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September 2004 Archive
- This was more of a true debate than most Presidential "debates," which are usually just a couple of guys giving short, stock speeches while they happen to be standing on the same stage.
The Republican Convention worked well for Bush because there was nobody to point out that Iraq wasn't the War on Terror, it was the War in Error. But the first debate had some real punching going on.
BUSH: … But the enemy attacked us, Jim, and I have a solemn duty to protect the American people, to do everything I can to protect us…I was hopeful diplomacy would work in Iraq. It was falling apart. There was no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was hoping that the world would turn a blind eye...
KERRY: Jim, the president just said something extraordinarily revealing and frankly very important in this debate. In answer to your question about Iraq and sending people into Iraq, he just said, "The enemy attacked us."
Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. Al Qaida attacked us. And when we had Osama bin Laden cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, 1,000 of his cohorts with him in those mountains. With the American military forces nearby and in the field, we didn't use the best trained troops in the world to go kill the world's number one criminal and terrorist. They outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, who only a week earlier had been on the other side fighting against us, neither of whom trusted each other. That's the enemy that attacked us. That's the enemy that was allowed to walk out of those mountains. That's the enemy that is now in 60 countries, with stronger recruits...
BUSH: First of all, of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that.
Bush should have loftily changed the subject, but Kerry had gotten under his skin with that accurate accusation, causing him to snarl back in an un-Presidential snit.
Bush was exposed as having one of those grandiose but fragile egos that responds violently to perceptions of being dissed, that kind that cause so many bar fights:
GWB: "Hey you! Are you lookin' at my girlfriend?"
You: "No, not at all."
GWB: "Well, whazzamata with her that you ain't lookin' at her? Are you sayin' she's ugly? Is that what you're saying? You wanna a piece of me?"
- While it made better than average television for debate viewers, I wouldn't think the debate's feistiness works to Bush's advantage. If you are the incumbent and hold the lead in the polls, you normally don't want to get down on the floor and wrestle with your challenger. You want to maintain the Presidential aura around yourself by only occasionally deigning to notice this non-Presidential lifeform with whom you have graciously condescended to temporarily share a stage.
At a campaign dinner Monday, President Bush identified incumbency as the key issue in the upcoming presidential election. "Look at my opponent's record on incumbency," Bush said. "John Kerry is not the president at this time. That's an indisputable matter of public record." Bush added that the American public should seriously consider whether it wants to risk electing a president who has no experience heading a nation, has never resided in the White House, and does not have even one State Of The Union address under his belt.
Okay, that's from The Onion, but you get the point. There are a lot of people out there who, deep down, superstitiously regard the duties of the President as somewhat akin to those of the Aztec priests who somehow kept the sun rising every morning by ripping beating hearts out of human chests. These voters think to themselves, "Well, look at all the bad things that haven't happened during the incumbent's four years in office, like ... well, like... the Earth hasn't crashed into the Sun. He must be doing something right!" And they are uneasy about the challenger's abilities to handle the Presidency's mysterious but no doubt challenging Orbit Maintenance duties.
- Kerry looks like the President that central casting would send over if you told them you needed a minor star to play a generic President. If this President thing doesn't work out, Kerry could star in "The James Brolin Story!" Seriously, after the debate, it's certainly easy to visually imagine Kerry as President for the next four years, which has to work to his advantage.
- The Kerry people must be celebrating how peeved they made the President look. I would think that Kerry won the debate by making Bush look small and nasty. But what do I know? Karl Rove has lots of polls and focus groups to tell him about how to appeal to the swing voters in the swing states, such as, perhaps, this gentleman.
"The Motorcycle Diaries:" An excerpt from my review of the critically acclaimed movie about the young Che Guevara's roadtrip around South America in the Oct. 25th edition of The American Conservative (available in full to electronic subscribers tonight):
The subtitled "Motorcycle Diaries" goes easy on the politics (and ignores Che's obsessive anti-Americanism), barely hinting at why Dr. Guevara would soon abandon healing for killing.
At the end, Che proclaims, "We are a single mestizo race, from Mexico to the Magellan Straits." The Guevaras, however, weren't mestizo at all. They were a family of decayed aristocrats with leftist pretensions and bohemian manners.
In practice, this "mestizo myth" paradoxically serves to maintain the white ascendancy. In Mexico, the corrupt ruling party with the contradictory name, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, preached that all Mexicans belong to "La Raza," the "cosmic race" perfectly blending white and Indian. This allowed the PRI, which became more and more dominated by whites as decades passed, to divert attention away from the huge gaps in wealth between whites, mestizos, and Indians. (Mexico's myth of universal mestizaje was prudent: in neighboring Guatemala, in contrast, race war flared throughout the 1980s.)
Similarly, the ideology allowed white revolutionaries like Guevara and Abimael Guzman, founder of Peru's Shining Path guerillas, to justify their leadership of movements built on the brown masses' resentment of the privileges of the Conquistadors' heirs. Worse, while straightforward populism could have satisfied the oppressed, the disastrous prestige of Marxism provided white radical intellectuals with an abstruse body of theory with which to intimidate the less educated into being their followers.
Unfortunately, it's an iron law of history that the countries that most need a revolution are the least likely to profit from one. The Cuban revolution inspired Marxist upsurges in other Latin countries, which led to military crackdowns. When the armies went back to the barracks, free market democrats took over, but, outside of Chile, largely appear to have failed. This decade's trend is toward anti-white leftist populism, as exemplified by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.
But, at least, white Communists like Guevara are mostly dead, or moribund like Castro. By Latin America's standards, that's progress.
Did Bush get out-Big-Manned? A reader writes:
Kerry looked calmer, more presidential than Bush. Right from the when they shook hands, Kerry looked more relaxed. Bush was the one to awkwardly pulled away and seems to have laughed at something Kerry said. Kerry was being the charmer, rather than Bush.
Kerry's stature, height and voice helped him project a leader image. He might have out Big-Manned Bush. Bush in 2000 crushed Gore in this category: Gore's lisp, pudginess, weird robotic movements, gasps and near eyebrowless face were no match compared to Bush's lean looks, strong chin and choppy drawl.
You're right about Bush's expressions -- didn't he learn from his first debate with Gore when it hurt Al?
So on the presentation level, Kerry won. Kerry actually benefited from low expectations, since he's been taking a pounding in the polls and press. Also, I believe most people expected Bush to surprise again, like he did against Gore. He didn't, mainly because Kerry was better than advertised, especially compared to his amateurish, rushed performance at the DNC. Kerry should see a modest bounce in the polls, but he didn't change things drastically. What did come across is there wasn't much to latch onto when Kerry spoke -- he sounds good, but will anyone connect? I don't think many will.
I wrote in the American Enterprise Institute's magazine:
Before the 2000 Presidential election, political scientists predicted a big Gore victory because the country was enjoying peace and prosperity. The experienced, intelligent, hardworking Vice President cruised into the first Presidential debate with a nice lead over his opponent. Yet, when much of the public paid close attention to the two men for the first time that evening, Gore quickly began to sink in the polls.
Conservative commentators spun out millions of words trying to explain, with little success, why many average folks had found Gore disconcerting and phony sounding. His notorious muscular stiffness clearly contributed, but Gore also displayed a minor speech defect peculiarly unfortunate in a man running for Commander in Chief. Earlier in the campaign, my wife pointed out to me Gore’s barely noticeable tendency to hiss his “s” sounds. I ran our impressions by the brilliant liberal comedian Harry Shearer, who voices a dozen and a half characters on “The Simpsons,” including the evil billionaire Mr. Burns and his devoted gay male secretary Smithers. He replied about Gore, “It’s not a lisp, as in ‘lithp.’ Rather, it’s a sibilant problem, in which the sibilants are pronounced in a thinner, more ‘hissy’ fashion than is normal among American males.”
It’s not fashionable to notice this, but this “lissssp” makes Gore sound prim, even homosexual, especially in contrast to the folksy masculinity of Bush’s Texas accent. According to experiments conducted by J.Michael Bailey, chairman of the Northwestern University psychology department, showing that audiences can fairly accurately distinguish straights from gays by voice alone, the “lissssp” is one of the three main clues.
Although the pundits were clueless, experts on what Camille Paglia calls “sexual personae” picked up on the impression his “lissssp” made. After the first debate, comedian Billy Crystal joked that Gore sounded like a “gay waiter.” Shearer said that he sounded like a “gay robot.” Paglia herself complained about Gore’s “prissy, lisping, Little Lord Fauntleroy persona, which borders on epicene.” Of course, Gore is a happily married father of four, but his pronunciation quirk tends to confuse first-time listeners. And effeminate traits simply don’t fit many voters’ image of a President.
Debate -- First Reaction: George W. Bush as Dana Carvey's Church Lady: What struck me the most was how much anger and hostility the President radiated on the split-screen while Senator Kerry was criticizing him. Especially during the first half of the debate, Bush kept pulling his chin up to make his mouth into a thin-lipped straight line as if he was biting his lip to keep himself from interrupting his opponent. He looked remarkably like Dana Carvey's old Saturday Night Live character, The Church Lady, who would sit brimming with repressed rage while somebody rambled on, and then spit out, "Well, isn't that special." Unfortunately, despite all his grins and smirks and half-chuckles, the President almost never says anything funny.
This Church Lady expression is particularly unfortunate when debating Kerry, because by pulling up his chin, it makes Bush look less masculine, more like an old lady, in contrast to Kerry's ultra-elongated jaw.
Kerry, in contrast, looked like a conventional stuffed shirt candidate. But he certainly appeared more in control of himself than the President, who occasionally seemed like he wanted to punch somebody.
It seems pretty obvious to me that Bush is a mean little son-of-a-gun who has a big chip on his shoulder when he is criticized because he knows, deep down, that he's in over his head in a job that's just too big for him. But maybe people like that -- I suspect that the 1948 election was similar in terms of personality: angry little Truman versus stuffed-shirt Dewey.
By the way, I was frustrated that NBC cut away from the split-screen to show only Kerry while the Senator hammered Bush's decision to invade Iraq by quoting from the President's father on why he didn't occupy Iraq in 1991. I would have loved to have seen that expression on Bush's face.
A reader writes:
W is his mother's son for sure. Not sure how people think Babs Bush is nice as I never got that impression. Kerry won this by being in control, if he'd been more himself showing off his ability to talk on both side of every issue he would've imploded but his handlers and his trailing in the polls helped enforce his discipline. If he doesn't blow the next two debates I'd say he will win and because of the Iraq debacle. Maybe that's why Bush is so upset, feeling he invaded Iraq at the bequest of the powerful (i.e., the Neocons) and he is now being bleed politically. Its a little like LBJ and Vietnam except LBJ of all people took it better than Bush is taking it.
Pregnant Soldierettes: Retired Col. David Hackworth says on his www.Hackworth.com site:
Psst. Did you hear that the infamous PFC Lynndie R. England is pregnant? And so are thousands of less famous service women in all branches, especially the Army and Marines. Please tell me what’s going on in your outfit. I’ve been getting serious stonewalling from the PAO folks at the Pentagon. They treat pregnancy stats with a higher security classification then the number of nukes in their arsenals. Am told they have no stats on pregnancy and they suggest it is not a big problem. This is totally opposite of what hundreds of troops have reported to me. If you can get your hands on some hard stats for your unit, please send ‘em along. Have the stats for the 101st Airborne and 3d Mech and they’re mind boggling. Send your input to me. Thx, Hack.
The rule of thumb from when I researched this topic after Desert Storm was that 18-26 year old enlisted women have babies at the same rate as 18-26 year old civilian women, which means an enormous number of medical evacuations. Getting pregnant is one way to get the hell out of Baghdad or off some boring ship, and lots do it. Of course, the wives of male soldiers hate how often their men come home from tours of duties as the daddies of some other woman's baby. But they're just wives, not feminist role model heroines like the women soldiers their husbands are impregnating, so nobody in Congress listens to them.
Dumb ideas never die: From the new September 30, 2004 edition of Nature, Britain's premiere scientific journal (on-line only for subscribers):
Momentous sprint at the 2156 Olympics? Women sprinters are closing the gap on men and may one day overtake them.
The 2004 Olympic women’s 100-metre sprint champion, Yuliya Nesterenko, is assured of fame and fortune. But we show here that — if current trends continue — it is the winner of the event in the 2156 Olympics whose name will be etched in sporting history forever, because this may be the first occasion on which the race is won in a faster time than the men’s event.
The Athens Olympic Games could be viewed as another giant experiment in human athletic achievement. Are women narrowing the gap with men, or falling further behind? ... In a limited test,we plot the winning times of the men’s and women’s Olympic finals over the past 100 years ... against the competition date... Should these trends continue, the projections will intersect at the 2156 Olympics, when — for the first time ever — the winning women’s 100-metre sprint time of 8.079 seconds will be lower than that of the men’s winning time of 8.098 seconds.
I have been trying (and, obviously, failing) to kill this idea for 7 years, since my 1997 articles in Sports Science News and my "Track and Battlefield" in National Review. The gender gap in running is larger today than it was in 1988, a full 16 years ago. It might even be bigger than it was in 1976! Sure, the gender gap was closing rapidly up through 1988, but that was a long, long time ago. You simply can't project into the future based mostly on what happened from 1932 through 1988.
As I pointed out recently in my Olympic wrap-up in The American Conservative (not on-line):
Everyone automatically assumes that women are catching up to men in running speed, but the truth is that the "gender gap" in times between male and female medallists was actually slightly wider in 2004 (men ran 11.23% faster than women in equivalent races) than way back in 1976 (11.18%).
Why? From 1970-1988, white women from Communist countries accounted for 71 of the 84 records set at 100m-1500m. In contrast, Warsaw Pact white men set exactly zero of the 23 male records. Then the Berlin Wall fell, and we learned how East German coaches enabled white women to outsprint black women so consistently: by chemically masculinizing them. It turns out that masculinity -- in its lowest common denominator definition of muscularity and aggressiveness -- is not a social construct at all: East German biochemists simply mass-produced masculinity.
The East German bioengineers were stumped at producing male sprint champions, however, because the benefits of a given amount of steroids are much greater for women than men. Since men average 10 times more natural testosterone than women, they need dangerously large, Ben Johnson-sized doses to make huge improvements, while women can speed-up significantly on smaller, less-easily detected amounts. Thus, the reduction in steroid use due to improved drug testing has hurt women's times more.
The other major reason for the widening of the gender gap after 1998 is that the scandal of Ben Johnson, who was injecting so many steroids his eyes had turned yellow, winning the men's 100m in a subsequently disqualified world record was so great that more effective steroid tests were subsequently implemented.
Florence-Griffith Joyner, after losing the 1987 World Championship in the 200m to East German Silke Gladisch, who was caught by an improved drug test a few years later, turned to "Benoid" Johnson for advice. Flo-Jo then reappeared in 1988 with enormous superheroine muscles. She ran an unbelievable 10.49 in the 100m the Olympic Trials and then 10.54 (wind-aided) to win the 1988 Olympics. She immediately retired and was never subject to the tougher post-Ben Johnson Olympics.
In contrast, the Belarus woman who won in a surprise in 2004, with many top sprinters sidelinded by drug allegations, recorded a 10.93, almost 4% slower than in 1988.
In contrast, Justin Gatlin's men's winning time in Athens of 9.85 was faster than Carl Lewis's legal winning time in 1988 of 9.92 and just 0.5% slower than Ben Johnson's doped-to-the-gills 9.79.
What do they have at Nature? Super-rigorous standards for most contributions and super-easy ones for politically correct essays?
The importance of training Iraqi troops is overrated: We're constantly hearing about how important it is that more troops in Iraq be trained, when the real problem is how to get them to want to fight for us. What we're hearing out of Washington these days is the equivalent of Lincoln announcing that Robert E. Lee had turned down his offer of command of the Union Army in order to go fight for the other side because Lee lacked sufficient training. William S. Lind writes:
Unfortunately, the problem is not training, but loyalty. All the training in the world is worthless if the people being trained have no reason to fight for those who are training them. And a paycheck isn’t much of a reason, especially when the fellow Iraqis they are to battle are fighting for God.
