society.
What are we talking about here: the Communist Party? the Ku Klux Klan? No, we're talking about an organization of conservative and libertarian lawyers and legal scholars, begun nearly a quarter of a century ago in response to the overwhelmingly leftist tilt of the nation's law schools, to try to bring some balance and a different perspective to that insular and highly politicized world.

Like many other "ideological" organizations, mainly on the left, the society has student chapters at most of the nation's law schools and lawyers chapters in cities around the country.

In both cases they sponsor speakers and debates and hold conferences on the legal issues of the day. And, surprise, they invite lawyers, scholars and judges with opposing views to participate! That's perhaps the greatest affront to the narrowly controlled law-school establishment that gave rise to the society in the first place.
Why should such an organization be demonized and why should judicial nominees have to answer questions about their membership in a group that people such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Barney Frank have spoken at? This is Know-Nothingism for the 21st century.
The LA Times says that the Bush administration claim that John Roberts' papers from when he worked in the Solicitor General's office may not be protected by attorney-client privilege due to a ruling from Ken Starr's Whitewater investigation that got notes from administration lawyers who helped prepare Hillary Clinton for her grand jury testimony about Whitewater. Starr had argued that the White House lawyers worked for the government and so their advice was not protected.

I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one in the blogosphere. I welcome comments from those with a law background. However, it would seem to me that there is a difference between government lawyers advising the Clintons in an investigation that touched on their personal business and behavior and government lawyers advising the Solicitor General on what the government position should be in cases that are coming before the Supreme Court.

A couple of days ago Beldar had this post to combat what Patrick Leahy has been saying about the attorney-client privilege and government lawyers.
"Courts, commentators, and government lawyers have long recognized a government attorney-client privilege in several contexts," the DC Circuit wrote in In re Lindsey, 158 F.3d 1263, 1268 (D.C. Cir.), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 996 (1998), and then proceeded to track through several such contexts. As part of that discussion, among many other resources, it quoted with approval a 1982 study written by then-Assistant Attorney General Ted Olsen which opined that

[a]lthough the attorney-client privilege traditionally has been recognized in the context of private attorney-client relationships, the privilege also functions to protect communications between government attorneys and client agencies or departments, as evidenced by its inclusion in the [Freedom of Information Act], much as it operates to protect attorney-client communications in the private sector.
It would seem that this 1998 decision was made after the Kenneth Starr 1996 decision and the 1998 DC Circuit Court certainly could have followed the precedent of the earlier 8th Circuit decision if they had thought that the situation would apply.

So, lawyers out there - does it seem to you that there is a difference between the Ken Starr precedent and the John Roberts question? Do you think that the LA Times should have known more about this?
The Steel Deal highlights some good news in the fight on breast cancer.
Check out how the German media depicts American businessmen.
The invaluable Political Teen has up the ad against Robert Byrd that is airing in West Virginia. I think the use of the fiddle playing and noting the changes in Byrd's voting is well done. However, I dislike saying "he voted to allow flag burning" for a vote against an amendment to ban flag burning. The implication of the former statement is quite different from not wanting to add an amendment to the Constitution. (Link via Lorie Byrd)
The Washington Times picks up on the story that bloggers such as Radio Equalizer, Michelle Malkin and Captain Ed have been writing about concerning money from a Boys and Girls Club being diverted to fund Air America. If this is true - it is just unbelievable that public funds would go to help a private radio network. Head on over and read the links at these bloggers.
Danny Kruger revisits what George Orwell said about England and the English during the 1940s. Fascinating stuff.
Here are some blogger, particularly milbloggers reviews of FX's new series, "OVer There." The conclusion seems to be that the show was entertaining but really got the military details wrong. And for a show that is depicting a war while the war is going on, that seems like a big problem. But one that they could fix if they just had a few more actual veterans as consultants and paid attention to them. Check out reviews at Swanky Conservative, Argghhh!, and Charmaine Yoest.
Reliapundit is not very impressed with Paul Krugman's arguments that the French economy is so much better than ours because French families have more time to spend together despite lower pay and GNP.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

ABC's new show with Geena Davis as the first woman president sounds tedious in the extreme. Expect every cliche about how women are different from men and how no will expect a woman to be able to put on make up and still be the leader of the free world. Check out Charmaine Yoest's reaction to the idea that there are no "iconic women." She's not impressed with the promise of the show.

Geena Davis is supposed to be an Independent so that the producers can try to avoid offending either Republicans and Democrats. I'm not sure how an Independent got on the ticket with the president who supposedly kicks the bucket to make Geena president. What do you want to bet that she is a very liberal Independent?

Jonah Goldberg thinks that Geena Davis can't be the first female president since Bill Clinton was.
This sounds like a punishment fit for the crime. Just for the record, I don't approve of students regurgitating on their teachers.
Did you have any need to know what Peter Arnett thought about anything? I didn't think so. Well, apparently, he thinks that Saddam Hussein was a "very elegant, diplomatic guy." YeahI still remember those tender moments when he held Americans hostage who had been living in Iraq when he ivaded Kuwait and he had one little boy sit on his knee. Yup, you could tell what a softie that guy was with the kid on his lap. , and when his sons were running torture and rape rooms, that was just part of his elegant diplomacy. And the mass graves - just more diplomacy, I presume.
Earlier this summer, Nancy Pelosi proved that she didn't understand the role of the Supreme Court and Congress when she likened a Supreme Court decision to being as if God had spoken and that Congress could never pass a law to fill in some hole that the Court had found in some law.

Now, she's showing that she perhaps doesn't know anything about how Congress itself works because she is shocked, shocked that horsetrading took place on the floor of the House. Who would imagine that such a thing could ever happen? I bet Democrats never ever had a president twist arms to get votes from his party on an important bill. I mean, that wouldn't have been LBJ's style at all, would it have been?
David Broder laments the poor state of history-teaching in our country. Obviously, this is a situation close to my heart. I'm with David McCullough,
McCullough said that the problem starts with the training that teachers receive. "Too many have degrees in education," he said, "and don't really know the subject they are teaching."

"It is impossible to love a subject you don't know," he said, "and without a passion for history, the teaching of history becomes a matter of rote learning and drudgery."
Another source of the problem started 30 or 40 years ago when we stopped teaching "history" and started teaching "social studies." Feh! It is as if teachers and administrators had gotten together and plotted how to suck all the joy out of learning history. Gone were the many stories from history that can excite a child's imagination and inspire that child to want to learn more about an event in history. Instead, the classes became endless exercises in coloring in maps and labeling tables of exports from various countries. The study of Russia involves a lesson coloring in a picture of St. Basil's Cathedral and eating pirozhki. The kids can rattle off names like Ivan the Terrible or Peter the Great but they don't know anything about these people. I haven't taught Russian history, but I'd start a lesson showing Ilya Repin's magnificent painting of Ivan the Terrible right after he'd killed his own son. Show the kids that painting of a father who has just realized what he's done and they'll be clamoring to know more about him and why he was called "terrible." Sure, they can look at a map but who cares if they can identify the outline of every country in Europe if they don't know why that geography is important - how Poland's history has been affected because they are a flat country stuck between Germany and Russia or how England's destiny was different because it was an island that hasn't been invaded successfully since 1066.

