View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Friday, May 30, 2003
Game Theory

Now that Yasser, wants your baby, Arafat, don't mean maybe, has re-inserted himself into the "peace" process, delaying the Sharon-Abbas summit just to show who's boss, the whole thing begins to look a lot less like momentum towards peace a more like the kind of momentum that carries you off the cliff. We've been this way with Arafat before, and if he needs to approve anything Abbas comes knocking on his door with (not too hard, though; the building might collapse), there's really no point in continuing. The US and Israel have invested a tremendous amount of capital in sidelining the Butcher of Ramallah, and for good reason. Letting him back into the game will just mean more Jews getting killed. Probably more Palestinians, too. The fact is, Arafat still controls the executive, and, as in most dictatorships of the Arab flavor, Presidents make the rules, and Prime Ministers look pretty. Arafat has served notice that this part of the game isn't over yet.

As long as there's someone playing good-cop/bad-cop, there's a State Department willing to play Criminal Intent. One of the excuses we've heard is that we need to give Abbas concessions to strengthen his hand against Arafat. Now we've heard this before. We need to help the Soviet "moderates" against the Soviet "hard-liners." We need to help the Iranian "reformers" so they'll be stronger against the "hard-line" mullahs. We need to help a conciliatory Arafat against the radical - , oh, um, yeah.

The problem with this reasoning is that the other side knows perfectly well what it is you're doing. They know that the reason they got, say, Hebron, is because you want Abbas to look good, and so they'll finally turn around and dump Yasser into Galilee and hold his head under. They know this, because you've told them so. The problem for them is, then what? What about after Yasser's been sent to the great beyond? Then, you've got what you want, so you don't have to give in any more, and you can play hardball.

But they know that, too. And it's obvious then that Abbas didn't win anything, Arafat won the concessions. At the very least, he's useful to have around as a threat; at worst, he's able to re-establish himself as the real power in the terror-tories. We worked hard to throw Arafat overboard because we didn't think we could deal with him, and because he had too much blood on his hands. We only got a Prime Minister, able to appoint, in theory, his own cabinet, because we said we weren't talking at all until they installed one. And we got the Palestinians to approve the Road Map, flawed as it is, by refusing to talk until they did. Now, if it turns out that Arafat is still behind the curtain, all of that will have been for naught. And we'll be right back to the same old game of watching Arafat pocket real concessions for false words. Only this time, you can barely see his lips move.

The Washington Post has a neat little Java applet on their SARS page (this morning it's about how Canada is quarantining 5000 more people; at this rate, it'll be the Blue Jays, not the Expos, that move to DC).

Anyway, this applet shows the worldwide case and death totals, and then breaks them down by country. And they list China, China-Hong Kong, China-Macao, and China-Taiwan. Wait a minute, China-Taiwan? What the hell is "China-Taiwain?" And then you see that the numbers come from the WHO. So because the Post editors don't have enough sense, or alertness, or guts to correct a UN bureaucracy, "China-Taiwan" makes it into the Aspiring Paper of Record.


Wednesday, May 28, 2003
So, we're wrapping up the MIS course here in business school, and we're taking a look at the future technologies. For some reason, when discussing biological interaction, the professor brings up the iNax toilet, which will, should you choose, invade your internals and report your blood pressure, alcohol content, temperature, and who knows what else. This is scary. Oh, sure. You're probably thinking what all those authors of 1950's science fiction had in mind: robots serving drinks and doing the laundry; automatic mixing of you high-blood pressure medication with the drinking water; Mom and Dad interrupting their argument over his affair and her make-up to run upstairs at the silent alarm that says Timmy's at 102. Right.

You and I both know this is going to fall into the hands of Madison Avenue. The toilet at the Gap is going to weigh you and give you a lifetime pass to the Big 'n' Tall store. The toilet at Tommy Thompson's (or maybe Samuel Hirsch's) Starbuck's will measure your cholesterol, and refuse to charge your Starbuck's card for that Caramel Macchiato. And that's nothing compared to what Nanny Bloomburg's going to come up with. The toilet at the bar will cut off your charge card after 3 beers, or deactivate the car keys.

Apparently, these are all the rage in Japan. Japan, as you enter your second decade of recession, don't you have anything better to do with your time? Maybe not. Or maybe Japan's export-driven economy is in the crapper, so to speak, because, like Dr. Faust, they've allowed their imaginations to sink to the level of parlor-tricks.

Israel has taken over the rotating chairmanship of the UN Conference on Disarmament (this was the conference that Iraq was to have chaired; the rotation is alphabetical). A number of Muslim countries, with the notable inclusion of Egypt and the notable exception of Turkey, have chosen to sit thi month out, with chair empty and low-level officials skulking around the back of the hall. Ostensibly, their boycott is in protest of Israel's refusal to leave itself defenseless. The Israeli chairman called for "dialogue and acceptance."

How about "Israel is a nation as real as any of yours, and we're not going anywhere. We exepect these states to end their petulant behavior and get on with the business of this conference. They should be advised that delegates present are expected to take their seats or leave; standing is for the lobby. And they should be further advised that the conference retains a quorum for transacting business, and they absent themselves at their own risk."

Tuesday, May 27, 2003
We should have seen this one coming. Canada bullied the WHO into saying that everything in Toronto was just fine. Then, new cases, and 500 Canadians quarantined. Canadian officials, evidently having recently graduated from the Peking School of Public Relations, informed the world that everything is all right. And now, the Washington Post reports that 1400 people are in quarantine, and the WHO has put Toronto back on notice.

Fortunately, Mark Steyn explains how all this happened. Unfortunately, Congressional Democrats are going to run a campaign based on the premise that it should be allowed to happen here.

Meet the New Yasser, Same as the old Yasser

In a move calculated to stun the world, Yasser Arafat has put the kabosh on the summit between Abu Mazen and Ariel Sharon. They were supposed to meet tomorrow, but Arafat, wanting to show he's in control here, has decided to "review" Israel's latest security arrangements.

This really is just the same old pattern, just on a somewhat smaller playing field, in this case, one room in a mostly bombed-out building in Ramallah. Historically, Arafat has taken whatever concessions he's offered, failed to reciprocate even on the promised "reforms," or "actions," or "promises," and then raised the price for those same promises. Here, one of the main goalsof recent US and Israeli diplomacy has been to marginalize the poor terrorist, and make him "irrelevant" to the process. In moves inconsistent to all but Foggy Bottom, the US waited until it thought Abu Mazen sufficiently entrenched to release the Road Map, and then leaned to Israel to accept it in order to strengthen Abu Mazen. Now, having gotten the Road Map out in the open, Arafat is just playing the same game.

