View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Saturday, January 31, 2004

And Second Am I!



Just a short bioblurb here to round out Joshua's kind introduction of yours truly to the Blogosphere. True, I'm not a pilot; rather, I'm a bluewater sailor who spends most of his summers practicing on Lake Chatfield, near the big oceanic expanse known as "Highlands Ranch." And, if I'm truly taller than Joshua, it's only because I stand on the shoulders of giants! (;->)



Truth to tell, I'm originally American, but decamped to Canada when I was 18 to escape the draft--that is, 18 months! When my parents found out that I could talk in whole sentences, they wanted to draft me into pre-school! Hardly fair for a mere toddler, I felt . . . . Seriously, for some strange reason, my Ontario-born mother didn't feel that New York City was a civilized-enough place to raise children, and so the family headed to Toronto. And this was back in 1957! Of course, she did have a history of being prescient, and so I've paid attention to her ever since.



I've been in Colorado since 1980, when I entered the DU law school, thinking I was headed towards a career in elective politics. A summer in D.C. changed my perspective dramatically, and I settled for a life of comparative ease and sanity in the Rocky Mountain West. Politics can be an addiction, however, and so I've kept my hand in over the years as a campaign worker, sometime consultant, and special-issue activist. It's hunting season again, and, as Joshua prophesied, it's gonna be a whale of a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to being a part of this community!



For those who might be interested in learning more about me and my current foci, and even possibly connecting, Joshua tells me he's gonna enable a hotlink on my name. As Italian tour guides are wont to say, "Andiamo!"



Friday, January 30, 2004

Then There Were Two


I'd like to welcome aboard Bill Eigles, esq., to the View From a Height Team. Bill lives here in Denver. He's not a pilot, but makes up for it (and maintains the Official Site Theme) by being taller than I.


Bill's originally Canadian, having sneaked across the border Frodo-and-Sam-like one wintry December eve back in the 70s. When he discovered that he was going to have to wait until May to see whether or not the Buffalo streets were really paved with gold, he headed west. And south. Colorado offered him the snow without the cold.


Bill's an attorney, although he's pretty much out of that business now. He's been in Colorado much longer than I, so he has a better grip on the mechanics of state politics, although he's not actually what you'd call a politico. Those of you who follow state politics anywhere know that the shelf-life of a state politics far exceeds that of all but a handful of national figures. Colorado politics have arisen a little like the mountains: slow changes marked by titanic upheavals. Ten years ago, every major state-wide figure was a Democrat.


Welcome to the Blogosphere, Bill. It's gonna be fun. Feel free to add actual biographical facts, if you like.



Look Ma, a Keyboard!


Thanks to Joshua, here's my maiden contribution to this trenchant blogsite on the issues of our times. So, "Mommy, Daddy, I'm now a novitiate blogger!"

Today marks another sad milestone on Israel's quixotic yet myopic path of "doing the right thing" for the sake of being the responsible parent on the Middle east block. Ever ingratiating itself with the U.S. State Department and the so-called "international community" seems to be the current premier foreign policy goal of Sharon's governance.

400 Palestinian Arab terrorists and 35 foreign fellow travellers were released from Israeli jails and detention centers in exchange for one kidnapped Israeli businessman (alive) and three kidnapped Israeli soldiers (dead). What rationale for such a mad swap, so lopsided both numerically and qualitatively? Well, Virginia, Israel is committed to bringing all of her sons home, eventually, even if . . . .

Even if. Hmmm. Putting the very best spin on this event that I can muster, I suppose Sharon's plan could be to get rid of all of the incarcerated Palestinians and other terror miscreants as an easy jump-start on creating the very "apartheid state" that the Arabs so love to continuously prate on about. The money saved thereby could be used to (1) encourage all resident Israeli Arabs to emigrate from Israel with some compensation, and (2) help build that exorbitant anti-infiltration Fence to keep everyone else out. Another obvious benefit of releasing the Arabs now in jail is perhaps much more delectable: If they decide to return to terrorism, Israel can then terminate them with extreme prejudice as a matter of military necessity, without violating either Israeli civil law or Torah ethics.

For those of us who are simpatico with Realpolitik, it's an inspired plan, come to think of it. The signal problem, of course, is that it serves to place more Jewish lives at risk, not only in Yesha and metropolitan Israel, but throughout the rest of the world as well. (Remember those 35 foreign nationals, who may wind up repatriated to their home states?) I can't help but feel that Israel is gonna rue this event, just as, after 9/11, it must have rued the release back in 1996 of a then little-known Arab terror thug. As we know, Mohammed Atta went on to do some bigger blasting.

I've no doubt that the families of Elhannen Tannenbaum and the three dead soldiers are glad to be reunited with their kin. However, the cost of this triumph of the heart over the head will likely be dear. Trades like this can only incent the barbarians to murder and maim and kidnap more Israelis. Why? Because, alas, they can now hardly doubt that a "get out of jail" card will ultimately be waiting for them in exchange for the bodies of their victims--whether delivered back dead or alive. Whatever happened to common sense?



JOSHUA ADDS: The feel-good aspect of a society and culture that values one of our cocaine-dealing businessmen above 400 of "their" killers is undeniable. A soldier captured in the line of duty might have been worth the trade, mostly for the necessary military morale and esprit de corps. But the measure can't always be live Arabs vs. live Israelis. In this case, as Bill points out, the measure may well be live Israelis vs. future dead. After all, that's the downside of dealing with a society that values human life at something less than 1/400 of what you do.



Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Two Faces of John


This from the February 27, 1991 Boston Globe. It seems that one Walter Carter both faxed and mailed this letter to Sen. John Kerry on January 9 of that year:




Dear Sen. Kerry,

I urge you to support President Bush's request that Congress approve the "use of all necessary means" to get Iraqi forces out of Kuwait.

To deny the president's request would encourage further aggression, and to support the request is the most appropriate and effective means to preserve a liberal democratic world order with minimum human suffering it the long run.



Mr. Carter, having sent two copies of the letter, received two responses. Read carefully, and see if you can spot the subtle but important differences.




January 22

Dear Mr. Carter,

Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to the Bush administration's additional deployment of US military forces in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf, and to the early use of military force by the US against Iraq. I share your concerns.

On Jan. 11, I voted in favor of a resolution that would have insisted that economic sanctions be given more time to work and against a resolution giving the president immediate authority to go to war against Iraq to force it out of Kuwait, warning that a decision to go to war was "rolling the dice" with our future.






January 31

Dear Mr. Carter,

Thank you very much for contacting me to express your support for the actions of President Bush in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

From the outset of the invasion, I have strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush's response to the crisis and the policy goals he has established with our military deployment in the Persian Gulf.

The bottom line for the administration and the international community, in which I concur completely, is the total unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Two of the most critical elements in our ability to accomplish this goal have been the administration's skillful use of the United Nations and the new relationship with the Soviet Union to bring almost universal condemnation and isolation of the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein.

... Again thank you for contacting me to express your strong support for our government's actions in standing up to this shocking aggression in the Persian Gulf.





Don't Do This Now, But It's There If You Need It


From the AP:



David Bradley spent five minutes writing the computer code that has bailed out the world's PC users for decades.

The result was one of the most well-known key combinations around: CtrlAltDelete. It forces obstinate computers to restart when they will no longer follow other commands.

Bradley, 55, is getting a new start of his own. He's retiring Friday after 28 1/2 years with IBM.

...

At a 20-year celebration for the IBM PC, Bradley was on a panel with Microsoft founder Bill Gates (news - web sites) and other tech icons. The discussion turned to the keys.

"I may have invented it, but Bill made it famous," Bradley said.

Gates didn't laugh.




Three Blind Mice


What was Kerry's formative experience again? From an April 23, 1985 Washington Post piece about a trip he, Sen. Harkin, and then-Sen. Al Gore took to Nicaragua.




"Look at it," Kerry said as their plane touched down here Thursday night. "It reminds me so much of Vietnam. The same lushness, the tree lines."

Driving into town there were more similarities: corrugated tin roof huts, the sad architecture of Third World countries -- the smell of wood burning. "And the poverty."

The political parallels between Central America and Southeast Asia are not exact, they say, but both men, from dissimilar backgrounds, have come to the same place politically because of Vietnam. And they see disturbing similarities. For the first time, a U.S. president is publicly pushing Congress to fund guerrilla attacks on a country with which the United States is not at war.

"If you look back at the Gulf of Tonkin resolution," Kerry said, "if you look back at the troops that were in Cambodia, the history of the body count and the misinterpretation of the history of Vietnam itself, and look at how we are interpreting the struggle in Central America and examine the CIA involvement, the mining of the harbors, the effort to fund the contras, there is a direct and unavoidable parallel between these two periods of our history."



Well, maybe indirect parallels. Certainly not the 17th.



Eighteen Years Ago


Charles Krauthammer is nothing if not consistent. Then again, his target hasn't moved much in 18 years, either. Look carefully for a Currently Important Name.




The Washington Post

April 26, 1985

The senator was talking about negotiations between the parties to the civil strife. Important, he said, but frankly "we feel there are more important issues." An internal settlement would be fine, but it is "secondary to the national security interests of the United States."

