Saturday, March 29, 2003

Words of Wisdom
The following quotes are from Nat Hentoff's piece in the Village Voice a couple of weeks ago.
The United Nations? Did the inspectors go into the prisons and the torture chambers? Would they have, if given more time? Did they interview the Mukhabarat, Saddam's dreaded secret police?
The United Nations? In 1994, Kofi Annan, then head of the UN's peacekeeping operations, blocked any use of UN troops in Rwanda even though he was told by his representative there that the genocide could be stopped before it started.
The United Nations? Where Libya, Syria, and Sudan are on the Human Rights Commission? The UN is crucial for feeding people and trying to deal with such plagues as AIDS; but if you had been in a Hussein torture chamber, would you, even in a state of delirium, hope for rescue from the UN Security Council?

(courtesy LittleGreenFootballs)

Fallen Heroes
As a public service I am posting this link to FoxNews that lists the names of those service people killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Personally, I look at the list every day in order to remember those who gave their lives for our country and our freedom and our security. It is an important reminder, too, for those of us who supported this war that there are consequences and that war should not be taken lightly.
Dean Gets Nasty
Seems that Howard Dean is beginning to attack his neighbor, John Kerry, for his wobbly-ness over Iraq. Those of you who have been paying attention to the Democratic Presidential sweepstakes will know that this is a common knock on Kerry, trying to be everything to everyone. In a speech to Iowa activists Dean took the criticism to a new level saying that, "To this day I don't know what John Kerry's position is."
I still think Dean is playing a very dangerous game by continuing to base his campaign on his anti-war stance. Once the war is over, and Saddam is deposed, what does that leave Dean to run on aside from his so called health care plan? The same progressive voters who are attracted to his anti-war leanings may very well be turned off by his federalism and his stances on guns and Social Security. And, the moderates to whom his fiscal conservatism might appeal will have been turned off by his dovish stance on Iraq. Maybe I am being a cynic, but I just do not see the Dean campaign lasting through the summer.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Stupidity in the Ivory Towers
It should come as no surprise that some university faculty think of themselves as somehow above the rest of America. And many of these individuals also seem to be anti-war, which is a potentially lethal combination. According to American University history professor Peter Kuznick, "Clearly people who are educated and have a more profound sense of ethics are very uncomfortable with [the Bush administration’s Iraq] policy."
Of course, as someone who is educated I took a bit of offense to the good professor's remarks. But this is just an example of how self righteous the anti-war Left is, that if you support the war with Iraq you must be an uneducated rube or are an unethical dolt.
(courtesy Erin)
A Bit Late
I know that I am a bit late on this item, but I want to acknowledge and mourn the passing of one of the 20th century's most impressive thinkers- Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The former Senator always stood as a role model to me, a symbol that one could be an intellectual and a politician, that the two were not contradictory avocations. He was a man who had the courage of his convictions and was willing to weather the storm generated by his work. He never backed down and has proven one of the most astute modern social scientists for his work on race and ethnicity in America in Beyond the Melting Pot.
While many public intellectuals tailor their work to their political audience, Pat Moynihan always spoke without regard to political trends. He was a steadfast intellectual who refused to be moved by popular political currents. There is not anyone like Pat Moynihan in American intellectual or political life now, and that makes his passing all the more sorrowful.
The Wu
The Wu Tang Clan is about one of the only rap groups I like (though I do enjoy a lot of hip hop acts), so it brings me great joy, that as every other artist cancels world tours, the Wu is going to Israel. According to Clan member Cappadonna, "As Americans and hip-hop artists, we want to show solidarity with the people of Israel."
Just to highlight.. an African American rap group is going to Israel to show solidarity with the Jews. Boy, this has got to get the hair on Farrakhan's back up!
Stupidity is Contagious
Lest we forget that stupidity knows no ideological borders, protestors outside of Wednesday's Supreme Court hearing of a challenge to Texas' anti-sodomy law held signs that read "AIDS is God's Revenge" and "God Sent the Sniper". I am quite sure this one does not need a comment.
Stupid is as Stupid does
More nonsense from the anti-war crowd here. A National Guard member was harassed and had stones thrown at her car over in Vermont. The teenagers treated her to epithets such as "baby killer" and "murderer." The youths are believed to have participated in an anti-war rally earlier in the day.
I guess in the anti-war movement violence is okay if it is trageted at someone who wears a uniform. What a sad commentary that if you are losing the debate of ideas, you must resort to violence. One more black mark for the anti-war "peaceniks".

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Technical Difficulties
Due to Time Warner's incompetence, I have not been able to access the internet today. Hope to be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Tone Deaf!
Further evidence that the present administration is COMPLETELY tone deaf can be found here. According to the AP, a subsidiary of Halliburton has been given a no bid contract to extinguish the Iraqi oil well fires. Interesting that prior to becoming Vice President, Dick Cheney was at the helm of Halliburton. While I realize that the company provided the same service at the end of the first Gulf War and completed the work ahead of schedule, this still looks an awful lot like a conflict of interest.
The simple appearance of a conflict is enough to preclude Halliburton, or any of its subsidiaries, from receiving ANY post war contracts. Even if there was a robust bidding process there would still be hints of impropriety in that perhaps Halliburton had insider information in terms of the specs the government was looking for, etc.
If someone like me, who supports the current action in Iraq, is bothered by this imagine what it looks like to a more jaundiced eye. Sometimes I really wonder if the Bushies get it. More and more I think the answer is no.
Unforgivable Sins
The comments made by some of the Hollywood folks with respect to Roman Polanski returning to the US got me to thinking a bit about morality and forgiveness. For those who are unaware, Polanski was charged with plying an underage girl with drugs and alcohol and then raping her. He fled the country while on bail and has never returned to the US. Yet, despite the despicable nature of his crime there are those in Hollywood, including Harrison Ford, who are hopeful for a Polanskii return. They are willing to overlook his awfulness as a human being because of his skill as a film maker.
It reminds me a bit of former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who was charged with being a sexual predator for his attempts to lure underage girls from the internet into sexual liasons. And, despite this awfulness, many in the media have continued to give Ritter face time as an expert on Iraqi arms. My own local public radio station has hosted a lecture by Ritter and continuously brings him on air as an expert. I wonder how much of their willingness to overlook Ritter's awfulness is driven by their shared anti-war ideology?
I am continually amazed by how willing some individuals are to overlook a person's moral turpitude, as if somehow character did not matter in the face of talent or expertise. The above mentioned individuals are not accused of a consensual sex act with an intern. They stand accused of taking advantage, or attempting to take advantage of young women. There simply is no forgiving of such a transgression in my mind. If there is any forgiveness it is up to God, because I cannot and will not forgive such unpardonable acts.
For Leiberman
Anyone who knows me knows of my fondness for Joe Leiberman, dating back to his defeat of Senator Lowell Weicker. Leiberman has always appealed to me as a moderate straight shooting person. Granted, I do have matters of disagreement with the Senator, especially on social issues and religion where he is a bit too conservative for my taste. But his support for ousting Saddam Hussein and his lack of fear about using US force as a tool for good in the world allows for a certain level of forgiveness.
I must say, though, that his remarks in Tucson Sunday may be enough to swing me over into the Joe 2004 camp. In comments about the UN's role in a post war Iraq Leiberman said, "They can help us achieve what we want and share the costs, but I wouldn't feel obligated to bring them in." Leiberman said that the United States commitment to ousting Saddam and risking American lives gives the US a right to determine the fate of a post war Iraq. God, comments like that are going to get Joe killed in Iowa and among the peaceniks of the Dem Party, but will win him accolades from the American people.
So Much for Non-Violence
Is it just me or isn't the anti-war movement supposed to be about non-violence? If so, someone needs to tell the peaceniks at the Universities of Iowa and New Mexico who smashed the windows of the ROTC building at UI and painted anti-war graffiti at both campuses. I am all about free speech, but there is a difference between speech and vandalism. Perhaps the mental midgets responsible for these actions have yet to learn that lesson.
It is despicable that this sort of thing should happen at what ought to be the bastion of free speech in our country. If you are anti-war, by all means go out and demonstrate, march or hold teach-ins, but don't vandalize. It does nothing but make your movement look immature, silly and petty. I suppose if you cannot win the debate on the merits of your argument, then you have to resort to defacing property.

(New Mexico)
Best and Brightest?
Interesting report from a Harvard senior who witnessed last week's anti-war protest in the Yard. He noticed the usual collection of unreformed Stalinists, anti-Zionists and Socialist Workers Party members. But then he got to the intellectual heft of some faculty members and found--
"Here, at last, was the immorality of the war made manifest. Let's summarize: George W. Bush, aided by a handful of ghouls, is removing Saddam Hussein from power so that he can put an SUV in every garage, oppress the poor, and commit election fraud. This was precisely the sort of serious thought I had hoped for."