One could argue that this is progress, of a sort. Rather than pocketing real concessions and returning to murder, he's pocketing promises and returning to politics. But Arafat's politics essentially equate to murder. Having backed him into a very small, non-air conditioned, corner, it's vitally important that we not get suckered back into the same game of put up and pretend. Put up concessions, that is, and pretend that everything is going as advertised.

Saturday, May 24, 2003
Tomorrow's Washington Post describes what can only be a step forward in our plans for dealing with Iran. Since it appears that Iranian-based al Queda units were involved in the Saudi bombings, we've given up trying to "engage" the mullahs, and have decided to support the Iranian people in their efforts to banish them back to Qom.

This is an excellent policy move. The goals are laudable: freeing the Iranian people, taking the spiritual and financial font for Hezbollah off the table, and turning a creating, pro-Western, pro-American people loose. (Pro-American? Yes. Michael Ledeen has done yeoman work describing the pro-American demonstrations that have taken place in Iran over the last year or so.) It is based in reality. The Iranian people have some experience with actual democratic institutions. Also, we're not going to spend any more time kidding ourselves about the mullahs' intentions. It doesn't matter if they say one thing for public consumption and do another, our policy will be based on the facts. This is hard-headed, tough, and common-sense policy that means business.

Of course, the article itself is a laundry list of claims that it's a bad idea, that the central government can't control what's going on, etc. There's virtually no comment on why this is a good idea, but most disturbing are the comments coming from Foggy Bottom:

The State Department, which had encouraged some form of engagement with the Iranians, appears inclined to accept such a policy, especially if Iran does not take any visible steps to deal with the suspected al Qaeda operatives before Tuesday, officials said. But State Department officials are concerned that the level of popular discontent there is much lower than Pentagon officials believe, leading to the possibility that U.S. efforts could ultimately discredit reformers in Iran.


"We're headed down the same path of the last 20 years," one State Department official said. "An inflexible, unimaginative policy of just say no."


In an interview in February with the Los Angeles Times, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage drew a distinction between the confrontational approach the administration had taken with Iraq and North Korea and the approach it had adopted with Iran. "The axis of evil was a valid comment, [but] I would note there's one dramatic difference between Iran and the other two axes of evil, and that would be its democracy. [And] you approach a democracy differently," Armitage said.

In the first place, the State Department had damned well better accept any policy the President chooses. They don't get not to accept a policy. Secondly, they consistently underestimate pro-American feelings in countries with regimes that don't like us, and over-estimate anti-American sentiment in countries with regimes that are friendly. Also, with people marching on the anniversary of the Shah's installation waving American flags, I think it's already clear who the reformers identify with. Funny how they're never concerned that payoffs to Egypt and Jordan will discredit us there.

The policy of the last 20 years may have been "just say no." But for an official in the most hide-bound, change-resistant bureaucracy since the medieval Papacy to argue for imagination is bizarre. In any case, the policy for the last 20 years has never been active support for regime change, so this official is just plain wrong. Before, we weren't talking unless we had to. Now, we're talking to the opposition.

Finally, Armitage needs to buy a dictionary. Iran is a democracy like the FSU was a democracy. The mullahs choose the legislative candidates, control the executive, shut down papers they don't like, and arrest Jewish butchers for spying. Makes you wonder who's really "off his meds and out of therapy." If anyone doubted that the State Department has a foreign policy of its own, this article is fine evidence to the contrary.

When you grow up watching Virginia sports, you get used to disappointment. Quickly. Usually not the Red Sox style, coming-from-two-runs-up-in-the-10th-to-lose, disappointment. More like the Chicago Cubs, 93rd-year-of-their-rebuilding-program, style of disappoinment. There is no next year. After each touchdown, the Tradition was for the student body to sing the "Good Old Song." Concerned that this happened infrequently enough that the students might forget the words, they printed them on the beer cups. I remember a regular-season game against Navy. The next day, the Post offered the following comfort to Cavalier fans:

It was such a beautiful day, it seemed a shame to mar it with a football game. Especially a Virgiania football game.

The Cavaliers, displaying their usual ineptitude in all phases of the game - except punting - dropped a 32-0 decision to a Navy team that must awaits a later weekend for a true test of its ability.

On the rare occasion that Virginia did make it to the Big Game, they usually made sure you got a good seat at the restaurant. They won the 1976 ACC tournament, and promptly lost to DePaul in the first round of the NCAA. The 1981 semifinal against Carolina was over at halftime. They were the last NCAA Division I-A team to go to a bowl game. In 1990, the rode a weak first-half schedule and a series of fluky losses by teams ranked ahead of them to a #1 football ranking for about 13 minutes and a trip to the Sugar Bowl. (This travesty later prompted a rule change by the NCAA.) In New Orleans, they blew a 20-point lead to Tennessee. The couldn't even lose right. When my dad was in school there, they tied Kansas's 27-game record losing streak in football. When they finally won, students were heard to ask the players why they couldn't go ahead and break the record.

Oh sure, they won a few soccer championships, but soccer, a game practically made for drinking, wasn't the most popular spectator sport.

The one exception was lacrosse. A game popular only east of the Appalachians (with the exception, curiously, of Colorado), Virginia was a lacrosse powerhouse. They won the 2nd NCAA lacrosse title against the soon-to-be-hated Johns Hopkins, and then proceeded, over the next 25 years, to lose 5 more title games, all of them in overtime, once in double overtime to, again, the Hated Hopkins. Of the 8 overtime title games, Virginia lost 5 of them, including 2 of the 3 double overtime games.

They have a chance to lose another one Monday. Today, they beat Maryland 14-4, while Hopkins took Syracuse apart, 19-8. Since every title since 1988, with the exception of one by Virginia and one by UNC went to either Princeton or Syracuse, it's kind of nice to see the lacrosse universe return to its natural order of things.

Friday, May 23, 2003
Compare the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times today on how Bush got his tax cut through, and it's like night and day. The Times credits appeals to supporting the President in wartime. What? I don't think I heard, even from the Mike Gallaghers and Sean Hannitys anything like that about the tax cut. The WSJ credits smart politics, persistence, Vice President Cheney, and tough negotiating. That's why we read the WSJ.

Thursday, May 22, 2003
In the meantime, the Rocky is reporting that convicted arsonist Terry Barton is mad at the judge. Apparently, he was forced out of his home by the fire, and pitched in to help fight it. Ms. Barton's attorney's think this constitutes too close an involvement in the case.