When I taught in middle school, I usesd to be heartsick to see how kids were so bored in their social studies classes. They'd learn little tidbits about each culture but have not been taught any context as to how that culture has impacted and was impacted by history. And the curriculum forces teachers to jet from one country to another so that they can don't shortchange any culture. "If it's Tuesday it must be Argentinian gauchos and let's move quickly, children, since tomorrow we have to label the parts of a Viking ship and by Thursday, we need to sing the little African chant and practice the dance and we'll wind up the week drawing the Great Wall on the map of China. And we're so grateful to Nicholas' mother who brought in the Belgian pastries yesterday." No wonder these kids never want to read a book about any of these places.

At least teachers of American history get to spend an entire year on our country's history. But the textbooks are just like McCullough said,
Late last month, the prolific historian had said in a Senate hearing that his examination of school history textbooks had shown a disquieting trend. Over the years, he said, he has noticed that the typeface in those books is growing larger, the illustrations are more lavish and the content is shrinking. The authors and the teachers using these textbooks "seem to assume that students don't like to read," he said, "and then Harry Potter comes along and blows it all away."
I'll add in that political correctness has transformed most textbooks into a catalogue of sins of rich white men against everyone else. Why would any kid want to go read about any more of this history? And there's a full curriculum there so teachers are still rushed. Unless, you're willing to throw out some of the tedious curriculum, teachers don't have time to spend on the subjects that will excite kids. I found that middle school kids, both boys and girls, loved learning stories from our nation's military history. My recommendation to any middle school American history teacher is - don't speed through that military history. Start with the French and Indian War and how George Washington as a young man sparked a world war. Tell them about General Wolfe's troops scaling the cliffs to the Plains of Abraham and both Generals Wolfe and Montcalm dying in this climatic battle that changed the history of the continent. Kids will be on the edge of their chairs and then you've gotten them and they're ready to learn the elements of the 1763 Treaty of Paris. Those kids will be coming eagerly to class every day wondering what stories they're going to hear and without their even realizing it, they'll learn the rest of the history and enjoy it. History classes should be the most interesting ones in the school, but too many times those classes are the dullest. McCullough is right - get teachers who loved history so much that they majored in it college. Hire people who in their spare time read books about history for fun. (And you can't do better than reading, McCullough's own history of the Revolution, 1776.) If I were interviewing for a history teacher for middle school, I'd want to know what history book the candidates most recently read and what stories they learned from that book that would be most likely to share with their classes to excite kids' interest in the subject. If I can't get a good answer for that question, bye-bye.
Carol Platt Liebau thinks that there are several advantages to having a nominee like Judge Roberts who is an old Washington hand and won't be new to the city.
His extensive Washington experience may help immunize Roberts to the blandishments of the Beltway establishment. Unlike Justices O'Connor, Kennedy or Souter, Roberts won't be embarking on a new life in a strange city, a place with unique rules, rhythms and customs. And because of his extensive experience with the Supreme Court as a litigator and as principal deputy solicitor general, he won't be desperate for guidance from any of the other justices, a circumstance in which conservative novices can be excessively influenced by a liberal justice willing to serve as a mentor. Nor will Roberts be in need of a new social network, a factor that can insidiously influence newcomers feted by the liberals in the elite press and among the city's prominent social doyennes.
A while ago, in discussing the possibility that Emilio Garza, I said this,
What I like is that he doesn't socialize. Good. The less of a chance to be influenced by the Washington elite if he were to be put on the Court. When I heard both Andrea Mitchell and Judy Woodruff reminiscing about their familiarity with Sandra Day O'Connor from social situations, I thought, "I want a justice who doesn't go to parties with Andrea Mitchell and Judy Woodruff."
Well, I guess the next best thing will be someone who is immune to social blandishments from the Washington social circle. Judge Roberts seems like a pleasant, sociable fellow who will be an amiable guest at the Washington parties, but maybe he won't be swayed by having dinner with Andrea and Judy.
Bob Novak reviews the failure of John Sweeney's ten-year plan to increase union membership and power by basically serving as an arm of the AFL-CIO with the Democratic Party. The splintering of the union this week doesn't meant that the Teamsters and Service Employees Union will suddenly start supporting Republicans. They'll still be supporting the Democrats but perhaps not with the big contributions of money and time. And the money that they're going to save by not paying dues to the AFL-CIO can no go into their union rebuilding efforts. And Sweeney has to regard this exodus from his leadership as a warning against continuing to extract huge dues that then get poured into political efforts rather than back into the union's interests.
The 62-year old woman who grabbed the breasts of the airlport screener has been found guilty. I understand that we have to send a message to respect the screeners who are just doing their jobs and it is an important one, but I sure hope that she doesn't get a long sentence. I'd like to see a fine and community service. I mean, do we really have to jail retired teachers in their sixties in order to make that point?
Michelle Malkin has the picture and the links about how the British terrorists were planning to use nail bombs. These are the sorts of bombs that have unleashed such terrible injuries in Israel. Often when you hear the casualty rates for a bomb attack, we focus on the number killed and lose sight of the devastating injuries suffered by people who have these dirty nails puncturing their bodies and faces in the tremendous impact of one of these explosions. These are truly evil men who want to maim permanently those whom they don't kill.
My husband links to this very enjoyable James Lileks column looking at the attacks that lefties have made at John Roberts.
It's been a few weeks, and we still don't know exactly what John Roberts -- if that is his real name -- was doing when Roe v. Wade was decided. Working quietly in a college classroom? Playing pinball at the student union? Sitting in a darkened dorm mapping out escape routes for abortion clinic bombers? We just ... don't ... know.

Oh, sure: We've heard from the people who say they know him; we've heard about his charm and intelligence. (Like that means anything! Hitler was intelligent!) We've heard from both sides of the aisles about his temperament, rigorous sense of fairness and devotion to the Constitution. But other than that, and his previous extensive confirmation hearings, what do we know? NOTHING. Let's go through the objections.
Read the rest. And then check out his screed against Robin Givhan's article criticizing the Roberts family for dressing too perfectly for going to the White House for the annoucement of his nomination. Lileks is so much fun when he is disgusted.
Why, it’s almost as if the Roberts thought they were better than the rest of us. I’ll tell you this: when it comes to dressing the kids, it’s quite possible they look at parents who get on airplanes in flip-flops with 12-year old daughters who have the word JUICY spelled out on their behinds, and they actually do think they’re better than those parents. Because they put some stock in appearance, in public decorum. When required. Like showing up at the White House. To be nominated for the Supreme Court. That's the sort of event that makes a man spend fifteen minutes choosing his socks, even though they'll never been seen, and even though they're black.
RTR

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Heather MacDonald has an absolutely fabulous article at City Journal profiling several conservative black leaders across the country who are bucking charges of Uncle Tom to spread the message of rejecting victimhood, working hard, and embracing such out-moded ideas as marriage and fighting crime. Here's a sample, but be sure to head on over and read the whole article.
Rapheal Adams is a dissenter in Cincinnati, seat of the country’s most vicious race politics. Until recently, the ebullient 43-year-old fought the city’s racial arsonists as a host on black talk radio, working the night shift at a General Electric jet-engine plant in order to promote his views during the day. When race riots erupted in 2001, Adams, as the sole pro-police counter-demonstrator at an anti-cop rally, barely escaped assault.