Jesse Helms on South Africa? A Kissinger admirer on Chile? No: Chris Dodd, perhaps the most sophisticated Democratic critic of the president's Central America policy, on Nicaragua. Dodd spoke for the Democratic view that the problem in Nicaragua is external. It is between Washington and Managua. The president insists instead on church-mediated negotiations between the Sandinistas and their domestic opposition i order to open up the political system.

Dodd rejected the idea that American security interests should "take a back seat to the internal problems of Nicaragua." Yes, "the contras are important, Managua is important, El Salvador is important, (but) not as important as the interests of the United States."

It is curious that a leading Democratic liberal should make this case. Democrats don't talk that kind of Realpolitik, certainly not, say, about Chile or South Africa. Why here? Why in Nicaragua should concern about American interests take precedence over the rights of the people?

The only plausible answer is that while there is not the slightest chance of American boys being sent to Johannesburg or Santiago, the same cannot be said of Managua. Democratic aversion to "the internal problems of Nicaragua" derives fundamentally from a fear of America's being drawn into them, Vietnam-style. In the final days before the contra vote, Democrats from Ed Markey to John Glenn stood in line to invoke the memory of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. "They don't want our boys down there," said Tip O'Neill, explaining the House's resounding defeat of the president's original contra aid proposal. "That's what it is all about." The overriding Democratic theme all week was indeed nonintervention.

The lengths to which some Democrats were willing to go in pursuit of nonintervention were extraordinary. Sens. Tom Harkin and John Kerry returned from an 11th-hour trip to Managua clutching a piece of paper signed by President Daniel Ortega which they announced was a "new, bold and innovative approach" (Harkin) and "a wonderful opening" (Kerry). At their arrival home, only the umbrella was missing. When within hours the Nicaraguan Embassy in Washington denied that there was anything new in the Ortega plan, the senators remained serene.

Most Democrats, however, originally backed another plan, not made in Managua, but hatched here by the Democratic leadership as a statesmanlike alternative to the president's. It carried the House, only to be voted down after the president's plan had lost and alternatives were no longer needed. Before it had outlived its usefulness as a cover, Democrats had brandished it for days as a demonstration that they are not mere nay-sayers.

They, too, could formulate foreign policy. They, too, were prepared to spend $14 million to save Central America. The first $10 million was to go in humanitarian aid to refugees. The Democrats insisted, however, that the money be distributed by the U.N. or the Red Cross, not by any agency of the U.S. government. This insistence that American policy is best entrusted to non-Americans gave new meaning to the term foreign policy.

The other $4 million was to go to the Contadora Group to smooth the way to a peace settlement. Now, the idea that what is needed to advance peace in Central America is $4 million thrown at the Contadora negotiators is a parody of liberal analysis. This idea inhabits the same universe as Geraldine Ferraro's campaign charge that the Reagan administration was spending only a fifth as much on arms control as on military bands -- "an incredible statistic," and "out of tune with the American people," she averred. One can think of a dozen reasons to explain why arms control or Contadora negotiations are stalled; only a satirist could dream up inadequate funding.

Next time you hear a Democrat moan or a Republican gloat about how the Democrats don't know who they are or what they believe in anymore, don't believe it. At least in foreign affairs it is not true. Much as some Democrats might prefer to deny it, there is a logic to their foreign policy. The Democrats hold many things dear -- human rights, negotiations, power sharing, reconciliation of warring parties -- but there are limits, the limits of an overriding commitment to nonintervention.

That commitment makes sense of the otherwise incomprehensible turns of Democratic foreign policy -- the invocation of Realpolitik here, the passion for human rights there. And it translates into a curious but coherent set of policies, almost wholly passive and defined by negative acts: disinvestment in South Africa, withdrawal of support from Marcos in the Philippines, denying loans to Chile. These are all acts of omission. When a policy demands commission -- not the withdrawal but the application of means -- out comes the foreign policy compass, the one made in Vietnam, the one whose true north always points home.



I guess it's fair to say that Democratic foreign policy has evolved somewhat in 18 years. They're now willing to be interventionist as long as no vital US interest is at stake.



Dean and Aspen


Took 'em long enough. The Denver Post finally got around to interviewing some people who knew Howard Dean during his ski tour at Aspen. Surprise, surprise, there are no surprises. He went to ski and hang out, at a time when Aspen was a place that kids with no money could go do that. Not a wild partier, just a really good skier.


On the other hand, he used to work for a Norwegian immigrant out in Aspen, who later opened a small restaurant in - Vermont. Knowing something about socialism first-hand, she had this to say about her former governor:



Erhard, a transplant from Norway, said many of Dean's policies as governor, such as universal health care for children and property-tax shifts to aid poor schools, unfairly burden the middle class.

"I have never been a supporter of his over here," she said.





Masculine Femininity


George Will today claims that the Democrats have rediscovered the virtues of masculinity, leading them to support Sen. John Kerry. Kerry seems to me to have decided long ago, on foreign policy, to be decisively passive. To be militantly inactive. He came back to dishonestly oppose Vietnam, supposedly on the basis of massive US war crimes. He opposed Reagan's "illegal war in Central America," which helped lead to democracy in that part of the world.


He opposed the first Gulf War, arguing for giving sanctions time to work, for up to 12 or 18 months, knowing full well that a president could almost never launch an offensive between his convention and an election. Kerry argued that sanctions would weaken Saddam's army, while our half-million men and women then deployed could stay out there indefinitely. Having served in Vietnam, he evidently never felt the need to look at a map of Korea.


Kerry, like the French whom James Taranto believes he resembles, has discovered the virtues of langor. Far easier to order up another Manhattan Iced Tea than to actually commit action.


Kerry would like us to believe that his military service alone is somehow important. True, he didn't run away to the slopes like Dean. He served with distinction, and put himself in harm's way, and for that service he's due the extraordinary thanks any veteran gets. But the presidency is about leadership and leadership is about judgment. Were it up to Kerry, Danny Ortega would still be running Nicaragua, and Saddam Hussien would be not only in Baghdad, but also Kuwait City. At least.


George McGovern was a war hero, too. He piloted bombers over Europe. Steven Ambrose wrote a book about him. None of that mattered when he proposed fatal weakness in our foreign policy. It shouldn't matter now.



Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Presidential Height


It's always fun to see what Google or Yahoo! searches lead to this site. Because of the name, a fair number are something like "John+Kerry+Height" or "Seabiscuit+Height." We don't like to disappoint, so herewith, the listed heights of the remaining Presidential candidates:



  • John Kerry - 6' 4"
  • John Edwards - 6' 0"
  • Al Sharpton - 5' 11"
  • Wesley Clark - 5' 10"
  • Howard Dean - 5' 9"
  • Joe Lieberman - 5' 8"
  • Dennis Kucunich - 5' 7"



  • Tuesday, January 27, 2004

    Liberals and Moderates


    One of my favorite web sites, at least every two years, is Project Vote-Smart. It's been around, first as a gopher site and then as a web site, since at least 1994. Here are some selected, but representative, advocacy group ratings for Messrs. Edwards and Kerry.


    Since Blogspot(TM) wants to make you scroll down to see the table, here's the punchline - except for the National Journal ratings, according to the advocacy groups, there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two.




    Organization and YearSen. KerrySen. Edwards
    Right-to-Life 2001-200200
    Planned Parenthood 2001100100
    NARAL 2001100100
    Americans for Tax Reform 200300
    National Taxpayers Union 20021818
    American Bankers Association 200300
    American Coalition for Ethanol 2002100100
    U.S. Chamber of Commerce 20025555
    Nat'l Fed. of Independent Business 2001-20022525
    Small Business Survival Committee 2001-200277
    ACLU 2001-20026060
    ACLU 20007167
    NAACP 2001-200210094
    NAACP 200110095
    NAACP 200093100
    Human Rights Campaign 2001-2002100100
    Human Rights Campaign 2001100100
    Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants 1999-20006363
    NEA 2000-200310096
    League of Conservation Voters 2001-20029268
    League of Conservation Voters 1999-20009488
    Family Research Council 200300
    Family Research Council 2000050
    Children's Defense Fund 20019191
    Children's Defense Fund 200090100
    AAUW 2001-2002100100
    Gun Owners of America 2003F
    NRA 2002F
    Brady Campaign 200210077
    ABA Committee on Gun Violence 2001-2002100100
    AFSCME 200288100
    SEIU 200291100
    AFL-CIO 200292100
    ADA 20028570
    National Journal 2002Liberal - Conservative
    Economic Policy95 - 066 - 32
    Foreign Policy73 - 2662 - 36
    Social Policy82 - 056 - 38
    Composite87 - 1363 - 37
    People for the American Way 2001-20028585
    Zero Population Growth 2000-2001100100




    First Reactions


    If you're handicapping the race, Kerry starts to look like the favorite. While Dean avoided humiliation, and is still viable enough to keep running, he's starting to look more and more like he's peaked. Hugh, give it up.