I wonder. I understand that the judge might be more pissed-off than normal since he was affected. But he was hardly in a position to testify against her. Her claim is that the sentencing was unusually harsh, but that community as a whole was mad as hornets at her. She admits setting the thing, and I think there's actually something to be said for judges being part of the community and not separate from it. I'm not sure what sort of leniency she should have been hoping for to begin with.

The Denver Post comes out against a suit by - you guessed it - the teachers union - against Colorado's new vouchers law. The lawsuit is based on Colorado's Blaine Amendment, and the US Supreme Court is probably going to rule on the Constitutionality of those sorts of amendments this year. The law is targeted only at poor kids at bad schools. The CEA could not have picked a better case to discredit their position.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

This afternoon, the Legislative Council of the Colorado Legislature voted to retain counsel for their defense of the new redistricting plan. How this could be otherwise, I have no idea. Nevertheless, the vote was party-line, 4-2.

"This certainly adds insult to injury. I just find it hard to believe that we're asking taxpayers to foot the bill for what was a partisan division in the General Assembly," Senate Minority Leader Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden said.

She's objecting to hiring a Republican lawyer to represent a Republican-controlled legislature to defend a redistricting plan favorable to Republicans against a lawsuit by a Democratic legislator, and another by a Democratic state Attorney General. I can see where she'd be unhappy, but this kind of comment suggests that Ms. Fitz-Gerald had just come from mingling with the constituents on one of those hometown brewery tours.

There are two cases pending here. First, a number of legislative Democrats, unhappy at suddenly having smaller offices with views of the NEA building rather than the mountains, have filed suit against the Secretary of State and the General Assembly. Their claim is, basically, that the Republicans cheated in order to pass an unconstitutional bill. Unless the cheating involved binding and gagging every Democrats on the Hill, nothing was stopping them from shouting "Point of Order," at the time. There certainly is a princple that bodies have to obey their own rules. When agencies mess this up, there are administrative courts. When courts get it wrong, there are appeals courts. To the best of my knowledge, there is no Court of Parliamentary Procedure outside the legislative body itself, and the Body Itself is responsible for getting this stuff right at the time.

Legislators go to court, on rare occasion, to challenge the constitutionality of acts they voted against. Mitch McConnell is a plaintiff in a case challenging the gag rule known as McCain-Feingold. They may not get the use of public funds to do it, though, because they were already representing the public when they voted and lost. In this case, the General Assembly finds itself being sued, it certiainly ought to be able to find money in the budget to show up in court.

The legislature finds itself in the almost unprecedented position of having to defend its own decisions in court. Now, normally, the Attorney General does this for the state. But in this case, the Attorney General has a case of his own, asking the Supreme Court to overturn a law of the State he represents. To the best of my knowledge, he's not doing this on his own time, or paying for someone to represent him out of his own pocket. In fact, it's hard to see exactly who the Attorney General is representing. It's not the legislature, which passed the law he opposes. It's not the executive, since the Governor singed the bill himself. It's not the judge who imposed the current plan. It looks to me as though the Attorney General is representing the Democratic representatives in a previous session of the Colorado legislature. So if he gets state money to file a suit defending the rights of people who aren't even serving anymore, why on earth should the sitting legislature not get the benefit of counsel?

It would be foolish to deny the partisan aspect of this case. But that argues in favor of having a Republican attorney. After all, we've seen what Democrats behave like when they get anywhere near this case.

Monday, May 19, 2003
Tomorrow's Washington Post reports that President Bush is under a great deal of pressure to continue the Clinton Policy of pressuring Israel for concessions, never mind what the Palestinians do. The article contains this telling paragraph:

But there was clear concern, both within the administration and outside it, that continued violence would undercut hopes of progress, and worry that any delay in Bush's meeting with Sharon would risk lessening the president's zeal for pressuring Israel to make its own moves toward peace.

Evidently some people are worried that if enough Jews die, President Bush may regain his moral clarity on the issue. I wouldn't hazard a guess as to which cabinet-level department these people work for. But if they're concerned about outside pressure relenting, they needn't worry. I don't think there's ever been a time when "Europe" wasn't pressing Israel to surrender.

The same issue contains one of the most tendentious articles on the subject of Arab media ever to appear in our new Aspiring Paper of Record:

Israeli extremism, not Palestinian extremism, is ultimately to blame for the string of suicide bombings in the last two days in Israel and the occupied territories.

That is the rough consensus in the English-language online media in the Middle East. The attacks, while almost universally condemned, evoke no sympathy for Israeli government outside of Israel itself.

Surprise! The Arab media blames Israel for being attacked. This is news? Evidently, one Jefferson Morley has been given the task of ignoring The Indispensible MEMRI and wading through the reams of Arab Jew-hatred himself. (The column is called "World Opinion Roundup," but, just like World Opinion, it seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time rounding up Arab opinion.) The only newspapers that get any sort of label are the "conservative" Jerusalem Post and the "liberal" Ha'Aretz. The Arab News is quoted as though it were just another newspaper, which, I guess, for Arabs it is.

Dar al Hayat is "respected," though, an honor that escapes both Israeli papers. Dar al Hayat publishes in Syrian-occupied Lebanon and in London. On its front page, the image of the US-UK flags links to the official biographies British and American "Warlords." That's "Mr. Warlord," to you, buster. The picture of a Communist-led anti-war demonstration links to full coverage of all "spontaneous" anti-War demonstrations around the world. If Dar al Hayat wanted to make any greater effort to editorialize on its front page, they'd have to hire Howell Raines as the editor.

Terry McAuliffe has accused the President of "McCarthyism," his words, not mine. Over at Powerline, Hindraker notes that it's odd that McAuliffe would try to call the kettle black. But this, too, is typical Clintonian politics.

I remember when the Clinton Administration was constantly in front of Judge Royce Lamberth. The Judge was clearly losing patience with a pattern of misbehavior by the Clinton Administration:

  • They had released letters in an attempt to smear Kathleen Willey
  • They had failed to turn over documents in the matter of the Interior Department and the Potowotomie Indians
  • They hadn't bothered to tell him about all sorts of internal emails concerning the case
    At the same time, the Chief District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson was bypassing the random computer process for a number of other embarassing cases, all of which somehow ended up in her hands [Washington Post, August 5, 1999]. By late March of 2000, Congress was interested in this peculiarity.

