November 30, 2004
More Hometown News
Here are some photos of Ottawa 'locked down' for the anti-Bush protests. Much as I mock them, I do expect them to pick up a little; these pictures capture a protest culture so pathetic as to be almost sympathetic. (But not quite).
Anyway, nice to see the home town - which looks as it always does. That Parliament Hill-Cenotaph-Chateau-Rideau Center strip is the most 'grand' in the city, I think (though the blocks down Elgin from the Cenotaph to the courthouse are similarly sweeping). And that new condo block going up between the Chateau and Chapters, next to Finance, doesn't look hideous - although you'd think they could have done something with all the surrounding neo-gothic architecture.
What If You Threw a Protest and No-One Came?
"I just waited to go into work until a bit later," said Joelle Roy as she walked into the office. "Just to not have anything to worry about. But I guess it either already happened or hasn't yet."[...]Actually, my question is this: since Bush isn't going to Parliament, what are the protesters doing (in a theoretical sense, as they apparently aren't doing much of anything) on Elgin and Wellington? My understanding is that the President's 'working visit' will take place, uh, substantially further down Sussex.
So, I guess the big question is: Where are the planned protests, the thousands of angry anti-Bush masses? Still sleeping?
MORE (15:19 EST): This via Drudge:
A loose coalition of groups opposed to just about everything Bush supports had promised two demonstrations hours before Bush was due to jet into Ottawa Tuesday aboard Air Force One.Oops. I blame Karl Rove. Or, uh, Rod Love.
The first demonstration -- of Palestinians and sympathisers of the Palestinian cause opposed to Washington's support of Israel -- attracted less than 40 demonstrators.
According to a quick head count by journalists, the protest attracted 39 demonstrators, 42 journalists and television crew members and three police officers.
A second, ostensibly larger, demonstration scheduled for the midst of the evening rush hour -- was called by a group calling itself Students Against Bush.
Nobody turned up.
November 29, 2004
All Quiet On the MaderBlog Front
See, here's the thing: exams start next Tuesday, law firms start accepting resumes this coming Wednesday and classes don't end till Friday. So you could say I'm a little busy. Intermittent blogging to continue as my schedule and sanity permit.
Ultimately, Canadian anti-Americanism says more about Canada than it does about the United States. Because some 80 to 90 percent of this country's trade is with the United States, the reality is that Canadians need Americans to sustain their economy and thus the quality of life they value. Such dependence breeds resentment. In "officially multicultural Canada," hostility toward Americans is the last socially acceptable expression of bigotry and xenophobia. It would be impossible to say the things about any other nationality that Canadians routinely say -- both publicly and privately -- about Americans.Now comes the part where my Canadian friends try to tell me that it's really not that bad. Here's the thing though: it is.
Lileks discusses the aesthetics of Christmas lights, and other Christmas decorations. It's a classic of his 'domesticity' genre, and if you like Christmas, as I do, you'll love today's Bleat.
People have started to put Christmas lights up here in Austin. It just doesn't feel right. It's not only the lack of tall, handsome fir trees. It's not only the Southwestern architecture. It's also... how shall I put the intangible into words...
I'm wearing flip-flops today.
You know what I mean? It just doesn't feel right. The result is a city that looks like it's gearing up for a 'Las Vegas night' fundraiser. Well, that's probably what Reno looks like; Austin looks like a city gearing up for a 'Reno night' fundraiser. In other words: kind of kitschy. Don't get me wrong: I love it, and I'm happy to trade my winter boots for my flip-flops. But Christmas it ain't.
Ukraine, Europe and America
My brother forwards me this column by George Jonas in today's National Post. It's behind a subscriber wall, alas, but don't worry - while I'm a big fan of Jonas, this piece is substantially an exercise in column-writing rather than punditry. Most of the article resembles this self-congratulatory piece from the Guardian which heralded the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine as a tremendous success for the European Union. From the Guardian:
Georgia, under its new government, has become a closer partner of the United States. Ukraine under Yushchenko might do the same. But above all, it will be turned towards Europe. These days, the most fervent pro-Europeans are to be found at the edges of Europe, and none more so than westward-looking Ukrainians. It's the European Union they hope one day to join, not the United States of America.Echoes Jonas:
Moving closer to Europe is what a majority of Ukrainians want. The EU wants it as well -- not surprisingly, as it would gain a nation of 50 million gifted and hard-working souls, with vast agricultural resources in the western half of the country and some industrial potential in the east. With the steroid of Ukraine ingested, the Eurocracy of Brussels would build a few pounds of additional muscle... Even if Mr. Yushchenko's side won and the other side conceded, Ukraine would be essentially Europe's gain. A bigger and better-muscled EU may not be good news for America.The problem with this analysis, of course, is that it presumes that the vigorously democratic East-Bloc states would readily acquiesce in the statist social-democracy of the Franco-Germanic European Union. One would have to have a remarkably short memory to buy that.
Jonas, of course, does not, though he seems to believe that both his readers and the White House do; he concludes: "The continuing influx of ex-Soviet countries might counterbalance the statism and anti-Americanism of Europe's current rulers." No kidding. Thirty- to fifty-million new Europeans tired of authoritarian government and eager for responsible self rule? Uh, what is 'a very good thing,' Alex?
November 28, 2004
Still More Raich
This article from the Christian Science Monitor gives much more credence to the possibility that the court will in fact stand by its interstate commerce jurisprudence.
Actually, I'm wary of articles like this which frame Raich as a 'crossroads' - and Barnett does no-one any favors by calling it 'a landmark, one way or the other.' If the court is to affirm the Ninth Circuit, it will do so on interstate commerce grounds; but if it reverses, it will be because the federalist members of the court will have qualified their federalism through their deference to big-government drug laws. Framing the decision as an all-or-nothing referendum on federalism serves only to give ammunition to anti-federalists.
November 27, 2004
A Little More on Raich
I should note that the Volokh Conspiracy's Randy Barnett is arguing Raich for
the good guys respondents (don't want to show my bias or anything). His co-blogger Jim Lindgren has a good synposis of the case from a realist perspective. Lindgren notes:
It is one of those cases where, if the Court is intellectually honest and actually determines interstate commerce in any way that makes logical sense, Randy's side will win. Yet it would be awfully hard for the Court to strike down federal legislative control over marijuana regulation even where (as here) the marijuana is pretty clearly not in interstate commerce.My prediction is an 8-1 reversal of the Ninth Circuit's decision, with Justice Thomas, God bless his soul, arguing the Barnett brief and calling for the further reversal of the court's interstate commerce jurisprudence. Semi-realistic 'good case' scenario: a 6-3 decision with Rehnquist and O'Connor joining Thomas in calling for a limited interstate commerce clause. Worst-case scenario: a unanimous decision reversing the Ninth Circuit, with Thomas concurring to say that until the court is prepared to re-examine the interstate commerce clause, he feels bound to apply precedent notwithstanding his personal desire for reconsideration.
November 26, 2004
Ashcroft v. Raich
I recently had a discussion about Ashcroft v. Raich, a case before the Supreme Court that will reconcile, one way or another, a California medical marijuana statute and a federal drug statute. Readers interested in the case - which goes to the heart of the federalism debate - may want to have a look at this article from the New York Sun.
[Via How Appealing]
Ukraine: Winning the Media
The Kiev Post reports:
News programs on [TV channel] 1+1 virtually disappeared earlier this week after journalists and editors and the channel went on strike in protest of alleged pressure from management and certain political forces to produce biased media coverage that favored Kuchma and allies.And Veronica Khokhlova has a moving complementary anecdote:
In a statement issued late on Nov. 25, the news team announced that they would resume with fair coverage that evening.
ďWe guarantee that all information distributed by our channel will be complete, in accordance with professional standards of journalism,Ē the statement reads.
At 7:30 pm on Nov. 25, news coverage on TSN resumed, but started with a short statement from the channelís editorial team. The collective said they would resume news reports but promised they would be objective, explaining that previous editorial policy was not so, due to political pressure.
On Channel 1 (UT-1), the main state channel, 237 journalists are on strike now. Today, during the 11 am newscast with live translation into the Sign Language, the translator, Natalya Dmytruk, did not translate what the host was saying about the election results, but said the following (quote via Ukrainska Pravda):Remarkable.
The results from the Central Election Commission have been falsified. Do not believe them. Our President is Yushchenko. I am very disgusted that I was forced to translate the lies until now. I'm not going to do it anymore. I'm not sure if I'll see you again.
November 25, 2004
That's what the Queen's University Human Rights Office appears to be doing through it's decision to allow pro-life students to re-direct funds from the school's Sexual Health Resource Centre, which is pro-choice. I meant to mention this story some time ago, but Adam Daifallah, who both broke the story (I believe) and who is a Queen's alum, is on it:
am totally astounded by this. This is a huge victory for freedom on campus. The only downsides are that the money will go towards funding some other aspect of the student government, and that students who do not want the 85Ę going to the SHRC must go to the SHRC themselves to make the request.A curmudgeon would question the legitimacy of a college 'human rights office,' and would doubt the value of a favorable decision within such a system. Good thing I'm not a curmudgeon! Not tonight, anyway.
Nevertheless, this could have serious ramifications for the future of mandatory student fees. Well done, Mr. Crawford, and good show, Human Rights Office!
A Day to Give Thanks
As I suggest below, Ukrainians are currently involved in a struggle for freedom that is momentous. And yet the threats to freedom are not all so remote. My readers know how seriously I take the war on terror, and I hope that commitment is kept in mind as I point you towards this important and disturbing article from today's Spectator magazine. Nicky Samengo-Turner describes his encounter with London police and 'police community support officers,' and with the products of Britain's shockingly expansive new anti-terrorism laws. Precisely what freedoms to the British believe they are protecting? I have not studied the Patriot Act closely, but I'm quite certain that it does not nearly approach the intrusiveness and illiberality described in the article.
Me? I spent a wonderful Thanksgiving with a friend's family in Huntsville, Texas; much of the afternoon was spent firing various guns of various calibres. It was my first time shooting. It was a blast. It would be illegal almost anywhere else in the developed west. Tonight, I give thanks for America - and Texas.
Orange Ukraine Watch
The special all-Ukrainian congress of deupties of local councils createdIn other words, the representatives of local representative bodies refuse to recognize the authority of a tyrannical central government and instead establish their own national governing structure. Sound familiar? Yea. I thought so too.
All-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee of Local Councils.
This body will coordinate local councils in the transitional period "until the inauguration of the legitimage president Victor Yushchenko and formation of new government of Ukraine".
I agree with Mr. Wells. In fact, I have a review coming - it's late, but it should be a little more detailed than most of what you'd read elsewhere. If it's any good, I might shop it - more likely I'll just dump it on you. But in the meantime: go buy the album. It really is stunning.
Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,- John Greenleaf Whittier
From North and from South, come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before.
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?
Fill every beaker up, my men, pour forth the cheering wine:- Albert Gorton Greene
Thereís life and strength in every drop,óthanksgiving to the vine!
November 24, 2004
Flooding the Zone
Yea, it's been all Ukraine, all the time here at Maderblog. What can I say - studying has limited by blog time, so when I get a chance to glance at the news, I glance first to the Orange Revolution. This doesn't happen everyday. [English-language Ukrainian resources can be found, by the way, here (for rumour as well as news) and here (for more credible news, I gather).]
Russia's Test; or, The New Cold War
UPI asks four Russia hands to assess the Ukrainian situation through the prism of East-West relations. To a person, they agree that Russia is at a precipice. Putin can demonstrate his commitment to democracy by agreeing to a free and fair review of the election; or he can demonstrate his commitment to oligarchy by backing Kuchma and Yanukovych. The latter action would demonstrate to Washington - and Europe - that beyond the War on Terror, Moscow shares few common interests. It would also, some suggest, make Russia more vulnerable to the sort of unrest currently on display in the streets of Kiev.
Viktor Yushchenko has called for a general protest to increase pressure on the Ukrainian government following the certification of rigged election results by the country's election commission. And the BBC, in an ominous note, reports that "the opposition rallies have lost their carnival atmosphere."
In related news, Canada has joined the United States and other nations in rejecting the declared election results. Speaking in the House of Commons, Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan said:
Considering the allegations of serious and significant electoral fraud from international and Canadian election observers, the government of Canada cannot accept that the announced results by the central election commission reflect the true, democratic will of the Ukrainian people.Hear, hear! It has been a long time since this government made me proud. But this is no time for liberals and conservatives to stand apart. As Colin Powell has declared: "It is time for Ukrainian leaders to decide whether they are on the side of democracy or not." The struggle in the Ukraine is that important.
Canada rejects the announced final results.
Ukraine: The Latest
As far as I can tell: the Ukrainian electoral commission has declared Yanukovych the winner of the election - but US Secretary of State Colin Powell has announced that the United States does not accept the result:
"If the Ukrainian government does not act immediately and responsibly there will be consequences for our relationship, for Ukraine's hopes for a Euro-Atlantic integration and for individuals responsible for perpetrating fraud," Powell said.It looks like we're into the endgame. There had been talk late yesterday of negotiations between the candidates, and this morning the Yushchenko camp expressed an interest in a repeat of the election, under fair standards. But Yanukovych has rejected the possibility of negotiations, and the declaration by the commission pushes the sides closer to open conflict.
The Yushchenko supporters show no signs of dissipating. Can violence be far off? Where the police go, the country goes, I think.
Give Thanks for Immigrants
Rupert Murdoch calls for a more open attitude towards immigrants. For obvious reasons, I agree whole-heartedly.
Late Night Ukraine Roundup
Almost morning there, actually. Check out The Periscope, which is all over the story; one of their commenters is essentially live-blogging from Lviv, translating and passing on news from the radio and Ukrainian news-websites. (See here). Congressman Bob Schaffer is in the Ukraine, and has been sending updates home via his Blackberry - is this world wild or what? - which can be read here and here. And check Neeka's Backlog for intermittent updates from Ukrainian journalist Veronica Khokhlova.
Here are the latest stories from the Telegraph, the Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.
The Reuters piece is the freshest, and discusses early (Wednesday) morning protests by Yushchenko supporters, but the night's most interesting intelligence comes via the New York Times:
A senior Western diplomat in Kiev, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the political situation, portrayed the Ukrainian leadership as being at an impasse, stung by public and diplomatic reaction, and unsure of how to react to the growing protests.The Washington Post provides a supplementary quote from the diplomat regarding the government: "They may have been stupid enough to think that obvious, outright fraud would somehow persuade the international community . . . that this was a legitimate election." I presume that the diplomat is an American, based on the source and the language, although (s)he may also be British.