He closes with this observation, which I think is apropos of most of the anti-war movement--
"...Harvard's high-minded intellectuals recite their usual litany of complaints about capitalism, about globalization, and above all, about George W. Bush. Yesterday's protest was an exercise in many things: vanity, condescension, evasion, arrogance, and smug self-righteousness. But it failed miserably as an effort at persuasion."
Is French Corruption Redundant?
Former French Prime Minister, Edith Cresson, has been charged with corruption during her time as Education Commissioner for the EU. According to this story on the BBC, Cresson is alleged to have personally benefited from EU contracts, including hiring her personal dentist as a scientific consultant and paying him hundreds of thousands of francs. She is also accused of producing forged documents to cover this up. This is the first time in the EU's history that a commissioner has been charged. How appropriate that it would happen to a French politician!
(courtesy InstaPundit)

Monday, March 24, 2003

Living in the Real World
Those who are regular readers know my thoughts on affirmative action in higher education- qualified support at the undergraduate level and opposition at the graduate level. And now I am grappling with the issue at a personal level. Having just been rejected by the University of Michigan Law School, I sit and wonder whether there aren't some lesser qualified minority applicants who were accepted because of their race. (note: I am equally appalled at the prospect of lesser qualified legacy kids getting in, too.)
My own comfort level is with a situation in which two equally qualified applicants are considered and one is chosen over the other because of race or some diversity factor. But when a lesser qualified person is offered admission, it strikes me as particularly wrong and bad policy.
Marine Poetry
This was written by a forward deployed Marine.

The Stand

I read in the news, how you made a stand,
you marched in the streets of our country's land,
trying to say who is wrong or right,
telling our country they should not fight;

Marching against Marines, like me, here,
defending the rights you hold so dear,
assuming I love to kill and maim,
acting like this is some sort of game;

You call yourselves experts on what we should so,
on September 11th, where were you,
while thousands of Americans suffered and died,
are you trying to say this is something you can abide?
Were you at the funerals as they lowered the caskets,
maybe you should remove your rose colored glasses?

I so, want to feel the comforts of my home,
where recently I left my family alone,
yet I'll do my duty in this far off land,
so you can march on Washington and make your stand;

Do not despise me for what I do,
because truth be known, I do it for you,
to hopefully free you from terror's arm,
so you can have your freedoms, free from harm;

What is the price, for the life you live?
What is the payment you have to give?
Is it starring in a movie, or singing a good song,
that has kept you free for all this long?

It is men like me, and others too,
doing what our country calls us to do,
sailing the seas to this far off land,
while you stay at home and make your stand;

I am not bitter, this is the life I choose,
So the rights you express so freely, you will not lose,
You may not support me for what I do,
But you need to know, I do it for you;

When this war is over, when we are through,
I would rather you just say, thank you,
for giving you, the time you had,
to march in our streets and make your stand.

Written by MSgt Billy Dial, USMC
MALS-39 SS Curtiss

Useful Human Shields
Some of the useful idiots have left Iraq with 14 hours of unedited video from Iraq. These tapes were made without Iraqi minders.
According to the UPI story--
A group of American anti-war demonstrators who came to Iraq with Japanese human shield volunteers made it across the border today with 14 hours of uncensored video, all shot without Iraqi government minders present. Kenneth Joseph, a young American pastor with the Assyrian Church of the East, told UPI the trip "had shocked me back to reality." Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera "told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster the likes of which the world had not seen since Stalin and Hitler. He and his sons are sick sadists. Their tales of slow torture and killing made me ill, such as people put in a huge shredder for plastic products, feet first so they could hear their screams as bodies got chewed up from foot to head."
Bowling for a Blowhard
In a decent world, Bowling for Columbine would not have even been nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary. As has been noted all over the internet, especially at Spinsanity, there are too many inaccuracies and made up "facts" that the film is a work of fiction. Now, anyone with half a brain would realize that such a work is not a documentary. But in Hollywood, and the rest of the left wing media, if the political statements made jibe with the orthodoxy, such inaccuracies can be overlooked.
But it was interesting to hear the chorus of boos when uber fatty Moore gave his anti-war acceptance speech last night. Maybe there are some in Hollywood who actually believe that truth matters and idiots should be treated to jeers.
Support Our Troops
If you're looking for a way to support our troops, go here. There are a number of ways you can help, inlcuding sending calling cards so our service members can stay in touch with their loved ones, donating to a military relief society or siging a virtual thank you card. I hope that you will consider one of these options. Our men and women need to know that the people of America support them and all they are doing to keep us safe.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

The Other Kids
The pictures and accounts of the anti-war movement may have led you to believe that it represented the youth of America. Yet, a new poll by MTV shows that support for the war among young people is at nearly the same level as the general public. MTV reports that 60% strongly support or somewhat support the war, while 37% are strongly or somewhat opposed.
Here's some quotes from young people--
"The U.S. had been diplomatic for 12 years. How much longer were we supposed to wait?"
"Personally, I would rather take care of this now than leave it to our children to suffer with."
"I ask war protesters to get off their high horses and take a good look at the atrocities and the undignified deaths of Kurds and Iraqis that Saddam Hussein is responsible for."

(courtesy MTV)
Shitting for Peace
Apparently, in San Francisco, defecating is the way to promote peace.
"At the Civic Center, a group of demonstrators defecated. Then they left, leaving the mess to be cleaned up by others. Not only disgusting, but this idiocy belittles the proud tradition of civic protest in our national history."
(courtesy SF Examiner)
The Other Side of the Story
Some quotes from actual Iraqis. This is the kind of stuff you aren't likely to read about in the anti-war American media.
"You just arrived," he said. "You're late. What took you so long? God help you become victorious. I want to say hello to Bush, to shake his hand. We came out of the grave."
"Killing some is worth it, to end the injustice and suffering."
(courtesy of The Guardian)

Friday, March 21, 2003

Blame America First
There is a certain element on the Left of American politics who find it very difficult to criticize anyone but the US. We see that in their lack of condemnation of Saddam Hussein; their lack of concern over events in Zimbabwe, the treatment of women in the Arab world; etc. Yet they have no such difficulty criticizing their own country. I do not assert that criticism of one's country is wrong or bad. On the contrary, I find it welcome and healthy to a vibrant democracy. I raise it though to illustrate that these people are capable of judging good and evil, so a lack of ability does not explain their silence with regards to other corners of the world.
I think part of the problem is that these people are afraid to make any judgment of someone other than themselves (their country serves as an extension of self). Moral relativism is a part of our culture, especially as one travels further left along the political spectrum.
I recall a conversation I had in graduate school with a Leftist friend. I was decrying the regimes in China and Cuba for their lack of freedom. My friend countered with a point about how they may lack freedom, but they have universal education and health care. One of our peers from a former Soviet republic chided my friend for her position. She said it was easy for her to say that from the safety of America and having never lived in a country where one was not free she had no idea what that life was like. She also said that it was not as if the people of those regimes were able to make the choice between universal health care and freedom of speech.
It seems to me the Left wants it both ways- not to have to criticize these regimes because they do not live under them, yet assume that people who do live under them should be pleased with what little they have.
Dept. of Free Advice
Timothy Burke has some advice for the anti-war crowd. I'll include a bit of it here, as a public service.

The "direct action" visions circulating out there now are not about building the largest possible coalition of opposition to the Bush Administration, not about building a political consensus, not about laying the groundwork for 2004. If you really care about opposing the war, you need to put your own selfish needs to proclaim your virtuousness aside and keep your eyes on the prize. Large public gatherings that are respectful, quiet and rhetorically modest would be a good thing, sure, but for the moment, little more than that.

Then TAPPED piles on with this--

If the people who spend their time organizing and marching would spend even a fraction of that energy and time involving themselves in real electoral politics -- not futile, Naderite third-party runs, another form of political narcissism -- they could actually punish Bush for what he's done.
There are many people who oppose the current war on Iraq because of its preemptive nature. And these same people, obviously, oppose the new Bush doctrine of preemption. Their argument is based on the notion that the US should not strike unless struck first. But, in a post 9-11 world, waiting for a threat to become an action is folly. Ever since those planes crashed into the Towers, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside, the policy of responding only has become obsolete. America cannot wait for another 3,000 or more of her people to perish before we act. We must neutralize threats before they become actions.
This is not like the school yard bully you can walk away from at recess. Terrorists and rogue states have the ability to bring their violence to your home. You cannot escape to the classroom for safety or to your home or office. The only way to deal with this type of threat is to eliminate it.
Thankfully we have a President who understands just that.
Protestors Speak
The following are actual quotes from protestors as reported in the NYT. Italicized comments are mine.
"I didn't really know anything about it," she said. "Then I read up and found that we gave Iraq a lot of the things that we're complaining about." (high school student in MD)
Well, it's a good thing you read up on the situation. Did you also read that the French, Germans, Russians and Chinese helped to arm Iraq, too? Unlike those cowards we are addressing our past mistakes.
"Going to war like this completely takes away everything the U.N. stands for." (U of Michigan student)
And what is it that the UN stands for? Let's see.. Libya chairs the Human Rights Commission, it stood aside as hundreds of thousands were killed in Bosnia and millions killed in Rwanda. It stands for giving such noted pillars of humanism as Syria, North Korea and China a say over world affairs.
"War is immoral. When no one listens, you have to take action and make a statement." (54 year old English teacher)
Ahh.. a moral absolute. So what does one do when faced with immoral actions, like a dictator who uses chemical weapons against his own people? Where were you and your other protestors when Saddam was killing the Kurds? I guess that didn't show up on your moral radar, huh?
"This is what democracy looks like!" (many protestors' slogan)
Tell that to the Iraqi people because they have never seen democracy.