    Clinton made some comment about the Privacy Act case as it applied to Mrs. Willey and the White House: "Mr. Clinton looked amused and replied, 'Well, he does seem to have somehow acquired a significant percentage of the cases involving the White House,'" [New York Times, March 30, 2000] clearly hinting at some mis- or malfeasance. Note: he's accusing a judge of doing something that there's no evidence for, doing something that a sympathetic judge is clearly doing - jerry-rigging the case assignment process.

    This is classic. At best, he casts aspersions on a troublesome public figure. At worst, he makes any counter-claims seem like parroting, and can hide behind the claims that "everybody does it."

  • Sunday, May 18, 2003
    Let's take Wal-Mart a step further. Let's suppose that only a few people are complaining, and that Wal-Mart is responding to those complaints out of an institutional bias towards conservatism, and, maybe, a little Southern Baptist puritanism. Well, geez, it's their store! If the shareholders have a problem with this, they can bring it up at the next annual meeting, or sell their shares.

    Part of the reason Wal-Mart gets hit with this stuff is its perceived power. It does tend to run off competition with their economies of scale, and this is perceived as a narrowing of choice in general. There is some truth to that.

    Smaller niche stores do tend to get run out of business because they can't compete on price on the 80% of their sales that Wal-Mart carries. Since Wal-Mart is never going to carry the other 20%, I, as a collector or specialist, have to resort to more distant sources, and usually pay more. This also inevitably leads to a consolidation of whatever market we're talking about. But it also means that as I spend an increasing amount of time in Wal-Mart, as they enter more and more business lines, I am less likely even to see items that Wal-Mart doesn't carry.

    Now, browsing the aisles is harder on-line, and it wouldn't surprise me if it raised the entry bar for certain hobbyists. If I've been doing, say, needlepoint for a year or so, and want to get some more exotic patterns or colors or whatever it is that defines A+ quality needlepoint from the Home-Sweet-Home cross-stitch you see in every sitcom kitchen, I may have to go online. I can't wander into Wal-Mart and ask the local "associate." And the store I would have gone to is gone.

    And now for something completely different.

    On Thursday, I taped an appearance as a contestant on a new Food Channel game show called "Trivia Unwrapped." I have been on a game show before - exactly once, as part of a team - in high school. I was on a school team for a Saturday-morning, God-what-are-we-going-to-pot-in-this-time-slot show called "It's Academic", with Mac McGarry. McGarry was old then. I think he'd been doing the show for 30 years. He's still doing the show; his official bio claims he's alive, but they probably have to roll him out on a hand cart and move his jaw with a remote control device. Come to think of it, he wasn't that far away from that at the time.

    No chance of that with this show, starring Marc Summers, the Crash Davis of game show hosts. Crash, if you'll remember, was in Bull Durham, and soon to break the minor-league record for home runs. That means, sports fans, that he never made it to the majors. Marc, a nice enough guy, to be sure, has been knocking around cable network game shows for 20 years, doing shows like "Double Dare" and, more recently, "Wintuition." I have nothing bad to say about Marc.

    After a couple of try-out rounds, where they test you to make sure you have an IQ higher than the food items you'll be asked about, and more personality than a Jeopardy! contestant (seriously, she repeated this at least twice), the survivors gathered on an appointed day to actually play the game. We were all shipped back to some sort of storage facility from Hoth to be read our rights, or, rather, the production company's rights, and be given the rules of the game. (This is a new show.) Also, to be given a couple of tips about, oh Denver. As in, we're in LA. The producers came to Denver because they wanted to get contestants who were just happy to be on TV, playing for ACTUAL CASH AND PRIZES, instead of the burned-out Sisters of Marge in LA, who run from show to show like the chamois of the Alps leaps from crag to crag, and consider anything less than 5 digits to be beneath their efforts. Of course, they wanted to make it look like they were shooting in LA, so they said I was from DC, and edited out a couple of ad-libs from the host referring to Beaver Creek as being,"right here."

    What made the experience truly surreal was the combination between comptition and show-biz. Yes, try to win, but also remember to show Personality! Once or twice either a contestant or the host flubbed a line, and they had to be re-shot. The outcome didn't change, and the game was completely fair, but when the camera misses Kobe Bryant taking a foul shot, they don't ask him to shoot it again for the folks at home. Nobody gets a mulligan on an actual answer, but there is a sense of waiting for the yellow flag after everything. Which is weird, because you'd think that the real thing would seem more, well, real. But it doesn't. The show, as you see it, seems more real.

    Walk For Israel

    Well, nobody's ever going to accuse Federation of an excess of common sense. (Insert obligatory words about all the good work Federation does here.) After last year's tremendous success, we were expecting a fair turnout this year, but Federation decided to charge $18 to walk, and then threatened to bodily pull people out of the march who hadn't registered. The first helped keep the numbers down (nothing like raising prices in a recession), and the second disspated a fair amount of goodwill. Federation tried to pull stunts like this all the time. First, they show they don't know how to play well with others, and then they show they don't want to. We still got good numbers, and both surviving mayoral candidates (that's Mares on the left, Hickenlooper on the right).

    This must annoy CCMEP to no end. They thought they had found a way to bludgeon Hickenlooper into getting involved in foreign policy, and somehow got the Rocky to notice. Evidently, the Chinook Fund, which Hickenlooper helped found, was found to have contributed money to CCMEP. When Hickenlooper found out, he wasn't happy, said so, and further said he was "horrified" by some CCMEP's position. He wrote a letter to some of the local Jewish leaders affirming his support for Israel's right to exist, which, you wouldn't think would actually be controversial among people interested in "peace," but that really got under skin, and they've been making a stink about it.

    Hickenlooper now is trying to assuage these people, presumably since every vote counts, but his appearance today, right in the middle of what CCMEP would like to turn into a publicity-making controversy, can't be calculated to make them feel any better.

    The Rocky Mountain News, however, tells you how to apply.

    As Colorado's new concealed-carry law goes into effect, the two newspapers in town have two different stories. The lead in the Denver Post shows why math professors shouldn't be making public policy. One CU prof, with more schooling than education, "used to think of the University of Colorado campus as a "safe zone" because its no-guns policy was so strictly enforced." Right. I'm sure that had Columbine found a toothpick in a 9th-grader's locker, they'd have sent him home for a week, demanding to know what kind of food he was eating. Are there any reports, any reports of campus police making random sweps through classrooms? No, because the campus civil libertarians would only allow it if the police were given blinders to make sure they couldn't see any of the books they were carrying. I'm sure he figured that the UN could keep Saddam in check, too.