The diplomat also said he had credible reports that police units, the army and even the S.B.U., Ukraine's successor to the K.G.B., might be unwilling to put down the demonstrators by force. His assessment suggested deep divisions at senior ranks in the Ukrainian government.
"You have a government which in my opinion does not know what to do," the diplomat said.
He also cautioned, however, that one law enforcement agency, the Interior Ministry, might be willing to use force. The diplomat said "two red lines" had been communicated by his country to Mr. Kuchma. First, he said, that the government was to use no violence, and second, that it was to take no step to certify the election.
Yesterday's news in brief: Yushchenko supporters continued to rally in the capital, with a group of some thousands breaking off from the larger rally to surround the presidential buildings. They confronted riot police but there was no violence, and Yushchenko supporters tied orange ribbons, symbols of their movement, to police riot shields. Separately, pro-Yushchenko legislators convened at the Ukrainian parliament in an attempt to declare no confidence in the electoral commission, but a boycott by anti-Yushchenko parliamentarians denied quorum. (Later, two members of the electoral commission were said to have resigned and to have urged their former colleagues not to certify the election results.) Attending the parliament meeting, Yushchenko swore the oath of presidential office on a Bible, although the speaker of the legislature refused to recognize the oath as legally binding. There are continued rumors of anti-Yushchenko men being bussed and trained into Kiev, and more disturbing rumors of Russian troops donning Ukrainian army uniforms and entering the capital.
More as it comes.
November 23, 2004
Yushchenko Calls for Police Support
Victor Yushchenko has called for Ukrainian police to join his supporters, as protests against the rigged election enter their second night. The Georgian Rose Revolution was largely accomplished at the point that Georgian police who had been guarding government buildings began to cross pickets to join the revolutionaries. A similar move in the Ukraine would be a major boost to Yushchenko's movement. Supporters have surrounded the Presidential Palace, and continue to congregate in Kiev's main square.
Dan Rather is, uh, 'stepping down' as anchor of 60 Minutes. The resignation will take effect on March 9, 2005, and is expected to be observed by the three people still watching Sixty Minutes on March 9, 2005.
This is indeed a pajama party as Rather's resignation is a direct result of the fact-checking by the blogosphere during the 'memogate' controversy. This will provoke yet another round of back-patting among bloggers, but it won't be unjustified.
The Cold War, Continued
Also from UPI Hears, news that European countries - led by former East Bloc nations, are snubbing Russia's commemoration of its victory on the Eastern Front in World War Two.
In quiet but decidedly non-diplomatic language, the letter comments: "The victory of the USSR was different from that of democratic Europe, achieved in alliance with the USA, because of the subsequent Soviet domination of entire European countries which effectively became 'captive nations.'"Hear, hear. Juxtaposed with this story, the item below is almost inomprehensible. Are Brussels bureaucrats that out of touch?
Dying for Brussels
From today's UPI Hears:
British hospitals are bracing for a rush of new electrocution victims after Jan. 1 next year, when a new set of rules is introduced on the color-coding of electric wiring in the home. Hitherto, the common-sense rule has been in Britain that red stands for danger, and so a red wire was live and a black wire was neutral. From Jan. 1, black wire will be live and the neutral wire will be colored blue. The casualties from this exciting change can comfort themselves that they are doing their bit for European unity. The British color codes are being changed on the orders of Brussels in order to harmonize with the EU practice.That's preposterous.
Morning Ukraine Update
Viktor Yushchenko has declared himself the winner of the Ukrainian presidential election, as pro-Yushchenko parliamentarians meet to discuss further action. Anti-Yushchenko legislators have boycotted the session at Ukraine's parliament. And Neeka has some interesting developments:
The U.S. embassy staff (all except the ambassador) have announced their support for Yushchenko. Other countries' diplomats did the same. The Ukrainian embassy people in D.C. are also on Yushchenko's side - and they're now negotiating with their colleagues posted in other countries, so, hopefully, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be with the people, too.The news about American embassy staff is a little hard to believe, unless it refers to locally-engaged staff (Ukrainian citizens working for the American embassy); if American diplomatic personnel are declaring their support for Yushchenko, that would be tantamount to an explicit American endorsement. More interesting is the news that the Ukrainian foreign service may be actively supporting Yushchenko. It is my understanding that most of the government backs Yanukovych, who has been prime minister and who is the preferred candidate of the current, autocratic president. The foreign ministry switching sides would be significant.
November 22, 2004
Something IS going on there, definitely. A few dozen cars with Yushchenko flags sticking out of their windows passed by honking furiously - from around the Bessarabka market, along Khreshchatyk, just one block before they turned up at Khmelnytskogo. The sound, actually, was so furious that if I were already asleep, I'd think it's an alarm clock and wake up screaming - maybe that's their goal, to wake us all up, to get us to join them. Man, but I'm not ready to go there all by myself - I'm nothing but a helpless girl, in a way - and I don't want to wake my parents up... (And I'm so sleepy... Which is so f****** selfish...)Keep a close eye, folks. There aren't too many ways this could end entirely well.
Underneath our window on Khreshchatyk, I saw a bunch of guys, six or seven, all with orange ribbons and stuff, and they were pushing one of those very very very heavy benches lined up at the alley there. They dragged it away, towards where the barricades are. After they were gone, I suddenly realized that it was the only bench left standing there (there used to be quite a lot, I swear). As I said, those benches are terribly heavy and must be very useful for street riots...
I really hope those rumors/predictions about the police/thugs' attack at 3 am aren't true.
I've been writing this for about ten minutes, and it's sort of quiet right now...
We'll see, we'll hear...
UPDATE (10:38 EST 11/23/04): Sorry, didn't notice the f-bomb in Neeka's post; because this is a family blog, I've starred it out.
Ukraine and the Cold War
A few days ago my friend Matt commented that he was glad, in light of recent developments, that the Cold War was over. How over is it? The electoral battle in the Ukraine is certainly a struggle between East and West - as those terms were understood in the twentieth century. The current president, Viktor Yanukovich, was heavily and openly backed by the Kremlin, and has promised to make Russian an official language of the country. The challenger, Victor Yushchenko, leans decidedly to the West, and presents a promise of open market reform and pro-business government in contrast to Yanukovich's more authoritarian style.
The Americans, for their part, are talking tough:
Richard Lugar, President Bush's envoy and chairman of the US Senate foreign relations committee, was uncommonly blunt in his assessment. He said: "It is apparent that a concerted programme of fraud and abuse was enacted with either the leadership or co-operation of governmental authorities."There's surely more going on here than meets the eye, and US-Russian relations are one area in which I claim absolutely no expertise. But it may come down to simple spheres-of-influence geopolitics, as the US hopes to expand its support among the 'New European' states of the former East Bloc, while Russia scrambles to maintain a grasp on the same states that is slipping.
Another spot to watch:
Ukraine approached a political stalemate today, as preliminary vote counts of the presidential runoff election indicated that Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich had won the race but international observers described widespread voting abuses and the opposition candidate forcefully refused to accept official results.J. Kelly Nestruck is on top of the story (see here and here). These are the latest that I've found from the AP, Reuters, BBC, CNN, The Telegraph, The Times, and AFP.
With more than 98 percent of ballots counted, the government tally gave Mr. Yanukovich 49.57 percent of the vote to 46.57 percent for Viktor A. Yushchenko, whose supporters turned out by the thousands in Independence Square here, claiming the election had been rigged and vowing to demonstrate until results were released reflecting the will of the people.
More as the story develops.
The Rules of War
My earlier post has provoked some discussion, which I'm glad to see as it suggests I'm not the only one struggling with these issues. I want to clarify and expand upon some of the points I raised earlier.
I think it's entirely meet and proper that American troops operate under a certain behavioral framework on the battlefield. Providing aid for injured enemy soldiers, for instance, is a worthwhile endeavor and something American troops should continue to do - because it's right. I simply question the extent of the moral obligation - and the existence of the legal obligation - to provide such aid.
For such aid is certainly inconsistent with the general aims of war, at least if we hold by the proposition that victory is achieved through the destruction of the enemy's war-making capacity. In fact, to go to the extreme, a no-quarter policy seems far more consistent with total-war aims than a policy of capture. That seems evident, to me, regardless of one's position on a given total conflict.
And yet we naturally recoil from the shooting of neutralized troops. Is this rational? Is it moral? After all, in a total war those troops would quite rationally seek a way to return to the field of battle notwithstanding their neutralization.
Much of it has to do, I think, with the interplay of democracy and war. All but the most ardent pacifists would recognize that there is no democracy on the battlefield. And yet because we are uncomfortable with this exception, we seek to restrain it, and so impose democratic values on the military the moment 'hot' conflict turns a degree 'cooler.' The grey area arises, as we've seen in Fallujah, when 'hot' conflict never really ends. I'm not entirely sure that this application of democratic values to a war-fighting army is sustainable, whether or not it is codified in law.
Hadn't seen this before: Banana Republicans. My favorite item is Dick Cheney's belt.
[Thanks to Dan for the pointer.]
Fallujah - Sites Speaks
The cameraman who captured the shooting of an injured Iraqi fighter in a Fallujah mosque has posted a defense of his actions, addressed to the Marine Corps. He is convinced that the dead man was one of five Iraqis injured in fighting - and treated by Coalition medics - the day before. Of course his conviction on this point makes his declared deference to a military inquiry rather superficial.
Read it yourself and make up your own mind. My problem with the controversy has never been focused on Sites (that's the cameraman) himself, but rather with the queasiness we still have about killing our enemies and our adherence to absurd rules of war. Still, his arrogance regarding the journalistic 'profession' tests one's patience. But again: read for yourself. This is an important primary source from a tremendously important episode in the nation's military history.
MORE: I should note that Sites' account - if accurate - makes quite clear that the Marine in question did make some sort of mistake in the mosque. At the least, he was unaware that the injured Iraqis had been injured and treated the day before. I want to make clear that - whatever my earlier inclinations - I support an inquiry into the matter. My gripe is a broader one, an opposition to the notion that we should give our enemies, rather than our troops, the benefit of the doubt.
UPDATE (16:22 EST): If Sites' account is entirely accurate, this might not matter:
The US military says Marines in Fallujah have shot and killed an insurgent who engaged them as he was faking being dead, a week after footage of a marine killing an apparently unarmed and wounded Iraqi caused a stir in the region.This wouldn't justify an American policy of, say, feigning death, but it might well justify a policy of greater discretion for troops on the ground. Why should American forces support the cost of this deceit, rather than the brothers-in-arms of the deceiters? Seems like a pretty poor allocative shift to me.
"Marines from the 1st Marine Division shot and killed an insurgent who while faking dead opened fire on the marines who were conducting a security and clearing patrol through the streets," a military statement said.
BY THE WAY (16:30 EST): Not to be too inflammatory, but had polite society demanded that the Civil War be conducted according to something like the Geneva Conventions, the South would have won. As most of the Continental (and, alas, British) chattering classes hoped that it would. For some reason this column brought that thought to mind. It doesn't mean we shouldn't conduct war according to some self-imposed moral code; but it means, to me, that we mustn't fetishize such restraint.
Read this first-hand account. The Marines have done yet another incredible thing in Fallujah, and its name will, I expect, be engraved on the memorial alongside those of the earlier formative battles in the Corps' history.
The Thing About Rights
My classmates may appreciate this:
Later I was talking with an architect, who described how housing is a right in Europe, unlike America, where there is no such right.Never. That's the thing about making government pervasive.
ďBut itís a right granted by the state,Ē I said.
ďYes, of course.Ē
ďSo if the state grants it, the state can take it away.Ē
He was baffled. ďYes, of course, but they wouldnít.Ē
Mm-hmm. Yeah, that never happens.
What's the Point?
"Starship Troopers without the lectures"? That's like Hamlet without the soliloquies!
Well, ok, maybe not Hamlet. But c'mon.
(If you've only ever seen the terrible movie, do yourself a favor and read the book - which is both a science fiction and a politico-philosophic classic.)
Troubling reports out of Cote d'Ivoire this weekend. On Saturday the Western Standard's group blog, the Shotgun, noted some very disturbing video that apparently shows French troops firing on a crown of Ivorian civilians. Follow that link to find the video which, I must warn you from the start, is extraordinarily graphic.
Instapundit picked up the story (see more here), complete with skepticism regarding what the video might show - and not show. Today Reuters and UPI pick up on a BBC report that Ivorian officials have accused French forces of beheading civilians, a charge the French vigorously deny.
The charge of beheading is made interesting by the above-linked video. If beheading is taken to mean decapitation with a knife or blade, as I assume the French understand it, the charge may seem wild. But if beheading is taken to mean simply the removal of the head by force - well, watch the video (and again I urge discretion) and decide whether there's any better term for what you see.
But the basic point, to my mind, is this: the American and Western mainstream media spend the better part of last week wringing their hands over the shooting of an injured Iraqi insurgent fighter, a man who moments before his death had been in arms against Coalition forces, a man whose death would have been entirely unremarkable had it not been immediately preceded by his apparent incapacitation. Now we have rumour of the shooting of unarmed Ivorian civilians by French troops. Just as the Iraqi incident may be defensible, so may the Ivorian incident be defensible. But whereas the Iraqi incident received saturation coverage, there are no American or western media reports to be found addressing the Ivorian incident. Is this because:
A) The offending troops were French, rather than American?; orKeep in mind: there's no answer to justify silence. Something has happened in Ivory Coast, and in all likelihood it continues to happen. Let's hear about it.
B) The victims were African, rather than Iraqi?
November 21, 2004
U2 on SNL
So apparently U2 rocked out on SNL last night, performing 'Vertigo' and another track of the new album before closing the night with an impromptu concert for the NBC Studios audience. You can see their show-ending performance of their early hit "I Will Follow" here. U2's new album is released this week.
MORE: The album is streamed on U2's website here.
Remedial Research and Writing
My classmates often complain about our Legal Research and Writing course, which involves a review of some pretty basic grammatical and stylistic issues. I happen to like it, but I'm a nerd like that. Anyway, it seems like the folks in the Attorney General's office didn't like Research & Writing either: this is the first sentence of the government's reply brief in a Supreme Court case on medical marijuana:
Respondents manufacture, distribution, and possession of marijuana involve a fungible commodity that is regularly bought and sold in an interstate market.Um - wha- what? I'm pretty sure there's a possessive apostrophe missing from the very first word. Even with the change, though, the sentence is awkward. I shouldn't be throwing stones, given the glass house that is this blog, but really.
November 20, 2004
Why I Love UPI
A reporter misses his story because of an interesting run-in with Israeli security, and so - what else? - files an article about it.
They call this a fight? Man, basketball sucks. In a real sport the athletes punch one another. Watch the video and you'll see some overpaid primadonnas shove one another a little bit before going into the stands to throw fists at fans. Classy.