Role Reversal
Remember when it was the GOP that swore by the virtue of balanced budgets and fiscal prudence? How times have changed. The Clinton years actually brought about balanced budgets and even produced a surplus. Over the past two years, President Bush and the GOP have done their darnedest to eliminate surplus and now we are awash in a sea of red ink as far as the eye can see.
So, it is more that a bit ridiculous that the House passed a budget resolution last night that includes the President's $726 billion tax giveaway to the rich while we are at war. The budget blue print fails to provide for the cost of war and will result in massive spending reductions in vital programs all while the tax cuts have little or no effect on our economic doldrums.
At one point, it seemed as though the Senate would pass a blue print with half the tax cut, but now that seems destined to fail as those Senators who oppose any tax cut have rejected a coalition. Therefore, the budget resolution will likely include the full $726 billion. Hopefully, when the actual budget is written and passed, later this year, Congress will have come to its senses and reject the President's tax cut boondoggle.
I have been thinking a bit about the anti-war movement in America and trying to find some good in it. On the one hand, many of the protestors are young people- college and high school students. These are the same folks who usually do not even bother to vote and seem to care more about the latest Eminem song than who is president. If this movement can motivate young people to care about their country and its leadership, then that is a positive outcome.
Yet, on the other hand, listening to and watching these protests makes me wonder. The virulent anti-Bushism seems so reflexive and unthoughtful. Many of the protestors evidence little, if any, knowledge of foreign policy. It also worries me that the groups organizing the protests are radical leftist in nature and include some elements that are anti-Semitic. Do the young people allying themselves with groups like ANSWER even know of the group's core political beliefs?
I am not as concerned by these young people's naivety. They are young and idealistic and if they didn't firmly believe that the world could be a peaceful place without conflict, then I would be worried.
As I watched television coverage of the war last night, I happened upon a story of the protests around the world. It seems the Parisians were taking the strongest actions- they were throwing bottles and rocks at the local McDonald's.
I don't even think that needs a comment.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Dept. of Interesting Ideas
Laurence at Amish Tech Support suggests that people who want to help the relief efforts in Iraq sent their donations to the Red Star of David, rather than the American Red Cross. He posits that if the Iraqis accepted the Israeli aid that it would signal a willingness to change and lose a history of anti-Semitism.
His full post is here.
Donate here.
In a time of war, I would not like to engage in political strategizing. However, I do have one observation to make as a Democrat. If this war lasts longer than a couple of months, we are in deep trouble for 2004. Candidates who support the use of force have been booed off stage in California; polling in NH and IA show most Dem activists are anti-war. It isn't a stretch to think that, under such circumstances, the Party would be stuck with an anti-war candidate. Now, remember that somewhere around 70% of Americans support the war. So what do you think would happen to an anti-war Democrat in 2004? Ouch!
Tell Robert Byrd to Shut Up
Sen. Byrd gave a floor speech yesterday in which he said he, "weep(ed) for my country." Byrd has been an opponent of the use of force against Iraq. He was elected to the Senate in 1958; he was a member of KKK; he has pushed through more pork for his home state of W.Va. that nearly the entire state is paved. So maybe it is his age, or his 44 years in the Senate, or his checkered past as a racist or his love for pork, or maybe all of the above, that have warped his mind and put him so out of touch. But it's time to put the geezer out to pasture and in the meantime he can do us all a favor and just shut up.
Econ 101
According to the WaPo, the administration is still fighting for its massive tax cut, despite the cost of war. The administration is giving it a new spin, however, by calling it a jobs program. Commerce Sec'y Evans claims that, "It will benefit stocks, which encourages investment, which leads to jobs creation." Maybe the good Sec'y should have taken more econ classes, because his logic is more than faulty. Investment does not necessarily lead to job creation. The investment the secretary is speaking of is not business capital investment, but consumer investment in stocks, or at least that is what his quote leads me to believe. I would have to wonder how it is that increased investment in the market will generate jobs. Unless one takes the circuitous route and claims that increased investment drives stock prices up, which results in increased cash flow for some investors, who may then spend that money, which would then increase consumer demand, and ultimately some jobs would be created. A much more direct route would be to target a package of tax cuts at middle and lower income people, who spend a higher percentage of their income on consumer goods, thereby increasing demand and creating jobs.
Either the Bushies failed Econ 101 or they simply do not care to do more than pander to their wealthy patrons.

The War has begun and so have the demonstrations. Watch this space for the latest on the anti-war follies.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

War of Words
While the US has been somewhat diplomatic in its treatment of France and its opposition to the war, Australia's leaders have not been quite so nice. This is Australia's Federal Parliamentary Sec'y on France--
"When you start to compare (permanent security council members), America is the eagle, China is the tiger, Russia is the bear, and in my view France is the vulture. It circles around and does nothing for itself, waiting for the opportunity to go and pick the benefits of other peoples' hard work." (full story here)

(thanks to Tim Blair)

In Defense of Bush
As you will have realized by now, there is really only one issue on which I agree with the President and that is the use of force to disarm Iraq. To be perfectly honest, I despise his domestic policies and hope that foreign affairs will occupy the rest of his term so that he cannot muck up domestic policy too much. With that said, however, I do wish to express something I find compelling about our President.
More than any leader since perhaps JFK, GW Bush sees the world with moral clarity. His predecessors' foreign policies have been guided by realpolitik, which is really just a more polite word for Machiavellianism. Realpolitik focuses on very narrow national interests and is more than willing to make deals with the devil, if in the short term such deals have a benefit (for example- supporting Iraq in the 70's and 80's). It is a policy of myopia, absent are any long term analyses or moral imperatives. In very recent history we have had to disarm, or otherwise engage, at least two regimes we brought to power years ago. Realpolitik led the US to support brutal dictators like Augusto Pinochet and oligarchs such as the House of Saud.
I do not think our current President is as willing to compromise ideals for short term results. When he spoke about the Axis of Evil, he did so because he truly believed that those regimes are evil. Bush has shown a willingness, in the current situation, to act in the face of opposition from some quarters because he believes that disarming Iraq requires force. This administration views foreign policy through a prism of right and wrong, good and evil in a time when many world leaders are afraid to make such judgments. We live in an age of relativism, where people would rather explain away or make excuses for wrong-doing. To me, it is refreshing to have a leader who does not back down from confronting evil, someone who calls evil by its name and does not reduce it to some psycho-babble or academic experiment in excuse making.
Another War
There is a growing war among conservatives, between the neos and the paleos. Excellent piece by David Frum over at NRO. For the uninitiated the neos are people like Bill Kristol, Bill Bennett, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz (many are Jewish and converted to conservatism from Trotskyism). Paleos of note are Pat Buchanan, Bob Novak, Lew Rockwell and Justin Raimondo.
For some time the paleos have lamented the rise of neocons in the GOP and government. The current argument against neocons is that as Jews they are more loyal to Israel. Or, if they are not Jews, then they are handmaiden's of Israeli influence.
Frum makes a good case against the paleos and points out their anti-Americanism. He concludes his piece with this--

