I Don't Know Why I Bother

Is there any point at all in reading the NY Times' OpEd page?

Is there the remotest reason to imagine that Maureen Down will write something worthwhile, let alone coherent? Today's column isn't even political; it's a whine about how much attention Washington is paying to a recent lungfish infestation (a couple of Post stories and mentions on the 5 PM local news apparently count as obsession to Ms. Dowd). Of course, she then goes on to write the remainder of her column about the fish, ridiculing everyone she writes about.

Is there the slightest possibility that Paul Krugman will write something other than a flat-out hit piece on the President? By my count, 17 of his last 18 columns have been precisely that, including today's.

We know. Bush is evil. Corporations are evil. Energy companies are doubly evil.

How about: Krugman is simpleminded, petty, and obsessed. That makes sense to me.
The ICC Reaches Out Its Hand

With the establishment of the ICC, who knows how far the new court will try to stretch its authority?

The blog Cold Fury has given it some thought, in this posting, which you just must read.
We're Doomed!

So says the Guardian.

They quote studies by the World Wildlife Fund, as well as Greenpeace activists, to come to the conclusion that:

the human race is plundering the planet at a pace that outstrips its capacity to support life.

In a damning condemnation of Western society's high consumption levels, it adds that the extra planets (the equivalent size of Earth) will be required by the year 2050 as existing resources are exhausted.

This sounds very similar to the predictions of folks like Paul Erlich - who in the early 70's claimed that by the mid 1980's, there were going to be mass die-offs of the human race, with Biblical-style famines and wars fought over the last few sources of fresh water.

This, clearly, has not happened.

Of course, this is really just a cover for massive redistribution of wealth:

Matthew Spencer, a spokesman for Greenpeace, said: 'There will have to be concessions from the richer nations to the poorer ones or there will be fireworks.'

The goal of these people is not to "save" the environment; it is to limit and control human development. They know best; they will set limits for the rest of us. We are the unwashed masses who cannot make proper decisions, and whose greed and sloth doom the "ecologically correct" remainder of humanity.

That's garbage, but unfortunately it's garbage that a lot of people will listen to. Which is why President Bush is right to oppose treaties and conventions that will damage - if not wreck - the U.S. economy and leach away our sovreignity, in service to the extremist agenda of the Green left.
In Memorium

We lost two people who exemplified the absolute hieght of excellence at their chosen professions this week.

First, there was Red Sox great (and Marine fighter pilot in both World War II and the Korean War) Ted Williams, arguably the best hitter ever to play the game of baseball.

Second, just today, director John Frankenheimer, responsible for such classics as "The Manchurian Candidate", "Seven Days in May", and more recently "Ronin" (since it's rude to speak ill of the dead, we won't discuss his update of "The Island of Doctor Moreau").

The world will be a poorer place for their absence.
More From the Post

Two more notes from today's Washington Post:

First, a very pleasant story, about the growing trend of foreign parents sending their kids to American summer camps.

There's not much to analyze here, it's just nice to see some positive and happy news of any kind. The article describes the experiences of some of these internaitonal campers (this year, the largest contingent is coming from France). Everyone interviewed or quoted has pretty much nothing but good to say; the language barriers are generally overcome without too much trouble, and there isn't any strife:

"It gives you a perspective," suggested Kristin McWhirter, a 14-year-old from Alexandria, "that everyone is not the same but that they can get along with us."

With one exception:

in 36 years, country-to-country conflicts have not occurred at the camp, (Camp Friendship director Diane) Tyrell said. With one exception: "Only on the soccer field."

The other note from today's Post is actually from tomorrow's newspaper - the advertising sections, the Sunday Magazine and the comics for the Sunday paper are delivered on Saturday morning. I have to note the Sunday "Doonesbury", by Garry Trudeau. In that comic, Trudeau takes a shot at former Vice President Dan Qualye, bringing up Quayle's criticism of the TV show "Murphy Brown" back in 1992.

I'm not knocking Trudeau for making fun of a Republican, or a conservative, or for being a jerk in general (which I think he is, but that's another story). And I'm not defending Qualye.

It's just...the last time he was a relevant public figure was ten years ago, and it's not like was especially relevant then, either.

Yes, he thought about running for President in 2000 for a couple of minutes, and he does occasionally wander into the studios at Fox News, where - out of pity, I guess - they allow him on the air for a segment or two.

But...attacking Quayle in 2002...why? It's so...pointless. And unnecessary. And overkill; it's sort of like killing flies with a sledgehammer. Even if the fly deserves it, it's just...not done.
Still More Euro-Whining

this bit of editorial commentary from "legendary foreign correspondant John Pilger" in the Mirror was actually published on July 4th, but I didn't have the heart to take it apart as it merited.

Fortunately, someone else (Charles Austin at Sine Qua Non Pundit) has done it for me.

Jeff Durkin also comments on ot more briefly; I'll quote him here:

First, this editorial shows a lack of knowledge about events in Afghanistan. Keep that in mind as you read this. For example, at one point the author asserts that there are no US ground troops involved in operations in Afghanistan, even though later he mentions US troops in ground operations. The article is full of accusations of genocidal attacks and sinister motives for US policies. However, it is interesting as it provides a look into the mindset of the European opposition to America. And make no mistake, it is not just a policy disagreement; they do not like America. We, our values, our way of life, all are seen by the Euro-Left and those who wish to regain Europe's position of global primacy as threats.

Can't really argue with that. The editorial is filled with inaccuracies, outright lies, and paranoid conspiracy rants. What'[s scary is that there are folks - way too many of them - who take it at face value.
None Dare Call it Terrorism

The FBI still won't refer to the July 4th LAX shooting as a terrorist act.

This despite it becoming increasingly clear that the shooter came to the airport heavily armed and specifically tried to kill Jews.

His neighbors report that a "Read Koran" sticker, which had been removed from the shooter's front door shortly after 9/11, was put up again on the morning of July 4th.

And, although an FBI spokesman said:

"So far we have no indication of any type of prejudice against any particular organization or nationality.

A former employee of the shooter:

...told reporters today that his boss often expressed hatred for Israel and felt the United States was biased against Arabs.

But of course that's not terrorism. Can't be. Politicall motivated killings of a specific group of people...nah, can't be.
Blah, Blah

Yet another NY Times columnist doesn't like the President's stance on corporate misdeeds.

Boy, that's a surprise, when Frank Rich (whose qualifications for serious policy analysis are that he used to be a petty, mean-spirited theater critic) attacks Bush.

First he hits Bush for talking a lot about the recent corporate scandals; of course, had Bush not said a word, he'd be attacked for that as well.

Then he assumes that with a single phone call to a single Congressional committee char, he can get a perfect reform bill passed. SUre, Frank. Because we know that Congressional Republicans (let alone Senate Democrats) are in perfect lockstep with the President and wantnothing more than to do his bidding at every turn.

Whatever, Frank. We know, everyone in your office thinks Bush is the anti-Christ, and you all long for the resolute, decisive and ethical days of the Clinton administration. Blah, blah.


Our Strategic Partners

The wonderful human beings who run the People's Republic of China faced a dire threat to their country this week, but they managed to hold the line and defend their nation against the BBC.

What was this terrible threat posed by the BBC?

A report about Falun Gong protesters in Hong Kong.

The response of the fine gentleman in charge of the PRC? Taking the BBC off the air throughout the country.

Because, obviously, the idea that anyone, anywhere is less than utterly thrilled with the current government, its policies, or anything else about the Middle Kingdom is just unthinkable; it's evil Western propaganda. It has to be. Doesn't it?

A Deafening Silence

Just in case any regular readers were wondering, blogger.com's server is down, so there haven't been any new posts here since this AM - they are written, but waiting to go up live.

By the time you read this, of course, the problem will be resolved.

We apologize for the inconvenience.
MIBs, MIBs Everywhere

Saw "Men in Black II" tonight. The reviews are generally right on; it's amusing enough, but there isn't really much there. It's only 82 minutes long, and feels even shorter, if that's possible.

It's not horrible, in a Schumacher's "Batman and Robin" what-were-they-thinking? kind of way, just more of a general "blah".

Too bad; lots of talent and money were spent to produce a film that is totally forgettable.

(on the plus side, we did see the trailer for "The Two Towers", which should be amazing, so that's something to look forward to).
Red Mars

It's good to see that there's someone interested in sending humans to Mars, besides Bob Zubrin and his disciples.

It's the Russians. Their space agency has proposed a 440 day, six man international mission to the Red Planet.

I'd personally rather see the U.S. do it by ourselves, but since that seems unlikely to happen, this could be the next best thing.
Correcting Myself

I may have spoken too soon in dismissing the LAX shooting yesterday as "almost certainly an isolated incident with no terror connection."