The ESPN announcers kept calling the actions of the fans - who peppered the players with drinks and food and whatnot as they left the court - 'disgraceful.' I'm with the fans, here - you leave the court to throw your fists, you've got what's coming to you. In this case, I imagine what's coming is a whole big pile of lawsuits.
November 19, 2004
This blog doesn't usually venture into aesthetic criticism, but Instapundit has linked to a picture of the new Jetta, and I have to note my disappointment. The Jetta is, I think, one of the nicest cars on the road - a fine example of the 'rounded corners' style that came to the fore around 2002. (The Audi TT is, to my mind, the epitome of this style.) But the new model seems to take the car the way of the supremely - irredeemably - ugly Toyota Echo. I've never understood the appeal of the snub-nosed hood to car designers - Ford, I believe, incorporated it into a model around the turn of the century, but appears to have thought better of it. The new Jetta, alas, looks like it got halfway through crashing into a wall, and has simply had its ruined front-end refurbished. What a shame.
No More Lords?
Troubling news from Westminster:
The Parliament Act was used last night to force the Hunting Bill on to the Statute Book. The rarely-used Act was invoked by the Speaker to end the deadlock between peers and MPs after a day of drama and confusion.The League Against Cruel Sports, an anti-hunt group, quotes the Act here:
Michael Martin told MPs that the Act was being applied for only the fourth time since 1949 in order to send the Bill for Royal Assent.
[If] any Public Bill... is passed by the House of Commons [in two successive sessions] (whether of the same Parliament or not), and, having been sent up to the House of Lords at least one month before the end of the session, is rejected by the House of Lords in each of those sessions, that Bill shall, on its rejection by the House of Lords, unless the House of Commons vote to the contrary, be presented to His Majesty and become an Act of Parliament on the Royal Assent being signified thereto, notwithstanding that the House of Lords have not consented to the Bill...Three issues strike me regarding this Act, the application of which is apparently to be challenged in court. The first is that it gives one house of Parliament a veto over the other. The intent was - superficially, at least - to guaranty Commons supremacy in law. Yet while Commons should be supreme, it should not be unrestrained. Giving the legislature a veto power to overcome the executive is one thing. Giving one branch of the legislature the veto power to overcome the other branch - without also granting the inverse power - is to undermine the bicameral system.
Second, it has long been my firm belief that a quasi-executive officer who possesses the tie-breaking vote in the legislature should always, if called upon to cast that vote, cast it in the negative. In the US this vote is possessed by the Vice President who, as President of the Senate, may break a tie in that house. There are good arguments for allowing the Veep to break a tie in favor of the President's party, but it seems to me that a bill that does not have the support of a majority of the legislature should not become a law. In the British context, it appears that the Speaker of the House of Commons enjoys the discretionary power to invoke the Parliament Act when the two House of Parliament are deadlockedĻ - when, in other words, there is a Parliamentary 'tie.' The Speaker, though a Member of Parliament, sits in lieu of the sovereign, and as such is a quasi-executive officer. Just as I would call on the Vice President to defeat a bill which did not enjoy the support of the Senate, so I would call on the Speaker to defeat a bill that did not enjoy the support of Parliament.
Finally, to the degree that the Parliamentary system blurs the distinction between legislative and executive powers, the attitudes of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, who excercise executive power, may be important. In this case, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet (or a substantial portion thereof) did not support the hunting ban. In invoking the Parliament Act, then, the speaker acted contrary not only to the will of Parliament as an institution but to the desires of the leaders of the government. Again, that may not be important - I suggest above that a split vote should not go the executive's way simply because he is the executive - but in a Parliamentary system, it may be more important.
There's much more to this story - it turns out Lords wanted the Speaker to invoke the Act so that they could challenge it in court, and in fact they refused amendments that would delay implementation of the Ban in order to accelerate the legal process. See the Times' report for an account of the wheeling and dealing - and a reminder, my Canadian friends, of what a Parliament can be.
MORE (17:46 EST): In a leader, the Telegraph condemns the ban and the manner of its enactment, but counsels patience on the part of its opponents.
ĻI base this assumption on the Speaker's declaration: "I am satisfied that all the provisions of the Parliament Act have been met."
Europe Goes Dark
Two should-read pieces in this week's edition of the Spectator, one important, one interesting:
Important: European correspondent Anthony Browne discusses the murder of Theo van Gogh and what it means for European democracy. He isn't optimistic.
Van Gogh was a friend of Pim Fortuyn, the populist politician murdered two years ago for offences against Islam. The hate-mongering Left demonised Fortuyn as a far-right racist, but he was no such thing. On the contrary, he was a flamboyant left-wing homosexual sociology professor who firmly opposed racism and had many black followers. But he started campaigning against Muslim immigration and denounced Islam as Ďbackwardsí when homosexual teachers were sacked in the Netherlands because Muslim parents didnít want their children taught by gays. He was outraged that decades of campaigning for gay rights was going backwards, and that everyone was too frightened to speak out...It's hard to read the article without seeing storm clouds gathering over Europe once more.
What angered them all ó van Gogh, Hirsi Ali and Fortuyn ó is the way the intolerant left-wing hegemony of political correctness was strangling free speech and democracy ó not just causing the problems in the first place, but trying to destroy those who discuss them...
Democracy too is under attack, with Belgiumís largest political party, the Vlaams Blok, banned last week. Attracting a quarter of the vote in the Flemish region, the anti-immigration separatist party was disbanded because it fell foul of anti-racism laws; unable to beat it in public debate or at the polls, its left-wing opponents killed it in the supreme court. In western Europe in the 21st century, the Left is getting courts to ban political parties because they are too popular.
Interesting: Paul Johnson looks at the decline of the intellectuals. This one will be of interest especially to amateur (and professional!) intellectual-historians. Johnson focuses most particularly on the decline of the intellectual left:
Today, I suspect, the intellectuals are impotent because so many of them are no good. In America it is a sign of the times that their leader is [Michael Moore]. The Right attracts at least as many stars as the rest: they write in the New Criterion, the National Review, Commentary and the American Spectator, and donít call themselves intellectuals at all. By contrast, the anti-Bush stage army are often ill educated and ignorant. I doubt if any of the so-called pundits who have been holding forth about Iraq in the Guardian have ever been there or know anything about the complex peoples and history of the area. They have no intention of going there either; might be dangerous. They donít mind going to safe, generous America, though. While cursing the US and all its people, they love tripping over to New York to party and collect their royalties. At least those original French intellectuals were prepared to make sacrifices and take risks. Zola went into exile (like Victor Hugo before him) and might well have gone to prison. Todayís anti-Americans risk nothing.Similar accusations could probably be levelled against the thinkers of the right, but I think as a general proposition it's fair to say that there's more intellectual back-and-forth on the political right in America today than on the left.
I don't agree with everything in each of these articles, but both are thought provoking. If you have the time, give one, or both, a read.
November 18, 2004
They've Started Killing Jews Again
From the Jerusalem Post, via Drudge:
Moshe Yitzhak Na'eh, 24, a Belgian Jew who was shot in the head Wednesday night in Antwerp in what seems to be an anti-Semitic attack, died of his wounds late Thursday afternoon, Belgium's Prosecutor's Office announced.Yea, maybe it was a drug deal gone bad. Or not:
"We do not exclude any motive, but so far there are no indications that the motive was racist or extremist," said the prosecutor's spokeswoman, Dominique Renyers.
Belgian federal police are investigating the incident, which looks like a hate crime, since Na'eh's money was not stolen and he was not known to be involved in criminal activities.And get a load of this:
Representatives of the Antwerp police and the Belgian Justice Ministry held a press conference on Thursday to officially address the incident. "They didn't give away any new information," Ceitlin said. "They did, however, call Belgian Jewish leaders prior to the meeting and asked them not to participate in it, so as not to turn the press conference into a 'Jewish happening,' " he said.The emphasis is mine. Heaven forbid we turn the murder of a Jew, by all appearances because he was a Jew, into a 'Jewish happening.' Although in fairness, Jews are not the only targets: "The shooting death of Na'eh comes on the same day that a Belgian politician of Moroccan origin who has repeatedly criticized Islamic culture came under police protection after being threatened with 'ritual killing.'"
It's a war, folks. And it's heating up.
A Bridge to Nowhere
A column in the Times - the real Times - notes the increasing divergence of America and Europe in the context of the divergence of England and France. It's a theme I've noted before. Money quote: "The desire to create a multipolar balance of power, in which Europe acts as a counter-weight to America is indeed Jacques Chiracís most explicit diplomatic goal." Indeed.
In the post below Ryan noted a couple of technical issues he'd noticed. (LATER: 'noted... noticed'? Doesn't sound great, but I can't think of a) anything gramatically wrong or b) a better way to say it.) I really appreciate this kind of thing, as I use the blog in a much different manner than most of my readers. I'd never have noticed, for instance, that commenting from the archive pages was busted. I've fixed the two issues he noted (I think - I'm posting from FireFox, and everything looks ok except the line between the blogposts and the sidebar disappears and reappears depending on resolution and browser size). But if anyone notices anything else, please let me know. Thanks!
This should have happened a long time ago, but kudos to Paul Martin for making it happen now.
Mr. Fox Goes to Canada
No, not the Mexican president. Rather, the American cable network:
The Fox News Channel will soon be coming to Canadian digital TV.It's too bad Fox is being relegated to digital, although I think that has to do with a spat between Canadian cable companies and FoxNews itself, which is refusing to consent to simulcasting.
The CRTC, Canada's broadcast regulator, announced Thursday that the right-wing, all-news channel can be carried by Canadian cable companies on digital.
Anyway, it's about time. [Via the Shotgun]
I was just e-mailed a web-survey conducted by some Texas students regarding news and the presidential election. Unless the survey was tailored to the respondent, it was really substantially about blogs. After determining where respondents got most of their news, and how they perceived the bias and accuracy of various sources, it asked a series of questions about blog use and the election. It wasn't quite prepared for a news-junkie and veteran blogger like me, but it was, I think, a sign of the times. Interesting.
UPDATE (18:19 EST): I'm told that the survey was, in fact, tailored to respondents, asking a different series of questions according to the news-medium preferred. That's really cool.
Look, I know it was a joke. But that's not how it's playing down here. Folks here don't know that 22 Minutes is a political satire show; they don't know that Parrish was sending herself up. All they see is a Canadian MP stomping on a doll of George W Bush. Just keep that in mind. One friend said to me, when I explained: "I was just shocked that an elected official would act like that." Keep that in mind.
And by the way, it doesn't seem like that much of a joke, does it? I mean, 22 Minutes gets politicians to make fun of themselves by allowing them to go over the top in their charicatures. But this doesn't seem too far out of line for Parrish.
The story below - about Barghouti - comes from the UPI. A couple of years back the UPI made its content freely available on its own website, and it quickly became my favorite news service. It featured more (explicitly recognized) reporter analysis than other services, and that analysis always had more of a 'what I've seen on the ground, in the bars and in the back-halls of power' flavor - in contrast to the 'what I learned in J-school or the New York Times' flavor of AP and Reuters analysis.
Anyway, it turns out the Washington Times provides a UPI clearinghouse, which I've added to the blogroll. If you're a news junkie like me, be sure to check out the 'UPI Hears' feature - a collection of news briefs, not quite stories, which you're almost guaranteed not to hear elsewhere.
The Absentee Candidate
UPI has a great analysis on the prospects of Marwan Barghouti becoming the next Palestinian president. Barghouti is popular in the West Bank and Gaza and, unusually, enjoys a fair degree of popularity among many Israeli officials, who see him as a man they can 'do business with.' Just one problem: Barghouti is serving five life sentences for murder. He's in jail.
Oddly - or not so oddly, given your perspective on the conflict - Barghouti's incarceration gives him a substantial political base among 'the inmates,' the thousands of Palestinian terrorists currently serving jailtime in Israeli prisons. Between Barghouti's domestic popularity and his relative popularity among Israeli officials, speculation has increased that Sharon could press for Barghouti's pardon and release. Not likely, but not entirely impossible.
You Know What I Want?
I want an alarm clock that allows you to set distinct times for each day of the week. An alarm clock, that is to say, that you can set on Sunday to go off at one time on Monday, another on Tuesday, a third on Wednesday and so on. A college student's alarm clock, in other words.
I'm not asking for royalties on the idea. Product availability is quite sufficient.
November 17, 2004
I've been busy the past couple of days (not least - though not most - with blog mechanics), and so haven't commented on this story about a Marine who shot a wounded Iraqi insurgent in Fallujah. The basic story is this: the Marines have, on a number of occasions, been tricked by Iraqi fighters who feign injury or surrender in order to draw coalition troops off their guard, and proceed to attack them. When this happened to one squad, the resulting grenade attack killed one soldier and injured another. The next day - or at least soon thereafter - the same squad, including the injured soldier, came across the bodies of a number of Iraqi fighers. The injured solider noticed that one of the Iraqis was not dead. So he shot him.
Because the episode was captured by an embedded NBC cameraman, the story has received a tremendous amount of attention. An investigation is ongoing. Human rights NGOs are calling the shooting a 'war crime' and issuing the predictable denunciations.
Well, Amnesty et al. may be right. Maybe it was a war crime. And if it was, it will illustrate the absurdity of the very notion. Like Andrew Sullivan, I don't exactly condone the marine's conduct - though I think I come awful close. But I certainly don't condemn it. This is war. And our soldiers are doing their damndest to win it, putting their lives on the line every minute against an enemy that adheres to no 'rules of the game,' an enemy that is interested in only one thing: killing them.
For an active Marine's perspective, check out this letter. Key quote: "For those of you who don't know, we Marines, Band of Brothers, Jarheads, Leathernecks, etc., do not fight because we think it is right, or think it is wrong. We are here for the man to our left, and the man to our right. We choose to give our lives so that the man or woman next to us can go home and see their husbands, wives, children, friends and families." In other words, it's not about whether shooting a since-disarmed and semi-debilitated enemy is proper or improper according to some abstract code of conduct. It's about killing or being killed.
I respect that position very much. But I'm not a Marine; I'm an arm-chair general, a pundit, or even - on a good day - a thinker. And I think I can entertain policy justifications for killing our enemies until they're dead. Keep in mind the tremendous risk our Marines and soldiers are taking in going house to house in Fallujah. Keep in mind the terrible toll suffered by the Israelis who went house to house in Jenin. Keep in mind our approaches to Dresden and Hiroshima - approaches I continue to believe were entirely justified. Having surrounded insurgent elements in Fallujah, and having given ample warning, I believe coalition forces would have been justified - whatever that means, in war - in bombing the city into oblivion. But they didn't. Instead, they sent the men of the United States Marine Corps - and of a number of fine Army units - into the heart of the city.
