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June 29, 2005

Missing Girls

The Chinese practices of sex selection favoring males and female infanticide have to catch up with them sooner or later, but I haven't read much about the looming crisis. This MSNBC article takes on the subject, and it looks like the crisis isn't looming any longer. They call it a "a self-perpetuated demographic disaster". One might think that a shortage of females would cause them to become more valued and appreciated in a society. It looks instead as if it has caused them to suffer even more exploitation and abuse than before. And the "bachelor communities" don't sound like nice places to live.

The shortage of women is creating a "huge societal issue,” warned U.N. resident coordinator Khalid Malik earlier this year.

Along with HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation, he said it was one of the three biggest challenges facing China.

"In eight to 10 years, we will have something like 40 to 60 million missing women," he said, adding that it will have "enormous implications" for China's prostitution industry and human trafficking...

The hint of "serious" problems ahead can be seen in the increasing cases of human trafficking as bachelors try to "purchase" their wives.

China's police have freed more than 42,000 kidnapped women and children from 2001 to 2003.

...low-status young adult men with little chance of forming families of their own are "much more prone to attempt to improve their situation through violent and criminal behavior in a strategy of coalitional aggression."

The growing crime rate in China....is being linked to China's massive "floating" or transient population, some 80 million of which are low-status males...

Hafner Huge

What a buzz!

The Tribe had blown a 4-1 lead, and were down 8-5 going into the 8th inning at Fenway Park tonight. But they tied the game on a clutch 2-out single by Jhonny Peralta in the ninth, then loaded the bases for Travis Hafner, who ripped an 0-2 pitch down the right field line into the seats just inside the foul pole for a game winning grand slam. The rowdy Fenway fans were stunned into silence. Suh-weet!

Hafner has had enough production in the two games against Boston to make Player of the Week. Four doubles, two home runs, and 8 RBI for the big man, who has led the Indians to two huge wins on the road against the world champs. Even Bob "Heart Failure" Wickman made the bottom of the ninth look amazingly easy, retiring the shellshocked Red Sox on three pitches. I would also be interested to know when the last time was that a player went hitless in a game, but scored four runs. That's what Grady Sizemore did tonight.

Here's hoping this is a confidence boost for the Indians, who had a nine game winning streak rudely ended by getting swept in three straight by the Red Sox in Cleveland last week. If we can play with these guys, maybe we'll start acting like a playoff team. A 4-2 record in the six games remaining in the first half of the season would give them a 45-36 record, halfway to that 90-win season I predicted.

Nobody knew the White Sox would run away and hide in the Central, but the Wild Card is still well within reach. At the moment, the Tribe is one game behind Minnesota and Baltimore for that spot, and both of those teams are showing signs of vulnerability lately. Interesting times indeed.

June 27, 2005

Monday To The Rescue

Flag Day and recent discussion of a "flag-burning amendment" to the Constitution has the guys at Power Line and one reader in particular recalling a "great moment in baseball history." I do recall this incident, but I guess we were somewhat inured to this stuff, flag-burnings having been relatively commonplace during the Vietnam era. The idea of amending the Constitution for this purpose is silly, and a waste of time and money. The republic can and will survive these expressions of hatred of America, from within and without.

UPDATE 6/27: Steyn agrees.

Palestine 101

A useful primer on the history of Palestine by David Meir-Levi. Bookmark Occupation and Settlement: The Myth and Reality

June 24, 2005

Tough Duty

My son Andy blogs from London, where he's working as a webmaster for the IBM-managed wimbledon.org site. The Brits are "wacky" he says, but he likes their taxi system.

Who Speaks For The Democrats?

Sorry if you're seeing it for the zillionth time, but here's the Karl Rove quote that has Democrats in an uproar:

Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.

Almost as quickly as Democrats expressed their outrage and demanded Rove's resignation and apology, RNC head Ken Mehlman assembled and released a long list of quotes by liberals like George Soros, Michael Moore, Dennis Kucinich and MoveOn.org, taken from the days after 9/11, which bear out exactly what Rove was saying. (thanks Hugh)

That is, that numerous liberals made the points that the 9/11 attack should be considered a law enforcement matter as opposed to an act of war, or that we must understand the "root causes" of terrorism and demonstrate restraint, or that we brought on the attack ourselves by virtue of our policies with regard to Israel and the greater Middle East, etc.

Andrew Sullivan criticizes Rove for using the blanket term "liberals", which insinuates that all liberals took this position. He goes on to name Democrats and liberal pundits who took responsible, reality-based positions on the budding W.O.T., and notes that it was the extreme, hard Left, consisting of Moore, Soros and MoveOn.org, that reacted in the way that Rove characterized as the "liberals" response.

Andrew is right on that, but then he goes on to contend that if Rove had simply used the qualifier "some liberals", his remarks would have been "rendered completely unoffensive". Right, Andrew. If Rove had added the word "some", there probably would have been no outrage from Democrats at all. He accuses Rove of trying to "have it both ways" with his all or nothing rhetoric...

"He cannot both use the word liberal to describe everyone who is not a Republican and then, in other contexts, say he means it only for the hard left."

Well Andrew, you can't have it both ways either. You can't set apart the post-9/11 statements of George Soros, Michael Moore and MoveOn.org as being the rhetoric of the extreme left, and somehow not reflective of mainstream liberalism or the Democratic Party, true though it may be, while neglecting to acknowledge how the Party embraced Soros, Moore and MoveOn from that point on.

Yes, of course there were people like Joe Lieberman and Christopher Hitchens who spoke out. But Hitch was vilified as an apostate and Lieberman was marginalized in his party as a result. The Democratic Party could have repudiated Moore and Soros and MoveOn.org at that time, and sent a message to America that they were serious about national security and combatting Islamist terror. But they didn't.

They gladly accepted Soros' as their largest campaign supporter to the tune of some $30 million, to try to defeat George Bush. They flocked to Moore's movie, celebrated him, and sat him at Jimmy Carter's elbow during their convention. They welcomed MoveOn.org's organizational effort and fund-raising prowess (and rhetoric) for the Kerry campaign. They liked the sound of the Bush-bashing, and they embraced it. And in the process, they dragged their party and their presidential candidate far to the left of where Bill Clinton had left them in 2000. And they paid the price for that last November.

So if Michael Moore and George Soros and MoveOn.org don't speak for Democrats and/or liberals in this country, the Democrats sure weren't making that fact known to voters clearly enough in the last election. If they had, there might have been a different result.

I got a kick out of some of the questions for White House spokesman Scott McClellan at the press briefing the other day. He was asked if he felt that Rove's remarks were helping to "elevate the discourse", a phrase apparently used previously by the President. As you can see at the link, McClellan defended Rove's comments as simply a contrast of "different philosophies" in responding to the 9/11 attacks.

It certainly is arguable that Rove's statement was over-the-top, with too broad a brush, and all that. And if some Democrats are insulted, they can relish some feeling of moral superiority just knowing that while Darth Rove is spewing venom, the leader of their party organization is doing his level best to "elevate the discourse" in his own way:

"This is a struggle between good and evil. And we're the good"

"I hate Republicans and everything they stand for"


Michelle Malkin
Howard Kurtz
more Sullivan
Byron York
Tom Maguire
Glenn Reynolds

UPDATE 6/28: James Taranto makes some similar points about the Democrats' embrace of those "extremists" from whom they now pretend to distance themselves.

June 23, 2005

Turning Up The Heat

One gaping hole in the Bush Doctrine has been the administration's ongoing game of footsy with Saudi Arabia. The royals talk a good game of assistance in fighting terrorism, while their country continues to provide much of the funding, manpower, religious fanaticism and indoctrination that sustain Islamic terror against the West. There are of course all kinds of reasons, diplomatic, geo-strategic, and economic why our options are limited in dealing with the Saudis. But it is frustrating to many of us who supported and continue to support the President in the implementation of his doctrine to observe the blatant duplicity of the Saudis and the administration's tepid response to it.

In an essay at Front Page Magazine, Robert Spencer examines Saudi behavior and expresses his support for the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2005, a recently introduced Senate measure sponsored by Rick Santorum among others, that is intended to...

“halt Saudi support for institutions that fund, train, incite, encourage, or in any other way aid and abet terrorism, and to secure full Saudi cooperation in the investigation of terrorist incidents, and for other purposes.” It calls on the Saudis to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1373 of 2001, which directs all nations to “refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts,” as well as to take “the necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist acts” and “deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts.” It cites a 2002 report by the Council on Foreign Relations that notes that “for years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al-Qaeda, and for years, Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem.” A June 2004 CFR report lamented that “since September 11, 2001, we know of not a single Saudi donor of funds to terrorist groups who has been publicly punished.”

Unlike Egypt, the Saudis don't need our foreign aid money, so there's not a lot of leverage in Congress to impact Saudi behavior, but I suppose doing something is better than doing nothing. My concern is with the ongoing tradition of Saudi dollars flowing to former U.S. government officials, especially State Department officials, which has the intended effect of influencing the behavior of current State Department employees who don't want to jeopardize their own potential retirement nest eggs. If this is not corruption, what is?

Joel Mowbray, author of "Dangerous Diplomacy", quotes it from the horse's mouth:

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador the United States, was quoted in the Washington Post as having said, "If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you�d be surprised how much better friends you have who are just coming into office."

Read the whole Mowbray piece for the names. It's a bi-partisan arrangement of forty years duration, and one largely hidden from public disclosure. And it contributes greatly to the "special relationship" we share with the Saudis.

American striped suits keep cashing checks and lobbying for their paymasters, while Saudis keep blowing up Marines in Iraq. How special is that?

More From Commentary

A few weeks ago I posted two articles from the June issue of Commentary, and lamented that two other pieces I had enjoyed in the print version were not available online. Well, I got a nice email note from a representative of the magazine yesterday, notifying me that the articles in question are now up at their site, and thanking me for the link (I'm sure their traffic just zoomed that day).

I consider the magazine a treasure, and I save every issue. Your results may vary. In any event, be sure to read Paul Johnson's essay "The Anti-Semitic Disease". It begins...