It seems the gunman was an Egyptian citizen (who'd been living in the U.S. since 1992), who apparently had two driver's licenses (presumably illegal all by itself), and who was armed with two handguns and a knife.

According to the story:

One eyewitness said the gunman, who appeared calm, seemed to deliberately target Israelis when he opened fire in an area where passengers were waiting to check in for El Al flight 106, which was headed for Tel Aviv, via Toronto.

No one in authority here is willing to call it terrorism, but the Israelis, who aren't afflicted with the political correctness that pervades the FBI, did not hesitate to do so.

At least an FBI spokesman admitted that it could be a "hate crime", which, although I think that's an idiotic and counterproductive concept, is at least a baby step forward for the FBI.

One wonders if they'd be so hesitant to lay blame - or if the media would be as tentative about it - if it had been a homegrown American; say, a neo-Nazi fresh from a compound in Montana or Idaho who had been the shooter. I suspect there wouldn't have been a moment's delay in labelling it a terrorist act .

Or: what the press reaction would have been had an Israeli national shot up an Egypt Air ticket counter and passenger queue?

Just something to think about.
Clear Thoughts

Check out this piece by Victor Davis Hanson in Commentary Magazine, pointed out by Jeff Durkin.

Hanson clearly and accurately summarizes the state of life in Saudi Arabia, our relationship with that nation, and what can/should be done from here rgarding the Saudis.

He has, unsurprisingly, nothing good to say about the ruling House of Saud or its policies, and he advocated policies that would see them, eventually, removed from power. He addresses one of the arguments made against this; that however bad the Saudi royal family may be, they're preferable to direct control of the country by some Wahabbi cleric:

Even should fundamental changes go wrong in Saudi Arabia, the worst that could happen would not be much worse than what we have now—thousands of our citizens dead, a crater in New York, millions put out of work, Israelis blown up weekly, and a half-billion people in the Arab world unfree, hungry, illiterate, and informed by the perpetrators of evil that America and Israel are at fault. As a student said to me shortly after September 11, “What are we afraid of? Are they going to blow up the World Trade Center with thousands in it?”

Hanson lays out the reasons we've tolerated the state of affairs in Saudi Arabia and the actions of their government, and he doesn't gloss over the cozy relationship between U.S. military and political leaders and the royal family; that will be a difficult hurdle to overcome in any effort to oust the House of Saud and bring about positive changes for the people of that country.

About the only thing I disagree with in the piece is Hanson's optimism regarding our actions to date in Afghanistan:

a reconstituted Afghanistan eliminated the satanic Taliban and turned the region’s worst regime into a government with real potential

Given the history of that unfortunate country, it's far too soon to say even that much about it. It's entirely possible that the Karzai government won't last six months (nor Karzai personally, for that matter), and that the various warlords will re-descend into civil war. I hope not, obviously, but I don't think I'd be willing to bet too heavily against it.

Other than that, I agree pretty much all the way through with Hanson.
The Terrorists Didn't Win

July 4th came and went, and no terrorist attack, no video message from Osama bin Laden, nothing except the incident at LAX, which was, according to current info, almost certainly an isolated incident with no terror connection.

And here in Washington, the terrorists didn't win either, as people crowded onto the National Mall for the annual concert and fireworks display.

No, yesterday's winners were the bottled water sellers and the sunscreen (and deodorant!) manufacturers, as far as the several hundred thousand people who journeyed to the mall can no doubt attest (at least, those who didn't drop from heatstroke).

Back to the terrorists, it's still possible they've got big plans, and something awful will happen today, or tomorrow, or next week, or...

But maybe they aren't quite as terrible a threat as we fear. Maybe 9/11 was the best/worst they could do, and they're broken and scattered now. Maybe wishful thinking, maybe not.

Consider: if there were a major plot yesterday that was foiled, we might never hear of it, as that would compromise security and sources and so forth. It's possible (not necessarily likely, but possible) that yesterday a major battle - or even more than one - was fought, and won, against terrorists, and thousands of Americans were saved from a scheme intended to blow them up, gas them, or something else equally horrible. And, as with other intelligence successes, we won't hear about it for months, or years to come.

I suppose time will tell.

Journalists and Citizens

Interesting column in the Times today from journalist Peter Maass.

He discusses his experience, and that of other journalists, who have been subpoeaned by the War Crimes tribunal at The Hague.

He argues against journalists being forced to testify, or being intimidated to do so, because:

testifying at a war crimes tribunal could imperil a journalist's safety or make it difficult to uncover future misdeeds

That's true. But there's an equal truth, which is tha journalists are also human beings and citizens. And to the extent that the tribunal has the power to subpoena and compel testimony from ordinary citizens, journalists should not have any special immunity to such compulsion.

After all, the same testimony that could leave a journalist at risk, would undoubtedly leave the ordinary citizen at equal - if not greater - risk, would it not?

This is not idle press bashing; journalists serve an important function and some do risk life and limb to cover horrendous goings-on in places no sane person would voluntarily visit. Some protection is certainly in order, if for no other reason than to encourage people to do this sort of work.

But that doesn't resolve the issue that they're still citizens, and have as much obligation as any other citizen to testify; and as human beings, they certainly have as much moral obligation as anyone else to help bring criminals to justice.

One thing Maass doesn't discuss is how the ICC will figure into this. Will it have power to subopena journalists and compel testimony? If it does, we may just see a little less cheerleading from the Fourth Estate for the Court as time goes by. Which would, obviously, be a Good Thing.
Old MacDonald Had a Farm

...and thanks to the recently passed Farm Bill, he got paid not to grow crops, E-I-E-I-O.

Nick Kristof writes in today's Times about the awful Farm Bill, and the high cost that American (and European and Japanese) farm subsidies inflict both on their own taxpayers, and on poor farmers in Africa - for whom the subsidies mean they can't "export their way out of poverty", as World Bank President James Wolfhenson puts it.

I don't like the Farm Bill, and I do partially agree with Kristof. But. it is not our obligation to change our economic policies so that fols in other countries will benefit. If our policies can be both beneficial to us and to other countries, that's great - win-win situations are good. But in U.S. government policy decisions, U.S. citizens must come first.

In this case, the subsidies benefit a tiny minority of citizens, while costing all taxpayers, and in any case they're economically stupid, so they ought to be radically altered - which, presumably, would benefit the African farmers as well, which is a nice side benefit but, again, not the point of the exercise.

Tangentially, Kristof mentions that his family (and himself personally) receive a small subsidy thanks to their sheep farm out west. He himself receives $588 per year; which Kristof thinks is stupid.

I agree; but here's a point that always bugs me when people who benefit from a policy they don't like complain about it: he doesn't mention giving back the money, or donating it to charity, or anything else. Maybe he does anyway, but we don't know that.

My point being, farm subsidies may not change tomorrow, but he doesn't have to cash his check, if he thinks they're so wrong.

Just as, say, Ted Kennedy can volunteer to pay even more taxes than the law currently compels him to, if he feels tax rates on the rich aren't sufficiently high - no one prevents this from happening. Or the wealthy people who oppose the estate tax repeal, such as Bill Gates. If Bill wants to see taxes paid on his estate when he goes to his final reward (I leave it to the reader, if you believe in such things, to decide whether he's going up or down on Judgement Day), he can structure his will that way, regardless of what the law says. He can give the government 50%; heck, he can give the government all of it.

I'll bet, however, that if the tax remains repealed, he won't do that, nor will the others who decry the repeal efforts.


Monkey Boy No More!

The President has been doing much better the past few days (ginned-up pseudo scandals to the contrary), and it's time, at least for the moment, to give him back his name. Here in the Empire we will again refer to him as President Bush, rather than President Monkey Boy.

The reason? Mostly his performance with the ICC issue; and approval for this, a story which will run in tomorrow's Times.

It discusses plans for an attack on Iraq; apparently the plans are in an advanced state, ideally presaging an attack in the not very distant future.

Our good feelings towards the President are still provisional, of course; he needs to keep up the good work to keep his name. Here's hoping he will...
What He Said

I pass this along with further comment, because I agree more or less completely with it (well, except for the orange juice choice; plain old Tropicana juice, not from concentrate, is the only kind that's really necessary):

James Lilkes' Blog.

The blogosphere is a wonderful thing, as previouly noted.
Round and Round

The web, and particularly the blogosphere, is a wonderful thing. It's all references and cross-references, and everyone knows everyone, or at least they end up knowing everyone very quickly.

In that spirit, I just wanted to mention a couple of places that have been kind enough to mention the Empire in the past few days:

Grouchy Old Cripple, Denny Wilson's blog. He has some nice things to say about me this AM, and I completely reciprocate; his site is well worth checking out.

The Edge of England's Sword, Iain Murray's site. He also mentioned me the other day (and knew what the name "Eleven Day Empire" actually referes to!). He's got lots of great things to read as well.