Such is the fear that the heavily armed militants held over Fallujah that many of the residents who emerged from the ruins welcomed the US marines, despite the massive destruction their firepower had inflicted on their city.The USMC did an incredible, valiant, honorable and entirely gratuitous thing in liberating Fallujah. If that liberation involved having one insurgent's trip to hell expedited - well, you'll forgive me if I don't lose any sleep.
A man in his sixties, half-naked and his underwear stained with blood from shrapnel wounds from a US munition, cursed the insurgents as he greeted the advancing marines on Saturday night.
"I wish the Americans had come here the very first day and not waited eight months," he said, trembling. Nearby, a mosque courtyard had been used as a weapons store by the militants.
More Sub Shenanigans
A couple days ago I noted the announcement that Israel had tracked a NATO-member submarine's trek through Israeli coastal waters. Now there's news that Russian fighers have chased off an American sub-hunter over the Black Sea:
On Nov. 15, a U.S. reconnaissance plane flying near Russia's Black Sea coast turned back after Russia sent a SU-27 fighter to investigate. Col. Aleksandr Drobyshevskii said the U.S. Orion plane, based in Crete, was spotted about 6 miles off the coast... The Orion, a four-engine turboprop, is used as a maritime-surveillance craft to detect submarines.Something's up, apparently.
Back In Bidness
Okay, the archives are back up - but intra-blog links for the old stuff are going to be broken, I'm afraid. As are old in-bound links. Simple mistake on my part, something I'd anticipated but forgotten to correct for. Anyway, not the end of the world.
There are still some stylesheet issues, apparently, and I'll (hopefully) massage those out of existence. In the meantime, commenting appears to work and we're mostly back in business.
Every time I do this I feel like I lose a little something. And thanks for the suggestion, Ryan - next time around I may well switch publishing systems.
JUST KIDDING: Some of the old archives appear not to be working. Can't figure out why. Can't bring myself to care all that much. You're good through September, and then from May back through last December. Before that, only the first month - July 2003 - is available. What can you do.
UPDATE: They're back! Apparently. Much fanfare, many huzzahs.
November 16, 2004
There's going to be a lot of this sort of thing, I'm afraid.
And We're Back
Took too long, and there are still wrinkles to be sorted out, but we're back. Only one major issue: MT doesn't want to import my old archives. How attached is everybody to them? I still have them, and they'd be nice, but I suppose it's not the end of the world if we start anew...
ARG (20:58 EST): MovableType gets outrageous 'you stupid people' points for renaming all of the elements on their default style sheet. Why, oh why, oh WHY would you do that? So it's going to be a couple days until the blog looks nice again. Oh and comments don't work. Every time I have to deal with the mechanics of MovableType's product I get frustrated. Every. Single. Time. You'd think I'd learn.
OH FORGET IT (21:03 EST): I'm just going to have to rebuild the thing from the ground up. It's going to take a while, and I've wasted far too much time on it already today. Look for a default template tomorrow, and slow tinkering in the days and weeks to come.
Late-Night Israel Round-Up
Not for any particular reason.
- Ahmed Queria, the Palestinian Prime Minister, has called on French medical authorities to release the records relating to the death of Yassir Arafat. It has been suggested - can't remember just where - that Palestinian sources are playing down the 'poisoning' suggestion in return for Israel's silence on the question of AIDS.
- Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, attending a conference in Cleveland, has suggested that his government may consider coordinating the Gaza withdrawal with the new Palestinian authorities, should those authorities prove capable and willing to crack down on terror.
- Don't hold your breath though. New PLO chief (and former Palestinian Prime Minister) Mahmoud Abbas has survived an assassination attempt in Gaza. The attack was carried out by gunment said to be associated with the secretary of the Fatah terrorist group in Gaza. Fatah was Arafat's personal militia organization. (Arafat won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994). The assassination attempt is seen as the latest altercation in a turf-war among the various Gaza personalities.
- Finally, Israel has announced that its coastal waters were infiltrated by a submarine belonging to a NATO power last week. Debka suggests that it was an American sub doing recon, but one has to wonder why Israel would go public over an American sub.
November 15, 2004
Chirac - Petty, Vindictive, Off His Tree?
More evidence of the France/America split, from the Times:
In other remarks that will sting the Bush Administration, he again outlined his vision of a ‚Äúmultipolar‚ÄĚ world in which a united Europe would be equal with the US, and mocked Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, for his division of Europe into old and new.The emphasis is mine. Jack, Jack, do you even listen to yourself when you talk? Or does it all just flow out of - how do you say - your cul? Or perhaps the Timesman is simply making it up?
M. Chirac said that there would be no division between Britain and France.
‚ÄúIt is like that nice guy in America ‚ÄĒ what‚Äôs his name again? ‚ÄĒ who spoke about ‚Äėold Europe‚Äô. It has no sense. It‚Äôs a lack of culture to imagine that. Imagining that there can be division between the British and French vision of Europe is as absurd as imagining that we are building Europe against the United States.‚ÄĚ
You'll excuse my anti-Gallicism, but I've just about had enough. Jacques Chirac is neither an ally nor a friend of the United States. He has worked constantly against American interests, all the while - as he freely admits in the cited article - scheming to achieve his own ends. He is dismissive of American political culture, disdainful of American cultural - and military - achievements, and by all accounts disinclined to attempt any sort of reconciliation with the Bush White House. Notwisthstanding his own convoluted protestations, it is manifestly clear that he fancies himself leader of an anti-American counter-force in world affairs.
Perhaps it's all posturing - an attempt to set himself up as the anti-Bush precisely in order to allow Tony Blair to 'bridge the gap.' I certainly hope so. But I'm not confident. The twentieth century order was shattered on September 11, 2001, and the pieces are still falling down.
[And yes, I had to double-check my French cuss-words. The reference page is hilarious, but reader discretion is advised.]
Thanks, But I'm in No Hurry
Garrison Keiller wants to give me the vote:
If born again Christians are allowed to vote in this country, then why not Canadians?That's ok, Garrison - my guy already won. But thanks for the thought.
In Other News
Colin Powell has resigned. Condi Rice is expected to become Secretary of State. I have nothing original to add to the discussion, but thought I'd mention it in case somebody hadn't heard elsewhere.
So-Cons and the Common Law
A couple days ago, Instapundit - a law professor - mentioned the standard common-law theory of nonfeasance:
At common law -- and still, pretty much, the law generally -- there's no duty to rescue. The classic example, in fact, involves a man walking down the sidewalk and observing a baby drowning in a half-inch of water. Even if the man could rescue the baby with no risk and minimal inconvenience to himself, he's under no duty to take any action at all, and can simply keep walking without facing any penalty beyond moral condemnation.He went on to discuss nonfeasance in the context of abortion, which brought his post to the attention of the folks at National Review's The Corner. Apparently, they aren't crazy about nonfeasance:
no matter what the law requires, morality absolutely requires you to save the drowning baby. That the law imoses no penalty whatsoever to such morally disgusting behavior is a scandal, but it doesn't make the morality any less clear. If the law doesn't require me to save the baby's life, than the law is "a ass."That's Jonah Goldberg. And with all due respect to him, I don't want the common law - or statutory law, for that matter - compelling behavior based on morality. Here's how Leon Green, storied Texas Law professor, put it: "In the tort field at least, this power we call law is merely designed to control conduct and not to compel it. We have enough to do to keep our activities within control, without attempting to regulate the directions the latent energies of individuals should take." Yup. There are two kinds of conservatives: those who would use the coercive power of the state to force people to act in certain ways in certain circumstances, and those who are really classical liberals.
You can guess which side I'm on.
I'm told folks have been running into trouble posting comments, on the basis of content restrictions. I've just experienced this problem myself, which is a very unusual experience - being prevented from posting to your own blog.
I'm not consciously filtering information beyond spam, but it's possible that I've caught up some legitimate terms in my blanket black-listing. I'll look into it.
Instapundit has a long post about negative experiences with government functionaries, specifically immigration officers. He writes: "People worry that we're alienating people with foreign policy, but far more people around the world care about this sort of thing, and they hold a lot more grudges over being shat upon by some functionary than over something they read in the Guardian."
I vaguely recall writing a post about this over the summer, but I can't seem to find it. In any case, I wonder whether we shouldn't simply privatize front-line governmental customer relations. As long as these positions are dominated by public-sector unionized employees, they will have no incentive to provide high-quality service. On the contrary, private employees or, more particularly, their employers will have a tremendous incentive - the potential loss of a contract - to ensure that their employees are friendly and helpful.
The only - or perhaps the strongest - counter-argument is that certain employees - immigration officials, for instance - as administrators of sensitive areas of government policy, must remain under governmental control. Recognizing that such employees - and I'm talking only about front-line workers - have no hand in constructing or, in a broad sense, applying policy, I think this argument loses its force. And while it's true that they apply policy in a particular sense, and so are susceptible to bribery or other nefarious activity, I don't see why governmental security oversight of privately contracted employees would be any harder or less secure than the same oversight of publicly contracted employees - in fact, given public-sector union 'rights,' I imagine such oversight might be less difficult than it presently is.
November 14, 2004
The Urban Archipelago is Sinking
Andrew Sullivan points - disapprovingly, I take it - to the theory that Democrats live on an 'Urban Archipelago'; that, in other words, the Democratic base is centered in cities surrounded by Republican red and that, furthermore, they ought to focus on those urban 'islands' rather than reach out to the red 'sea.'
To be honest, I haven't read the page in full; it lost my attention around "We live on islands of sanity, liberalism, and compassion," or more particularly around "Citizens of the Urban Archipelago reject heartland "values" like xenophobia, sexism, racism, and homophobia." There may be something more profound in there, but it seems to be little more than a bitter post-election condemnation of the rest of the country.
What makes it so funny is that the purveyors of this opinion don't seem to have recognized that, in this election at east, the 'Urban Archipelago' shrank - or sank a little, if you will. Volokh spells it out:
BUSH New York City 2000: 398,726 New York City 2004: 544,359 Difference: +145,633In other words, in the biggest and bluest of the archipelago's 'islands,' Republicans increased their vote share considerably while Democrats lost ground. Not to toot my own horn too much, but it's a trend I noticed relatively early on election night. Here's what I wrote at 11:05 pm EST, calling Florida for Bush:
NY Suburbs 2000: 607,224 NY Suburbs 2004: 720,719 Difference: +113,495
GORE/KERRY New York City 2000: 1,703,364 New York City 2004: 1,653,767 Difference: -49,597
NY Suburbs 2000: 865,926 NY Suburbs 2004: 815,412 Difference: -50,514
With 64% of Miami-Dade reporting - and 87% of Broward - Bush still leads the state by five points. The cities aren't giving Kerry the numbers he needs to overcome the early Bush-friendly numbers.What was true in Florida was true in Ohio - and New York and California, for that matter. Either the cities didn't come out for Kerry (in the numbers he needed, and in the numbers Gore achieved) or they did come out - and voted for Bush.
"The future success of liberalism is tied to winning the cities," write the 'Urban Archipelago' folks. Well, good luck with that, fellas. By that calculus, the future is looking pretty red.
Palestinians, French: Arafat Not Poisoned
There's been a rumor floating around since well before his death that Yassir Arafat had been poisoned, presumably by Israel. I've heard the suggestion come from some surprising sets of lips, the owners of which did not seem to consider what was, to me, quite obvious: that the 'poison' suggestion was little more than a slur against Israel and an attempt to make Arafat - who died a sick, broken, failed old man - into a war-martyr slain at the hands of his sworn enemy.
In any case, this Reuters story quotes both the French Health Minister and unnamed 'Palestinian sources' as rejecting the 'poisoning' hypothesis. Says the Frenchman: "Nothing in the medical dossier, it seems, has shown that he was poisoned;" he notes, however, that he has not examined the dossier himself.
The refusal by Palestinian sources to release any medical information is the first best piece of evidence refuting the 'poisioning' hypothesis, of course: if there were any evidence of foul play, it would be in the Palestinian interest to broadcast it worldwide. And yet many folks seem perfectly willing to parrot Hamas talking points with little regard to reason or prudence. We may never know what disease ultimately killed Arafat, but it is overwhelmingly likely that it was simply that: disease. Hopefully remarks such as those by the French Health Minister will put contrary rumors to rest.
Towards a Sixty-Seat Senate?
Mickey Kaus suggests that a number of Senate Democrats, discouraged by the party's failure to return to majority status, may retire in the coming years - opening up a number of seats in red-states. I don't know the Senate well enough to identify these potential red-at-home-blue-in-DC Democrats, although Tom Daschle certainly was one. A sixty-seat majority in the Senate would be tremendous for the Republican Party; the question is, can the GOP coalition last long enough to make that a reality?
A deeply divided executive at the Public Service Alliance of Canada has agreed to allow union locals to collect fines from members who didn't picket during the brief federal government strike last month...I've long complained that the closed shop is an affront to democratic principles as it mandates participation in one organization in order to enter the employ of another. My critics - and I won't name them lest they not want to be drawn into this particular debate - have argued variously that a) employers have a right to employ as they wish, and if they wish to negotiate one contract (with a union) rather than many (with individual employees) that's their right; and more importantly b) since all employees 'benefit' from the wage increases, etc, negotiated by the union, it's only proper that those employees pay union dues as required by mandatory membership.
On top of the fines, members could be suspended from participating in union activities, such as running for an executive position or voting on issues, said PSAC president Nycole Turmel. The suspensions can last for as long as five years.
It seems to be that we've gone quite a step beyond that here. It's no longer enough that employees pay union dues; now they are required to participate in union activities including the picket (far and away the most anti-democratic union practice, as it involves the use of force in order to exclude competition and achieve a monopoly on labor in a particular market). If they refuse - they need not cross the line, mind, only refuse to picket - they will be denied the ability to vote on union issues. I have little confidence that their union will allow them to stop paying dues for the duration.
Well, my labor-loving friends?
November 13, 2004
Hooray for the Public Domain
I may be the last guy on the internet to have discovered Bartleby.Com's collection of freely-available literature - all formatted and presented in easy-to-read HTML, complete with many graphics and all notes in a given work.
This is really a treasure of a find, and a terrible site to stumble across a month before exams. So I'm sharing my mistake with you. There's enough poetry there to keep you occupied for years; enough prose to make your mind stutter. Have at it.
November 12, 2004
More on Gonzales and Clemency
This was going to be an update, but I have enough to say that I'm making it a full post.
