OpinionMeister

Monday, February 28, 2005

Diplomats May Have to Park Like the Rest of Us

I am pleased to say that there is finally an idea by both Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer that I agree with. Since it is their constituents that are among the most inconvenienced by illegal parking by diplomats, they came up with an idea to stop it. The Washington Post Insider blog describes it. Link.
You can thank a pair of New York Democrats -- Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer -- for forcing foreign diplomats posted in this country to adhere to U.S. traffic and parking laws.

And they are paying up, by golly, under threat by Uncle Sam that U.S. aid sent to their countries would get cut by 110 percent of the amount owed in unpaid fines.

For a country like Egypt, which had owed $1.8 million to federal and local police jurisdictions in Washington and New York, this could add up to some serious bucks.

Other countries that made a habit of ignoring traffic tickets included Nigeria, Indonesia, Brazil and Morocco, to name a few.

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Schumer inserted the clever measure into a current spending bill, the latter remarking that it "is simply outrageous for these individuals to park illegally and blatantly ignore paying their parking tickets -- New Yorkers face severe penalties if they do this and so should diplomats."

Of course, if the president had advocated this, these two senators, along with their 44 Democratic Senate colleagues, probably would demand that aid be increased to countries that do not pay their parking fines.

Another Big Success in Lebanon

Fox News reports that the pro-Syrian government of Lebanon has resigned in the face of huge demonstrations demanding its resignation. Link.
Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karami announced the resignation of his pro-Syrian government Monday, two weeks after the assassination of his predecessor, Rafik Hariri, triggered protests in the streets and calls for Syria to withdraw its thousands of troops.

"I am keen that the government will not be a hurdle in front of those who want the good for this country. I declare the resignation of the government that I had the honor to head. May God preserve Lebanon," Karami said.

I should be getting bored having to repeat over and over how quickly the Middle East dominoes are falling, but I am not. I am too delighted to be bored. The Bush Doctrine just keeps getting results. It is amazing how much better the world looks today than it did four or five years ago.

Too Cautious to do the Job Right

The Washington Times gas an article, headlined "CIA too cautious in terrorist hunt, agency critics say." Link.
The CIA is being too cautious in employing its broad new post-September 11 authority to use lethal force against the terrorist enemies of the United States, critics of the agency say.
One former intelligence official said even the CIA's new Hellfire missile, which can be launched from the remotely piloted Predator aerial platform, is bogged down by the excessively legalistic attitude of the agency's senior management.
"From personal experience, I can tell you, you have to build a brief of almost court-level evidence before you can even contemplate shooting a Hellfire missile at one of these guys," said Michael Scheuer, a former CIA official who once led the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

"I can't give you the exact figures," said Mr. Scheuer, adding that they are classified, "but since May of 2002, the Predator has shot far less than 10 missiles. Not because there were no targets, but because the legal requirements necessary before you pull the trigger are so onerous."

It is a typical story. When the CIA was founded soon after WWII, it was filled with enthusiasts, who did their jobs well. Now, it is a vast bureaucracy, and it thinks like a vast bureaucracy. Priority 1: cover your ass. Priority 2: cover the agency's ass. Priority 3: help the nation's security. Priorities 1 and 2 translate into "never make a mistake," and that usually means "do nothing." If we shoot missiles at Al Queda, there will come a time when a missile hits the wrong target, and innocent people will die. To avoid this, you do not fire the other 99 missiles, which would have devastated Al Queda. The Pentagon understands that in a war, mistakes happen, and innocent people die. They act to minimize civilian deaths, but they do not paralyze themselves to make such deaths zero. Why can't the CIA think that same way?

Another Milestone for National Health Care

John Kerry and Hillary Clinton would love to see the US adopt Britain's nationalized health care, but the San Francisco Chronicle reports on a recent comparison. Link.
From the time Tilly Merrell was a year old, doctors told her family she would never have a normal life -- or even a normal meal.

British doctors found that the food she swallowed went into her lungs instead of her stomach, causing devastating lung infections. They said she had isolated bulbar palsy, and their solution was to feed her through a stomach tube. Forever.

But having a backpack with a food pump wired to her stomach wasn't much of a life for a girl whose favorite smell is bacon frying -- a girl who once broke through a locked kitchen door in an effort to sneak some cheese. So her family got help from their community of Warndon, about 120 miles north of London, raising enough money to take Tilly, now 8, on a 5,000-mile journey they hoped might change her life, a journey to Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University.

Doctors at Packard were intrigued that she had no neurological symptoms often associated with the palsy. In all other ways, she was a normal child with a mischievous smile and a truckload of energy. After seeing her Feb. 7, they ran three tests and found out what was wrong with her.

Repeat: NOTHING. She is now home eating normally and living a normal life. But, hey, the family got the treatment in England for free. They had to pay, probably some obscene amount, for the US care. They certainly were a prime example of the old dictum "You get what you pay for."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Grounds for a Paternity Suit

The Associated Press reports on a suit for emotional distress, but passes over what I would consider the bigger story here. Link.
(Dr. Richard O) Phillips accuses Dr. Sharon Irons of a "calculated, profound personal betrayal" after their affair six years ago, saying she secretly kept semen after they had oral sex, then used it to get pregnant.

He said he didn't find out about the child for nearly two years, when Irons filed a paternity lawsuit. DNA tests confirmed Phillips was the father, the court papers state.

Phillips was ordered to pay about $800 a month in child support, said Irons' attorney, Enrico Mirabelli.

The article is about Phillips suing Irons for emotional distress. It is only as background that we learn of the ridiculous paternity verdict. If that logic were to be followed, a sperm donor for artificial insemination can be sued for paternity, since it is obvious that Dr. Irons artificially inseminated herself with Dr. Phillips' sperm.. In the current suit, an appeals court ruled
that, if Phillips' story is true, Irons "deceitfully engaged in sexual acts, which no reasonable person would expect could result in pregnancy, to use plaintiff's sperm in an unorthodox, unanticipated manner yielding extreme consequences."

Where was the common sense of this appeals court when the paternity suit was heard?

Is This the Beginning of a Dean Exodus?

WBAL in Annapolis, MD. reports on the party switch of an Annapolis alderman. Link.
Annapolis Alderman George Kelley has crossed the aisle.

The long-time Democrat announced Monday that he had become a Republican.

Kelley said he made the decision after several years of "soul-searching" and said his core values were different from those espoused by the Democrats. (...)

Kelley also is black, and a friend of the state's first black lieutenant governor, Republican Michael Steele, who joined him at a news conference. Steele pointed to Kelley's switch as an example of the party's efforts to diversify.

There was no mention whether one factor in Kelly's decision was Dean's racially insensitive remarks that were attacked by Kelly's friend, the lieutenant governor. Time will tell whether this is a one-of-a-kind incident, or the opening of a flood-gate.

Syria Turns Over Iraqi Baathist to Iraq

The Associated Press reports on the latest result of US pressure in the region. Link.
Iraqi officials said Sunday that Syrian authorities had captured Saddam Hussein's half-brother and 29 other officials of the deposed dictator's Baath Party in Syria and handed them over to Iraq in an apparent goodwill gesture.

Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, a former Saddam adviser suspected of financing insurgents after U.S. troops ousted Saddam, was captured in Hasakah in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border, two senior Iraqi officials told The Associated Press by telephone on condition of anonymity. Hasakah is about 30 miles from the Iraqi border.

They added that al-Hassan was captured and handed over to Iraqi authorities along with 29 other members of Saddam's collapsed Baath Party, whose Syrian branch has been in power in Damascus since 1963.

Bashar al-Assad badly overplayed his hand and is furiously trying to backpeddle. The Lebanese want Syrian troops out of Lebanon, following his too-cute-by-half murder plan. Israeli security spokesmen say the Tel Aviv bombing was directed from Syria, and there is nobody to stop the Israelis from retaliating. And George W. Bush keeps going public with descriptions of Syrian support for Iraqi terrorism.

As for the Syrians suddenly "finding" these Iraqi Baathists, it is implausible. It is far easier to believe that the Syrians were sponsoring these men for the last two years, but now they have reasons to betray them. Bashar must be wondering who will invade Syria first: Israel or the US.

Mark Steyn Very Pessimistic on Europe

Mark Steyn has a new column in which he sounds even more pessimistic on Europe than he usually does. Link.
The president, in other words, understands that for Europe, unlike America, the war on terror is an internal affair, a matter of defusing large unassimilated radicalized Muslim immigrant populations before they provoke the inevitable resurgence of opportunist political movements feeding off old hatreds. Difficult trick to pull off, especially on a continent where the ruling elite feels it's in the people's best interest not to pay any attention to them. (...)

Plus there's something to be said for the theory that, as the EU constitution is a disaster waiting to happen, you might as well cut down the waiting and let it happen. CIA analysts predict the collapse of the EU within 15 years. I'd say, as predictions of doom go, that's a little on the cautious side. (...)

Europe's problems -- its unaffordable social programs, its deathbed demographics, its dependence on immigration numbers that no stable nation (not even America in the Ellis Island era) has ever successfully absorbed -- are all of Europe's making. By some projections, the EU's population will be 40 percent Muslim by 2025. Already, more people each week attend Friday prayers at British mosques than Sunday service at Christian churches -- and in a country where Anglican bishops have permanent seats in the national legislature.