The hatred directed at him by Cincinnati’s race-baiters has had no effect on his high spirits. Over bacon and pancakes in an outlying Cincinnati shopping plaza, he parodied black victocrat dogma and countered it with his own exasperated common sense. Despite his hip exterior—shaved head, tiny retro glasses, and sleek black turtleneck over a slender frame—Adams is remarkably old-fashioned. When a classmate handed him a joint in the seventh grade, he handed it back, because his mother had never mentioned such things to him. His filial respect remains unwavering today. “My parents are the most important people in my life,” the air force vet explained in a heartfelt letter he sent before we met. “They instilled in me a very important lesson about the value of right vs. wrong.” As for his grandparents, “They’re deceased, but I carry them with me every second of my life. My grandfather grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at a time when black men were not allowed onto the sidewalks. He gave me this lesson: ‘You can’t condemn someone for his skin color. If you can’t be nice to people, there’s something wrong with you,’ ” Adams urges emphatically, pointing for emphasis. “My grandfather never gave me hand-me-down misery.”

By contrast, the anointed civil rights leaders, Adams says, constantly manufacture racial resentment to stay in power. “Conyers, Mfume, Sharpton, Jackson—these people can’t go before a camera, they can’t go to sleep, without pushing the ‘get-whitey’ syndrome. There was Jackson down in Florida in 2000, talking about ‘dis-en-franchise-ment,’ ” Adams rolls out the syllables portentously. “Oh, really? Go to Dade County and check out the educational level of the population. The Democrats were taking U-Hauls and vans to cart anyone they could find to the polls. ‘But I’ve never voted in my life!’ their captives said. ‘Don’t worry, you just get in there and press the lever for Gore.’ But these people couldn’t read, they didn’t know what the hell was going on. Why doesn’t anyone talk about voter irresponsibility?”

The “get-whitey” syndrome now permeates black culture, Adams observes, destroying the spirit of self-help. “It’s so disheartening for black people to try to pin blame on every white person.” Adams recalls Jesse Jackson’s 1999 lawsuit against the Decatur, Illinois, school district for having expelled six ninth-graders for a vicious football-stadium brawl. “Now we call school discipline ‘disciplinary profiling.’ See how twisted that is!” He shakes his head incredulously. “People say: ‘We’re more boisterous; that’s our culture.’ No. You can’t just stand up and shout at your teacher; you’re embracing behavior that others see as wrong.”

The flip side of the “get-whitey” syndrome is the “acting-white” syndrome. “Anything of value, that’s ‘white,’ ” observes Adams. “Standing with your pregnant girlfriend, that’s ‘white.’ Staying away from gangs, ‘white.’ Wearing pants where they’re supposed to be—on your waist—‘white.’ ‘We wear our pants below our butt line.’ It is so sick. If you’re not acting out in school, you’re an Uncle Tom, you’re ‘white.’ ”
It is interesting that many of these black leaders that MacDonald talks to reject the GOP's efforts of reaching blacks through their ministers. They think that many black ministers have been in the leadership to connect blacks to government handouts. Their recommendation is to cultivate black businessmen instead. I don't see why it has to be an either/or proposition. But MacDonald is certainly correct that such leaders as she profiles are the ones that the GOP should be connecting with across the country. However, this isn't merely a political question; it is a question of survival and progress. This seems like a tremendous opportunity for attitudes towards victimhood to change and for there to be a new gospel of self-reliance.

There are a lot of fabulous articles in this issue of City Journal. I'm just getting started with it, but I already see several must read articles.
Beldar gives a little law lesson to Patrick Leahy about whether John Roberts memos while working in the Solicitor General's office count as privileged conversation. It probably will not seem surprising that Beldar concludes,
Sen. Leahy's statement is a preposterous and incorrect statement of the law, and it's not a close question. He's just completely full of c**p on this.
Oh, my.
Marie Gryphon has a sensible response to the seven-part series that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a few weeks back on the voucher program in Milwaukee schools.
The Journal-Sentinel reporters spent seven days measuring the MPCP against an irrelevant standard -- perfection -- and finding that it falls short. Some participating schools are bad, they reveal, mystifying the mystics who think markets are perfect.
The series found that some of the schools were successful and those that weren't were mostly relatively new. Give them the test of time and those questionable schools will either fold up or improve. Public schools, however, never fold up. As Gryphon concludes,
If the Journal-Sentinel reporters are right, then perhaps 10 percent of the MPCP schools are not doing the job they might. But over 20 percent of Milwaukee Public Schools are now "in need of improvement" under the No Child Left Behind Act. If these numbers mean something, they mean that a parent-driven market is about twice as good at eliminating poor schools as the public system. If they mean nothing, then parents are right to choose schools in a subtler, more subjective way.

Milwaukee's voucher kids are doing all right. The market is a dynamic process, and school closings, like flu symptoms, are a sign that the MPCP naturally resists poor quality. Wisconsin lawmakers should ease the enrollment cap on its flagship school choice law without regulating away the variety it needs to succeed.
Megan Basham is not optimistic about Steven Bochco's Over There.
Instead, Bochco characterizes the soldiers in typical postmodern fashion, as in this clip from the first episode where a young soldier reflects on his role in the war: "Someone said tragedy was the inevitable working out of things. And the tragedy here is we're savages. We're thrilled to kill each other. We're monsters. And war is what unmasks us. But there's a kind of honor in it too. I guess if I'm a monster, it's my privilege to be one."

It seems hard to believe that "honorable monster" is how most of those deployed in Iraq would prefer to describe themselves. I certainly can't recall any interview in which an American soldier espoused similar amoral feelings. If Bochco's Iraqi conflict is populated with young recruits that "are not fighting for an ideal," as he told the New York Times, then his is indeed a fictional war.

BUT IF ANYTHING BETRAYS the potential spirit of the series, it is the fact that the mainstream media is already rallying to uphold Bochco's claims of objectivity. After praising the series for "the potent way it destroys and debunks the myths that glorify war," the Hollywood Reporter predicted, "It is possible, maybe even inevitable, that supporters of President Bush and the war will misinterpret this series as a statement against a U.S. presence there. Clearer minds, however, will recognize this for its nonpartisan and successful effort..."

Before that, the Los Angeles Times reported that "none of the soldiers in 'Over There' is particularly gung-ho," as though depicting soldiers who have little enthusiasm for their jobs is evidence that show is balanced. And the Rocky Mountain News touted the program's authenticity by observing that, in it, "heroism is secondary to survival." In fact, the paper reported that each soldier is "frantic" to merely be "a survivor." Not a fighter. Not a liberator. Not even a conqueror. Just something as ambiguous as a survivor.
It will be so disappointing if the show continues to depict the soldiers there as people who just care about survival there and see no purpose for their service there. I wonder if the soldiers who are serving there now would recognize that portrayal of them and their buddies. I'm not saying that they need mindless boosterism, but almost every time I hear someone talking about service there, he or she sounds very pumped about what is being accomplished and what we are attempting to do there. If that spirit is not shown at all in this series, it is a real disservice to our men and women serving in Iraq.
This race in Ohio could be very interesting. You have a man who served in Iraq running as a Democrat in a very Republican district and who is quite vocal in his criticism of President Bush. Will the people be impressed enough by his service in Iraq and military experience to cross party lines and vote for him?