"There is, however, a fringe attached to the conservative world that cannot overcome its despair and alienation. The resentments are too intense, the bitterness too unappeasable. Only the boldest of them as yet explicitly acknowledge their wish to see the United States defeated in the War on Terror. But they are thinking about defeat, and wishing for it, and they will take pleasure in it if it should happen.
They began by hating the neoconservatives. They came to hate their party and this president. They have finished by hating their country.
War is a great clarifier. It forces people to take sides. The paleoconservatives have chosen — and the rest of us must choose too. In a time of danger, they have turned their backs on their country. Now we turn our backs on them
Dept. of Common Sense
It is good to see groups like CATO and Institute for Justice file amici against the Texas anti-sodomy law before the Supreme Court. I think this, from IOJ attorney Dana Berliner, sums it up perfectly- "If the government can regulate private sexual behavior, it's hard to imagine what the government couldn't regulate. That's almost so basic that it's easy to miss the forest for the trees."
See the full story in today's NYT.
Moronica for Morons
The battle going on in the anti-war movement over whether or not to engage in civil disobedience amuses me almost as much as a Three Stooges episode (referenced in the title). There is a strain of the anti-war movement that honestly believes that diverting public safety resources from protecting against terrorist attacks on US soil to controlling anti-war crowds is a grand idea. Either they fail to realize the potential consequence of their actions or they simply do not care. My bet is that there are some of each. Some of these people would not mind if a few American "facists" were killed by a dirty bomb in NYC or LA, others are simply too naive to think through the consequences of diverting public safety resources.
What is amazing to me is that these people, regardless of motives, seem to be completely oblivious to what public reaction will be to their civil disobedience. Do they really expect people to support the anti-war cause if demonstrators close down federal buildings? America has a strong tradition of supporting her troops and her president during times of war. The exception was the Vietnam conflict, but this current action will not be protracted and will not result in the magnitude in loss of American lives that fueled anti-war sentiments during Vietnam.
While I do respect the rights of these individuals to express their views, I just wish they would do it in a more responsible way. And, I fully hope that they will not treat soldiers returning from the Persian Gulf the same way their comrades treated our boys coming home from Vietnam.
Dept. of Bad Ideas
There is a movement afoot to draft Al Gore to run for President in 2004. They have even commissioned a Zogby poll showing Gore faring best against Bush. You can see it all here.
The Democratic Party has become a strong supporter of recycling. In the 2002 elections we saw Walter Mondale and Frank Lautenberg pulled out from the mothballs. We have seen the Party revert to its pre-Clinton liberalism over the past couple of years. And, now they want to bring back Al Gore. I guess Jimmy Carter was too busy cozying up to dictators to be drafted.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Posting has been pretty much non-existent today as I have other things on my mind. The convergence of war plans and the wait for law school admissions decisions has conspired to make blogging a near impossibility.
I promise to begin anew tomorrow morning. As soon as I get up and have some coffee I'll be back at it.
I apologize for the lapse of commentary.
Although I have written quite a bit on the need for the use of force to disarm Iraq, I do not plan to blog much about the war itself. Partly because I do not have the capability to bring you anything deeper than what you will find in the major media or elsewhere in the blogosphere. But I do have some thoughts to share now.
I can remember the last time we were at war with Iraq in 1991. I was twenty years old. I had a cousin as well as a handful of friends in the Persian Gulf. I can remember wondering whether they would all make it home alive. My mind was filled with worry for my friends and family. I supported the war and knew we were doing the right thing, but that did not ease my mind in any way.
So now as we are on the eve of another war with Iraq my thoughts go back to that time. And my heart goes out to all of those who have a loved one in the military who might not ever come home. Eventhough I support this military action, as it draws near I hope and pray that we are doing the right thing and that the loss of lives- American, Iraqi, etc.- will have not been in vain. I hope beyond hope that the Iraqi people will be liberated and will be allowed to live in freedom.

Monday, March 17, 2003

But to be honest, I am busy editing a friend's application essay and trying to enjoy the first taste of spring in Albany (near 65 degrees). Also, I am trying to digest the reality of the war we are about to begin sometime this week. Somehow blogging just seems rather pointless right now. Will return soon- later today or tomorrow.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Product News
Ok. I have set up a cafe press store for musclehead. I am planning on offering t-shirts, mousepads and mugs. I am thinking of something like this "musclehead... because the mind is the biggest muscle".
Let me know what you think by clicking on comments. I will post the url just as soon as I make the design.
Shop Therapy
Sometimes what you really need to relax is some good old fashioned shopping. Spent most of the day at the mall and still somehow feel refreshed. Going to dinner with the parents later. Still not sure if I even feel like blogging. I am so tired of writing about the usual things- politics, war, etc. Think I may go down the street to the beach just to look out at the frozen water and see if any seagulls are about. Now, that is what I call therapeutic.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Light Posting
Posting will be light over the next few days as I take a much needed vacation on Cape Cod. I will do some posting from there, but not the usual level of commentary.
Jews and Neocons
This is a first here at musclehead, a link to a National Review Online article. I surf over to NRO once in a while to see what the "other" side has to say. Jonah Goldberg has an excellent piece today about the current wave of anti-Semitism in American politics- ranging from liberals like Congressman Moran to conservatives like Pat Buchanan. You can read the full story here, but for the time pressed here is the money graf--
Moran, Buchanan, Matthews, Novak — and more leftists than I can count — should be ashamed. They've lost an argument. They lost it on the merits and they don't like it. In their arrogance or bitterness, they assume they couldn't have lost the fight fairly, and so they look for whispering neocons and clever Jews (or, in other contexts, nefarious oil traders). This is an ugly, ugly way to argue because it forces the opposition to prove a negative and it questions the patriotism of people who've never said an unpatriotic thing. In short, they are sore losers, and the farthest thing from beautiful.
So the partial birth abortion bill has passed the Senate. Trying to find the roll call vote now.
I just wonder to myself, don't these people have more pressing things to worry about? The country is back to running deficits, we are in the midst of a war on terrorism (and Iraq, soon), unemployment is increasing, there are at least 40 million people without health insurance, etc.. But instead of addressing real issues, the US Senate would rather pander to the anti-choice crowd by criminalizing a decision best made by a woman and her doctor.
Crony Capitalism
Ahh.. another example of the Republican brand of capitalism. According to this story in the NYT, a well connected businessman has received a no fee lease on 280 acres of federal land. Here's the connection- he is the finance chair for Senator Inhofe who is the chair of the committee that oversees the Army Corps of Engineers. But not only is his company not paying a penny for the land, they will be competing with an already established business.
This is the joy of crony capitalism- you are insulated from market realities by your connections to the government's gravy train. Success is driven by your ability to lobby and donate to campaigns, not by your entrepreneurial skills. Republicans like to talk a good game about the free market, but take a look at the Bush administration and you will see that nearly all of his former CEO's headed companies in heavily regulated industries. These people lack any knowledge of a true free market, but they know all about buying politicians.
Anti-Semitism Watch (cont.)
Right Wing pariah Pat Buchanan is at it again with his anti-semitic remarks. Check out Andrew Sullivan for the details.
Anti-Semitism Watch
CNN is reporting that six Democratic lawmakers are calling on Congressman Moran to not seek re-election in 2004. In a letter to House Minority Leader Pelosi, the six said that Moran's comments "are grossly irresponsible, and were given at a sensitive time when inflammatory comments -- regardless of outrageous factual flaws -- can unleash unintended and dangerous consequences." The lawmakers, all Jewish, further stated that they would not support Moran should he chose to run for re-election.
I think this is an important rebuke, but I wish that some non-Jewish lawmakers had also signed the letter.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

After I posted this about Congressman Moran's anti-Semitic comments yesterday I got to thinking whether or not it is substantially the same as the racist comments made by former Senate Majority Leader Lott. I think the key difference, to me, is that Moran is not in a position of power as was Lott. However, I do think the comments were equally offensive and worthy of condemnation.
Appropriately, the House Minority Leader Pelosi issued a statement which said, "Congressman Moran's comments were not only inappropriate, they were offensive... His comments have no place in the Democratic Party." And Senate Minority Leader Daschle said, "They are out of order and totally not in keeping with the facts or with the degree to which we expect people to act in a civil and meaningful way on debates as important as this."
I am still not sure if Moran should resign. I thought Lott should have not only stepped aside as Majority Leader, but left the Senate entirely. Maybe Moran should fall on his sword to show that the Democratic Party will not tolerate anti-Semitism the way that the GOP tolerates racism.
Who's on the High Road?
Great New Dem Daily today about the responsibility of the UN to enforce its own resolutions. Here's the money graf-

The French-led rebellion against enforcement of U.N. resolutions concerning Iraq has taken on a new and more dangerous nature
since President Jacques Chirac's admission that there are no circumstances under which France would allow U.N.-sanctioned
military action to occur. "Whatever happens, France will vote no," he told reporters in a domestic television interview. Aside
from representing a green light to Saddam Hussein to resume his defiant pursuit of weapons of mass destruction amidst the minor
inconvenience of inspectors, this posture belies the claim that France, Germany and Russia are trying to defend the United
Nations' multilateral prerogatives against U.S. unilateralism
. The United States has asked the United Nations to deal with
Saddam Hussein after 12 years of unenforced resolutions, and it looks like the United Nations may simply refuse.