The intensification of anti-Semitism in the Arab world over the last years and its reappearance in parts of Europe have occasioned a number of thoughtful reflections on the nature and consequences of this phenomenon, but also some misleading analyses based on doubtful premises. It is widely assumed, for example, that anti-Semitism is a form of racism or ethnic xenophobia. This is a legacy of the post-World War II period, when revelations about the horrifying scope of Hitler’s “final solution” caused widespread revulsion against all manifestations of group hatred. Since then, racism, in whatever guise it appears, has been identified as the evil to be fought.

But if anti-Semitism is a variety of racism, it is a most peculiar variety, with many unique characteristics. In my view as a historian, it is so peculiar that it deserves to be placed in a quite different category. I would call it an intellectual disease, a disease of the mind, extremely infectious and massively destructive. It is a disease to which both human individuals and entire human societies are prone.

Then, Arthur Waldron's article on North Korea is worth taking a look at. His premise is that if we acknowledge that there are few good options, and that North Korea possesses, and will continue to possess nuclear weapons, and will continue to be a "rogue" state, then we are better off if they are in a dialogue with the United States than if they are more closely aligned with China or other adversaries of the U.S., and our best bet in the long term may be their reunification with South Korea.

A Dirty Joke Of A Movie

They shouldn't have teased me. Now I'll have to see this movie, just to hear the punchline(s).

So what's the joke? Basically, it's this: a guy walks into a talent agent's office and says he has a terrific family act. The act, the guy explains, involves a husband who comes out onstage with his wife and two kids.

What follows is the part that can't be told in this publication, or most others, but it's the point at which each comedian in the film cuts loose in a can-you-top-this exercise in pornographic oratory. Cut to the kicker where the talent agent asks, What's the name of the act? The answer comes: the Aristocrats.

I think I'd go just to see Bob Saget get blue.

(via Drudge) (the full text of the Times article can be viewed at the link below)

The New York Times

June 23, 2005

A Joke Too Blue to Repeat, and the Movie That Dares to Tell It, Repeatedly


LOS ANGELES, June 22 - How do you sell a movie about the dirtiest joke ever told?

Note to reader: None of the good parts of the joke will be told during the course of this article. Or in any of the ads. Or in the trailer. In fact, much of the content of the movie, a documentary called "The Aristocrats," is basically unrepeatable in just about any mainstream public forum.

Which is the essence of the problem.

"There is no violence or hostility of any kind" in "The Aristocrats," explained Penn Jillette, an executive producer of the film, who is better known as half of the magic act Penn and Teller. "We want to say: 'We have 150 really funny human beings in the back of a room making each other laugh, but they're going to be swearing, and if you don't want to hear swearing, you better not come in.' "

Mr. Jillette; the comedian Paul Provenza, who directed; and the distributor, Think Film, have decided to release "The Aristocrats" at the end of July without any rating, a decision that will probably make the film even more difficult to sell, since some moviegoers may be wary of an unrated film.

But they preferred that option to releasing "The Aristocrats" with an NC-17 rating, which is what the producers figure it would get if submitted to the ratings board - a voluntary step for distributors like Think that are not attached to one of the seven major studios. NC-17 ratings are almost always reserved for films with explicit sexual images. Yet "The Aristocrats" features nothing more than talking heads.

Still, the "funny human beings" in the film - famous comedians from Robin Williams to Chris Rock to Phyllis Diller to Jon Stewart - are not merely swearing, as Mr. Jillette said. They're telling their versions of a joke that involves every imaginable form of sexual perversion in graphic detail, including but not limited to incest, scatology, bestiality and sadism. Rabelais would blush.

So what's the joke? Basically, it's this: a guy walks into a talent agent's office and says he has a terrific family act. The act, the guy explains, involves a husband who comes out onstage with his wife and two kids.

What follows is the part that can't be told in this publication, or most others, but it's the point at which each comedian in the film cuts loose in a can-you-top-this exercise in pornographic oratory. Cut to the kicker where the talent agent asks, What's the name of the act? The answer comes: the Aristocrats.

The point of the joke, and the film, may be freedom of expression, or self-censorship, or what happens among professional comedians behind closed doors. But for practical purposes, the joke is so absurdly obscene that the viewer is shocked into hilarity, or deep offense. Or possibly both. The conundrum for those marketing the film is encapsulated in its tagline: "No nudity. No violence. Unspeakable obscenity."

"We're not selling sex, we're selling comedy," Mark Urman, head of theatrical distribution for Think Film, said of the decision to release the film unrated. "To give it the same rating as films that have completely disrobed bodies writhing and throbbing is misleading and could turn off a lot of people who have no problem with language, who hear it and use it all the time."

But one conservative commentator said that the lack of a rating was just an attempt to create controversy for a movie that would otherwise die in indie obscurity.

"I don't see it as an assault on anything, because it's not a film anybody's going to see, it's not a film that anybody cares about," said Michael Medved, a syndicated talk show host and conservative writer. "What we're seeing here is a desperate attempt to get attention for a project by outraging people, and I stubbornly refuse to be outraged."

The documentary, which was first shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January, came about as a result of Mr. Jillette's and Mr. Provenza's carrying low-caliber video cameras around to their friends in the comedy business and asking them about the infamous "Aristocrats" joke. They didn't necessarily set out to make a film, but ended up with some of America's best-known comics breaking taboos on camera (including, most shockingly, Bob Saget of the hit family sitcom "Full House").

Largely because of the movie's star roster, Think Film executives say, "The Aristocrats" could become a mainstream hit. Despite the lack of a rating, they have booked it in about 40 cities, in multiplexes rather than small art-house theaters. Free publicity will come in the form of interest from glossy magazines and syndicated television shows, not to mention articles like this one, and the distributors say they will spend upward of $1 million on movie prints and radio and television advertising.

John McCauley, senior vice president of marketing for Loews Cineplex, said "The Aristocrats" would be treated as an adults-only film, even though it is unrated. (It will open at the Loews in Times Square.)

"We are providing signage at the theater that specifically outlines the graphic nature of the film, so no one will be walking into the film not knowing what the content is," he said. "We support all forms of film, and we want to give the film an outlet to be seen."

Mr. Provenza denied that he was trying to create controversy. Indeed, he said he was trying to avoid it.

"We're not trying to sucker punch anybody, not trying to trick anybody into seeing the movie," he said. "The movie is about creative expression, creative freedom. If people want to fight us on it, go right ahead."

Call Me Crazy

What's wrong with America? New studies say better than half of us are now, or have been mentally ill.

...psychiatric epidemiologists from the Harvard Medical School have published studies purporting to demonstrate that some 55 percent of Americans suffer from mental illness in their lifetime. These studies--which cost $20 million, most of it out of the taxpayer's pocket--are based on a survey of 9,282 randomly selected English-speaking subjects over the age of 18 who were seen in their homes by technicians trained to ask specific questions about symptoms believed to indicate mental illnesses.

The main problem with the study, according to Paul McHugh, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, is that you can't make a diagnosis from a checklist of symptoms:

The survey technicians were instructed to fill in a questionnaire by asking the subjects about mental symptoms such as depression and anxiety that they might have experienced in their lives. Such technicians, sticking to the prescribed inventory, essentially act as secretaries, recording what people say they recall from their past. The techs gather no sense of the persons they are meeting--no appreciation of their life circumstances, the issues they have dealt with, what strengths they brought to bear, or what vulnerabilities they overcame, in dealing with the good and bad fortune life brought them. The individual's family, social circumstances, temperament, character, opportunities, successes, and disappointments are all outside the attention of these interrogators.

Instead, the technicians run down their checklist of symptoms with no thought to causes, simply recording a yes or no answer to each. This is not a psychiatric examination; it is barely a census.

If simple "anxiety" is one of the telling symptoms, I'm surprised the study's percentage of the "mentally ill" wasn't higher. Interesting read.

June 21, 2005

What Duelfer Missed

If Saddam had no WMD's, then why did he act like he did have them? He says now that it was to deter Iran, but that's not the whole story, as Christopher S. Carson explains as he examines "What Duelfer Missed", at FPM.

...a great deal of information in Duelfer’s own Report contradicts his tidy model of a disarmed-but-coyly-pretending dictator. Take the little matter of the secret biological laboratories hidden throughout Baghdad and under the control of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS). UNSCOM had spent years roaming Iraq and never so much as heard a whiff about them. Hans Blix and his successor agency, UNMOVIC, found Iraq in non-compliance in 2002 without stumbling over a single white lab coat. These labs were unknown to any intelligence agency in the world until after the Iraq War, when ISG uncovered their existence. They were all in egregious violation of the UN resolutions on disclosure and disarmament.

These labs deserve more than a mention because the real danger from Saddam’s Iraq was never really a large-scale use of chemical or biological weapons on a battlefield. American troops could defend against this kind of attack. It was the danger that Saddam would arm terrorists with these weapons, and use them against select American civilian targets.

And why wouldn’t Saddam? His men trained foreign al-Qaeda and other terrorists at Salman Pak in aircraft hijacking, helped to bankroll al-Qaeda and its affiliates, kept Zarqawi, Abu Nidal, and Abu Abbas as house pets, tried to kill former President Bush, tried to blow up Radio Free Europe, and apparently sent an active colonel in the Fedayeen Saddam to baby-sit the 9-11 hijackers in the 2000 Malaysia planning summit, for starters.

Carson includes lots of good information from the Kay and Duelfer Reports that was not widely reported in the media when the reports came out. It should be required reading for the "Bush lied" crowd.

As Goes Basra....

An unvarnished look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in Basra, by Steven Vincent. The local political scene and social and cultural behavior are dictated by religious parties in this first level of the new "self-government". Add in lots of thugs with guns, and lots of other users and opportunists doing their best to screw up what the majority of the citizens are trying to build. It sounds like the wild, wild West. Read it all.