Help Needed: Were you ever an officer in the U.S. Navy or Air Force (or their respective National Guards)? I need help interpreting military aptitude test scores earned by two former colleagues of yours when they joined up back in the 1960s. If you took the tests, please E-mail me.
Richard Dawkins' skin-deep courage: A reader writes:
I think you let him off too easy [in my VDARE column]. Dawkins promotes himself as someone who is compelled to speak the truth, no matter the consequences or what feelings get hurt, when the subject is religion, then goes soft when the topic is race. I would tolerate his reticence on the latter if it weren't so self congratulatory when doing the former, as unlike questioning orthodoxy on race, atheism is no longer a heresy with consequences. As a matter of fact, one of Dawkin's favorite targets, the C of E is no longer a religion with consequences, which makes his time wasting attacks on it even less impressive:
Five years ago I wrote, "Darwin seems to lose out with the public primarily when his supporters force him into a mano-a-mano Thunderdome death match against the Almighty. Most people seem willing to accept Darwinism as long as they don't have to believe in nothing but Darwinism. Thus, the strident tub-thumping for absolute atheism by evolutionary biologists like Richard Dawkins, author of the great book "The Selfish Gene," is counter-productive."
I've also noticed that many of the prominent evolutionary scientists who like to publicly sound off on the non-existence of God have thought less deeply about the subject than the typical bright college sophomore. Years of easily beating up on Creationists tend to induce a smugness in evolutionists much less often found in cosmologists, who often realize that their field deals with many issues first raised by theologians.
I recall an email discussion in 1997 that I had with a very prominent evolutionist and atheist. I asked him: "So, what caused the Big Bang?" and "How come in our universe life was able to evolve because gravity isn't so strong it crushes all life or so weak everything flies off into space? Why is gravity, and other parameters like the strong nuclear force, just right for life to evolve?" He's an extremely smart guy, but he didn't seem to have ever heard these modern chestnuts before, even though they are just scientifically updated versions of Aquinas' Prime Mover and Paley's Watchmaker arguments for the existence of God. This famous scientist and spokesman for atheism then conceded that, logically, he ought to be an agnostic!
Top Democratic pollsters endorse "Sailer Strategy:" The upcoming Oct. 25th issue of The American Conservative [subscribe here] is expected to include my cover story on voter demographics explaining why journalists write so much tripe about how professionals segment the electorate. Ever since my 2000 VDARE article "GOP Future Depends on Winning Larger Share of the White Vote," I've written how chasing minorities is secondary to chasing the majority because ... the majority is, by definition, bigger. (This ain't rocket science, folks.)
Now, a new memo by top Democrat pollster Stanley Greenberg outlines the eight demographic groups that Kerry must focus upon:
The Unrealized Change Voters"
White non-college educated women (25 percent of the electorate).
White rural voters (17 percent).
White young voters under 30 years (8 percent).
White senior women (10 percent).
White single women (14 percent).
Well-educated white women (16 percent).
White union households (17 percent).
African Americans (10 percent).
The Surprising Consequences of Culture War
White college-educated men (18 percent).
White mainline Protestants (14 percent).
Only a few boys think they can grow up to be President: When thinking about the two Presidential candidates, the plaintive question that keeps coming up is: "Out of nearly 300,000,000 people, are these two guys the best American can do?" But what jumps out is that Bush and Kerry come from a tiny class of people who found it reasonable to think about being President from an early age.
Nothing in Bush's individual career before he stopped drinking at age 40, and surprisingly little afterwards, suggested he was Presidential Timber, but his grandfather was a Senator and his father was considered P.T. for a long, long time, so it didn't seem as ludicrously implausible as it would to anybody else with Bush's talents and character. For example, I have a relative with a very similar personality, habits, and credentials as the President -- a charismatic, hard-drinking aging frat boy with an MBA from a top school-- but when he talks about going into politics, it's as a suburban city councilman or assemblyman, because that's what his dad did for awhile.
Kerry came from farther down the social-political ladder, although not that much farther down: when he was 16, he dated the First Lady's half-sister, and famously went sailing with President Kennedy. From, that point on, and especially after JFK's assassination the next year, there was this quasi-mystical aura aura this second JFK, another Massachusetts's Catholic Democrat, who very much looked like Presidential Timber. Whether Kerry has done much to vindicate over the last 30 years the infinite hopes his first 30 years elicited, however, is another question.
Important Request for Help: I've found some interesting test scores on military entrance exams. (Sorry about being coy at present.) If you have any thoughts on how I can translate two digit raw scores on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (from way back in the Sixties) or from the AFOQT into percentile terms, please Email me.
New VDARE column on Richard Dawkins on race:
To show that racial categories can be informative at the cosmetic level, he writes:
"Well, suppose we took full-face photographs of 20 randomly chosen natives of each of the following countries: Japan, Uganda, Iceland, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and Egypt. If we presented 120 people with all 120 photographs, my guess is that every single one of them would achieve 100 per cent success in sorting them into six different categories… I haven't done the experiment, but I am confident that you will agree with me on what the result would be."
Dawkins' heart is in the right place on this issue—but he should do the experiment. He would be surprised. It's quite likely that outsiders would confuse some of the Ugandans and the Papuans.
The tribes of New Guinea and the nearby Melanesian Islands come in many different looks, but some are very similar in appearance to sub-Saharan Africans. Here, for example are two Papuan boys who, to my untrained eye, look like Africans. And here are some pleasant pictures of nearby Solomon Islanders who belong to an Anglican religious order known as the Melanesian Brotherhood. They look much like these Ugandans, who live 9,000 miles to the west...
I suspect that if you visited the two regions, you would eventually learn to distinguish the two groups with fairly high accuracy. But it would take time.
So, if a Papuan and a Ugandan look similar enough to be mistaken for each other by outside observers, are they the same race?
Genealogically, they are radically different. Their lineages diverged far back in prehistory and they have had virtually no common ancestors for, perhaps, tens of thousands of years. According to L.L. Cavalli-Sforza's landmark 1994 book The History and Geography of Human Genes, the two human groups most genetically dissimilar overall to "Bantus," such as Central Africans, are "New Guineans" and "Melanesians."
Instead, African-looking Papuans are actually more racially similar to other Papuan tribes that don't look much like Africans at all.
Looks are skin deep. Race, in contrast, is who your ancestors were, and, thus, who your relatives are.
By the way, Dawkins' thought experiment is borrowed from one that Berkeley anthropologist Vince Sarich has often used:
"If I took a hundred people from sub-Saharan Africa, a hundred from Europe, and a hundred from Southeast Asia, took away their clothing and other cultural markers, and asked somebody at random to go sort them out, I don't think they'd have any trouble at all."
The difference between Sarich's version and Dawkins' inferior imitation is that Sarich actually knows what he's talking about when it comes to race, so he easily avoids the Ugandan-Papuan trap that Dawkins stumbles into.
Africans and Melanesians: I don't believe anyone knows whether the first Melanesians and New Guineans looked like modern Africans. (I'm not sure were too certain what most of the inhabitants of Africa looked like either back during the Out of Africa exodus/exoduses.) Perhaps they always looked alike, or perhaps they converged to the same look. Certainly the climate is similar, so natural selection might well induce convergent evolution. On the other hand, Amazonian Indians like this Yanamamo and the wild men of Borneo, like this Dayak, don't look much at all like Ugandans or Papuans.
There are a lot of social similarities between sub-Saharan Africa and New Guinea/Melanesia. The women do most of the agricultural work and the men tend to see themselves as fighters / lovers / artists / entertainers / politicians rather than as bring-home-the-bacon work-a-daddy family men. Perhaps that's purely a function of the societies, but, then, when a society selects one kind of man as the most desirable kind of husband, that society tends to get more of those kind of men.
Gregory Rodriguez can't stand "Pouty White People" -- LA Times pundit Rodriguez is mad at the 57% of "Anglo" Californians who say the state will be a worse place to live in two decades. Rodriguez sums up:
California's crumbling infrastructure can be rebuilt, and its broken education system can be repaired. But that's not going to happen until we re-create the social contract that built postwar California. That contract must be founded on a shared vision of the future. If Anglo California is not willing to provide one, then at the very least it should make way for those who do.
Okay, but considering that already in LA County, an amazing 53% of the adults are functional illiterates, according to Ed Rubenstein's new VDARE article, perhaps Mr. Rodriguez should ponder who, exactly, is going to be left to read his essays in the LA Times after the remaining Anglos "make way."
Ignoring the obvious again: A few months ago, Henry Louis Gates, the boss of Black Studies in America, complained about how black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean are taking about 2/3rd of the affirmative action spots at Harvard that everybody thought we're supposed to go to African-Americans as compensation for slavery and Jim Crow. Today, he writes in the NYT a column called "Getting to Average" about what could help the lower half of black America get off its back economically. He perceptively notes:
The glory days for the black working class were from 1940 to 1970, when manufacturing boomed and factory jobs were plentiful. But when the manufacturing sector became eclipsed by the service economy, black workers ended up - well, stuck in a demographic Buffalo.
Hmmhmmhh, what's happened since then to drive blacks out of blue collar jobs or undermine their pay? So, does Gates take this golden opportunity to complain about illegal immigrants economically damaging African-Americans who aren't potential Harvard students? Of course not, for the usual reasons why black leaders don't publicly attack the illegal immigration that's hurting blacks, as I explained last June in VDARE.com.
Here's a nice story: The 39-year-old college football player. Tim Frisby retired after 20 years as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne. A father of six, he has a 3.8 GPA at the University of South Carolina, and has made the varsity team as a walk-on wide receiver.
UPDATE: Did Saddam have doubles? As I mentioned below, a number of the horror stories about Saddam's regime that we all thought were true have not been confirmed even though we've had most of Saddam's regime in custody for a year, and ve haf vays of making them talk. One story I very much hope is true, being a big fan of Heinlein's novel "Double Star," is that Saddam employed a lot of body doubles to avoid assassination.
The tales seem to go back to a book entitled "I Was Saddam's Son" by Latif Yahia, who claimed he used to work as Uday Hussein's double. This summer a story in the London Sunday Times reported:
A REPORT by Saddam Hussein’s secret police has emerged to cast doubt on one of the more extraordinary stories from his pre-war regime. It suggests that claims by an Iraqi man that he was a double for the dictator’s son Uday were fabricated. Latif Yahia became internationally famous after he fled to the West and gave an account of his bizarre life as the paid lookalike of Saddam’s elder son. In his book I Was Saddam’s Son, he claimed that he was tortured and then given plastic surgery so that he would resemble Uday.
Last week Dhafir Mohammed Jabir, a former close aide of Uday who is now living in Jordan, gave The Sunday Times a copy of an Iraqi police report on Yahia. The report says Yahia, 36, who lives in Manchester, was an army deserter who took to impersonating Uday as a way of attracting girls.
Jabir claims Yahia was never employed as a decoy for Uday. In fact, he is adamant that neither Uday nor Saddam ever used doubles.
And here is a response to the article from a man claiming to be Yahia.
So, I'm going to file this under the Who Knows? category.
By the way, I'm going to try not to think about the idea that pretending to be sicko creep Uday Hussein would be a good way to attract girls.
The Norwegians come in a clear first, with 52% of their adult population doing volunteer work in a significant way. The UK and Sweden come in second and third, with 30% and 28% rates of volunteering. Uganda is next with 23% and then the United States with 22%. Of the cited countries Mexico comes in last with a volunteering rate of 0.1%.
As I wrote in VDARE.com last Spring:
Walking around downtown Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that Ben Franklin started more civic institutions than have all three million people of Mexican descent in Los Angeles County.
As Gregory Rodriguez wrote in the Feb. 29 Los Angeles Times:
"For example, in Los Angeles, home to more Mexicans than any other city in the U.S., there is not one ethnic Mexican hospital, college, cemetery or broad-based charity."
Good column by Rich Lowry in NRO: "Party Demographics: Who’s gonna vote for whom?"
The Rocky Mountain State is relatively close for the same reason — at least partly — that California has been lost to the GOP in presidential elections: ever-increasing numbers of Latino immigrants. That's why Republican stalwarts Nevada and Arizona are slowly shifting too. Outside the merits of the immigration issue — its costs, its implications for security and national cohesion — the partisan dynamic is clear: Higher levels of Latin American immigration benefit the Democrats, while digging an ever-deeper demographic hole for Republicans. Pro-immigration conservatives fool themselves into believing that being pro-immigration will make it possible for the GOP to convert large numbers of Hispanic voters to their side. This is a party strategy that could have been crafted in Oregon, since it amounts to a kind of partisan assisted suicide.
Also, here's a 1997 National Review article making the same point: "Electing a New People" by Peter Brimelow and Ed Rubenstein.
Now, to answer Steve's question ("how did they [the neocons] do it?")... No, the question is not how did we get on that bus but why we pulled out the steering and the brakes and threw away the road map. That's the mystery to me: not how the neocons got Iraq at the top of the foreign policy agenda (that's just inertia from pre 9-11 days speeded up by 9-11-induced urgency) nor why they thought toppling Saddam would be a good thing for America and its allies, most notably Israel, but why and how the decisionmaking process got so broken that contrary argument and evidence couldn't break through? *That's* what's bizarre. And *that's* what Bush hasn't done anything demonstrable to correct. And *that's* the biggest argument against his reelection. Which is why I think Kerry should be making just that argument.
War Nerd: "Beslan: The Sick Sense:"
And [the Chechen terrorists] made sure there were lots of Ingush (the Muslims next to Chechnya) fighters helping them. Those stories about Arab terrorists helping the Chechens turned out to be fake, just propaganda to get Bush on Putin's side -- and to keep the local Russian population from thinking about the reality of their war in Chechnya. But there were lots of Ingush -- and the Ossetians (the Christians of Beslan) are already talking about making the Ingush pay for what happened at Beslan. The Ossetians already fought an intra-border war with the Ingush in 1992, leaving over 600 dead before it was snuffed out. Already there are reports of Ossetians gathering for a big anti-Ingush pogrom in the Prigornii region about a fifteen minute drive from Beslan, where there are Ingush-populated villages within Ossetian territory.
I wondered about this Arab terrorist allegation. It sounded highly convenient. Has this been confirmed that there weren't any Arabs at Beslan?
Somebody ought to make up a list of all the things we've been told since 9/11 that have never been confirmed.
For example, during our 18 months in Iraq, have we ever found a single person who was employed as a double for Saddam Hussein? I definitely wanted to believe that Saddam had a host of doubles -- Robert A. Heinlein wrote the idea of politicians who employ actors as stand-ins into several of his books, most notably Double Star. But was it true?
UPDATE: The stories seem to go back to a book entitled "I Was Saddam's Son" by Latif Yahia who claimed he used to work as Uday Hussein's double. This summer a story in the London Sunday Times reported:
REPORT by Saddam Hussein’s secret police has emerged to cast doubt on one of the more extraordinary stories from his pre-war regime. It suggests that claims by an Iraqi man that he was a double for the dictator’s son Uday were fabricated. Latif Yahia became internationally famous after he fled to the West and gave an account of his bizarre life as the paid lookalike of Saddam’s elder son. In his book I Was Saddam’s Son, he claimed that he was tortured and then given plastic surgery so that he would resemble Uday.
Last week Dhafir Mohammed Jabir, a former close aide of Uday who is now living in Jordan, gave The Sunday Times a copy of an Iraqi police report on Yahia. The report says Yahia, 36, who lives in Manchester, was an army deserter who took to impersonating Uday as a way of attracting girls.
Jabir claims Yahia was never employed as a decoy for Uday. In fact, he is adamant that neither Uday nor Saddam ever used doubles.
George Will on Neocons:
"...neoconservatives alarm almost everyone who isn't one—and especially dismay real conservatives."
Will also says in this week's Newsweek:
... reasonable people can be simultaneously to the right of President Bush and to the left of John Kerry.
To the right of Bush: More forces may be needed—and more forceful employment of them. In the truncated conquest of Fallujah, U.S. commanders ignored Napoleon's axiom: "If you start to take Vienna—take Vienna." ...
