Saturday, June 29, 2002
Isn't it just maybe possible that Israel is taking on UNRWA because under the guise of "helping" Palestinian refugees they've been sponsoring terrorism? I guess not. Besides, one man's shipment of high explosives is another man's food aid. Yeah.
Having reoccupied land handed to Palestinians by the Oslo accords, and won over the White House, Israel is taking on its next target, UNRWA, the UN organisation that helps Palestinian refugees. A publicity campaign is being launched in America, source of a third of UNRWA's funding, to undermine it for not weeding out "terrorism" in refugee camps.
The potential is there to make a powerful case that Bush's propensity for mistruth goes beyond the relatively trivial, if tasteless, joke with which he regales GOP audiences and extends to the very heart of his economic plan. We've seen what that kind of dishonesty has done to Enron, Global Crossing, Worldcom, and now Xerox. If we're not careful, it could happen to us all as taxpayers, and not simply as shareholders.As has been repeated ad nauseum in TNR, the Bush tax cut has been based on a fabric of lies from the beginning.
That said, the Ariel Sharon of higher education bit was quite appalling.
I think his record on the economy is a disaster. I think his record on fiscal policy is a disaster. I think his position on education has fallen far short of expectations.The Democrats still, however, have yet to put forth something that would even approximate a compelling vision of foreign policy, which is unfortunate because I think the President could be weaker on these issues than many people realize. As I have complained over and over again on this site, for the past five months or so we've seen much talk but precious little action from the administration on a whole host of international topics.
Friday, June 28, 2002
The Israeli Army stormed the Palestinian Authority police headquarters in the West Bank city of Hebron last evening, witnesses said, in an apparent bid to end a standoff with suspected men inside.So did the men turn out to really be women or what?
President Bush said he will undergo a colon check Saturday that will require him to be sedated. The powers of the presidency will be briefly transferred to Vice President Dick Cheney, he said.Speaking personally, the notion that the powers of the presidency will be exercized by Dick Cheney seems more like "dog bites man" than news to me.
On the eve of our great national birthday party and in the aftermath of Sept. 11, when millions of us turned to God and prayed for forgiveness of individual and corporate sins and asked for His protection against future attacks, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has inflicted on this nation what many will conclude is a greater injury than that caused by the terrorists.I suppose that it's possible that "many" might conclude that it's worse to need to change the wording of the Pledge of Allegiance (or to say it somewhere besides a public school) than it is to have thousands of innocent people die, but I seriously doubt that that "many" includes any of the victims, their families, or reasonable people anywhere. Most bizarrely, this nonsense comes as the lead graph in a column whose real focus is how the GOP can turn the pledge ruling into political advantage. One good way to start --- muzzle Cal Thomas.
I still think, though, that these Cleveland vouchers are far too stingy at less than $3,000 -- at that price you're guaranteed that the only schools voucher recipients will be able to afford are being heavily subsidized by some religious (or maybe ideological) group, presumably for the purposes of recruitment. That's not the worst thing in the world, but I'd much rather see peopel being able to afford secular private schools too and that could require almost $20,000 worth of voucher per kid.
Thursday, June 27, 2002
All that said, I'm not really so sure that vouchers are good public policy. Their main virtue seems to be that they're opposed by teachers' unions, but it seems to me that a campaign of straightforward union busting in the public schools might be a better idea.
Well, from my recent post we all know how I feel about the establishment clause; it was designed to protect religion, not surgically remove it from the public square. Even beyond this, I find it hard indeed to see why parents executing private choices to pick religious schools for their children is an unconscionable "establishment" of religion, and I heartily disapprove of the people going to court to try to argue that the way in which other people choose to educate their children somehow violates their freedom of religion.I could forsee ways in which kids going to religious schools would be objectionable, but the possibility that some schools are not schools that children should be going to is really an entirely separate issue from the question of government funding. Given that children are required to go to school we need some kind of rules about which institutions qualify as schools (one could imagine someone starting up a sweatshop and claiming it was vocational training or a madrassa where they taught nothing but an extremist interpretation of the Koran), but once that's done I can't think of any good reasons to restrict the freedom of people to attend non-state schools to the wealthy.
I attended a religious school (the Grace Church School in New York) run by the Episcopal Church for ten years despite not being Episcopalian and no harm was done.
Are we suggesting that it's O.K. for any police officer to stop her and require her to remove her veil just so she can be identified?Thus exhibiting one of the most common rhetorical abuses known to man -- inserting the word "just" into a statement in lieu of making an actual argument. The sole purpose of the photos on ID cards is to allow the authorities to identify the holder of the cards, so of course the authorities are allowed to do things "just" so that people can be identified.