Some of us think an Islamic Europe will be easier for America to deal with than the present Europe of cynical, wily, duplicitous pseudo-allies. But getting there is certain to be messy, and violent.

Until the shape of the new Europe begins to emerge, there's no point picking fights with the terminally ill. The old Europe is dying, and Mr. Bush did the diplomatic equivalent of the Oscar night lifetime-achievement tribute at which the current stars salute a once glamorous old-timer whose fading aura is no threat to them. The 21st century is being built elsewhere.

I hope he is wrong, but I cannot tell you why he is. The trends he describes accurately, but I think there still is room for European statesmen, if any exist, to slow and then reverse the trends. The murder of Theo Van Gogh has been very sobering, at least in the Netherlands. Let us hope that that murder proves to be Europe's 9/11 that galvanizes a new direction.

Israel and PA Cooperating on Tel Aviv Bombing

The Washington Times reports on cooperative efforts to arrest those responsible for the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Link.
Israeli and Palestinian security services yesterday arrested seven persons in connection with the suicide bombing the night before, a sign that a budding cooperative spirit had not been crippled.
Israeli government officials decided against a massive retaliation for the bombing outside a Tel Aviv disco Friday night that killed four Israelis and wounded nearly 50 others.
The restraint came as evidence mounted that the bomber's goal was to sabotage new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his policy of renewing negotiations with Israel. (...)

Israeli soldiers moved swiftly overnight Friday to raid the village of Deir al Ghusun, where Badran lived. Israelis arrested two of his brothers as well as the leader of the village mosque.
In a separate operation, newly empowered Palestinian security forces arrested two other men in the same area of the West Bank. Their identities were not released, but Palestinian security sources said they were Islamic Jihad members.

Arafat was willing to talk against terrorism, but would never act against it. It is looking more and more like Abbas is no Arafat. The dominoes that dropped in Afghanistan and Iraq might just lead toward some level of peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

With Friends Like These

Canadian Press has an analysis of Prime Minister Paul Martin's decision not to participate in common missile defense with the United States. Link.
Canada's rejection of missile defense is a historic shift in its relationship with the United States and could have deep unforeseen consequences, analysts warn.

This week's announcement is more significant than Canada's refusal to join fighting in Iraq or Vietnam because, some say, this time the country has rejected a domestic defense plan. One military analyst in Washington says Canada has turned its back on a 67-year-old agreement signed by then-prime minister Mackenzie King and president Franklin Roosevelt to jointly defend North America. (...)

A defiant Martin declared again Friday that the United States must seek permission before firing any missile over Canadian airspace.

He was responding to warnings that Canada has abdicated sovereignty by refusing to take part in the U.S. project.

The top U.S. envoy to Canada - Ambassador Paul Cellucci - says Canada would be "outside of the room" when his country decides whether to fire at incoming missiles.

But Martin said Friday: "We would expect to be consulted.

"This is our airspace, we're a sovereign nation and you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission."

Martin is delusional. Yes, in the unlikely event that a missile is launched at a Canadian city, we might not respond, but if it is heading for the US, there is no way in Hell that we will call him first for permission before launching an anti-missile defense over Canadian territory. At least with France we have a long history of them stabbing us in the back, but with Canada, this is a reversal of a long and friendly history together.

Islamic "Honor Killing" in Berlin

Deutsche Welle reports that an Muslim woman was killed in Berlin by her brothers. Link. What was her crime that so dishonored her family?
Sürücü grew up in Berlin and was married off at 16 to a cousin in Istanbul. After a few years, she returned to the German capital with her young son, moved into a home for single mothers, completed school and began to train as an electrician. She stopped wearing a headscarf and was said to be outgoing and vivacious. (...)

Days after Hatin Sürücü was killed, some male students of Turkish origin at a high school near the scene of the crime reportedly downplayed the act. During a class discussion on the murder, one said, "She (Hatin Sürücü) only had herself to blame," while another remarked "She deserved what she got --the whore lived like a German." The school's director promptly dashed off a letter to parents and students, castigating the students and warning that the school didn’t tolerate incitement against freedom. (...)

Experts insist that the problem is in no way a purely "Islamic phenomenon" and that the remarks of a few shouldn't be allowed to taint an entire community. But, statistics in Berlin show that murders ostensibly meant to uphold the honor of the family are high among Muslims.

Where did they find these "experts." This is indeed a "purely Islamic phenomenon." Fifty years ago, a Sicilian or Greek unmarried girl who got pregnant faced a risk of being murdered by her father, but not today. And not even fifty years ago would she face death for moving out on her husband and into a home for single mothers with her legitimate son. These must be the same "experts" that insist that airport security search as many white, Midwestern grandmothers as young Arab men.

NYT Discovers the Constitution

In order to attack a Bush program (No Child Left Behind, with which I too disagree) the New York Times actually ran a story that this Federal intrusion into the state responsibility to educate our children is unconstitutional. Link.
Concluding a yearlong study on the effectiveness of President Bush's sweeping education law, No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers drawn from many states yesterday pronounced it a flawed, convoluted and unconstitutional education reform initiative that has usurped state and local control of public schools. (...)

"Under N.C.L.B., the federal government's role has become excessively intrusive in the day-to-day operations of public education," the National Conference of State Legislatures said in the report, which was written by a panel of 16 state legislators and 6 legislative staff members. (...)

"Everybody was in agreement about the goals of the law, but we in the states are concerned that the existing structure is very prescriptive," Mr. Saland said. "We think there are ways of doing accountability that recognize differences among states."

The law will come up for reauthorization in Congress in 2007. But Mr. Saland said he and other members of the task force hoped to persuade Congress to change the law before then. (...)

One chapter of the report says that the Constitution does not delegate powers to educate the nation's citizens to the federal government, thereby leaving education under state control. The report contends that No Child Left Behind has greatly expanded federal powers to a degree that is unconstitutional..

"This assertion of federal authority into an area historically reserved to the states has had the effect of curtailing additional state innovations and undermining many that had occurred during the past three decades," the report said.

"The task force does not believe that N.C.L.B. is constitutional," it said.

The NYT has long held that the Constitution is whatever five justices say it is, as long as it is not five conservative justices. The framers could not have been clearer. The federal government has only those powers specifically delegated to it by the Constitution. State governments, on the other hand, have any powers they want that are not specifically barred by the Constitution. Only emanations and penumbral from the Constitution can justify federal involvement in state educational policy. When states are allowed to do things differently, citizens have the right and ability to "vote with their feet" and still remain in the country. When the federal government institutes a policy in all fifty states, citizens must choose between this country and another. This is not a choice that should be forced on people.

Score One More For the Domino Theory

The Associated Press reports on democratic progress in Egypt. Link.
CAIRO, Egypt - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday ordered a revision of the country's election laws and said multiple candidates could run in the nation's presidential elections, a scenario Mubarak hasn't faced since taking power in 1981.

The surprise announcement, a response to critics' calls for political reform, comes shortly after historic elections in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, balloting that brought a taste of democracy to the region. It also comes amid a sharp dispute with the United States over Egypt's arrest of one of the strongest proponents of multi-candidate elections.

"The election of a president will be through direct, secret balloting, giving the chance for political parties to run for the presidential elections and providing guarantees that allow more than one candidate for the people to choose among them with their own will," Mubarak said in an address broadcast live on Egyptian television.

Last Tuesday, I had a post concerning a demonstration in Cairo calling for real elections and commented
Coming on top of the much larger protest in Beirut, Lebanon, this is one more bit of proof that the "Bush Doctrine" is fundamentally transforming the Muslim World in general and the Arab World in particular. These moves are very optimistic for peace in the world over the long term.

The speed with which these dominoes are falling is truly spectacular. The idea that democracy could work in the Arab World has spread from one president and a few neo-con advisors to a few billion people. At this rate, some day it might even penetrate the New York Times.

Friday, February 25, 2005

NIH Regs Based on Bad Data

"Sentencing first, then the trial later." If you thought only Lewis Carroll's Queen of Hearts worked this way, you haven't been following the story out of the National Institute of Health. They instituted new and draconian conflict of interest regulations and smeared about a hundred researchers, before they discovered that the data they based all of this on was erroneous. The Washington Post reports. Link.
Most of the 100 or so National Institutes of Health researchers who the agency has said are under investigation for allegedly engaging in secret deals with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have been cleared by NIH investigators, according to agency officials.

The unexpected finding that as much as 80 percent of the seeming improprieties were actually the result of errors by government investigators has undermined the rationale behind NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni's recent decision to impose severe restrictions on the personal activities and finances of all of the agency's more than 5,000 employees, said scientists and NIH officials upset about the new rules. (...)

Zerhouni has repeatedly said that a congressional committee's discovery several months ago that about 100 NIH scientists had failed to notify the agency about their outside deals, as required, compelled him to impose the new limits. The rules, which took effect Feb. 3, are forcing thousands of employees and their family members to sell stock holdings. They also ban scientists from accepting even uncompensated professorships and board positions with professional societies on their own time. (...)

The confusion over the alleged failure to report consulting arrangements dates back to last year, when congressional investigators asked 20 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for the names of all NIH scientists with whom they had consulting arrangements. When Congress compared those lists to a similar list provided by NIH officials, about 130 arrangements on the company lists involving about 100 scientists did not appear on the NIH list, suggesting that those scientists had not reported the arrangements to their NIH superiors as required.