UPDATE: In the Comments section, Largebill recommends that you check out Bizzyblog for commentary (and cartoons) on this race. I agree.
Raise a glass to this drinking game of educational jargon over at Eduwonk. Sadly, if I had participated when taking my ed-school classes and various education workshops to get my different certifications, I would be a rolling-on-the-floor drunk. When I first started taking some of these classes, I felt as lost as I often had felt in my French lit or Russian syntax classes which were taught in those languages. I challenge any other discipline to prove that they have sillier jargon that educational specialists. (Link via Conservative Grapevine)
Walt Anthony gives a tip on a free service that will allow servicemen and women to have free audio and video conferencing with their families.
Mickey Kaus is not impressed with Hillary's speech to the DLC. But he thinks she'll get a pass from the liberals and the media.
I'd always thought this Cheap Date Syndrome helped Hillary mainly with the Left, which loves Hillary so much it could conceivably be bought off with a bit of Bush-bashing that covers a dramatic Hillary shift to the right. But it's now also clear that her shift to the right doesn't have to be that dramatic, because the equally Cheap Date press is ready to interpret even the subtlest, most insubstantial shading as part of Hillary's New Moderation. She can get credit for centrism without having to actually take too many positions that the left would disagree with (and hold against any another politician). Paleoliberals can love her, the DLC can love her, and she never has to say anything, either leftish or moderatish, that commits her publicly to a position that might annoy someone. Her primal drive for vagueness is free to trump her drive to the center.

The only problem is that the resulting biteless rhetoric is almost totally uninspiring. Read the speech, and see if you are actually moved to cheer at any point. (I was, only once, at the line: "The Republicans abandoned arithmetic; well, we brought it back.") Hillary's instinctive contentlessness is both the symbol and part of the substance of what may be the biggest doubt she has to overcome--not the issue of whether she's right or left, or the issue of whether she's "tough" enough on defense, but the issue of whether she's tough generally. When has she told off or even firmly-but-gently rejected someone in her own coalition? When has she ever stood up, in public, against, say, a big union? When has she pulled off a difficult legislative triumph? ** We know she's smart and cautious and flexible. We need to know she has balls. No more cheap dates!
It doesn't seem that all is sweetness and light in Hillary's march towards the Democratic nomination. The DLC detests the more liberal wing of the Party. Last year they did all they could to undermine Howard Dean in the buildup to the primaries. The Clintons had their hand in that effort. Remember their encouragement to Wesley Clark to run when it was thought that he would be the ideal candidate to go up against a president during wartime. Well, a lot of those liberals who liked Howard Dean so much are very active in the party and in liberal groups who raise lots of money and volunteers for the Democrats. And they're not happy with the DLC and with Hillary's speech the other day urging peace between the two wings of the party.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's call for an ideological cease-fire in the Democratic Party drew an angry reaction yesterday from liberal bloggers and others on the left, who accused her of siding with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) in a long-running dispute over the future of the party.

Long a revered figure by many in the party's liberal wing, Clinton (D-N.Y.) unexpectedly found herself under attack after calling Monday for a cease-fire among the party's quarreling factions and for agreeing to assume the leadership of a DLC-sponsored initiative aimed at developing a more positive policy agenda for the party.

The reaction highlighted the dilemma Democratic politicians face trying to satisfy energized activists on the left -- many of whom are hungering for party leaders to advance a more full-throated agenda and more aggressively confront President Bush -- while also cultivating the moderate Democrats and independents whose support is crucial to winning elections. The challenge has become more acute because of the power and importance grass-roots activists, symbolized by groups such as MoveOn.org and liberal bloggers, have assumed since the 2004 election.
I don't think any of this grousing will really hurt Clinton. She'll probably steamroll through the primaries just as Kerry did. And those liberal groups will all snap into line once she is the nominee and someone whom they'll detest is the GOP nominee. Even John McCain would be demonized as a pro-life, pro-war candidate if it came down to a presidential race. And that is nothing compared to what Allen, Giuliani, or Romney would face. Those liberal groups aren't going to take their gripes against Hillary Clinton out on her in the middle of a general campaign. However, they might not be as enthusiastic with money and volunteering in 2008 when they were opposing BushChimpHitler. And in a tight race, that could be key.

So Hillary has to keep them happy with making remarks like her recent one comparing the GOP to Alfred E. Neuman. But rhetoric won't be enough. She's supposed to be coming up with the idea platform for Democrats for 2008. I guess by then, they'll have figured out what they stand for other than just opposing Bush. And when she comes up with that platform, she'll have to bridge the gap between free traders in the DLC and unions, pro-immigration Hispanic groups and anti-immigration groups, pro-war in Iraq and those who oppose the war. She'll need all her purported brilliance to thread a policy platform through all the divisions within the party.
Well, Durbin has fessed up to being the source for Jonathan Turley's column although denies the exact description of what took place in the conversation. His spokesman still does not seem to be on board with it all since, at first he said he didn't know who the source for Turley was even though Turley says that he called up the spokesman, Joe Shoemaker to read back the description of the conversation and make sure that he had it right.
When the column appeared Monday, Mr. Durbin's office clarified that "Judge Roberts said repeatedly that he would follow the rule of law."
Spokesman Joe Shoemaker also said he did not know who Mr. Turley's source was, although only a handful of people were in the room at the time.
"Whoever the source was either got it wrong or Jonathan Turley got it wrong," Mr. Shoemaker said Monday.
Yesterday, Mr. Shoemaker said the source was Mr. Durbin.
"He and Turley were in the green room of the NBC studios," he said. "Turley was getting makeup put on, and Durbin was taking it off.
"They talked for about a minute, and I'm being generous," Mr. Shoemaker added. "Durbin said Turley didn't identify himself as a journalist but introduced himself as a law professor."
Both Mr. Shoemaker and Mr. Turley said large parts of the conversation concerned the writer's previous column.
Mr. Turley said that after he wrote the Judge Roberts column, he read back portions of it to Mr. Shoemaker, whom, he said, verified the account. Mr. Shoemaker declined to comment further.
So someone is still lying here. Either Shoemaker approved Turley's description of the conversation or he didn't. Whom do you put your money on? Personally, I don't see Turley making up an entire conversation and the characterization of Roberts' response out of whole cloth.

Turley is both a law professor and a media personality. He appears all over the place as a legal expert. He met Durbin in the green room while he was getting ready to go on some show on NBC. His column appeared in the Los Angeles Times. I'd say that he qualified as media in this context.It sure sounds like Durbin told him a story that might not have been, shall we say, consistent with the truth, about what specifically Durbin asked Roberts and how Roberts responded. Then when Turley wrote it up, Durbin lied about the conversation and they pretended that someone else was the source. Now they've come partially clean. Doesn't it bother the same media that had conniptions for days when they thought that Scott McClellan and Karl Rove had misled the media that the Minority Whip in the Senate is lying about asking a question that touched on a Supreme Court nominee's religion and what that nominee responded? Admittedly, there is no potential crime here, but it is not clear yet that there is a crime involved in the Rove mess. I just think that the media ought to be a bit more upset about this story, both the thought that a senator would ask a question touching on a nominee's religious beliefs and that the senator and his spokesman would then lie about it to the media.