The Color of Theives, Wesley Dabney's very cool blog. As far as I know, he's the second person to put a permanant link to me on his site (Jeff Durkin being the first - thanks to Jeff as well!).

Instapundit, also known as Glenn Reynolds, one of the leaders in the entire blogosphere, who's probably responsible for 95% of the traffic that's come here the past few days (and hopefully keeps coming back!).

And finally, there's a mention (along with quotes, even!) from Postwatch, a blog that keeps watch on the Washington Post.

And there's a couple of pages I've been referring to recently:

Moira Breen's Inappropriate Response, which had some great writing on the school voucher decision the other day, and pointed me to the Times UK article posted here this AM.

Right Wing News, which is pretty self-explanatory.

And the Midwest Conservative Journal, which pointed me to a couple of great articles yesterday.
Quick Notes From the Post

Marc Fisher, regular columnist in the Post's Metro section, writes today about fear and security, and how we've turned the National Mall into something approaching a fortress. I can't disagree, really.

He also writes, in passing:

In the courts, where we should show the world how a democracy treats those who would do it harm, we watch as the Justice Department argues for secret tribunals, closed hearings, preventive detention.

The problem with this, of course, is that the courts is not where we should show the world how a democracy treats those who would do it harm.

The place to show that is on the battlefield; as we did in World War II. The Empire of Japan would - and did - do us harm. And their treatment was most certainly in the courts.

It took place on tiny islands, and in vast expanses of sea, and finally in the cities of, and the skies above Japan itself. The Japanese military was comprehensively annihilated, as was the capability to supply or maintain it (by the methodical, systematic destruction of its cities by massed bomber attacks). It ended with the atomic bombings of hiroshima and Nagasaki.

And the epilogue was a decade of occupation and a new Constitution, written to our specifications.

Somehow, I don't think that's what Fisher meant; but it is nonetheless the correct answer, and what we should be doing to those - like Iraq, and Iran, and Syria, and Saudi Arabia - who would today do us harm, and/or protect and supply and support the terrorists who also wish us harm.

Elsewhere in the Post, on the OpEd page, Mary McGrory is whining about John Ashcroft, again; and about the President's speech and policy towards Israel, again; and about his wish to remove Saddam Hussein, again. Maybe she's got a macro set up on her word processor so she she can save a few minutes' typing time, whenever she feels the urge to bleat about the Attorney General, or our policy towards Iraq. All she has to do is hit CTRL-J, and up pops a boilerplate paragraph of "Ashcroft is evil" rhetoric. It certainly seems that way.
Through a Glass Darkly

The view of America from Europe is not always rosy, a point which is discussed and expertly dissected by Moira Breen on her Blog Inappropriate Response.

My take on this particular European's view of our country:

Today America marks its first Independence Day since September 11. Americans will celebrate their new-found sense of national unity and purpose. Yet beneath the patriotic pride, there will be a sense of unease and foreboding – and not just about the risk of another terrorist attack, or the slump on Wall Street, or the chances of another Enron or WorldCom.

To judge from my recent visits there, many Americans will be asking themselves why the world seems to dislike their country. The easiest way to answer this question is simply to point out how much the world loves America — how many people want to live there, to buy American goods, to watch American films and so on. But this doesn’t deal with the problem of anti-Americanism, which has always been in essence a love-hate relationship.

Keep that "always been" bit in mind, since he's going to trash his own argument in just a couple of paragraphs.

How, then, can one account for the world’s love-hate relationship with America? Obviously there are economic forces — envy and admiration — tugging in opposite directions. There are also genuine differences in the perception of national interest. American politicians and the vast majority of voters seem to believe that they must support the Israeli Government, come hell or high water, regardless of how irresponsibly it behaves. The rest of the world takes a very different view.

Well, yes. The Israeli government doesn't want its citizens murdered, having seen quite enough of watching Jews murdered by anti-Semetic enemies for, oh, about the last 2,500 years. Americans, generally, understand and agree with this. The "rest of the world" (meaning: Europe and the Arabs), don't, but then, since they've been for the most part the ones doing the murdering for those 2,500 years, it's understandable that they don't care about Israeli deaths. Old habits die hard, and all that.

Besides that, though, American support of Israel is only 35 years old, give or take; but the love/hate relationship has "always been" there. So it isn't just that, obviously. What else could it be? Let's see if he tells us...

But there is another less familiar explanation for the love-hate relationship with America, especially in Europe. And it is becoming more relevant by the day, as the gulf between the United States and Europe keeps widening. The European (and in this I include the British) attitude to America may be less contradictory than it seems. It is possible to admire America and simultaneously to hate it, without any contradiction. For America is now split so deeply and irreconcilably over almost every key issue of politics, lifestyle and culture that it is sometimes better to think of it as two distinct nations, rather than one.

Well, entirely aside from demographic differences, the U.S. has much larger geographic and regional economic distinctions than any single nation in Europe. Pick any single European nation and it's (relatively) homogenous in a lot of ways (and to the extent that any of them aren't, their divisions are far more stark - and far more violent - than anything in the U.S. You'll remember the ongoing unpleasantness in Ireland, or among the Basques; or of course the ongoing strife in the former Yugoslavia).

Back to America, culturally, an argument could be made that we're a lot more than two distinct nations in some ways.

But so what? Show me any other nation of our size that this isn't true of? China? India? the former Soviet Union? They all have (or had) distinct "sub-nations" far more at odds than America.

The America that is feared, distrusted and increasingly disliked in the rest of the world, and especially in Europe, is the conservative country that constitutes George Bush’s political heartland in Texas and the South — the America of self-righteous Christian fundamentalists, of military machismo, of gun shops, lethal injections, anti-abortion zealots and gas-guzzling pickup trucks spewing out greenhouse gases. The America that Europeans find fascinating and beguiling, albeit a bit frightening because of its shifting moral compass, is the liberal US of Bill Clinton, centred on Hollywood, Manhattan and Silicon Valley.

The "liberal US of Bill Clinton". Of course. It comes back to that.

Except that this is bullshit. How much whining have we heard from Europe about our cutthroat, socially Darwinist, winner take all free market fixation that leads to unconscionable wealth gaps? Where does that originate from? Um...maybe Wall Street?

And what about American "cultural Imperialism", trying to turn every culture into one just like us, showing our films and TV shows and products and vaules where they're not wanted? Um...maybe Hollywood?

Europeans don't like those aspects of America any more than the rest. They sure as hell don't love them. To the extent that your standard Upper West Side liberal sucks up to his or her betters in Paris and London (and Clinton did that more than anybody), sure, they approve of that, but that's as far as it goes.

Despite the appearance of unity after September 11, the gulf between the two Americas has never been deeper than it is today. This is shown by opinion polls on many divisive social issues, the almost unprecedented partisan discipline in Washington and the nervousness in the White House about November’s congressional elections, which could well turn Mr Bush, for all his apparent popularity, into a lame duck.

"Unprecedented partisan discipline"? Coming from a Brit, with their Parlimentary system which can see an entire government fall if a single party-line vote is lost, that's a laugh.

It's not true in any case; there's always been fairly strict party discipline, if that's the right word, in America; at least for the past 75 years (my knowledge of electoral politics in any sort of detail gets hazy past that).

And a President nervous about mid-derm Congressional elections is hardly a new thing; bush is no more nervous about then than was Clinton, or his father, or Reagan, or...well, any President, really.

This is just historically ignorant; I don't expect a columnist for a British paper to be an expert on our electoral history, but if he's going to bring it up...

The origins of the great political divide seem to go back to the unresolved battles over culture and lifestyles that have obsessed Americans since the 1960s. William Schneider, a political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, described this dichotomy in a brilliant article, “Politics Remains Stalemated”, for the Los Angeles Times: “Europeans are often perplexed by the failure of Americans to get over the Sixties. After all, they too, were convulsed by great cultural changes during that decade. But only the US experienced a ferocious backlash against those changes, partly based on America’s religious culture.”

Um...it goes back further than that...try the 1860's. We did have a little thing called the "Civil War" (it's probably in some history book somewhere, in case you want to look it up).

We also, as noted above, have a much more diverse population; there isn't any Western European nation with the sort of ethnic, religious and economic differences that exist in the U.S. (and again, to the extent that they do, there's been more than a "ferocious backlash", there's been outright warfare, so maybe they ought to shut the hell up about our divisions until they can learn how to resolve their own divisions without resorting to open bloodshed).

Bill Clinton was the first President to represent and embrace the counter-culture of the 1960s. That is why he was so deeply hated by the many Americans for whom this convulsive decade symbolised the start of a near-fatal national decadence, which Ronald Reagan managed to arrest in the nick of time. As Mr Schneider notes: “Conservatives never accepted Clinton as legitimate. To them, Clinton was the draft-dodger, the war protester, the womaniser, the truth-shader, the gun-hater, the gay-protector, the non-inhaling drug fiend.”