    Third place is where the action is. Kerry always had a problem in the South. While the Southern Democrats used to be more conservative than they are now, they're still more conservative than their Northern bretheren. This was the ticket for Edwards in South Carolina, and polls showing Clark running in front in Oklahoma. But neither man broke the magic 15% to pick up any delegates.


    As I'm writing this, it's nip-and-tuck for third place. Fourth place probably means doom for either man. It probably hurts Edwards more than Clark, though, who was supposed to do well here. He may be able to keep limping along, but almost certainly won't be a factor in the final delegate count. The big question is whether or not Kerry has established enough momentum to push Edwards aside next Tuesday. If so, game over. If not, Edwards may still make a three-man race of it.


    What I want to know is, where, outside of a fraternity prank, did Al Sharpton find 300 people to vote for him?



    Piracy and Shipping Choke Points


    Dana Dillon and Lucia Selvaggi write in today's Wall Street Journal (registration required) about the threat to international shipping posed both by piracy and terrorism at one of the world's most congested shipping lanes, the Strait of Malacca shared among Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. They describe the magnitude of the threat thus:



    Despite the fact that 50,000 ships and half the world's crude oil travel through the straits each year, efforts to protect the vessels have proven sporadic and ineffective. Attacks in the straits -- which narrow to 1.5 miles wide at some points -- account for more than half the piracy in the world. And experts with the International Chamber of Commerce, which tracks piracy, expect more than 400 such attacks world-wide this year, which means at least 200 in the straits.

    ...

    With so many ships carrying fuel through the straits -- experts estimate 10 very large crude carriers pass through the straits every day, not to mention two-thirds of the world's liquefied natural gas -- the consequences could be devastating. For instance, a suicide run into Singapore by a ship loaded with LNG would be "more devastating than any bomb" and "too horrible to think about," said an official with the International Tanker Operators Association.



    Indonesia has been in the same sort of denial that preceded the Bali bombing, and only Japan seems to be taking the threat very seriously. Since the attacks are predominantly coming from Indonesian shores, they have primary responsibility for stopping them on land. Historically, this sort of problem has only been solved by the presence of a significant naval presence. If we don't want, say, China to use this as an excuse to expand its blue-water navy, at our eventual expense, we're going to have to take up the slack.



    Consumer Confidence Rebounds


    The Consumer Confidence Index of the Conference Board rose to 96.8 in January, from December's 91.7. Other numbers also look good:



    The present-situations index rose to 80 from 74.3, while the expectations index climbed to 108.1 from 103.3.

    On the job front, those respondents who said they are anticipating more jobs will become available in the next six months increased to 22.2% from 21.6%. And those expecting fewer positions to become available decreased to 14.9% from 16.9%. But the proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes dropped to 18.9% from 21.5%.



    So people see their personal situations doing better, although they're still reluctant to breathe a little easier and take heart from their neighbors' improved sentiments. This seems to happen a lot, until there's a crystallization of opinion. For instance, in the 1992 elections cited on Powerline last week, even as Bush I's re-elect numbers and job-approval ratings were quite poor, in the low 40s, people still believed overwhelminly that he would be re-elected.



    E. J. Dionne Doesn't


    In the meantime, E.J. Dionne reports on the "regiments," more likely platoons, or veterans who he believes give John Kerry foreign policy credibility.



    Bob Kerrey in a telephone interview pointed to two factors that have made war service more important to Democratic voters. "Unlike '92, '96 and 2000, Democrats are asking the question: Who can be commander in chief?" This helps both Clark and Kerry, he said. John Kerry gets an additional boost because "he both opposed the war — and he went." Antiwar Democrats admire the first while veterans know that Kerry appreciates "what it means to serve."



    Some would say that the Democrats, seemingly focused on "electability," realize that military credibility is something that matters to the electorate as a whole, even if they themselves don't care much about it. I don't recall Dean's Battle of the Slopes at Aspen hurting him much at the time it came out. While Kerry went, it's not clear that his opposition to the war developed until it became to his political advantage. And it apparently extended as far as the appearance of tossing away his medals...


    Kerry wants to refight Vietnam, for which conservatives now have an answer. He calls our support of the Contras and the government in El Salvador, "Reagan's illegal war in Central America." Let him go tell the voters in Nicaragua that, after they keep defeating the Sandanistas at the polls, in elections inconceivable without our military support for the opposition to that dictatorship. And who knows what his actual position on the Iraq war (and whatever comes next) may be? It seems he not only wants to refight the original Vietnam, but all the other non-Vietnam Vietnams since then. Bring it on.



    The Post Gets It (Mostly)


    Deacon from Powerline has noticed that the least biased sections of the Washington Post seems to be its editorial page. Today, the Post's lead editorial takes the Democrats to task for not understanding the nature of the current recovery. It comes from greater efficiency and productivity, which is always very closely tied to standard of living and income.


    Of course, they take a shot at the current deficits. I'm not delighted by deficits, either, but the fact is, they're not large as a function of GDP by historical standards, and there's hope that we'll grow out of them. Plus, they began to accumulate both as a result of falling tax revenue from the recession, and a deliberate attempt to stimulate the economy, which they have. If we continue to run $500B deficits year after year, that won't be good. But right now, there's every reason not to worry about them.



    Monday, January 26, 2004

    Edwards Tackles the Tough Ones


    John Edwards, in USA Today today (courtesy of Real Clear Politics), comes out strongly opposed to college admissions preferences - for legacy students. These are children of alumni. These preferences, practiced by almost all colleges and universities. As policy, they're a courtesy to alumni; as fundraising, they're smart.


    Edwards defends affirmative action, naturally, as promoting "diversity," since he certainly can't defend it as promoting fairness. He provides no evidence that legacy applicants are more likely to be admitted to a school than are beficiaries of affirmative action. Nowhere does he state the number of students so affected. How many students who get into, say Virginia, with legacy help, couldn't have gotten into another comparable school, but either didn't want the hassle, or did want to carry on a tradition? How many students really are going to Harvard rather than Roanoke County Community College because dad went to Cambridge?


    Edwards is both taking a slap at President Bush, widely perceived as getting into Yale on his father's coattails (the only coattails his father seems to have had), and signalling that he's going to try to run a populist campaign, playing off his image as a moderate. He talks as often about his poor upbringing as Kerry does about Vietnam; so often you half expect him to claim that he was raised a poor black child. We'll see if it works.



    Dogs


    For the past few days, and the next few, we are hosting a neighbor's dog while she and her son are on vacation. The dog is terrific, pleasant, doesn't complain, goes about his business (which we'll get to in a moment), and we'd have him again in a minute, but let's just say you don't really know a dog until you live with him.


    Clancy, theirs, is a small springer spaniel. Clancy runs around the house randomly sniffing the floor, like one of those ergodic pool cleaners filmed at 18 frames per second and played back at 24 fps. He'll also run back and forth between the hallway and a given room 10 or 20 times in a row, as though he's got doggy Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. "Gotta touch that chair again. Again. Again. Again..."


    It suggests a way to clean floors while you're out of the house. Rubber-lined cloth dog booties that you soak in floor cleaner. Then, you hang a timed treat dispenser over a shallow pool of diluted cleaner. The dog roams the house for a while cleaning the floors, then replenishes his foot-mops when he shows up to get his half-hourly treat.


    This would be true even if Sage were making an effort to make Clancy feel like a welcome guest. Sage, ours, is a very large black lab, about 110 lbs. Sage is and always has been, an only dog. So sharing is, shall we say, not in his nature. He seems to want to play, but he's also a little threatened and annoyed by Clancy hanging around, getting treats there were clearly meant for him, before Clancy showed up. So he'll growl at Clancy while his tail is up and wagging. All part of the cognitive dissonance of being a large lab, I suppose. Fortunately, Clancy doesn't seem to mind, ceding whatever it is Sage thinks he wants, and going back to sniffing out the ghosts of parakeets who once lived here.



    Sunday, January 25, 2004

    U.S. News and John Ashcroft


    U.S. News, in its January 26th issue, runs a cover story on Attorney General John Ashcroft. Unlike most reporting on this subject, Ms. Ragavan makes a deliberate attempt to separate the personal from the policy.


    I thought the policy questions got more of a fair shake than you normally see. For instance, it treats the Patriot Act rationally, making the point that most of its provisions were already in force for organized crime investigations. It takes to task those critics who lump in detainees and deportees with Patriot Act complaints, pointing out that the rhetoric is unfair, as one has nothing to do with the other.


    It did seem to me, however, that their treatment of the alleged politicization of the department, while not taking the complaints at face value, failed to sufficiently consider the source. The loudest complaints come from "junior staffers," whose only point of reference would be the severely politicized Reno Justice department. They would tend, by tenure, temperament, and politics, to find the appointment of conservatives by a conservative Attorney General objectionable. Only one career manager is quoted, who was one of five reassigned. Without being told his seniority, or how many career managers served on the level of those transferred, we have no perspective within which to judge his complaints. Certainly he might have reason to be resentful of the effects on his career, which would tend to impugn rather than confirm his testimony.


    As for the personal, the following quote sums up the story's take. Fortunately, they avoid talking about his singing.