    Fortunately, a woman from the provinces has more common sense. 1 - it levels the playing field. 2 - law-abiding citizens get permits.

    Friday, May 16, 2003
    A couple of follow-up notes to Monday's protest at the synagogue. First, the behavior of the ADL was despicable. The regional director came out, and basically accused us of provoking a confrontation that would lead to headlines. Whereas if we hadn't show up, all that would have happened would have been that Jews would have been verbally abused and physically threatened nose-to-nose rather than from across the street. A couple of weeks ago he wrote a letter to the Intermountain Jewish News basically accusing the governor of being anti-Semitic for supporting school vouchers. That's like accusing Dave Winfield of needing a hunting license to play the outfield in Toronto. The fact is, lots of Jews support vouchers, and before you say, "well, lots of Jews oppose settlements," remember that large number of dictatorial regimes haven't hijacked major international bureaucracies into spending nights and weekends figuring out ways to fix our 3rd grade history textbooks. Everyone knows that singling out Israel is bad, because about 90% of the governments not located in Europe or the Americas are worse. The ADL may believe that vouchers will disproportionately damage Jews, somehow, but that's different from intentionally targeting Jews. We can have a civil discussion about vouchers without calling people who support them, such as myself, anti-Semites. Still, it's good to know that he's got his priorities straight, even if it doesn't leave him time to confront actual Jew-hatred.

    Secondly, at one point, the Black Muslims showed up to lead a chant of "Allah Hu Akhbar" that sounded like something out of the climactic battle scene from Zulu. Sadly, nobody on our side knew "Men of Harlach," but in retrospect that's probably just as well. What's interesting is that almost all of the actual Muslims who showed up for the other side were college students. They may claim this makes them the future, but I prefer to think it makes them callow and clueless. The Black Muslims aren't even considered to be real Muslims by most imams and mullahs, but they were welcomed here. Still, you gotta admit, they got rhythm.

    Finally, despite the bravado and attempt to put on a good face (here they're not covered by burkhas), Wednesday's pie-in-the-face-of-NPR was a pretty one-sided affair. They were able to must 4 people, a banner, and the requisite Israel=Nazi Germany sign, and that was it. We were informed by Those In A Position To Know that they were pretty demoralized and surprised (shocked and awed?) by our display Monday - they thought they'd have the field to themselves. When it turned out that Jews still aren't ready to let themselves be intimidated again, they more or less crumbled apart. I'm sure they'll be back, but they've clearly got some work to do.

    Wednesday, May 14, 2003
    One other interesting tidbit. 19 hijackers. 19 people in the Saudi cell responsible for the car bombings. 19 is a major numerical theme of Farrakhan's MMM speech.

    Turns out that 19 is one of these numbers that Muslim mystics go all ape over. Apparently Chap 74 of the Koran refers to "the 19" or something along those lines. It's also prime. So the Gematriaticians among them spend a lot of time finding connections between 19 and, say, the clock. Of course, anyone who's even heard of Martin Gardner knows you can do this with just about any number, and that prime numbers are inherently interesting without any manipulation.

    You think this is crazy? Sure. But we Jews have a long history of playing similar games. You wouldn't believe the gymnastics some guys go through to get from 611 (the numerical equivalent of "Torah") to 613. We repeat three words at the end of the Sh'ma so that the total number of words we say equals the Rabbinical number of bones in the body. (I could mention the early Catholics trying to get 3 = 1, but that would be catty.)

    All right. You don't believe this stuff. I don't believe this stuff. But they believe this stuff. That's what matters, just like what matters is that Farrakhan thinks he's Muslim, although Osama would send him on a fast plane to hell, too.

    So what? Well, for first things, it means that Moussaoui may not be a 20th hijacker. Oh, there's no question that he was an accessory to mass murder, and that the Commonwealth of Virginia could probably retire its debt with a lottery to get to pull the switch. But trying to build a case on the idea that he should have been on board Flight 93 may be. We assume "4 planes; 5 hijackers on all but one, so someone was missing." But we happen to like symmetry. They didn't need 5 guys on each plane - the revolt on Flight 93 would have succeeded or failed just the same, and the passengers on the other flights weren't thinking rebellion in any case.

    Secondly, maybe we should go back and take another look at the cells we have busted, starting with the Buffalo 6. Who knows? Maybe there are another 13 guys out there we ought to be looking for. As I said, I don't take this stuff seriously; but some Islamists evidently do, and we need to take their attitudes very seriously indeed.

  • Answering Islam
  • Numerical 19

  • The filibuster debate also reminds me of a similar problem in the US House of Representatives in 1889. No, I wasn't around then, and neither was the versatile Barbara Tuchman. But she tells a story better than just about any historian I know, and told the story of one of the great transformative periods in Western history, 1894-1914, in vignettes from each of the major powers. Two of the chapters in The Proud Tower concern legislative refrom - the House of Lords giving up the veto, and the House of Representatives changing its quorum rules. The latter is especially instructive.

    Speaker Thomas Reed, Republican of Maine, was one of the few true patricians in his day to enter politics, a master of the rules of procedure, and a virtually unbeatable debater with as sharp a wit as anyone. He had grown frustrated with the fact that the minority, not necessarily partisan, could stifle legislation in the House while continuing to debate it, by refusing to answer quorum calls even while sitting there on the floor of the chamber. (I'll bet the Texas Democrats wish they could do that.) He decided to use his discretion as Speaker, a post which then had most of the powers that Committee Chairman have today, to change the rule, and instructed the Cler to count members present even if they didn't reply:

    "I deny your right, Mr. Speaker, to count me as present!" bellowed McCreary.

    For the first time the Speaker stopped, held the hall in silence for a pause as an actor holds and audience, then blandly spoke: "The Chair is making a statement of fact that the gentleman is present. Does he deny it?"

    It's a colorful story, full of chaos, parliamentary maneuver, Democrats trying to leave and being physically restrained, and so forth. And not without risk to Speaker Reed, who wasn't sure even his own party would support him. But in the end, the moral is the same: the majority cannot be tyrannous, but must still be able to vote.

    The current discussion of "going nuclear" by the Senate Republicans isn't unprecedented. The Washington Times recalls the same vote happening in 1975, by Democrats, to reduce the cloture requirements from 67 to 60 votes. The issues then were the same as now: an obstructionist minority, and some in the majority fearful of the repercussions. Among those worried: Senator Robert Byrd, back before he went nuts. Among those for the change: Pat Leahy and Ted Kennedy. I guess where you stand depends on where you sit.