UPDATE: Notice how few hits there are for a Google search of Durbin and Turley. The media just doesn't care that the Minority Whip in the Senate has either lied about a Supreme Court nominee or lied about his conversation with a media personality.
Stan at Two Minute Offense links to this review in the Seattle paper of the new FX series, Over There, about the war in Iraq. The paper brought together vets who have served in Iraq and previewed the first episode and they were not at all impressed with the show's depiction of life for those serving in Iraq.
"Bogus" was the preferred adjective among the eight soldiers -- most of them Iraq vets -- viewing the series pilot last week at Camp Murray, headquarters of the Washington State National Guard in Tacoma.

"Thank God that's over," said a master sergeant as the credits rolled.

The uniformed skeptics dissected the series pilot scene by scene, beginning with the roadside bombing and panicked soldiers. Who, they asked, was pulling security? And what kind of idiot pulls off his helmet after a bombing attack? "In real life, training takes over. Not in Hollywood," said Sgt. Dan Purcell.
Read the rest. The things that these vets are criticizing sound like they would be easy to fix. They need some more expert advisers. If the show is good, the producers will adapt and perhaps there is hope for the show eventually.
Anne Applebaum lays out the extent of the problem that Karen Hughes is facing in public diplomacy. She can start right at home here and then, perhaps with the aid of the rest of the State Department, put more pressure on the Saudis.
It has become clear in Iraq, if it wasn't already, that what we call the "war on terrorism" is in fact a small part of a larger intellectual and religious struggle within Islam, between moderates who want to live in modern countries, and radicals who want to impose their extreme interpretation of sharia , or religious law. So far, most of the money, and most of the "public diplomacy," has been channeled to the radicals. Consider, for example, an extraordinary report published this year by the Center for Religious Freedom, a division of Freedom House, which surveys more than 200 books and pamphlets collected at mosques and Islamic centers in U.S. cities. Most were in Arabic. All were published by the Saudi government or royal family, and all promote the extreme form of Wahhabi Islam found in Saudi Arabia. The books reflect contempt for the United States, condemn democracy as un-Islamic, and claim that Muslims are religiously obliged to hate Christians and Jews. Most insidiously, the documents denounce moderate Muslims, especially those who advocate religious tolerance, as infidels. If a Muslim commits adultery or becomes a homosexual, one pamphlet -- published by the Saudi government's ministry of Islamic affairs -- advises that "it would be lawful for Muslims to spill his blood and take his money."
David Ignatius makes a very good point. These terrorists in London are definitely not the oppressed underclass.
When you read reports that the Muslim terrorists who bombed the London Underground may have gotten together for a pre-attack whitewater rafting trip in Wales, you realize that this is a very particular enemy -- and one that is recognizable to students of history.

This is the revolt of the privileged, Islamic version. They have risen so far, so fast in the dizzying culture of the West that they have become enraged, disoriented and vulnerable to manipulation. Their spiritual leader is a Saudi billionaire's son who grew up with big ideas and too much money. He created a new identity for himself as a jihad leader, carrying the banner of a pristine Islam from the days of the Prophet Muhammad. The zenith of his warped amalgam of ancient and modern was having holy warriors fly airplanes into skyscrapers.

Reading some of the London bombers' biographies, you realize the depth of their cultural confusion: "Shahzad Tanweer, 23, came from one of Beeston's most respected families," wrote the London Independent about one of the July 7 bombers. And according to The Post, he had just received a red Mercedes from his dad.
And who is it who is really hurt by these new jihadists? The poor Muslims.
What will stop this revolt of privileged Muslims? One possibility is that it will be checked by the same process that derailed the revolt of the rich kids in America after the 1960s -- namely, the counter-revolt of the poor kids. Poor Muslims simply can't afford the rebellion of their wealthy brethren, and the havoc it has brought to the House of Islam. For make no mistake: The people suffering from jihadism are mostly Muslims.

I can't imagine that the poor Egyptians who've been struggling to make a living in the resort towns around Sharm el-Sheikh are too happy this week. The jihadists who came bumping over the mountains to detonate last weekend's bombs may have been thinking of the 72 virgins that awaited them in heaven. But the Egyptian fellah is thinking about where he's going to get his next paycheck to feed his family.

And I can't imagine that the poor Iraqis whose families are being blown away by daily suicide bombs feel a great kinship with the Saudi jihadists who have been slipping across the border via Syria, trying to slake their angst about modern life through martyrdom.
I don't know if this applies to all the London bombers since one of them was on welfare. I don't know if his depiction of class differences in the terrorists is true throughout the world, but it is certainly true that poor Muslims are being hurt by what these bombers are doing supposedly for the benefit of Muslims.
Well stop the confirmation hearings right now. Lookee, lookee what the New York Times has uncovered.
Mr. Roberts was asked to analyze numerous issues, though, often under very tight deadlines, and while he was a careful thinker and writer, the time pressures occasionally led to minor blots.

In a proposed response to a letter from Gov. Bob Graham of Florida about the disposition of Cuban refugees from the Mariel boatlift of 1980, he repeatedly misspelled Marielitos (writing "Marielitoes") and rendered the capital of Cuba three times as "Havanna."
Of course, these days he'll have spellchecker so the Republic can rest easy.

The whole tone of that NYT article is, as the NYT would say, snide. Note these characterizations of John Roberts' writing from the early 80s. Here's the headline,
In Reagan's White House, a Clever, Sometimes Cocky John Roberts
Cocky? People aren't allowed to have humorous asides in the memoranda they write any more? What a dull world this is going to be. Look at the cocky things he said:
The papers here show that in August 1983, Mr. Roberts was asked to draft a response to a letter to Mr. Reagan from a college professor who feared he might land on an alleged United States Information Agency blacklist for lodging a complaint about the agency. Mr. Roberts, in a memorandum to his boss, Fred F. Fielding, the White House counsel, noted in an aside, "Once you let the word out there's a blacklist, everybody wants to get on."
I like him better already. I don't call that cocky; I call it funny. And I love this thought on a proposal from a Congressman.
There was also the time he offered a snide analysis, in an internal White House memorandum, of a proposal from a member of the House, Elliott H. Levitas. After the Supreme Court struck down efforts by Congress to veto actions taken by the executive branch, Mr. Levitas, a Democrat from Georgia, proposed that the White House and Congress convene a "conference on power-sharing" to codify the duties of each branch of government.

Asked to comment on the congressman's proposal, Mr. Roberts mocked the idea, and him. "There already has, of course, been a 'Conference on Power Sharing,' " Mr. Roberts wrote in a memo to Mr. Fielding. "It took place in Philadelphia's Constitution Hall in 1787, and someone should tell Levitas about it and the 'report' it issued."
I assume that this is the case they're referring to. The Supreme Court struck down the legislative veto about one house of Congress being able to veto an executive action and this Congressman wanted to get around the Court's finding that such a veto violated the separation of powers. Roberts was right to mock the Congressman's idea. So he made a little witticism in a memo to his boss. Fiddle-dee-dee. I look forward to reading his opinions in the future.
It sounds as if Scotland Yard is playing around with the theory that Michael Ledeen advanced last week that the London bombers were dupes instead of suicide bombers.

If they were dupes, perhaps that might discourage future bombers from carrying out the orders from their leaders if they think that they're going to be misled into their own deaths. But then they did seem to come up with some more potential bombers last week, and who knows if they were planning to be suicides or to survive their murderous attack.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Lorie Byrd wonders if there is a rash of 62-year-old bra bombers out there. Ugh! Not an image that edifies.