To the left of Kerry: Recently he said that even if he had known then what we know now, he would have voted to authorize the war. That is, even knowing that Saddam Hussein was not yet nearly the danger that intelligence guesses said he was, and even experiencing the occupation's rapidly multiplying horrors, Kerry says: Make me president and I will more deftly implement essentially the same policy.
Who believes there are now fewer terrorists in the world than there were three years ago? The administration should be judged as it wants to be judged, by its performance regarding the issue it says should decide the election—national security. However, the opposition party is presenting an appallingly flaccid opposition. Teddy Roosevelt's description of William Howard Taft fits Kerry: "feebly well-meaning."
He needs to resuscitate his campaign by making himself an interesting alternative to Bush. However, he seems incapable of mounting what the nation needs—a root-and-branch critique of the stunningly anticonservative idea animating the administration's policy. The idea, a tenet of neoconservatism, is that all nations are more or less ready for democracy. So nation-building should be a piece of cake—never mind the winding, arduous, uphill hike the West took from Runnymede and Magna Charta in 1215 to Philadelphia in 1787.
The Big Smear: Meanwhile, the neocons are hitting back with their ultimate weapon: The Anti-Semitism Smear:
The Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com runs a particularly hate-filled essay called "Blame It on Neo: Don't call me a 'neocon' unless you are a friend" by someone named Julia Gorin, who "performs with RightStuffComedy.com."
Ms. Gorin must be trying to shatter the stereotype that Jewish comics are funny. Granted, her diatribe attempting to libel as an "anti-Semite" everyone who disagrees with her on Iraq, is hysterical, but not in the sense of being amusing:
When a member of the enlightened classes, or Pat Buchanan, makes reference to a "neocon," what he's saying is "yid." That's right, "neoconservative," particularly in its shortened form, when employed by a nonconservative (or by Buchananites) and therefore meant derogatorily, is the modern, albeit more specific, word for "kike"...
I guess that makes George Will an anti-Semite.
The problem with the anti-Semitic smear is that when any group maneuvers themselves into a position where they are above criticism, as the neocons are attempting to do, they wind up abusing their privilege.
The term "neocon" once referred to outstanding social scientists such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Nathan Glazer, James Q. Wilson, Andrew Greeley, Richard J. Herrnstein, and Charles Murray. How "neocon" came instead to mean a small coterie of bellicose agitators with strong ties to the Israeli Right (by no means all of them Jewish -- e.g., Larry Franklin) is one of the tragedies of modern American history.
NeoconGate: Reporters vs. Pundits -- One of the striking aspects of NeoconGate has been that reporters have been relatively brave in following the story, while the non-neocon opinion organs have largely been too terrified to say "Boo" about it.
Slate finally got around to talking about the FBI investigation into neocons collaborating with Israel -- but in a pooh-poohing essay by Lee Smith that blames it all on, you guessed it, anti-Semitism:
Regardless, while the research into the neocons' ideas about the region and their connections to Israel might have begun as a partisan exercise in aggressive political journalism and speculative intellectual history, it has now come to resemble an old narrative in Western culture that engenders rumors of a "cabal," a secret government within the government, run by people whose loyalty to the state that harbors them is dubious. The word "Jew" isn't used, but "Likud" is tossed around with an alarming facility.
For example, in a recent interview with a Turkish news source, former Pentagon desk officer Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski elaborated on some of the opinions she's been articulating in both her own writing and in other interviews, including one with a Lyndon LaRouche publication.
Omigod, she once gave an interview to a LaRouche publication?!? We must never ever listen to anything the Lt. Col. ever says again! (Except that Richard Perle, as previously reported in Slate, invited a high-ranking former LaRouchie to give a Powerpoint presentation to the Defense Policy Board that included the alarming bullet points: "Iraq is the tactical pivot / Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot / Egypt the prize." So, I guess we shouldn't listen to Perle ever again -- which looted Hollinger stockholders, for one, would say was a good idea.)
Smith goes on smearing critics of the neocons:
"I think for [sic] many of these guys truly believe that what is good for Likud is good for America," she said. "This is wrong factually, and wrong philosophically, and is probably very close to being treason." On his Weblog, University of Michigan professor Juan Cole wrote, "I believe that Doug Feith, for instance, has dual loyalties to the Israeli Likud Party and to the U.S. Republican Party. … And I also think that if he has to choose, he will put the interests of the Likud above the interests of the Republican Party. … I frankly don't trust him to put America first."
Do Kwiatkowski and Cole have any factual evidence to draw on besides their own convictions and prejudices? Of course not.
Of course they do. The evidence about Feith is voluminous. I'll post some of it after this item. Smith then drops this dazzling logical gem:
Their charges might not seem particularly sensationalist if they appeared exclusively on blogs, but mainstream press outfits like UPI, Knight Ridder, and Newsweek, among others, have used Kwiatkowski as a source for stories about the neocons; others, like PBS's NewsHour With Jim Lehrer, NPR, and the Washington Post have called on Cole to discuss his views on Iraq. (His opinions have also been cited in several Slate stories.) It's unclear whether these media outlets recognize what kind of larger worldview their experts' opinions issue from, but media consumers deserve to know that some of the talking heads they're hearing are advancing conspiracy theories and accusing U.S. government officials of dual loyalty verging on treason.
Yes, indeed, media consumers do deserve to know the opinion of various experts from across the political spectrum.
"There is so much about this presidency that we don’t know, and may never learn. Some of the most important questions are not even being asked. How did they do it? How did eight or nine neoconservatives who believed that a war in Iraq was the answer to international terrorism get their way? How did they redirect the government and rearrange long-standing American priorities and policies with so much ease? How did they overcome the bureaucracy, intimidate the press, mislead the Congress, and dominate the military? Is our democracy that fragile?"
As I've said before, it required a "perfect storm" of circumstances to turn the War on Terror into the War in Error:
Nonetheless, the Iraq invasion would never have happened without two other elements: Ahmed Chalabi and the small number of neocon Idea Men who relentlessly pushed Chalabi and his lies. How did they do it?
If true, Smith's claim that there is no evidence that Feith is deeply devoted to Israel would come as a shocking betrayal to the Likudist Zionist Organization of America. The announcement for the 1997 annual dinner given by the ZOA read:
This year's honorees will be Dalck Feith and Douglas J. Feith, the noted Jewish philanthropists and pro-Israel activists. [Dalck is Douglas' father.]
Dalck Feith will receive the ZOA's special Centennial Award at the dinner, for his lifetime of service to Israel and the Jewish people. His son Douglas J. Feith, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, will receive the prestigious Louis D. Brandeis Award at the dinner.
... In Poland in the 1930s, Dalck Feith was active in Betar, the Zionist youth movement founded by Ze'ev Jabotinsky [the progenitor of Likud]. He later joined the Zionist underground, fought in World War II with the U.S. Merchant Marine, and went on to become a distinguished business leader and philanthropist in Philadelphia. He has served as General Chairman of the Federation Allied Jewish Appeal of Philadelphia, and was a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He has been honored for his good works by numerous prominent institutions and organizations, including Brandeis University, Hebrew University, and Israel Bonds...
Douglas J. Feith, a graduate of Harvard College and the Georgetown University Law Center, is a founding member of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Feith & Zell... A prolific author, Mr. Feith's essays about Israel and other subjects have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New Republic, Commentary and elsewhere. A scholarly essay of his on Winston Churchill, Zionism, and Palestine (1904-1922) has just been published ... Mr. Feith is a director of the Center for Security Policy. He serves as an officer of the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, and a director of the Foundation for Jewish Studies. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Even more revealing perhaps, had the [Bush] transition team known of it, was Feith's view of "technology cooperation," as expressed in a 1992 Commentary article: "It is in the interest of U.S. and Israel to remove needless impediments to technological cooperation between them. Technologies in the hands of responsible, friendly countries facing military threats, countries like Israel, serve to deter aggression, enhance regional stability and promote peace thereby."
What Douglas Feith had neglected to say, in this last article, was that he thought that individuals could decide on their own whether the sharing of classified information was "technical cooperation," an unauthorized disclosure, or a violation of U.S. Code 794c, the "Espionage Act."
Ten years prior to writing the Commentary piece, Feith had made such a decision on his own. At the time, March of 1972, Feith was a Middle East analyst in the Near East and South Asian Affairs section of the National Security Council. Two months before, in January, Judge William Clark had replaced Richard Allen as National Security Advisor, with the intention to clean house. A total of nine NSC staff members were fired, including Feith, who'd only been with the NSC for a year. But Feith was fired because he'd been the object of an inquiry into whether he'd provided classified material to an official of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The FBI had opened the inquiry. And Clark, who had served in U.S. Army counterintelligence in the 1950's, took such matters very seriously.....more seriously, apparently, than had Richard Allen.
Feith did not remain unemployed for long, however. Richard Perle, who was in 1982 serving in the Pentagon as Assistant secretary for International Security Policy, hired him on the spot as his "Special Counsel," and then as his Deputy. Feith worked at ISP until 1986, when he left government service to form a small but influential law firm, then based in Israel.
In fact, Feith's former law partner L. Marc Zell, who still advertises his close relationship with Feith, and who set up a law office in Baghdad with Ahmed Chalabi's nephew, told Salon why the neocons had backed the notorious exile-conman:
"He said he would end Iraq's boycott of trade with Israel, and would allow Israeli companies to do business there. He said [the new Iraqi government] would agree to rebuild the pipeline from Mosul [in the northern Iraqi oil fields] to Haifa [the Israeli port, and the location of a major refinery]."
Turkey: It ain't broke, so don't fix it by putting it in the European Union. A friend writes:
Turkey is something like [Baathist] Iraq in that a powerful secular minority keeps the country secular although a majority of the population wants and Islamic revolution.
In Turkey the Army does that, and it is more or less uncorrupted: Kemal managed to convince his successors to guard the Constitution but not try to run the country. Periodically the Army comes out of barracks, hangs the government -- and goes back to barracks again while the country has more elections. This form of government was known to the ancients as timocracy, but it was a theoretical form not one observed in action. So far as I know, the timocracy in Turkey is unique in history although perhaps there were periods when the Mamelukes fit the model.
To hope for something like Turkey in Iraq is, I suppose, reasonable, but it should be seen as an improbable outcome.
10th Anniversary of The Bell Curve is coming up: The Derb aptly says:
Prompted by a friend's remark, I just got through re-reading Robert Kaplan's splendid doom'n'gloom piece from back in 1994 ["The Coming Anarchy" in The Atlantic, which is always Ground Zero of genteel forebodings.] It has held up surprisingly well after ten years, and is full of quotables, e.g.: "Whereas the distant future will probably see the emergence of a racially hybrid, globalized man, the coming decades will see us more aware of our differences than of our similarities. To the average person, political values will mean less, personal security more. The belief that we are all equal is liable to be replaced by the overriding obsession of the ancient Greek travelers: Why the differences between peoples?"
I am coming to think that in the early and mid-1990s, a veil was briefly lifted, to give us some glimpses of the truth about humanity and our collective future. When we saw what was behind the veil, though, we dropped it rather fast, and have spent the past ten years in a dream of wishful thinking.
I note in this context that next month marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of Herrnstein & Murray's book THE BELL CURVE. Looking back over these ten years, the striking thing about that book is how little practical consequence it had. There was really no follow-up in the world of real politics, any more than there was to the insights offered by Kaplan and Samuel Huntington. The No Child Left Behind Act, for instance, was written as though THE BELL CURVE had never been published; just as the Iraq war and the nation-building effort that followed took no account of Kaplan, Fukuyama, or Huntington. "Humankind cannot stand very much reality." Perhaps God in his wisdom permits us to know more than we can bear to know.
Dark thoughts; I am sorry, I shall try to find something more cheerful to post. In the meantime, if you have time (the piece is rather long), try reading or re-reading Kaplan's essay.
For almost three decades, the term "neoconservatism" stood for, more than anything else, frank quantitative analyses of ethnic and racial issues. How did it come to stand instead for anti-empirical dogmatism about the equal capabilities of all peoples for democracy, as exemplified in the President's almost Dan Rather-like speech to the UN?
The Bell Curve was, in many ways, the climax of the original school of neoconservatism: intensely quantitative, extremely brave, yet deeply moderate and judicious. Remarkably, Richard J. Herrnstein's and Charles Murray's years of research were supported by many of the same institutions, such as the American Enterprise Institute, that funded the agitation for the Iraq Attaq.
Best estimate yet of white-Hispanic IQ gap: I've been doing a lot of research on this subject lately because, frankly, it's shameful and alarming that America's elites are carrying out a vast social experiment by emasculating enforcement of the laws against illegal immigration, yet almost nobody is discussing the facts about what kind of new version of America they are creating. Everyone across the political spectrum admits that the white-black test score gap is a major social problem, but nobody is thinking about the white-Hispanic test score gap. Fortunately, the facts are available, but they take a lot of digging to uncover.
Here's the best estimate I've yet seen: A 2001 meta-analysis of 39 studies covering a total 5,696,519 individuals in America (aged 14 and above) came up with an overall difference of 0.72 standard deviations in g (the "general factor" in cognitive ability) between "Anglo" whites and Hispanics. The 95% confidence range of the studies ran from .60 to .88 standard deviations, so there's not a huge amount of disagreement among the studies.
One standard deviation equals 15 IQ points, so that's a gap of 10.8 IQ points, or an IQ of 89 on the Lynn-Vanhanen scale where white Americans equal 100. That would imply the average Hispanic would fall at the 24th percentile of the white IQ distribution. This inequality gets worse at higher IQs Assuming a normal distribution, 4.8% of whites would fall above 125 IQ versus only 0.9% of Hispanics, which explains why Hispanics are given ethnic preferences in prestige college admissions.
In contrast, 105 studies of 6,246,729 individuals found an overall white-black gap of 1.10 standard deviations. So, the white-Hispanic gap appears to be about 65% as large as the notoriously depressing white-black gap. (Warning: this 65% number does not come from a perfect apples to apples comparison because more studies are used in calculating the white-black difference than the white-Hispanic difference.)
Source: Roth, P. L., Bevier, C. A., Bobko, P., Switzer III, F. S. & Tyler, P. (2001) Ethnic group differences in cognitive ability in employment and educational settings: a meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology 54, 297–330.
Frum's "Thought Experiment" Falsified Again: Richard Perle's collaborator David Frum argued in NRO that NeoconGate was just an anti-Semitic plot because nobody would object to our Asian allies getting secret documents from unauthorized American government officials.
That argument looked pretty silly when a top State Dept. official was arrested for giving documents to our Asian ally Taiwan. The rest of Frum's argument is that Israel just wanted secrets to influence American politics. Now, comes news of a scandal involving a South Korean intelligence agent who got involved in fund-raising for the Kerry campaign. Our South Korean ally yanked him home several months ago in embarrassment because, according to AP:
The [U.S. State] department believes Chung's contacts with donors and fund-raisers, if accurately described in reports, were "inconsistent" with the 1963 Vienna Convention that prohibits visiting foreign officials from interfering in the internal politics and affairs of host countries, a spokesman for its legal affairs office said.
As Karl Popper pointed out, the great thing about experiments is they can falsify theories. Let's see if Frum admits he was wrong.
The Five Stages of Loss in Pro-War Pundits: A reader writes:
It's interesting to see how the pro-war pundits and bureaucrats are going through the famous "five stages of loss."
Most are still in denial, Jonah Goldberg is into bargaining now, and the Derb's gone over to anger. A few, like David Brooks and Andrew Sullivan, are entering despair, and if the Novak leaks are genuine, a select few, like Paul Wolfowitz, may have even moved on to acceptance.
Jonah's new column is a particularly amusing / sad example of bargaining. A reader comments:
He concedes points 1-13 that Iraq is FUBAR.
Except for JUST OUTRIGHT SKIPPING (!!!!) any rebuttals to 1) the looting, 2) the Chalabi "weirdness" (his term: funny way to phrase treason!) and 3) the shoddy pace of reconstruction spending, he basically says it would be just as bad had we not invaded, Islamicists are still morally worse than we are (which makes our actions OK, I guess), no one could have done better and anyway, no matter what we do, we're basically hosed.
But other than that, Bush is still peachy in his eyes because, well, Kerry is ewww!