    By now, we know that the Saudi Police, given a repreive from confining schoolgirls to burning buildings, had found this terror cell and arrested, or tried to arrest them. This is just conjecture, but is it possible that they were allowed to escape? Not as a matter of official policy necessarily, but by one or more of the arresting officers. To me, it just seems unlikely that 19 guys managed to walk away, or even drive away, from a firefight with police who were serious about arresting them. Given that this is Saudi Arabia we're talking about, concern for human life probably wasn't the officers' most pressing concern.

    Tuesday, May 13, 2003
    I have no idea if this is normal, but something tells me it's not. Both here and in Texas, the Democrats in the state legislature last year failed to pass a redistricting plan, instead turning the job over to a Democratic judge. There, as here, the Republicans won outright control of the legislative and executive branches, and are pushing through their versions of the plan. There, unlike here, the Democrats have fled the state to avoid a quorum. (Here they're just planning to litigate again.)

    It seems to me that redistricting is a political process, and that it's a bad idea to have judges ensuring their ideas about "fairness" in the process. How many other states went through a judicial rather than a legislative process in redisticting? How many are stuck with it because the partisan composition didn't change enough to allow a plan to be passed?

    Almost as unfortunate was the behavior of the ADL. Without our presence there, people going into the conference, including Holocaust survivors, would have been subjected to being shouted at and being called Nazis. The local head of the ADL came out to castigate us for making a scene. In fact, we neither called the media, nor created the scene. The only thing we did was create a presence, so the conference-goers could go in and out in peace.

    A few weeks ago, the same ADL official wrote a letter to the Intermountain Jewish News all but accusing Gov. Owens of anti-Semitism for supporting vouchers. But he puts his head down when confronted with people shouting that they want to "finish the job Hitler started." What a relief to know he's got his priorities straight.

    Last night, the ADL and AIPAC hosted a public education meeting at one of the local synagogues, Rodef Shalom. The worst elements turned out to protest the event, and here they are. We did form a counter demo, so the police kept them on their side of the street, and we kept to ours. Although, as is typical of these "peaceful" folk, three times one of them crossed over to our side. A couple of things to notice about the picture below:
  • The policeman (who afterwards accepted thanks from our side) standing in front of them to keep them in line
  • The obligatory Israel = Nazi Germany signs
  • The lack of American flags
  • The sign on the right equating Jews with Nazis
  • The skinhead(!) standing behind that sign

    We spent the evening singing Hatikvah and making fun of them. At one point, they started the thuggish chant "No Justice, No Peace." Joe, a real firebrand in his 60s, started chanting it back at them, and for a few moments, both sides were chanting the same thing. Eventually, they scratched their heads and stopped.

  • Saturday, May 10, 2003
    Michael Wilbon continues stumpingf or Michael Jordan in today's Washington Post, arguing that black fans, at some level, have a right to feel angry about the way Jordan says he was treated. In the last two days, Sally Jenkins has written persuasively (here and here) that Pollin was right to let Jordan go, that he didn't owe him anything more than a business decision, and that Jordan had alienated practically everyone in the organization without noticeably improving the team.

    Wilbon has consistently evaluated issues on merit, but he has a blind spot when it comes to race and the NBA, as though whites own the teams when blacks really should. He admits, offhandedly, that race didn't have anything to do with the actual decision to fire Jordan, which is big of him, but then proceeds to use the racially charged word "exploitation" in reference to the events, and tries to explain to whites why blacks feel so upset over them. Nonsense. If race didn't have anything to do with the firing, then blacks have no valid reason for being upset for it on racial grounds. That's how we evaluate events in a rational manner.

    Wilbon not only fails to make this point, he closes the column by implying that he has real sympathy for it. He completely fails to consider that by talking about "exploitation," and bring race into the discussion, he and John Thompson, who has his own racial baggage from his days as Georgetown coach, aren't responsible for it, and couldn't do anything to defuse the complaints. Instead of writing a column explaining blacks to whites, he should be writing a column explaining to blacks why race isn't any issue.

    If he isn't willing to do that, he either considers Pollin so incompetent as an owner (not necessarily a wrong-headed view), that he's willing to exploit race to help run him out of town, or he secretly believes that race does have something to do with the decision. The first option makes him just as cynical and irresponsible as he accuses Pollin of being; race is far to charged and important a problem to waste on irrelevent issues. The second makes him no better than a Bill Rhoden, who, near as I can tell, views everything through black-colored lenses.

    Friday, May 09, 2003
    One of the keystone's of Karl Rove's strategy for a Republican majority is the redrawing of Congressional boundaries to favor incumbents. Now, it takes two to tango, and the Democrats have seized on this just as eagerly as the Republicans, to be sure, often cutting deals in states where they thought seats were at risk. However, here in Colorado, the new 7th District's lines were drawn by a judge, with an eye towards partisan "competitiveness," a heretofore unknown standard for electoral boundaries. Republican Bob Beauprez won the seat by 121 votes last year, and now the Republican in the State Capitol want to redraw the lines, adding Republican precincts to pad their lead. Redistricting has always been an inherently partisan process, and never even got legislative approval the last time, so it's hard to argue that the Republicans are morally wrong in the specific case. The downside is that virtually all 7 Congressional seats will be safe seats for one party or another.

    Still, the overwrought reaction by Rep. Diana DeGette, in whose district I have the misfortune of living, calling it an attempt to "create one-party rule," is well over the top. In Denver, every elected official of any consequence is a Democrat: the mayor, the City Council, the Congressional representative, every State Senator, and every State Representative. I'd lay odds that even Republican dogs are more at risk than Democratic dogs. One State Senator won with 53%, one State Rep won with just over 50%. With those two exceptions, it's not even close. Mrs. DeGette's opposition Republican couldn't even break 30% last year. The other State legislators were elected with an average of 80% of the vote. If Mrs. DeGette is really worried about one-party rule, she needs to look to her home district first, before whining about how Democrats can't catch a break.

    Maybe campaign money matters less at the retail level. With 43% of the vote, John Hickenlooper spent about $6 per vote. Don Mares, who finished second, spent $27 per vote, slightly more than the 5th-place finisher. Ari Zavaras, of the Pena-Webb machine, spent over $70 per vote to finish a distant third. And like the Baltimore Orioles of the late 90s, Phil Perington poured money into a campaign, spending almost $90 per vote, to finish dead last.