I predict that no jury convicts this woman. Especially if there are any women on the jury.
Red State links to John Cole at Balloon Juice for finding this whopper by Howard Dean. Dean is now blaming the Republicans for the takings decision by the liberals on the Supreme Court. Huh? The conservatives are the ones who voted against taking the private property in the Kelo decision.
He also said the president was partly responsible for a recent Supreme Court decision involving eminent domain.

"The president and his right-wing Supreme Court think it is 'okay' to have the government take your house if they feel like putting a hotel where your house is," Dean said, not mentioning that until he nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court this week, Bush had not appointed anyone to the high court.

Dean's reference to the "right-wing" court was also erroneous. The four justices who dissented in the Kelo vs. New London case included the three most conservative members of the court - Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was the fourth dissenter.

The court's liberal coalition of Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer combined with Justice Anthony Kennedy to form the majority opinion, allowing the city of New London, Conn., to use eminent domain to seize private properties for commercial development.

"We think that eminent domain does not belong in the private sector. It is for public use only," Dean said.
Oh dear, how is it that he can just lie like that? Has he no shame at all?

Perhaps, there is an upside to this. (Besides that a party always loses when its leader is making such blatant lies.) If Dean thinks it is such a winner to be against the taking of private property to benefit some other private individual or corporation, perhaps the Democrats will get on board for passing laws in every single state to outlaw such takings.

Of course, it would help Dean's mirage if a majority of Democrats in the House had not voted against an amendment to a bill that would prevent federal money going to any project that involved such a taking. (Link via Red State)
By a vote of 231 to 189, the House approved an amendment forbidding the administration from spending money on local projects that seize private property for business development.

"What all of us who wish to see this legislation enacted into law want to make sure happens is that the federal government's money isn't used to finance taking someone's property from them to build a strip mall," said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.).

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California was among those who voted against the amendment, saying she opposed withholding federal dollars "for the enforcement of any decision of the Supreme Court, no matter how opposed I am to that decision."

The vote was loosely along party lines: 192 Republicans and 39 Democrats voted to approve; 157 Democrats, 31 Republicans and one Independent were opposed.
I'm sure we all remember Nancy Pelosi's immortal words in her press briefing after this vote, words that the LA Times somehow left out of their article.
Q Could you talk about this decision? What you think of it?

Ms. Pelosi. It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken.
Perhaps Howard Dean can explain to Nancy that Congress can pass laws to fill a hole that the Supreme Court has found. And then he can explain to her that it is a political loser to support taking people's private land for a private purpose. And then all the Democrats who voted against this amendment, as well as the dunderhead Republicans, can get together, hold hands and pass it. Let us turn Howard Dean's flagrant lie into something positive.
Well, I'll take a blogging hiatus for a few hours while my family goes out to eat big steaks and celebrate my birthday, a date that I share with many illustrious and not-so illustrious individuals.
Atlantic Monthly has a long profile of Mitt Romney. Actually, it's a rather positive article and I particularly like the information on Romney's background as a businessman There seem some skills that he has there that would be good in a leader. Though the article does have its silly side. Does every profile of Romney have to talk about his looks? Is that what we think it all comes down to?

Of course, the author of the piece can't evade talking about Romney's religion. Ted Kennedy, who didn't avoid talking about Romney's religion in the 1994 Senate campaign when Romney drew close to Kennedy in the polls, today says that Romney's religion is not relevant. But that doesn't stop our intrepid reporter.
Romney himself says he serves the people, not the Book of Mormon. But though the matter should have died with the election of Jack Kennedy (who himself spoke on religious freedom at the Mormon Tabernacle in 1960), Romney's religion remains—as a prominent Republican strategist who worked on both George W. Bush campaigns told me—"the other M."

"There are two Ms—Massachusetts and Mormonism—and they're the elephants in the room," this strategist said. "And the question is whether they step on him or ride him to victory. I think that's a challenge for him to overcome in conservative Christian circles. Romney's people have to have a strategy to beat it, to win on that point."

When I told him Romney's line about keeping his personal beliefs separate from his political practices, the strategist was blunt. "You have to do better than that. He'll have to answer questions under the hot lamp: What do you believe? What is the faith you believe in in relation to public policy? I don't know what the answers to those questions are, but I know those questions exist. And he'll have to answer them."

In speaking to Romney's family members and colleagues and fellow politicians over the course of several months, I felt awkward asking these questions. Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum, who is evidently incapable of being photographed without a Bible in his hand. But after reading about how deeply committed his father was to the faith (for instance, making the decision to run for governor of Michigan only after discussing it with David O. McKay, the president of the Mormon Church, and spending twenty-four hours fasting and praying), I finally asked Romney, "How Mormon are you?"

"How Mormon am I?" he said. "You know, the principles and values taught to me by faith are values I aspire to live by and are as American as motherhood and apple pie. My faith believes in family, believes in Jesus Christ. It believes in serving one's neighbor and one's community. It believes in military service. It believes in patriotism; it actually believes this nation had an inspired founding. It is in some respects a quintessentially American faith, and those values are values I aspire to live by. And I'm not perfect, but I'm one aspiring to be a good person as defined by the biblical Judeo-Christian standards that our society would recognize."

"Do you wear the temple garments?" I asked uncomfortably, referring to the special undergarments worn by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (The underwear has markings denoting the covenants of the Mormon faith, and is meant to serve as a reminder of the high standards Mormons are expected to uphold. The rules governing its wear and disposal seem as complex as those pertaining to, say, the American flag.)

He answered, "I'll just say those sorts of things I'll keep private."
How inappropriate is it for a journalist to have a checklist of a politician's religion and then ask him which he believes in? I find that offensive, but I think we're going to see a lot more of this.

I blogged about what I thought would happen if Romney ran for president. I am feeling pretty prescient about that prediction as I read The Atlantic piece. If you'll forgive me for quoting myself, here's what I said in June about what would happen if Romney ran.
I have had a vision of what would happen if Romney were the Republican candidate. No one would attack him explicitly on his religion. That would be too crass. Instead, the media would run human interest stories on the history of the Mormon church, warts and all. We'd read again about Joseph Smith getting the word from the Angel Moroni with the Book of Mormon on golden plates. We'd learn about the persecution suffered by the early Mormons and the assassination of Joseph Smith and how Brigham Young led the Mormons across the country to Utah. Vivid stories of the Mountain Meadow Massacre would appear on the History Channel. The history of Mormons and polygamy would be introduced in segments on the evening news as well as the fact that the Mormons allowed black ministers only in 1978 and women in 1984. Newsweek and Time would have cover stories looking at the tenets of the Mormon religion with special attention to baptism of dead ancestors, their lack of belief in the Trinity, their conviction that God has a physical body, and their condemnation of homosexuality. All this will be presented in the same self-satisfied anthropological tone that the MSM uses to talk about most religious people today. And then every time Romney goes on a Sunday talk show like Meet the Press, he'll get a series of questions asking him to defend the history of the Mormon Church and whether or not he believes in every controversial tenet of the religion. He'll get questions that no one would ever ask an Orthodox Jew like Joe Lieberman or a Catholic like John Kerry or a Protestant like Gore, Clinton, or Bush.

Then the media will have their own navel-gazing shows on CNN and Fox or in self-examining symposia on C-Span and ask if it's "really appropriate" for the media to be questioning a political candidate on his religious beliefs. They'll make disapproving noises, condemn themselves, but ultimately, they'll go on doing the same thing. Just like they tut-tut their coverage of the Michael Jackson trial, but just can't stop themselves from doing it night after night. Because, they'll say "you know, his religion really is a political issue." After all, if it weren't a political issue, the media wouldn't be talking about it, would they? The circularity of this argument will elude them.