Zerhouni, who until then had been a staunch defender of such collaborations as an important means of speeding the translation of research into marketable treatments, recently said he felt "shot in the back" when he learned that so many scientists were ignoring the rules. Convinced that "the system was broken," he and Kington instituted the Feb. 3 restrictions. (...)

But a detailed NIH review of the 100 or so scientists identified by the congressional inquiry has found that "more than half," and perhaps up to 80 percent, were mistakenly implicated, said Suzanne Servis, director of the NIH Office of Management Assessment, who has been overseeing the internal review.

In some cases, discrepancies arose because NIH provided data on collaborations only through Dec. 31, 2003, while the drug companies included the names of people going into 2004 who, it turned out, had gained NIH permission.

In other cases, people whom the drug companies named as having collaborations with them had the same names as scientists at NIH but were not NIH employees.

If you make it to the end of the article, you will learn that the NIH is now having trouble recruiting new researchers because of the severity of the new regulations. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for these regulations to be revoked just because they were based on fantasies and they are seriously harming one of the few federal agencies that actually accomplishes some good. It all seems so depressingly typical.

17-1: That's Too Close to Call

The Associated Press reports on a unionizing vote in the auto department of a Colorado Wal-Mart. Link.
Workers at a Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Express voted 17-1 against union representation Friday, rejecting efforts to establish what would have been the first union inside any Wal-Mart store in the United States.

A spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers who announced the outcome said the group will ask the National Labor Relations Board to throw the results out, saying no union member was allowed to observe the election and Wal-Mart added employees to the unit to dilute the strength of the union supporters.

Where did that spokesman come up with "supporters." 17-1 means that there was "a supporter." The vote does appear to show either of two things" (1) Wal-Mart employees do not read newspapers or watch television, or else they would know that their employer underpays them and mistreats them terribly; or (2) Wal-Mart employees know a lot more about their situation than the editors and publishers of MSM publications and producers and talking heads at MSM TV news departments.

SC Legislature Want Higher Milk Prices

The Associated Press reports that the South Carolina House passed a bill to establish a board to set minimum prices for milk. Link.
Supporters of a board that would set up minimum prices for milk churned out a victory Wednesday in the House.

The House approved creating the board with a 66-47 vote after nearly two hours of debate from opponents who said it would drive up retail prices.

Supporters say they want to keep the state's dairy farmers solvent. They do not say whether they want children's parents to stay solvent. Luckily, the state has a governor who says he intends to veto the measure.

Democracy Taking Hold in PA

The Palestinian legislature turned down two cabinet lists, and only accepted the third when most Arafat holdovers were dropped. Link.
Fatah legislators have accepted a cabinet made up mostly of new faces, after forcing the Palestinian prime minister to ditch lineups that reformers rejected as stacked with Yasser Arafat loyalists.

Legislators from the dominant Fatah party only accepted Ahmed Qureia's third lineup late Wednesday, after three days of crises, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas summoned them together and told them not to force a showdown. (...)

In one of the most significant changes, Nasser Yousef will replace an Arafat loyalist to take over the security forces, which Abbas wants to consolidate in an effort to clean up corruption and tighten control over the occupied territories.

Arafat had long resisted giving the posting to Yousef, an ex-general, because he wanted to retain control himself.

Palestinian officials, who wished to remain anonymous, said Qureia was forced to push out some well-known political allies of Arafat, including cabinet minister Saeb Erekat and Arafat's nephew and former UN envoy Nasser al-Kidwa.

The PA under Arafat was one of the most corrupt "governments" in the world. The Western press never tired of telling us how all Palestinians loved Arafat, and there were no other options. Only President Bush refused to recognize him as the "leader" of the Palestinians. As long as he was alive, everyone in the PA was too scared to oppose him. It was not a way to achieve long life. With Arafat dead, the legislators are able for the first time to use their authority, and, sure enough, they want to use it. Have you seen a correction anywhere in the MSM yet concerning their past conventional wisdom that Arabs do not want democracy and are culturally incapable of it?

Election This Weekend in Kyrgyzstan

Another former Soviet republic is having an election, and the Wall Street Journal has an interesting write-up on it. Link. (subscription required)
From a frigid shed in this snow-covered city, Mike Stone provides a crucial tool to the opposition activists trying to oust the autocratic regime here: a printing press owned by the U.S. government.

A former journalist from East Moline, Ill., Mr. Stone runs the press as a nonpartisan business. "We'd print anything that comes through the door," he says.

But as tension mounts ahead of key parliamentary elections this Sunday, Mr. Stone's shop provides the only print-media outlet for opponents of longtime President Askar Akayev. (...)

The Swedish-made press he uses is on loan from the U.S. State Department. Freedom House, the U.S. nongovernmental agency, or NGO, that employs Mr. Stone, receives most of its Central Asia operating budget from the U.S. Agency for International Development. When a Kyrgyzstan utility this week cut off Mr. Stone's electricity, the U.S. embassy here stepped in with emergency generators. (...)

The stakes for the region are high. In 2003, peaceful demonstrators, some carrying roses, ousted Georgia's longtime president, former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevarnadze, in what became known as the "Rose Revolution." Two months ago, thousands of Ukrainians wearing orange seized control of Kiev's main square to protest voting fraud, setting the stage for opposition candidate Viktor Yuschenko to win the presidency. Now, opposition figures hope to go three-for-three -- this time using yellow as their color -- in a bid to push Mr. Akayev from power. (...)

One of the things that kept communists loyal to the party was their "knowledge" that history was on their side. They took it as an absolute that a communist future was inevitable, and they were merely trying to speed things along. Now it appears that it is Mr. Putin who is on the wrong side of history. He is staring at the lights of an onrushing train, and he has to decide whether he will get out of the way or if he will be run over.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Fisking of Reid

Ankle Biting Pundits has a wonderful fisking of an incredibly stupid speech that Harry Reid gave. Link. No short quotes will do it justice, so I recommend you read the whole thing.

Der Spiegel Compares Bush and Reagan

The new Der Spiegel has an article that compares Bush's recent speech in Germany to President Reagan's Berlin speech where he called on Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down that wall." Link.
When George W. Bush requests that Chancellor Schroeder -- who, by the way, was also not entirely complimentary of Reagan's 1987 speech -- and Germany become more engaged in the Middle East, everybody on the German side will nod affably. But despite all of the sugar coating the trans-Atlantic relationship has received in recent days, Germany's foreign policy depends on differentiating itself from the United States. And when Bush leaves Europe, the differences will remain. Indeed, Bush's idea of a Middle Eastern democracy imported at the tip of a bayonet is, for Schroeder's Social Democratic Party and his coalition partner the Green Party, the hysterical offspring of the American neo-cons. Even German conservatives find the idea that Arabic countries could transform themselves into enlightened democracies somewhat absurd. (...)

It was difficult not to cringe during Reagan's speech in 1987. He didn't leave a single Berlin cliché out of his script. At the end of it, most experts agreed that his demand for the removal of the Wall was inopportune, utopian and crazy.

Yet three years later, East Germany had disappeared from the map. Gorbachev had a lot to do with it, but it was the East Germans who played the larger role. When analysts are confronted by real people, amazing things can happen. And maybe history can repeat itself. Maybe the people of Syria, Iran or Jordan will get the idea in their heads to free themselves from their oppressive regimes just as the East Germans did. When the voter turnout in Iraq recently exceeded that of many Western nations, the chorus of critique from Iraq alarmists was, at least for a couple of days, quieted. Just as quiet as the chorus of Germany experts on the night of Nov. 9, 1989 when the Wall fell.

Just a thought for Old Europe to chew on: Bush might be right, just like Reagan was then.

It looks like some Germans are starting to get it. The successful election in Iraq, the mini-municipal elections in Saudia Arabia, the anti-Syria demonstrations in Beirut, the anti-Mubarak demonstrations in Cairo, - the list is getting longer, and it is penetrating some very-thick old-European skulls. When the Berlin Wall and then the Soviet Union fell, the Europeans had Gorbachev to give the credit to, so they were able to heartily praise events, as long as they didn't have to praise Reagan. Now, if only they can come up with someone other than George W. Bush to credit, maybe they will fall over themselves praising events in the Middle East.

Anti-Syrian Strike Called in Lebanon

Lebanon Wire has an article headlined "Lebanese business leaders plan strike to demand government resign." Link.
Leaders of Lebanon's banking, industrial and commercial sectors said they would shut down next Monday to demand the country's pro-Syrian government resign and that a "neutral" one replace it.

The strike would coincide with an expected vote of confidence in parliament, two weeks after the murder of former premier Rafiq Hariri in a bomb blast for which the opposition has pinned blame on the government and its Syrian backers. (...)

The statement called for a "total shutout in memory of Rafiq Hariri", the father of Lebanon's post-war reconstruction, on February 28, and backed calls for an international investigation of his assassination.

It was signed by Lebanon's association of banks and industrialists as well as the chambers of commerce and industry.

"The economic authorities believe that restoration of the democratic regime is an essential condition to establish confidence in the Lebanese economy," the statement said.