Randall "Parapundit" Parker on Turkey:
Some people argue that if the EU "turns its back on Turkey" then the Turks will turn toward Islamism. Well, if the Turks are that easily offended into going down that path, the Europeans should be very reluctant to take the risk that the Turks may go down that path even as part of the EU. There is no reason that the EU's mandarins should feel rushed to decide the Turkey question. Let the Turks show that they can raise their living standards, that they are not going to join the rest of the Muslim world in the increasing trend toward embrace of fundamentalist Islam, and that they really have settled their internal problem with the Kurds.
How America can get a better punditariat: Longtime readers may have noticed that a recurring theme at iSteve.com is that if you know any extremely rich people with conventionally patriotic emotions and level-headed views about public affairs, you should explain to them how they can have a sizable impact on the climate of opinion among American policy elites for sums that would strike them as little more than pocket change. (Anybody know any Waltons?) Look how much damage organized neoconservatives have managed to do to America over the last few years largely because they are plugged into amounts of financing that would seem modest to, say, a movie producer, but which have had a huge effect on getting the country to march into a stupid war by being deployed cleverly in the threadbare intellectual world.
A friend writes:
To the best of my knowledge and despite their endless attempts, the neocons have only elected one Republican Senator, Spencer Abraham (interestingly enough, himself an Arab), who was regarded as a very weak politician once in office and was defeated for reelection in the generally Republican year of 2000 by an under-funded challenger. I don't think there's ever been a neocon Governor and perhaps no more than a handful of neocon Congressmen, usually short-termers.
Essentially, the strength of the neocons lies in their committed effectiveness as apparatchiks, media pundits, and networking appointees, not candidates or leaders. They are staff officers rather than line officers, courtiers rather than regional lords. Their characteristics tend to make them absolutely dreadful candidates.
On the other hand, their strengths frequently allow them to co-opt or influence empty-headed candidates who are lucky enough or capable enough to win elections. Unfortunately, a large fraction of candidates are empty-headed in exactly that way, very notably our current "I Support a Humble America and Oppose Nation-Building" incumbent.
Related to the core neocon strengths are their links to sizable amounts of both media and money, which are very important in today's political world and are very lacking in the world of more traditional conservatives. Neither Chronicles nor The American Conservative has a fraction of the budget of e.g. the Weekly Standard...
But money and media are hardly factors in absolutely short supply in our modern society, and the neocons don't really have a vast supply of either, at least compared with e.g. a tenth-rate cable TV sitcom or ultra-low-budget art film. Ideological money is just in such extremely short supply, that a little goes a long way.
Put another way, I suspect that one reason "mainstream" conservative journalists/pundits/thinktankers don't take paleocons seriously is that most of the mainstream "conservative" journalists/pundits/thinktankers I know are broke and consequently spend an amazingly large fraction of their time talking about money and how to get more of it, and the neocons control vastly more patronage jobs and opportunities than do their opponents, and are rather ruthless about exercising that control.
As I've said, lots of "neocons" privately tell me how crazy they think some of our current policies are, but that they daren't say a word for fear of their careers and income.
Put another way, I strongly suspect that if lots of paleocon (or Martian-con) money/jobs suddenly started dangling in DC, along with reasonably favorable media spin, a vast horde of current neo-cons would suddenly decide that all along they'd really been closet paleocons (or Martian-cons).
In the tradition of Kent Brockman, I, for one, welcome our new Martian paymasters.
Bringing more non-crazy money into the process could turn destructive writers into constructive ones: think how much good it would do America if some public-spirited zillionaire gave Victor Davis Hanson a bundle of money to write more about an issue he actually knows something firsthand about -- immigration -- rather than to continue to bloviate on endlessly, millions of words upon millions of words, about something he has definitively proven himself ignorant about: post-hoplite war.
More "Northern Fathers and Southern Mothers:" From "How the Hans became the world’s biggest tribe"
THE 1.16 billion Han Chinese, the world’s biggest ethnic group, owe their rise thanks to massive southward migration from northern China led by the men of their tribe, according to a new study.
Chinese tradition says that the Han sprung from the ancient Huaxia communities of northern China and that their influence then spread south. But the question is whether this was a migration of people or simply a cultural export – whether the Han language, beliefs and other values were adopted by static communities who then handed it on to their southerly neighbours.
Genetic sleuthing by Chinese researchers may have found the answer. Scientists led by Li Jin of Shanghai’s Fudan University took blood samples from 871 individuals living in 17 communities across China. They analysed the blood for tell-tale sequences in the Y chromosome, which only males have, and for variations of mitochondrial DNA, which is only handed down by women.
Little difference was found in the Y-chromosome fingerprint, but there were broad variations in the mitochondrial sequences. In other words, there was a clear Han lineage, determined by the males who initially came out of the north.
These men crossed the Yangtze River that until some 2,000 years ago was the country’s ethnic divide. They then fanned out, progressively heading to the south-west, the south-east and due south, eventually colonising the tropical island of Hainan.
This is part of a global pattern: in virtually all cases yet found where a population's direct male line ancestors tend to be from a different region than the direct female line ancestors, the forefathers came from farther north than the foremothers.
"Major Breakthrough in Steve Research" reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. Several years ago, while reviewing an article by Steve Olson, author of Mapping Human History, I asked, "Does anybody have a theory why practically half the guys who write about genetics are named 'Steve?'" In response, Steve Pinker sent me this cartoon.
Now, the first paper in this burgeoning field of Steve Research has been published:
More scientists named Steve live on the East and West Coasts than anywhere else in the United States, according to a groundbreaking research paper. Among the study's authors were Stephen W. Hawking, two Nobel Prize-winning physicists named Steve, and 437 other scientists named Steve, Steven, Stephen, Stephane, or Stephanie. The paper emerged from the National Center for Science Education's Project Steve, an effort to compile a list of scientists who both support the theory of evolution and happen to be named Steve. "The original idea was to mock these lists you see from creationists, of scientists doubting Darwinism," says Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the center and one of the few authors of the paper not named Steve. A footnote to the study explains that the name Steve was chosen to honor the late Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould.
When participants started ordering Project Steve T-shirts, Ms. Scott and her colleagues realized they were sitting on a mountain of data. The shirt, which was retrospectively designated the "experimental Steveometry apparatus," provided the researchers with the opportunity to collect sizes and shipping addresses for 284 scientists named Steve. They analyzed the data and wrote up the results for the July/August issue of Annals of Improbable Research, a science-humor magazine. In addition to discovering the "Mid-Continental Steve Deficit," the authors found evidence of sexual dimorphism (it turns out that Stephanies have larger body sizes on average than Steves [?]) as well as insular dwarfism (the "island Steves" of Australia and Britain tend to be smaller than their mainland counterparts).
My best guess is that "Steve" was a name popular with parents in the middle of the 20th Century, so its holders are at the peak of their influence in the sciences about now, and it was trendy among Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. It doesn't seem very common anymore, but it's a perfectly fine name, and it seems unlikely to be taken over by girls (unlike, say, "Tyler"), which is the biggest worry any prospective parent should have when considering a name for a baby boy.
Novak says Bushies to bug out of Iraq after election:
Inside the Bush administration policymaking apparatus, there is strong feeling that U.S. troops must leave Iraq next year. This determination is not predicated on success in implanting Iraqi democracy and internal stability. Rather, the officials are saying: Ready or not, here we go.
This prospective policy is based on Iraq's national elections in late January, but not predicated on ending the insurgency or reaching a national political settlement. Getting out of Iraq would end the neoconservative dream of building democracy in the Arab world. The United States would be content having saved the world from Saddam Hussein's quest for weapons of mass destruction.
Whether Bush or Kerry is elected, the president or president-elect will have to sit down immediately with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The military will tell the election winner there are insufficient U.S. forces in Iraq to wage effective war. That leaves three realistic options: Increase overall U.S. military strength to reinforce Iraq, stay with the present strength to continue the war, or get out.
Well-placed sources in the administration are confident Bush's decision will be to get out. They believe that is the recommendation of his national security team and would be the recommendation of second-term officials. An informed guess might have Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, Paul Wolfowitz as defense secretary and Stephen Hadley as national security adviser. According to my sources, all would opt for a withdrawal.
Others speculate, in contrast, that after Nov. 2, Bush will build pyramids of skulls in rebellious cities. Who knows?
Hey, here's a crazy idea: There's this thing coming up called an election. Now, I realize that the voters are traditionally supposed to choose the President based on what font their commanding officers would have used three decades ago, but wouldn't it be neat if the two candidates gave us some idea of what they planned to do in January so we, the people, could cast informed votes? ... Nah, forget I ever said that. Too nutso.
Hersh: I think these guys [the neocons] in their naiveté and single-mindedness have been so completely manipulated by -- not the Israelis -- but the Iranians. The Iranians always wanted us in. I think there's a lot of evidence that Iran had much to do with [Ahmed] Chalabi's disinformation [about nonexistent Iraqi WMD]. I think there were people in the CIA who suspected this all along, but of course they couldn't get their view in. I think the Senate Intelligence Committee's report's a joke, the idea this CIA was misleading the president. They get some analysts in and say, "Were you pressured?" And they all say, "No, excuse me?" Is that how you do an investigation? The truth of the matter is, there was tremendous pressure put on the analysts [to produce reports that bolstered the case for war]. It's not as if anybody issued a diktat. But everybody understood what to do. . . .
Wait. You're missing something now. The Iranian stuff. I think Iran probably had more to do with Chalabi's information than people know.
Jacoby: We know that Chalabi had Iranian agents on his payroll.
Hersh: Yeah, but, well, he admits to that. He had a villa in Tehran. But basically I think Iran was very interested in getting us involved. We get knocked down a peg; they become the big boys on the block. . . .
Jacoby: Was Chalabi the conduit?
Hersh: I think Chalabi thought he could handle the Iranians. They were helping him all along with disinformation and documents he could give to the White House. Don't forget, once the neocons decided to go to Iraq in the face of all evidence, they were like a super-reverse suction machine, and anything in the world that furthered the argument that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction was hot. I call it stove-piping, because it's a technical work of art. But it was much more than that. It was anything -- vavoom! -- into the president's [office]. It was so amateurish, it was comical. How hard was it to get some crapola into the White House about WMD without the CIA looking at it?
Talking Turkey -- After leaving the Defense Department, Richard Perle set up International Advisers Inc. as a lobbying firm for the Turkish government and made his little sidekick Douglas Feith the registered foreign government agent in charge. Perle took an "advisory role," for which he collected $231,000. Chump change compared to the $5 million Perle raked in helping loot Hollinger, but you know how expensive vacation homes in the South of France are, so every little bit helps.
My new VDARE.com column on European Union membership for Turkey:
For all its problems, Turkey is, by Muslim standards, a successful nation-state. And that's another argument against Turkey submerging itself in the transnationalist European Union: Turkish nationalism provides a role model that should not be extinguished.
As a political, rather than economic, unit, the EU supposedly exists to solve the problem plaguing Europe in 1914: aggressive, expansive nationalism. Ninety years later, this concern seems laughably out of date.
Yet in the Muslim world, especially among Arabs, nationalism is not the problem, it's the solution. Transnationalism may or may not be the wave of the future in the postmodern West. But much of the Islamic world has yet to fully extricate itself from the medieval dream of a universal theocracy. Its evolution to nationalism would be progress.
National borders work to quarantine chaos. The lack of borders that Muslims respect as legitimate exacerbates the region's instability.
Within the Muslim world, it has basically been the nationalists who have been forces for international stability—for example, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the secular Republic of Turkey in 1923; Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian president who made peace with Israel at Camp David in 1978.
In contrast, the men who have spread anarchy abroad—such as terrorist supremo Osama bin Laden, Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, Iraq's Saddam Hussein—have tended to believe, as ex-President Bill Clinton is reported to have said on Sept. 10, 2001, that "the world will be a better place if all borders are eliminated."
Ataturk's Turkish nationalism set the template that has kept Turkey (a Muslim but not Arabic-speaking nation) out of the international trouble that otherwise seems endemic to the Middle East.
Tilove on so-called Sailer Strategy: After interviewing me and reading many of my articles, Jonathan Tilove, Newhouse News' fine "race and immigration" reporter, produced this article: "GOP, Democrats Search for Strategic Key to All-Important White Vote:"
Every day, America becomes less white. What that means, according to the common wisdom, is that Republicans had better start doing better with black and Hispanic voters or get used to losing. But this wisdom obscures a greater truth: In 2004, and for the foreseeable future, the white vote remains the big enchilada, the focus of both parties' efforts and the key to victory.
"Whites will determine the next president," said demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution and the University of Michigan. He has calculated that while non-Hispanic whites are 69 percent of the population,they will -- because of higher rates of citizenship, registration and turnout -- make up nearly 80 percent of the electorate in November and 86 percent of voters in 17 critical battleground states.
Quick! Kill this meme before it multiplies:
"In Iraq, the one truly pleasant surprise so far is that there has been little religious and ethnic bloodshed. Many of the experts who counseled against an invasion predicted that after Saddam's fall, the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds would tear each other apart. Nothing like this has happened." -- Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, 9/11/04
"The latest CIA assessment is negative, at least according to the spin of this week's news leaks, but given the agency's track record in Iraq that estimate may or may not be accurate. One clear CIA mistake has been its predictions of communal or religious fighting; the striking thing is how little Sunni vs. Shiite, or Kurd vs. Arab, violence there has been so far." -- WSJ Editorial, 9/18/04
Look, the reason they haven't been fighting each other yet is because they have been busy fighting us. Is that concept so hard to grasp?
Personally, it would be okay with me if these foreigners killed each other rather than killed American boys, but I guess I'm funny that way. All the true red-blooded American patriots who helped get us into this war, like Zakaria, the WSJ, Sullivan, Instapundit, et al, seem to prefer it when Americans die instead of foreigners, as the history of the Flytrap delusion shows.
A Question: If Dan Rather publicizing obviously forged documents is the worst thing in the history of the world (as blogdom is monomaniacally pronouncing), then what was it when the Bush Administration foisted an unnecessary war upon America based largely on convicted embezzler and known forger Ahmed Chalabi's countless lies?
Why Old Scandals Wouldn't Hurt Bush: A reader makes some important points:
The mistake the pointy-headed Democrats don't get is that Bush was a bad boy. He 'fessed up and was redeemed, saved, born again, long before he ran for President. Hence anyone who tries to dig up dirt on Bush from the 60's or 70's or even 80's or early 90's (perhaps) will find it has limited appeal to white Southern (and many Northern) Christians. The internal response will always be, "Hell, he always said he was a bad boy and changed his ways. So why do you Democrats keep bringing it up?" There are limits, though. Tell us how Bush cheated on his wife (a la Clinton) just last week, and we will cut him down like a dog.
Compare and contrast with Kerry. As many Republicans and Democrats have pointed out, Kerry has never 'fessed up to his youthful indiscretions of slandering Viet Nam vets, even though everyone else realizes it was a moronic thing to do. He still defends his 1971 statements, which is as crazy as my defending my college womanizing and dope use to my daughter. To this day he cannot surrender his soul to Jesus and testify about what a sinner he was. He is living in sin, wallowing in sin, and has not been redeemed. Hence, anything that is thrown at him sticks fast. Kerry has never been "washed in the blood."
Finally, go read Susan Estrich. Classic case of someone who just does not get it. She attacks Bush and Cheney as the first "all-alcoholic ticket."... she is beating a dead horse. Having forgiven Bush for being a bad boy, the last thing most of us want to hear is someone else not forgiving him.
On the other hand (which seems to be my new trademark phrase), Karl Rove believes that the October Surprise revelation of Bush's drunk driving arrest cost him a 6 point victory in 2000. As I've said, though, Bush was stupid not to go on Oprah and reveal it early in the campaign. The point the punditariat repeatedly overlooks is that Christians think highly of confession and forgiveness.
A reader writes:
It is consistent with the self righteous nature of the left elites that they think anyone who "sins" is a hypocrite. Thus the leftwing establishment always claims that if a conservative Christian ever does or did something that is considered wrong from the conservative Christian viewpoint it not only completely discredits that person, but also the standard they failed to live up to.