Slate has a column on Gonzales which cites the Atlantic article and helps to flesh out the argument. According to the Atlantic piece,
A close examination of the Gonzales memoranda suggests that Governor Bush frequently approved executions based on only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute. In fact, in these documents Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence.The first sentence suggests that the rap against Gonzales is a procedural one rather than a substantive one: the problem is not that he recommended against clemency, but rather that he did so based on shoddy legal work. If you've read the Atlantic piece, let me know whether this is the thrust of the complaint. At the very least, it seems to be intermingled with a substantive argument that clemency should be presumptively granted, rather than presumptively denied.
But the second sentence - which lists a number of possible grounds for reversal - highlights the balance-of-power problem I discussed below. Presumably, each of the highlighted elements would have been raised before an appellate court (even if only in a motion for appeal) and settled therein. The Atlantic article suggests, first, that the judicial branch's review of each of the highlighted issues was unsatisfactory, and second, that the executive should substitute his own legal analysis of each of the issues for that of the judiciary. Whether or not the first assertion is true in any given case, I'd be very hesitant to approve of the second assertion.
Note, as a final aside, that Bush did not, it seems, enjoy a total clemency power: "As governor, Bush had statutory power to delay executions and the political power to influence the state Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute them entirely, where there was a procedural error, cause for mercy, or a bona fide claim of innocence." If Bush's only true clemency power was a political power to influence the pardon board's decisions, then criticism of him for failing to exercise that 'power' amounts to no more than a political argument on the substantive issue of capital punishment.
MORE (16:12 EST): The Atlantic provides scans of one of the memos here. Again, without reading the article it's hard to know precisely what the argument is. But giving the memo a cursory reading, I wonder if we aren't seeing a well-dressed political attack on capital punishment. No, the memo doesn't discuss in depth the issues - ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence - that might warrant clemency. What it does discuss, at considerable length, is the convict's progress through the judicial system, up to and including a 13-1 denial of clemency by the only authority with the true power to grant it - the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Gonzales concludes the memo:
Due to the fact that Gardner has presented his viable claims in state and federal courts without success, judicial relief is not likely. Since all courts have reviewed Gardner's case, we feel reasonably certain that nothing will be gained by granting a 30-day reprieve.If the Governor's job was to re-try every capital case, this legal analysis would be insufficient. But that's not the Governor's job; rather, he is given the ability to delay execution in order to ensure that the judicial process has been exhausted. This memo demonstrates - persuasively, in the absence of further information - that, in this case, it had been. What more do Gonzales' critics want?
Andrew Sullivan cites this Atlantic Monthly article (subscribers only) to condemn Attorney General-nominee Alberto Gonzales for his memorandums on clemency petitions brought before Bush while he was Governor of Texas.
I haven't read the article (I'm not a subscriber) and I have absolutely no expertise or even basic knowledge of criminal law and capital punishment - so take my comments for what they're worth- but I have some pretty strong feelings on the separation of powers. Executives are often condemned for their refusal to grant clemency in capital cases; the Atlantic, for instance, refers to Gonzales' "three-page memo that sealed [convict] Washington's fate." But it's important to remember that his fate - capital punishment - was made possible by the citizens of the State of Texas who approved the punishment in legislation, and (more importantly) was ordered by the judicial branch of the State of Texas which convicted and sentenced him.
Now I don't know the specifics of the case. But in any case that reaches the clemency stage, the convict has necessarily been a) tried, b) convicted, and c) denied appeal; more likely he's been granted appeal and the trial court verdict has been affirmed. That is the judicial process. And a republican form of government entrusts the judicial process to the judicial branch.
The executive, it's true, does often have an explicit clemency power to overturn a judicial decision. But to do so - as the Atlantic article and, presumably, Sullivan suggest - would be to substitute the legal memorandum of a single, unelected executive-branch official for the reasoned judgment of the judicial branch (including the decision of a jury).
The executive is not a judge; his legal advisor is not a judge; the clemency power is not an opportunity to retry a case. It is a safeguard against judicial tyranny. Where reasonable minds may disagree, where the legislature has acted, where the judicial branch has done justice, the executive should not substitute his own judicial judgment. That's not his job.
... are rough. I know, I know, cry me a river. Anyway, in the place of my usual blather, I give you these:
- A list of dignitaries slated to attend Arafat's funeral. The apparent concensus is that this is a 'foreign-minister' level affair. Kudos to the US and Australia for sending foreign ministry employees instead.
- A story out of the True North that Quebec's Premier Jean Charest is travelling to Mexico together with French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. Expression of Francophonie unity - or expression of unacceptable disunity? You decide.
November 11, 2004
November 11, Veterans' Day in the United States, is Armistice Day and Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth. David Frum has a fine post that notes the importance of the Great War, which ended on this day eighty-six years ago.
Vanunu Can't Stay Away
From jail, that is:
Heavily armed police commandos stormed a Jerusalem church compound Thursday and arrested nuclear whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu for allegedly revealing classified information, seven months after he completed an 18-year prison sentence for treason, police said.Guess he liked it on the inside.
And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.
We Are the Dead
Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high.
November 10, 2004
Arafat is Dead
Ha'aretz, FoxNews and CNN, among others, report that Yassir Arafat is dead. Saeb Erakat made the announcement early Thursday.
Many will eulogize and commemorate Arafat and his life, debating the Palestinian leader's 'legacy.' All that concerns me is that the man spent his entire adult life waging a war against Israel not as a political entity but as a Jewish state. He did not simply blur the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, he obliterated it. In an age that eschews language of confrontation, I have never had any doubt that Yassir Arafat is and has ever been my enemy and the enemy of all who value peaceful coexistence.
The Bible teaches us not to celebrate the death of our enemies, for even they are God's creatures. But I will not mourn his passing. May his name be erased from the annals of history, and may his crimes never be forgotten.
Guilty as Charged
Andrew Sullivan cites a Dutch blogger who sees intolerance all around:
On the one hand side, I meet plenty of people, both Dutch and Muslim, who say they condemn the Van Gogh murder. But. They understand it. On the other hand, I meet a slightly smaller number of people, mainly Dutch and not as many Muslims, who say they don't want to condone the attacks on mosques. But. They understand it. May I offer a heartfelt raised middle finger to both groups?I'm afraid I fall into the latter group, if only implicitly. See my post here. I came close to posting a condemnation of the attacks on Muslim schools, but stopped myself when it occurred to me that the schools in question might not be elementary schools, but rather the madrassas which stand at the root of the Islamist threat and network. I've had ample opportunity to discover that the schools are, indeed, schools - and yet I haven't spoken out. Now I do: attacks on the innocent are unacceptable. Yes, the moderate Muslim community bears the burden of self-identification and condemnation of radical Muslim elements. But that does not remove the burden on the non-Muslim community to differentiate between the guilty and the innocent. Moreover, when the government demonstrates its willingess to actively combat the Islamist threat - as the Dutch goverment has demonstrated - acts of private vengeance are out of line. I fear Europe stands on a precipice, soon to plunge into a war that will be fought in its very heart and on its very streets. But all must do everything possible to avert that, and certainly we who value freedom should guard against the inevitable excesses that war brings.
Shades of Black and White
All sorts of folks are pointing to these maps that adjust the standard geographic red-blue political map by distorting states according to their population size and by applying a 'purple-scale' which reflects the proportion of Republican and Democratic voters in a given area, rather than painting that area all red or all blue.
The maps are indeed useful in demonstrating that the nation is not geographically divided to the degree that the standard red-blue map would suggest. But I worry about the effect of the maps - and especially the 'purple-scale' map - on the sorts of folks who are most likely to be attracted to them.
Every free government attempts to strike a balance between minority representation and majority rule. In America that is achieved, to the degree that it is achieved, through a political system that is separated and balanced among its components. Senators serve for six years; presidents for four; and representatives for two. The aim is to allow majority national rule while tempering the majority through frequent re-election. Having grown up in a country where the plurality-winner of a plurality of districts enjoys unchecked national power for up to five years, I am quite sensitive to the apparent injustice in allowing the winners of a simple-plurality to govern with majoritarian powers.
But the key to any such system is balance, and there is a risk involved in overstating minority clout. Yes, the country is more purple than it is red or blue. But 'purple' is not a viable political position in our system. And I fear that proponents of the 'purple' nation will come to believe, even if they do not explicitly state, that those who exercise majoritarian power do so, in some sense, illigitimately. I fear that this feeling will be exacerbated by the suggestion that the simple-majority (or -plurality) winner does not enjoy a 'mandate' to govern with majoritarian power.
So while I think the 'purple-scale' maps are neat and a useful reminder that America is a diverse and dynamic nation, I think it's equally important to recall that our political system necessarily demands clarity. And, as Paul Wells notes while citing the maps, the recent election provided incontestible clarity: for the next two years, at least, the red party has a democratic right to exercise majoritarian power. Blue Americans have a right to try to unelect the red, but they don't have the right to refuse that authority.
Belgium Bans Biggest Political Party
The Telegraph reports:
Belgium's most popular political party was banned as racist by the country's high court yesterday, fuelling concerns that the judicial branch is being used to eliminate political enemies.The party's leader, Frank Vanhecke, has issued a statement. The Telegraph continues:
The Vlaams Blok, a Flemish independence party promising to abolish Belgium as a nation, now cannot receive funding of any kind, and will have to disband...
The Vlaams Blok has risen from murky neo-fascist roots to reinvent itself as a modern, free-market party and become the biggest in Dutch-speaking Flanders, the richest part of Belgium with 60 percent of the population.
Its ever-growing popularity is a threat to the ruling liberal party of Guy Verhofstadt, the prime minister, who could face political annihilation in the next election. The lawsuit against the Vlaams Blok was brought by a rights watchdog controlled by the prime minister's office.
The high court upheld an earlier ruling that party branches had violated race laws by distributing 16 leaflets in the late 1990s deemed to be incitement against immigrants. The party attacked the ruling as a breach of free speech since much of the material consisted of official statistics.As Andrew Sullivan has said, "It is as if liberal society wants to commit suicide." In fact, it's becoming increasingly clear that a major segment of the European population is no longer within liberal society. Mark Steyn has been predicting the death of Europe for some time, and I suspect - to my surprise - that we're seeing the first stages of that death right now. In the wake of Theo van Gogh's murder, many Europeans are staring the problem directly in the face and are deciding to fight back. Others, however, seem determined to capitulate and capitulate and capitulate. The government of Belgium has, apparently, joined these ranks. Shame. The Vlaams Blok offered a peaceful and democratic avenue to express opposition to the rise of Islamism in Europe. Let us pray they may find a new such avenue; let us pray that, in defense of democracy, they are not ultimately forced to take up arms.
One of the tracts, denouncing female circumcision in Islamic countries, was written by a Turkish-born woman member of the Vlaams Blok but the court ruled that the arguments were intended to foment anti-Muslim feeling.
UPDATE (17:10 EST): In an e-mail, my father suggests that the Vlaams Blok may not be worthy of a tremendous amount of sympathy; he points to the following passage from a BBC story:
The party had been toning down some of its statements, but there is every chance the new party will pick up where the old one left off, says the BBC's Chris Morris in Brussels.Two thoughts: first, there's a tendency (especially among the European left and the British media) to label any anti-immigrant party as 'far-right.' It's time to get over this. Belgium and the Netherlands have populations densities and immigrant-to-population ratios far above anything in England or the United States (to the best of my knowledge). It's no accident that Pim Fortuyn, the gay free-market Dutchman gunned down two years ago, was anti-immigrant. Where opposition to immigration is based on racial prejudice it deserves condemnation. Where it is a rational response to the rise of intolerance and anti-democratic sentiment among the immigrant population, it deserves close and careful consideration.
At the weekend, its members voted to modernise the party's statutes and tone down its views on immigration, saying non-European immigrants wishing to remain in Belgium should adopt Belgian rules and values.
The Blok had once advocated that all non-European immigrants should be returned to their home country.
Second, even if the Vlaams Blok tended towards an extreme anti-immigrant view, will banning it achieve the (presumably) desired goal of preventing the spread of such ideas? I can't imagine it will; the story suggests that the party was moderating its positions, doubtless in an attempt to achieve a broader level of political support. Banning the party serves only to radicalize its members by suggesting that they are not welcome within the democratic process. Is that likely to encourage less anti-immigrant sentiment - or more?
CAN BUSH FIRE ANYONE? It's a question worth pondering. The odds keep increasing that the bulk of the administration will stay in place - even after four draining years. Ashcroft and Evans have resigned. Tenet left of his own accord. Only O'Neill was terminated - for deviating from the script. And Cheney had to do the dirty. The best bets are on everyone else staying put. Has any White House chief of staff stayed on for two full terms, as Andy Card seems poised to do? Of course, when you have run an administration in which no errors have been made, this is only fair. Gulp.It seems like fair criticism. On the other hand, the same accusation was levelled against Reagan - that he wouldn't fire anyone, that he hated confrontation with his staff, that he rationalized and justified - and his cabinet had a revolving door. Now the criticism may have been accurate regardless of cabinet volatility - but if that's the case, it seems to me such volatility doesn't tell us much about the administration's faults.
Gonzales Tipped for AG
Via Drudge, news that the President will nominate Alberto Gonzales to succeed John Ashcroft as Attorney General.
Gonzales has been a target of the Senate Democrats' philibuster, preventing his appointment to the federal bench largely because he is a conservative hispanic. The linked article also foreshadows what are inevitably to become Democratic and main-stream media talking points on Gonzales: that he was a point-man on the application of 'enemy combatant' status to Gitmo prisoners, that he wrote a memo discussing the applicability of anti-torture treaties, and that - horror of horrors! - "he once was a partner in a Houston law firm which represented the scandal-ridden energy giant Enron." So presumably lawyers working for the executive branch should a) not try to adapt existing law to new states of affairs, b) not try to determine the applicability of the law and c) not work for law firms ever in their career. Sounds like a plan.
Anyway, Gonzales would be the first hispanic Attorney General, adding yet another 'token minority' to the long list of Republican firsts - first woman on the Supreme Court, first black secretary of state, first female national security chief, first black national security chief... those bigoted Republicans, always appointing token minorities to positions of paramount importance.
CORRECTED (17:51 EST): As Adam notes in the comments, I was indeed confusing Gonzales with Miguel Estrada, who's been the subject of the Senate filibuster. I've struck the passage above but left it in the body, and noted the error here, 'cause that's what bloggers do. And I guess this more or less undermines my point about Republicans and minorities - at least when it comes to this Republican. My face is red.
CORRECTED AGAIN (20:27 EST): Also, I can't spell filibuster. I'm awesome.
November 09, 2004
John Ashcroft has tendered his resignation as Attorney General, and the President has accepted.
This was widely anticipated, and isn't surprising. Ashcroft has occupied one of the most high-pressure jobs in the administration for four years. He's certainly been the subject of more criticism than any other administration member with the exception of the President himself.