European Delusions
For the past several weeks I have been trying to understand European opposition to the use of force in Iraq. I wanted to get beyond the trite notion that it is basic anti-Americanism. I think there are two major factors at play in the European opposition (and yes, I realize that many governments in Europe do support the US position, but their people do not and so I will use the term European opposition). On some elementary level there does seem to be a degree of anti-Americanism, but I think that it is more anti-US hegemony than a particular dislike for America or her people.
I think the more important factor is Europe's view of the world and their history. Let me explain. Europe has a rather troubling past with regards to checking aggression on the Continent, and also its colonization of Third World countries. The first half of the 20th Century saw the Continent engulfed in two World Wars. What I find especially telling about European attitudes is that when given the chance to stop Hitler, they balked and instead chose appeasement as Nazis marched into Poland. History shows that this was a dreadfully wrongheaded choice, but one has to assume that European leaders genuinely thought that Hitler would be content with taking only some portion of Europe. These leaders failed to recognize the threat that Hitler posed to all of Europe (let alone the Jewish people). It took US soldiers crossing the Atlantic to save Europe from herself.
Since the end of WWII and throughout the Cold War, Europe was protected from threats by the presence of US troops and missiles. This allowed Europeans a certain degree of freedom to dream of a peaceful world. America was providing for their defense and was keeping the world safe from expansionist Communism. It was not European leaders who crippled the Soviet Union, it was the US.
Also, during the 20th Century, many European countries continued their colonization of Africa and other Third World countries. They would exploit native natural resources and foster conflict among peoples in order to maintain their rule. European countries viewed these relationships as proper and thought of those whom they colonized as somehow beneath them. This invariably coloured European perceptions of these countries.
And what does this all mean in today's situation? I would posit that Europe's past colonization affects it in two potential ways- one is that Europe feels a collective guilt and shame (and they should) for their past injustices which prevents them from acting against a former colony; or Europeans still view these countries and their people as below Europe and not worthy of protection. Either way, I believe that Europe's past relationship with the Third World colours their actions today.
Now, my other argument was based on Europe's ability or willingness to deny evil in the world. Prior to US involvement in the Continent, Europe was completely unwilling or unable to stop aggression. They were unwilling to confront evil in their own backyard, whether it was Hitler or Mussolini. Since US involvement, very little has changed. Europe still fails to act when given the opportunity to preserve human rights and stop genocide (see Bosnia). While the US was protecting the European way of life, Europeans themselves were relieved of the obligation to provide for their defense or to contemplate the threats present in the modern world.
Which leads us to today, a time in which vast numbers of Europeans fail to see evil, going so far as to equate an American president with a despotic dictator with weapons of mass destruction. And while I find the Hitler-Saddam analogy to be over-used, I do think it shows Europe's unwillingness to see evil in the world, and to act against it.
America has a much different perspective and it is one that I think is derived from our past as a colony. America was a country born of freedom, a country that only came into existence because brave men and women were willing to put their lives at risk for freedom. America is a country that enjoys a level of freedom unknown in most regions of the world and given our own struggle for freedom we feel obligated to help others who yearn for freedom. The average American feels that it is our country's obligation to not only police the world, but to promote democracy and human rights. Countless American men and women have fought and died for these ideals over the past 100 years. It is a price that we pay as being the world's lone superpower and guarantor of freedom. It is something that Europeans will never understand.
Dumb and Dumber
As I noted before, I think the partial birth abortion bill is a waste of time and a move that panders to a very narrow group of "Christian" conservatives. But to make matters worse, the Republican controlled Senate defeated a proposal that would have limited the number of abortions in America.
Senators Murray and Reid proposed an amendment that would have ensured greater access to emergency contraception (i.e., the morning after pill) at hospital emergency rooms as well as required health plans with a prescription drug benefit to provide for contraceptives. (Note: most insurance companies will provide contraceptive coverage if a doctor determines it is medically necessary for a woman's health and most ob-gyn's are more than willing to say that is the case.)
Once again, the religious zealots who control the Republican Party have shown their cards. Senator Santorum said this, in opposition to the proposal, "I believe that life begins at conception and drugs that would prevent a conceived embryo from being implanted, I would not support that." Rather than make abortions safe, legal and rare, the GOP and its minions of "Christians" would rather abortion be dangerous and criminal. And GOP operatives wonder why they there is a gender gap.. DUH.
(full story at CNN)

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

On the Cheap
According to my academic hero, Erin O'Connor, the University of Michigan is now using undergraduates as instructional aides. From what I could glean from this editorial in the Michigan Daily, instructional aides are similar, if not the same as graduate assistants. I am thus assuming that these "instructional aides" are teaching sections of courses just like graduate assistants do. Here is the kicker-- IA's do not receive the same tuition waivers or stipends that GA's do. In other words, IA's make for cheaper instructors.
But the real impact here, besides GA's being denied opportunities to prepare as teachers, is on the quality of undergraduate education. Can you imagine your roommate as your Bio 101 teacher? In the past people questioned the number of grad students who were teaching undergrads at large research universities, but now we have undergrads teaching undergrads. What's next?
This column by Les Payne in Sunday's Newsday is a work of vile and bile. The most egregious part is this-
The problem with middle-aged drunks turned Christian is that they can't sleep without yakking about Jesus, and they won't let anyone else sleep, either. Instead of embracing their religion as a private matter, they flaunt it as a mission to convert. They can become a terrible nuisance, especially to those born into the religion.

The drunk-gone-zealot may be reassuring to the troubled family. But it is not altogether reassuring to a modern world facing such a fanatic on the trigger of weapons of mass destruction that are capable of destroying the Earth several times over.

Regular readers of musclehead will note that I have no particular love for religious zealots, especially right wing "Christians", but I think this bit goes over the line. One can disagree with the President about his policy towards Iraq and even with his faith, but to lower oneself to such personal smears is beneath the level of what one expects from a columnist.

(courtesy Real Clear Politics)
Make the Blogosphere Work!
Many have seen this story about the Bantus who are being resettled in the US here. Now it is time to help their efforts by donating to groups that will assist in the resettlement. Josh, over at the mighty good OxBlog has posted links on how to reach some of the charities involved. So, if you can spare some money, go help out Africa's lost tribe.
Campus Helpers
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is set to release its campus guides today at a National Press Club event. Among the luminaries present will be former Atty. General Ed Meese and ACLU President Nadine Strossen. Talk about ideological diversity! But seriously, if you're a college student or just someone concerned about the erosion of freedoms on college campuses, check out the FIRE guides here.
Looking for an explanation of why many European countries support the US? Here you go--

Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz told state radio that if Portugal were attacked, "it would be unlikely France and Germany would come to our rescue."

He said: "Let us suppose Portugal, proper or its archipelagos, faced a threat, who would come to our rescue? The European Commission, France, Germany?

"I think it would be NATO who would come to our rescue, in other words, it would be the U.S., no one else would defend us. For instance, during the 1996 mission in Bosnia, operations took place with the support of 20 satellites, of which only one was European," and the remainder belonged to the U.S.

"If we were attacked, is that what they would offer to defend us? How curious is this: in Bosnia, when we were called to send soldiers urgently to that region, the U.S. had C-17 and C-130 planes, and France leased ferry boats, which during the summer are employed in tourist services to Corsica."

(courtesy InstaPundit)
Thank god for Former Academics
According to today's NYT, civil liberties and rights may have a price tag (full story). That's because the director of regulatory affairs for OMB, John Graham, is moving towards the use of cost-benefit analysis for homeland security provisions. Such analyses would compare the benefit of security measures with the imposed costs, such as loss of liberty and limits on certain rights. Obviously, this is a tough question to get at. While there are some costs that can be quantified, such as time on line for security checks, there are many that cannot be so easily measured. For example, what is the cost of restricting Freedom of Information Act requests? It would seem that for many costs, the Delphic Oracle approach would have to be used. And, despite the shortcomings of guesstimates, this at least moves the dialogue to a place where we can have a rational discussion of policy alternatives. Using cost-benefit analysis will force policymakers to consider the costs of their decisions, which makes for much more contemplation of marginal utility and counteract some policymaking tunnel vision.
Disband the UN
Give me one reason why the UN should continue to exist.
Anti-semitism Watch
Virginia Congressman Jim Moran has issued an apology to Jewish groups after comments he made last week, according to CNN. In speaking to an anti-war rally, Moran said, "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this." Moran has been in hot water before for his support of Palestinian causes. Add another to the list of people who can't seem to tell the difference between a democracy protecting herself (Israel) and a theocracy slaughtering civilians (Palestinian Authority).