Amazing Football Facts: Chris Harry and Charles Robinson of the Orlando Sentinel write in "Endangered Species:"
Since Craig James ran for 1,227 yards and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 1985, 95 running backs have combined for 235 1,000-yard rushing performances over those 18 years. None has been white.
While minorities make up more than 70 percent of the NFL, running back is even more exclusive. In 2003, 98 percent of the NFL's running backs were minorities. The NFL kicked off the 2004 season Thursday night, but today marks the traditional opening weekend, and none of the 32 teams has a white tailback as a first- or second-teamer...
A white running back hasn't led the NFL in rushing since Green Bay's Jim Taylor ran for 1,474 yards in 1962 or been drafted in the first round since Penn State's John Cappelletti was chosen 11th overall by the Rams in 1974.
There are 117 colleges playing Division I-A football in 2004, and none was scheduled to start a white tailback this weekend. Two schools -- Nevada, with Chance Kretschmer, and UAB, with Dan Burks -- have starting white tailbacks who are injured. Kretschmer, who rushed for 1,732 yards and 15 touchdowns as a freshman in 2001, received no scholarship offers and attended Nevada as a walk-on. Burks was a star high school player in Birmingham who was thought to be too slow to play for any "major" school...
A second article, also posted on Jon Entine's site, by this brave pair called "THE BLACK QB COMPARISON: Getting people to talk is problematic" documents that while it's hard to get the so-called experts to stop yapping about the supposed shortage of black quarterbacks, almost nobody wanted to talk on the record about why there are no whites at the glamorous tailback position in the NFL. (Tailback is the second most glamorous position after only quarterback. On the other hand, tailbacks seems to get chewed up and spit out faster, with shorter periods of brilliance than at other positions.)
Bobby Bowden of Florida State, however, is so old and successful that he spoke freely:
When Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden was asked to explain the decline of the white running back, he laughed so hard, he actually grabbed on to the reporter posing the question...
"You go with the best, and it just happens to be there are more minority tailbacks than there are non-minority," says Bowden, who has spent nearly 50 years in the college ranks. "Why? I don't know. There's just more of them. They run better, jump higher.
"God has made every man different. He's even made our races different. There are some races that are smaller than others. There are some races that are taller than others. There are some races, it seems like they have more athletic ability than others. It just seems they [minority tailbacks] have more talent as runners than my race. I think that has something to do with heredity, you know?"
Certainly, but the interesting question here is not whether blacks have more natural potential on average than whites at tailback (that's obvious), but whether genetic differences fully account for the huge gap seen in the NFL.
I think it's likely that stereotyping against white tailbacks raises the black percentage at the position from, say, 90% or 95% to 100%. It's easy to picture, say, star Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher as a tailback knocking over would-be tacklers as he powers into the end zone. But, somebody probably told him somewhere along the way that he'd have a better chance to make it to the NFL as a linebacker, and he's certainly done that. The Caste Football website makes the point that white football players at black positions like tailback and cornerback are discriminated against.
When you see a white walk-on rush for 1,732 yards as a freshman, like Kretschmer did, you've got to figure that racial prejudice played a role in his not getting any scholarship offers. (Just like it did in the case of white 400m sprinter Andrew Rock, who won a gold medal as one of the six members of the US 4x400m relay team, but ran for a Div. III college because nobody would give him a scholarship. White 400m gold medalist Jeremy Wariner did get a scholarship to Baylor -- when you are that fast, your race can't slow your career down.)
I think that the evidence for anti-white prejudice is true to a certain extent, but it can also be rational, both on the part of coaches who have seen so many whites who looked great at all-white high schools not measure up in college, and on the part of individual white athletes who choose not to lower their chances for future success by trying to prove a particular stereotype wrong, and thus decide to play safety or quarterback or tight end or another position where whites are less uncommon.
My 1996 National Review cover story "How Jackie Robinson Desegregated America" is an in-depth depiction of how the free market makes racial discrimination unprofitable. (It was praised by Nobel Laureate economist Gary Becker.) It's an article of faith among economists that racial discrimination is irrational.
Yet, I think economists should also consider the evidence that rational profit-maximizing can lead to racial discrimination in cases like this where the genetic gap between the races is very big, but not quite as huge as it winds up looking in the NFL.
Unfortunately, economists almost universally shy away from thinking about genetic differences, so they tend to be complete nonstarters on issues like this. Can anybody think of any economist who has ever contributed anything interesting on the topic of biological racial differences?
UPDATE: Economist Ed Miller of the U. of New Orleans is definitely an admirable exception that proves the rule.
Government official arrested for giving secrets to ally: Lately, we've heard a lot from people like David Frum about how, when you think about it, it's almost downright okey-dokey for U.S. government officials to give secrets to Israel. To prove the FBI investigation into Neocongate "demented," Frum dreamed up a "thought experiment" about how nobody would object if an American official shared secrets with one of our Asian allies.
Oops. Donald W. Keyser, a top State Department expert on China, has just been arrested and released on a $500,000 bond for passing secrets to agents of our Asian ally, Taiwan. Details are in the Washington Post article: "Arrest Shocks Former State Department Colleagues: Expert on China Is Accused of Passing Documents and Taking a Secret Trip to Taiwan Last Year"
Forward: "As Leaks Dry Up in FBI Investigation, Activists Still Fear Jury." Ori Nir writes:
Even as a lull in government leaks appears to be short-circuiting the media frenzy over the FBI's investigation of the pro-Israel lobby, sources with access to the Justice Department say the probe is moving forward.
Sources told the Forward that a federal grand jury is expected to begin interviewing people in connection to the investigation, which is believed to center on a Pentagon official suspected of passing on classified documents on to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Investigators reportedly suspect that Aipac officials passed on the information to Israel...
Meanwhile, in the face of a rising wave of criticism from lawmakers, Jewish organizations and neoconservative pundits, the leaks regarding the FBI probe have stopped.
The reasons for the lull are not clear, but journalists and Jewish communal officials were floating several theories this week, including the notion that the sudden silence came in response to the condemnations from Jewish organizations and Capitol Hill.
"I sure hope that this is the case and that there was a directive" issued to stop leaking, said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Last week Foxman sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller and to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking that they investigate who leaked the information and why.
With Bush six weeks away from the election, it's not hard to guess why the leaks have stopped. What's more interesting is why they ever started.
We still don't know why news of the FBI's two year long investigation into Neocongate leaked out, and why it leaked late on a Friday afternoon at the end of August. Laura Rozen suggested that it might be a "controlled burn" by the suspects or their allies in the Administration to get the news out at the deadest time of the news year, rather than have it leak out shortly before the election. Since the leak terminated Larry Franklin's usefulness to the FBI, which had flipped him a few weeks earlier and was using him to covertly gather info on who leaked secrets to Ahmed Chalabi, this makes a certain amount of sense.
Another plausible suggestion is that whoever in the Bush Administration was in charge of keeping this investigation of AIPAC covered up was on vacation, and patriotic elements in the government used their one chance to get the story out.
Anyway, as I've said before, the notion that a scandal involving the America-Israel Political Action Committee (which The Forward describes as possessing an "image of virtual omnipotence") is going to go anywhere in the short term seems unlikely. On the other hand, a second term for the Bush Administration is likely to resemble the second term of the Nixon Administration, with the scandals of the first four years finally bubbling to the surface.
Iraq Casualties Understated?
(UPI) Nearly 17,000 service members medically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan are absent from public Pentagon casualty reports commonly cited by newspapers, according to military data reviewed by United Press International.
The Pentagon has reported 1,019 dead and 7,245 wounded from Iraq. The military has [also] evacuated 16,765 individual service members from Iraq and Afghanistan for injuries and ailments not directly related to combat...
Among veterans from Iraq seeking help from the VA, 5,375 have been diagnosed with a mental problem, making it the third-leading diagnosis after bone problems and digestive problems. Among the mental problems were 800 soldiers who became psychotic.
On the other hand, some of the wounded really were "merely scratched," as Republicans like to say these days: 3,271 of the 7,245 wounded returned to duty within 72 hours. On the other other hand, medicine has progressed so much that we are saving the lives of severely mangled soldiers who would have ended up in the Killed In Action column in previous wars, but now are merely maimed for life.
Your Tax Dollars at Work: Joel Achenbach pens an often hilarious article in the Washington Post entitled: "Taking Off the Color Blinders: Geneticists and Historians Grapple With the Gray Areas of Race"
"[Race] doesn't exist biologically, but it does exist socially," said Alan Goodman, incoming president of the American Anthropological Association, which sponsored the meeting at the Holiday Inn in Old Town.
The event served as a brainstorming session for a $4 million project, funded by the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation, to create a traveling museum exhibit on race. If all goes well, the exhibit will debut in two years at the Science Museum of Minnesota, in St. Paul. The working title is "Understanding Race and Human Variation."
Beyond that, things get fuzzy.
It will take a long time for people to grasp the illusory nature of race at the biological level, Goodman said. ...
He identifies himself, incidentally, as a white person.
"Culturally I'm white-ified," he said. "People see me as white. That has something to do with how I look, but it has nothing to do with biological variation."
In terms of biological variation, Dr. Goodman is actually chartreuse, but he periodically dips himself in a vat of Sherwin-Williams Antique White latex paint, which is why people see him as white-ified, culturally speaking.
But seriously, folks, allow me to de-fuzz the meaning of race and ethnicity:
A racial group is a partly-inbred extended family. (See my essay, "It's All Relative: Putting Race in Its Proper Perspective" for a full explanation of this sentence.)
An ethnic group is a group of people who share cultural traits that are often, but not exclusively, passed down within biological families such as language, religion, surnames, fraternal feelings, and cuisine.
UPDATE: John Derbyshire responds:
It seems to me that the official dogma on race -- promulgated by all media outlets, academia, schools, etc -- is as follows.
"Race does not exist. DOESN'T EXIST! Well, it kind of exists, but you shouldn't notice it. DON'T NOTICE IT! OK, you can't help noticing it once in a while; but you mustn't find it interesting. IT'S NOT INTERESTING!"
The liberal-dominated movie industry has mobilized to defeat George W. Bush, but films, even low-budget quickies, are slow, unwieldy dreadnoughts compared to the swift boats of cable news and talk radio.
Fact and fiction don't so much collide as exchange glancing blows in two new anti-Bush movies. The documentary "Bush's Brain" presents talking heads complaining about the symbiotic relationship between the President and his campaign consigliere Karl Rove. The roman à clef detective film "Silver City," an ensemble effort helmed by veteran lefty auteur John Sayles, features Chris Cooper as a grammar-challenged conservative candidate based on Bush, Richard Dreyfuss as his Machiavellian manager Charles Raven (i.e., Karl Rove), and Danny Huston as the private eye investigating Republican corruption...
That Cooper, a late-blooming but brilliant character actor who won an Oscar as the motormouth orchid poacher in 2002's "Adaptation," portrays the President sounded promising. I'd hoped that Cooper could make sense of Bush's complex personality, which long ago dazzled Rove with its political potential: gauche in public but commanding in private; cocky with peers but intimidated by his father; cunning at politics but bored by policy.
Sadly, Sayles' script simply renders Cooper's candidate as inarticulate to the point of brain damage. You wind up feeling sorry for this harmless halfwit … and for the misguided liberals like Sayles who think they can beat Bush by claiming to have higher IQs.
By the way, Charles Murray and I calculated from Bush's 1206 SAT score that his IQ falls around the 95th percentile, which the late leftist historian Jim Chapin estimated would put Bush only a little below average for a President. Senator John Kerry's test scores and grades are kept under tighter security than the Pentagon's Iran secrets, so there's little reason to assume Kerry is any brighter than Bush, although he does seem more interested in current events.
In the President's lone losing race, his 1978 run for Congress from West Texas, the victor stressed Bush's two Ivy League degrees. Bush resolved never to allow himself to be outdumbed again. And the Democrats haven't outsmarted him since.
I reviewed the book that the documentary "Bush's Brain" is based on for VDARE back in May of 2002.
Bush as the Prodigal Son: I've long had a hard time figuring out why so many people really like President Bush as a person. By all accounts, he's a bit of a mean, nasty little son-of-a-gun -- not a bad person, but a small man for his big job -- but then it dawned on me that I never truly understood the appeal of the parable of the Prodigal Son either. I always identified with the Non-prodigal Son, the other brother who is peeved when his father kills the fatted calf upon the prodigal's return:
"And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf."
"Good point," I always thought. (I wonder if Jeb Bush feels the same way.)
But, obviously, I was missing the point of the parable and I think I was missing the point of the George W. Bush story, which is that most people like the Bad Boy who Repents more than the Goody Two Shoes who just does what he's supposed to his whole life. That was a big image problem Al Gore had in 2000. I suppose he could have gone around saying things like, "Man, I used to be so stoned that I flunked out of Divinity School!" But Gore still would have sounded lame.
In contrast, George W. Bush is living the American Dream: party hearty until your 40th birthday, then find Jesus, straighten out, and get elected President. You gotta love that ... or at least a lot of people do.
Seriously, I think the Oprah aspect of the Bush story is greatly underestimated. What percentage of the population is struggling, or has a loved one who is struggling, with the substance abuse problems that Bush overcame on his way to the Presidency? 50%? The George W. Bush story gives a lot of Americans hope.
Question: Whose website is this really? A reader writes:
The best thing I ever read about Turkey & the EU was an article by none other than..... Mumar Qaddafi. Check his website out:
It's statesmen-like in its forbearance. It almost makes me forget he's a crazy dictator. The multiple self-ingratiating posed photos on his website homepage keep me grounded, though.
This is very strange. Here's another not unreasonable op-ed by the old mad bomber on how to solve the Korean problem. Has Khaddafi actually taken up punditry in his old age? (He seems to be about as good at it as, say, Thomas Friedman or Jim Hoagland and better than William Safire or Frank Rich.) Is this some kind of PR offensive by Gadaffi's minions? Or is this a hoax?
Update: My reader writes:
Another thing that points to it being my main man Muammar is that the Africa thing is front and center. He has this obsession with uniting Africa politically (under guess who's rule?) He seems to have swapped pan-Arabism for pan-Africanism. It's been really pissing off his subjects. He's opened up immigration and his principal cities are being more and more subjected to black immigration. They aren't happy about it.
If you read his silly essay on Africa it goes in for some anti-colonialism red meat and then presents the problem that elections have led to the problem of "power rotation" where perpetual changes in leadership bring "instability" and so no dynamic progress can be made. I see where he's going with this.
Oh dear, with all the power rotation leading to instability who can save us Africans? If only there was a man who could unite us and provide us with stability WITHOUT pesky "power rotations". But WHO?
Why Presidential Press Secretary Scott McClellan Earns the Big Bucks: It's not every man who can get up day after day and know he's going to have to say, stone sober, stuff like McClellan's response to the revelation that the latest CIA National Intelligence Estimate on the future of Iraq is pessimistic:
"You know, every step of the way in Iraq there have been pessimists and hand-wringers who said it can't be done," Mr. McClellan said at a news briefing. "And every step of the way, the Iraqi leadership and the Iraqi people have proven them wrong because they are determined to have a free and peaceful future."
Time Magazine's Cover Story on Illegal Immigration is surprisingly good. (Here's the full text.) Very VDAREy. I've been saying for a long time that somebody could sell a lot of magazines with honest reporting on this huge scandal, but, no, that would be divisive. Finally, Time has broken the taboo, and in a big, big way.
UPDATE: Don't forget to send a Letter to the Editor to Time magazine complimenting them on running "Who Left the Door Open?"
The Funniest Reader Comments in Amazon's History have been elicited by Adam Quan's self-help book How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men. Check out the volunteer reviews.
Marijuana decriminalization: I seldom have anything to say about the more hackneyed topics such as drugs or abortion, not because they aren't important, but because just about everything that is possible to have been said on the topic has already been said over the decades. My personal vice is the urge to say new things. I don't always succeed, and when I do, it's usually not good for my career because new ideas are hard to digest and they distract from building a brand name.