Then they'll conduct polls and show that a certain percentage of the electorate is uncomfortable with the idea of a Mormon as president. This will necessitate another round of questions, articles, and media self-doubt. And another round of polls, of course. Pundits will pontificate on whether or not evangelicals would ever vote for a believing Mormon. Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich will tremble in fear about the new theocracy threatening their secularist utopia. And then there will be another round of polls and cover stories.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate, will say that she thinks it is totally inappropriate to question her opponent's religion and that her faith has always been very important to her and how it guides so much of what she believes because, miraculously, her faith is in perfect alignment with every political belief she has. Howard Dean will make a few remarks about Mormons being the religion of white men. The media will tut-tut and then have more articles explaining what Mormons believe. Then they'll take another round of polls and show that people have doubts about the thought of having a Mormon as president. The cycle of questions, polls, snide comments, long articles, and media self-flagellation will continue over and over again until it achieves its ultimate objective, the election of a Democrat over Romney, or until it fails and the days of the feared Mormon rule begins.

My vision of how a Romney candidacy would turn out is so very clear. Read me now and remember this prediction later when you're looking at the Newsweek cover that says "The Mormon Church: What Do They Believe?"

UPDATE: I've received a note indicating that it was the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that ordains women not the Church to which Mitt Romney belongs. Sorry for the confusion. So there would be even more questions that Romney would be asked about his opinion of women being ordained.
Doesn't it seem that we're at stage one of that prediction?
The Steel Deal points to some idiocy from Norway. They know that they have some of Saddam's former torturers now living in Norway but they won't arrest or deport them.
The men were members of Iraq's Baath Party, and, according to NRK, admitted to Norwegian authorities that they conducted attacks and torture on behalf of Saddam.

Immigration agency UDI declined to comment on NRK's report. Spokesman Geir L√łndal said in general terms, however, that temporary residence permission also can be granted to people who carried out torture, if they face torture themselves or the death penalty back in their homeland.
Hmmm. I wonder if the Norwegians like knowing that their country will now be a haven for former torturers and Saddam's henchmen.

UPDATE: Ed Lasky reminds us of Norway's history of, shall we say, appeasement of Arab dictators.
Remember the story from just yesterday about Senator Durbin asking Judge Roberts about possible conflicts between his faith and any rulings he might have to make as a justice? Well, things are growing murkier. This is what Jonathan Turley wrote about it yesterday in the Los Angeles Times.
The exchange occurred during one of Roberts' informal discussions with senators last week. According to two people who attended the meeting, Roberts was asked by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral.

....Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.
The New York Times goes a bit farther in describing Turley's description of this conversation.
Professor Turley cited unnamed sources saying that Judge Roberts had told Mr. Durbin he would recuse himself from cases involving abortion, the death penalty or other subjects where Catholic teaching and civil law can clash.
Doesn't that seem a bit different than how Turley described the conversation? Maybe I'm splitting a few hairs here, but the question did not specifically address abortion or the death penalty. I guess I would need the advice of a Catholic theologian to express what the Church would recommend to a Catholic judge. But this just smacks of some sort of religious test for public office which the Constitution specifically forbids. The interest groups on both sides are all geared up to fight over Judge Roberts religious. It is a shame to see senators playing into that.

No wonder that there seems some doubt as to whether this conversation actually took place. We have Turley's two anonymous sources, but two senators disagree according the Times.
A spokesman for Mr. Durbin and Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, who spoke to Judge Roberts on Monday about the meeting, said Professor Turley's account of a recusal statement was inaccurate.

But in an interview last night, Professor Turley said Mr. Durbin himself had described the conversation to him on Sunday morning, including the statement about recusal.
So whom are we to believe: Dick Durbin or Dick Durbin?

UPDATE: The ever-informative Gerry Daly points me to the account of this story in the Washington Times. First we have the same quotes from the Turley piece. Next we have the denials.
"Jonathan Turley's column is not accurate," Durbin press secretary Joe Shoemaker said, adding that his boss never asked that question and Judge Roberts never said he would recuse himself in such a case.
"Judge Roberts said repeatedly that he would follow the rule of law," Mr. Shoemaker said.
Note that name, Joe Shoemaker. Because guess who Mr. Turley says leaked the story to him? You got it.
Disagreement also came on who leaked the exchange.
"I don't know who was his source," Mr. Shoemaker said. "Whoever the source was either got it wrong or Jonathan Turley got it wrong."
Mr. Turley, contacted by The Washington Times yesterday, said his sources were Mr. Durbin and Mr. Shoemaker.
According to Mr. Turley, he met Mr. Durbin in NBC's makeup room Sunday between the senator's appearance on "Meet the Press" and Mr. Turley's appearance on another program. According to the professor, Mr. Durbin told him the story while Mr. Turley took notes, adding that he called Mr. Shoemaker and read back his account of the meeting "word for word."
"I specifically confirmed Senator Durbin's account with his press secretary," Mr. Turley said.
I think Mr. Turley sounds a bit ticked off. He was willing to talk about two anonymous sources in his first column, but perhaps he got rather angry at being called a liar by the very two people who were his two sources. Brit Hume likes to refer to Turley as "our favorite law professor." I wonder if Brit will have Turley on to talk some more about Durbin and Roberts' beliefs tonight. Just making a prediction for tonight's show.

Let me rephrase my question. Whom are we to disbelieve: Dick Durbin or Dick Durbin?

I think I know the answer.
Teri O'Brien has some questions for John Roberts.
• Has he ever attended one of Sally Quinn’s parties?
• How often does he agree with the editorial page of the New York Times?
• Does he like NASCAR?

As I think those questions make apparent, I’m less worried about whether or not he was editor of the Harvard Law Review than I am about the possibility that he might have ingested so much East coast elitism as to find irresistible the seductive appeal of being part of that Georgetown crowd.
She has some interesting thoughts on poll results that show that the American people want to know Roberts' views on abortion.
That’s a very interesting finding. I would love to see how that question was phrased. Do you suppose it was as follows:

“Since the American Bar Association prohibits a candidate for judicial office from appearing to take a position on issues that might come before his court, is it appropriate to ask a judicial nominee about specific abortion cases?”
Of course, there are also these poll results:
A huge majority of Americans say Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' abortion views — whether for or against — shouldn't disqualify him for the job, a new poll shows.
A whopping 72 percent said a nominee who wants to overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion, shouldn't be disqualified.

Only 25 percent said opposing Roe should be a disqualifying factor, the CNN poll found.

And 85 percent said a nominee who wants to keep abortion legal shouldn't be disqualified.

Only 13 percent said that alone should knock out a nominee.

The poll also found that 61 percent think Roberts should be pressed to spell out his abortion views, suggesting that Americans want to know his stance but don't want an abortion litmus test imposed on court nominees.

Other polls also found that most Americans want to know Roberts' abortion views — but didn't ask the follow-up question about whether those views should disqualify him from a job where he will be ruling on abortion cases.


It just shows how polls of the American people about subjects that they don't know much about like what has been the history of permissible questions at confirmation hearings are really rather meaningless. And why is abortion the main question that is polled on. There are a whole hose of other issues that will come before the Court in the years that John Roberts may server there. Why not poll on all of those?