Monday, March 10, 2003

Ignorance Plus Naivety Equals Bliss
This is the money graf from George Packer's piece on the anti-war movement in yesterday's NYT Magazine.
"The notion that there is little safety in Iraq and, strictly speaking, there are no poets -- that the Iraqi people, while not welcoming the threat of bombs, might be realistic enough to accept a war as their only hope of liberation from tyranny -- was unthinkable. The protesters saw themselves as defending Iraqis from the terrible fate that the U.S. was preparing to inflict on them. This assumption is based on moral innocence -- on an inability to imagine the horror in which Iraqis live, and a desire for all good things to go together. War is evil, therefore prevention of war must be good. The wars fought for human rights in our own time -- in Bosnia and Kosovo -- have not registered with Pariser's generation. When I asked Pariser whether the views of Iraqis themselves should be taken into account, he said, 'I don't think that first and foremost this is about them as much as it's about us and how we act in the world.' "
I am with Drezner on this one- "such an inward and uninformed view of world politics scare the crap out of me."
Saving Capitalism from Itself
We need more people like Warren Buffett (and George Soros, too).
"As stock prices went up, the behavioral norms of managers went down. By the late 1990s, as a result, CEOs who traveled the high road did not encounter heavy traffic."
"Getting rid of mediocre CEOs and eliminating overreaching by the able ones requires action by owners -- big owners," Buffett wrote in his annual letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, his investment company. "Unfortunately, certain major investing institutions have `glass house' problems in arguing for better governance elsewhere."

(Courtesy Heretical Ideas and Taipei Times)
Gay Marriage
According to this piece in the Boston Globe gay rights groups are mounting a coordinated campaign to promote civil unions, equal partnership rights and eventually gay marriage. (This makes me feel better about my annual HRC dues.) The eventual success will come from having one or more states recognize gay marriages and then testing the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act under the Fourth Amendment's full faith and credit clause.
Of course, the zealots of the "Christian" Coalition are opposed and call it "a work against nature." Their Bible states that man was created in God's image. And if we are all created by God, then doesn't it follow that God created homosexuals, too?
Ok, so Mary Lynn Jones doesn't exactly call former President Clinton an albatross, but she does claim that he may overshadow current Democratic White House aspirants, to the detriment of the Party (here). She points to Clinton's new gig at 60 Minutes, his recent public speeches and interviews, and his upcoming books as events that take attention away from other Democrats. While I think this is a fair criticism, I am not so sure that the solution is for Clinton to exit the stage altogether. He remains extremely popular with large swaths of voters and that alone is reason for him not to become merely a behind the scenes player. Perhaps the difficult period is now as candiates are trying to get voters to notice them. It is probably not good for Clinton to suck up all the oxygen. His strengths would be better used once the Party has selected its candidate. In the meantime he could do all the behind the scenes work that is so crucial to retaking the White House in 2004.
Dangerous Game
Many leading Democrats are playing a dangerous game with regards to their recent comments about the impending war with Iraq. As every day passes, more Democrats are adding their voices to the opposition, even though some of them voted in favor of the Congressional Resolution authorizing the use of force (yes, I'm talking about you, Tom Daschle). As noted in today's WSJ op-ed,
"We don't recall hearing last fall that Democratic support was contingent on the right of French first refusal. We've re-read the Joint Resolution on Iraq and nowhere can we find the words "France" or "Germany." Nowhere does it say that the President has to clear his decisions with Gerhard Schroeder or Vladimir Putin.

The Joint Resolution, which passed less than three weeks before the election, does refer to the U.N. Security Council. But it does so only in the context of "support for United States diplomatic efforts." The pertinent section declares support for "the efforts by the President" to "obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq

But now, to hear leading Democrats talk, the US cannot go to war absent the approval of France, Germany and Russia. At no time in US history has the United States conditioned its national security on the approval of others. And it seems especially unwise at this time given the countries who oppose military action lack any moral authority. Russia slaughters Chechneyan rebels; France hosts dictators like Robert Mugabe and her firms sell equipment to Iraq; Germany helped re-arm Saddam. Not to mention the UN's own impotence in the face of genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia, etc.

It is understandable for Democratic leaders to pander to their constituency and polls show most Democrats oppose a war with Iraq. But the time for judgment was last fall, not now as we lead up to war. True leadership means standing up for principle, something that very few Democrats now seem capable of (Joe Lieberman stands out as being one of the few). The WSJ closes with this--
"...what should be questioned is their judgment. So close to war, and often in stark contrast to their previous votes and positions, the leaders of the party of JFK and FDR now see fit to side with France and Russia against an American President. No wonder voters are reluctant to trust Democrats with the responsibility for ensuring American safety and liberty".

Raison D'Etre
Gary Hart is doing the CNN rounds tonight, appearing on Inside Politics and Larry King Live. Will he announce that he is running for President or will he just keep dropping hints? Hart has given several major policy speeches over the past few weeks as he ponders another run for the White House.
But what exactly is Gary Hart's message or meaning in the campaign? Back at one time, Hart was a man with new ideas for the Democratic Party. He is still a very bright man, and would probably be one of the smartest people in the race, but his recent speeches have very little in terms of new ideas. Hart is opposed to war on Iraq, but there are already several candidates running on an anti-war platform. Hart has national security credentials, but so don't John Kerry, Bob Graham and Joe Lieberman.
Several months ago, I was hoping for a Hart candidacy to energize the race with new ideas, but maybe my expectations were based more on the Hart of yore. As of right now I just don't see a constituency for the former Senator from Colorado.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Wasting Time, Again
Unbeknownst to me, the US Senate is about to engage in its annual rite of time wasting this week by bringing up the partial birth abortion bill, according to this. I don't think it matters where you stand on the issue of abortion (I am pro-choice), this is a sham issue and a phenomenal waste of time. It is petty symbolism designed to throw some red meat to the ultra-right wing of the Republican Party. No one can seem to give an exact definition of the procedure, in terms of at what point it is performed, or compelling evidence that it is not the best medical alternative in some cases. I am sure that there are not legions of women in America who wait until just before childbirth to decide on whether or not to have an abortion. And I am equally sure that if even if there were some, that there are not many doctors willing to engage in such late stage birth control.
Here is a novel idea- why doesn't the US Senate figure out a way to reduce unwanted pregnancies? Maybe they could fund research into more effective birth control or better sex education or easier access to birth control. Wouldn't that be a novel idea? Imagine, a world in which we actually treat the problem (unwanted pregnancies) rather than the outcome (abortions). But given the short-sightedness of politicians, such a world is utopian fantasy. Maybe some day polticians will stand up for rational policies rather than pandering to the right wing moralists and anti-sex Catholics.
More Flag Nonsense
According to this article in the WaPo, Congressman Dick Gephardt caused a bit of confusion the other day in South Carolina when he said the Confederate flag should not be flown "anytime, anywhere." Some people apparently thought that included private property. Gephardt clarified that he meant public places only and that the flag is "...a hurtful, divisive symbol in our country, and it just shouldn't be in public places."
I think Gephardt is absolutely right on this issue. And the people who cling to the Confederate flag do so either out of hatred, ignorance or both. There is simply no place for such a symbol in our public commons, just as we would not tolerate a modern Germany with a swastika in her national flag.
More Pledge Nonsense
Shortly after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its refusal to re-hear the Pledge case, I wrote this. In the interim there has been a lot of talk on the blogosphere and in general about the issue. There is currently a movement afoot to introduce a Constitutional Amendment to ensure the phrase "under God" will not be stripped from the pledge here.

It is interesting to note that the group behind this is none other than the American Family Association, a far right Christian group whose mission statement says, "The American Family Association exists to motivate and equip citizens to change the culture to reflect Biblical truth." It's philosophical statement says, "The American Family Association believes that God has communicated absolute truth to man through the Bible, and that all men everywhere at all times are subject to the authority of God's Word. Therefore, a culture based on Biblical truth best serves the well-being of our country, in accordance with the vision of our founding fathers."

The AFA is a card carrying member of the Christian Brigades. This makes it obvious why they support the inclusion of "under God" in the Pledge. It is not because of ceremonial deism or some other innocuous rationale. These people genuinely believe that America is or should be a Christian country, complete with prayer in the classroom. In the past, this group has boycotted Disney for producing the Ellen show (because it "normalized homosexuality"), defended a judge in Alabama who displayed the Ten Commandments in his courtroom, led the charge against the National Endowment for the Arts, and the list goes on. The AFA is a group of intolerant right wing Christians who are seeking to force their religious values onto the country.