I accepted an invitation from The American Spectator a few weeks ago to write a short essay against drug decriminalization, however, because I had something to say that has been rarely said before. I have to say, though, judging from much of the response I've gotten, that my prior prejudice against writing on the topic seems validated. A lot of people got angry and sputteringly abusive because I'm Not Playing By The Rules of the drug debate: I introduced a new argument. This debate has been going on and on and on for decades with the exact same half-dozen arguments, and the participants are not in the mood for having to think about anything novel.
Kerry leads Bush 43-36 among Asian-Americans: The GOP used to win this demographic, but the Democrats won easily in 2000 and 2002, so this poll from August is a little narrower of a Democratic margin.
Out of a total of 1004 respondents, Kerry has a 50 point lead among Hmongs, a 39 point lead among Asian Indians (who will no doubt be the most politically influential of the Asian immigrants groups), 35 points among Chinese, and 4 among Japanese (usually, a consistently Democratic group).
In contrast, Bush is up 60 points among Vietnamese, 26 among Filipinos, and 3 among Koreans and Pacific Islanders. (Warning - very small sample sizes and difficult polling conditions -- 59% of interviews conducted in a foreign language.)
He's Baaaaaaack! Ex-mayor Marion Barry, age 68, is re-elected to the city council in Washington D.C.. Crack whores rejoice that business should be lookin' up.
Original Intent of the Second Amendment: I haven't really been into guns since I desperately wanted a BB gun for my 9th birthday (see "Christmas Story" for details), but my son and I did some research recently into what the authors and ratifiers of the Bill of Rights intended to do by passing the Second Amendment: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
This wording is rather unusual -- besides the superfluity of commas -- in the context of the Bill of Rights in that it contains what appears to be a "whereas" clause, which most of the other first 10 amendments don't. The First for example, doesn't say, "A war of religion, being a bad thing, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
This anomaly has led many contemporary commentators to assume that the 2nd Amendment was meant only to apply to state militias and not to individual gun ownership. Here, for example, is Dahlia Lithwick in Slate confidently explaining that "Eminent legal scholars, including Sanford Levinson and historians such as Emory's Michael Bellesiles, have done some staggering scholarly work on the subject of the original intent of the Framers and the prevalence of guns at the time of the founding of the country."
Staggering, indeed. As the eminent Professor Bellesiles showed in his prizewinning book Arming America: My Fantasy of How Frontier Life Should Have Been, when an American in 1789 felt a hankering for deer meat, rather than resort to using a gun, he normally ran a deer down on foot and gnawed the beast to death with his teeth.
What my son and I found out about the original intent was the exact opposite. The research was a little frustrating to do because there was almost no debate among state legislators at the time about an individual right to gun ownership -- because that simply wasn't controversial. Of course Americans had the right to own guns: the woods were full of bars, Injuns, and bad 'uns. Nobody argued about it then because there was nobody at the time to argue with.
What was controversial back then were state militias -- trained bodies of fighters who could potentially resist the federal government. Legalizing militias -- i.e., alternative armies to the U.S. Army -- was obviously a much more radical step than legalizing individual ownership of firearms. That was a concession that Federalists like Madison made to win the approval of those skeptical of the centralizing force of the Constitution.
When the Union Army won the Civil War, the idea of alternative armies started to look outdated, thus leading to the current misinterpretations of what the authors and ratifiers of the Second Amendment meant. Gun control advocates should feel free to argue than in an era of rocket-propelled-grenades and radio-dispatched police cars, the whole Second Amendment is obsolete and dangerous, but please don't make up stories about what it was supposed to mean.
UPDATE: The other big change is that the Bill of Rights didn't apply to the states until the 14th Amendment of 1868. For example, Connecticut had an establishment of religion until 1818. So, the ratifiers weren't establishing an absolute right of gun ownership, they were just preventing the federal government from infringing it.
The Derb pens Bush's 11/8/04 Iraq Withdrawal speech:
People of Iraq! I am George W. Bush, president and president elect of the United States of America. In last week's elections, the citizens of my country asked me to continue as chief executive of our federal government...
I am appearing before you tonight to tell you that the U.S. component of that expeditionary force will soon be withdrawn from your country...
No nation is happy to have its territory occupied by foreign armies. Certainly the U.S. never intended the current occupation to be of long duration. We are not an imperialist nation. Our own nation's origins were in a revolt against imperialism. Our entire history testifies to our deep belief in national independence and self-determination for all peoples. We occupied Iraq in our own interests, because we believed that the Saddam dictatorship was a threat to us, and to the international order. Many other nations agreed with us. We shall now prepare to leave, as we always intended to, because those threats no longer exist...
There is, however, a limit to what we can do, and a limit to the patience of our own people. If Iraqis cherish their nation, they must themselves be willing to sacrifice for it. If Iraqis wish to be citizens of a peaceful and prosperous country, they must themselves work hard to those ends. Many Iraqis, of course, are so willing, and indeed many have sacrificed their lives to those ends in this past year and a half. However, Iraq will only be a single nation, and at peace, if the overwhelming majority of Iraqis sink their differences and join together in a spirit of patriotic solidarity to preserve this nation. If Iraqis are not willing to do that, then there is no hope for Iraq, either under occupation or free from it. [More]
Apollo -- This 1989 book about the engineers who made the moon landing possible is back in print. It was written by Charles Murray and his wife Catherine Bly Cox and they've got a new website with lots of interesting material.
The accomplishments of the American engineers of the Cold War are a tremendous subject that's been barely tapped yet. Another excellent book is Skunk Works by the second head of Lockheed's secret design shop Ben R. Rich.
A new number #1 player in tennis -- If you're not a tennis fan, check out this picture of the handsome fellow who just moved up to #1. Then, read the caption below it.
And people give Anna Kournikova a hard time for not winning...
Another Neocon and Beslan: William Kristol writes in his Weekly Standard:
Now we face a new challenge: jihadist terror. Leaders around the world claim to be united in vowing to deny the terrorists victories. And yet. In the immediate wake of the Beslan slaughter, one might have expected editorials in top U.S. papers simply to express grief, anger, and solidarity, and a commitment to winning the war on terror. Instead, they tended briefly to denounce the terrorists and then focus on the incompetence of the Russian security forces, and on rehashing the dismal history of Russian-Chechen relations.
The New York Times, for example, concluded its editorial by urging a "bold Russian reach for compromise" with, needless to say, "diplomatic nuance." It took Ralph Peters, a military analyst writing in the New York Post, to state the simple and unfashionable truth: "The attack in Beslan wasn't about Russia's brutal incompetence in Chechnya--as counter-productive as Moscow's heavy-handedness may have been. It was about religious bigotry so profound that the believer can hold a gun to a child's head, pull the trigger and term the act 'divine justice'."
But this is too simple for American liberals, or for the government of France.
Okay, Bill, but that's also too simple for the pro-independence American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, which officially denies that Muslim extremism is an important element in the Chechen revolt, which it sees as a justifiable nationalist insurgency. And you, Bill Kristol, are one of ACPC's 96 members. So, do you want to think things over and try to get your story straight? Or, will you just continue to bluster whatever suits your convenience?
UPDATE: Here's the Russian Dilettante's comment.
Andrew Sullivan stops drinking Bush's Kool-Aid -- Lately, Sullivan, long one of the most febrile of the war fever bloggers, has started to sound progressively more sane about Iraq. He's almost beginning to say what I was saying in 2002 and 2003. (Of course, I fear the only reason Andrew stopped drinking Bush's Kool-Aid is because Bush came out against the one thing Andrew really cares about: gay marriage.) For example, when Gregg Easterbrook revived Sullivan's notorious Flypaper Strategy in TNR, Sullivan responded:
Gregg thinks we're killing hundreds of mujahideen on Iraq, which can only be a good thing. Yes it is - as long as the conflict doesn't create many replacements. And the poor people of Iraq surely deserve more than being in the middle of an open-ended exercise in urban warfare in which their country is slowly destroyed. My early hope was that, having stabilized the country, U.S. forces could indeed have attracted professional terrorists to Iraq and killed them. But the Bush administration never sent enough troops to pacify the country, and so provoked the terrorism without being able to suppress it effectively. That's the worst of all possible worlds. Look, we have to tough it out. But how much confidence can anyone still have in the president who engineered this in the first place, and who still refuses to recognize that anything is fundamentally awry?
Over a year ago, I wrote:
"Jumbo shrimp," "military intelligence," and now ... "blog wisdom!" -- Since midsummer, the big blog boys, including Tin Pencil-Sharpener nominees Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan, and James Taranto of the WSJ, have been promoting the "flypaper" or "draining the swamp" theory to explain why our getting into a guerilla war in Iraq is really a good thing. See, now we've got all the bad guys right where we want them -- all the anti-American Muslims in the world are flocking to Iraq where we will kill them all and then there will be no more of them anywhere ever again. As Greg Cochran points out, the Soviets tried out the flypaper theory in Afghanistan from 1979-1988, killing a million or more Muslims, which is why there hasn't been a single Islamist extremist in Afghanistan ever since.
With an article crowing over the President's endorsement of his Flypaper strategy / desperate rationalization, Andrew Sullivan puts in his bid in the Tin Pencil Sharpener's uncoveted Hormone Derange category. (In Jay McInerney's Ransom, "Home on the Range" was the name of an American-owned shop in Kyoto that sold cowboy hats to Japanese young men. The owner changed the name to "Hormone Derange" because that's how his customers pronounced it, and, well, it just seemed more fitting.) The idea is that getting into a guerilla war in Iraq is a good thing because it lets us kill more people who need killing.
One obvious problem with the Flypaper theory is that there's no glue on the flypaper. President Bush has been inviting guerillas into Iraq with his "Bring 'em on" bluster. If these foreign anti-Americans fighters in Iraq start losing, they'll come to realize that Andrew Sullivan is a more masterful asymetrical war strategist than they are, and they'll just leave Iraq. So, the upside is small.
The downsides are numerous. How exactly are we going to turn Iraq into a shining city on a hill of prosperity and democracy while also using it as our designated killing floor? How are we going to keep the oil and water pipelines running if we keep inviting in more trained terrorists? How can we win the hearts and minds of civilian Iraqis who might not appreciate the President deciding to treat their neighborhoods as a global battle zone? How can we get more cooperation from Iraqi civilians if they are in danger of being murdered for cooperating by all the guerillas we've attracted?
In reality, it turned out that foreign terrorists, while probably significant due to suicide bombings, were vastly outnumbered in the insurgency by local Iraqis who just didn't like foreigners occupying their country.
(By the way, you always hear from the war-fever-crowd-with-second-thoughts about how their invasion would have worked out fine if Bush had only sent more troops. Where exactly are these additional troops?)
UPDATE: I'd known that Sullivan et al got the "flypaper" idea from some Canadian named David Warren, but I had never read Warren's original Flypaper essay (July 5, 2003) until just now. Not surprisingly, Warren's prose style is gratingly smug and pompous, but what I hadn't expected was the emphasis he put in his influential little theory on how much he approved of Americans dying in place of Israelis (I added the bolding below):
The U.S. occupation of Iraq has done more to destabilize Iran than the ayatollahs could hope to do in Iraq; and then something. This "something" has befuddled the various "experts" on regional security, trapped within their Pavlovian assumptions. They notice that the U.S. forces in Iraq have become a new magnet for regional terrorist activity. They assume this demonstrates the foolishness of President Bush's decision to invade.
It more likely demonstrates the opposite. While engaged in the very difficult business of building a democracy in Iraq -- the first democracy, should it succeed, in the entire history of the Arabs -- President Bush has also, quite consciously to my information, created a new playground for the enemy, away from Israel, and even farther away from the United States itself. By the very act of proving this lower ground, he drains terrorist resources from other swamps.
This is the meaning of Mr. Bush's "bring 'em on" taunt from the Roosevelt Room on Wednesday, when he was quizzed about the "growing threat to U.S. forces" on the ground in Iraq. It should have been obvious that no U.S. President actually relishes having his soldiers take casualties. What the media, and U.S. Democrats affect not to grasp, is that the soldiers are now replacing targets that otherwise would be provided by defenceless civilians, both in Iraq and at large. The sore thumb of the U.S. occupation -- and it is a sore thumb equally to Baathists and Islamists, compelling their response -- is not a mistake. It is carefully hung flypaper.
And I think the naïve "roadmap" exercise in diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinian Authority may make some sense in this context. I.e., Israel takes down its flypaper, while the U.S. puts up its own in Iraq.
At the moment it appears that most of the infiltration of Iraq is coming from the west, through Syria, and consists of Lebanese-based Hizbullah elbowing their way into Saddam's old territory. Their intention is to do to the U.S. Army in Iraq what they did to the Marines in Beirut in 1983. The chief source of both men and materiel is what Gal Luft has called "Hizbullahland" -- the 1,000 square kilometre patch, that Hizbullah now rules under Syrian protection, which was formerly Israel's security enclave in southern Lebanon (until they withdrew in a peace initiative in the year 2000).
Hizbullah itself (the "Army of Allah" -- Shia, and ultimately financed and armed by Iran's ayatollahs) are directing their attention less and less towards the "Little Satan" of Israel, and more and more towards the "Great Satan" of the U.S., as events unfold.
This is exactly what President Bush wants. To engage them, away from Israel, in mortal combat. To have an excuse for wiping them out -- a good, solid, American excuse, from which Israel has been extracted. The good news is, Hizbullah's taking the bait.
Now, Warren is a Canadian, so his preference for Americans dying in place of Israelis does not reflect on his patriotism. But it sure as hell does reflect badly on all those American bloggers who read Warren's concoction and found it wonderful.
UPDATE: Sullivan wrote in "Flypaper: A Strategy Unfolds" in the Sunday Times of London, 9/6/03: "The extra beauty of this strategy is that it creates a target for Islamist terrorists that is not Israel."
Beauty, it appears, is in the eye of the beholder. Is Sullivan an American citizen?
The Emerging (or Submerging) Muslim Superpower: Juan Cole writes in an essay on Osama bin Laden's strategy of destroying national boundaries within in the Arab Muslim world:
If the Muslim world can find a way to combine the sophisticated intellectuals and engineers of Damascus and Cairo with the oil wealth of the Persian Gulf, it could well emerge as a 21st century superpower.
Well ... maybe. Here are all the national average IQ studies for Arab countries found in Lynn and Vanhanen's database:
Iraq: 87, 87
Morocco: 84, 85
Sudan (marginally Arab): 72
Not a lot there to work with, Juan.
The Ottoman Empire, the closest historical analogy, wasn't exactly 5th Century BC Athens for the last few centuries of its existence.
This could explain a lot ... The Washington Post reports: "Many people with advanced dementia appear to be voting in elections -- including through absentee ballot. Although there are no national statistics, two studies in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island found that patients at dementia clinics turned out in higher numbers than the general population. About 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia. Florida alone has 455,000 patients, advocates estimate."
Republicans Who Know What They're Talking About -- It would be fascinating to do an opinion poll on the Iraq War just among people who voted for Bush in 2000 and who have jobs that require them to actually know what they are talking about. I exclude myself from that category. (I like to think I'm well informed, but, obviously, the job of pundit doesn't require any such thing.) Instead, I'd include:
Generals in the U.S. Armed Services
- Weapons scientists at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore
- Spies and intelligence analysts
Any bets on what they'd say?
UPDATE: Thrasymachus places his bets here.
Ethnic preferences for Latinos: Here are some readers' additions to the list in my new VDARE column of curious categories potentially eligible for affirmative action as Hispanics:
- The non-Hispanic wives of Latinos who take their husbands' Spanish surnames.
- The non-Hispanic ex-wives who keep their ex-husbands Spanish surnames.
- Blondes from Paraguay with the first name Dieter or Klaus who are vague about what their grandfathers did from 1933-45.
- Teresa Heinz Kerry -- a twofer: not only Portuguese and thus sort of Hispanic, but African-American!
- Exiled Filipina co-dictatress Imelda Marcos and her crooked, but Spanish-surnamed, son Bong-Bong Marcos
- Madonna: she played Argentinean co-dictatress Evita Peron; and she's often been said on various occasions to have had a little Latino in her (and have had a lot of big Latinos in her, too, for that matter).