Or maybe it was the outright lying, and his dismal record as governor in Arkansas, and his horrendous policies, more than his "counter culture" origins that did the trick. Just a thought.

For these Clinton-hating Americans, George W. Bush represented a return to America’s heyday in the 1950s. Having ousted the Democrat usurpers from the White House, the one thing they needed to complete the counter-revolution was some international challenge comparable to Eisenhower’s Cold War.

"Eisenhower's Cold War"?

Oh, this is just too good. The Cold War started in 1945. It was, in fact, Eisenhower who warned against it; remember his speech about the "military-industrial complex" when he left office?

And at any rate, there was another party to that war...the U.S.S.R., led by a psychopath who ran a police state, who'd murdered at least 20 million of his own people, and whose army occupied Eastern Europe and quashed any hope of self-government by the people therein.

It's possible that they had something to do with the Cold War. Maybe?

The closeness of that election was one of the main reasons why America is becoming an even more divided country despite the unifying effect of September 11. The fact is that there is an almost perfect balance between the two opposing visions of the American dream. In terms of population, the two sides are equal, as demonstrated in the 2000 election and, despite the patriotic support for President Bush since September 11, the same split has persisted throughout this year in polling for November’s congressional contests.

Actually, it's been divided for a long time; polls show that this partisan split has been around for decades.

Thus it has been impossible for Americans to settle their ideological quarrels through the normal democratic process. Yet there is an ideological chasm between these apparently balanced sides: the big cities vote for the Democrats by a 70-30 margin and urban social attitudes are at least as liberal as they are in Europe, the suburbs and rural areas are as strongly Republican and conservative.

"Settle their ideological quarrels"? Where are ideological quarrels ever settled? In Britain, where there's still major division over the EU and the Euro? In France and elsewhere on the Continent, where the far right is gaining in popularity?

Ideological quarrels are not settled; people go right on believing; but in a democracy, we have our elections, we win or we lose, and then we go ahead and prepare for the next one, sharpening our arguments and looking for better candidates to support them. That's how a democracy works.

The only places where there are no ideological quarrels are single party states; dictatorships. There aren't any ideological quarrels in Cuba, because Castro throws you in jail if you don't like his ideology.

Slicing the country another way, the eastern and western seaboards are overwhelmingly liberal, while the interior of the US is more conservative than ever. This was why the election was so virulently adversarial, and simultaneously so inconclusive.

But the deepest and most worrying faultline across America is not connected with geography, domestic lifestyle or even social class. It is the religious split. Religion has become a crucial element in all American political battles, not only over abortion and sexual mores, but over such secular issues as taxation, foreign policy and global warming. And polling statistics show that the most important dividing lines are not between Protestants and Catholics or Christians and Jews. They are between religious Americans of all faiths and those who do not believe.

When you finally get that Ireland thing sorted out, you can come and lecture us about religious splits. OK?

While the Republican Party had long been the political bastion of white Protestants, it now attracts a clear majority of the “more observant” voters from all religions, including Orthodox Jews. In the last election, the vote among “more observant” Catholics, defined as people who say they go to church once a week or more, went 57-43 per cent for Bush. Less observant Catholics voted 41-59 the other way. Among evangelic Protestants, the more observant supported Bush by a 84-16 margin, while the less observant were more evenly split at 55-45. The minority of Americans who describe themselves as “secular” voted for Gore by 65-35 per cent.

To put it another way, 54 per cent of Bush’s voters were “more observant” Protestants or Catholics, while only 15 per cent were blacks, Hispanics or non-Christians. Gore’s support had exactly the opposite composition: 51 per cent were black, Hispanic or non-Christian, while only 20 per cent were observant Protestants or Catholics.

The issues on which observant and non-observant Americans are most divided have nothing to do with economics or foreign policy. They are abortion, the environment and gun control. Yet the intense political allegiances and animosities created by these issues now dominate mainstream politics and determine America’s stance on the worldliest of issues. Cutting taxation appeals to relatively rich Protestants. Steel tariffs appeal to observant Catholic trade unionists. Unstinting support for Israel appeals not only to orthodox Jews, but also to fundamentalist Christians.

Gasp! We have a diverse religions culture! And people with different views of spiratulity see the world differently! And vote differently!

Wow, what a revelation!

I have heard Christian preachers on American radio saying that Israel was clearly in the right because God promised the whole of Palestine to the Jews and that fulfilment of the promise might bring forward the Second Coming of Christ.

You can find anyone saying anything, if you look hard enough. As Moira's response on her blog points out, a look at the French bestseller lists will show a book claiming that 9/11 was in fact perpetrated by the U.S. government. And again, you've got that whole Le Pen/far right thing going on. What did he get, 18 percent of the vote?

Hell, in Britain right now, you've got supposedly respectable folks running an ad linking Adolf Hitler to the Euro, so maybe you shouldn't be lecturing us on strange or alarming viewpoints, you think?

Secular Europeans, whose pragmatic scepticism has been tempered in the furnaces of Hitler’s and Stalin’s dogmas, feel a certain chill when they see the poison of religious certainty seeping into the mainstream democratic politics of the world’s sole nuclear superpower. And who can blame them, when the US President had the moral certitude to make the following statement at the West Point academy last month: “The 20th century ended with a single surviving model of human progress”? Maybe, but which America did he mean?

Stalin was secular, as I recall.

If you're going to conflate the ideology of Soviet communism with a religion, then you can equate any ideology with a religion, in which case, everyone is tarred by the brush of "religious certainty".

And as for Bush's speech, well, he didn't mean America in that speech. He meant free, democratic societies with market economies; which we and Europe both have, albeit in different flavors.

He was contrasting that with authoritian, closed, undemocratic societies, like the former USSR, or Hitler's Germany, or most of the Arab states today.

But getting the facts right isn't the point, obviously.

Today We Celebrate Our Independence!

One hopes without the giant evil alien spaceships that President Bill Pullman had to fight off in "Independence Day"; but you never know, I guess.

Anyway, today is a day to celebrate, and to remember all the things that are great about our country - and our fellow citizens.

There's a lot to worry about, there are things to ctiticize - and there always will be, as long as we're living in a society with fallable, imperfect, idiosyncratic human beings (although the folks who gave us Prozac and Ritalin are probably working on a solution to that right now). But there is a lot of good, and it is important to keep that in mind, especially today.

So we here in the Empire want to wish everyone a joyous and peaceful Independence Day!
How Dumb Do You Have to Be?

Very dumb, it seems. A contestant on CBS' Big Brother reality show (the one where a bunch of clearly borderline personalities are locked together in a house for three months) is suing the producers, the network, and everybody else vaguely connected with the show.

The plaintiff was threatened with a knife by a fellow contestant, who was subsequently thrown off the show. The plaintiff claims that, due to his prior arrest record (which included a couple of assualts), he should naver have been allowed on the show.

While I agree with that, I'd assume that in order to be a contestant on a show like that, you have to sign a pretty comprehensive waiver absolving the producers of responsibility for, well, just about anything.

And besides, three months locked in a house, with no contact with the outside world, with everyone scrambling like crabs in a bucket for a $500,000 prize, would seem to me to be a situation that could drive even the sanest and most well-adjusted person to moments of irrationality or violence.

In other words: what the heck did the plaintiff expect? There's no way she should win this suit; if there's any sense at all in the legal system, it ought to be thrown out right at the start.


The Times - July 4th Edition

Thanks to their website, we once again can read tomorrow's Times today.

Too bad there isn't much exciting there. The columnists du jour are:

Bob Herbert, whining again about the President's environmental record.

We've heard it all before. Oil companies are evil. Industrial civilization is evil. Progress is evil. We get it already; we just don't agree.

And then there's Bill Safire, who trots out the old and usually uninteresting "interview with the dead", in this case his former employer, Richard Nixon.

True to form, it is pretty uninteresting; it's too bad that for their lone conservative voice, the Times can't do better than Safire.

And there's a piece from the editorial board about the just-released U.N. report on the Arab world.

The Times duly notes the grim facts:

The rapidly expanding population of the Arab world is falling further behind the rest of the world due to a lack of freedom — in politics, intellectual life and for women

Arab countries have the lowest level of political freedom of any region in the world

The report urges "free, honest, efficient and regular elections," strengthening local government, loosening bureaucratic controls over independent civic organizations and permitting a freer press. It calls for the rule of law, human rights and an independent judiciary and prescribes an overhaul of government agencies and publicly owned companies

Haven't we been saying that all along?

The piece isn't perfect; there's the usual blame-America cant at the end; if only we didn't support the corrupt regimes, the milk and honey would flow freely and the deserts would bloom.

Sorry; it's their own fault, let's be honest here.