I bet Bashar Assad though it sounded like a great idea when his advisors came up with the plan to murder Hariri. After all, when his father had Bashir Gemayal, the president-elect of Lebanon, murdered in 1982, it ended pro-Western influence in that country's government and led to the Syrian occupation. But the world has changed since then, and the murder is backfiring big time on Assad. He is going to lose Lebanon, and there might just be a chance that he will lose Syria as well.

Big Labor Kills Another Attempt at Job Creation

The New York Sun has a report on the success of unions and their allies in halting plans by Wal-Mart to open its first store in New York City. Link.
In an emerging "big-box" backlash, members of the City Council said yesterday that Wal-Mart has halted plans for its first venture into New York City. (...)

While the retail giant appears stopped for now, Ms. Sears and other members of the vocal anti-Wal-Mart front of council members, union leaders, small-business owners, and mayoral candidates said they saw this as only the first victory in a long struggle.

"We don't think they'll go away," a spokesman for the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, Richard Lipsky, said. (...)

Organized labor has been a driving force behind the opposition to Wal-Mart, which has no union workers at its American stores. The fight escalated last year, when labor chose the Arkansas-based giant as a target for a nationwide campaign to improve its pay, benefits, and worker treatment.

"We look at the Wal-Mart struggle in Rego Park as the beginning of a big battle," the president of the New York City Central Labor Council, Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin of Queens, told The New York Sun last night. "I think this action in Rego Park demonstrates New York is a tough town. It's not like anywhere else in the country where Wal-Mart has established itself." The labor council is an umbrella group of more than 1 million union members.

Score one for the Luddites. However, it probably doesn't matter. Everyone knows that New Yorkers love high prices and low employment, so the unions were only giving them what they crave. After all, who needs Wal-Mart for discount shopping in a city where every street corner has someone selling "discount" goods out of the trunk of a car.

Counterterrorism Ops - Who Has to Know?

The Washington Post has a report on a plan to allow special operations forces to enter foreign countries for specific task without the prior approval of the US ambassador to that country. Link.
The Pentagon is promoting a global counterterrorism plan that would allow Special Operations forces to enter a foreign country to conduct military operations without explicit concurrence from the U.S. ambassador there, administration officials familiar with the plan said.

The plan would weaken the long-standing "chief of mission" authority under which the U.S. ambassador, as the president's top representative in a foreign country, decides whether to grant entry to U.S. government personnel based on political and diplomatic considerations.

The Special Operations missions envisioned in the plan would largely be secret, known to only a handful of officials from the foreign country, if any. (,,,)

The State Department and the CIA have fought the proposal, saying it would be dangerous to dilute the authority of the U.S. ambassador and CIA station chief to oversee U.S. military and intelligence activities in other countries.

Over the past two years, the State Department has repeatedly blocked Pentagon efforts to send Special Operations forces into countries surreptitiously and without ambassadors' formal approval, current and former administration officials said.

Personally, I would think of at least two reasons why an administration would not want an ambassador to know of undercover ops. (1) Sometimes an ambassador is a large campaign contributor with no foreign policy experience. Granted these types end up in countries too unimportant for undercover ops, but sometimes unexpected circumstances make an unimportant location suddenly important. (2) The desire for plausible deniability. The ambassador can deny any knowledge of the incident without lying.

I am curious if our ambassadors to Laos and Cambodia approved of our various clandestine incursions into those countries during the Vietnam War.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

US-Japan Common Front on Taiwan Strait

The Japan Times reports on a joint statement by representatives of the US and Japan concerning a common interest over Taiwan. Link.
Japan and the United States agreed Saturday to reinforce their alliance under a new set of common security objectives to deal with "unpredictability and uncertainty" in the Asia-Pacific region.

This includes North Korea's nuclear program, China's rising military power and tension across the Taiwan Strait. (...)

The top-level security talks, the first since December 2002, involved Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and Defense Agency Director General Yoshinori Ono.

The reference to the cross-strait issue could be taken as Japan siding with the U.S. in the event of a crisis over Taiwan, thus aggravating China, which regards the island as a part of its territory and has repeatedly threatened to use force if Taiwan moves toward independence.

This is a big deal. Japan has been largely army-less and pacifist since 1945. They were under the US defense umbrella and did not need much of a defense force of their own. This has been changing. The deployment of a few hundred Japanese self defense force troops to Iraq for non-combat assistance was the first time that such forces have been deployed outside of Japan. They can see that Europe has also become largely army-less and pacifist, and they have only the US to rely on. With China and North Korea as neighbors, they cannot afford to take this reliance for granted. Look for them to be increasing their defense capability and to increase the coordination of that defense capability with the US military.

Stupid Like a Brilliant Fox

Tech Central has an article by Orrin C. Judd titled "Dumb and Dumber: Revisiting Conservatives as the Stupid Party." Link. The conventional wisdom goes back 139 years to when John Stuart Mill labeled Britain's Conservative Party "The Studip Party," but how often does conventional wisdom hold water for that long.
Indeed, the most successful conservative presidents -- Calvin Coolidge, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush -- have played up the notion of their own stupidity or at least not fought it very hard. Democratic presidents, on the other hand, have ostentatiously surrounded themselves with Brain Trusts and the Best and the Brightest; played up their ties to Harvard and Rhodes Scholarships; and even, in the case of Jimmy Carter, inflated their resumes to the point of claiming to be a nuclear physicist. However, the tactical and strategic blunders of the Democratic Party over the last few years have been so spectacular that it may be time to reconsider the intellectual wattage of the respective parties.

What is most startling to observe these days is that the Democrats do not seem able, or willing, to learn from their most obvious mistakes. The most recent example of this blindness is the hysteria with which they've attacked an obscure Republican National Committee mailing about the new Democratic Senate Minority Leader, Reid All About It: Who is Harry Reid?, which makes the seemingly innocuous charge that Mr. Reid is "Determined to Obstruct President Bush's Agenda." A party with some sense of humor about itself would have laughed off the charge that the opposition was opposing. A party with some self-confidence would have seized on the piece as an opportunity for free publicity and said, "Dang right, he's going to obstruct the destruction of Social Security and the appointment of extremist judges!" Instead, the Democrats reacted with squeals of outrage. In so doing they turned it into a free publicity windfall for the Republicans and helped to establish a meme that the GOP will be able to exploit every time Senator Reid does work for Democratic interests instead of rolling over for the President.

In a field as cut-throat and competitive as politics, one of the greatest advantages one can have is to be consistently underestimated, or, better yet, misunderestimated. Reagan was further blessed with a personality that made him almost impossible to hate, even by his political opponents. Bush's personality only achieves this state with the majority of Americans who have not been driven mad by their loss of power. Both men are/were blessed with opponents who were incapable of learning from experience, who, year in and year out continued to think that they were dealing with a moron, and kept getting fleeced as a result. Lincoln was right. You can fool some of the people all of the time.

MSM Moving to the Internet

Forbes Magazine has an article about the move of major newspapers online. Link.
Though many publishers can boast of increasing their shareholders' earnings during the past 40 years through acquisitions and cost-cutting, only a few have managed to buck a trend of declining readership. The combined weekday circulation of all U.S. dailies has dropped from 62.8 million in 1985 to 55.2 million in 2002. That gives it the lowest penetration of any medium.

Worse for newspaper publishers, that trend is accelerating as the Internet has become embedded in the daily lives of so many potential readers both young and old. The top 20 news sites drew an average of 5 million individuals each month in early 2002. That figure has risen to more than 8.5 million, with the top sites drawing more than 20 million unique visitors a month. (...)

The Internet has changed the economics of the publishing industry in a way commercial television never did. The price of news and information has irrevocably been pushed way down the supply/demand curve. The Web has also destroyed the functional monopoly of the local daily newspaper with the very high barriers to technical entry. Anyone can be a publisher, and, it seems, these days, most anyone is.

Publishers have long gained from the economic inefficiency of the advertising market. As Lord Leverhulme, the soap baron, is reputed to have said, "I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. I just don't know which half."

Not so on the Internet. Advertisers can be sure every ad they buy is seen and track its effectiveness. The measurability of Internet advertising keeps money firmly in the pockets of advertisers that in the past went to publishers and supported shareholder profits or good journalism. (...)

Ten years into the era of publishing via the Internet, most online editions still depend upon newsprint editions for content and financial support. The catch-22 is that those newsprint editions can decreasingly afford to provide it.

It is the sort of problem that new technologies have caused before. The old way of doing business tends to become obsolete long before its replacement emerges. There is a large demand for news, and it will not disappear. We still cannot see how it will be paid for, but if history is any guide (and it usually is), solutions will emerge that few, if any, individuals conceive of today.

NYT Sees Chickens Coming Home to Roost

The Wall Street Journal has an insightful editorial concerning the Valerie Plame affair and the recent subpoenas of news reporters. Link. (free registration required)
The special counsel that the Times was cheering on, Patrick Fitzgerald, is now threatening a Times reporter with jail, and in a way that jeopardizes the entire press corps. This is what happens when liberals let their partisan disdain for a President obscure their interest in larger principles.

The Times was hardly alone, let us hasten to add. Well-nigh every liberal newspaper in the country was calling for Mr. Ashcroft to recuse himself and name a "special counsel," in the hope of nailing the Bush Administration official who had "leaked" the name of CIA analyst Valerie Plame. The idea that there might be some First Amendment equities at stake was overlooked amid the partisan frenzy, and in any case Mr. Novak was expendable because he was a conservative. (...)