And regarding that criticism, it's worth noting that the Constitution is still here, and that it hasn't endured any more damage that it did under Janet Reno (though that's really damning by faint praise). Certainly we haven't seen an assault on the Constitution of the sort waged by Franklin Roosevelt, whose New Deal vision of government is held sacred by many of Ashcroft's critics.
In any case, Ashcroft's resignation (together with the resignation of Secretary of Commerce Don Evans) is most notable because it is - off the top of my head - the first resignation of a prominent cabinet secretary since Paul O'Neill left in late 2002. That's a remarkably stable cabinet, as far as I can tell - anyone have historic numbers?
As the first term comes to an end I expect we'll see more cabinet resignations, which means that the second Bush Administration stands to look quite different than the first. But we'll have to wait and see.
It occurs to me that folks who rely on Maderblog for their news - not the best call, by the way - may not have heard that US and Coalition forces are fighting to take the Iraqi city of Fallujah. I haven't posted on it yet because there isn't much hard news. It may or may not be going well. As with all breaking war news, check the Command Post for the latest.
And in the meantime, pray for our troops. They're the best, and they have a great trial before them.
Vindicating the Bush Doctrine
Turns out poverty doesn't breed terrorism after all:
A John F. Kennedy School of Government researcher has cast doubt on the widely held belief that terrorism stems from poverty, finding instead that terrorist violence is related to a nation's level of political freedom...Terrorism is particularly prevalent in countries mid-way between tyranny and freedom, perhaps unsurprisingly. That provides a strong argument for making sure we have a solid plan for post-regime-change reconstruction, which we arguably didn't in Iraq. But it also provides a strong argument for staying the course - and for encouraging the establishment of democracy in transitional regions.
Before analyzing the data, Abadie believed it was a reasonable assumption that terrorism has its roots in poverty, especially since studies have linked civil war to economic factors. However, once the data was corrected for the influence of other factors studied, Abadie said he found no significant relationship between a nation's wealth and the level of terrorism it experiences.
"In the past, we heard people refer to the strong link between terrorism and poverty, but in fact when you look at the data, it's not there. This is true not only for events of international terrorism, as previous studies have shown, but perhaps more surprisingly also for the overall level of terrorism, both of domestic and of foreign origin," Abadie said.
Instead, Abadie detected a peculiar relationship between the levels of political freedom a nation affords and the severity of terrorism.
November 08, 2004
Eugene Volokh examines the allegedly-disparate crime rates in the US and Canada. The post is worth a read (as is everything at the Conspiracy), but I wonder about the professor's endorsement of politically-motivated movement:
I'm glad that some Canadians move here because they prefer our more enterpreneurial spirit; I certainly understand why those Americans who prefer the social programs and cultural attitudes of Canada can move there, and I hope the Canadians welcome them.Now I am, of course, the absolute worst person to be making this point, but is it really a good idea to encourage people to congregate amongst those who share their political views? Or mightn't there be a value to encouraging minority-viewholders to remain in a generally unfavorabel environment - if only for the service it does to majority-viewholders forced to confront minority views?
France and America - II
Last week I suggested that the reelection of President Bush would hasten the emergence of two blocks within the free west, those generally aligned with the United States and those generally aligned with France. The Telegraph today brings us two pieces of evidence. First, news of a meeting between the leaders of France, Germany and Spain:
Jacques Chirac, the French president and a harsh critic of the war in Iraq, brushed aside appeals for better transatlantic ties after George W Bush's re-election triumph and instead called for a stronger EU to confront Washington.Chirac isn't warning of multi-polarism, he's trying to promise it. That's his aim.
Warning of a "more multi-polar world than ever", he said America's assertive policies made it crucial for Europe to pull closer together as a single power bloc.
"Europe today has more than ever the need and necessity to reinforce its unity - that is the goal of the constitution," he said, attending a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
The "Old Europe" trio of France, Germany and Spain appeared deeply stung by Mr Blair's comments that some European leaders were "in denial" about this week's events in America.
Mr Blair told them to face up to the reality of Mr Bush's re-election and "move on". He said: "He is there now for four years. I'm not going to point fingers at people but we have got to move on. There is a new reality."
And if you're wondering about the worldview that has Chirac's ear, read this piece by Amir Taheri reviewing a book by Gilles Kepel, whom Taheri describes as "a leading French Islamologist who is often consulted by senior government figures including President Chirac." Here's a taste:
Kepel blames the "neo-cons" for events before Bush fils became president. For example, he says that Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980 "with Reagan's blessings" prompted by the "neo-cons". Reagan, however, became president five months after Saddam had invaded Iran.Indeed. But I think Taheri misses something important: to Kepel, and I'd suspect to most proponents of the 'French' worldview, all Americans are 'neoconservatives' - whether Republican or Democrat. The problem is not policy, it is nationality. America is not currently wrong but essentially wrong - and it is up to 'France' to demonstrate what is right.
The "neo-cons" were also responsible for "creating the monster of Al Qa'eda" by supporting the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan. That support, however, started with a "finding" - an order to authorise specific action - signed by President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat. The "neo-conservative ideology" was also the "underlying cause" of the Palestinian Intifada in 2000, six months before George W. entered the White House. Later, Kepel says that the Intifada was provoked by Ariel Sharon's visit to Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But that visit came four months after Yasser Arafat had launched the Intifada.
Kepel insists that one reason for the 9/11 attacks was "the political influence of the neo-conservative ideology on US foreign policy". Again, he forgets that the attacks, which took more than two years to plan, occurred only seven months after Bush fils had entered the White House.
The Almighty Looney
Paul Wells kfells over the strenght of the Looney, which is now pushing 85¬Ę. But pricing the Canadian dollarin American dollars in isolation is silly, since the price of the American dollar changes over time.
There's a ton of exchange-rate data available here, and at some point I hope to go through it and produce a graph. For now, I've performed a simple experiment: I've compared the value of the Canadian dollar in October 2004, measured against four major world currencies, with the value of the dollar against those same currencies in October 2002. Here's what I've found:
The Looney has gained 20% versus the dollar.
The Looney has gained 10% versus the pound.
The Looney has gained 10% versus the yen.
The Looney has not gained or lost versus the Euro.
In other words, while the Looney has undoubtedly gained strength over the past two years, it has most likely not gained the degree of strength suggested by the Canada/US exchange rate. Rather, the devaluation of the American dollar since 2001 - which many believe to be a somewhat deliberate policy on the part of the Treasury Department, although they may not have that power - has led to an overstatement of the Looney's strength.
For the record, I think the Canadian economy probably is doing as well or slightly better than the American economy in certain areas. But I wouldn't celebrate this too much, seeing as the Canadian economy was essentially left behind during the massive economic expansion of the 1990s, an expansion which involved a productivity explosion that Canada, arguably, has yet to experience.
Equality Before the Law
From an Ottawa Citizen story on the possible entry of FoxNews into the Canadian television market:
The only people who can watch Fox News in Canada now are those with illegal satellite hookups or access to Parliament's internal television system.So you have to be a crook, in other words.
Enough Saying No
Matt at Living in a Society notes the ongoing tragedy that is the War on Drugs. He's right. I've just read part of a case - Mistretta v. United States (488 U.S. 361) - which found Constitutional the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a Congressionally-created committee which drafts sentencing guidelines for federal district courts. The commission was created to address the supposed injustice of disparate sentences across federal courts - and even between individual judges. Sounds noble. But one effect, it seems to me, is to create 'mandatory minimums' which remove from judges the exercise of discretion which is, I should think, their core function. Like 'zero tolerance' policies in public schools, mandatory minimum sentences for crimes - particularly drug crimes- result in tremendous injustices when individuals refuse to exercise judicious discretion in the application of a rule that must always be applied in individual circumstances, even if drafted to have universal application.
Wow. That's two posts in two days critical of a conservative/Republican position. This 'Republican with a conscience' stuff must be going to my head.
Which of These Things Doesn't Belong?
Andrew Sullivan presents a laundry-list of the president's post-election excesses:
We have all learned that this president's biggest mistakes have occurred when he was convinced he was invincible. Success in Afghanistan led him to construct a war-plan for Iraq that was far too optimistic. Success in the initial phases of the Iraq war led him to the "Mission Accomplished" embarrassment. A clear victory in this election - but no landslide - has now apparently led him to contemplate Clarence Thomas as Supreme Court Justice. And we're also told by Karl Rove that "if we want to have a hopeful and decent society, we ought to aim for the ideal, and the ideal is that marriage ought to be, and should be, a union of a man and a woman."The emphasis is mine. What's Thomas doing in there? For the record, I don't think Thomas will get the nomination - although if Bush is serious about gay marriage despite it all, he might want to push Thomas through as well, though it would make the appointment of a new justice more difficult.
But assuming Thomas did get the nod, why would that be a 'bad thing' of the type suggested by Sullivan's list? And when I say 'bad thing' I'm applying Sullivan's own calculus as I understand it. While my understanding of the courts and Constitutional law is necessarily limited - I'm only two-and-a-half months into a law degree - it seems to me that Thomas is the strongest proponent of federalism currently on the bench. Unlike Rehnquist, the supposed leader of the federalist movement on the Court, or O'Connor, or Scalia (whose commitment to federalism is often questioned), Thomas is the only justice to openly and repeatedly entertain the notion of reversing the New Deal court's acquiescence in the expansion and centralization of government. Perhaps Sullivan opposes Thomas because of the justice's dissent in Lawrence (where he also joined Scalia's dissent); but Thomas suggests that he would not support a state ban, and frames his dissent in federalist terms - he could not find a Constitutional bar to the state action.
Of course, Sullivan may simply prefer federalism when it expands the rights he seeks, and not when it restricts them. He's usually much more consistent than that, but note his final remark in the above-cited link: "Obviously, the war took precedence, especially if you combine the categories of the Iraq war and the war on terrorism more generally." Sullivan has flopped entirely from his immediate post-election proclamation that 'moral values' were the cause of the President's re-election. Why? Surely Sullivan hasn't changed his tune because the 'moral values' card, which he used to undermine the president's victory last week, can now be used to attack his proposed agenda?
United States of Canada
I don't swing in Democratic circles, so while I'd heard about it, I only saw this graphic for the first time today.
It's cute. But it also manages to sum up just why Democrats are so wrong about Canada: they don't know anything about it.
For instance, a word of warning to my west-coast Democratic friends who, in order to avoid distasteful 'Jesus-land,' might try to detour through big, Democratic Canada on their way to the east coast: don't stop in Alberta. Or rural BC. Or rural Saskatchewan, if you can help it. Because, as likely as not, some fellow in boots and a cowboy hat, with a 'WWJD' bumper sticker, is going to get fed up with your liberal caterwauling and will kick you right in the ass.
Ok, ok, that's not going to happen: Canadian boots haven't been butt-kicking in quite some time (our girls and boys in Afghanistan, thankfully, excepted). But the honest truth is that huge swaths of the Canadian prairies and west far more closely resemble - in attitudes, dress, mannerisms, and even (to a fair degree) politics - Red America than anything the coasts have on offer.
So before you get too taken in with the notion of a 'United States of Canada,' have a look at this. Not quite the utopia many expect.
November 07, 2004
Karl Rove says the President will push Congress to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage:
Bush's call for a constitutional ban on gay marriages failed last year in Congress, but his position was seen as a key factor motivating Christian conservatives concerned about "moral values" to turn out in large numbers and help supply Bush with a winning margin in last week's election.For goodness' sake, why? When Bush proposed the FMA in the spring, I shrugged it off as politiking - crass, perhaps, but not particularly dangerous. I felt vindicated in the position when the FMA failed to even reach the Senate floor, thanks in no small part to the opposition of Republican lawmakers.
"If we want to have a hopeful and decent society, we ought to aim for the ideal, and the ideal is that marriage ought to be, and should be, a union of a man and a woman," Bush political aide Karl Rove told "Fox News Sunday."
Rove said Bush would "absolutely" push the Republican-controlled Congress for a constitutional amendment, which he said was needed to avert the aims of "activist judges" who would permit gay marriages.
But now it seems that I was wrong. It may well be that the president, who's known to be a man of his word, feels obliged to support an amendment as an award to his social-conservative supporters. Whatever political advantages this position has - and I think it has quite considerable liabilities (cf. this post) - support for an amendment has few policy advantages, as far as I can see. Last week, eleven states passed anti-gay marriage amendments. In those areas where voters are most afraid of the imposition of gay marriage by 'activist judges,' then, the states have responded to preserve the cultural norm. What is achieved by expanding the ban beyond those states that have actively sought it?
The president is wrong. He does not have my support on this matter.
AP Ambivalent on Israel's Existence?
Reporting on the flight of an unmanned drone aircraft from Lebanon over northern Israel, the AP makes an interesting and troubling statement:
Hezbollah sent a reconnaissance drone into Israeli territory over northern Jewish settlements Sunday in the first hostile aerial incursion from Lebanon since a hang glider attack 17 years ago killed six soldiers.The emphasis is mine, and it's the emphasized language that troubles me. 'Jewish settlement' is the standard mainstream media term for Israeli Jewish communities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; the term 'settlement' suggests (often incorrectly) that these communities are both somewhat temporary and recently constructed. The term also plays into Palestinian and anti-Zionist notions of imperialism and expansion.
Those notions may or may not be appropriately applied to communities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; but here's the thing: according to the AP, the Hizbullah drone didn't pass over any such territories or communities. Here's how the wire service describes the drone's flight-path: "The militant Islamic group said that the flight was in response to repeated Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace and that it reached Israel's northern coastal city of Nahariya on the border before returning to base."
The CIA World Factbook has a map of Israel available here. I've adapted that map, focusing on northern Israel and highlighting the possible area of the drone's flight based on the information above. Again: the AP reports that the drone left Lebanese airspace, aproached Nahariya and then returned to Lebanon. Assuming the drone made directly for Nahariya, the possible area over which it could have flone from and to Lebanon is highlighted in yellow and bound in red. Here it is:
That yellow triangle isn't anywhere near the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, and yet the AP describes its population centers as 'Jewish settlements.' The correct term, of course, is "Israeli towns." Or does the AP believe that northern Israel, too, is occupied territory, and that Israeli citizens are no more than temporary 'settlers' on a land that must ultimately be given over to others?
Europe at a Tipping Point
The murder of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh seems to have awoken the European street to the dangers posed by Islamism - in general and in their own cities. The place of van Gogh's murder has become a shrine of sorts where Dutch citizens have been expressing their anger, fear and resolve as they begin to confront, intellectually, the Islamist threat.