But at least the Times does recognize that there are problems in the Arab world that don't have to do with Israel and the settlements; of course, as the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day...
The Loons Are Out

The rabid left is drooling today over the non-story of what forms the President might or might not have filed belatedly 12 years ago while selling some of his company stock in Harken Energy.

This, even though the matter was investigated and no charges were filed by the SEC. While Bush's actions may have been technical violations, they were not uncommon, and were generally considered "fairly trivial" by the SEC.

Of course, that doesn't matter to the Leftists who are braying for blood. Typical of the mentality is this little gem, taken from the Media Whores Online discussion board:

Gephardt, Daschle, listen up. Begala, Carvel, you read this board. Get their attention. Someone S.O.S!!!

Now, if a dumbshit like me can see an opportunity to go after this corrupt Bush administration, then you geniuses should be seeing it as well. This Harken thing, you need to grab the ball and run with it. Don't think about it, do it. Just grab the goddamned ball and run with it. Don't overanalyze and think about what it would be like to trip and fall on your heads. You must be relentless in keeping this scandal alive and in the public eye. You don't have to PROVE ANYTHING! Simply investigate, investigate, and investigate some more. Pull you heads out of whatever orifices you have chosen to place them in for the last year or so and get out there with the message. Have not the republicans taught this lesson to you enough times?

Repeat, and repeat again, until the anti-Christ Bush is squirming around like an ant under a magnifying glass on a hot July day in Austin TX. This is your moral obligation to humanity!

Aside from an apparent aversion to grammar and anything approaching correct spelling, there's the wonderful attitude that neither the truth nor the facts are relevant; only scandal.

This is the general attitude of the rabid Left as evidenced on the Net: "they investigated Clinton - now it's our turn!"

This, of course, forgets that they spent the eight years of the former Narcissist-in-Chief's administration defending every kind of dishonesty, corruption and vileness, and at the same time claiming a moral high ground; that such incessant investigations were wrong, and harmful to the country.

Guess that was all bullshit, just like Democratic whining about how unfair and undemocratic and unconstitutional was Republican oppositon to Clinton's judicial and other nominees; but of course when the tables are turned and Tommy Daschle and Pat Leahy gets the chance to delay and deny, with no possible excuse except ideology and payback - hey, it's anything goes.

As with most things, this should not be surprising, just sad. And it should be a rallying point for conservatives to make sure we rid the House, the Senate, and as many state governments as possible, of these hypocrites come November.
The Pledge Decision, Yet Again

Check out this article from WorldNet Daily, about Pledge plaintiff Mike Newdow and his family (Also first noted on Midwest Conservative Journal - thanks!).

It seems that the daughter who Mr. Newdow claimed was being "injured" by being forced to hear other students recite the words "under God", which would conflict with her and her father's atheist views.

It seems that the daughter is not, in fact, atheist - she's a Christian, who recited the Pledge right along with her classmates, and without any injury or upset. According to this article, she even pleaded with her father not to file the suit.

But, in his own words:

"This is more about me than her. I'd like to keep her out of this."

Yeah, we get that now.

So much for the selfless and brave defender of the First Amendment.
More on the ICC

For more clear thinking about the International Criminal Court, check out this posting on the blog Midwestern Conservative Journal.

The author examines a whiny editorial from the leftist Guardian, and takes it apart piece by piece.

There's going to be a lot more whining from across the pond about this, and those of us who actually believe in the Constitution and the sovreignity of our country need to keep the faith on this topic.
Go, Ann!

She's not always the most subtle commentator around, but her heart's generally in the right place. So it was really good to see that Ann Coulter's new book, "Slander : Liberal Lies About the American Right" will debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list in two weeks, according to Drudge.

Remember This

As we prepare to celebrate the independence of our nation here in the U.S, it's worth thinking about what that independence means.

There are many good places to start. One of them is this, Ronald Reagan's speech to the House of Commons in June of 1982.

I'll quote from the end of the speech here:

During the dark days of the Second World War, when this island was incandescent with courage, Winston Churchill exclaimed about Britain's adversaries, "What kind of people do they think we are?" Well, Britain's adversaries found out what extraordinary people the British are. But all the democracies paid a terrible price for allowing the dictators to underestimate us. We dare not make that mistake again. So, let us ask ourselves, "What kind of people do we think we are?" And let us answer, "Free people, worthy of freedom and determined not only to remain so but to help others gain their freedom as well."

Sir Winston led his people to great victory in war and then lost an election just as the fruits of victory were about to be enjoyed. But he left office honorably and, as it turned out, temporarily, knowing that the liberty of his people was more important than the fate of any single leader. History recalls his greatness in ways no dictator will ever know. And he left us a message of hope for the future, as timely now as when he first uttered it, as opposition leader in the Commons nearly twenty-seven years ago, when he said, "When we look back on all the perils through which we have passed and at the mighty foes that we have laid low and all the dark and deadly designs that we have frustrated, why should we fear for our future? We have," he said, "come safely through the worst."

Well, the task I've set forth will long outlive our own generation. But together, we too have come through the worst. Let us now begin a major effort to secure the best -- a crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation. For the sake of peace and justice, let us move toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny.

President Reagan's words ring as true today as they did 20 years ago; more so, even. He was speaking to us as surely as to the good men and women assembeled in the House of Commons that day.

We owe it to him, and to ourselves, and to those who will follow us, to heed his words.

I Wonder What Tom Friednam Thinks of This

Interesting article on NRO this AM about Iran, and the potential for a Tianeman Square-esque crackdown on the restless population.

Funny that the utopian, rock star columnist Friedman didn't mention anything like this in his multiple dispatches from Tehran.

I wonder why?

Whores, Indeed

The rabidly partisan site Media Whores Online is living up to its name. Check out this little tidbit, posted there this morning:

Americans rate Hillary Ahead of Babs, Laura, and Nancy

In a new Pew poll, Americans were asked which of the last four wives of presidents came closest to their idea of what a first lady should be.

The American people, naturally, ranked the respected and admired Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton first. Perhaps it is her stellar career accomplishments that most impress Americans. Perhaps many consider her parenting success, appreciating Chelsea Clinton's achievement, character, and grace relative to that of the Bush and Reagan offspring.

Babs Bush lagged second. Also-rans include Laura Bush and Nancy Reagan, who tied for third place.

They reference this article as proof.

Of course, they didn't bother to go to the original source for the poll.

Had they done so, they'd have seen that the poll numbers looked like this:

Hillary Clinton: 30%
Barbara Bush: 26%
Laura Bush: 19%
Nancy Reagan: 19%

Notice anything about that? There's three Republican first ladies, who collectively got 70% of the vote in the poll.

And only one Democrat, who got 30%.

Wonder how it would have looked had they included Jackie Kennedy and Rosalyn Carter in the poll, too. Bet Hillary's 30% would have declined quite a bit.

That's the thing about polls: they can say whatever you want them to - it's vital to look at how the questions are asked, and what choices are given as responses.

Otherwise, all you're doing is, essentially, making stuff up. But then, that's what the folks at MWO seem to do on a pretty regular basis, so I guess there isn't any real surprise there.
Good News/Bad News

There's a wonderful OpEd in today's post from Jan Nowak, a Pole who worked for Radio Free Europe, among many other things, during his long life. It's entitled "Thank You, America.

Nowak then proceeds to do precisely that, citing the many ways in which America has helped the people of Poland from the end of World War I up until today.

I think it's safe to say, on behalf of all Americans, "You're welcome. We were glad to do it."

I only wish the Post's editorial board itself could have just said that.

But, of course, they couldn't do that.

One day out of the year, you'd think they could just drop their agenda; that they could say, "hey, this isn't such a bad country after all, we've done a lot of good things over the years." We're not perfect; far from it. But we have done a lot of good, and there are hundreds of millions - billions - of people around the globe who have benefitted from it.

But the Post just can't let go:

ON THE facing page today, Jan Nowak writes a Fourth of July thank-you note to the United States for its support of freedom in his native Poland during his nine decades. As one who dedicated himself to winning that freedom, Mr. Nowak is well qualified to speak on the subject. And in keeping with the holiday spirit, he graciously gives credit to America for its many contributions while generously overlooking any failings in U.S. foreign policy.

He's certainly more qualified to speak about it than are the Post's editorial writers, who have contributed precisely nothing to the good of America, or anyplace else.

And of course we have failingsm, which are well documented. But that was not the point of Nowak's column; not everything must be a detailed historical critique that analyzes every decision ever made or action taken. He wanted to show gratitude towards us; it's the absolute least the Post can do to accept that with good grace.

His review of U.S. contributions to European liberty and democracy during the past century inevitably raises the question of how well the United States is living up to this legacy today. Mr. Nowak is again too polite to raise this issue, at least explicitly. So we will: Eighty-nine years from now, will there be an Egyptian or an Iraqi or a Pakistani in position to thank America for its steadfast support of democratization and prosperity in his or her homeland during the 21st century? Of course times have changed, and the threats are different. But aspects of Mr. Nowak's account are instructive nonetheless.