The bitterest irony here is that this case should never have been investigated in the first place. Ms. Plame is the wife of Joseph Wilson, the CIA consultant who wrote a July 2003 op-ed in the Times accusing the Bush Administration of lying about yellow cake uranium ore from Niger. The allegation became a political cause celebre at the time, though a year later both a British and a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee probe found that the White House had been accurate and that Mr. Wilson was the one who hadn't told the truth. (...)

A wiser prosecutor than Mr. Fitzgerald might well have come to this same conclusion (that no crime had been committed)and shut down the probe. But like so many "special" counsels who have only one case to prosecute, Mr. Fitzgerald seems to believe he'll be a failure if he doesn't charge someone with something. Thus his overzealous pursuit of reporters and their sources.

If a crime had been committed (and I am convinced that none had), than what the general public accepts as a "right" of a reporter to protect his sources during a criminal probe would not apply. A distinction must be made between two very different situations. If somebody has information about a crime, especially one committed by a public official, and tells a reporter about it, most would agree he should not have to reveal his source. However, if either someone tells a reporter of a crime that he himself had committed (i.e. a confession), or if the act of telling something to the reporter constitutes a crime (as the Times had alleged here), than few outside of newsrooms would see any "right" to withhold information from a grand jury.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Rangel: No Islamic Terrorists

NewsMax reports that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D. NY) finds the term "Islamic Terrorist" bigoted. Link.
Top House Democrat Charlie Rangel said Tuesday that it was an act of discrimination to label groups like Hezbollah "Islamic terrorists."

Asked about the refusal by some European governments to declare Hezbollah an Islamic terror group, Rangel told WWRL's Steve Malzberg and Karen Hunter, "To call it Islamic terror is discriminating, it's bigoted, it is not the right thing to say."

Rangel even questioned whether, in fact, a worldwide Islamic terrorist movement even existed, saying, "We just take for granted that there is an Islamic terror movement because we do have some fanatic people who come from Islamic countries."

This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has watched any of Rangel's frequent TV interviews. He is a total obstructionist. He has nothing substantive to say on any issue except to reject whatever view the administration has. I am convinced that whenever he appeared on TV during the campaign, he increased George W. Bush's vote total.

More Good News From Afghanistan

The London Telegraph reports some very good news from Afghanistan. Link.
One of the Taliban's most senior and charismatic commanders has become a key negotiator as more and more members of the Islamic militia in Afghanistan give up the fight against the Americans.


The commander, Abdul Salam, earned the nickname Mullah Rockety because he was so accurate with rocket propelled grenades against Russian troops.

He later joined the Taliban as a corps commander in Jalalabad before being captured by the Americans after September 11.

Now he is a supporter of President Hamid Karzai and is tempting diehard Taliban fighters to accept an amnesty offer and reconcile themselves to Afghanistan's first directly elected leader.

"The Taliban has lost its morale," he said, speaking by satellite phone from the heartlands of Zabul province, a Taliban redoubt.

"But you have to go and find the Taliban and call to them and ask them directly. If they believe they will be secure and safe they will come down from the mountains."

It is often commented that the lack of any news in the MSM concerning Afghanistan probably means that things are going well there. Here is another bit of news to actually back that up. It is not only the Taliban but also the war lords that are choosing to work with the government, and stability is spreading. The old MSM adage that the "President of Afghanistan" was in actually the Mayor of Kabul is just no longer the case. This situation is being wrapped up neatly far faster than anybody hoped or expected not very long ago.

Former Soviet Satellites Go For Flat Tax

The Boston Globe has an article headlined "Eastern Europe embraces flat tax." Link.
In an effort to boost their economies and attract investors, governments from Bucharest to Moscow to Belgrade have instituted simplified personal flat income tax rates in recent years. So far, nine former communist countries have adopted the flat tax, including two who did so this year, with pressure mounting for others in the region to follow suit.

The result, in countries where data are available, has been a marked decline in tax dodging, a sharp increase in government revenues, and higher economic growth.

That is exactly what the Supply Siders said would happen when you lower high marginal tax rates. The liberal media, all Democrats and many Republicans still do not accept the simple fact that government revenues rise when high marginal rates are cut. Unfortunately, when cut rates led to sharply higher revenues under Reagan and Bush the younger, Congress increased spending at an even faster rate, leading to deficits that the media continue to blame on what they call "tax cuts." Actually they were tax increases in the form of tax rate cuts.

More Public Protest in the Arab World

NewKerala.com, out of India, has an interesting article datelined Cairo. Link.
About 500 protesters gathered outside Cairo University Monday to urge Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to abstain from seeking a fifth term.

The protest was organized by the Egyptian Movement for Change, which warned Mubarak against grooming his son, Jamal, "to inherit him."

The protesters shouted anti-Mubarak slogans and called for amending the constitution to allow the election of the president by universal suffrage instead of a referendum on a single candidate approved by Parliament.

Coming on top of the much larger protest in Beirut, Lebanon, this is one more bit of proof that the "Bush Doctrine" is fundamentally transforming the Muslim World in general and the Arab World in particular. These moves are very optimistic for peace in the world over the long term.

Putin Up to Old (KGB) Tricks

An article in the Washington Post, entitled "Russia Alleges Scientist Divulged State Secrets" sounds like it came out of the Soviet era. Link.
A Russian scientist has been charged with divulging state secrets to a South Korean manufacturer of car wheels, an action that human rights groups say they fear is part of a campaign by the security services to intimidate researchers from former Soviet facilities who now work with foreigners.

Oscar A. Kaibyshev, 66, head of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute for Metals Superplasticity Problems in the city of Ufa, was charged with illegally exporting dual-use technology and research and divulging classified material to ASA Co., a subsidiary of a Korean firm, Hankook Tire Manufacturing Co. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. Dual-use technology can include military as well as civilian applications.

In a phone interview from Ufa, about 750 miles east of Moscow, Kaibyshev said his research involved processes that would make metals more flexible while preserving their strength and that such technologies were used in the automobile manufacturing and aviation industries.

"This is not secret work," said Kaibyshev, who founded the institute in 1985 and was suspended from his post on Jan. 18 after being charged three days earlier. "All this technology and the scientific basis of this technology was published in the literature. We worked openly. All our contracts were official." (...)

A group of scholars from the Russian Academy of Sciences reviewed Kaibyshev's work last year and found that it was not subject to mandatory export controls over dual-use technology, according to Kaibyshev and his attorney. But Gevis said that scholars from a closed government institute provided the court with another expert opinion, which held that Kaibyshev's work was classified and should not have been released.
The news from Russia under Putin keeps getting more and more like old news out of the Soviet Union. The sharing of scientific results, so common in the West, was considered to be espionage by the KGB, and its successor, the FSB, is manned by many of the same people. Putin himself is an ex-KGB official.

There can never be progress in a country where the laws are totally liquid. A scientist or a businessman must know if a given action is legal or not. It appears that in Russia, like in the Soviet Union, that determination is made only after the act is committed.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Interesting Developments in Lebanon

The Associated Press reports on recent developments in Lebanon. Link.
Tens of thousands of opposition supporters shouted insults at Syria and demanded the resignation of their pro-Syrian government in a Beirut demonstration Monday, marking a week since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Beating drums and waving Lebanese flags, those of their own parties and portraits of past leaders killed during the 1975-90 civil war, the protesters gathered at the site where Hariri was killed Feb. 14 in a bombing that the opposition blames on Damascus.

Some in the crowd yelled "Syria out!" and "We don't want a parliament that acts as a doorkeeper for the Syrians," competing with loud insults shouted against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In Damascus, Arab League chief Amr Moussa said Syria will "soon" take steps to withdraw its army from Lebanese areas in accordance with a 1989 agreement. It was not clear whether that meant Syria would completely leave Lebanon as demanded by the international community. (...)

On the way, the protesters marched by the nearby Grand Serail, the prime minister's office, shouting "Syria out!" and "We don't want an army in Lebanon except that of Lebanon!"

The protesters then marched to Hariri's grave outside the Mohammed Al-Amin Mosque at the central Martyrs' Square and sang the national anthem. "We want the truth," said one speaker.

On Sunday, Lebanon said it would cooperate with U.N. investigators looking into the assassinations, but stuck to its rejection of a full-fledged international inquiry.

Try to imagine this story if either Gore had won in 2000 or Kerry had won in 2004. Liberals keep telling us that Arabs either do not want democracy or are incapable of it. Any ability to change from the status quo of tyranny is just a delusion of that moron Bush.

No SS Transaction Costs

Cybercast News Service has an article entitled "Social Security 'Transition Costs' a Myth, Say Economists." Link. Printing a few paragraphs would not do it justice, and I recommend reading the whole thing. It describes the fraudulent accounting used by the government, book keeping that would land the top executives of any private company in prison. If accepted accounting norms had been used, these "transaction costs" would already be on the books as debt. Because the government has hidden these debts in ways far more fraudulent than Enron had ever used, President Bush's plan would cause some of them to be placed on the books for the first time. No new debt is created. Only existing debt is more honestly presented on the government's books.