    For all of the controversy he manages to attract, John Ashcroft is one of the least understood men in Washington. Derided as a religious zealot by some, Ashcroft has never invoked religion in policy or procedural discussions, say colleagues, who add that they have never even seen him pray. Challenged during his confirmation hearings as insensitive to minorities, Ashcroft worships regularly at a mostly black church. An ardent opponent of abortion, Ashcroft is praised by pro-abortion-rights groups for prosecuting violence against abortion clinics. A longtime gun-control foe, Ashcroft has increased prosecutions of certain gun crimes nearly 70 percent over three years. "One of the things that's frustrating about watching from the outside is he's a very charming, intelligent guy," says James Comey, who was confirmed as Ashcroft's deputy a month ago and served as the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan before that. "He's shockingly smart, but most people wouldn't think that. The guy is ferociously honest, but there are people who would not believe that. To some in the public, he is Darth Vader, but it's unfair because he's really not that way."




    Friday, January 23, 2004

    Defending Thomas Friedman


    If ever there were a September 10 publication, it's the Village Voice. It has reinforced its move from liberal to lefist. Since revolutions eat their own, I suppose it makes some sense that media critic Cynthia Cotts has now penned an article attacking Thomas Friedman for donating some prize winnings to his synagogue library.


    It seems that Friedman, along with Joshua Micah Marshall, Paul Krugman, and Charlotte Observer columnist Tommy Tomlinson each won $2,000 from Tina Brown's new periodical, The Week, in its inaugural Opinion Awards. Krugman and Tomlinson each gave their money to public libraries; Marshall gave his to his old prep school. Apparently, the scandal of the evening was Friedman's announcement that his cash was going to the library of a synagogue he (and Times bete noir William Safire among others) had founded.


    Daniel Radosh, widely-published freelancer, actually asked on his blog whether this was an attempt to launder the money so as to keep it. What do you mean, "started a synagogue?" Especially, as Cotts takes pains to point out at the end, one that doesn't even have a building? Cotts apparently is unaware of the multitude of synagogues that start out renting space from apartment buildings, storefronts, and even churches. The Palo Alto Orthodox Synagogue for years met in the basement of a bank, but that didn't help them gain the considerable financing necessary to put up a buiding.


    While Cotts spends some time attacking the monetary ethics of the shul rabbi, the target of the piece is clearly Friedman. Certainly a columnist or a reporter has no business contributing directly to political campaigns or causes he'll be convering. But the path by which she gets to her conclusion is so tortured that whatever "freight" she sees has been dumped by the roadside long before then: Friedman donates to a shul library; that shul is Conservative; it's part of the Masorti movement; religion and politics are mixed in Israel; so the Masorti movement has taken political positions, maybe even on Israeli foreign policy; Friedman has written nice things about Israel. Voila! Friedman is really giving his money to support political causes in Israel.


    Hers is a media column, so from time to time she looks at journalistic ethics. I looked through her columns on Lexis-Nexis, although they're all available on line at the Village Voice site. I couldn't find anything criticizing black journalists for belonging to churches that hold political rallies on the Sunday before election day. I can't find any investigation of the relationship of Muslim editorial writers to Mosques, and those mosques' relationship to stateside fundraising arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.


    Her slant on the Middle East is clear, too. Before 9/11, she accused the American media of being too sympathetic to Israel. After 9/11, two weeks after 9/11, she accused the American media of being afraid to float the theory that it had been payback for our support of Israel. (Evidently she missed the daytime and Nightline appearances of Hanan Ashrawi to say just that.)



    Fear of being blacklisted may explain why mainstream media are downplaying all kinds of stories that connect the WTC attack to ill-conceived homegrown policies--from America's decision to train Afghan rebels in the 1980s to U.S. support of Israel's crackdown on Palestinians to U.S. sanctions against Iraq, which are believed to have caused the deaths of some 500,000 children.



    On a column on the blurring between media & political "insiders" and "outsiders," she had this to say about suicide bombings:



    In part, the uncertainty can be traced to spiraling global violence, which had everybody worried about their location. Thus, a Jerusalem rabbi told the Times, "When you get on the bus, you check everyone out before you sit down. At restaurants, you wonder, is it safer to be inside or outside?"



    Ah yes, what party you get invited to. Just like being shredded by the emissaries of a pathological society. But then, living inside the fishbowl of the leftist New York escrittati makes your life the standard by which all else must be judged.



    But the real victims of WMD may turn out to be the journalists who were issued gas masks and fed a constant diet of hype. By reporting over and over on a hunch that did not come to pass, they risk the fate of the boy who cried wolf--when they discover an authentic threat in the future, no one will believe them.



    Never mind the thousands of people who may actually die if they don't take proper precautions. The "real victims" are going to be writers-turned-Cassandras that nobody listens to. Never mind that, in their eagerness to avoid making that mistake, the journalists themselves return to form when it comes to Iran and the North Koreans.


    By Cotts's logic on Friedman, which of course I don't accept, Krugman's contribution to a public library helps support a librarian who belongs to the ALA, which annually passes resolutions condemining Israel, castigating the United States, and praising Castro's spirit of academic and intellectual freedom.


    Such criticism would be absurd. Worse than that, it would make meaningful participation in civic life impossible, not just for reporters but for everyone.



    Thursday, January 22, 2004

    Quiz Show FAQ



    What's it like being on a quiz show?

    More like a TV show than a sporting event. They ask you to play yourself, only dorkier and more enthusiastic. They re-shoot bits and re-do segments they don't like, only never ever ever so it affects the outcome of the competition. Example: one woman answered in the form of a question, and they re-shot her answer as an answer. They also had me do three different takes of the "Big Pie Payoff" because the host kept messing up the questions. Eventually, I had to spin for a different category altogether,


    What's Marc Summers like?

    Nice guy. He's kind of the Crash Davis of game show hosts. Summers has hosted about 173 different cable shows, but never broke through to the networks. He's also got OCD, but is nothing whatever like Monk.


    Why is this thing on at 9:30 Eastern every day?

    Why do you think? The show stinks. It's a nice attempt by a cable network to do some original programming, but the pacing is slow, the questions a little convoluted, the theme too overdone, and the focus is too narrow.


    Where was it shot?

    Down at Comcast studios here in Denver. Didn't you notice that all three contestants were from Colorado? They said I was from DC so you wouldn't notice. They came here because for a trip to Orlando, you probably couldn't get enough jaded Los Angeles game-show-circuit-junkies to show up for a week's run. Here, they figured they'd find yokels who were just happy to be on TV. But they didn't want you to know that. That was one of the segments they had to re-take, when Summers said that the pastry festival was in Beaver Creek, he also mentioned it was right up the road.


    What's with the facial expressions at the end of the bonus round?

    That's what you get when you leave LA to shoot. At least it proves I'm not on Botox.


    How do we know you didn't cheat?

    Because the Standards and Practices guy was built like a dockworker.


    What did the other two contestants get?

    Dentist bills. They each got something like a packing-crate full of Circus Peanuts, which are actually marshmallow and aren't served at circuses. Great for your teeth. They were actually a little pissed, and I can't say I blame them. We had to come in for two different "auditions" and then give up a day of work.


    Didn't you answer that Jimmy Carter question a little too enthusiatically?

    C'mon, you didn't see that question coming as soon as they started to roll tape? I saw it coming before they started to roll tape. I was actually kidding around backstage about them asking that very question. I answered it and I started looking around for the S&P guy to stop the show and haul me off in irons.


    Would you do this again?

    Yes, and I'd try not to point at the board.




    Speaking of Sleep


    Light blogging today. Got a go-live date of Monday for a contract, my regular work, and the all-seeing eye of Graduate Business School. Later, though, there's been movement on Indian casinos, and a very interesting story regarding your favorite Middle East columnist and mine, Thomas Friedman.



    Quiz Show


    For a good laugh, tune into that media titan, the Food Network, tomorrow at 9:30 AM Eastern, 8:30 Central, 7:30 Mountain, etc. You'll get to see yours truly make an appearance as Contestant #2 on the jumbo hit "Trivia Unwrapped." Just remember, the camera adds 10 pounds, and there were three or four cameras in the studio.



    The Wrong Judge?


    I like Charles Pickering. Powerline has amply documented the attempted slander of the man. The Democrats can't admit that they don't want a center-right judge on the federal bench, so they accuse the man of racism. In the end, the debate's about the Supreme Court. Starve the district courts of conservatives of those favoring judicial restraint, and it'll make conservative high court nominees a harder sell, and liberals ones an easier sell, if only by virtue of tenure and experience.


    By using a recess appointment to put Judge Pickering on the bench, though, President Bush may have picked the wrong judge. Pickering has been waiting the longest, so I suppose it's most fair to him, but this is also about winning the political contest, too. The NAACP and the race-baiting groups are going to turn Judge Pickering into the poster child for right-wing extremist judges. It would have been a lot harder to do that with Justice Brown from California.