Of course you will raise the issue. Any chance to take America down a peg, and the Post writers will leap at it.

Who knows what the world will look like in 89 years? Certainly if we actually remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq (which the Post opposes), that will be a good start towards creating a democratic, hopeful future for the Iraqi people.

One lesson, ironically, points to the limits of American power. As Mr. Nowak recites, the United States used just about every instrument of foreign policy at one time or another on Poland's behalf: diplomacy, food aid, low-interest loans, radio broadcasts, economic sanctions, armed deterrence and, during World War II, flat-out armed might. Yet the century, even if it ended happily, was not a happy one for Poland. The overwhelming story was of war, privation, subjugation. This is partly because Poland's freedom was often not, to be blunt, America's top priority. But it is partly because events do not bend easily even to a superpower's will. Poland's fate was determined primarily by Poles; Russians, Germans and others also had something to say about it.

It wasn't "America's top priority"? Um...do they not remember the Cold War? Do they not remember that stopping and rolling back Soviet Communism was the top priority of the U.S. from 1945 until the fall of the Soviet Union?

And yes, that included Poland.

And, while the Post may forget this, the Soviet Union was also a superpower, with millions of men at arms and thousands of nuclear weapons. That's the reason it took so long for Poland to become free; not American disinterest or weakness.

I'd also guess, although, being in junior high school at the time and not being a reader of the Post, I can't be sure, that the Post was not kind to the strong, vocal anti-Commuism of Ronald Reagan. I can only imagine the scorn they must have had for his "evil empire" speech (if I'm wrong, I will gladly admit it and retract this particular statement, of course). We still see to this day their opinion of the strategic defense initiative and general 1980's military buildup that helped to force the Soviets into bankruptcy and collapse.

Which points perhaps to the most important attribute cited by Mr. Nowak: the "patient and consistent" application of U.S. policy. No one expected the struggles against fascism or communism to be quick or easy. Today's challenges -- multinational terrorism, anti-Western Islamic fundamentalism, unthinkable poverty in much of the world, repressive and corrupt dictatorships from China to Zimbabwe -- may be more or less formidable than those of the last century, but surely they will require a similar steadfastness of purpose.

This is true. But when the administraiton talks about how long the struggles can be expected to take, the Post attacks them for their vagueness and their wish to drag us into an endless war on terror. You can't have it both ways.

As the nation prepares to celebrate its birthday, we like to think an understanding is emerging of the importance of such steadfastness. But many in the administration, and in Congress, continue to have doubts about the value of such engagement. President Bush is not pressing as hard as he might for democratization in Afghanistan, or human rights in Uzbekistan or tolerance in Saudi Arabia. The rhetoric of foreign aid has sharpened, but the totals remain small. You hear it said: These are hopeless causes, beyond U.S. capacity and outside U.S. interests. But for many decades the fate of the "captive nations" of eastern and central Europe seemed no less hopeless.

When the President pushed for democracy and tolerance in Palestine, the Post's editorial board and just about every one of its colunmists criticized him. They have nbo standing at all to say any of this; they are lying hypocrites, one and all.

As Mr. Nowak writes, idealism has been an important part of U.S. policy toward his native country. But it's also true that a European continent united and free has proven to be very much in America's strategic and economic interest. Today, as 89 years ago, there are reasons aplenty -- both selfish and altruistic -- for promoting freedom and development wherever in the world they have yet to flourish.

Again, I agree with this. But, sadly, the same writers who penned this are the first to criticize whenever we actually do> go out and promote freedom and development.

There's a word for these writers. It's not very polite, but it fits, and I can't come up with a better one: assholes.

Splitting Hairs

It seems that reporter James Bennett of the Times sees hope in the vague opposition of a handful of Palestinians to suicide bombings.

The article is entitled "Gingerly, Arabs Question Suicide Bombings":

It has been muffled by Israel's latest military offensive in the West Bank and the Bush administration's demands for the ouster of Yasir Arafat, but a debate is under way among Palestinians over suicide bombing.

Criticism of such attacks is made in code and pitched to Palestinian self-interest rather than broader moral concerns. The critics are trying to avoid alienating Palestinians who feel that any weapon is legitimate when turned against Israelis, whom they view as stealing their land and using overwhelming force to keep it.

Doesn't sound like much of a debate so far. It's not a question of whether the deliberate murder of civillians - including the intentional targeting of children - is wrong, just whether it might possibly be making the Palestinians look bad.

And of course there isn't anybody who will admit the truth: the land the Palestinians want was never theirs; it belongs to Jordan and Syria before 1967, and they weren't any more interested in giving them a state than Israel is.

As for "overwhelming force", that's a good description of what the "moderate" Jordanian government did when the Palestinians got uppity against them; it makes Israel's measures look tame. And let's not even discuss what President Assad of Syria did to those whom he felt threatned his rule or disrupted the good order of his country. Hana, anyone?

Like President Bush's demand for democratic change and new leaders, the criticism of suicide bombing cuts to the heart of competing Palestinian visions for statehood, of the proper means for achieving it, and of the deference that should be paid to Israeli or American public opinion.

Well, yes. A state born out of negotiation and compromise and peaceful acceptance of one's neighbors; or a nation born of bullets and bombs and the blood of Jews. And the Palestinian people have made their preference quite clear.

"You have to appeal to people's self-interest, in terms of what works and what doesn't work," said Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian legislator from Ramallah.

Dr. Ashrawi was among 55 Palestinian politicians and intellectuals who published an unusual appeal to fellow Palestinians on June 19 in the Arabic-language newspaper Al Quds. It called for a reassessment of "military operations that target civilians in Israel" — not in the West Bank or Gaza — and urged those behind them to "stop pushing our youth to carry out these operations."

Lots of folks in the West love "Dr. Ashwari", apologist for Arafat and his goons though she is. Note the weasel words here: operations "in Israel" but not in the West Bank. So it's OK to kill children in some places after all. And she'd like to "stop pushing our youth"; but presumably if adults want to strap on explosive belts and murder Israeli kids, that isn't a problem.

The appeal clearly stopped short of a blanket condemnation of all suicide bombings. But the open letter did say that the attacks were not "producing any results except confirming the hatred, malice and loathing between the two peoples" and endangering "the possibility that the two peoples will live side by side in peace in two neighboring states."

The day the advertisement was published, a suicide bomber killed six people at a Jerusalem bus stop. That and the new Israeli offensive into the West Bank, begun after another suicide bombing just the day before, shouldered the development aside.

But among Palestinians, the appeal reverberated in conversations and the Arabic news media. It continued to run in Al Quds for several days, gathering more than 500 backers, some through the Internet.

Wow. Five hundred backers. Out of three million people.

A rebuttal was published elsewhere, calling for the use of "all ways and all means" of "armed struggle." It gained about 150 signatures.

Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, a leader of the Islamic group Hamas, bitterly denounced the signers of the first petition, which he called "the appeal to declare war on the Palestinian resistance." Despite such strong criticism, none of the original petitioners have reported any threats.

Would they really report them anyway?

Even some Palestinian politicians who said they opposed attacks on civilians shied away from the petition, calling it one-sided for focusing on Palestinian attacks.

President Bush has denounced suicide attackers as "murderers." Yet even signers of the appeal balked at directly criticizing the bombers, who are called martyrs but are revered in nationalist as well as religious terms. They are pitied as desperate victims or romanticized as patriots who strike back against Israeli tanks with their only weapons, their own bodies.

And if they actually did strike at Israeli tanks, there would be a difference. But they don't; they target civillians. Children. And they show no qualms and make no distinctions about that.

This help explains why, though a narrow majority of Palestinians support suicide bombing, a far broader majority oppose arresting those behind the attacks.

Really? Where is the proof of that? Let's see some numbers!

"There is a global culture of that, of how sweet it is to die for your liberty," Dr. Ashrawi said. "You can find quotations from the American Revolution."

Yes, you can. But the difference is that dying for liberty was not an end in itself, while the suicide bombings (or "martyrdom operations" as their planners call them) are precisely that.

She said that although she opposed any violence against civilians, it was no time "to take the high moral ground" on the subject of suicide bombing, with Israeli forces holding hundreds of thousands of Palestinians under curfew in the West Bank. "We should make it a political debate," she said.

Today Israeli forces continued to operate in seven of the eight major Palestinian cities and towns, rounding up suspects in what the army called a continuing hunt for militants. In Hebron, the army lifted the curfew to allow students to take exams, then detained about 300 students at one college for questioning, witnesses said.

Leaders of the peace camp in Israel heard in the original appeal a call for a halt to all violence, a halt to the intifada — the uprising — itself. "What they are saying is really, `Stop the violence,' " said Galia Golan, a leader of the group Peace Now.