Illiberal Education
As my regular readers may have noticed, I have a deep concern over the current course of higher education and its stifling of dissent. Here, my friends is an illustration of just how far things have come- At Citrus College in California, a professor required students to write anti-war letters to the President and penalized those who refused to do so. In addition, one week later, this same professor required students to write letters to a state senator, expressing a certain viewpoint. Fortunately, through the work of FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) the professor has since been sanctioned and the students have received apologies. Read the full story here.
This is just one more example of the moral decay at our institutions of higher education. First came speech codes, which violated First Amendment rights, in order to protect sensitive folks and their feelings. And now we have professors actually dictating students' beliefs with the threat of punishment. The thought police truly are here and they reside in what used to be a bastion of open discourse, our colleges and universities.
One has to wonder, in light of recent events, whether the college radicals of the 60's were actually fighting for power to dominate academe rather than for their purported free speech rights. Many of the same people who fought for freedom in the 60's have become the thought police of the 90's and 00's. What 60's liberals were able to do was replace one orthodoxy with another that is equally pernicious and detrimental to the pursuit of knowledge and intellectual growth.
Tell Jimmy Carter to Shut UP
It was bad enough that we had to deal with his ineptness in foreign affairs as President (see- Iran hostages), but ever since we have been treated to his coddling of dictators and despots all in the name of peace (see- Nobel Peace Prize, but also see current North Korea quagmire). Why can't he just build houses for poor people?
Well.. anyway.. the former President decided to weigh in with his thoughts on a just war in NYT. But before the ink was dry, Josh, over at OxBlog, was already giving the Peanut Farmer a well deserved fisking here.
All Apologies
Sorry for the light posting. Was hit with bad news on Friday and then went to PA for the day, with the girlfirend, yesterday.
A Matter of Trust
House Minority Leader Pelosi gave a speech on Friday in which she said, "I do not believe that going to war now is the best way to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Before going to war we must exhaust all alternatives, such as the continuation of inspections, diplomacy and the leverage provided by the threat of military action." CNN
Ms. Pelosi is more than entitled to her opinion, but I think she owes the American people a better explanation of her alternatives. How is using diplomacy now, as opposed to the last twelve years of diplomacy, going to acheive different results? How will inspections, like the inspections we had for the better part of the last twelve years (except for when Saddam kicked inspectors out), work any better than they have in the past? How will the threat of military action work against a man who claims that he can defeat the world's most powerful military?
It is one thing to be against war, but when one of the top Democrats in the country cannot even provide reasonable and articulated alternatives, it is no wonder that many Americans simply do not trust the Democratic Party with regards to national security.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Faking the Hate
In the wake of the alleged assault on a UVa student council candidate and the questions over whether the attack was real, Erin O'Connor chronicles some instances of faked hate crimes on college campuses here. Allegations of hate crimes take on a certain significance in our society, to the degree that we accept the charge as true on their face. Before we have even heard evidence we have already decided that someone is guilty. It is an understandable impulse given the damage these types of crimes do to society from both a material perspective as well as a psychological one. No one wants to believe that s/he will be singled out for violence because of his/her sexuality, gender, race or religion. Such actions are abhorrent to our notions of a just society. And since these crimes are so inimical to our standards of decency, we react in a strong visceral way. It is unfortunate that some people have capitalized on the goodness of others in order to advance their own political or social agenda.
Intolerance in Palestine
Andrew is all over Queers for Palestine here. I think he makes a valid point and asks a question liberal supporters of the Palestinian Authority ought to be forced to answer, especially those liberals who claim to be supporters of women's and homosexual rights. How can you support a regime that systematically denies liberties to gays, lesbians and women, and in some instances goes so far as to torture or kill such individuals.
The Saga Continues
More on Hillary here. Apparently some feminist anti-war protesters handed her some pink lingerie to represent a "pink slip". (via The Note)

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Blogger Power
After nearly everyone in blogdom, including yours truly, criticized the House GOP tax relief bill for soldiers, it appears to have been pulled. I just wonder what on earth will happen now that non-Americans who bet on horse races won't get their tax break?
No Comment
Yes, I watched the President's news conference. No, I am not going to blog about it. That is, other than to say I thought he did okay- not good, not bad.
Blowing the Homeland
Excellent piece in this week's TNR by Jonathan Chait, which unfortunately is only available to subscribers. Basically, it chronicles the Bush administration's refusal to spend more on upgrading homeland security.
"Through passivity or, more often, active opposition, President Bush has repeatedly stifled efforts to strengthen domestic safeguards against further terrorist attacks. As a consequence, homeland security remains perilously deficient. 'President Bush vetoed several specific (and relatively cost-effective) measures proposed by Congress that would have addressed critical national vulnerabilities. As a result, the country remains more vulnerable than it should be today,' concluded a report published last month by the Brookings Institution. A December 2002 report sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations concurs: 'America remains dangerously unprepared to prevent and respond to a catastrophic terrorist attack on U.S. soil'."
As noted by Chait, the media seems to be giving the President a free pass on this issue, which is more than unfortunate. If our ports, chemical plants or nuclear power facilities are not adequately protected we will have one person to blame- President Bush.
Putting Tackle Boxes before Soldiers?
More stupidity from the GOP. Really, the G must stand for Greedy, not Grand anymore. Kos has this story about how the MORONS who run the House have put special interests ahead of helping our soldiers. Basically, the Ways and Means Chair opened up the tax bill for special interest provisions and GOP members jumped at the bit, some items make sense, some clearly do not. In addition, the House version caps the travel deduction for reservists while the Senate version does not.
NOTE to House Republicans--- GET A CLUE, you idiots!
Three Strikes
Once again, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has been overturned by the Supremes. This time it was in holding that California's Three Strikes law is not violative of the 8th Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. While I think that three strikes is incredibly bad public policy, I think the Court got it correct. All too often those who disagree with a policy claim that it is in conflict with the Constitution. People fail to remember that there is nothing unconstitutional about bad public policy!
Dept. of Personal Info
Recent events in the super fun process of law school applications- got accepted to Indiana University, rejected by University of Chicago and became an alternate for a full fellowship to Washington University.
Still waiting for the other 7 schools to decide. Looks like it could be middle of April or later when I finally hear from Penn, Northwestern and Michigan.
How Patriotic?
Didn't lose enough of your freedom with Patriot Act I? Well, we've got you covered with Patriot Act II, aka Watching the Bill of Rights Burn. If you care about civil liberties, and I hope you all do, these links should help you understand just what is at risk. Be sure to contact your Senators and Congressmen and let them know that you won't stand for this power grab!
ACLU analysis
Center for Public Integrity
Don't Know Much About History
Apparently, Patty Murray isn't the only moron in Congress. Go read this nonsense spewed by Congresswoman Kaptur and Glenn's comments about it here. My thoughts exactly!
Sista Souljah?
The CW about taking on the "Reverend" Al Sharpton continues to grow, with lefty Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank now calling for someone to step up to the plate- "His own record really is just shocking," said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who is supporting fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry for president. "Al Sharpton bragged about not paying taxes. If this came out about any other candidate for president, that would be the end of the candidacy." (AP wire story) Frank has a VERY legitimate point, but given the "Reverend's" ability and willingness to play the race card one can only imagine what would befall the Democratic contender who takes him on. TNR makes the case that it is Kerry who HAS to do it.

In my opinion, it is in the best interests of the Party for at least one candidate to call Sharpton out. The man is a disgrace to the Party, and beyond that he has ZERO qualifications to run for President. He has NEVER held elective office and his fame is derived from being a racial agitator, often times for fictitious causes. But beyond just taking on Sharpton in the immediate sense, it would also signal a willingness of the Party to move beyond racial politics, to some degree. All too often minority politicians resort to the race card to neutralize opposition.

It has come to a point where in some instances one cannot openly criticize a minority politician without being labelled a racist. One can look back to the tenure of DC Mayor Marion Barry and remember how his critics, and the law enforcement officials who caught him on tape, were called racist. Recently in NY, Roger Green, the leader of the Black and Hispanic Caucus, has been alleged to have improperly accepted rides to Albany and other favors from a contractor, in potential violation of the law. Members of the Caucus rallied around their leader and Green himself labelled the allegations "an attack on all of us." (see here) It's obvious that the "all of us" to which he refers are black legislators, as if somehow exposing his potential wrongdoing is a racist act.

It is unfortunate that some black politicians chose to hide behind their race in a sleazy attempt to immunize themselves from criticism. The rules of conduct that we expect our leaders to follow do not, and should not, be different based on race. For there to be a lower standard for black or other minority politicians would be tantamount to admitting that they cannot meet higher standards. Now, isn't that racism?