...the city of Basra, where image and reality often clash, especially when it comes to the police. A few weeks ago, cops at the Al-Jemayat station house broke into a gun battle over accusations that some were former Baathists. A businessman told me that his partner was recently kidnapped and held for ransom by four men, who used their own police cars to commit the crime. Last May, the city's police chief admitted to the press that 75 percent of his force was "unreliable," and 50 percent was affiliated with religious organizations. And who is behind many of the assassinations (100 during one week in May) of former Baathists around town? Ask your local policeman — or, on second thought, don't.

...a certain segment of Basra's population discovered the hilarity of making bogus emergency calls. To add to the fun, they remove their SIM cards and remain on the line for hours, tying up the system and preventing people with real crises from getting assistance. According to the British officer, "Only about 5 percent of people contacting 115 call actually need help."

And probably even fewer call with medical emergencies. This is because public hospitals in Basra are medical emergencies, short on medicine, equipment, manpower — everything, it seems, except germs. Private centers are another matter, as evidenced by the Al-Moosawi Hospital, a sleek, clean, expensive establishment that looks American right down to the anodyne artwork on the walls. According to director Zaineldin Moosawi, the hospital contains 36 beds and serves up to 250 outpatients a day. "We even have a dental clinic," he enthused.

What they don't have is the one thing you'd expect in a well-equipped Iraqi hospital: an emergency room. "We had one," Dr. Zaineldin recalled. "But it got to be a security problem, with all the gunmen coming in." Seems that young tribal bucks would go a-feuding at night, get themselves shot up, then demand that the Mooswawi Hospital patch them up — and woe to the medic who proved unable to save a wounded brother or cousin's life. "The British encouraged us to shut down the center," said Dr. Zaineldin...

...I don't mean to paint a bleak picture of Basra or its residents. Well, maybe I do. It's painful to watch so many people persist in self-defeating behavior, especially considering that with its potential revenues from oil, agriculture, and tourism, Basra could become the next Bahrain, Dubai, or, for all we know, Orlando. No wonder a few Basrans have expressed the despondent wish, "If only we could empty people out the city and start over again with a new generation."

June 20, 2005

Claudia On The Case

Claudia Rosett has the latest developments in the case of Kofi and Kojo, and the Cotecna contract.

June 19, 2005

Nine Straight!

The streak continues, Boone lands on the Mendoza line, and Wick leads the league in saves.

Deranged Comparison

Once again, give Mark Steyn credit for combining clarity and wit better than anyone else, this time on Dick Durbin's inanity:

But give Durbin credit. Every third-rate hack on every European newspaper can do the Americans-are-Nazis schtick. Amnesty International has already declared Guantanamo the "gulag of our times." But I do believe the senator is the first to compare the U.S. armed forces with the blood-drenched thugs of Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge. Way to go, senator! If you had a dime for every crackpot Web site that takes up your thoughtful historical comparison, you'd be able to retire to the Caribbean and spend the rest of your days torturing yourself with hot weather and loud music, as well as inappropriately provocative women and insufficient choice of hors d'oeuvres and all the other shameful atrocities committed at Guantanamo.

Just for the record, some 15 million to 30 million Soviets died in the gulag; some 6 million Jews died in the Nazi camps; some 2 million Cambodians -- one third of the population -- died in the killing fields. Nobody's died in Gitmo, not even from having Christina Aguilera played to them excessively loudly. The comparison is deranged, and deeply insulting not just to the U.S. military but to the millions of relatives of those dead Russians, Jews and Cambodians, who, unlike Durbin, know what real atrocities are. Had Durbin said, "Why, these atrocities are so terrible you would almost believe it was an account of the activities of my distinguished colleague Robert C. Byrd's fellow Klansmen," that would have been a little closer to the ballpark but still way out.

One measure of a civilized society is that words mean something: "Soviet" and "Nazi" and "Pol Pot" cannot equate to Guantanamo unless you've become utterly unmoored from reality. Spot the odd one out: 1) mass starvation; 2) gas chambers; 3) mountains of skulls; 4) lousy infidel pop music turned up to full volume. One of these is not the same as the others, and Durbin doesn't have the excuse that he's some airhead celeb or an Ivy League professor. He's the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Don't they have an insanity clause?

(via RCP)

June 18, 2005

Jonah's Dad

I strongly recommend you take a few minutes to read Jonah Goldberg's touching tribute to his father, Sidney Goldberg.

Oppenheimer Bio

Noted Cold War historian and expert on Soviet espionage, Harvey Klehr reviews the scholarship on atomic scientist Robert Oppenheimer in a review for The Weekly Standard.

As the McCarthy era receded, Oppenheimer's reputation rebounded. The longtime head of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, he was honored by President Johnson in 1963, just four years before his death from cancer, and lionized by historians and journalists. In the past decade, new evidence about Soviet efforts to infiltrate Los Alamos, and about Oppenheimer's own politics, has emerged; but there has been no smoking gun implicating him in espionage. Despite some efforts to link him to one of the unidentified cover names in the Venona transcripts, there is no consensus about what role, if any, he played in atomic espionage. Jerrold and Leona Schechter, using a variety of unattributed Russian sources, claimed that Oppenheimer was a valuable Soviet source. Gregg Herken concluded that he was never a spy, despite being a secret member of the Communist party. John Haynes and I argued that the strongest evidence he was not a Soviet spy was that, if he had been, the Russians would have gotten even more information about the atomic bomb than they did.

I just can't get enough of WWII-Cold War U.S./Soviet espionage stuff, whether fact or fiction.

June 17, 2005

Streak Hits Seven

...with a 10-run inning. Did I mention that the Indians still have a better record than the Yankees? And Aaron Boone can almost taste the Mendoza line.

Apologize For What?

Since the autopsy report has reopened the Terry Sciavo debate, there have been calls for an apology from the bipartisan group that sought federal intervention in her case. Andrew C. McCarthy makes the much-ignored point that the intervention was sought not to determine the fate of Terry Schiavo one way or the other, but simply to afford her the same caution and certainty we demand of ourselves as a society in death penalty cases, for example. I have excerpted the piece liberally below, but please go read this in its entirety.

Here is the point. We ordinarily don’t permit the state to kill people lightly. If the most heinous capital murderer is involved, we demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt on every critical element that must be established at trial and sentencing — and we permit years upon years of appeals and reviews to make absolutely certain we get it right before the state-sanctioned killing happens.

In the PVS context, a similar level of certainty should be required. As of now, it has not been. But at a minimum we are supposed to have clear and convincing evidence before the killing happens that (a) the person really is in a PVS, and (b) the decision to end life at that hopeless stage is a personal one — one which reflects the true wishes of the stricken victim, not the choice of those burdened with her care.

During the debate over Terri Schiavo, while she was being starved and dehydrated for two weeks, those supporting federal intervention made two contentions. First, that the proof that she was actually in a PVS was not strong enough and was suspect because basic tests that could easily have settled doubts were being resisted. Second, that the evidence that Terri had actually expressed a considered preference on the momentous decision of whether to end her life was appallingly thin.

This was not, as Dionne suggests, about "toss[ing] around unwarranted conclusions." It was about insisting that conclusions on so grave a matter be warranted by firmly proven evidence. The federal government did not legislate a prohibition on terminating life; it called for a searching examination to ensure that the fact-finding was sound...

...So now, months later, long after it mattered, the autopsy is out and it indicates what we already knew: Terri was profoundly brain-damaged. She may or may not have been in a PVS — to this day we don’t know. Yet, the “right-to-die” forces are waving the autopsy report triumphantly, saying: See, see, see — she was PVS, just like we said! Well, leaving aside that the autopsy does not confirm the diagnosis, if scientific exactitude about the degree of brain injury is important now, when she’s dead, why wasn’t it important then? Why was there only rebuke for those who insisted there was virtue in a society’s being sure before life was snuffed out? The answer is simple: Because to the right-to-die people, the accuracy of the PVS diagnosis was never central; what mattered was giving effect to the purported “choice.”

Oh, and on that score, one other thing: When does the “autopsy” on Terri’s choice come out? It doesn’t. We are stuck with a record that should trouble serious people: no living will, and some self-interested witnesses (mainly husband Michael, by then pulled by the ties of a new family) who suddenly remembered years after the fact that Terri supposedly made some passing remarks about not wanting to be maintained in extremis. Is it any wonder all the talk is now about the extent of brain damage, as if that had been the only issue?

Personally, I would be relieved if some scientific test could confirm the PVS diagnosis. If a capital murderer had been executed after a trial at which his rights had been violated, I would be relieved if someone did a post-execution DNA exam that confirmed we had put the right person to death. But it wouldn’t make me feel any better about the trial, and I wouldn’t be pretending that the end justified the means.

June 16, 2005

Tribe Rolling With Grady

While I'm on something of a sports roll here, I have to acknowledge the recent play of the Cleveland Indians. I just watched them close out a sweep of the Rockies for their sixth straight win, and the eighth in nine games. I've been avoiding Tribe talk like the plague since the start of the season out of a mixture of embarrassment and dismay, since I boldly predicted a 90-win season and then watched them stagger out of the gate like the sub-500 team we've been watching for the last three years.

They didn't hit, so they didn't win early, so they didn't excite the the city and the fans, so they aren't drawing well. Three regulars, Blake, Boone and Martinez weren't able to hit their weight until just recently, and it would be stretching it to say that the slumps of Blake and Martinez are over. But the pitching has been stellar, the bullpen amazing, and the team has now crawled back to 34-30, and it does appear that some kind of corner has been turned.

90 wins seems like a long way off now, but if they can get to eight or nine games over .500 by the halfway point, I wouldn't bet against them repeating that performance in the second half to finish with say, 88 wins. Playoff talk is kind of unrealistic with two teams ahead of us in the division and a stronger than expected Baltimore team fighting it out with Boston and yes, New York in the East. But if the White Sox fade a little bit....

If some of my preseason statements were cockeyed, give me credit for getting something right. I was OK with the Juan Gonzalez signing, but not at the expense of playing time for Grady Sizemore. I thought last September that Sizemore had played his last minor league game, and it seemed crazy that in April he looked to be destined to start the season in AAA Buffalo. How insane does that notion seem now?