If they want to believe that, that's their right. They're putting themselves in danger. It's like the chickens believing the fox when he says he just wants to take a quick look around the henhouse.

But the appeal was more narrowly tailored than that, not using the word "suicide" and referring only to attacks on "civilians in Israel." That is understood by Palestinian as referring only to pre-1967 Israel and not to the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel occupied in 1967. Palestinians overwhelmingly support attacks on Israeli soldiers and settlers in those areas, arguing that such attacks amount to legal resistance.

"and settlers". Civillians. Children.

It all comes back to that. Deliberately murdering children is a legitimate tactic in the eyes of the Palestinians. That's really the only thing we need to know.

Can't Put It Much More Simply Than That

In an admirably succinct letter to the Times, a reader asks this perceptive question:

Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia says the Palestinian people alone have the right to choose their leadership. Does he feel the same way about the Saudi people?

Would that President Monkey Boy (or his Daddy) would ask the Prince that question. Or even better, take matters into our own hands, and answer it for him...


The Evil Bean

Yes, there's a new threat to the public health, a scourge to poison our minds and wreck our bodies, a demon that will corrupt our children.


It seems that the city of Seattle has decided to declare war on the loathsome bean and the derivative beverages thereof, with a tax on coffee (certain kinds of coffee, at any rate). The money would go, of course, as all these things do, to "the children". Specifically in this case, to pre-schools.

I'm sure Seattle is a lovely city, with wonderful people. But when I read nonsense like this, I'm very glad I don't live there...
Hitler Again

Two Nazi references in one day; scary.

This one comes from an article on Tech Central Station about the violent fringe of the environmental and animal rights movements.

Certainly the rhetoric of the more extreme folks in these movements recalls the worst that the Third Reich had to offer:

David Foreman, the founder of the deep ecology organisation appropriately named Earth First!, notoriously called for humanitarian organisations to sit back and watch Ethiopians starve to death during the famine of 1987: "The worst thing we could do in Ethiopia is to give aid [to the starving children] -- the best thing would be to just let nature seek its own balance, to let people there just starve."


Tim Daley, a leader of the British Animal Liberation Front even condoned murder in an interview with the BBC: "In a war you have to take up arms and people will get killed, and I can support that kind of action by petrol bombing and bombs under cars, and probably at a later stage, the shooting of vivisectors on their doorsteps. It's a war, and there's no other way you can stop vivisectors."


"When people attempt to rebel against the iron logic of nature, they come into conflict with the very same principles to which they owe their existence as human beings. Their actions against nature must lead to their own downfall."

That one's from old Adolf himself. Or try this one:

"Today we see the steady stream from the countryside to the city, deadly for the Volk. The cities swell ever larger, unnerving the Volk and destroying the threads which bind humanity to nature; they attract adventurers and profiteers of all colours, thereby fostering racial chaos."

That's from Third Reicher Alfred Rosenberg. And finally, PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk brings it all together:

"Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughter houses."

These people are, clearly, insane. A good, healthy concern for the environment makes sense, seeing as how we live in it and all. Unnecessary harm to animals isn't a positive thing; most folks agree with that as well.

But the hardcore fringe see humans as no better or more valuable than animals (or even less so; see some of the writings of Peter Singer for proof of that), and that makes them dangerous; the Nazis dehumanized the Jews, and ended up murdering six million of them, while the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front and their ilk seek to dehumanize all of us, and who knows how many they'd kill if they ever actually got their way?

I Wouldn't Believe It If I Didn't See It

The campaign in Britain to keep their nation from adopting the Euro as their currency has found a new spokesman: Adolf Hitler.

Well, actor Rik Mayall, "comically" portraying the Nazi dictator in an ad opposing the Euro, which includes Mayall's Hitler shouting "Ein Reich! Ein Volk! Ein Euro!"

Says Member of Parliament Kate Hoey, who's on board with this campaign: "Anyone who doesn't laugh, I think, should get a life."

I'm not sure about that, myself. Maybe the actual ad is really lighthearted and all that, but it's hard to picture any use of Hitler in a political campaign that's anything but troubling and disturbing in the extreme...
Oh, Yes, Let's Give These Folks A State

More messages of joy and brotherhood from the good and peaceloving people who will be in charge of the Palestinian State that is so desired by so many:

Groups affiliated with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement yesterday called upon all Palestinian organizations, including the Islamic movements, to attack Zionist and American targets everywhere in response to US efforts "to remove the legitimate leadership of the Palestinian people."

Fatah's military wing, al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, issued a statement yesterday in which it threatened "to strike at Zionist and American interests and installations" in Israel and throughout the world if the United States maintains its opposition to Arafat.

The statement warned US President George W. Bush that it will return to the type of fedayeen operations that prevailed in 1970s if what they called the conspiracy against Arafat continued."

Wonderful. Operations like the murder of athletes at the Munich Olympics; the hijacking of civillian airliners; and the murder of American diplomats.

Sounds to me like almost like a declaration of war - too bad we won't respond in kind and deal with these barbarians in the only sensible way.
The View From the Continent

Interesting piece on NRO this afternoon about the entirely preictable reaction in the European media to U.S. actions regarding the ICC, and specifically the demand for immunity for U.S. peacekeepers from the ICC as a condition of continuing U.S. presence in peacekeeping missions.

Author John O'Sullivan notes that:

Watching a range of television-news programs from the BBC world service to Rupert Murdoch's Sky TV has been like trying to distinguish Izvestia from Pravda during the Cold War. At the time of writing I have seen no interviewee representing the U.S. position, no presentation of U.S. arguments such as that the ICC was an irresponsible body with no roots in democratic accountability, and no mention of the fact that the Europeans had demanded a similar exemption for their forces in Afghanistan. It has been pure anti-American propaganda all the way.

Some of this can be attributed to the instinctual anti-Americanism of the European media and political elites. But most is probably traceable to journalistic laziness. The U.S. veto fitted so neatly into the pre-cooked narrative of the Bush administration's "unilateralism" versus European multilateralism that it was easier for television talking heads to churn it out than to actually investigate what was happening.

Makes sense to me.

I'm not saying that Europeans, or anyone else, must like our views, or the arguments we put forth for them.

But it would be nice if they'd at least admit that we, occasionally, do have a reason - beyond "the President is a drooling Texan unilateralist warmongering moron" - for our actions, and sometimes we even have reasonable arguments to back them up.

Accepting that the other side has a rationale for its actions is not the same as agreeing with those actions. It is, however, common courtesy, and the same thing that Europe asks of us, so it'd be nice if the leaders and press over there would extend a little bit of that our way once in a while.
We All Know Why

Regular reader Steve Rothandler passed on this column from Michael Medved.

Medved's talking about Hollywood's seeming refusal to portray Islamic terrorists in recent films; generally substituting thugs from the former Yugoslavia, or in the case of "The Sum of All Fears", neo-fascists.

He's not wrong, of course, and a politically correct, generally leftist view of the world in Hollywood is no doubt part of the reason why this happens.

But I think a bigger reason is that Holywood studios want to avoid ugly controversies, and don't want to alienate potential foreign markets.

After all, the neo-fascists don't have a lobbying group like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or spokesmen like James Zogby to press their case; and the former Yugoslavia is not a huge market for Hollywood films.

But the rest of Europe is, and I'm guessing that the studios don't think that market wants to see American films depicting Islamic terrorists very much at the moment.
It's All Out Fault

So says Pyongyang, regarding the naval battle last weekend between North and South Korea, according to this CNN story.

Well, if Kim Jong Il says so, it must be true, right?

The North Koreans claim that the U.S. provoked the battle - which began when North Korean warships (if that's the right term for the NK navy, such as it is) apparently crossed over into South Korean waters along with a small fleet of fishing vessels.

They claim that our intent is to stir up trouble and derail peace negotiatios between the two Koreas.

Funny, I thought that Pyongyang's continued pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and long range ballistic missiles to deliver them; along with a Stalinist regime that's paranoid beyond anything sane people can imagine, was the real problem.

Silly me for thinking that.

Speaking of Hudsucker

I was actually already in a Hudsucker state of mind, thanks to this story in the Style section of today's Post, about the inventor of the Hula Hoop (among other things) , who passed away last week.

(An entirely fictionalized version of) the invention of the Hula Hoop was, of course, the basis for the plot of "The Hudsucker Proxy"; I was kind of disappointed that in this otherwise interesting article, that wasn't mentioned.

There were a couple of other stories worth reading in Style today...

First, an article by David Segal, musing on the lack of any real public outrage over the latest Eminem album and other pop culture unpleasantries. Perhaps, Segal, suggests, the presence of a real war to care about leaves most Americans unable or unwilling to care about such minor offenses as Eminem's garbage or the other junk barfed up by popular shockmeisters. Seems like a reasonable theory to me.