    One standard way for the government to reduce overhead and get work done more quickly, is to issue short-term, no-bid contracts for specific jobs. These are almost always for small amounts of money, but they can add up over time, and are certainly more subject to political abuse. City Auditor-turned-mayoral candidate Don Mares has made these contracts a campaign issue, specifically attacking the practice of issuing them, and specifically attacking several of his rivals for receiving them. Now, inevtiably, it turns out that Mr. Mares himself received a no-bid contract when he was a private lawyer. The amount was small: no more than $12,500, and he was eventually paid a little over $10K. This hardly constitutes graft. He clearly hasn't made or built a career off of this sort of work, and scale does make a difference.

    Given the whole Bill Bennett fiasco, I'm a little reluctant to start throwing around charges of hypocrisy, but they do seem well-founded here. Don't make something a specific issue if you're guilty of it yourself. Even then, Mares could have said that, having received one of these contracts in the past, he's familiar with the kinds of problems they can cause, etc. But he didn't. And now, needing 80% of the outstanding vote to win, he's just made it that much harder.

    I've been in Denver for 6 years now, and I've never been able to follow the city's politics very closely. But I did remember the name of one Councilman, Susan Barnes-Gelt, who's been wrong on just about everything I've ever seen her quoted on, from parking to taxes to the war (yes, the war) to off-lease areas for dogs. The only downside to term limits is that it deprived me of a chance to vote against her.

    I can't tell whether this is sincere or just an ego-driven chance to meddle one last time, but she's endorsed one of the good guys, Ed Thomas, in the city Auditor's runoff on June 3. Thomas was one of 3 councilmen to vote against the asinine anti-war resolution. He's also been one of Barnes-Gelt's worst enemies on the council:

    "I still disagree with Ed on practically everything and he's an ass, but he's not a bad person and you know where he stands on the issues," Barnes-Gelt said. "I've never gotten a straight answer from Gallagher on anything."

    Thursday, May 08, 2003
    Amidst all the talk of "Imperialism," I believe some lines are being blurred, in all likelihood unintentionally. Just as, in Medieval Europe, there was no one system called "feudalism" that completely defined its political and social structure, there are also different varieties of "imperialism," even within its prime. Different countries practiced different forms at the same time, and the same power practiced different forms at different times. In addition, Americans have embedded, deep in their political culture, a notion that we're like the Romans, a Republican power that eventually mutated into an Imperium. We neither want to be 19th-Century Europeans, or 2nd-Century Romans. It is important, therefore, that we pick the right model for what we're now engaged in, so we can avoid the pitfalls inherent in that model, and emulate its successes.

    There are some similarities to all of these, but I think the closest model is the British experience in the Mideast after WWI, extending until the 1950s. It was non-colonial, administrative, in an overt effort to remake the region into a civilized place after centuries of despotism. It failed. But the world now is a very different place, and I think we have a chance to succeed in their place.

    Wednesday, May 07, 2003
    Game Shows!
    Looks like I'm going to be on a new game show for the Food Network, called "Trivia Unwrapped." It seems to be loosely based on their show, "Unwrapped," that talks about things like the ultimate cocktail and the story behind Dreyer's Ice Cream. They had two rounds of tryouts - all in Denver - and are filming their year's worth of weekly shows during May. They said they had two reasons for filming in Denver: 1) it's cheaper than LA, and 2) there's apparently a subculture of people in LA who go around appearing on game shows, and they wanted people who were just happy to be there.

    Essentially, the tryout were simulated games, and they were looking for personality, rather than knowledge. Obviously, I needed considerably coaching, but they figured I was salvagable, and will be there sometime next week to play the game for real.

    I don't normally write about the dog. He's a lab, but I usually assume he's a lot like other dogs, and, like other people's children, would get real boring real fast. But this morning, he showed a ability to learn on his own that surprised me. For at four years old, I also assumed his thinking days were over.

    He loves to chase Jacobin squirrels, but although he's big, the squirrels are fast, and while he's running for his breakfast, they're running for their lives. Up until now, he had also headed straight for the squirrel. I don't know if he's been watching old NFL games on ESPN Classic or something, but this morning, he saw a squirrel who was 1) far enough from a tree to be interesting, and 2)unaware of his presence. He stalked the critter for a little but, and then headed off towards the squirrel, but angling off to the right by a few feet. He was clearly anticipating the squirrel heading for the tree, guessed that it would be to the right, and was trying to lead the squirrel and "get the angle" on him. The squirrel, also not too bright, did indeed head off the right, but too slowly, so Sage found himself between the squirrel and the tree, eyeball-to-eyeball for a few moments.

    The squirrel was way too nimble for Sage, who's next step has to be scooping up moving objects on the fly, but Sage really had outsmarted him, and I thought for a moment he'd have his first kill. Just as well, or he would have been impossible to live with.

    You know, it looks to me like the President is wearing a full flight suit as he gets out of the plane at the Lincoln. These things are for safety, even though they look really cool, too. They're watertight, somewhat insulated (in the unlikely event of a water landing), protects against sudden loss of cabin pressure, and oh, restrict the blood flow to prevent pooling in the event of sudden G-forces. Given the pre-flight inspection this plane certainly got, these are all unlikely contingencies. But there's no point in being a fool. Can you imagine the catastrophe if an accident had occurred, and a flight suit would have saved the President's life? How dumb would that have been?

    Tuesday, May 06, 2003
    The Fed is concerned about possible deflation, but still wants to leave itself room to lower interest rates more. Fair enough. But what does this say about Greenspan's opposition to tax cuts? There are only a couple of tools in the Federal Government's toolbag - interest rates and tax rates. (I know there's spending, but haven't we learned that lesson?) If we're not going to use one, we pretty much have to use the other.

    Is there a battle going on over at the Fed, where the majority of the Governors disagree with the Chairman?

    Just finished Back Home, and I'd have to say it was something of a disappointment. In fact, so does Mauldin at the end of the book. His politics are anti-Communist liberal, but the ideas are much less focused and thought-through. He blames this on being forced to continue cartooning during his readjustment to civilian status, rather than being allowed to refamiliarize himself with American life. Since he also didn't get a chance to have the normal GI-reentry experience, he couldn't even do those cartoons well. We also need to remember that he was still very young.

    It is interesting to see that America was already becoming more conservative after the war (this is 1947), and a number of pseudo-Fascist groups were trying to use anti-Communism to their advantage. Eventually, McCarthy would demagogue red-baiting to its death. Mauldin also portrays the Hearst newspapers as being almost pro-fascist throughout the war, but I find this hard to believe. It'd be worth going back and reading some of them to see.