The Heroic Age of Epistemology -- Between CBS's dogged defense of their apparently forged documents and the Republican Convention's repeated conflation of the War on Terror with the actual War in Error in Iraq, American elites appear to have entered into a collaboration to prove Foucault right: that power and the will to impose one's interpretation are all-important and that "truth" is obsolete in our post-modern era.
I suspect, however, that reality gets the last laugh.
A new VDARE.com column is out recounting one of the classic affirmative action head-scratchers.
Another day of chaos, madness, and horror in Iraq: For some reason, nobody over there seems to care about 1972 IBM Selectric typefaces. The Washington Post reports we whacked an Arab cable network TV correspondent as he was reporting live (or, depending upon upon when you tuned in, dead), insuring hours of viewing excitement for hotheads from Rabat to Brunei:
Car bombings, mortar attacks and clashes between insurgents and U.S. and Iraqi security forces killed at least 80 civilians across the country Sunday, Iraqi officials said...
A U.S. military helicopter fired into a crowd of civilians in the capital who had surrounded a burning Army armored vehicle, killing 13 people, said Saad Amili, spokesman for the Health Ministry. Among those killed was a Palestinian journalist reporting from the scene for the Arab satellite network al-Arabiya.
The U.S. military said it was trying to scatter looters who were attempting to make off with ammunition and pieces of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, which had been hit by a car bomb early in the morning on Haifa Street, a troublesome north-south artery west of the Tigris River.
But witnesses, including a Reuters cameraman who was filming the al-Arabiya journalist when he was shot, disputed that account and said the crowd was peaceful, Reuters reported.
In the video, which was shown on al-Arabiya throughout the day, the journalist, Mazin Tumaisi, 26, can be seen reporting near the burning armored vehicle. It is not clear what the people around it were doing. As the camera moved to the sky to capture the image of two low-flying military helicopters swooping onto the scene, bullets rained down, hitting Tumaisi and the cameraman, Seif Fouad, who was seriously wounded. The camera lens was sprayed with blood, and Tumaisi could be heard saying, "Please help me. I am dying."
In Ramadi, a city west of Baghdad, 10 people were killed and 40 were wounded, including women and children, when U.S. tanks and helicopters opened fire in a residential district, Abdel Salam Mohamed, a doctor at Ramadi Hospital, told Reuters. The U.S. military had no immediate comment.
Ten people were also killed in Babil and two in Basra, the Health Ministry said, without specifying the circumstances. Independent confirmation could not be made.
Near Hilla, 60 miles south of Baghdad, three Polish soldiers were killed in an ambush and three Iraqi National Guardsmen died in a bombing, according to the Associated Press.
In other news, Reuters reports we killed 51 in Tal Afar, which won't make our Turkish allies happy because that city is largely populated by Turkmen. Turkmens? Turkpersons? Whatever, their co-ethnics, whom they look protectively upon, especially when U.S. forces seem to be working with the Turkmen's hated rivals, the Kurds.
Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will [America's] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force....She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit....
[America’s] glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of the mind. She has a spear and a shield: but the motto upon her shield is, Freedom, Independence, Peace. This has been her Declaration: this has been, as far as her necessary intercourse with the rest of mankind would permit, her practice.
John Kerry Says GOP Out to Suppress Black Votes:
John Kerry suggested Saturday night that Republicans may try to keep black voters from casting their ballots to help President Bush win in November. "We are not going to stand by and allow another million African American votes to go uncounted in this election," the Democratic presidential nominee told the Congressional Black Caucus -- AP
Now, it is definitely true that if every registered voter who showed up at the polls in Florida in 2000 had had their intention accurately recorded, then Al Gore would be President. But, it is not true that this was the result of a nefarious GOP conspiracy. Instead, the various voting machines employed by different counties required different levels of competence to successfully operate.
Of course, under our laws, it's not enough to to just want to vote for Al Gore -- you have to actually unambiguously mark your ballot for Gore, something that Gore supporters had a harder time doing than Bush backers.
Was this caused by differences in voting machines or differences in the competence between Gore and Bush supporters?
There was little evidence that between-county differences in voting machines benefited the Republicans in Florida. But within each county (and thus using the exact same machines), voters in Democratic-leaning precincts were more likely on average to screw up their ballots than voters in Republican-leaning precincts, according to a study by the Miami Herald, which estimated Gore would have won by 23,000 votes if the messed up ballots in each precinct had followed the breakdowns of the rest of precinct.
Why? Because more really dumb people wanted to vote for Al Gore than for George W. Bush. (For example, nationally, Gore won the high school dropout vote by a commanding 59-39 average, according to the VNS exit poll.) So, the Miami Herald's estimate of a 23,000 vote margin for Gore is probably underestimated, because within each precinct, Gore supporters were more likely to get confuse and botch their ballots.
However, you'll never hear this simple explanation of what happened in Florida because the group that screwed up their ballots the most was of course the 90+% Democratic voting group that also averages a standard deviation lower on IQ tests. ("Life is like a long mental-battery test," a wise woman has said.) And you can't mention that fact, which is the single biggest reason so much of what is written about public affairs in this country is largely meaningless.
La Griffe du Lion estimated that Gore would have won by over 1% in Florida if everybody's intention had been counted accurately. He recently told me that the new idiot-proofed voting systems in Florida reduced the misvote to negligible levels in the 2002 election, so the Democrats are likely to benefit.
"Illiteracy shockingly high in L.A.: Half of workers unable to read" reports the L.A. Daily News:
Continued immigration and a stubborn high school dropout rate have stymied efforts to improve literacy in Los Angeles County, where more than half the working-age population can't read a simple form, a report released Wednesday found.
Alarmingly, only one in every 10 workers deemed functionally illiterate is enrolled in literacy classes and half of them drop out within three weeks, said the study by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
"It's an emergency situation," said Mayor James Hahn, adding that poor literacy rates could jeopardize the region's economy by driving out high-tech businesses and other industries that pay well.
In the Los Angeles region, 53 percent of workers ages 16 and older were deemed functionally illiterate, the study said.
That percentage dropped to 44 percent in the greater San Fernando Valley -- which includes Agoura Hills and Santa Clarita -- but soared to 85 percent in some pockets of the Valley.
The study measured levels of literacy across the region using data from the 2000 Census, the U.S. Department of Education and a survey of literacy programs taken from last September to January.
It classified 3.8 million Los Angeles County residents as "low-literate," meaning they could not write a note explaining a billing error, use a bus schedule or locate an intersection on a street map.
And despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent in public schools over the past decade to boost literacy rates, functional illiteracy levels have remained flat because of a steady influx of non-English-speaking immigrants and a 30 percent high school dropout rate, authors of the report said.
Time Mag Cover Story: "Who Left the Door Open?"
Despite all the talk of homeland security, sneaking into the U.S. is scandalously easy—and on the rise. Millions of illegal aliens will pour across the U.S.-Mexican border this year, many from countries hostile to America. TIME looks at the damage, the dangers and the reasons the U.S. fails to protect itself.
It seems almost shocking that a major newsmagazine is doing a story on a problem happening right now rather than on what Berry or Kush were doing in 1968.
Fred Reed on the View from Mexico: Fred moved to Mexico awhile ago, and offers an insightful column on illegal immigrants and assimilation:
Mexicans and gringos have distinctly different views of the United States. An American explaining the attractiveness of his country will usually say, “I have a big house in the suburbs, three cars, a home theater, and 300 channels on the cable. I can drink the water, and in the mall I can buy anything, absolutely anything.” He may talk of freedom and democracy, often having only the vaguest idea of whether he actually has them or what conditions might be in other countries.
A Mexican is more likely to say, “They are such a cold people. They don’t know their neighbors. They don’t know their children. They have no fiestas. Rules and being on time are more important to them than other people. They have no religion.” (To a robust Catholic, bland agnostic Protestantism isn’t detectibly a religion.) Democracy means little to an illegal with a second-grade education; in any event, Mexico is probably as democratic as the United States. He knows the government left him alone in Mexico, which is his definition of freedom. And mine.
But money counts when you don't have any. It counts a lot. And so they come whether they like the country or not. Very often they do not. This is going to matter.
... Who then are the emigrants?
For starters, they are not doctors, chemists, and airline pilots. Successful Mexicans do not want to go to the United States. Mexicans who are merely comfortable do not want to go to the United States. They like Mexico. This is very difficult to explain to most Americans, who know beyond doubt that Mexico has lesser malls. But it is a fact.
I always greatly enjoyed visiting Mexico the nine or ten times I've been there, precisely because it is so different from the U.S.. But the last time I took my family to Rosarito Beach (between Tijuana and Ensenada) there were just too many guys with fifth grade educations and two hours of training standing around holding submachine guns.
I'll go back when I'm an empty-nester.
Bush approval ratings actually on the rise - As I've mentioned before, the Pollkatz site graphically tracks all the opinion polls over time and plots the approval minus disapproval ratings. As I've mentioned before, the normal tendency has been for Bush's approval rating to decline, except the three times it has shot up: 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, and the capture of Saddam. Yet, Bush's approval rating has been on the rise for the last few weeks and has finally climbed back in the black after months when disapprovers outnumber approvers, although there has been little objective news to warrant this.
Portrait of an Iraqi Insurgent -- Although Administration has constantly tried to portray the rebels in Iraq as "dead-end Ba'athists" or "al-Qaeda," the U.S. military has been reluctant to lie to support this line. Instead, while the U.S. has captured and interrogated thousands of insurgents in Iraq -- and, as the Abu Ghraib scandal revealed, ve haf vays of making them talk -- the standard line for military spokesmen has been, "We don't know who the insurgents are."
An interview n the Observer with one guerilla, a small-timer whose group of seven claims to have killed five or six American soldiers, shows the randomness of the origins of the rebels:
Abu Mujahed, worryingly for the analysts, fits into none of these easy categories. For a start, he was pro-American before the invasion. 'The only way to breathe under the old regime was to watch American films and listen to their music,' he said. He had been a Bon Jovi fan.
'It gave me a glimpse of a better life. When I heard that the Americans were coming to liberate Iraq I was very happy. I felt that I would be able to live well, travel and have freedom. I wanted to do more sport, get new appliances and a new car and develop my life. I thought the US would come here and our lives would be changed through 180 degrees.'
He spoke of how his faith in the US was shaken when, via a friend's illicitly imported satellite TV system, he saw 'barbaric, savage' pictures of civilian casualties of the fighting and bombing. The next blow came in the conflict's immediate aftermath, as looters ran unchecked through Baghdad.
'When I saw the American soldiers watching and doing nothing as people took everything, I began to suspect the US was not here to help us but to destroy us,' he said.
Abu Mujahed, whose real name is not known by The Observer, said: 'I thought it might be just the chaos of war but it got worse, not better.'
He was not alone and swiftly found that many in the Adhamiya neighbourhood of Baghdad shared his anger and disappointment. The time had come. 'We realised. We had to act.'
Nothing had been planned in advance. There has been speculation, and especially among American officials, that Saddam's henchmen had planned a 'guerrilla war' if defeated. But Abu Mujahed, who described himself as 'a Muslim but not religious', and the others in his group were not working to any plan. Everything they did was improvised. And each of his seven-man group had a different motive: 'One man was fighting for his nation, another for a principle, another for his faith.'
Significantly, his group contains several former soldiers, angry at the controversial demobilisation of the Iraqi military by the coalition last year. Others, like Abu Mujahed, have salaried government jobs. The cell is not part of any broader organisation and does not have a name, he said. 'We are just local people ... There is a sheikh who co-ordinates some of the various groups but I do not know who he is.'
... Black soldiers are a particular target. 'To have Negroes occupying us is a particular humiliation,' Abu Mujahed said, echoing the profound racism prevalent in much of the Middle East. 'Sometimes we aborted a mission because there were no Negroes.'
His justification for the struggle was an inconsistent mix of political and economic grievances and wounded pride: 'We are under occupation. They bomb the mosques, they kill a huge number of people. There is no greater shame than to see your country being occupied.'
A reader writes:
I'm afraid you've just alerted the Neoconservatives/ NR types (who I am sure all read your blog) to another post-hoc reason for the invasion; the vile racism of the Iraq youth. We need to get some human relations commissions set up, pronto! And hand a Haliburton-sized contract to Diversity.com for reeducation.
Q. Dave Barry is to "booger" as Steve Sailer is to ... A reader writes:
Here's a fun search to do on your site: "shocked, SHOCKED." Is it your trademark phrase? I don't know, but it's the one I remember most!
Yes, I made it up and trademarked it, so you should send me a nickel whenever you use it.
On this 3rd anniversary, Peter Brimelow's essay in VDARE.com "Three Years After 9/11: Is The Tragedy Just Beginning?" is a must read.
21 Ways the Neocons Were Wrong: Martin Sieff of UPI, who used to be a speechwriter for Netanyahu, writes in Salon:
These must be strange days to be a neoconservative: caught between exultant hope and wild terror; utterly discredited, yet still securely in power; proven totally wrong on Iraq, yet still determined to believe against all odds that one more wild throw of the dice will recoup all.
To the casual observer, the neocons in the Bush administration and their impeccably drilled and regulated cheering section across the commanding heights of the U.S. broadcast and print media have been routed. Since the hand-over of power to the interim Iraqi government, the media have for the most part turned their sensitive faces away from Iraq, giving the public the false sense that it is becoming quiet there. The 138,000 U.S. troops still bogged down in Iraq know better, even if Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz can't recall before a congressional committee just how many Americans have died: Fifty-four were killed in July, a significant rise from the 42 who died in June, the month before the hand-over; and the total in August already looks as if it will exceed that in July.
But the perception that the neocons -- including Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith -- have been routed, or are in retreat, could not be further from the truth. They are as firmly in control of the levers of real power in the government as they were in the yearlong, synchronized buildup to their war in Iraq. Not a single National Security Council or Pentagon official who eagerly rode the bandwagon for the war has been fired. Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and aide John Hannah continue to enjoy the full confidence of the vice president.
In the media, it is the same story. Rupert Murdoch has not suffered a sudden fit of shame and forced William Kristol to relinquish control of the Weekly Standard. Time magazine and the Washington Post have not shown one iota of embarrassment that they continue to provide a platform for columnist Charles Krauthammer, whose histrionics have now ascended into a call for our next "preemptive" war -- this time with Iran. If that happens, of course, hundreds, probably many thousands, of young Americans will pay with their lives for a new wave of appalling bungles. And if the past is prologue, no neocon in government should ever expect to lose a job.
Marty goes on to list 21 separate neocon predictions about Iraq that have all proven false.
See also the 19 (and counting) reasons why Iraq was never likely to become a democracy.
Vijay Singh, Nowhere Man -- The greatest golfer in the world today, the man who pushed Tiger Woods off his pedestal last weekend after five years as the official #1 player on Earth, is Vijay Singh from Fiji. I argued that nobody in America cares because Americans only think in terms of three races: White, Black, and Miscellaneous. A reader begs to differ:
Little attention is being paid to Vijay Singh because he is being "punished" by the news media and by the public at large for being perceived as having been mean to a girl.
I'm talking, of course, about his objections from last year to Annika Sorenstam's participation in the Bank of America Colonial Invitational. He was raked for that by the most vocal members of the press and the public, and they will probably never forgive him for it.
Western women have reached a very enviable position in which they can assert themselves as independent to men and equal to men and able to compete with men on equal terms -- but in situations where they really aren't equipped to do so, as Sorenstam wasn't, they are declared to be "winners" simply for showing up.
And you're STILL not allowed to "pick on the girl", as Singh is perceived to have done. Think of New York female voters waxing shocked and aghast at the temerity of Rick Lazio for striding across a platform and thrusting a petition in the face of Hillary Clinton - who is supposed to be the #1 symbol of female assertiveness. Singh is in a similar position.
Worse yet, from the standpoint of the social arbiters, Singh shrugged off the hostility and has since gone on to do very well for himself.
By contrast, think of the volcanic and emotionally vulnerable John Rocker, who allowed the hostile treatment that he received from the press, the MLB establishment, and some fans to destroy his career. It was very clear that the treatment he was receiving was very much adversely affecting his performance. So like vultures, they followed Rocker voraciously, celebrating every subsequent failure that he underwent between the foul lines.