Or it could be that we're so far jaded that there isn't anything left capable of shocking most Americans.

Also in Style, second string TV reviewer Richard Harrington talks about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". It's a very good review, both of the show in general, and the specific episode showing tonight - "Once More, With Feeling", the musicial episode. It was a great hour of television, and well worth viewing.

Finally, on a much dumber note, there's a moronic column by Dave Barry wannabe Gene Weingarten. He's also got a regular, and regularly unfunny, column in the Sunday Magazine, and every so often they let him out on other days. They ought not bother; Weingarten isn't funny, or clever, or witty, or anything good, and it's unclear to me what the Post sees in him.
Bottoms Up

To quote from one of the best films of the 1990's, Joel and Ethan Coen's "The Hudsucker Proxy":

"The more timid elements are running for cover."

That's as good a description as any of the stock market this morning, where the DJIA is threatening to fall below 9,000.

Not much to say about that, except that investing in stocks should be a long term pursuit, and that these occasional bumps are not a reason to panic.

Not that that'll stop anyone from doing so, of course.
Thanks, Norm!

Norm Mineta strikes again. Check out this story, in which it's explained that he passed over a plan to use 1,000 retired New York City police officers to provide airport security at Kennedy Airport.

This was for the pilot launch of an eventually-to-be-nationwide program. The plan Norm picked instead to start with is based in northern California (where he served as a Congreeman and as Mayor of San Jose), and will employ hundreds of non-citizens as security personnel at the San Francisco airport.

Because of course safety, not to mention the good of American citizens, really should be secondary to political correctness and Norm Mineta's sentimental ties to his former home.

So when can we fire ths loser already?
Contrariness Isn't Necessarily a Virtue

Unless, of course, you're a Democrat. Witness these two stories:

First, get out your party hats - in Santa Cruz, California, it's Barbara Lee Day!

Barbara, as you will undoubtedly know, is the Congrsswoman who, on September 1q, 2001, voted against giving the President authority to take action against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. Said Lee:

"It must not be unpatriotic to question a course of action; it must not be unpatriotic to raise doubts."

No, of course not. But it helps of the doubts are legitimate, reasoned ones; which Lee's have not been.

The Mayor of Santa Cruz gushed:

"She's become a national moral leader in awakening the movement for justice, peace and a thorough re-examination of United States foreign policy."

Actually, I thought that honor went to Georgia Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who is the honoree of this effort by the website democrats.com.

I just have to ask: do the Democrats deliberately recruit the shrillest, silliest people available to represent them in COngress, or does it just naturally work out that way?

Hi, Richard!

Richard Cohen writes this morning about Al Gore.

Richard likes Al Gore. Richard likes Bill Clinton. Richard doesn't like George W. Bush.

Does this surprise anyone? Does this shed any new light on Richard's view of the world?

And of course, Richard doesn't like anything about our current foreign policy:

Bush has settled into a morally comfy antipathy toward Yasser Arafat -- he's off the Christmas card list -- but the president's spokespersons simply cannot explain what happens if, as expected, the Palestinians reelect Arafat.

"Morally comfy antipathy"? I love that!

Richard, in case you haven't been paying attention, yasser is, even now, directly funding suicide bombers and importing weapons from Iran, and flat-out lying about it. This is in addition to his long resume of terror and murder and lies, and, of course, calls for the destruction of Israel.

I think antipathy is the very least we ought to feel for him; and if we had any sense, we'd let the Israelis kill him, and then there wouldn't be any question of him being re-elected.

But then, I suppose we can't really expect anything better from Richard, can we?
Do They Even Read Their Own Words?

In an editorial this morning, the Post criticizes on First Amendment grounds certain provisions of the McCain-Feingold campaign reform bill.

Did not the Post campaign ardently for this bill on its OpEd page? Did not the Post write fawning stories about the bill's authors and their tireless, selfless struggles to make it a reality?

Oh, but now they think it might be unconstitutional, and they call on the courts to invalidate some provisions of it.

I happen to agree with them that the provisons in question (which "effectively prohibit broadcast ads paid for by nonprofit groups and others when the ads refer to a specified candidate and run within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary.") are unconstitutional, and ought not to have been passed in the first place.

But then, I didn't write column after column praising the bill and demanding its passage, unlike the folks who write for the Post. So I hope you'll forgive me if I'm just a bit cynical about their motivations just now...
Can't the Times Do Better Than This?

A pretty poor OpEd page from the Times this AM.

We've got Nick Kristof playing Sherlock Holmes, or trying to, concerning the investigaton of last fall's anthrax attacks. Of course, he comes across as petty and obnoxious, but then, he's an opinion writer for the Times, so I suppose it's redundant to say that.

And Paul Krugman is angry and complaining about the President and Wall Street. We know, Paul. They're all evil. Just as we know that Bill Clinton was an heroic crusader against the rapacious capitalist hordes, standing fast in defense of ordinary Americans. Of course. And obviously we know that on January 20, 2001, every big corporation immediately began cooking their books, secure in the knowledge that a Republican administration would let them get away with it.

The editorial board (hi, Gail! how's the new job working out?) weighs in on the International Criminal Court. Just this once, it's worth taking a closer look at their words, in an article titled "Doubling the Damage at the UN":

The Bush administration's misguided campaign to demolish the International Criminal Court now threatens to undermine United Nations peacekeeping too, starting with Bosnia.

What they don't want us to remember is that the President's predecessor, the former Narcissist-in-Chief, signed the treaty only "reluctantly", knowing it was "deeply flawed", and never submitted it to the Senate for ratification, knowing it would not be. It is not - and never has been - just the current administration's campaign.

In any case, defending American sovreignity is never "misguided".

This is remarkably petulant behavior for a country that played a decisive role in halting Bosnia's murderous ethnic conflict and helped pioneer the idea of international war crimes prosecutions at Nuremberg more than half a century ago. Washington's reckless course has isolated it from its closest allies, including Britain. The administration should accept a pragmatic compromise before the Bosnia peacekeeping mandate expires tomorrow night.

Petulant, misguided, and reckless! Wow. They really mean it this time!

We should compromise. If that means sacrificing the rights of our citizens - and especially our citizens who have volunteered to put themselves in harm's way - oh, well. It certainly won't be anyone on the Times' Editorial Board, or anybody they know, so what's the problem, right?

Though the Bush administration has withdrawn American support for the court, the tribunal opened for business yesterday. It is authorized to prosecute cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the internationally accepted rules of war, but only when national courts fail to do so. At American insistence, these crimes are strictly defined and there are strong safeguards against overzealous or politically motivated prosecutions. Yet Washington now wants the Security Council to override the treaty to exempt Americans and citizens of other non-signatory states serving in Bosnia.

There are already calls to prosecute Ariel Sharon (but not Yasser Arafat, or Saddam Hussein,or Fidel Castro, or Kim Jong Il, or anybody in the House of Saud). That's not politically motivated? Sure, and I'm not buying that nice shiny bridge you've got for sale either.

How strictly defined can a concept like "crimes against humanity" possibly be? And what exactly are the safeguards?

The administration invokes the possibility that an American on international police or peacekeeping duty in Bosnia could be maliciously accused and hauled off for prosecution in The Hague. That ignores the fact that the international court could become involved only if Washington failed to prosecute international crimes. At Britain's suggestion, other Security Council members are willing to delay any inquiry arising from American actions in Bosnia for 12 months. That would let Washington evacuate any accused American and determine whether prosecution is warranted in American courts.

And if after those 12 months, we determine that prosecution is not warranted, but the powers-that-be at the ICC don't agree? What happens then?

Washington has threatened to veto further U.N. peacekeeping in Bosnia if other countries do not agree to violate their own treaty commitments and grant Americans blanket exemption. Several countries participating in NATO's parallel, and much larger, Bosnia peacekeeping operation threaten to pull out if the U.N.'s mandate is allowed to lapse.

Too bad. If we're going to send our citizens into harm's way for the sole purpose of preventing others from killing one another, and with no real benefit to us or connection to our national interests, the very least we should demand is that those citizens not be subject to the whims of unaccountable ICC prosecutors.

If Washington does not get its way on Bosnia, it intends to challenge other peacekeeping missions on the same basis. That could begin to unravel all U.N.-authorized peacekeeping, destroying a mechanism that has quieted many conflicts and spread out peace enforcement burdens that might otherwise fall on American troops alone. It is bad enough that the Bush administration is trying to undermine the International Criminal Court. It should avoid damaging international peacekeeping as well.

This assumes that UN peacekeeping is always and uniformly a good thing, which is debatable at the very least.

And once again, if our sovreignity comes into conflict with UN peacekeeping, it's UN peacekeeping that has to lose out. Our government is obligated first aod foremost to protect and defend the American people; giving away our sovreiginity a piece at a time is the very antithesis of that obligation.