I have little doubt that the relevant precedents (notably Smith v. Oregon) are on the side of the state here, which is a good thing, but I think we'll see that religious diversity is going to put a lot of strain on the free exercize concept.
Wednesday, June 26, 2002
Democracy in the Arab world and security for Israel will not come simply by shoving aside the shape-shifting Arafat and by showering money on downtrodden Palestinians as a reward for accepting new leadership. Why should democracy and American largess be confined to one small group of Arabs? Because they have become proficient at blowing up Jews? That is one implication that will be drawn by some in the region.Quite so. There really is no such thing as an Israel-Palestinian conflict that was provoked by the 1967 occupation of the West Bank -- we're witnessing yet another chapter in the longstanding Israel-Arab conflict, a conflict that includes the PLO as an important actor and the discontents of the Palestinian people as a significant issue along with many other things. The fact that Israel remains technically at war with the bulk of the Arab world is often brushed under the table, but it has some very important consequences.
The speech that Bush should have given on Monday would have addressed much more fully the ways in which the Arab world as a whole must adapt to modern political and economic democracy -- and what the United States will do to help. That would have required discussion of Bush's plans for dealing with Iraq's Saddam Hussein and other regional tyrants who rule by terror and support its use against Israel and Americans. Such plans have to be the starting point for the next presidential address on the future of the Middle East.
I don't see how any peace could possibly be arranged between Israel and the Palestinians as long as the various other Arab states refuse to even say that any deal the Palestinians choose to make will be acceptable to them as well. One hears constantly that the US should push Israel toward a settlement and that our "friends" in the Arab world will do the same for the Palestinians, but not only have the Arab states historically failed to do that, they've done just the reverse. Rather than encouraging Palestinians to think about their own self-interests and cut some kind of a deal, they've consistently inflamed the conflict surrounding the symbolic question of letting refugees "return" to Israel propoer. They can't do that, of course, because as soon as Arab populations started hearing about the radical notion that governments should be pursuing the interests of their citizens rather than making grand utopian gestures, the people of Saudi Arabia might start wondering why their government is blowing its petrodollars trying to spread the gospel of militant Islam all 'round the world instead of on economic development; the people of Iraq might wonder if all the time and effort that have gone into building chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons might not have been better spent on, say, roads.
None of this is going to change by focusing on the minute-by-minute details of the situation in the West Bank. The real movers and shakers in the region live in Cairo, Riyadh, Damascus, and Baghdad, not Ramallah, and that's where the focus should be.
I hate to give all you libertarians the heebie-jeebies but... It is time for some GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION. We need regulation; the last few months are the proof that a completely unfettered marketplace will be up to no good. We need government reassurances that they will clean up business; we cannot rely on business to police itself. We need help.I'm not sure Osama really even had anything to do with it -- these wounds may be purely self-inflicted. I recently came into some birthday money (thanks grandpa!) that I'd like to invest, but I just don't see how that's possible given what's going on. If the books are all cooked then what sort of criteria are investors supposed to use? Any company I buy might turn out to be just another paper tiger. Unless someone does something drastic to convince me that a real break's been made with the past my sad little savings are just gonna stay with me under the mattress and the markets will never recover.
Thanks to Osama bin Laden and a bunch of crooked CEOs, the American economy is sinking into the sewer.
Tuesday, June 25, 2002
Overemphasizing terrorism: "There is simply no way to achieve [Palestinian-Israeli] peace until all parties fight terror." Palestinian terrorism has caused terribly tragedies but it is not the heart of the problem. Terrorism, after all, is but a tactic in the service of a war aim. That war aim -- the destruction of Israel -- is the heart of the problem. For example, it is perfectly possible to imagine a future Palestinian state that does renounce terrorism and instead builds up a conventional force of planes, tanks and ships with which to attack and destroy Israel. Along these lines, it is noteworthy that Bush did not call on the PA to reduce the size of its armed forces.I do think that terrorism has become something of a red herring in the understanding of the global situation. Genocidal war aimed at the destruction of Israel would not be any more allright were it to be waged by men in uniform with very large guns. Similarly, the Taliban wasn't okay when it was "just" a bunch of guys marching in formation across Afghanistan establishing totalitarian rule wherever they went. As Lou Dobbs has admirably been arguing here, the enemy is a kind of ideology, not a kind of tactic. Terrorist extremists in Northern Ireland are odious, but they're not the enemy here, and Islamic fundamentalists like the House of Saud are part of the enemy even if the bulk of the violence they commit is exercized against their own subjects.