    Tuesday, January 20, 2004

    The Rocky Does Immigration


    It's ought to be a party game. How quickly, after someone brings up some social topic, does it take for someone to use the "r" word? In conversation, you can either count exchanges, sentences, or, in particularly civilized company, minutes. In this case, they made it all the way to the end of the subhead.

    Congressman "Lonely" Tom Tancredo has proposed a Constitutional Amendment denying government services to illegal aliens. The Rocky's coverage of the story, along with the arguments used against it, are pretty much par for the course.



    Julissa Molina Soto knows all too well the health-care needs of illegal immigrants, struggling to eke out a living in the land of opportunity....

    "Life in the United States is a hassle for undocumented immigrants," said Molina Soto, director of multicultural outreach for HEP C Connection, a nonprofit that helps illegal immigrants. "It's a whole different culture where you have little choice and limited access to services. What Tom Tancredo is doing to immigrants will only add to our misery."



    Oh, the irony! People who are here against the law are having a hard time making ends meet. Calculated to make you feel sorry for them. News Flash: I do feel sorry for them. I feel sorry that they come from countries that are so unable to piece together competent or uncorrupt governments long enough to get anyone other than day tourists from the Carnival Cruise boat to spend money there. Sorry enough to pull a Minnesota and pay for a one-way bus ticket back to where life was simple, and they understood the language.



    "We really consider this to be racist public policy at its worse," said Bill Vandenberg, co-director of Colorado Progressive Coalition, a network of civil rights organizations.



    Racist. Of course. Look, Bill, the only reason there are so many more illegal Mexicans here than anyone else is that the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are a hell of a lot wider than the Rio Grande. I'm with Medved on this one: there is no such thing as a "hispanic" race. Batista was black; Castro is pretty white. You calling Castro a racist? I didn't think so.


    I think that to you, Dutch, anyone with brown skin who speaks Spanish looks pretty much the same. Last quarter, in marketing, one of the two hispanic students took great issue with the notion of "hispanics" as a market segment. Puerto Ricans don't think like Mexicans don't think like Cubans. On a recent flight, I sat next to a Puerto Rican. He had done time in Mexico City, and when I asked him what that was like, he said he got used to it. He seemed a lot happier here in Denver, living in my neighborhood among whites, than with his fellow "hispanics" in their native habitat. When you can explain to me the specific racial characteristics that make a Guatemalan different from a Mexican, come back and I'll listen. I don't think there are any.



    Backers must collect thousands of signatures in the next few months to get the initiative on the ballot. Carlos Espinosa, a spokesman for the Littleton congressman, denied assertions of racism....

    "It has nothing to do with race. It's a purely fiscal policy," Espinosa said. "The federal government shelled out $800 billion to fund emergency health services alone last year because of illegal immigrants coming into the country. That's outrageous."



    Imagine that. Carlos Espinosa denied that his boss was racist. One of Tancredo's front-page issues has always been the budget. It doesn't surprise me that he'd piggy-back immigration onto its costs.


    It would suprise the hell out of me, though, to find out that half the nation's health-care spending was emergency care to illegals provided by the federal government. The nation's entire economy last year was about $12 trillion. Health care accounts for about 14% of the economy, or $1.6 trillion. Half of that is $800 billion. This has to be millions. Tancredo's website has a speech with credible numbers. So it's possible that the reporter misheard. What's unbelievable is that any fact-checker who doesn't work for the New York Times could have let this slip.



    Proposition 187, a similar initiative passed overwhelmingly by California voters in 1994, offers a glimpse of the future, Duran said.

    "The effect of Prop. 187 was felt in the sharp upswing of racist treatment," Duran said. "People were afraid to send their children to school. People were afraid to call the police for fear they wouldn't protect them. Such measures send such a strong message of who is deserving and who is undeserving."



    I don't know that any of this is true. I don't know that anyone was more inclined to act offensively towards hispanics after Prop 187 was passed. I know there was a lot of talk about illegals not wanting to get caught. I know there was a lot of anecdotal evidence, told through a translator to sympathetic NPR microphones, about the fear that many illegals felt. I also know that these kids, whose parents weren't paying state income tax, were substantially increasing the student-teacher ratio in southern California classrooms.


    Look, I've said it before, I'll say it again. I'm pro-immigration. This country benefits from immigrants who come here to learn the language and work hard. People who come here from south of Mexico have done an especially brave thing. You want to let those who are here stay, and then call in the Israelis to build us a fence? Perfect. You want to revive the bracero program? Be my guest. But a country has to have control of its borders. It can't let its territory become a safety valve for a country too weak-kneed to confront its own problems. It has to demand loyalty from those who stay. Just like we expect from every other immigrant of every other race, Dutch.



    Campus Conservatives Coordinate


    American Kestrel has already commented on this Denver Post story, but I thought I'd comment at a little greater length.


    The College Republicans over at CU are setting up a site where, after proper vetting, reports of inappropriate liberal campus bias will be posted. The students need not have suffered gradewise for their beliefs, which always seemed to me to be a hollow standard at best.


    Fact is, this isn't be done to persuade liberals of anything. They're beyond convincing. This is for the public debate, which they're well on their way to losing, too. The Academic Left has moved from denying a bias exists, to denying that it shows up, to denying that it matters. Nobody outside the 93% of professors who voted for Gore believes this any more.


    This really isn't about blacklists. It's about building a case. With speech codes and judicial codes already in place, any disaffected lefty has a whole host of institutions to turn to if he feels wronged. In the meantime conservative newspapers are stolen, groups defunded, activities denied access, speakers shouted down or worse. A responsible debater says, "make your case." The Left simply denies there's a case to be made.


    My friend JB over at the Rocky Mountain Progressives sounds, for all the world, just like a parody of himself. Actually, he sounds more like a parody of how the left remembers the "older generation" of the 60s. I don't think he's actually been cast in the local dinner-theatre production of "Bye-Bye Birdie;" for all I know, he can't even sing. All I know is that the Left has been carrying this particular tune for a long, long time. If the best argument he can come up with is the ghost of Joe McCarthy (a fine, fine baseball man, by the way), and that this particular activity doesn't create jobs, he's pretty much at the end of his fake book.


    What's funny is how truly unobjectionable all of this really is. And how very, very threatening.




    Former Prominent Democrats


    Today's Denver Post features articles by two prominent state-wide Democrats. My self-promise not to gloat prevents me from pointing out that they're former office-holders. Exvigilare notes and comments.



    Gimli Digs Deeper, Looms Larger


    John Rhys-Davis, the Welsh actor who played Gimli in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, got himself into a little trouble last month with his defense of Western Civilization. Now, it seems his words have been appropriated by a racist British political party, the BNP. Rhys-Davis's proper response is an echo of Ronald Reagan's back when he was governor: they endorsed me, I didn't endorse them.


    In digging a little deeper, myself, I ran across the following bit from an interview he did with the online science fiction/fantasy magazine, Crescent Blues. Gimli comes across as thoroughly, er, grounded. He manages, in a few sentences, to discuss our cultural assumptions about class, our ignorance of others' history, our romanticizing of the Aztecs, and Europe's narrow escape from Islam 1000 years ago. All the while dealing with an interviewer who'd rather argue her own comfortable prejudices than listen.



    Crescent Blues: The scope of your background and reading is immense. Tonight the conversation's gone from Stone Age burials to space cadets. Do you ever find that the breadth of your background interferes with your pleasure in acting a script?


    John Rhys-Davies: There are one or two scripts that are so blatantly wrong -- generally, in terms of class. Americans have no idea of class or status in earlier societies. They regard "Hey, we're all equals here" as self-evident in every society and try to insert that into the convicts of the Irish Famine or something like this. What you end up with is a contemporary little fable that allegedly is set in the past. It has no real depth or power or resonance. Yes, that does irritate me sometimes. Then, on the other hand, sometimes you see things and go: "Wow. I didn't know that." Then you go off and read something about China -- of whose history we know nothing, for God's sake.

    I did a wonderful series called Archaeology on The Learning Channel, and it gave me a splendid overview of history. It was like a grand crib of world history. It left me with some very unfashionable views. Oh God, if I open my mouth now, I'll be condemned forever. I ended up, actually, sort of agreeing with the Inquisition.


    Crescent Blues: [Yelps.] No!


    John Rhys-Davies: I agreed that the gods and demons of Meso- and Central America were devils. I think [Aztec society] was the most monstrous and vicious and cruel and sadistic society. I wholly understand why those Dominicans came and looked around and thought, "These people are in hell. They've got to be delivered from hell." Because it was hell.


    Crescent Blues: However, I do argue with the Inquisition going after "lapsed" former Jews and Moslems, confiscating their property and, in many cases, their lives.


    John Rhys-Davies: Well, of course. Moving Islam out of Europe was a pretty important thing to do, but the dispersal of the Jews was a radical and awful thing.

    But you have such a polarization of faith. There are two problems we're going to face in this century. One is coming to terms with the emerging great power of China and doing so amicably and peacefully. Actually, I'm pretty sure it can be done. The second is how we come to terms with Islam, and I do not know that we have an answer for that.


    Crescent Blues: Extremists are the problem.