A quick look at the team statistics shows the 22-year old Sizemore leading the team in batting average(.309), hits(73), runs scored(33), RBI(30), triples(6), stolen bases(8), and total bases(112). You could make the case that it's easier to lead in all those categories on a team that collectively hasn't been hitting very well, but that would be to miss the point of how wildly improbable it is for a kid this green to be performing like this in his first full big league season.

On top of everything, he has been prospering in the leadoff spot, supposedly a high pressure role, and playing terrific defense in centerfield. There might be too much outfield competition in the AL for Grady to land the mandatory Indians spot on the All-Star team, but if he doesn't, it won't be because he hasn't been the team's best first half player.

June 15, 2005

Browns Changing Culture

Nice piece on Romeo Crennel and the Browns from Len Pasquarelli and ESPN.com. G.M. Phil Savage and Crennel are quietly but thoroughly rebuilding the roster of the team to stress leadership, character and team-orientation. Why didn't Butch think of that?

June 14, 2005

Winslow Jr. Speaks

Kellen Winslow Jr. had season ending knee surgery today, but the day before going under the knife, he spent some time with an Akron Beacon Journal writer, and finally told someone in person that he's sorry. I guess Dad must have stepped out for a cup of coffe or something. Here's the money quote, and it's good to hear:

"I'll be fine, man," he said. "I will. No doubt."...

"That's just the way I am," he said. "I rehab and work hard. I work the hardest. I want to be the best ever. That's just what I want to do."

"All I can say is stay with me and help me through this, and I'll be back, and I'm going to be everything they wanted me to be."

One thing still doesn't seem to have sunk into Winslow's head. In his written statement to the fans and Browns family he admitted that he should not have tried to learn how to ride such a dangerous bike without the proper instruction and expert mentoring. In this most recent interview he said "A lot of people have motorcycles, but since I got hurt, I'm sorry."

Earth to Kellen! You didn't violate your contract by learning to ride the motorcycle without proper instruction. You didn't violate your contract by wrecking the bike and tearing up your knee. You violated your contract by getting on the damn thing the very first time! This wasn't bad luck. "A lot of people" who have motorcycles don't have contracts expressly prohibiting them from motorcycling.

So don't be sorry for getting hurt on a motorcycle. Be sorry for breeching your contract by getting on one. Admit that little detail, and we'll be getting somewhere.

All that said, I wish the kid well. As long as he wears the orange hat.

(I'm pasting the full article at the link below, in case you have trouble with the ohio.com registration)

Winslow Jr. Opens Up

Browns TE talks about accident, contract. Knee surgery today

By Patrick McManamon
Beacon Journal sports writer

BEREA - Kellen Winslow Jr. will have surgery today to repair a torn ligament in his right knee, but he vowed that it will not hamper him in the future.

"I want to be the best ever," he said Monday in his first interview since his motorcycle accident May 1.

After initially declining an interview with the Beacon Journal, Winslow pulled a reporter aside just outside the locker room on the first day of the Browns' minicamp and said he would talk but only in private.

Winslow said he was sorry for his accident, admitted that he knew motorcyling was an activity prohibited in his contract and said he understood the fans' frustrations because he had the same frustrations.

"But everything happens for a reason," he said. "I can only gain from this. My back's up against the wall, and I'm going to get stronger."

The main point that he wanted to get across to the fans?

"Just stick with me," he said. "I'm going to be back."

He said he wants to come back with the Browns. He said he had no desire to play elsewhere.

Winslow also detailed his exact injuries for the first time. He said the accident left him with a lacerated liver and kidney, a bruised right shoulder, a torn ACL and a hairline fracture of his femur. He pointed to the spot of the fracture, and it was on the outside of the right knee.

Winslow said all the injuries are healed except for the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

"I was knocked out for like two minutes, and my feeling was I was all right," he said of the accident. "I just fell off. I thought I just bruised my knee because I was kind of stiff. It was kind of painful. I knew I messed my arm up pretty good, but I thought it was just... you know...

"I knew I was going to fall, and I thought I was just going to get right back up."

He said the accident happened when he accelerated too much and hit a curb in a Cuyahoga Community College parking lot near his home in Westlake.

He said he was "aware" that his contract listed motorcyling as a hazardous activity and that could cause him to be in default if he was injured.

"I'm grown. I still have to live my life. I did know the circumstances behind it, but I'm still learning. I'm young," he said. "You think you're invincible. You think nothing's going to happen to you. It was a mistake."

Asked if an apology was in order, Winslow said: "Yeah. I did apologize in my letter (he referred to his statement released through the 1964 Browns Web site). You know, I am sorry for what I've done. A lot of people have motorcycles, but since I got hurt, I'm sorry."

He said he understood his father's feelings about the way that his accident has been reported, feelings that were expressed at a recent gathering of the '64 team.

"He's just a dad trying to protect his son," Winslow said. "If it was your son, you'd do the same thing. You'd try to protect him. That's what he's supposed to do."

Winslow said he did not make a statement at the '64 Browns event because he did not want to take away from the team.

The surgery will involve taking a piece of Winslow's hamstring and grafting it on to the ligament, he said. He said there might be a chance he could play this season, "but I couldn't play how I wanted to play."

"You have to let the ACL heal," he said.

He vowed that he will be the player whom the Browns thought that they had when they drafted him sixth overall a year ago.

"I'll be fine, man," he said. "I will. No doubt."


"That's just the way I am," he said. "I rehab and work hard. I work the hardest. I want to be the best ever. That's just what I want to do."

Winslow said the "true fans" that he has spoken to -- "not the ones behind the keyboards" -- have been supportive.

"The ones I've talked to have my back," he said.

He also said he understands the anger the other fans have expressed.

"I can imagine," he said. "They want to see me play. I want to see me play. I'm frustrated, too.

"All I can say is stay with me and help me through this, and I'll be back, and I'm going to be everything they wanted me to be."

Messages for Patrick McManamon can be left at pmcmanamon@thebeaconjournal.com

Misplaced Attention

A new memo suggests that Kofi Annan may have known more about the U.N. Oil-For-Food contract that was awarded to the company that employed his son as a "consultant" than he initially revealed to investigators. Pardon me while I stifle a yawn.

While I suppose it's good that some hard evidence exists that may prove what has been widely assumed by people with their eyes open, I remain amazed that so much attention has been paid to this small time cronyism/nepotism issue as "Exhibit A" of wrongdoing by Kofi Annan.

Meanwhile, the elephant in the living room is the fact that Annan set up and presided over the whole massively corrupt enterprise for years, fully aware that Saddam was abusing the program, demanding kickbacks and paying bribes, while Annan raked over a billion dollars off the top for the U.N.'s administrative expenses. The man the program was set up to punish and restrain was ripping off billions in dollars meant to feed Iraqi citizens, using it to build palaces, pay off families of Palestinian suicide bombers, and whatever else he damn well pleased. Kofi Annan said he could "do business with this man". And did he ever.

Annan held off complaints about the corrupt practices from the U.S. and Great Britain in 2001, personally reviewed and renewed the corrupt program every six months, ignored the corruption-by-bribe of two veto-wielding Security Council members and members of his own U.N. staff, and then while swimming in Saddam's cash, had the gall to posture as the head of the only body capable of granting "legitimacy" to any effort to hold Saddam accountable.

Kofi Annan built and then rode the Oil-For-Food gravy train, presiding over the largest fraud in the history of international aid, complicit in the theft of billions of dollars that belonged to the people of Iraq. He then proceeded to lecture the United States on the "legality" of our action to remove Saddam's boot from the neck of the Iraqi people.

And we're making a big fuss about some penny ante influence peddling and nepotism leading to a $10 million contract?

Next Victim

The only Michael Jackson trial news I heard throughout the ordeal was what I couldn't help overhearing. It just wasn't on my radar because I care so little about the personal lives of entertainment celebrities, no matter how weird. Now that it's over, I figured Andrew Sullivan would have an insightful, intelligent take on it, and he doesn't disappoint. My inattention to the case wasn't unusual, I guess. Sullivan says America in general simply tuned out. At least in my case, he was wrong about the reasons why:

...the reason, I think, is not simply a function of the ick factor - that simply imagining a 46 year-old porcelain doll groping half-drunk teens is more than enough to get you to turn the channel. It's because the Jackson trial focuses attention on features of American culture that most Americans simply don't want to acknowledge or handle.

Sullivan calls celebrity "the ultimate American poison", and says Jackson, now a "husk of a human", is casually disposed of by our celebrity culture as we move on to the next victim. Read it all.

Long Shot

A great sports story.

(via Michelle Malkin....who by the way is celebrating her first blogiversary. It didn't take this talented lady long to rocket to the top of the blog charts. Go see why. Congrats, Michelle.)

Man Invented Religion

Captains Quarters reports on a disturbing story from the western U.S. that has apparently been getting more coverage in Britain than it has here:

A cult of polygamists have apparently started to abandon their teenage sons on highways in Arizona and Utah, perhaps as many as 1,000 of them. The reason? To create an artificial shortage of mates for the teenage girls that the older men resolve through multiple marriages

In God's name, no less. Go read the whole sick story.

June 13, 2005

How Low Will They Go?

Teacher unions have filed suit to stop Florida's statewide school choice program, and they are relying in part on the state's Blaine amendment, a dusty statute from the late 1800's that has its basis in anti-Catholic bigotry. George Will filets the arguments of the school choice program's opponents.

It's The Culture, Stupid

What a breath of fresh air David Brooks continues to be for the New York Times. How sad that the paper is about to begin charging an annual subscription ($50?) to read their prose online, effectively cutting themselves off from millions of readers, reducing their currency and thus their relevance. As much as we conservatives bitch about bias, most of us acknowledge that it's a great paper in lots of ways. But soon I guess I'll have to go all the way to Free Republic to read Brooks for free.

Brooks is traveling in Africa and reporting on the fight against AIDS on the continent. He sounds depressed. And why not?

The problem is that while treatment is a technical problem, prevention is not. Prevention is about changing behavior. It is getting into the hearts of people in their vulnerable moments - when they are drinking, when they are in the throes of passion - and influencing them to change the behavior that they have not so far changed under the threat of death.