    Monday, May 05, 2003
    Over Passover, I read Ross King's Brunelleschi's Dome, about the construction of the Duomo in Florence. It's a magnificent dome, and a pretty good story, too, tying in a number of Renaissance figures, and a long-standing rivalry comparable to anything that the early Federal United States produced. Brunelleschi was brilliant, devising machines to solve extremely tricky engineering problems, executing a bold plan boldly, and winning over the hearts and minds of the Guild paying for the Dome, and the mass of Florentines as well.

    King tells a good story, although sometimes he falls for common historical "knowledge". Galileo didn't drop cannonballs off the Tower of Pisa; he rolled balls down a trough. Roger Bacon was well ahead of his time, but he never actually experimented with flying machines, although he did imagine them. And he repeats the old traveller's tale that the Pyramids cast shadows dozens of miles long. During the right time of day, so do you.

    My only other complaint is that there aren't enough modern drawings. King includes a number of contemporary sketches, but these are difficult to understand, and dolittle to enhance our understanding of just how Brunelleschi's machines worked. He includes only one drawing of the Dome's construction, showing the herring-bone pattern of the bricks. How this fits into the overall construction is indistinct, even with King's description.

    Still, the Duomo is a tremendous piece of work, and, armed with my reading, I hope to see it for myself someday.

    Dr. James Dobson has come out with a statement about WJB's alleged "gambling addiction." WJB has admitted no such addiction, just a bad habit. But Dr. Dobson probably knows something about whereof he speaks - Colorado Springs is a short drive away from two of Colorado's small-stakes gambling towns, Cripple Creek and Victor. As one of the short-lived alternative newspapers pointed out a few years ago, the real crime of the gambling industry isn't that it seduces addictive personalities. Small-stakes gambling can take forever to run through any amount of real money. It's that it renovates old buildings in such a way that they can only be used for casinos, and then abandons them for new, larger casinos. So much for saving the historic atmosphere of Central City and Black Hawk.

    Jonah Goldberg's G-file today touches on, but doesn't pursue, an interesting point about Bill Bennett's gambling. Since he never gambled the milk money, and never gambled more than he could afford to lose, why isn't this just entertainment? So he stares at a spinning wheel for 3 hours instead of a movie.

    The difference between what WJB does, and real gambling, is that they don't expect to win. In fact, Jewish law states that gambling is a form of theft, and refuses to enforce gambling debts on the grounds that the gambler doesn't really expect to lose. But if the gambler doesn't expect to win, then the contract isn't over a bet, but over the entertainment provided. This may sound like a legalistic way of looking at things, but it does capture an important point.

    What was WJB's real state of mind? You'd have to ask him. But for a man to gamble that much, and not step over the line by losing the mortgage money once or twice, he must have been pretty stable, and pretty sure he wasn't going to see that money again. I'd certainly be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Sunday, May 04, 2003
    The mayor's race here in Denver is down to brass tacks, with the 7 candidates appearing more or less continuously at candidate forums and debates. They manage to be civil, while still pointing out differences. All 7 are at least respectable, and most even have some good ideas. Sadly, all are Democrats. But the tenor of the race and the quality of the candidates are something to be proud of, and a terrific change from the corrupt Marion Barry and feckless Sharon Pratt Dixon/Kelly I grew up with.

    At this point, the leader seems to be businessman John Hickenlooper, a good candidate saddled with an unfortunate last name. He was vital in redeveloping the old warehouse district of Lower Downtown, or LoDo, and has served on a number of community boards, apparently actively and intelligently. Both of the major dailies here have endorsed him. He also seems to be the only leading candidate without some definable ethnic or economic base. Don Mares has strong Hispanic and union support; Penfield Tate is banking on the black vote; Susan Casey has strong women's support. Hickenlooper doesn't try to appeal to any of these groups, which is terrific for getting elected, and can be a liability for getting re-elected. But it's an appealing attribute that he's not tying himself down to a specific group, and making himself beholden to them.

    I have to admit, I don't follow city poltics all that closely, but Penfield Tate's transportation ideas are just nutty. More light rail, which doesn't work; "development hubs," or something like that, near major light rail and bus depots, as though that will make people work near where they live. I would like to see a commuter rail running up and down the Front Range - it seems to have done nicely back in the DC area. But people want yards, and neither they nor their jobs are going to stay put for very long any more. Living near where you work is so hard to achieve for more than a couple of years that most people have just given up on it. I admit I have no solution to this problem. There may not be one. But Mr. Tate would do a lot better to admit that rather than try to waste more of my money.

    One other note. The number of yard signs, for both mayoral and council candidates, is truly impressive. It suggests a level of interest and participation that I'm not used to for local politics. Even in DC, you saw some bumper stickers, and campaign signs on light and telephone poles, but not too many in front of townhouses or in apartment windows. It's a nonpartisan election, and all the mayoral candidates are Democrats, anyway, so it's not just a matter of people signing on to support a party. Very reassuring and encouraging.

    Friday, May 02, 2003
    Some evidence that the Chinese may be using the SARS epidemic to cover other, less savory aspects of their rule. While most of the attention has focused on the party's sacking of a couple of officials, the AP reports that the government is banning tourists from Tibet and Western China. Inasmuch as tourists haven't been the main vector for the spread of the disease within China, this is more than a little suspicious. Perhaps we should add "Sickness is Health" to the Orwellian triptych.

    Thursday, May 01, 2003
    When Bill Mauldin died a few months ago, this space and Powerline mentioned his Up Front, one of the great worm's-eye war memoirs. During the beginning of the Iraq War, I quoted a number of relevant passages. Having just finished a finance exam, and with about an hour to kill, I went browsing in the local used book store here near DU, and found another book by Mr. Mauldin, one about his return to the States and readjustment to civilian life, called Back Home. It'll be interesting to see what it brings.

    The question of the day, really the question of the decade, is how hard Abu Mazen is prepared to be on his terrorist confreres. While the early returns aren't encouraging, we shouldn't give up just yet. To those who would say that this is asking too much, I'd remind them that the future stability of the Palestinian State, whatever that may be, relies on energetic action in this area, far more than the security of Israel does.

    I'd also remind them of the Altalena incident in 1948. The Haganah, soon to become the IDF, fired on a ship carrying arms for the Irgun, a rival militia headed by Menachem Begin. Soon after, the Irgun was absorbed into the IDF, and Begin gave a speech stating that there was room for only one military in Israel. The officer who carried out the order to fire was a young Yitchak Rabin.

    Blogarama - The Blog Directory
    help Israel
    axis of weevils
    contact us
    site sections