Left to Right Conversion

FrontPage Magazine has an article by a former hard-leftist (Communist) who is now a conservative, describing the 12-point program she had to go through to achieve sobriety. Link.
The first step in any successful recovery program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, is to admit that there is a problem. For a leftist, then, stepping out of denial is the beginning of a journey toward clearer thinking and political sanity. I approach this topic with only a hint of humor, because I myself am a recovered leftist, with over 25 years of sobriety. Was I drunk on left-wing propaganda? Yes, and I became a user at a very tender age – as a child, in fact, in the home of my parents, who schooled me in the ways of communism and socialism.

I believe this topic is extremely important at this juncture, because the far left is finding itself on the wrong side of history yet again and many of its members are lost at sea. I try to imagine myself, had I not awakened to the wrongness of my ideology, trying to survive both the re-election of George W. Bush and the successful Iraqi election. I would be beside myself with anger and disappointment. My index fingers would be in utter fatigue from non-stop pointing to assign blame. I might even threaten to move out of the country, as my brother and his wife are doing! (...)

I was brought up in the 1950s and ’60s in a suburb of New York City by two World War II veterans whose own parents were immigrants from Eastern Europe. My mother’s father took her to Communist Party meetings when she was a youngster, and my parents attended camps in upstate New York where young “reds” congregated, and where they met. As a child I read the works of Howard Fast and the periodical entitled The National Guardian. By the age of twelve, I was completely indoctrinated into the Communist mind-set and openly debated my seventh-grade social studies teacher on U.S. policy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. (...)

There is no way for a “cradle” conservative to imagine the pain that a recovering leftist goes through when the veil is finally lifted. The second step in official 12-step programs is belief in a higher power, believing that your higher power can restore you. In recovering from leftist thinking, this step is not a requirement, but for me it was essential. In fact, during my 30th year I experienced a spiritual awakening that initiated many changes in values, which in turn brought me to my first conservative action step: voting for Ronald Reagan in 1980.(...)

The 12th step in the AA program is to carry the message of recovery to others. It is a marvelous step because in doing so, you cement the fact that you have finally arrived at some place of clarity and are strong enough to spread the message. To all those whose beliefs have been shaken by recent events, to all those whose ideological houses have been built on sand: Take heart, because there is hope if you will bravely admit that you were in the wrong and move to the right. As Dennis Prager says, it is okay to be wrong; it is not okay to stay that way.

Luckily, the move from "liberal" to "conservative" is much easier. Before I was born, my father was active in Norman Thomas's Socialist Party, which was anti-Communist. Franklin Roosevelt converted him to a liberal Democrat, which he remained until his death. Growing up, most of my friends had parents who were either Socialists or ex-Socialists. For me too, the first time I ever voted Republican was for Ronald Reagan in 1980.

I fully identify with Ronald Reagan's statement that "I did not leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me." Basically, I am a libertarian with a small 'l'. I used quotation marks above for "liberal" and "conservative" because they have completely changed meaning. When I was young, liberals were closer to libertarians, but during the Vietnam War, anti-American leftists took over not only the Democratic Party, but also the term liberal. They turned it on its head. In civil rights, liberals moved from judging a man not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character to judging him solely on the color of his skin. They moved from wanting greater liberty for people to wanting the government to make all decisions for them. So my beliefs have not changed much. However, when I was young they were called "liberal" and today they are called "conservative."

Efforts to Kill Gerrymandering

Jeff Jacoby has a good column on gerrymandering and the efforts to kill it. Link.
The deepest and unhealthiest divide in American politics is not the one that separates Republicans from Democrats or conservatives from liberals. It is the gulf between Insiders and Outsiders -- between the incumbents who treat public office as private property and the increasingly neutered electorate in whose name they claim to act. (...)

The incumbent-protection racket takes many forms, from high ballot-access hurdles to onerous campaign-finance rules. But nothing does more to turn elections into shams than gerrymandering -- mapping congressional and legislative districts so that they become wholly-owned subsidiaries of one political party. (...)

Arnold Schwarzenegger agrees. Unlike the Supreme Court, the charismatic California governor intends to do something about it. He has launched a full-scale attack on redistricting abuse in his state, demanding that the power to draw election maps be taken from the legislature and turned over to a committee of retired judges. Legislators hate the idea, but they know that Schwarzenegger can go over their heads. People’s Advocate, the organization that spearheaded the effort to recall former Governor Gray Davis in 2003, has already begun collecting the 600,000 names on petitions it would take to bypass the legislature and submit a redistricting initiative directly to the voters.

Democrats were quick to blast Schwarzenegger, of course. The governor's bid to get the current districts replaced with honest ones in time for next year's election, fumed Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, "has the smell" of "a political power grab by the party that's not in power." But Republicans are no happier -- 16 of California's 20 Republican congressmen oppose Schwarzenegger's plan. The beauty of redistricting reform is that there is nothing partisan about it. It doesn't empower Rs at the expense of Ds, or Ds at the expense of Rs. It empowers voters at the expense of politicians.

Political trends often start in California, but this time the Golden State joins a crusade already in progress. Several states, including Iowa, Idaho, Arizona, and Alaska, have done away with partisan gerrymandering. Campaigns to follow suit are heating up in half a dozen others.

I had a post on the California effort on February 7. My comments there can just as well apply to this column.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Hillary Sounds Like Bush

The Associated Press reports on Senator Clinton's trip to Iraq with four other senators. Link.
Clinton, a New York Democrat, said insurgents intent on destabilizing the country had failed to disrupt Iraq's landmark Jan. 30 elections.

"The concerted effort to disrupt the elections was an abject failure. Not one polling place was shut down or overrun," Clinton told reporters inside the U.S.-protected Green Zone, a sprawling complex of sandbagged buildings surrounded by blast walls and tanks. (...)

"The fact that you have these suicide bombers now, wreaking such hatred and violence while people pray, is to me, an indication of their failure," Clinton said.

It appears that at least one Democrat who wants to run for president in 2008 gets it. You do not gain the favor of the American people by rooting for an American defeat and humiliation. At this point, she appears to be the only prominent Democrat (besides Lieberman, who will not try again) who is positioning herself squarely in the mainstream of American public opinion. Kerry started the last primary process that way, but when he was getting clobbered by Dean among the party base, he ran way to the left and never moved back to the middle. My guess is that Hillary is counting on her not having a need to prove herself to the far left wing of the base. She has reason to hope they will not believe her when she sounds centrist, and know that she is really one of them, no matter what she says.

If it works, it will solve the greatest electoral problem the Democrats have, namely that, because the party is so far out of step with the majority of the American people, what is needed to win a Democratic primary and what is needed to win a general election are 180° off from each other.

Problems for Assad in Syria

The Weekly Standard has an interesting analysis of the situation in Syria. Link.
"The ripple effect that the White House wanted in the Middle East is actually starting to happen," says Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian writer and rights activist who has just returned to Damascus after spending the last six months in Washington as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. Since coming back, Abdulhamid has been put under a travel ban by the Syrian government for his sharp criticism of the regime in the Western and Arab
press, and has been repeatedly interrogated by several security branches. Nonetheless, he believes things are beginning to change. "The presence of U.S. forces in the region," he told me, "and the pressure brought to bear on the Syrian regime has begun to create a new political climate." (...)

Perhaps the best way to understand Syria's foreign policy--especially in Iraq and Lebanon right now--is as an expression of the regime's keening anxiety over its own lack of domestic credibility. The most serious taboo in Syrian political discourse is the subject of minorities. Like Iraq's former Sunni-dominated regime, Syria's ruling cadre is made up of a minority, the Alawites, adherents of a somewhat gnostic variation of Shia Islam. In Syria, the Sunnis are a majority, but to date, many are so taken with the "heroic resistance" to the occupation in Iraq that they have not even noticed how free elections might serve their interests. The idea that Syria's Sunnis might soon put two and two together terrifies the Alawite regime at least as much as the threat of a missile strike. (...)

It's worth noting, then, that the Bush administration and the Alawite regime fundamentally agree on what's wrong with the Arab Middle East: not Muslim fundamentalism per se, but Sunni Arab radicalism, whether Islamist or Arab nationalist in coloring. The Iraqi Baathists directing the insurgency from Damascus are a big headache for the White House, but they're potentially disastrous for Assad.

In 1982, the Sunni city of Hama rose up against then dictator Hafez al-Assad, father of the current dictator Bashar al-Assad. Assad sent troops under his brother, Rifaat, to put down the uprising. They razed the city and killed between 10,000 and 20,000 inhabitants. That is what it takes to maintain total power in the Middle East, when you are from a minority sect with only 10% of the population. When push comes to shove (i.e. a civil war), I doubt Bashar will be able to act as ruthlessly as his father had. If he does not, his Alawite regime will be history.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Is Your Home For Sale Without You Knowing It?

Liberty Magazine has an article, long but worth reading in full, about the abuses of eminent domain. Link.
Eminent domain — the government's power to force a person to sell real estate against his will, at a price the government deems "just compensation" — is one of the most extreme forms of government coercion, and today, among the most common. Used for centuries for building railroads, highways, and post offices, eminent domain is now a multi-billion dollar industry, and a classic example of rent-seeking run amok. Governments throughout America routinely seize property to transfer it to private companies to "create jobs" and increase the tax base in a community. In 1999, the city of Merriam, Kan., condemned a Toyota dealership to sell the land to the BMW dealership next door. That same year, Bremerton, Wash., condemned 22 homes to resell the land to private developers. In one especially notorious case, billionaire Donald Trump convinced the government of Atlantic City, N.J., to condemn the home of an elderly widow so that he could build a limousine parking lot. As attorney Jennifer Kruckeberg puts it, "Whether you know it or not, your house is for sale. Corporations, using cities as their personal real estate agents, are proposing the following assignment: 'Find me your most prominent location, get rid of what is on it, help me pay for it, and maybe you will be lucky enough to have me move to your city.' Such is the state of the current eminent domain power." (...)