Bull Moose
Great piece in this week's Fortune magazine. Looks like Senator McCain is making some people in the business world uncomfortable. McCain is now the Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, which he likens to being a mosquito in a nudist colony. The good news for average Americans is that unlike many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, McCain does not cater to a select few interests. He is against too much media consolidation, for expensing of stock options, and wants to investigate corporate corruption.
Preventing media consolidation is crucial to a robust market of ideas, one of the underpinnings of a vibrant democracy. Stamping out corporate corruption and expensing stock options could have the benefit of saving capitalism from itself. Hopefully McCain will succeed.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Attacking from the Right?Just to add a bit more confusion to the Democratic presidential sweepstakes, John Kerry has an op-ed in today's Boston Globe noting the holes in the Moscow Treaty and calling for a return to Reagan's "trust, but verify" policy.
For those of you keeping score at home, that makes three Dem candidates staking out positions to the Right of the President on national security issues- Lieberman, Kerry and Graham. It is interesting to note that all three have more foreign policy expertise than the President and also far more than their Dem peers running to the Left of the President (Dean, Sharpton, Braun, Kucinich, and Edwards). And, from what I can tell so far Gephardt is in about the same place as the Prez.
All Hillary, All the Time
More on my state's "junior Senator" today in WaPo. God, I hate to say it, but I think I am becoming a fan. Even if you do not like the former First Lady, you have to admire her brilliance and abilities.
Given the focus on his anti-war stance, Howard Dean has been given a free pass from the media on other issues. One of these issues is near and dear to the same liberals who eat up his anti-war stance- guns. Governor Dean says he supports the existing laws and closing the gun show loophole see here , but he also says that it is the states who should ultimately decide this issue. In other words, if Georgia wants to continue its permissive gun laws that provide the guns used on the streets of NYC, that would be fine with the Guv.
The other area on which Dean has been given a free ride is on universal health insurance. He has not been challenged as to how he would make it work nor how he would pay for it. Dean prides himself on balancing budgets, yet universal health would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Just where would the good doctor come up with that sort of money in these tight fiscal times?
Dean likes to be the outsider, speaking truth to power, candidate, but the more I see of him the more he looks like any other politician making big promises that can never been fulfilled. Someone should remind the doctor that leadership is more than making promises and telling people what they want to hear. The tune he is playing right now is harmonious to Democratic primary voters, but will he change that tune once primary season is over?

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Straight Talk
According to John McCain, "The Democrats should reject Sharpton." If only one of the eight Dems running for Prez would get the same clue. McCain also said that "Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell on the right."
(via WaPo)
More, more, more
Another good bio piece on Senator Graham in today's New York Times. My only concern with Graham is with regards to Iraq policy. He is skeptical about the chances of creating a democracy in the region. I myself don't think that it will be easy or quick, but that we should not resign ourselves to tyranny and oppression in the Middle East simply because it will be difficult to change. As I have noted before, I am a liberal interventionist.

The current situation has me a bit flummoxed in that many liberals are rabidly anti-war, which has a result of supporting (or enabling) a ruthless dictator whose values are more than illiberal. They end up in a position where they are siding with those who deny basic liberties and freedoms to their people. In countries like Iraq, gays are stoned to death, women are raped and killed for going out without a male relative, journalists are sent to rot in prison for questioning the regime, etc. Is this really what liberals should be standing for?

There is every reason for a good liberal to support regime change in Iraq. However, many liberals are afraid to exercise power as they believe power to be always imperial. To these people power can only be used for ends that have no material self interest in order to avoid imperialism. How unfortunate that liberals have squandered the legacy of freedom promotion bequeathed to them by Wilson, FDR and JFK.

Monday, March 03, 2003

P2004 update
Still no website for the nascent Graham for President campaign. Hurry up, Bob!
Reports out of NY are that Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver will endorse Joe Lieberman for President soon. Silver says that the other candidates are "appealing to the Left."
Sharpton, Moseley Braun, and Kucinich still have no chance of winning the nomination.
Dean could win the nomination, but would get clobbered in the general.
According the Boston Globe Kerry is continuing his flip-flopping ways. This time it's on gun control as reported in a Vogue profile this month.
Edwards may lose steam with the entrance of Graham as a more credible Southern candidate.
Gephardt is still tough to gauge.
True Colors
Ok.. I'll admit that I have never been a big fan of Hillary. I always suspected she was not really a New Dem, but that she played along in order to appear moderate and get votes. But this story from the NY Post claims that Hil is a hawk. I realize that she voted for the Iraq resolution last fall, but she was very low key afterwards. I recall that she took some heat when campaigning for some of NY's Congressional delegation last fall, though.

Now I am wondering if I had been wrong to question her. She gets her DC residence picketed by lefty welfare advocates and is in favor of the President's Iraq policy. Maybe she's not so bad after all.
Stifling Dissent
The always excellent Erin O'Connor has a good piece today about the increasing incidents of student newspapers being stolen and trashed (literally). Go read the whole thing. It left me wondering just what is wrong with college kids. And, what they will do when they enter the "real world" and find out that newspapers might give voice to opinions that contradict theirs. Will they steal the daily papers from their neighbors doorsteps?

This is just another sad chapter in the rise of illiberalism in higher education. And unfortunately, administrators and professors miss these teachable moments and instead cave into their consumerist students.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Allow myself to introduce.. myself
Hopefully you got the Austin Powers reference there. Well, the last time I attempted a brief sketch of myself, Blogger ate up the post. So hopefully this one will go better.

I am 32 years old and currently reside in Albany (upstate) NY. I came here for graduate school, but ended up ditching the Ph.D. program in favor of a master's and a job. My last position was legislative budget analyst for the NYS Assembly Ways and Means Committee. I have a BA in political science with a minor in economics. My master's is in educational policy analysis, where my areas of interest are teacher policy, school reform and the economics of education.

I attended law school very briefly back when I was 23 and will return this fall. After dropping out of law school I went to work with children for a few years. I worked in a short term hospital diversion program for suicidal children ages 4-12; with poor inner city kids; and, as an inclusion assistant in a public school. I returned to school at the age of 28 to pursue a graduate degree.

In my earlier life I held two elected and one appointed municipal offices in Bourne, MA (it's on Cape Cod) where I grew up. I have consulted to several campaigns ranging from state legislative to state-wide races. But the vast majority of that occured before I'd even turned 23.

My own political beliefs are somewhat idiosyncratic. I have gone from being a conservative Republican to a liberal to a libertarian to what I would now say is New Democrat. It is my views on domestic policy that are probably the most difficult to pigeonhole. I support school choice, but not vouchers. I support gay marriage, but oppose hate crime laws. I believe that the Bill of Rights is ABSOLUTE. I am pro-choice, but believe that Roe v. Wade is indefensible as far as jurisprudence. I tend to view the free market as a better mechanism of distributing goods than the government.

On foreign policy, as you may have noticed, I am what you might call a liberal hawk or an interventionist. I believe that the United States has a moral responsibility to promote democracy and human rights around the globe. I abhor realpolitik and wish that it, along with Henry Kissinger, would go far, far away. I believe that all too often we define US interests in their narrowest sense- immediate security and economic- rather than taking a broad view and including the promotion of human rights as a vital interest.

My hobbies are music, books, bodybuilding and writing (obviously).
Closet Lefty?
This post from Professor Balkin (Yale Law) with regards to the Pledge has me wondering if I am really some sort of closeted Lefty. Balkin makes the point that the phrase "under God" is mere ceremonial Deism and not a pernicious violation of 1st Amendment separation of church and state. He accepts that the motivation for the addition of the phrase may have been to adopt a religious viewpoint, but that "the use of the words has become comfortable like an old shoe, and has lost its religious edge. It's purely ceremonial, and we can retain it."

I think there is a serious flaw in this line of reasoning. Balkin states that if "Congress changed the motto from the archaic "In God We Trust" to the more straightforward "We Believe in God" it might be unconstitutional, because the new motto would no longer be hallowed by long usage and it would appear to be a more direct endorsement of a religious viewpoint." Yet by his own reasoning if this issue was not litigated until such time that it had lost its religious meaning, it would no longer be unconstitutional and could be left intact. Are we to believe that the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights are not entirely proscriptive of such abuses? That if for some reason they are not immmediately subject to judicial scrutiny that they somehow mature into constitutionality. By that logic the government would be free to circumscribe any of our freedoms so long as the people do not challenge their legitimacy until after some point at which these violations have come to be accepted.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

My Thoughts Exactly
"But the virtue of justice is not the disposition to decide cases in a way that advances my political ideology (or yours). The virtue of justice is the dispositon to decide cases in accord with the law."
--- Lawrence Solum writing about the judicial nomination process.
Little Green Footballs has the story about how girls are treated in the North African Muslim neighborhoods of France. It is truly scary just how much influence radical Wahhabi clerics have over large swaths of Muslims. It is especially saddening given the Muslim world's past. While Europe was in the Dark Ages, the Muslim world was developing high level mathematics and giving women the right to own property. It would be hundreds of years later before women enjoyed such a right in the Western world. However, a small cadre of radical clerics has hijacked Islam and reverted back to their own Dark Ages where women are subjugated to men and its adherents turn their backs on modernity. It has resulted in deplorable conditions in terms of economic development and human rights. This strand of Islam demands absolute subservience and does not permit any form of questioning or dialogue. Those who dare question end up in a shallow grave. How sad that such a great religion has been turned into such a human catastrophe.