There is a reason why the Constitution doesn't place approval of judicial nominees on direct elections. The fact that 59% of those polled think that Roberts should be approved means little except inasmuch as it influences senators to vote on Roberts to reflect what their constituents may or may not want. I wish that polling groups would stop polling on such questions.
If people are so worried about the root causes of terrorism, I have one suggestion. Perhaps talk like this has something to do with it.
Last month, an attack on contractors at the Saudi oil facility in Yanbu killed six Westerners, two of them Americans. Senior Saudi officials told the world al-Qaida terrorists were to blame and al-Qaida claimed responsibility.

But tape obtained by NBC News reveals that, inside Saudi Arabia, on Saudi television, Crown Prince Abdullah told a strikingly different story about who was to blame.

NBC News translated Abdullah's remarks from Arabic: “Zionism is behind it. It has become clear now. It has become clear to us. I don’t say, I mean... It is not 100 percent, but 95 percent that the Zionist hands are behind what happened.”

Other senior Saudi officials reaffirmed the claim that supporters of Israel — Zionists — were behind the terror attacks.

Prince Nayef, the Saudi Interior Minister said, “Al-Qaida is backed by Israel and Zionism.”
Until the Saudis change their ways, we're going to continue to have well-funded terrorists throughout the world. Four years since 9/11 and we're still hearing and seeing this sort of garbage from the Saudis?
But the report complains that members of the Saudi elite who’ve allegedly financed al Qaida remain free and unpunished, including Yassin al Qadi — specially designated as a “global terrorist” by the U.S. Treasury Department.

According to William Wechsler, former National Security Council member and co-author of the Council on Foreign Relations report, “They have yet to arrest or incarcerate anybody publicly. And if you don’t take those actions then you can’t have deterrence.”

Qadi has repeatedly denied giving money to al-Qaida.

A Saudi spokesman claims that five men have been prosecuted for funding terrorism — they just weren’t publicly named.

As for the alleged Saudi doublespeak, a Saudi official in the United States defends the remarks, arguing that Zionists and others who argue for regime change in Saudi Arabia “share the same objective as Osama bin Laden.”
So, apparently, they can't stop funding Osama bin Laden's organization because that would be sharing the "same objective as Osama bin Laden?" I think their doublespeak is starting to run around in circles.
David M. Kennedy has a column today bemoaning the thought that today's soldiers are mercenaries. Apparently, it is bad for society when our armed services fight for money rather than being drafted.
The United States now has a mercenary army. To be sure, our soldiers are hired from within the citizenry, unlike the hated Hessians whom George III recruited to fight against the American Revolutionaries. But like those Hessians, today's volunteers sign up for some mighty dangerous work largely for wages and benefits -- a compensation package that may not always be commensurate with the dangers in store, as current recruiting problems testify.

Neither the idealism nor the patriotism of those who serve is in question here. The profession of arms is a noble calling, and there is no shame in wage labor. But the fact remains that the United States today has a military force that is extraordinarily lean and lethal, even while it is increasingly separated from the civil society on whose behalf it fights. That is worrisome -- for reasons that go well beyond unmet recruiting targets.
A friend saw this column and wondered if all those National Guard serving in Iraq and Afghanistan saw themselves as apart from society.

What Kennedy is really advocating is some sort of return to the draft so that the population would be more involved in the war.
The life of a robust democratic society should be strenuous; it should make demands on its citizens when they are asked to engage with issues of life and death. The "revolution in military affairs" has made obsolete the kind of huge army that fought World War II, but a universal duty to service -- perhaps in the form of a lottery, or of compulsory national service with military duty as one option among several -- would at least ensure that the civilian and military sectors do not become dangerously separate spheres. War is too important to be left either to the generals or the politicians. It must be the people's business.
I think this all part of the same push that Charles Rangel had last year saying that we needed a draft because if there were a draft the war would be more unpopular and there would be more of an anti-war movement in the country. And I'm sure there would be if everyone 18 - 25 were subject to service. You can see that that is what Kennedy is truly worried about.
This is not a healthy situation. It is, among other things, a standing invitation to the kind of military adventurism that America's founders correctly feared was the greatest danger of standing armies - a danger made manifest in their day by the career of Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Jefferson described as having "transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm."

Some will find it offensive to call today's armed forces a "mercenary army," but our troops are emphatically not the kind of citizen-soldiers that we fielded two generations ago: drawn from all ranks of society without respect to background or privilege or education, and mobilized on such a scale that civilian society's deep and durable consent to the resort to arms was absolutely necessary.


Yup, we got involved in Iraq because of some Napoleon-style "military adventurism." Just throwing around allusions to Napoleon does not make it so. Does Professor Kennedy really believed that we went in to Afghanistan and Iraq to conquer them in the same way that Napoleon went in to Spain and Russia? I'm sure he knows his 19th century history very well; I wish he were more familiar with his 21st history.

But how many times does the military have to say that they don't want everyone serving? They want people who have gone through their special training and who are committed to the military for a certain set time and aren't looking to get out as soon as their year is up. Rumsfeld has said over and over that he is not looking for a draft.
Rumsfeld leaned closer to the microphone and said, "I think the only people who could conceivably be talking about a draft are people who are speaking from pinnacles of near-perfect ignorance."

He added, "The last thing we need is a draft. We just don't." He explained that recruitment and retention in the part-time forces have been affected by active duty troops who are staying longer in the regular military.
So, Kennedy's call for national service is based more on what he thinks would be good for the country's character than for the country's military. There is no way that having a bunch of disgruntled draftees in the forces is going to be a good thing for the military.

If Professor Kennedy is concerned about the character of today's youth, perhaps he should talk some more with his students at Stanford and those applying to Stanford. My experience as a high school teacher is that the students who are aspiring for college all want to make sure that they have some sort of community service on their record. They're out tutoring children, building houses for the homeless, helping in political campaigns, doing chores for the elderly and a host of other sorts of service that my generation coming on the tail end of Vietnam never considered. Sure, their motivation might be mostly to fill in that section of the college application, but a surprising number of them have made connections that they say they want to continue in college. Look at any major college and you will see scores of groups that students volunteer in to give back to their communities. Unless Stanford is so different from schools here in North Carolina, I expect that many of Professor Kennedy's students have volunteered in such ways also. Every religious organization seems to have some program to facilitate and encourage such community service. Granted that they're not giving up a year of their lives to fight in Iraq. But I have always been impressed with the sense of service that I see in today's youth. Sure there are kids who aren't plugged in to these volunteer opportunities, but many of those kids are working jobs for money that they need. Do we really need the government to come in and make this voluntary system mandatory? Would that make the involvement of young people in their communtities any richer or heartfelt? And would it make the military any more competent?

If Professor Kennedy is so worried that those who are serving in our armed forces are really separated from society, perhaps he should go spend some time talking with those serving now in Iraq or Afghanistan. I just bet that he would find there the most noble type of citizen-soldiers that our founding fathers might have ever dreamed of. I don't think that he would be as worried about the "modern military's disjunction from American society."

UPDATE: A serviceman serving in Kosovo reminded me that I left out those National Guard serving in Kosovo. I apologize. We have such tremendous servicemen and women serving around the world and I suspect that none of them take kindly to being compared to mercenaries.