"He was trying to warn us about the dangers of radical Islam," said teacher Geert Plas as he visited the site where Van Gogh was ambushed. "Now maybe we'll listen. To me this is not just a small event. It's part of the World Trade Center and Madrid. We must see this."The American eye naturally recoils from the statement that "this is the true face of Islam," especially given the news of an arson attack on a mosque in Utrecht. But - and unfortunately - each act expresses a certain truth: for the Dutch, Islamism often appears to be the normative expression of the Islamic faith in Europe. This sense is exacerbated by media reaction to attacks like van Gogh's murder, which invariably focuses on the injustice of anti-Muslim 'backlash' and prominently features the complaints of Muslim leaders. This in turn serves only to reinforce the notion that the mainstream Muslim community, while not active in Islamist violence, is at the least passively indifferent, and more probably actively sympathetic, to the Islamist movement.
The letter pinned to the victim's body also threatened death to Hirsi Ali, who has gone into hiding, and predicted the downfall of the "infidel enemies of Islam" in Europe, America and the Netherlands.
"The jihad (holy war) has come to the Netherlands," parliament speaker Jozias van Aartsen said.
The memorials that piled up on the dark brick sidewalk often crossed the line from sympathy to seething recriminations. "This is the true face of Islam," said a handwritten message. A framed poem called "Imam" ends with a stanza: "If you want to improve the world, start with yourself and your faith."
A banner waved from a fence: "Theo rests his case."
Christian prayer cards, crosses and biblical passages sat amid the flowers a rare religious outpouring in one of Europe's most secular states.
The Islamist threat will be countered successfully only when Muslim and non-Muslim Europeans act together to condemn Islamist radicalism. That the mainstream Muslim community has so far failed to come very far towards that goal does not justify radicalism and violence on the part of non-Muslim Europeans. But it certainly makes such violence understandable. The Dutch have come to recognize, in the wake of van Gogh's murder, that a war is being waged on their streets between those who would live free and those who would have them live under a new Caliphate - or not live at all. I dearly hope the European Muslim commities will come to recognize the division themselves - and will firmly and unequivocally align themselves on the side of the free.
The Boston Globe's Alex Beam engages in a healthy bit of Canada-bashing in an attempt to keep Democrats from fleeing north in the wake of the November 3 election.
In fairness, I think Beam is focusing on all the wrong things, but I share his general sentiment that a) Democrats shouldn't leave and b) those who do plan to go to Canada really don't know what they're getting themselves into. It's a different country with its own political culture, and just because it tends to be more socially liberal doesn't mean Democrats will be able to fit right in.
Running a Paper Into the Ground
The editors of the Crawford, Texas Lone Star Iconoclast made headlines when they endorsed John Kerry rather than home-town favorite George W. Bush. They've since felt the sting, with circulation and advertising both falling through the floor. So does the Iconoclast admit a mistake? Does it stand on principle and announce its inention to move on, to hold Bush to account in the coming term? nope:
[T]here seems little chance of his adopting a less confrontational editorial line.Hey, if you're going to go, go big.
In fact, the Iconoclast is working on an election conspiracy theory, involving possible tampering with electronic voting machines in Florida and Ohio, for this week's issue.
November 06, 2004
Jihad Comes to Europe
If it hadn't already:
The Dutch government yesterday vowed tough measures against what a leading politician called "the arrival of jihad in the Netherlands" after a death threat to a Dutch lawmaker was found spiked with a knife to the body of a slain filmmaker by his radical Muslim attacker.This is a war, and the Dutch are now all soldiers. How long until the war flares again in our own streets?
A five-page letter released Thursday night by the justice minister forced political leaders ‚ÄĒ including Amsterdam's Jewish mayor and members of parliament ‚ÄĒ to take on bodyguards...
Deputy Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm agreed with comments by other politicians who called Mr. van Gogh's slaying a declaration of Islamic jihad, or "holy war."
"We are not going to tolerate this. We are going to ratchet up the fight against this sort of terrorism," he said. "The increase in radicalization is worse than we had thought."
November 05, 2004
In Other News...
There's a civil war in Ivory Coast again.
Africa, it seems to me, provides a perfect venue for renewed trans-atlantic cooperation. French troops restored a degree of stability in Ivory Coast last year, but it - like many African nations suffering considerable domestic unrest - need more prolonged and committed attention from the west.
Many on the right see the reelection of the president as a political victory in the war on terror. I hope we don't allow it to overshadow news of the ongoing war.
November 04, 2004
A Fitting Tribute
And from the AFP, no less:
Arafat's death or permanent incapacitation has the potential to galvanise the Middle East peace process.Hear that, fellows?
Bush and Reagan
The National Post's Lorne Gunther makes a good point: while Bush did indeed win 'the most votes of any US president,' he benefited from population growth. When Ronald Reagan's 1984 percentage is applied to 2004 voter numbers, Reagan still leads Bush by about 1.3 million voters.
What It Means
If anyone doubts the ratification theory of this election, this column from the US correspondent of the Guardian, a leading voice of democratic anti-Americanism (the 'French' movement described below):
Once it looked like an aberration. Now it is an era...I hope so. The Guardian, of course, would rather continue to live in fantasyland. And the first attempts to come to grips with the new reality seem mostly to involve demands that Bush conform to the fantasy. Hopefully democratic anti-Americans will come to surrender those fantasies and start adapting to the reality of a red-American-led world.
For four years many hoped that the course charted by President Bush - a muscular go-it-alone view of a world divided between the forces of darkness and those of light - would prove to be a blip. Come November 2, 2004, they wanted to believe, normal service would be resumed. The United States would return to the old way of doing business, in concert with allies and with respect for the international system the US itself had done so much to create. The norms of foreign policy pursued by every president from Roosevelt to Clinton, including the first George Bush, would be revived. Senator Kerry promised as much.
Now that fantasy will be shelved.
The Voice of Canada
Go ahead, my Canadian friends, convince me that she isn't:
The re-election of a war-mongering president shows Americans are "out of step" with the rest of the world, says a Liberal MP infamous for her blistering attacks on George W. Bush.I'm open to persuasion. But the evidence is pretty substantial that Carolyn Parrish is a much more authentic spokesperson for the Canadian polity and public than Paul Martin's 'not in public' approach to US/Canadian relations or even Jean Chretien's smug disdain.
Carolyn Parrish said Wednesday that she's "dumbfounded" by Bush's victory. "He has been reconfirmed as their commander-in-chief, and he is a war-like man." American voters showed that they are "completely out of step with most of the free world," Parrish said. "I guess it's a reflection of the profound psychological damage of 9-11."
UPDATE: Note that Parrish refers to a newly-democratic Afghanistan as a 'problem':
Now, Parrish is urging Bush to dump his ballistic missile program, suggesting his immediate concern should be getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan.Huh?
"I would hope that he'd concentrate on getting the U.S. out of those two problems they've got," she said.
NOTE (15:31 EST 11/5/04): I've changed my position a little in response to criticism and discussion from Matt, so be sure to read the comments to this post.
Breaking news headline from Ha'aretz: "French hospital spokesman: Arafat's medical situation is complex, he is not dead."
I Love Lileks
"‚ÄúWho is the father of George W. Bush?‚ÄĚ Gnat asked on the way to school today. Oh boy.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôre not going to believe this, but his name is George Bush, too.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúTrue.‚ÄĚ Pause. Should I? Might as well. ‚ÄúAnd he was the president once, too.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúGeorge Bush‚Äôs daddy was president too? You‚Äôre joking me. That‚Äôs silly.‚ÄĚ
And so it begins. But if all goes as it usually does, in 14 years she‚Äôll vote for someone I don‚Äôt like; he‚Äôll win, and she‚Äôll remind me: you taught me to respect the President.
If I can give her that much, I‚Äôve done my job."
Give and Take
I cite Andrew Sullivan so much these days that I'm tempted to put a standard disclaimer at the top of each post, so those of you who don't like Sullivan much can skip whatever I have to say. But I'm going to keep doing it because I think Sullivan is easily among the most engaging minds in America right now, a writer and thinker entirely unafraid to address contentious issues in a vigorous yet civil manner.
So anyway, he says this:
A vacancy on the Supreme Court will lead to a revealing new pick. Will the president cater to his Christian-right base and nominate someone steadfastly opposed to abortion rights and gay rights? You bet he will... Arafat's looming death suggests another choice. If a less noxious Palestinian leader emerges, will Bush use the shift to become more engaged in the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a means to encourage the U.N. or other European leaders to play a more conciliatory role in Iraq? Will he tilt against Sharon? Again I doubt it very much. The great mystery now is whether this president will use a second term to moderate somewhat or to forge ahead to the right.I generally agree with Sullivan's Supreme Court prediction, and I pray he's right on Israel. What's interesting to me is not that he thinks such idealogical decisions by Bush would be wrong substantively but that they would be wrong procedurally. Sullivan suggests that in the interests of 'moderation,' the president should abandon certain ideologically-motivated positions. But simply because they're ideologically-motivated doesn't mean they're wrong. For instance - and I fear I might echo my response to Mickey Kaus - is the best way to win support for our Iraq mission really to scale back our own support for Israel? Or on the contrary, if we believe our support for Israel to be correct ideologically, shouldn't we continue that support notwithstanding the effect it has on Iraq? It seems to me that would show far more resolve than abandoning yesterday's position because of the situation today. Adapting for today is important, but why abandon yesterday's position if the condition it addressed has not changed, simply because a different situation has arisen?
And didn't we just have an election on this issue?
Sullivan, of course, supported Kerry because he believed the Democrat more able to adapt to changing circumstances, while Bush appeared far more likely to maintain present policies out of what Sullivan saw as stubbornness. A lot of other people saw it as principle, though, and they appear to have just won an election. So now Sullivan is trying to achieve through Bush what he would have achieved through Kerry.
That's entirely fair, of course - but again, let's recognize what's going on here - an erstwhile opponent of the president is asking him to govern like a Democrat in the interests of 'moderation.'
November 03, 2004
Here's an example of my favorite kind of reporting sloppiness:
French President Jacques Chirac, a strong opponent of the US-led war in Iraq, expressed hope that Bush's second term "will provide an opportunity to reinforce France-American friendship" and the transatlantic partnership.No kidding. Now that's some cracker-jack reporting.
"On behalf of France, and on my personal behalf, I would like to express to you my most sincere congratulations for your re-election to the presidency of the United States of America," Chirac wrote in a letter to Bush. "I hope that your second term will provide an opportunity to reinforce the Franco-American friendship."
Good thing these guys, unlike bloggers, have editors.
MORE: Not sure how to explain this one, though:
Many countries remain worried about Bush's foreign policy and its implications for the Middle East, if he is re-elected, especially given fears of international terrorism.Either the reporter is cribbing off of an earlier article, or he was a student of Al Gore at Columbia J-School.
I just re-read the past few posts, and man do I need sleep. Not up to the standard I set for Maderblog. I'm going to hold off on commenting any more tonight, I think, and hopefully I'll be able to rework some of what's below in the coming days.
France and America
The re-election of George W. Bush crystallizes the emergence in the western world of two distinct camps (we might call them America and France) - both democratic, both free, both committed to the defeat of terror - which have fundamentally different temperment and attitude. In the coming years, I believe, we'll see an accellerating realignment of countries along this axis.
Many foreign leaders will see the election as 'proof' that Americans are unsophisticated, uneducated, and unworthy of serious consideration. They will say that George Bush is simply the manifestation of America. In a sense they're very right - but sooner or later they'll have to come to terms with the fact that America isn't going anywhere; that it's the world's predominant military power; that it's the world's predominant economic power; and that the American electorate is showing no signs of wanting to change direction. The Bush reelection will cause some foreign leaders and movements to come clean about their fundamental opposition to America and their desire to establish an alternative superpower - Paris, Berlin, I'm looking your way.
On the other hand, the president's re-election should also cause certain foreign leaders to stop hedging on America, waiting for a u-turn, and to jump on board. Certainly unaligned countries have no reason to choose. But increasingly they will. And I anticipate that countries which directly confront the tyranny and terror against which we fight will largely fall into the 'America' camp. That doesn't mean 'France,' as a world-view, isn't committed to fighting terror; it's just my hunch that those who confront terror and tyranny directly will have much less patience for the diplomatic nuances of the 'French' approach.
But - and this is critical - both approaches can do more together than each can do alone. As Team America taught us, d--well, I can't say that on a family blog. But certain campaigns and efforts will require an American touch, and certain issues a French approach. In the coming years we will increasingly come to recognize our differences. But that shouldn't cause us to forget our overarching similarity: we are free and democratic, and we are a community of nations of law. That's not just a big thing; that's everything. Let's keep that in mind.
The Burden of Reconciliation
The new meme on CNN (and doubtless among the rest of the mainstream media), framed by John Kerry in his concession speech, is that Bush now has a 'mandate' to 'bring a divided nation together.' Truth is, we hear this after every Republican election. What it means is: "Govern like we would." Notice that the burden for reuniting the country is entirely on the president: the assumption is that Democrats occupy the middle-ground in American politics.
But the election should send a strong message to domestic and international opponents of the Bush administration alike. Bush, running on his policies, has won a majority and an uncontested mandate. Instead of always demanding that the President come to you, it might finally be time for you to go to him. Remember, where he is happens now to be where a majority of the American people are.
Domestically, this should be a wake-up call for the Democratic Party. When I see comments like these, I could fall off my chair. "Howard Dean for DNC Chair"? Do you guys really think Kerry lost this election because he was too far to the right!? And that's from the Daily Kos - the largest left-wing blog on the net. Democrats made the very same mistake in 2000 and in 2002, presuming they had lost because they weren't sufficiently up-front about their leftism. Democrats should take a long, hard look at the election returns and wonder whether maybe, just maybe, the problem is that a majority of Americans aren't leftists and don't - and won't - support leftist candidates and ideas. (Keep in mind the distinction in American politics between 'leftists' and 'Liberals;' I'm not saying the Democratic Party has to become conservative).
The President's re-election is historic for any number of reasons, many of which will appeal largely to trivia buffs and history nerds. Like me! The president won more votes than any candidate ever - although that has to be largely a function of population growth. He became the first candidate in four cycles - since his father in 1988 - to win even a simple majority of the popular vote. He busted the Washington Redskins rule (if the Redskins lose their last homegame before the election, the incumbent loses); he busted the 'incumbent' rule (undecideds tend to break for the challenger; or, the president will not perform better at the ballot box than he did on the last pre-eleciton public-opinion poll).
He also stands to bust some other longstanding rules - but only if he serves out his term. Bush is the first president in more than a century to be elected to a second term after succeeding a two-term president. If he serves out his term, he will be the first two-term president ever to succeed a two-term president of the other party. And if he serves out his term he'll bust the '0-year rule, which embodies the fact that every president elected since 1860 in a year ending with the digit '0' has either died in office or been shot.
Let's pray that rule gets busted.