This is a mysterious task. In Mozambique's Gaza province, thousands of kids nursed their parents as they died. And yet, according to those who now care for the orphans, the children are exactly replicating the behaviors that led to their parents' demise. If that experience doesn't change people, what will?

(As is my practice with soon-to-be-archived Times articles, you can read the whole thing at the link below)

The New York Times

June 12, 2005

The Wisdom We Need to Fight AIDS


Xai-Xai, Mozambique

There's a church in southern Mozambique that is about 10 yards long, with a tin roof and walls made of sticks. Women gather there to sing and pray and look after the orphans of AIDS victims. When you ask those women and their pastor what they tell people to prevent the spread of AIDS, the first thing they say is that it's important to use condoms.

They also talk about the consequences of unsafe sex. But after a while they slip out of the language of safety and into a different language. They say, "It is easier for those who have been touched by God to accept when a woman says no." They talk about praying for the man who beats his H.I.V.-positive wife, and trying to bring him into the congregation. They have polygamists in their church but say God loves monogamy best.

In the week I've spent traveling around southern Africa, I've been struck by how much technical knowledge we have brought to bear combating AIDS. You give us a problem that can be solved technically - like creating the medicines to treat the disease - and we can perform mighty feats.

The problem is that while treatment is a technical problem, prevention is not. Prevention is about changing behavior. It is getting into the hearts of people in their vulnerable moments - when they are drinking, when they are in the throes of passion - and influencing them to change the behavior that they have not so far changed under the threat of death.

This is a mysterious task. In Mozambique's Gaza province, thousands of kids nursed their parents as they died. And yet, according to those who now care for the orphans, the children are exactly replicating the behaviors that led to their parents' demise. If that experience doesn't change people, what will?

We have tried to change behavior, but we have mostly tried technical means to prevent the spread of AIDS, and these techniques have proved necessary but insufficient.

We have tried awareness, but awareness alone is insufficient. Surveys show that vast majorities understand, at least intellectually, the dangers of H.I.V. They behave in risky ways anyway.

We have issued condoms, but condoms alone are insufficient. Surveys also show that a vast majority know where they can get condoms. But that doesn't mean they actually use them, as rising or stable infection rates demonstrate.

We have tried economic development, but that too is necessary but insufficient. The most aggressive spreaders of the disease are relatively well off. They are miners who have sex with prostitutes and bring the disease home to their wives. They are teachers who trade grades for sex. They are sugar daddies who have sex with 14-year-old girls in exchange for cellphone time.

If this were about offering people the right incentives, we would have solved this problem. But the AIDS crisis has another element, which can be addressed only by some other language - the language those people in church slipped into.

The AIDS crisis is about evil. It's about the small gangs of predatory men who knowingly infect women by the score without a second thought in the world.

The AIDS crisis is about the sanctity of life. It's about people who have come to so undervalue their own life that ruinous behavior seems unimportant and death is accepted fatalistically.

It's about disproportionate suffering. It's about people who commit minor transgressions, or even no transgressions, and suffer consequences too horrible to contemplate. In America we read in the Book of Job; in sub-Saharan Africa they have 10 Jobs per acre.

It's about these and a dozen other things - trust, fear, weakness, traditions, temptation - none of which can be fully addressed by externals. They can be addressed only by the language of ought, by fixing behavior into some relevant set of transcendent ideals and faiths.

That's a language governments and N.G.O.'s rarely speak. It's a language that has to be spoken by people who connect words like "faithful" and "abstinent" to some larger creed. It has to be spoken, in Africa, by people who understand local beliefs about ancestors and the supernatural. It's a language that has to be spoken by an elder, a neighbor, a person who knows your name.

This week in Africa, I've been impressed by the level of medical expertise and depressed by the lack of moral, sociological, psychological and cultural expertise. The most subtle analysis of human nature I heard came in that church made of sticks.

E-mail: dabrooks@nytimes.com

Self-Torture By The Press

Mark Steyn seems to think there's something of a double standard where Quran desecration and cultural insensitivity are concerned...

Last week, Ambassador Atta el-Manan Bakhit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference called on Washington to show "no leniency" to the "perpetrators" of "this despicable crime." "This disgraceful conduct of those soldiers reveal their blatant hatred and disdain for the religion of millions of Muslims all over the world," said His Excellency. The Egyptian foreign minister was also in a tizzy. "We denounce in the strongest possible terms what the Pentagon confirmed about the desecration of the Qu'ran," said Ahmed Aboul Gheit, calling for strong measures, heads to roll, etc.

And what was it the Pentagon "confirmed"? That since Gitmo became the global center of U.S. Quran Desecration operations, there have been five verifiable instances of official minor "disrespect" for the holy book, three of which may have been intentional, which averages out at one incident per year. The same report also turned up 15 documented instances of "disrespect" by Muslim detainees. "These included using a Quran as a pillow, ripping pages out of the Quran, attempting to flush a Quran down the toilet and urinating on the Quran."

When three times as many detainees "desecrate" the Koran as U.S. guards do, it seems clear that the whole Operation Desecration ballyhoo is yet another media crock and the Organization of the Islamic Conference and all the rest are complaining about nothing. Or is Quran desecration one of those things like Jews telling Jewish jokes or gangsta rappers recording numbers like "Strictly 4 My Niggaz"? Are only devout Muslims allowed to desecrate the Quran? No doubt that's why the Egyptian foreign minister and company had no comment on the recent suicide bombing at a mosque in Kandahar, which killed 20, wounded more than 50 and presumably desecrated every Quran in the building.

Yet, as is often the way, the Muslim world's whiny spokespersons have been effortlessly topped by the old hands of the anti-American left. Thus, according to Amnesty International, Gitmo is the "gulag of our time."

June 12, 2005

Limited Outrage

A left-leaning Cleveland blogger, whose stuff I have appreciated in the past (enough to blogroll him and stop in occasionally) threw down the so-called Downing Street Memo the other day, and wondered why the media and the country weren't more "outraged" by Bush's lies and more insistent on the impeachment of the President. As if the DSM represented some kind of "smoking gun" and that Bush's perfidy was evident, he concluded by asking "how can it be any more clear than this?"

I left him a comment which started getting so involved I decided to make a post out of it, as follows, (edited slightly since posting there):

Selective memory on the part of the Iraq war critics is perhaps one explanation for their puzzlement about the lack of "outrage" over the Downing Street memo. A part of this is the unwillingness to revisit the last few years of the Clinton administration, whose official policy was regime change in Iraq, and who was bombing Iraq in 1998 as punishment for WMD stonewalling, to the outrage of few. The "status quo" at the time was U.N. sanctions and U.S. "flyovers" designed to prevent Saddam from gassing more of his own citizens, and which cost U.S. taxpayers billions, with no end in sight. Remember?

More selective memory is required by those who now trumpet the lack of WMD discoveries as evidence of Bush "lies". In large part, anti-liberation folks have been getting away with pretending Saddam never had WMD's or had no programs in place to produce them. Again, reminders may be in order. From a TWS article, this is just a partial list of what the Iraqis admitted to by 1998:

* That in the years immediately prior to the first Gulf War, Iraq produced at least 3.9 tons of VX, a deadly nerve gas, and acquired 805 tons of precursor ingredients for the production of more VX.

* That Iraq had produced or imported some 4,000 tons of ingredients to produce other types of poison gas.

* That Iraq had produced 8,500 liters of anthrax.

* That Iraq had produced 500 bombs fitted with parachutes for the purpose of delivering poison gas or germ payloads.

* That Iraq had produced 550 artillery shells filled with mustard gas.

* That Iraq had produced or imported 107,500 casings for chemical weapons.

* That Iraq had produced at least 157 aerial bombs filled with germ agents.

* That Iraq had produced 25 missile warheads containing germ agents (anthrax, aflatoxin, and botulinum).

Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright and others in the administration had made the decision by the late '90's that Saddam was a menace that would eventually have to be removed. This was an uncontroversial topic back then, which probably led to quotes like this from leading Democrats:

- in June 2002 Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said, "There is broad support for a regime change in Iraq. The question is how do we do it and when do we do it."

Military action also had broad bipartisan support in Congress, and of course was backed by Security Council Resolution 1441, which had its "serious consequences" terms justified by Saddam's refusal to account for WMD's which he had previously admitted to possessing.

All of which is merely to set up the point that it is altogether unsurprising and certainly not worthy of "outrage" that by the middle of 2002, President Bush and his close advisors were fairly sure that a military operation would be required to oust Saddam, and that plans to do so were well underway. It would have been irresponsible not to be doing so. The unspoken but logical rejoinder to those who are outraged that it appears from the DSM that Bush had pretty much made up his mind to invade Iraq by mid-2002 is: "So f'n what?"

After all, by that time it was clear that "diplomacy" was not likely to be a successful way to get the Iraqi dictator to step down. By late 2001, the U.S. and Britain had already brought to the attention of the United Nations the fact that Saddam was taking kickbacks and paying bribes through the Oil-For-Food program, and it was clear that he had successfully bought the Security Council votes of France and Russia, along with numerous U.N. officials directly.

The primary reason Bush went back to the U.N. in late 2002 was to provide political cover for the resident of 10 Downing Street. He had to know he had little chance to compete at the U.N. with Saddam's millions in bribes to his business partners in Europe and the Arab world.

A reading of the DSM shows that both British and American officials were concerned about Saddam's potential use of WMD's in an invasion. If they were fabricating ("fixing" is supposedly the damning word here) the evidence about WMD's, why were their private strategy sessions exhibiting such concern about them?

More selective memory is put to use ignoring the countless times George Bush stated clearly, in major speeches, the additional justifications for regime change in Iraq, namely the manifest humanitarian reasons, as well as the demonstrable links to radical Islamic terrorism.