The exploitation of eminent domain by such private interests is a relatively new phenomenon, and is explicitly prohibited by the U.S. Constitution, which holds that "private property" may be taken only "for public use." But a series of court decisions beginning in the first years of the 20th century, and culminating in the 1954 decision Berman v. Parker, eroded the "public use" limitation to such a degree that, as Richard Epstein once noted, some law professors have taken to replacing that clause with an ellipsis when writing out the text of the 5th Amendment. (...)

With the eminent domain power thus unmoored, the result was predictable to public choice theorists: the power to redistribute property fell into the hands, not of the most deserving, but of the most politically adept. As government became capable of transferring unlimited amounts of land between private parties, the business community began investing an ever-increasing amount in lobbying to persuade it to give the land to them. These companies portray the redistribution of land as a benefit to the community, in the form of job creation and increased funding for public services, as well as an eradication of "economic blight," a vague term attached to any neighborhood that is less than affluent but not an actual slum.

At least these power grabs include paying the property owners something for their land and homes. More notorious in many ways are the spreading abuses by local governments whereby they tell a property owner that he may not use the property for its intended purpose or, in some cases, for any purpose whatsoever, without compensation of any sort. If the community leaders want a park, they should buy the property and make it a park. To declare private property a park, or a bike path, or whatever for public use is to make a limited number of property owners bear the costs for the entire community, because the residents would not be willing to pay the taxes necessary for those "public uses." It is an extension of Senator Long's old ditty, "Don't tax you; don't tax me; tax that man behind the tree."

Early History of Europe Needs Rewriting

The Guardian tells a bizarre story that the man who dated many European fossils over the last 30 years was a fraud. Link.
(Professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten's) 30-year-old academic career has now ended in disgrace after the revelation that he systematically falsified the dates on this and numerous other "stone age" relics.

Yesterday his university in Frankfurt announced the professor had been forced to retire because of numerous "falsehoods and manipulations". According to experts, his deceptions may mean an entire tranche of the history of man's development will have to be rewritten.

"Anthropology is going to have to completely revise its picture of modern man between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago," said Thomas Terberger, the archaeologist who discovered the hoax. "Prof Protsch's work appeared to prove that anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals had co-existed, and perhaps even had children together. This now appears to be rubbish." (...)

His discovery appeared to show that Neanderthals had spread much further north than was previously known.

But his university inquiry was told that a crucial Hamburg skull fragment, which was believed to have come from the world's oldest German, a Neanderthal known as Hahnhöfersand Man, was actually a mere 7,500 years old, according to Oxford University's radiocarbon dating unit. The unit established that other skulls had been wrongly dated too.

Another of the professor's sensational finds, "Binshof-Speyer" woman, lived in 1,300 BC and not 21,300 years ago, as he had claimed, while "Paderborn-Sande man" (dated at 27,400 BC) only died a couple of hundred years ago, in 1750.

And his university can't even claim that they only hired him because he lied and said he was a Neanderthal, and they wanted greater diversity.

No Daimler, Say it Ain't So

In an article entitled "Even German taxi drivers no longer hail a Mercedes," the Financial Times tells us that the sterling quality of the Mercedes has been declining. Link.
Jürgen Geier, a Stuttgart taxi driver who used to drive a Mercedes before switching to Audi, explains: "Mercedes has really gone downhill in the last few years.

"I have colleagues who had to take their cars to be repainted practically every week. They have got a lot of work to do to gain their reputation back."

This anecdotal evidence, albeit from the heaviest users and sharpest critics of cars, highlights the trouble in which Mercedes finds itself. Its reputation for quality lies in tatters as it has been forced to admit that its cars, which once set the industry standard for reliability, are prone to breaking down.

This reminds me of an article I read a week or so ago (sorry, I do not remember where, so there is no link) about Germany being the most progress-averse country in the developed world. The very word "progress" has a negative connotation there. They even resist using computers, because "it costs jobs." It is the epitome of the Green's dream of a past Golden Age when there was no technology to louse things up.

Posner: Abolish Medicare

Richard Posner gives a very reasoned argument that only the poor should qualify for government-subsidized or government-supplied health insurance. Link.
The real issue is not the prescription-drug benefit but the overall cost of Medicare; currently (that is, without the prescription-drug benefit) that cost is running at almost $300 billion a year, which is about 3 percent of GDP. As a matter of economic principle (and I think social justice as well), Medicare should be abolished. Then the principal government medical-payment program would be Medicaid, a means-based system of social insurance that is part of the safety net for the indigent. Were Medicare abolished, the nonpoor would finance health care in their old age by buying health insurance when they were young. Insurance companies would sell policies with generous deductible and copayment provisions in order to discourage frivolous expenditures on health care and induce careful shopping among health-care providers. The nonpoor could be required to purchase health insurance in order to prevent them from free riding on family or charitable institutions in the event they needed a medical treatment that they could not afford to pay for. People who had chronic illnesses or other conditions that would deter medical insurers from writing insurance for them at affordable rates might be placed in “assigned risk” pools, as in the case of high-risk drivers, and allowed to buy insurance at rates only moderately higher than those charged healthy people; this would amount to a modest subsidy of the unhealthy by the healthy.

Economists are puzzled by the very low deductibles in Medicare (including the prescription-drug benefit—the annual deductible is only $250). Almost everyone can pay the first few hundred dollars of a medical bill; it is the huge bills that people need insurance against in order to preserve their standard of living in the face of such a bill. But government will not tolerate high deductibles when it is paying for medical care, because the higher the deductible the fewer the claims, and the fewer the claims the less sense people have that they are benefiting from the system. They pay in taxes and premiums but rarely get a return and so rarely are reminded of the government’s generosity to them. People are quite happy to pay fire-insurance premiums their whole life without ever filing a claim, but politicians believe that the public will not support a government insurance program—and be grateful to the politicians for it—unless the program produces frequent payouts. If Medicare were abolished, the insurance that replaced it would be cheaper because it probably would feature higher deductibles; it is true that low deductibles are common in many forms of private insurance, such as automobile collision insurance, but I think it would be different in the case of health insurance simply because private health insurance for the elderly, with no Medicare crutch, would be very costly. The premiums would be much lower with high deductibles.

The history of Medicare is very instructive to this argument. It was a typical example of Congress' penchant for looking at a real problem and then passing legislation that has nothing to do with that problem, but rather "solves" another "problem" that does not actually exist. In 1968, many of the elderly could not afford medical insurance. The medical insurance industry already existed. We did not need another medical insurer, we needed a way to allow low-income elderly to afford what already existed. A simple-to-administer system of subsidizing premiums for low-income elderly was all that was needed. This suggestion would substitute what we needed then for what we have now. Unfortunately, while it would have been easy to create such a system in 1968, it probably is politically impossible today.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Business Week Twists a Quote

Business Week has an article on the Easton Jordan affair and the bloggers. Link.
Their latest victim: Eason Jordan, CNN's chief news executive. He resigned on Feb. 13 after conservative bloggers feasted on a controversial statement he made in late January at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, about the U.S. military. His allegation -- that coalition soldiers in Iraq mistook journalists for enemies and killed them -- brought down a storm of criticism on him and his network. (emphasis added)

If Jordan had stated this, he would still be drawing a CNN paycheck. There is no way besides intentional spin that you can take the phrase "targeted journalists" and paraphrase it as "mistook journalists for enemies and killed them." I have seen a lot of stupid things printed in the MSM concerning the Jordan affair, but no other has come even close to this one.

Endorsement for Negroponte

The Counterterrorism Blog has a very positive post on the naming of John Negroponte as the first National Intelligence Director. Link.
John Negroponte is not your typical foreign service officer. In contrast to the stereotype of a pinstiped, cookie pushing weenie, Negroponte has had a long career as a shrewd field operative who has had to manage a variety of politically and operationally sensitive issues. While Ambassador to Honduras during the Contra War in the 1980s, Negroponte had to manage CIA and DOD intelligence operatives. He was not an ignorant bystander but an active player in the process. He has also handled law enforcement issues, such as drug trafficking and money laundering investigations. While he is not known as a warm, fuzzy soft hearted guy, he is a tough, no nonsense manager.

On the one hand, I am not convinced that we needed another level of bureaucracy in our intelligence gathering. On the other hand, now that it is created, John Negroponte seems to be a superior choice to do the job. CIA Director Goss will now spend his time administering that agency, which is in great need of overhaul, and the new intelligence czar will oversee intelligence coordination and brief the President daily. Maybe that is too much work for just one human being.

Simplify Taxes the Kiwi Way

Tech Central has an article advising the administration to follow the New Zealand model when approaching tax simplification. Link.
The tax code and regulations are now 46,000 pages long, up from 26,000 in the mid-1980s. The number of different IRS tax forms jumped from 400 to 500 in the past 10 years.