    John Rhys-Davies: And perhaps the only way you can counter extremism. In the siege of Montrieux in 1570, the Muslim forces captured one of the outer castillians and caught three Knights of Malta, crucified them and floated the crosses into the harbor at Valletta on the tide. And the response of the Grandmaster [of the Knights of Malta] was to behead three thousand Muslim prisoners and fire their heads back in cannons to the enemy. The only way you come to terms with absolute extremism is by becoming more fanatical yourself. The knock-on effect is that the whole world becomes warped with that fanaticism. But if you do not… Remember, Roland of Ronceveaux and Charlemagne are guys who stopped a very violent and convulsive transformation of Europe.



    Here's the full interview.



    Monday, January 19, 2004

    Polling Data


    Powerline comments on a new Washington Post/ABC poll showing the President in pretty good shape. Hindrocket notes that conservatives are not happy with the President's spending, Medicare, and immigration policies, and that seems to be bleeding over into a certian vague discontent with the President as a whole, without gaining him the center. A couple of points:


    Bad News: The President's re-elect number is only 48%. 50% is usually the magic number, which indicates that this thing may yet be close.


    Good News: For some reason, they overpolled by 35 blacks. This is about 3% of the whole sample. Assuming that, 1) they almost all went left, and 2) black turnout usually is lower than white turnout, the actual re-elect number is probably over 50%.


    As for the moderation in the President's policies, I certainly don't subscribe to the Karl Rove puppet-master theory. But Rove has spoken before of wanting to build a lasting Republican majority. (Maybe that's why Dean came out so strongly against McKinley today.) This is off the top of my head, but we can only do this if 1) conservative walk away 5 years from now convinced that "Bush was one of us," and moderates come away thinking "Bush was one of us." It will help keep the conservatives from being too hungry for a "genuine conservative," while showing enough results for the moderates not to start looking elsewhere.



    Referendum on the Nighthorse


    I kind of like Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. He's a character, no doubt, and since he switched parties ten years ago, he's been fairly reliable, although more to the left than I prefer. He's certainly not a Senate leader, although as the Senate's lone Indian, he tends to get a lot of ink on those issues. On the proposed casino, he's been solid, saying that he'd just like to see them buy some land and compete, rather than create a wholly artificial "reservation" as a tax and regulatory dodge.


    Still, sometimes he makes you wonder what, exactly, he's thinking. He didn't show up at a Dick Cheney fundraiser last week. Then, when asked about the casino developments, he said that he's tired of being asked all these questions about Indian issues, and that the spotlight makes him wish, sometimes, that he wasn't a Senator. Inasmuch as Democratic State Chairman Chris Gates is setting up the party to claim that Sen. Campbell just doesn't care enough about being Senator, and may not even run, this probably wasn't the wisest choice of words. Campbell probably does get tired of being a token, but he's also gotten considerable mileage out of it, and needs to avoid looking like a crybaby.


    Given the likely quality of his opposition, I wouldn't say he's in any kind of trouble. If you're going to make these kinds of blunders, January, when nobody is paying attention anyway, is the best time to make them. But if the Republicans really want to make the Senate judicial process filibuster-proof, they're going to have to keep this seat. So far, Campbell doesn't look like he's trying very hard.



    Keeper of...




    Mts. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. You'll notice a fair number of trees, mixed in amongst the various snowmobiling routes.



    The Content of Our Character, Not the Color of Our Skin


    Is there any holiday more politicized on our calendar than MLK Day? Liberals may carp about that trio of Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans' Day, but the reality is, that's pretty tame stuff compared to what goes on every year, especially every four years, at our black churches. This would probably with or without a national holiday, or 50 separate state holidays, as it were, but it certainly gets more ink this way. (The "National Holiday" is supplemented by 50 state holidays. I personally like Virginia's answer, which was to covert an existing holiday into Lee-Jackson-King Day, and it wasn't Spike and Jesse, either.)


    Here's a roundup of some of the sermons from yesterday:



    Denver Post

    "We are still living in the dark ages," the Rev. Paul Martin said Sunday.

    ...

    But as attempts are made to whittle away affirmative action, trust between the black community and the police erodes and the war in Iraq lingers, Martin said, he feels "we are living in a system that is calcified."

    ...

    "King would be opposed to the eradication of affirmative action," he said. "King would be opposed to the war in Iraq. ... But the worst thing is that those of us who know better aren't saying anything. King would be opposed to the fact that the church is not engaged in this."

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    [The Rev. Joseph] Lowery said the current war in Iraq and other aggressive stances by the Bush administration would have been "antithetical" to everything King stood for.

    "I'm on the other side," he said to rousing applause.

    Omaha World-Herald

    In the tradition of King and other civil rights leaders, Roberts gave a long sermon that was part history lesson, part indictment of violence and injustice and part call to action to correct the inequities he said exist in areas such as education, housing, the justice system and international relations.

    [The Rev. Joseph L.] Roberts, Jr. criticized President Bush's visit to King's Atlanta memorial last week, saying the president was a man of war and King was a man of peace.

    AP

    Back in Atlanta, King's widow, Coretta Scott King, said: "Peaceful ends can only be reached through peaceful means.

    Arizona Republic
    Things didn't go as smoothly for the state holiday. In 1987, newly elected Gov. Evan Mecham rescinded a newly created King holiday enacted by his predecessor, Bruce Babbitt. Mecham's action tarnished Arizona's reputation and splintered the state racially and socially. Conventions and entertainers boycotted Arizona.

    ...

    Her [Opal Ellis, subject of the piece] grandson, Jarrett Maupin II, has taken up the torch at 16, too.

    Last fall, during the Democratic presidential debate, Maupin coordinated a luncheon for candidate Al Sharpton to meet local African-American leaders.

    Maupin, whose hairstyle mimics Sharpton's, appeared on national television and was nicknamed Sharpton's "Mini-Me."


    Paul Martin badly needs a calendar; Coretta Scott King evidently has forgotten all the events between Sumter and Appomattox, and little Jarrett Maupin's favorite Purim costume is that of a bigoted slanderer who's incited others to murder. Unlike some others, I can't claim to know how Dr. King would have stood on the pressing issues of the day. But somehow, I don't think this is quite what he had in mind.



    More Sweden


    Of course, the law offices that house the Swedish Consulate here in Denver were closed today for MLK Day, so we'll try again tomorrow. In the meantime, there's an online Swedish newspaper survey on whether or not to remove the "artwork." On the right-hand side of the page, in the middle, is the survey:


    Bör den omtalade installationen på Historiska museet tas bort?

    Should the installation be removed? (roughly)


    Now, stop imagining the Muppet Show Chef reciting it long enough to vote. Vote your conscience, of course.




    Clark Gains Endorsements


    In the last couple of days, Wesley Clark has picke dup a couple of big-name endorsements. It's not entirely clear they do him much good, coming as they do from Michael Moore and George McGovern. If the race for the Democratic nomination is going to be decided by who gets the best anti-war nominations, the party really is in serious long-term trouble.


    Meanwhile, Clark also seems willing to join Dean in the, "it's an interesting theory but I can't prove it" sweepstakes. During Moore's "endorsement," he referred to a debate between the "general and the deserter." Leaving aside Moore's own qualifications for questioning anyone else's veracity about anything, read Clark's comments on the matter:



    Clark, asked later by reporters if he agreed with Moore's characterization of Bush as a "deserter," said: "I've heard those charges. I don't know whether they're established or not. He was never prosecuted for it. The question in this election is can we bring a higher standard of leadership to America."



    Remind you of anyone? Andrew Sullivan, about a year ago, uncovered a three-year-old New York Times story putting this stuff to bed. But Clark sounded like he was trying out for the Diane Rehm Show. There's a word for people who "hint" about things they know not to be true: slanderer. Oh not in the legal sense, no. But this is the "higher standard of leadership" he's promising us?



    Peanuts and Snake Oil



    Earlier in the day, Dean joined Carter at church services in Plains, Ga., and the former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner praised the candidate's "courageous and outspoken" stands, in particular his steadfast opposition to the Iraq war.

    ...
    Carter thanked Dean for opposing the war, which the Georgian called "unnecessary and unjust," and expressed his appreciation for the work Dean did on Carter's losing bid for re-election in 1980, although Dean said it only amounted to licking envelopes and answering telephones.



    Carter says that he won't be endorsing anyone, presumably because that would be unfitting in his status as ex-President. Writing letters to foreign government, asking them to actively sabotage the foreign policy of the current President, however, that's no problem.


    The display at the Carter Center having to do with the Iranian Hostage Crisis, as it was then known, claims that Carter pursued his policies without regard to his own political future. At some point between now and November 2, he and Howard Dean will have something else in common.



    Texas Redistricting Finalized


    The Supreme Court has decided not to rule on a lower court's decision to allow the Texas redistricting to stand. Barring further challenges, which of course, are always possible, the map will be used from now through the 2010 Congressional Elections. The Democrats have already been using this issue to fire up the anger that Howard Dean and Wesley Clark (see above) are trying to capitalize on.