And as ever, the war critics do not like to talk about their proposed alternatives to the invasion of Iraq, because they had none, short of going back to the Security Council, where it was obvious that Saddam had feathered his nest with cash. We never hear Bush's Iraq policy critics discuss Oil-For-Food, or Salman Pak terrorist training center, or Saddam's terror "summits". We don't read anti-war critics' book reviews of books like Stephen Hayes' The Connection, and we sure don't hear anyone acknowledging that Bush merely followed through on Clinton's Iraq policy. We don't hear these things addressed because doing so would draw more attention to the critics' utter lack of a better idea.

In addition, it is embarrassing for these folks to admit that following their stated policy would today have assured an entrenched and belligerent Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, with all of its attendant murder, torture, corruption, and repression. This would include an ongoing U.N. scam aid program, reconstituted WMD programs, and continuing financial and tactical support for Islamic terror.

Implicit in their "Bush lied" rhetoric is the notion that the U.S. and the world would be better off had we not deposed Saddam. I have not heard this thesis convincingly argued by any of Bush's critics. Wonder why.

Yes, there's a whole lot that must be conveniently forgotten or ignored to sit around today and demand outrage, investigation, and impeachment proceedings because George Bush demonstrated leadership in liberating 25 million Iraqis from a murderous scourge, and that he emphasized the dictator's documented use of WMD's as part of the justification for doing so. It is beside the point that, as James Robbins said in his excellent piece on the DSM:

the memo simply contains the impressions of an aide of the impressions of British-cabinet officials of the impressions of unnamed people they spoke to in the United States about what they thought the president was thinking.

The point is that Bush and Blair were sitting down in late 2002 devising their strategy on how to depose Saddam Hussein. That is, to do what needed to be done. That which the United Nations would eventually say would have to be done if Saddam violated S.C. Resolution 1441. The fact that their intelligence, and that of the entire Western world, proved to be in some measure faulty, changes none of that.

Of charges that WMD intelligence was "phonied up" or that intelligence analysts were pressured in any way to tailor their analysis to suit administration goals or policies, former Senator Charles Robb, co-chairman of the commission that investigated WMD intelligence practices, had this to say a few weeks ago:

We looked very closely at that question. We--every member of the commission was sensitive to the number of questions that had been raised with respect to what we'll call politicization or however you want to describe it, and we examined every single instance that had been referred to in print or otherwise to see if there was any occasion where a member of the administration or anyone else had asked an analyst or anybody else associated with the intelligence community to change a position that they were taking, or whether they felt there was any undue influence. And we found absolutely no instance, and we ran to ground everything that we had on the table. . . . We got a fair amount of information that didn't provide us anything more in this area.

So even though the Downing Street memo contains no evidence that Bush lied to anybody about anything, it is being flaunted by his critics as if it does. This "gotcha" tactic does serve the purpose of avoiding awkward issues like successful free Iraqi elections or the wave of democratization in the region that has resulted largely from Bush's leadership and action.

Impeachment advocates should be called upon to explain how they would have better handled Saddam then, and how they would be dealing with an emboldened Saddam now. Or how they would have somehow achieved the desired "regime change" without military action, given the reality of a compromised Security Council (or even with a squeaky clean U.N. for that matter). They should be asked how Clinton's military actions to remove an oppressive tyrant in the Balkans were justifiable, especially since they lacked U.N. sanction, if Bush's liberation of Iraq is not.

I don't for a moment minimize the loss of life and limb among U.S. and coalition troops. But I also think it's fair to say that if a Democrat had effected the liberation of 25 million Middle Easterners from dictatorship with similar casualty numbers, many of today's Bush critics would be doing self-congratulatory cartwheels down the avenue.

Which makes this DSM stuff mostly about Bush hatred then. Focusing on minutiae like what the word "fixing" meant in some British bureaucrat's memo instead of on the demonstrably positive results of the Bush-led Middle Eastern democratization process is what makes Bush haters feel better these days, I guess.

It also keeps the subject off of their lack of a coherent strategy to deal with the war that Islamic fundamentalists are waging on the West and all of modernity.

UPDATE 6/12: Jeff has responded thoughtfully, and a healthy dialogue ensues in his comments section.

UPDATE 6/13: Even Michael Kinsley says there's nothing in the Downing St. Memo for the opponents of George Bush to get worked up about.

June 11, 2005

Stirring The Pot

James Lileks on medical marijuana as a "compassionate conservative" issue...

Hospitals have been using morphine by the gallon for decades, and you don't find it at the drugstore next to the corn pads and Band-Aids. It's very illegal, but its use in hospitals hasn't led to widespread use in the general society. You don't often read about once-thriving neighborhoods reduced to ruin by a plague of morphine addicts.

There are ways to keep medical marijuana from getting out into the general population. Keep it in suppository form – notoriously hard to light – and keep the dosage mild. Compared to the high-power knock-you-down reefer favored today, Uncle Sam Brand would suffer in the marketplace...

... Granted, it would diminish the government's moral authority to condemn cannabis use if it's prescribed for things other than cancer and glaucoma. But if the government wanted more moral authority, it wouldn't sue cigarette makers while making more off taxes than the makers earn per pack...

...The public isn't in the mood to legalize crack. But the public, now and then, realizes that there are some gray areas – all you need to do is hear a few hundred tales of cancer sufferers finally able to keep down a meal because they used medicinal marijuana, and you might believe that the Republic will not founder if we grant them this surcease.

That, however, will take a federal law.

And perhaps that's what it needs. Perhaps medical marijuana needs Food and Drug Administration approval – providing that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will let them test it on rabbits, that is.

It may not be conservative by some people's definition to let a sick person grow some pot in the backyard. But it does not seem particularly compassionate to forbid it.

I don't think there's anything unconservative about advocating a policy that allows sick people to smoke a weed that grows from the ground if a doctor says it will ease their pain, and to do it with minimal interference from the government. Democrats are already seizing it as a possible winning issue for them, and the GOP needs to have a coherent position that doesn't make them come off as the moralist scolds that mirror the left's stereotype of them. Lileks helps to spur the debate and hopefully help seize the issue. I carved his piece up pretty badly so go read it all.
(via RCP)

June 10, 2005

Browns Bail Out Cleveland H.S. Football

The Cleveland Browns organization will contribute $300,000 to keep the football programs of Cleveland's city schools playing. Football and other sports programs would otherwise be eliminated owing to large budget deficits in the school system. The team was following the lead of the Indians, who made a similar contribution to keep the school's baseball programs in operation earlier this year. Kudos and thanks to both organizations for a classy move.

June 9, 2005

Ledeen On Message

The brutal regime in Iran is holding an "election" this month as a way to create for themselves a veneer of legitimacy, and Michael Ledeen is calling on someone...anyone from the Bush administration or other Western leaders to denounce this exercise as the fraud that it is. Meanwhile, brave Iranian dissidents and democrats suffer and die at the hands of the regime for the cause of freedom. They deserve better from us...

We are now nine days from the sham elections, and still no Western leader has had the integrity to proclaim that the “elections” are a fraud, and they seem to have forgotten that the regime itself is the keystone of the terror network. Instead, our government maintains a pious silence on the matter, evidently more afraid of being accused of undermining the efforts of the French, German, and British governments to arrive at a satisfactory agreement with Iran on the matter of the mullahs’ impending atomic bomb.

They do not wish to acknowledge that if Iran were free, we would not have to fear its weapons, because the Iranian people wish to live peacefully, in alliance with us. Moreover, with the Iranian keystone destroyed, the terror war against us would be gravely weakened, and our currently stalled support for democratic revolution would receive a much needed infusion of credibility.

Continued silence and inaction on Iran are shameful and cowardly, unworthy of any serious nation, let alone the world’s lone superpower. People are dying every day, above all in Iran and in Iraq, because we refuse to come to grips with Iran. Many of these are our own children.

Hello? Can we get this show on the road, please?

Ledeen has for years been the most consistent voice for stronger administration support of the Iranian democrats, as in this earlier column:

...the Iranians and the Syrians continue to support the terror war against us in Iraq. Here again, everyone knows it — nobody raised an eyebrow at the recent rumors that Zarqawi had taken refuge in Iran, because everyone knows he has long had Iranian support for his barbaric actions — yet our leaders are strangely unwilling to draw the obvious conclusion: The regimes must go...

...In his final days in office, Colin Powell went around the world announcing that the United States was not calling for regime change in Iran, and no one in Washington has gainsaid those words. Nor has anyone called for regime change in Damascus. In each case, official rhetoric, and apparently formal policy as well, are directed toward matters of less significance in the Global War: the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian mullahs, and the domination of Lebanon by the Syrian Baathists and their murderous Hezbollah allies. Yet it is clear to anyone with eyes to see that even these lesser goals cannot be accomplished so long as Assad rules Syria, and the mullahs rule Iran.

There is no escape from these imperatives, and no amount of clever diplomatic scheming with the failed governments of France and Germany — both of whom have been boisterously rejected by their own electorates in the past two weeks — and the feckless British Foreign Office can possibly accomplish them. If President Bush is serious about spreading freedom, then he must finally and openly demand an end to the dictatorships that oppose freedom with all their might.

Freedom is our greatest weapon against the terrorists, and we do not always need to send armies to support its spread. Syria and Iran are ripe for revolution, and the dictators know it. The revolutionaries are looking to Washington for clear and material support. They are not getting it today.

Stay on top of developments at Regime Change Iran.

"not worthy of America"

All you need to do to demonstrate the gross double standard employed by media people as regards partisan political rhetoric is to imagine what their reaction would be if George W. Bush or other prominent Republicans spoke of Democrats in the same terms that Howard Dean and lately, Hillary Clinton use to speak of Republicans. That's the thought experiment that Peggy Noonan engages in today.

June 7, 2005

Marathoner Blogs Cleveland

A blogger from Chicago runs the Cleveland Marathon, and shatters his perceptions about Cleveland. (via Brewed Fresh Daily) Speaking of blogging Cleveland, George at BFD deserves a regular look for local perspectives.

Never Too Early

Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel says the anticipation for the Sept. 10 Ohio State-Texas game is justified. There just aren't as many big, intersectional matchups of Top 10 teams early in the season as there used to be. However, Mandel says that Buckeye fans are "obsessing" over this game. I don't know what he's talking about, but he does have a prediction on the game.