Last week, Mark Steyn wrote:
Were America to elect John Kerry president, it would be seen around the world as a repudiation not just of Bush and of Iraq but of the broader war. It would be a declaration by the people of American unexceptionalism ‚ÄĒ that they are a slightly butcher Belgium; they would be signing on to the wisdom of conventional transnationalism.He left the inverse unsaid: a re-election of the president would be a ratification of the Bush doctrine and an aggresive approach to the war on terror. That's the paramount reason I supported President Bush.
And that's what's come to pass. The first Bush administration and its foreign policies have been turned from a 'new direction' into 'American policy.' The Bush doctrine is no abberation; it is America's approach to the world in the twenty-first century. Needless to say, I think that's a very good thing. At the heard of the Bush doctrine is a commitment to democracy and the overthrow of tyranny and terror. The imperatives which led to the formation of that doctrine would not have gone away with a Kerry win; we'd have backed off our strong stance, only to have to return to it at a later date. That would have been a costly and unnecessary delay.
But the Bush doctrine is ratified. Now it's time to move it forward - to make good on our commitment to the spread of democracy, and to help entrench freedom around the world. It's America's calling.
New Mexico For Bush!
C-Span just called it.
(Sorry, hard to break out of the habit. The lack of blogging last night was not because I wasn't in front of my computer, but rather because I was too busy flipping back and forth beteen resources, watching vote tallies add up by the hundreds.)
So Much to Say
So much else to do. More later, I hope. But exam preparation is in full swing here at UT Law.
With 99% of precincts reporting, Bush leads Kerry in Ohio by 144,000 votes. John Edwards has announced that the Kerry campaign will not concede until 'every vote is counted' - which is to say, until Ohio's provisional ballot deadline, some ten days hence, has passed. But there's evidence that only 75,000 provisional ballots were issued. Even if that number were doubled, Kerry would have to take essentially all of them in order to win.
That's not going to happen. The election is over. Kerry is in no position, politically, to drag it out. He trails by three percent of the popular vote and more than three milliion votes. Even discounting Ohio, he trails in the electoral college. And he's the one trailing in the key state. Americans don't have patience - or appetite - for another drawn-out post-election battle. Kerry would be immediately unpopular if he tried to challenge the Ohio result. Even if he were to be succesful in 'winning' through a series of legal challeneges, he'd face public antipathy that might well be taken out on his party.
Yea, I might not be saying this if things were different. But I hope I would be. Because it's time to get some class back into election politics. If you didn't win it clear, you didn't win it; concede, and leave with some grace.
That seems to be the consensus - FoxNews and MSNBC have called Ohio for Bush, and James Carville, on CNN, is giving the Bush team credit for a re-election. I still think Iowa will flip to Bush. But - at the risk of pulling a 2000 - I think the election is more or less done, and I think Bush has been reelected.
It all comes down to the final 30% of votes in Cayahuga County, Ohio. That's Cleveland, for the record. With about 70% reporting in the county, Kerry leads about 60-40. The question is whether he can maintain that margin over the rest of the polls, and whether that will give him the votes he need to overcome the Bush lead in the rest of the state. I don't think he can. But it'll be tight. And if it gets tighter, the Democrats will fight for every vote.
November 02, 2004
You Want More News?
Not much to report, really. I think Bush looks strong in Florida and Ohio (the former more than the latter). Even if he loses Ohio, Kerry needs to more or less run the mid-western board to keep Bush out of a second term. I don't see that happening, based on tonight's returns. I'm cautiously optimistic, at this point, of a Bush win.
I Call Florida for Bush
With 64% of Miami-Dade reporting - and 87% of Broward - Bush still leads the state by five points. The cities aren't giving Kerry the numbers he needs to overcome the early Bush-friendly numbers.
I Feel Like I Should Say Something
But there isn't much to report. I'm using CNN, NYT, and C-SPAN. Nothing unsurprising so far - which may be bad news for Bush, who'll want a surprise or two. Although so will Kerry. An election that follows the polls will be an election that goes to the courts.
Bush Leading in Hampshire
... with fifty-six votes reported! NYT has him up 61-36 - or 35 votes to 21.
Hey, we'll be here all night.
Bush is leading 55-43 in both Kentucky and Indiana; he won both 56-41 in 2000.
CNN is now calling Georgia for Bush and Vermont for Kerry; no surprises.
Welcome to the New Media
"Apparently the blogs are saying that Kerry is ahead in one or two of the swing states and that's why the market dipped." -- Lisa Hansen, head trader at Transamerica Investment Management, to the Associated Press.
Polls in Indiana and Kentucky are closed. Both should be safe Bush wins. Expect results in the next 15-20min.
Quake in BC
Anybody hear anything about this?
... in Guam. No, Guam doesn't get a vote for President. And yes, Guam 'voted' for Bush last time around. But the margin seems to be bigger this year. Will the pacific island territory hint at the outcome in the pacific island state? We'll have to wait a looooooong time to find out.
UPDATE (13:45 EST): They say Guam has voted for the winner in every election for twenty years. Sounds like one of those rules that hold until they don't, but it's an interesting thought.
Tell Us Your Election Day Story
Were you disenfranchised? Intimidated? Given two ballots? Given a ballot even though you were ineligible? Did you vote for Pat Buchanan by mistake? Did you vote for Pat Buchanan on purpose?
Tell us your election day story in the comments below.
Oh yea - this one:
A Dutch filmmaker who had received death threats after releasing a movie criticizing the treatment of women under Islam was slain in Amsterdam on Tuesday, police said.Tell me again about how an iternational conference will reduce anti-American sentiment and make us all safer? Because I'm afraid I can't quite see how this was anything but an assault on the principle of free expression by someone who felt threatened by its very exercise.
A suspect, a 26-year-old man with dual Dutch-Moroccan nationality, was arrested after a shootout with officers that left him wounded, police said.
Filmmaker Theo van Gogh had been threatened after the August airing of the movie "Submission," which he made with a right-wing Dutch politician who had renounced the Islamic faith of her birth. Van Gogh had received police protection after its release.
Dutch national broadcaster NOS and other media reported that Van Gogh's killer shot and stabbed his victim and left a note on his body. NOS said witnesses described the attacker as having an "Arab appearance."
Your Election Scorecard
John Fund has a list of state poll closing times, together with brief analysis of the races in each. Useful to have by your side tonight.
Rumour is that polling places across the country (well, on the east coast, and now in the central time zone) were drawing lines even before they opened, suggesting increased voter turn-out. Says Megan McArdle: "Whoever wins, we can be sure that a record number of people will care about it."
Actually, I'm a little surprised by the confidence both sides are showing this morning. Hugh Hewitt has been calling the election for Bush since about, uh, January 2001; on the other hand, Andrew Sullivan's words say no, but his message says yes.
Someone's going to be disappointed.
If you haven't, and you can, please do. I'm not going to get all preachy or sappy or whatever. I'm just going to say that I love this country and would give almost anything to be able to participate in its democratic process. I can't. You can. Don't take that for granted.
Good Morning America
It's election day - time for a prediction! But not from me. HorseRaceBlog has your swing-state round-up - he's aggregated a lot of recent polls, and sees a substantial Bush victory. Among his predictions, there was one with which I initially disagreed, but which I've since changed my mind on. That's the closest I'll come to a prediction, but know that I've sealed my state-by-state predictions and mailed them to myself (because that way I get a copyright), and tomorrow I'll tear open the envelope and share them with you, one way or another.
November 01, 2004
Reagan Was Right
Feeling Excessively Cheerful?
Megan McArdle will bring you right down.
On election night four years ago, I predicted - for no rational reason - that the 2000-2004 presidential term would be a foreign policy administration. (I don't have that on paper, but I vaguely recall making the comments to reader AO'B).
This time around, while I think it's terribly important that President Bush be reelected for foreign-policy reasons, and while we all seem to agree that this is a foreign-policy election, I think the coming presidential term will be much more domestically-focused - especially as we move from strength to strength in the war on terror. I share the concerns of many that President Bush has proven to be anything but a movement conservative on domestic-policy issues, and I hope that - if he wins - he will pursue his 'ownership society' agenda with the same determination he has brought to the war on terror.
Kaus on Kerry
Mickey Kaus has published his endorsement of John Kerry, and it is by far the least persuasive and most worrying endorsement of either candidate I've seen this cycle. Kaus, who is not and has never been enthusiastic about Kerry, brushes aside domestic policy concerns and concedes that President Bush would be better on Iraq. The key, he says, is the broader war on terror, and here he prefers Kerry because - well, read for yourself:
The issue is how many new terrorists are we creating--as Donald Rumsfeld famously wrote, "Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get.'?" Let's say that n is the number of net new terrorists who'll come online in the next four years. Isn't it obvious that n is a lot lower if Kerry is president than if Bush is president?Let's assume for the sake of argument that this is correct, and that the perpetuation of the Bush presidency would 'create' more terrorists than its arrest. Isn't this true of a whole host of other American policies as well? Like, say, oh I don't know, support for the State of Israel? To borrow Kaus' language, 'Isn't it obvious that n is a lot lower if we stop supporting Israel than if we continue?'
And it isn't just Israel. Encouraging democratic reform in Saudi Arabia is more likely to produce terrorists among that country's Islamic radicals than the alternative of not encouraging such reform, since friends of democratic reform are 'obviously' less likely to murder innocents to achieve their ends.
In other words, there are many policies which the enemies of America aren't crazy about and which, if reversed, would result in less anti-American terrorist activity. Is giving in on these policies really the best course of action? Or mightn't it simply be recognized as a form of surrender, an invitation to seek further concessions from the humbled superpower? Wouldn't it be better to send the message to current and potential terrorists that violence against innocents in the pursuit of a totalitarian political agenda is the best way to buy a one-way ticket to hell?
Yes, the restoration of American prestige around the world is an important task that must be near the top of the agenda of the incoming administration, whoever leads it. But it's vitally important to recognize that America is in the process of fundamentally altering the world order, away from tyranny and totalitarianism and towards representative democracy. There are many who are fundamentally opposed to such a realignment, and they are (not coincidentally) the most prone to terrorist violence. Does Kaus really believe that the best way to pacify those opponents is to capitulate to them? Do you?
Thankfully, this is not the only justification for supporting Kerry or opposing Bush in tomorrow's election. Certainly voting for Kerry does not amount to a surrender or capitulation to terrorists or their sympathizers. But I think it's pretty clear that Kaus' argument does. After all, if his n-formula isn't a textbook illustration of 'appeasement,' then the word has no meaning at all.
Term Limits for the Supreme Court?
The Volokh Conspiracy's David Bernstein says that if a President Kerry replaces Rehnquist with a liberal justice, the Chief will have only himself to blame. He proposes a fifteen-year limit for the top-court.
In potentially-related news, Bernstein's co-Conspirator Orin Kerr relays the rumour that Kerry would nominate Hillary Clinton to the high court.
Poll Round-Up: End It Already Edition
Okay, okay, I know why you're really here - you're here for election news.
The story line for the past week has been that Bush isn't where he wants to be going into an election. But if that's true, John Kerry sure as heck isn't where he wants to be. You all know to check Real Clear Politics, but here's my wrap: Bush leads in every pop-opinion poll, generally by about two points. In the last five days of October, he led all Ohio polls but one. He looks sure to win New Mexico and Colorado. Florida remains a toss-up, and the Senate race there is tilting Republican. Nobody knows what's going on in Wisconsin - two contemporaneous polls show either Kerry up seven or Bush up eight. Ditto Iowa. Among the big swing states, Kerry can probably only count on Pennsylvania.
In other words, Bush continues to enjoy the structural advantages of the electoral college which have been working in his favor for months. The president can afford to lose two of the Big Three - Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio - as long as he wins about ten electoral votes in the midwest (where Wisconsin and Iowa are his best bets). Kerry, on the other hand, cannot afford to lose two of the Big Three - and even if he does win two, he'll have to keep Bush substantially of the board in the midwest in order to win.
I'm not making any predictions, beyond a general feeling that it isn't going to be close, in the end, and that the loser will concede before sunrise
tomorrow Wednesday. But Bush supporters needn't get too upset about recent numbers. If they aren't good for Bush, they certainly aren't good for Kerry.
MORE (13:23 EST): FoxNews has all sorts of contradictory numbers - theyve got Kerry up nationally; they've got Kerry up in Florida; and they've got Bush up in Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin. Note that if Bush were to lose Florida but win Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin, ceteris paribus, he'd win the election. So there you go. No idea what to make of those numbers.
Andrew Sullivan takes Glenn Reynolds to task for his generally-positive assessment of the situation in Iraq. Reynolds responds, quoting, at length, Andrew Sullivan.
I can understand, I suppose, the frustration Sullivan feels at the fact that Bush supporters don't want to criticize their candidate in the middle of an election campaign. In fact, my biggest criticism of Sullivan this election cycle is that he over-intellectualizes politics, arguing that if you disagree with one guy you must necessarily be for the other - or sit the election out. Reynolds, I think, understands that you can disagree with a candidate and still find him much preferable to the alternative candidate - and that, as former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell once quipped, an election is "no time to discuss serious issues."
Yea, that's a frustrating reality. But I'm surprised that frustration has turned, for so many, into open anger. Sullivan has certainly seemed angry to me, recently. And it makes me wonder: what if Bush wins? What will Sullivan, who's burned no small number of bridges with his criticism of his pro-Bush fellows, do then?
The Chief Sits One Out
Chief Justice William Rehnquist will not sit with the Supreme Court as it meets today. Rehnquist was treated last week for thyroid cancer, and at the recommendation of his doctors he has decided to remain at home to recuperate.
The Chief's decision to remain at home despite his announcement last week that he'd be back at the Court today suggests that his condition may be more serious than previously thought. Look for an announcement in the days or weeks following tomorrow's election.
Terror Alert in Scandanavia
The US embassies in Finland and Latvia have issued a terror warning, and the Norweigian embassy in Latvia has closed, in response to a concrete threat of attack on Monday.
Red China Watch
The Red Chinese government has closed 1,600 internet cafes and fined their proprietors in the latest move to restrict free access to the internet. A couple of years back (I have the story somewhere in the old blog archives), the government shut all internet cafes in response to a fire in Beijing which left a number of cafe patrons dead. A young man was arrested for setting the blaze but, China being governed by a totalitarian Communist regime, he faced no public trial and has not, to the best of my knowledge, been seen or heard from since. (Although given the size of China and the relatively small amount of China news we receive in the west, I can't really make that claim with much confidence).
In any case, next time you hear someone complaining about American 'censorship,' remember that you needn't look to a pre-liberation Afghanistan or a present-day Saudi Arabia for examples of the real thing. In China, repression is the order of the day.