It would of course be a gross oversimplification to identify Summers with conservative politics. He is a self-identified Democrat and a former Cabinet official in the Clinton administration. And while patriotism finds fluent expression in Summers's public statements, he has made little effort to reverse entrenched university policies that seem at odds with his personal sentiments. Summers has not, for example, pressed the faculty to restore university recognition and funding to the ROTC.Right. Larry Summers is a Democrat. Do you know of any national figures in the Democratic Party who support divestment from Israel? Who publicly scorn patriotism? I don't. I agree with a great deal of what conservatives have to say about the atmosphere on college campuses and the deeply unfortunate attitude of large segments of the faculty, but the constant attempt by the rightwing to identify this left-wing campus fringe with "liberals" or opposition to it with "conservatives" is really incredibly dishonest.
But even if Summers is content to leave vestiges of Harvard's leftist legacy intact, campus conservatives can take heart in his opposition to the institutionalization of new bad ideas. Take, for example, his lack of sympathy for the left's perennial grudge against Israel. When asked at a student gathering what he thought of the petition — signed by several prominent Harvard and MIT professors — calling on Harvard to divest itself of holdings in companies that do business in Israel, Summers said, "the suggestion that [Israel's] defense against terrorist attacks is inherently immoral seems to me to be an unsupportable one. It would be one I would be acutely uncomfortable with." Shortly thereafter, his office released a statement saying that Harvard would not divest.
Monday, June 24, 2002
I agree that slavery was an atrocity, and that the United States should atone for it. If any slaves were alive today, no amount of money could make up for what they had to endure. Descendants of slaves already receive reparations. It's called affirmative action.You hear this sort of thing all the time, but it's simply not the case that affirmative action is reparations for slavery (let's note at this point that I'm very opposed to reparations and have mixed feelings about affirmative action). For one thing, it goes to lots and lots of people who aren't the descendents of slaves at all, to wit: Latinos and women of all races.
Working in combination with aggressive war against those who have already attacked us and, perhaps, preemptive strikes against those that mean us ill, the best defense against terrorist attacks may well be a studied, defiant, refusal to defend against them.
Sunday, June 23, 2002
Onstage, penises and breasts bounced around wantonly. There was dancing, there was singing, everybody was loaded on some sort of mind-altering substance, and unbridled sexual outrageousness spilled out into an audience that could be described as enthusiastic only if you're into extreme understatement.Mmm....wanton breasts....
Does Laura Bush exercize 30 minutes per day?I had the misfortune to witness a live taping of Crossfire on which the "issue" of the President's new workout initiative was debated and for the first time in my life I found myself agreeing with Robert Novak who took an anti-health line. I recently took up working out and I'd say that, on the whole, it's been a positive experience, and if someone asked my opinion I'd tell them they should probably start too, but it's really, really, really not the role of the government to use even informal pressure to try and get people to live healthier lives.
Plus, doesn't the government have anything more important to worry about. Like terrorism? Or the slow-motion collapse of the stock market?
I was born and raised in NYC and I've gotta say that it's the nutty incidents like this that make me love it. That and the fact that stuff's open all the time. Finding a soda proved shockingly difficult at 7AM on a Saturday in Downtown Washington DC -- I eventually had to shell out 2 bucks and a hotel bar due to lack of convenience stores, or, as we call them in NYC, "delis." Incidentally why do we call them that?
Homicides increased sharply in many U.S. cities last year, including a jump of 67 percent in Boston and double-digit percentage spikes in Houston, Atlanta, St. Louis and Phoenix, to name a few. Murders also increased at smaller rates in Chicago and Los Angeles but continued to decline in New York when those slain in the World Trade Center attack are not included.I think that this is very disturbing. At the end of the day, as horrifying as terrorist attacks are, I know that al Qaeda is not going to destroy the American way of life -- out of control crime really can destroy whole neighborhoods, cities, regions, and lives.
Unless, of course, sportswriter Diane Pucin really has been listening to a lot of Spanish-language soccer broadcasters and fans. Here’s Pucin, from today:Now this does sound to me like the Times was just recycling the InstaPundit letter without attribution, but given the fact that the phrase apparently hasn't actually appeared anyplace else, I can't help but wonder if the anecdote is true. After all, if that's really what's being said on radio and TV programs shouldn't more people have notived it?The U.S. team has become a common denominator in our multicultural landscape. Spanish-language broadcasters and fans have taken to calling the U.S. "el equipo de todos nosotros." The team of all of us.On June 17, Glenn Reynolds published an e-mail from Instapundit reader Jorge Schmidt in Miami, saying (in part):TV and radio commentators, and callers to radio shows, call the American team "el equipo de todos nosotros" (the team of all of us).On June 19, as Glenn noted, Schmidt’s observation was reprinted on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. According to a search of the Dow Jones Interactive Library, that’s the only other incidence of that phrase … until Pucin’s. Even our local Spanish-language daily, La Opinion, has not used it.