June 6, 2005

The Moral Authority of A. I.

Anne Bayefsky says the statement by Amnesty International's Irene Khan that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility is "the gulag of our times", is...

only the latest in a multi-year slide by the organization away from universal human-rights standards toward a politicized and anti-American agenda.

In fact, Bayefsky tells you about all you need to know in this excerpt from her NRO piece:

The change became abundantly clear at the U.N. World Conference Against Racism that took place in August and early September 2001. The final declaration of the forum of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) said Zionism, or the self-determination of the Jewish people, equals racism and went downhill from there. On the final day prior to the adoption of this declaration, international NGOs, including Amnesty, deliberated about their position as one caucus. As a representative of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists I was about to enter our meeting place along with the president of Amnesty, Irene Khan, when the chief representative of Human Rights Watch, Reed Brody, turned to me in the presence of the others and told me I was not welcome and had to go. Said Brody, to the objection of no one (although I had worked professionally with many of them for years), I represented Jews and therefore could not be trusted to be objective.

At Durban, Amnesty led the international NGO assault on universal standards. According to Khan, what mattered were “the voices of the victims.” In her words, “The victims of racism and related intolerance have described their own realities of racism and related intolerance as they experience it…This Declaration and Programme of Action is an inclusive text which enables our various perspectives to be presented at the World Conference.”

However, despite the rhetoric of “inclusiveness,” the Amnesty International chief sat on her hands when a motion to delete the voices of Jewish victims of racism was put to the vote and adopted. Every Jewish NGO from around the world walked out. Amnesty and company stayed.

Read it all, and while you're at it, read Bayefsky's 2004 Commentary article, "The U.N. and the Jews", to get a sense of how pervasive and systemic is the anti-Semitism at the United Nations.

June 5, 2005

Not Your Father's NYT

David Brooks:

Forgive me for making a blunt and obvious point, but events in Western Europe are slowly discrediting large swaths of American liberalism.

Most of the policy ideas advocated by American liberals have already been enacted in Europe: generous welfare measures, ample labor protections, highly progressive tax rates, single-payer health care systems, zoning restrictions to limit big retailers, and cradle-to-grave middle-class subsidies supporting everything from child care to pension security. And yet far from thriving, continental Europe has endured a lost decade of relative decline.

Brooks talks of fear in Europe, from the left and from the right, of losing what they have, however unsustainable. Hence the resistance to fundamental reform and to the E.U. Constitution, which has something for everyone to fear.

(Full text of the NYT piece at the link below)

The New York Times

June 2, 2005

Fear and Rejection


Forgive me for making a blunt and obvious point, but events in Western Europe are slowly discrediting large swaths of American liberalism.

Most of the policy ideas advocated by American liberals have already been enacted in Europe: generous welfare measures, ample labor protections, highly progressive tax rates, single-payer health care systems, zoning restrictions to limit big retailers, and cradle-to-grave middle-class subsidies supporting everything from child care to pension security. And yet far from thriving, continental Europe has endured a lost decade of relative decline.

Western Europeans seem to be suffering a crisis of confidence. Election results, whether in North Rhine-Westphalia or across France and the Netherlands, reveal electorates who have lost faith in their leaders, who are anxious about declining quality of life, who feel extraordinarily vulnerable to foreign competition - from the Chinese, the Americans, the Turks, even the Polish plumbers.

Anybody who has lived in Europe knows how delicious European life can be. But it is not the absolute standard of living that determines a people's morale, but the momentum. It is happier to live in a poor country that is moving forward - where expectations are high - than it is to live in an affluent country that is looking back.

Right now, Europeans seem to look to the future with more fear than hope. As Anatole Kaletsky noted in The Times of London, in continental Europe "unemployment has been stuck between 8 and 11 percent since 1991 and growth has reached 3 percent only once in those 14 years."

The Western European standard of living is about a third lower than the American standard of living, and it's sliding. European output per capita is less than that of 46 of the 50 American states and about on par with Arkansas. There is little prospect of robust growth returning any time soon.

Once it was plausible to argue that the European quality of life made up for the economic underperformance, but those arguments look more and more strained, in part because demographic trends make even the current conditions unsustainable. Europe's population is aging and shrinking. By 2040, the European median age will be around 50. Nearly a third of the population will be over 65. Public spending on retirees will have to grow by a third, sending Europe into a vicious spiral of higher taxes and less growth.

This is the context for the French "no" vote on the E.U. constitution. This is the psychology of stagnation that shaped voter perceptions. It wasn't mostly the constitution itself voters were rejecting. Polls reveal they were articulating a broader malaise. The highest "no" votes came from the most vulnerable, from workers and the industrial north. The "no" campaign united the fearful right, led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, with the fearful left, led by the Communists.

Influenced by anxiety about the future, every faction across the political spectrum found something to feel menaced by. For the Socialist left, it was the threat of economic liberalization. For parts of the right, it was the threat of Turkey. For populists, it was the condescension of the Brussels elite. For others, it was the prospect of a centralized European superstate. Many of these fears were mutually exclusive. The only commonality was fear itself, the desire to hang on to what they have in the face of change and tumult all around.

The core fact is that the European model is foundering under the fact that billions of people are willing to work harder than the Europeans are. Europeans clearly love their way of life, but don't know how to sustain it.

Over the last few decades, American liberals have lauded the German model or the Swedish model or the European model. But these models are not flexible enough for the modern world. They encourage people to cling fiercely to entitlements their nation cannot afford. And far from breeding a confident, progressive outlook, they breed a reactionary fear of the future that comes in left- and right-wing varieties - a defensiveness, a tendency to lash out ferociously at anybody who proposes fundamental reform or at any group, like immigrants, that alters the fabric of life.

This is the chief problem with the welfare state, which has nothing to do with the success or efficiency of any individual program. The liberal project of the postwar era has bred a stultifying conservatism, a fear of dynamic flexibility, a greater concern for guarding what exists than for creating what doesn't.

That's a truth that applies just as much on this side of the pond.

E-mail: dabrooks@nytimes.com

June 4, 2005

Feet To The Fire

Linda Foley, president of the National Writers Guild, is under fire for her inflammatory and unsubstantiated charges in a speech last month that the U.S. military had targeted journalists for attack in Iraq. Her defense has been to say she was quoted out of context. But it's right there on video, in context, and it's despicable. Rodger Morrow has the definitive post on this story, and a follow-up as well, so go read it all, but here are Foley's remarks verbatim, followed by part of Rodger's reaction...

"Journalists are not just being targeted verbally or politically. They are also being targeted for real in places like Iraq. And what outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there's not more outrage about the number and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. I think it's just a scandal."

"It's not just U.S. journalists either, by the way. They target and kill journalists from other countries, particularly Arab countries, at news services like Al Jazeera, for example. They actually target them and blow up their studios, with impunity. This is all part of the culture that it is OK to blame the individual journalists, and it just takes the heat off of these media conglomerates that are part of the problem."

Okay, let's be clear. The deliberate assassination of a journalist is a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention, so the term "atrocity" isn't hyperbole in this context. Accusing someone, whether an institution or an individual, of war crime is a "horrible allegation." Doing so without adducing any evidence is "irresponsible." So what is being "taken out of context" here? The fact that the remarks were made as "almost an aside" in no way mitigates their force—or Ms. Foley's irresponsibility in making them.

Before the blogosphere, people used to get away with this stuff. Kudos to Rodger for trying to hold Foley and the Guild accountable for this slander.

A.I. Over The Edge

For more along the lines of Amnesty International ceasing to be a serious organization, try this terrific essay by Kenneth Anderson at The Daily Standard. Noting that the outrageous "gulag of our times" rhetoric used at the press conference by General Secretary Irene Khan was nowhere to be found in the actual report presented to the press, Anderson wonders if the press even noticed. And he points out another less-reported outrage...

Then there was the remarkable call by William Schulz, Amnesty International's USA executive director, in his own press conference, for foreign governments to investigate and arrest U.S. officials, should they venture abroad, for their alleged complicity in torture. Apparently very serious stuff--the media certainly thought so. "Torture," however, in AI's expansive view includes even the mere holding of a detainee "incommunicado." Moreover, since AI apparently regards all the detainees as entitled to full POW protections under the Third Geneva Convention, any departure from mere "name, rank, and serial number" questions is, for it, grounds for foreign governments to arrest U.S. officials and military officers for war crimes. Suffice it to say that the United States does not agree that all detainees are entitled to Geneva protections, and to the extent that something as flimsy as this is the basis for Amnesty's call for foreign governments to make arrests of U.S. officials, those foreign governments might want to be very, very careful...

So. Stalin's gulag, updated for our times. "Disappearances"--a term meaning, of course, the secret murder of detainees. And calls for the arrest by foreign governments of a long, long list of senior U.S. officials as "high level architects of torture"--oh, sorry, merely "apparent" architects of torture, but worthy of arrest by foreign governments just the same. Strong words for a press conference--and yet charges nowhere appearing in the actual report. Did reporters notice? Did any of them think to ask Amnesty International why it thought charges much more serious and inflammatory than anything in the AI annual report itself should be made merely as part of a press conference? Did any of them ask where the evidence for these extraordinary allegations was in the report just handed them? Did any of them ask about the legal basis for AI's view of the reach of the Geneva Conventions? Not as far as I could tell reviewing Google and Nexis...

...But what to expect of reporters who seem to believe that they have heroically dug out vast evidence of U.S. government wrongdoing against detainees, when virtually all of it has been the government's own laborious record-keeping handed over to them on a silver platter? Never mind--score a PR hit for Amnesty International in the credulous, wanna-believe, suspension-of-disbelief world that is the mainstream media. The questions that reporters might have asked AI about its extraordinary accusations were instead directed at the Bush administration.

When I called and asked AI's press office why none of this was in the report itself, I was told that, after all, the report covered 149 countries and there simply wasn't room.

It has been hard to take Amnesty seriously for a long time, though the press, naturally, will be the last to grasp this fact. Amnesty has made serious factual mistakes--recall the scandal over the reporting of serious human rights violations in Guatemala that turned out to have been made from whole cloth by one of its researchers a few years ago. AI is a latecomer to the arcane world of the international law of war, and within the community of lawyers on these issues, its reputation is not very good--an amateur that depends largely on the ignorance of the press, its brand-name, and logo.