    Sunday, January 18, 2004

    Act Locally


    Several days ago, the Israeli Ambassador to Sweden attacked a display of anti-Semitic of "artwork," put up as part of a conference on racism and bigotry. Powerline, the Jerusalem Post, and LGF have been all over the story.


    It turns out we have, here in Denver, a Swedish Consulate, to whom I would hope all of us would make our feeling known, in an appropriate manner. Please, nothing that could even remotely be construed as a physical threat. Letters, faxes, and phone calls, that note that Sweden seems to have let its moral compass go haywire would, however, be very effective. I'll be calling the consulate tomorrow to see if they have a list of Swedish products available in Denver.



    Swedish Consul in Denver

    Consul Glenn D. Peterson

    Vice Consul Donald G. Peterson

    4242 East Amherst Avenue

    Denver, CO 80222

    Phone: (303) 758-0999

    Fax: (303) 758-1091



    Swedish Consul in Los Angeles

    The Tower

    10940 Wilshire Boulevard

    Suite 700

    Los Angeles, CA 90024

    Phone: (310) 445-4008

    Main line: (310) 566-2301

    Main fax: (310) 473-2229

    Consular affairs: (310) 473-3350

    Emergency: (310) 566 2300

    Fax: (310) 473-2229

    E-mail: la@consulateofsweden.org



    Consulate General of Sweden in New York

    One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza

    885 Second Avenue, 45th floor

    New York, NY 10017

    Tel: +1 212 583 2550

    Fax: +1 212 755 2732

    E-mail: generalkonsulat.new-york@foreign.ministry.se



    Embassy of Sweden

    1501 M. Street N.W. Suite 900

    Washington, D.C. 20005-1702

    Tel: +1-202-467 2600

    Fax: +1-202-467 2699

    Embassy: ambassaden.washington@foreign.ministry.se




    Thursday, January 15, 2004

    Not a Good Start


    Am I the only one who's a little worried about Ben "Nighthorse" Campbell's Senate campaign. Yes, I was worried about Allard, too, but he also ran with the wind at his back, and only won by 5 points. Campbell seems to be thinking he can pretty much coast to a win. His fundraising seems to be lagging, and Gary Hart is teasing the Colorado Democratic establishment with talk of a Senate run. So far, Campbell has just alluded to Hart's having been, er, six inches away from the White House (althought it's doubtful he could have beaten Bush I), and now he claims it would just be a tune-up for a 2008 Presidential run.


    Hart has no way no how no chance of getting the Democratic nomination in 2008. A whole new generation of late-night comedians and a whole new generation of viewers barely remember theMonkey Business, but they'll find out, and it won't be flattering. Hart's 67 right now, which would make him 71 at 2009's inaugural. Campbell can point these things out, but what's missing is some comment about what Hart stands for, and how it's not right for Colorado or the country. Campbell's a moderate, but the state has moved to the right as Hart has moved to the left, and he can win on straight policy.




    Dogs Don't Kill People...


    Okay, dogs do kill people. Then their moronic owners say they don't see how it could possibly have happened.



    The woman whose dogs mauled an Elbert County woman to death said she never expected the animals to hurt anyone...."I don't blame it on the breed. I don't blame it on their upbringing. I was a good owner."



    Right, then. Whom does she blame? Nature vs. Nurture vs. what, Dave Barry's dog satellite? Just in case you were inclined to give the distraight woman the benefit of the doubt...



    But McCuen said she remains convinced that her dogs were not violent creatures. She said her five children played with all of her dogs with no problems. To accentuate the point, she answered questions while holding her 2-year-old daughter, Laura, in one hand and a young pit bull named Jade in the other.


    "They are so lovable," McCuen said. "I don't believe they would attack somebody out of the blue."



    And you thought Steve Irwin's behavior was irresponsible? Let's look at the judgment here. She's under criminal indictment, has already lost a civil suit. Her old dogs killed one woman and mauled two others before being shot (guns don't kill dogs, people kill dogs who kill people; you listening Clayton Cramer?), and she goes out and gets another pit bull to play with her daughter. She must be trying to teach her daughter not to be afraid of dogs. Laura, look at me. I want you to listen to me very carefully. Be afraid. Be very afraid. As a rule, I'm not a big fan of Social Services. But this woman needs to be relieved of her children and her freedom, and given the Queen Jezebel treatment.


    She claims the gal who got killed provoked the dog by hitting it in the head. Listen, babe. I own a labrador retriever. Within 2 weeks of getting him I had taught him not to play-bite. I had my father pretend to slug me one time, and the dog growled, jumped between us, and then had no clue what to do next. I thought maybe he'd try to lick Dad to death. I've seen little children beat him on the head, pull his tail, and bang on his back, and he basically just moves away, wanting to know what he did wrong. The only time I've seen him get upset is when some child tried to take away his stick. I pulled him away with the leash, scolded him, and suggested to the child that that might not be a good idea. And you know what? I don't let the dog chew toys or sticks around children. If you own a dog, you need to be blind not to know that dog's temperment.


    This woman is a menace. She's indirectly resposible for deaths and maulings, and now she's putting more people at risk. For her daughter's sake, I sure hope she doesn't soon qualify for a Darwin award.



    More Bar Mitzvahs


    The more I think about this, the less I like it. Not hate it. Doesn't make me want to go out and invent some truly authentic Jewish ceremony involving pine trees and stars, or anything like that. A more sour Joshua would say something like, "Look, you've got yours, leave ours alone," and he'd have a point. Jews want to participate in America, and there are many more than enough secular holidays and traditions to go around. We like New Year's, Valentines, July 4, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving, along with the rest. You start wanting Bar Mitzvahs for your kids, you might not understand why I don't want a Channukah Bush in my house.


    It's also a symptom of two religions that, in the public mind anyway, have lost their real significance. This isn't a matter of taking a pagan symbol and incorporating it into your religion. Both Christianity and Judaism have done that in their past. No, this is taking another religion's ritual, and without any intent to usurp, making it a secular event. It has no religious meaning for the adopting group, either. Honestly, I'm not sure what does. Religion is supposed to be about big things, like our relationship to the infinite, how to organize society. A bar or bat mitzvah is supposed to signify that the boy-turned-fountain-pen is now old enough to begin exploring those things.


    I shoudl say that this is entirely unthreatening to Jews. But please, with all the Democratic candidates trying to show how Jewish they are, and now this, I'm beginning to feel like the flavor of the month.



    Richard Cohen's Nightmare


    Clark may be able to get a crowd to respond to red meat. But it's basically Dean's shtick. Calling the President, literally, "unpatriotic" is unlikely to turn on too many voters.



    Wes Clark does not like what George Bush has done with Wes Clark's Army. Make no mistake: It's his Army. He can hardly go a sentence without mentioning the military -- and how, in his mind, Bush has abused it. He sent it to war precipitously and then used its men and women as "props," he says. Clark's sincerity on this point is patent. In a conversation on his campaign plane, he suddenly turned intense, a kind of growling, low-grade rage that lifted my nose from my note-taking. His Army has been abused.



    Make no mistake: it's not Wes Clark's Army. It's our Army. Wes Clark neither built, nor effectively commanded this Army. Maybe the Air Force, but his one near-decisive moment with the Army almost started WWIII in a race to the Pristina airport. It's already been pointed out before that the "rush to war" took 18 months. "His" Army hasn't been abused. It's been used for what it was trained for, preserved astonishingly intact, and knows what it's doing is important. Deacon's comparison to MacClellan looks more and more apt every day.


    As near as I can tell, the President's pretty popular with the troops. That whoop you heard Thanksgiving morning looked pretty sincere to me. If Clark actually had any respect for the grunts he cares about, he'd realize that these guys know they're on camera when the President shows up to talk. And they still respond. You don't want to be a prop? Respond with respectful but subdued applause, like they did during Hilary's Look-At-Me Tour of Afghanistan and Iraq.


    My biggest worry about Clark isn't Clark, but the people around him. The Clinton faction within the Democratic party is making itself increasingly visible in support of Clark. This accounts for some of his rise within the party, his increase in fundraising, and some of his credibility that he appeared to have blown early on. The Clintons are professionals, the Deans largely amateurs.


    Were Clark to get the nomination, he would almost certainly lose to Bush, barring economic or terrorist disaster for the country. But he wouldn't take the whole party down with him like Dean might. Bush would be forced to run a real campaign, as opposed to being able to devote resources to the down-ticket candidates. The Republican gains in the Senate and House would be limited. Hilary would inherit a stronger party, although one perhaps less inclined towards self-criticism, than if Dean were nominated. More importantly, Clark will retain the Clintons' friends in the party hierarchy. Hilary would also find a party establishment that had spent four years working to get her, specifically her, elected President.



    Only Without the Guilt


    From yesterday's Wall Street Journal:



    After going to a dozen bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs last year, Laura Jean Stargardt told her parents she wanted one of her own. She said she found the singing inspiring and offered to learn Hebrew. She also said she wanted a big party.


    Her parents thought the request was unusual since the family is Methodist.



    I knew that most hospitals did circumcisions now, but who knew it would lead to this? I can't say I'm thrilled by this. More like, bemused.