Congress is now considering proposed reforms to decrease this complexity. Before embarking on a new path, and potentially repeating some of the mistakes that undermined the 1986 reform, US policy makers may want to learn from reforms in other nations. The New Zealand's tax code overhaul in the 1980s and 90s led to incredible economic growth. This experience provides a good role model for the US to follow. (...)

NZ shifted its income tax towards a simpler and flatter structure using a broad-base, low-rate principle. The top marginal personal income tax rate was reduced from 66 percent to 33 percent. The tax base was extended and most loopholes removed to reduce complexity and compliance costs to a minimum. In that spirit, many innovations were introduced such as the low rate Fringe Benefit Tax applied to non-cash income.

The NZ tax base is broad by international standards but avoids double-taxing certain types of income. There is, for instance, no second layer of tax on capital gains. The absence of capital gains tax is consistent with New Zealand's move towards a consumption-type tax, like the flat tax, which doesn't tax capital gains at all.

The tax system we had pre-Reagan was the worst of all worlds. Its high marginal rates (70% maximum) discouraged work and entrepreneurship, while the large number of exemptions kept the actual tax take low. There were only two beneficiaries: accountants/tax lawyers, who sold their expertise in lowering taxes, and Congressmen, who sold tax exemptions for large campaign contributions. The Reagan tax cuts were a move in the right direction, and they unleashed the greatest surge in economic growth since the late nineteenth century. However, they did not go far enough in simplification. We have gotten the rates down (maybe not enough, but down never-the-less). What is needed now is making the recent cuts permanent and broadening the base so that the rates can be cut even more.

A Protest With Two Sides

The London Times reports of an attempt by Greenpeace activists to disrupt petroleum trading. Link.
WHEN 35 Greenpeace protesters stormed the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) yesterday they had planned the operation in great detail.

What they were not prepared for was the post-prandial aggression of oil traders who kicked and punched them back on to the pavement.

“We bit off more than we could chew. They were just Cockney barrow boy spivs. Total thugs,” one protester said, rubbing his bruised skull. “I’ve never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view.” (...)

Greenpeace had hoped to paralyse oil trading at the exchange in the City near Tower Bridge on the day that the Kyoto Protocol came into force.

Imagine, all some bunch of vandals wants to do is to shut down a business, and the people working there take offense. Isn't the rest of the world like universities? There, vandals can occupy administration buildings, trash them and destroy files, and everyone just sits back and watches patiently. Whoever told these guys that the Constitution guarantees the right to civil disobedience forgot to tell than that the UK doesn't have a written constitution.

Is Abbas Changing the Culture?

The Jerusalem Post has a disquieting article about Mahmoud Abbas. Link.
In the first decision of its kind since he succeeded Yasser Arafat, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has ratified death sentences against three Palestinians found guilty of "collaboration" with Israel. (...)

(S)enior PA officials told The Jerusalem Post that the three were Gaza Strip residents who had been convicted of "high treason" for tipping off Israeli security forces about the whereabouts of wanted gunmen. (...)

According to Amnesty International, some of the defendants were sentenced to death by firing squad after an unfair trial. (...)
Trials are often summary, taking place before military judges, and there is no right of appeal," the group said in a statement.

There is something incongruous about claiming to want peace with Israel and executing people for cooperating with Israel. Also, Abbas appears to be making a point by doing this as one of his first official duties. One of the complaints about Arafat was that his speeches in English called for peace, while his speeches in Arabic called for terrorism and continued struggle. This action bears a disturbing similarity.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Progress on the Roach Front

The Los Angeles Times reports that scientists has succeeded in synthecizing a synthetic pheremone of the German cockroach, the most common species of cockroach. Link.
n the long and seemingly futile quest to build a better roach trap, researchers have identified the come-hither chemical of the female German cockroach and produced a synthetic version that makes males come running in fewer than nine seconds.

The search for the sex pheromone has been a top priority for cockroach scientists, but it has been an arduous process because the compound is emitted in very small quantities and is so fragile that it easily degrades during laboratory analysis.

The new synthetic version appears to work at least as well as the original, giving scientists hope that they might be able to shift the balance of power in the age-old contest between humans and cockroaches -- creatures widely believed capable of surviving nuclear war.

Cockroaches have always ranked up there with death and taxes. Of course, given that a single female can produce two million offspring, something that helps to kill off the males may not accomplish very much. Last month, Technology Review did a spread on a British scientist who wants to do away with death. Now, if we only could do something about taxes.

Who Owns Your Tattoo?

Celebrity Justice has an interesting article concerning the ownership of a tattoo. Link.
According to legal documents obtained by "CJ," Matthew Reed of Tiger Lily Tattoo and Design Works is the creator of an Egyptian-themed tattoo on Wallace's arm. Reed claims that a release, included with the documents, shows an agreement he made with Wallace back in 1998 when Wallace played for the Portland Trailblazers.

In court documents, Reed says he only charged Wallace -- who has a $57 million, five-year contract with the Pistons -- $450 for the tattoo. A low amount says the tattoo artist, considering the intricacy of the design, but Reed thought having a superstar sport his artwork would attract more business.

In fact, Reed was happy to see his work displayed on Wallace's arm during televised NBA games, but Reed says he had no idea the tattoo would have a place of prominence in a Nike ad, and he believes his copyrighted design has been infringed upon.

Reed is demanding damages and a share of the profits from the TV ad, plus interest.
I suppose it all depends on what is in that release. It is hard to believe that a multi-million-dollar NBA player would sign away less than his total ownership of a tattoo on his body to save a few hundred dollars. On the other hand, sometimes wealthy celebrities can be very cheap, as a recent John Stossel article spells out.

George Soros and Lynne Stewart

Byron White writes in the National Review that George Soros donated to the defense fund of Lynne Stewart, who was recently convicted of aiding terrorism. Link.
According to records filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Soros's foundation, the Open Society Institute, or OSI, gave $20,000 in September 2002 to the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee.

In filings with the IRS, foundation officials wrote that the purpose of the contribution was "to conduct a public education campaign around the broad civil rights implications of Lynne Stewart's indictment."(...)

Stewart's legal troubles stemmed from her defense of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, sometimes known as the Blind Sheikh. Rahman led an Egyptian-based terrorist organization known as the Islamic Group.

In 1996, Rahman was sentenced to life in prison for his involvement in the first attack on the World Trade Center, in 1993, and for his part in failed plots to blow up the United Nations building and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels in New York.

After his conviction, Rahman's followers threatened a series of terrorist attacks against American targets unless he were released. In 1998, the U.S. government reportedly had intelligence that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were plotting to hijack aircraft in the United States in order to demand freedom for Rahman and other convicted terrorists.

Because of those threats, the government issued a special order that the imprisoned Rahman not be allowed to communicate with his followers, to prevent his inciting them to further violence. He was allowed to communicate only with his wife and with his lawyers, who were not allowed to relay his wishes to his followers.

Stewart promised to abide by those rules. But at her trial, the government produced evidence showing that Stewart and two codefendants on a number of occasions used their privileged access to Rahman to help transmit Rahman's orders to his followers in the Islamic Group.

It is just one more example of the Left's support for Islamofascism. Leftist feminists support them, despite their total denial of rights to women. Leftist homosexual activists support them, even though they stone homosexuals to death. European leftists support them, even though they want to destroy Western legal doctrines in Europe and replace it with Sharia. And why? Just because George W. Bush is leading the war against the Islamofascists. They hate him so much that they will abandon anything they used to believe in, if it might help him.

Churchill and Fraudulent Affirmative Action

The Rocky Mountain News carries a op-ed by a law professor at the University of Colorado on Ward Churchill. Link.
Academics claim to despise censorship, but the truth is we do a remarkably good job of censoring ourselves. This is especially true in regard to affirmative action. Who among us can claim to have spoken up every time a job candidate almost as preposterous as Churchill was submitted for our consideration? Things like the Churchill fiasco are made possible by a web of lies kept intact by a conspiracy of silence.

The University of Colorado hired Churchill onto its faculty because he claimed to be an American Indian. Anyone who has the slightest familiarity with research universities can glance at his résumé and state this with something close to complete confidence.

Churchill thus represents the reductio ad absurdum of the contemporary university's willingness to subordinate all other values to affirmative action. When such a grotesque fraud - a white man pretending to be an Indian, an intellectual charlatan spewing polemical garbage festooned with phony footnotes, a shameless demagogue fabricating imaginary historical incidents to justify his pathological hatreds, an apparent plagiarist who steals and distorts the work of real scholars - manages to scam his way into a full professorship at what is still a serious research university, we know the practice of affirmative action has hit rock bottom. Or at least we can hope so.

The author, Paul Campos, is Hispanic and freely admits that he has been helped by affirmative action, which he supports in principal. It is not the principal, but the way it often is applied, with which he takes exception. When it is a close call, the desire for "diversity" can tip the scales in favor of a minority applicant. However, when it is not a close call, how low is a university willing to drop its standards in order to increase minority participation in the faculty?

To hire a person with Churchill's lack of qualifications displays the "racism of low expectations." The powers that be in U of C must have believed that no Native American could meet their standards for a white male, or else they would have looked for one, rather than hire Ward Churchill.