Much more good stuff here, including a look at how Human Rights Watch wants to have it both ways with the United States. It compares, if not equates our supposed human rights violations with those of the Sudan, while insisting that the U.S., our military included, take an important role in their action agenda. Anderson suggests what they should do if they really mean what they are saying:

HRW's latest world report, for instance, opens with an essay by its executive director, Kenneth Roth, which compares Sudan and the United States, Darfur and Abu Ghraib. Roth opens in lawyerly fashion, claiming that "no one would equate the two." He then spends the rest of the essay doing little else. Khartoum's violations are more extensive, while Washington's are actually more insidious because it is more powerful. One is entitled to believe this, I suppose. But here's the rub. If you really believe, as Amnesty does, that Guantanamo is a Stalinist gulag, then you ought really to believe that its authors are the genuine Stalinist article--criminal leaders of a world-class criminal regime. After all, it is Stalins, Berias, and their henchmen who produce Stalinist gulags. Likewise, if you are Human Rights Watch and you really believe in the moral equivalence of Sudan and the United States, then surely you ought to regard U.S. leaders as nothing more than wicked criminals, to be arrested, and their regime isolated and sanctioned, if not actually invaded. Surely you should be urging the virtuecrats of Brussels and all of Europe to break off trade relations with the United States. You should be arguing for a breakup of NATO to isolate the human rights abuser, and perhaps even urging Europe to create the military might necessary to confront the deep evil of the U.S. regime. That's what morally serious people should be doing, after all, in dealing with Sudan and its leaders. We should be contemplating all that and more against the regime in Sudan. And if you really believe in the moral equivalence you rhetorically trumpet, then that's what a principled organization would demand regarding the United States, too.

But that's not what the human rights organizations do or say in the fine print, is it? On the contrary. Human Rights Watch wants the U.S. government to do many, many things on behalf of HRW's own agenda. Not merely mend its evil ways and stop torturing as HRW defines it--no, the group has an extensive action agenda for the world's wicked superpower and for its human rights abusing military, one that it wants Washington to get moving on right away, wicked or not. To start with, HRW has said that someone--preferably the U.N. Security Council, but failing that a coalition that must necessarily involve the United States--should intervene in Darfur.

It would appear though, that these organizations really don't mean what they say, as Anderson concludes:

Can you really hold these positions simultaneously and still count yourself a human rights organization acting solely on principle? Unlikely. What it means in the real world, of course, is that these human rights organizations, whether Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, simply indulge themselves in rhetorical overkill. They do not mean what they say. Amnesty instinctively recognized this by putting its nonsensical charges in its press releases and not in its report. Human Rights Watch announces this horrific moral equivalence--then it calls merely for a special counsel to investigate further. Neither group means what it said, even though, like clockwork, letters to the editor will be received next week insisting that they really, really did. We, for our part, instinctively know better.

Places Amnesty Intl. Forgot

Mitch Townsend of Chicago Boyz has a great post on some real human rights violators that Amnesty International neglected to mention in the recent report by the Secretary General. Genocide, slavery, and public execution are yawned at by AI, in favor of comparing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Soviet gulag. This is no longer a serious organization.

Test Your Brain Quotient

Simon Baron-Cohen, who directs the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, has posited a theory about the differences between the male and female brains, including the ways those differences may help us better understand autism. That men and women are simply "wired" differently seems blindingly obvious to most of us unscientific observers. (Just don't mention it in the Social Sciences faculty lounge at your local university.)

Baron-Cohen's theory, explained in more detail here, and here, is summarized as follows:

the female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy, and that the male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems. He calls it the empathising-systemising (E-S) theory.

Empathising is the drive to identify another person's emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion. The empathiser intuitively figures out how people are feeling, and how to treat people with care and sensitivity.

Systemising is the drive to analyse and explore a system, to extract underlying rules that govern the behaviour of a system; and the drive to construct systems.

Now Baron-Cohen has devised two questionnaires to test your own "empathising-systemizing" quotient, and then to plot your "brain type" based on your scores. Take the two tests here.

Turns out I'm atypical. I scored a 49 on the empathising test, well higher than the average score for men (42), and a 29 on the systemizing test, just below the mens' average (30), neither of which surprises me in the least. My work is consultative and requires the ability to listen, empathise, filter out the B.S., and negotiate emotionally complicated job-change issues for strangers. On the other hand, my technical know-how, mechanical aptitude and math skills may yet cause me to lose my Guy Card altogether.

Check it out. It's an interesting exercise.

Here's a previous Wizblog post on Baron-Cohen.

(via aldaily.com)

June 3, 2005

Radical Changes

Marla Ruzicka was an American girl who had recently spent a lot of time working in Iraq and Afghanistan, but she was clearly not serving her country. She was working with and for people and organizations that were radically leftist, communistic, and anti-American. But something happened to change her attitude and approach before she was murdered by the insurgents whose cause she had championed at the outset. Read her intriguing story, "Who Killed Marla Ruzicka?", by David Horowitz and Ben Johnson.


The new issue of The New Criterion is online, and I must pass along these two articles...at least until I read the rest...

First, Keith Windschuttle takes on "the journalism of warfare", and compares the work of London-based leftist writers Robert Fisk and John Pilger with that of Victor Davis Hanson, characterizing it as the difference between "sophistry and scholarship". Guess which is which.

Then wordsmith Roger Kimball profiles the work of Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, including his definitive critique of Marxism. (I'm never sure if I feel smarter or dumber after reading something by Roger Kimball. I always learn something, but I'm humbled by his intellect and writing talent. C'est la vie.)

June 2, 2005

Heroes of Watergate

Lots of great takes on Watergate and Deep Throat as the MSM's self-proclaimed finest hour is revisited over the last couple of days. Felt is a hero or a bum, depending on who you're reading. Peggy Noonan isn't ready to call him a hero...

Was Mr. Felt a hero? No one wants to be hard on an ailing 91-year-old man. Mr. Felt no doubt operated in some perceived jeopardy and judged himself brave. He had every right to disapprove of and wish to stop what he saw as new moves to politicize the FBI. But a hero would have come forward, resigned his position, declared his reasons, and exposed himself to public scrutiny. He would have taken the blows and the kudos. (Knowing both Nixon and the media, there would have been plenty of both.) Heroes pay the price. Mr. Felt simply leaked information gained from his position in government to damage those who were doing what he didn't want done. Then he retired with a government pension. This does not appear to have been heroism, and he appears to have known it. Thus, perhaps, the great silence.

...she suggests another Watergate figure as perhaps more heroic...

Were there heroes of Watergate? Surely many unknown ones, those who did their best to be constructive and not destructive, those who didn't think it was all about their beautiful careers. I'll give you a candidate for great man of the era: Chuck Colson. Colson functioned in the Nixon White House as a genuinely bad man, went to prison and emerged a genuinely good man. He told the truth about himself in "Born Again," a book not fully appreciated as the great Washington classic it is, and has devoted his life to helping prisoners and their families. He paid the price, told the truth, blamed no one but himself, and turned his shame into something helpful. Children aren't dead because of him. There are children who are alive because of him.

John Kass wonders why Felt is a "hero" but Linda Tripp is not. (via RCP)

Tim Noah calls Felt an "antihero". Check out the Deep Throat article archive and lots of great links in Noah's Slate piece.

And Thomas Lifson doesn't get the double standard that is based on whose ox is being gored...

I am confused by the liberal media. Until yesterday’s revelation that Mark Felt was Deep Throat, I was pretty sure that liberals disapproved when a top official of the FBI gathered information from the Bureau’s formidable investigative apparatus, and then used that information to accomplish a personal agenda, by threatening to use it to discredit top politicians, or even, in rare cases, using it to bring down someone.

Here's Bob Woodward's story from today's Washington Post. To this day he claims he was unaware of Felt's motives for feeding him information, and as far as I know, there's no reason to doubt Woodward on this. It must be liberating for Woodward to tell this story, now that he can fill in some of the spaces that have long been blank. It's fascinating reading in any event.

The Vanity Fair piece that broke the story.

WSJ Editorial

Good stuff at Power Line, here, here, and here.

Monthly Treat

For the last couple evenings, I've been hanging out with my new June 2005 Commentary, which just went up online today. Among the articles available online are Paul McHugh's wonderfully apolitical essay on Terry Sciavo, and another fine piece by Terry Teachout called "Culture in the Age of Blogging". I do hope Paul Johnson's "The Anti-Semitic Disease" and Arthur Waldron's latest on North Korea find their way to the web soon as well. More later on both of these pieces, I hope.

Congrats Claudia

John Podhoretz in The Corner recognizes and congratulates Claudia Rosett on her receipt of the 7th Annual Eric Breindel Award for Opinion Journalism. (Previous recipients read like a Wizblog Favorites list...Michael Kelly, Victor Davis Hanson, Jay Nordlinger, Jeff Jacoby and Daniel Henninger...who did I leave out?). Rosett's groundbreaking reporting on the U.N. Oil-For-Food scandal will be read for years as an authoritative and clear examination of the corruption, as it was unfolding into the public eye. She was snubbed by the Pulitzer crowd, but with the Breindel Award she's in some better company.

UPDATE 6/2: K-Lo salutes Claudia at NRO.

UPDATE 6/2: The New York Sun editorializes...

Journalists mighty and modest gathered at the New-York Historical Society last night for the presentation of the Eric Breindel Prize to Claudia Rosett for her coverage of the oil-for-food scandal at the United Nations.We’d like to be able to say “our own” Claudia Rosett (for she filed some of her reporting on the U.N. scandal for The New York Sun). But no one owns Claudia Rosett. She is a onewoman freelance news service and an extraordinary example to aspiring reporters looking for inspiration at a time of handwringing in the journalistic world.


Read Scott Johnson, and learn something about Judge Robert K. Puglia, and a few things about Judge Janice Rogers Brown.