    Wednesday, January 14, 2004

    SARS


    For all of those columnists out there like Mike Littwin, who can't understand the difference between markets and incentives, here's an object lesson. This is from a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed from last April 25, written by Donald Burke, epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins:



    As summer approaches and the SARS epidemic declines, there will be an understandable urge to celebrate. But history teaches us that the devastating 1918 influenza epidemic began with a modest "herald wave" in spring that faded away during the summer, only to explode and wreak global devastation the following fall and winter. It is possible that SARS, now seeded around the globe, could follow a similar pattern and fade away this summer, only to erupt again next winter.


    The coming summer lull in SARS affords an extraordinary opportunity. If we can detect, diagnose and effectively isolate every contagious case during the period when the infection rate is at its lowest, it is possible that we can truly eradicate SARS, not just for the short term, but permanently.



    Now China has seen a couple of SARS cases, and while they're not walling up the towns and posting guards, they're been, shall we say, pretty responsive. The one thing the Chinese government fears more than papier mache Statues of Liberty is loss of foreign capital. Their expansion, their ability to keep their bad banks afloat, all depend on foreign capital. One whiff of SARS, they fear, and the foreigners are gone for good, maybe to Dehli.


    The point is, China has a great incentive to make sure SARS doesn't show up. They have, in fact, a great incentive to be a very good world citizen, for the moment. The problem is, this only goes so far. Business has always valued stability of the moment over real democratic institutions, which are almost always more stable. There's no evidence that big business has learned this lesson, and the more heavily invested they are in China, the less likely they'll be to tolerate any sort of social upheaval.


    Make no mistake about China's long-term intentions - they want to kick us out of Asia for good. They see us much as we saw the old European empires around the turn of the century. Meddling in their hemisphere, and riding for a fall. They're playing for time, confident that it's on their side. Right now, China holds an increasing, although not decisive, portion of our outstanding Treasury debt. The deficit is now a national security issue. We're right to run onw short-term, but long-term, we can't let a hostile foreign power gain that kind of leverage over us.



    Circus Circus


    Jonathan over at the Mangled Cat has a nice piece about a 15-year-old girl who thinks that circus animals acts are cruel. I'll admit, there's something a little sad about them. It's one thing for the shepherds to be doing their thing over at the Stock Show, another thing for an elephant to dance.


    Animals have instincts, not rich inner lives full of imagination and deep life-fulfilling aspirations. The tiger that took off after Roy wasn't looking for a lateral transfer - he was reverting to instinct. Certainly it's not part of any bear's instinctual makeup to tango. But they also seem pretty adaptable. An elephant wasn't meant to dance, but he's probably not going back to the dressing room thinking he was meant for better things. You can't waste an animal's life in the same sense that you can waste a person's life. My lab's life, by his standard, is a waste, since he's not out retrieving ducks. But I don't see him complaining or launching petition drives to free the labs.


    At least the ones in the circus get to do something. It's much sadder for me to walk through a zoo and see the animals pacing around in their cages. Is unending boredom cruelty? Probably, which helps account for the San Diego Zoo's enduring popularity. About that, I can only suggest that we need to do the best by them that we can. Not everyone can afford acres of faux-jungles and faux-savannah. But zoos should at least try to strive for providing more than a taxidemist could.


    As for the 15-year-old, I wonder what she thinks of this?



    Legislature Looks At Campus Liberalism


    The Colorado legislature is considering a bill that would eliminate mandatory "diversity" "training," and ensure free speech on campus, effectively ending campus speech and thought codes. The liberal House Minority Czar Andrew Romanoff, naturally enough, considers it a "distraction." I went to school at a more conservative university, Virginia, although they now employ Julian Bonds for some mysterious reason. And now, in business school, I'm a little more insulated from the left-wing takeover of the campuses. Not that Buie Sewell isn't trying. But there's no question that prospective faculty get vetted for their politics, and that if anything constitutes a "hostile work environment," it's college campuses for conservatives.


    This won't address that, Romanoff's fulminations notwithstanding. This bill is about students, not faculty. It's about conservative students enjoying the same free-speech rights that liberals make movies about, usually set in the 50s.



    Tuesday, January 13, 2004

    Flogging a Dead Horse


    The Indispensible MEMRI has a timely reminder of what it is we're up against. It seems that the Saudi Press has been engaged in a long-term, vigorous debate over the uses of public flogging as a punishment for harassment and "congregating in front of girls' schools."


    At first, I thought it said "blogging." Certainly there seem to be enough angry Saudis out there, many of them working for the Authority PV & PV. Maybe they dressed up their harassers in orange jumpsuits (the women in orange burkas, of course), and put them in stockades at computer terminals, keeping the "BlogForArabia.com" up-to-date. But no, they mean Thank-You-Sir-May-I-Have-Another flogging. Dozens every week, according to press reports.


    Now the first thing to keep in mind is that the very same people who call in a SWAT team when a mother taps her kid in the supermarket aisle to keep him from spilling an entire shelf of Wheaties onto the floor, they have nothing whatsoever to say about this. Two or three whole generations have grown up, who would give you a blank stare if you said to them, "go outside, boy, and cut me a switch." (Well, they'd probably give you a blank stare at pretty much anything, but you get my drift.) This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does make you wonder why, if a little corporal punishment threatens to unbalance Johnny for the rest of his life, selling tickets to said punishment is just a respectable cultural expression of disapproval for groping.


    Not that this makes the defenders of flogging defenders of womenhood. Allah, forfend! ISM, who would no doubt have a fit if it were suggested that going half-naked into a barful of drunken sailors on shore leave on Saturday night might not be the best way to, er, "promote virtue," are perfectly happy flying off to keep us from defending ourselves from people who think this way:



    It is interesting to note that most advocates of flogging make it clear that the girls are to blame in cases of harassment. Ahmad Abdallah Aal Naji, a member of the teaching staff at the technology college in Abha, wrote that he "enthusiastically supports the punishment of flogging… Immediate flogging is the best and most deterring punishment. Besides, this punishment costs nothing. All you need is a few riyals and a skilled flogger."


    Aal Naji also hastened to point out that in his personal opinion, "responsibility for 80% of the cases of harassment lies with the girls, because of their intentional temptations, their diaphanous robes, colorful trousers, provocative veils, tinted lenses, and long fake eyelashes. This is how they force young men into harassing them and following them into their homes. I demand flogging for girls who have been harassed, to be carried out by suitable female preachers in coordination with The Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice and in the presence of their mothers, in order to correct what can be corrected before it is too late.



    Talk about blaming the victim. "Long Fake Eyelashes?" This is all it takes to get some poor Saudi slob, straight from the mosque and the latest sermon, to work up a sweat? I guess if you're used to shapeless blobs, maybe. Explain to me how this doesn't play into every 70s detective TV series stereotype about the leering sheik. How on earth would he see the eyelashes, hidden under robes, veils, and tinted lenses. "Provocative veils?" What, do they have their phone numbers written across them?


    Remember, we're not talking about a prison sentence here, with Ali Bubba to teach the real meaning of harassment. (Can you say, "Open, Sesame?") We're talking about a full-fledged, public beating of a grown man, and, as a warm-up act, a grown woman. It's a good thing it's so cheap, although that bit about a "skilled flogger" is a little creepy. Do they have flogging schools? Do you work your way up from the provinces to the Big Show in Riyadh or Mecca? "Russell Crowe stars in Flaggellator."


    This guy teaches at a technology college. What chance does a society have of learning 21st Century technology from someone whose mind is still mired in pre-history? Just more evidence that confronting people with modernity doesn't mean they won't go retreating back into their diaphanous robes.



    The Economics of Snowmobiles


    Sunday's Post also carries describes the devastating effects of a judge's Yellowstone snowmobile ban on the town of West Yellowstone. It's the main portal of entry for snowmobiles into the Park. Businesses rely on stability and predictability to make decisions. Following the increase of winter tourism, many had expanded lodging, and bought new four-stroke machines. Nobody is suggesting they be made whole. And who knows where the money would come from for that, anyway.


    Environmentalists are worried about the speculative life of a buffalo. In the meantime, real people are being destroyed here. Contrary to the assertions of those fit enough to ski for days without food or sleep, it's not just the five people who own the rental businesses are affected. It's all their employees. It's the hotel owners, operators, and their employees. It's everyone who sells gas or trail mix or goggles or chapstick or food.



    "I don't think it was ever put aside for being not seen and appreciated. I think it was always put there for people's enjoyment. I just want a way to get a lot of people through there with minimal impact," she said.


    Despite the general appearance of support for snowmobiles in West Yellowstone, Matthews said she is by no means a lone voice against them. She said that more than 80 percent of the 350,000 public comments to the National Park Service supported a ban, and many people in town have no love lost for the machines.



    And what she wants is what matters. As mentioned before, that buffalo didn't seem the least bit disturbed. I have no way of substantiating her claims on the Park Service complaints, and apparently the reporter didn't even try. Even then, how many people fill out forms in support of the status quo? I know I don't like crowding and noise, but I also know that if I start locking out other people, I may be next.



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