Trust me, if Singh were playing poorly, we'd be hearing his name mentioned more often: i.e., "Vijay Singh, who stirred up a lot of controversy by objecting to the presence of a female golfer in the Colonial Invitational, failed to make the cut again today...
The Trouble with Bush winning from the perspective of Pentagon neocons is that there's a tradition of Presidents only handing out pardons as they leave office -- witness Clinton pardoning Marc Rich or Bush Sr. pardoning Elliot Abrams for lying to Congress about Iran-contra. In contrast, Nixon refused to use the pardon weapon to shut down the Watergate investigations.
Speaking of Elliot Abrams, I'd like to say that back in the 1990s I was impressed by his courage during his post-pardon exile from government. In the last decade, he devoted most of his energies to trying, as in his book Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America, to persuade Jews not to marry shiksas. For example, he wrote in Slate in 1997:
But the accommodationists are wrong. Intermarriage is both inevitable in our open society, and immensely threatening to Jewish continuity here. The Jewish community must avoid excuses and circumlocutions, and recognize that only a powerful Jewish identity built on the faith and practice of Judaism can enable young American Jews to resist the temptation of intermarriage. Only that faith can explain to them why they should resist the melting pot and build a family that takes its place in the covenant of Abraham.
It seemed to me then that Abrams was taking a politically incorrect stand on something he deeply believed in, even though he was obviously permanently sacrificing any chance for a future government job involving the Middle East. After all, nobody is going to nominate the Rev. Bob Jones III, the president of the university that was notorious for banning interracial dating, to be American ambassador to South Africa, and Abrams' position on interethnic dating is fairly similar.
Boy, was I naive. Abrams is now not only back in government, but he has his dream job: he's the White House's Director of Middle Eastern Affairs.
Democracy in Iraq -- I have no idea if anything resembling free, fair, comprehensive elections will take place in Iraq on schedule, but if they do, has anybody stopped to think what the number one campaign issue will be? My bet, judging from what little polling has been done in Iraq, is that most of the candidates will run on one of the two platforms:
"I hate America the most!" versus, "No, I hate America even more!"
A reader writes: "At least they won't be arguing about the font, superscript and proportional spacing capabilities of an early seventies IBM typewriter. Jeez, what a way to elect the most powerful man in the world!"
"Judging from the initial misrepresentation of intelligence data and the ongoing crisis in Najaf, I assumed the president didn't know his ass from his elbow," said Col. Dale Henderson, a military advisor during the Reagan Administration. "But on the campaign trail, he's proven himself a master of long-term planning and unflinching determination. How else can you explain his strength in the polls given this economy?" Henderson said he regrets having characterized Bush's handling of the war as "incompetent," now that he knows the president's mind was simply otherwise occupied."
Another reader writes:
So, what are the obstacles the US faced in turning Iraq into the Jeffersonian democracy of the Middle East?
Dislike of all foreigners;
Have I left anything out? :D
I'd add a couple of points Greg Cochran has been making:
Illiteracy rate well over 50%.
Another reader adds:
Entire export economy based on resource-extraction product, easily
controlled/monopolized without needing any consent from the people
"Maybe some of them are unimportant. I won't argue about that. But look at the number of them."
Derb's Law vs. Lovejoy's Law -- John Derbyshire has often contended that Americans deep down feel there are only two races: black and nonblack. Having a Chinese immigrant wife and two Eurasian kids certainly gives him plenty of experience to judge from.
Perhaps, though, a slightly more accurate model would be to adapt Lovejoy's Law of the Three American Religions to the Three American Races. On The Simpsons, the Rev. Lovejoy offered this stirring tribute to ecumenical cooperation:
Homer, God didn't set your house on fire.
So, Lovejoy's Law would suggest that in the minds of most Americans, white and black, there are three races: White, Black, and Miscellaneous.
I'm in the new book The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004 -- My American Conservative article "Cousin Marriage Conundrum" on the impact of the high rates of inbreeding on the culture of Iraq and other Muslim countries was chosen by guest editor Steven Pinker for inclusion in this prestigious anthology, which will go on sale October 14.
An Indian in England doesn't get Barack Obama. A reader writes to wonder why Americans are so excited over the exotic half-Kenyan, half-white Barack Obama. Certainly there are numerous, say, South Asians of identical skin tone who were also on the Harvard Law Review, but nobody in America cares about them.
The basic fact behind this is that white Americans (and for that matter, black Americans) really aren't interested in any races other than whites and African-Americans. (John Derbyshire has written about this enough to call it Derb's Law.) For example, the funny thing about Obama is that Americans are not at all interested in the truly interesting things about him. For example, he was raised largely in Indonesia by his Indonesian stepfather and white mother. That's certainly ... different. Does that give him any insights into, say, Southeast Asia or the Muslim (or Hindu?) world that might be useful in the U.S. Senate?
But, nah, nobody in America cares about weird foreign stuff like that. What everybody is fascinated by is the brute fact that he's (half) black. They hope that makes him an expert on -- and spokesman for, or spokesman to -- the 'hood (which is the one place he didn't grow up), which, love it or hate it, is infinitely more interesting to Americans than the rest of the world and all its people.
It took me a long time to figure this out, since I was always interested in everybody: e.g., the pygmy negritos of the Andaman Islands have long been fascinating to me because they are so different. For example, I started following Tiger Woods' career when he was 15 in 1991. I always thought Tiger's family heritage was interesting because he is so multiracial (Thai, Chinese, white, black, American Indian), but it eventually dawned on me in 1997 when everybody else learned about him that to most Americans his heritage is interesting for one reason: because he's black (well, only 1/4th, but that's enough in Americans' eyes to overwhelm whatever else he might be).
Look at the guy who just took Tiger's place as the #1 golfer in the world, Vijay Singh. He's blacker in skin color than Tiger, he's this amazing story of coming from Fiji of all places to be the top golfer in the world, he was a club pro in Borneo, and last Sunday he went head to head with Tiger to be #1 and beat him ... but nobody is very interested in Vijay at all. And not just not interested in his personality, but nobody in America is interested in any racial angle about Vijay (e.g., Is he the greatest Indian athlete of all time?), whereas when Tiger won the Masters in 1997 the race angle (Descendant of Slaves Wins The Masters in the Deep South!) was a huge topic.
Span of Revenge: Does anybody have much of an idea what the rules are in Iraqi culture(s) for whom an honorable man is supposed to revenge? Anthropologist Carleton Coon pointed out that one advantage to Arabs of marrying their first cousins is that by making blood relatives and in-laws into the same people, it reduces the number of individuals whose deaths an honorable man is expected to avenge. So, how far does it go? Are you expected to avenge a sibling? A first cousin? A second cousin? A third cousin? What about in-laws when they aren't blood relatives too? What are the rules for the killer buying the avenging family off with cash?
But now, in the aftermath of Saddam's capture on Dec. 13, a new kind of threat is emerging that comes from deep within Arab culture and has little to do with the bedraggled Iraqi tyrant. These are the "bloodline" attacks, as Tomlinson's superior, Capt. Todd Brown, calls them. Samarra is only about 15 miles from where Saddam was captured at Ad Dawr, but "what we're seeing now is much more tribal," he says. "It's the Arabic rule of five. If you do something to someone, then five of his bloodlines will try to attack you."
The insurgency is self-replicating, like a virus, through the vengeance of brothers, sons, cousins and nephews.
The neocons were hopeless about anticipating this sort of thing because in their conscious world-view, people are only motivated by ideology, and since we have the best ideology, then Iraqis will have to love us. Of course, the subconscious emotions of the neocons are driven by exactly the same feelings about kin and loyalty and vengeance as everybody else in the world feels. The neocons, unfortunately, don't have any vocabulary for discussing these basic aspects of humanity at the public policy level, which is a big reason their policies have been so disastrous in Iraq.
The span of revenge issue becomes important in estimating what proportion of the Iraqi population now has a blood feud with the U.S. Estimates seem to put the number of civilian deaths in Iraq in the low 5 digit range. If only their brothers are expected to revenge them, that's not so bad. But if everybody up to their third cousins is supposed to come after us, that's not so good. That is a large supply of potential terrorists, and as the Russians are finding with the Chechens, it's not fun for a country to have a large number of individuals who feel it is their duty in life (and death) to avenge their relatives' deaths in a guerilla war.
Hey, I've got a crazy idea. I realize that our official Invade-the-World / Invite-the-World policy of going to Iraq and killing people until they learn to love the American Way while also letting the kin of the people we kill into America sounds perfectly sane and common-sensical, but what if we did something really wacky? What if we stopped going to Iraq to kill people, and also stopped letting Iraqis come to the U.S. so they can't kill us in revenge? It's so bizarre sounding it just might work!
If you're going to go in and try to topple Saddam Hussein, you have to go to Baghdad. Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens to it once we leave?
Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, April 13, 1991
The truly strange thing is that a decade later, Dick Cheney agitated ceaselessly to topple Saddam Hussein ... yet he never bothered to answer any of those questions he posed in 1991.
In 1996, Cheney, then chairman of Halliburton, again defended, on PBS' Frontline, the first Bush Administration's decision to leave a severely weakened Saddam in power:
... the idea of going into Baghdad, for example, or trying to topple the regime wasn't anything I was enthusiastic about. I felt there was a real danger here that you would get bogged down in a long drawn-out conflict, that this was a dangerous, difficult part of the world; if you recall we were all worried about the possibility of Iraq coming apart, the Iranians restarting the conflict that they'd had in the eight-year bloody war with the Iranians and the Iraqis over eastern Iraq. We had concerns about the Kurds in the north, the Turks get very nervous every time we start to talk about an independent Kurdistan...Now you can say, well, you should have gone to Baghdad and gotten Saddam. I don't think so. I think if we had done that we would have been bogged down there for a very long period of time with the real possibility we might not have succeeded.
[I]f Saddam wasn't there, his successor probably wouldn't be notably friendlier to the United States than he is. I also look at that part of the world as of vital interest to the United States; for the next hundred years it's going to be the world's supply of oil. We've got a lot of friends in the region. We're always going to have to be involved there. Maybe it's part of our national character, you know, we like to have these problems nice and neatly wrapped up, put a ribbon around it. You deploy a force, you win the war, and the problem goes away, and it doesn't work that way in the Middle East; it never has and isn't likely to in my lifetime.
This was the sensible Dick Cheney the nation thought it was electing in 2000. Something went severely wrong with the man somewhere along the line.
"Give the Chechens a Land of Their Own" says historian Richard Pipes, father of Daniel Pipes, in response to the Chechen terrorist massacre of hundreds of Russian schoolchildren. Pipes the Elder is one of the many neocon members of the pro-Chechen American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, which I discussed below. The funny thing about Pipes' op-ed is that you could go through it and substitute either "Palestine" or "Iraq" for "Chechnya" and "Israel" or "America" for "Russia," and it would make just about as much sense. For example:
The Israelis / Americans ought to learn from the French. France, too, was once involved in a bloody colonial war in which thousands fell victim of terrorist violence. The Algerian war began in 1954 and dragged on without an end in sight, until Charles de Gaulle courageously solved the conflict by granting Algeria independence in 1962.
Good point, but that pretty much describes the war in the West Bank and the war in Iraq, too. Funny, though, how none of the neocons ever bring up the Franco-Algerian War as a useful analogy for guiding either Israel or America. (Remember how I could find but a single paragraph in the pro-war neocon press about the re-release of "The Battle of Algiers," even though the Special Forces brass gave a screening of it in the Pentagon because it was so relevant to the current situation in Iraq?)
I'm still wondering why the neocons insist on having a dog in this particular fight. As a conservative, my Burkean prejudice is: "First, do no harm." I look at the Chechen tragedy and say, "Sheesh, I have no idea what should be done over there. If I got involved, I'd probably just make it worse." So, instead, I think more about how I can help my country avoid getting involved in that kind of mess.
In contrast, neocons seem to wake up every morning thinking, "What far-off, complex, interminable conflict should I turn my penetrating brilliance upon today?" It must be nice to feel that self-confident, but it sure isn't conservative.
But, what else is going on here? Why are the neocons so pro-Chechen? Is it leftover anti-Sovietism? Extremely leftover anti-Czarism? Is it because Putin threw one of the AEI's big donors in the clink? Is it so the neocons can say they aren't against Muslim nationalists in general, just against Palestinians? Do they just like trouble?
"Hero" vs. "Lord of the Rings" -- A reader writes:
I saw "Hero" over the weekend, and I thought it was a great piece of cinema, but I became more and more alarmed as its theme emerged. It's a very useful film to point up the difference between Chinese and western values. It's the anti-"Lord of the Rings". Instead of destroying the Ring of Power, Hero's Frodo tells Sauron, "Yes, I now understand what you and Saruman were getting at. Here's your ring back."
"A Vast All-Wing Conspiracy" Against the Neocons: Eli Lake reports in the New York Sun:
Last week, the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff refused for two days to share classified papers with officials working for Mr. Feith, sources say. Cooperation between the two offices only resumed after individuals at the highest levels of the Pentagon ordered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to cooperate.
Meanwhile, neocon Frank Gaffney complains in an essay entitled "Witch Hunt?" that the notorious anti-American cabal known as the FBI is out to get his pals:
For weeks now, the FBI has carried out in the press a prosecution of individuals and organizations it has so far been unable or unwilling to pursue in court.
What other America-hating extremists are conspiring together with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the FBI to persecute the poor neocons? The Boy Scouts? The American Legion? The 4H Club? The Elks?
The Most Important Man You've Barely Heard Of *. In a review of "Hero" in The American Spectator, Colby Cosh provides a quick, insightful analysis of Qin Shih Huang-ti, the first emperor of China, and his fraught relationship with modern China.
* Qin Shih Huang-ti, not Colby Cosh. Colby is the 7th most important man you've barely heard of.
Ethics? We don't need no steeeenking ethics -- Michael A. Ledeen, NRO's very own international man of mystery who is once again in the news for his connections with NeoconGate, was profiled in in the Washington Post on Feb. 2, 1987 (only on Nexis):
At different times [Ledeen] has been a world-class bridge player who toured with actor Omar Sharif, a teacher of Italian history who was denied tenure at Washington University of St. Louis after charges of plagiarism, a journalist who has written several biting attacks on the press, and a self-described terrorism expert who has done consulting work for the Italian military intelligence service and the Reagan administration. ...
Several of Ledeen's former colleagues at Washington University said they were surprised to learn he had played such a sensitive role in a momentous foreign policy gamble [Iran-Contra], because Reagan administration officials knew about the plagiarism allegations that cost Ledeen a tenured position 15 years ago.
Ledeen said, "Any suggestion that my scholarship was less than professional is nonsense." He said Rowland Berthoff, head of the history department at the time, told him the allegations didn't play a role in the vote.
But Berthoff disagreed. "He seemed to have used the work of somebody else without proper credit. There was no other reason to vote against him."
Richard Walter, the current head of the department, said, "Serious questions were raised about the quality of his scholarship and the research that went into it." He said government background investigators were told about the tenure issue before Ledeen was hired as a special adviser to Haig in 1981. "I think the people who appointed him showed bad judgment," Walter said.
Robert C. Williams, now dean of the faculty at Davidson College in North Carolina, said the charges "involved deceptive use of prime sources . . . . Some would call it plagiarism, some wouldn't."
Solon Beinfeld, a professor who said he is a friend of Ledeen who voted in his favor in the tenure dispute, said, "It seems unfair that people raise this now as some sort of proof he's been a shady guy all along." He said Ledeen was popular with students at the university and the "quasi-irregularity" at issue didn't warrant the negative vote on tenure for Ledeen. "I would just tell him not to do it again."
Some Terrorists Are More Equal than Other Terrorists, Part 2 -- On NRO, Tom Nichols writes about the Chechen massacre in Beslan, Russia:
Calls for the Russian government to throw in the towel and negotiate Chechen independence are well-meaning but foolish, especially now that Arab terrorists have joined the fight.
Also on NRO, Barbara Lerner exhorts:
Already, Putin is getting the message. In an unprecedented burst of candor, he told the Russian people, "We were weak, and weak people are beaten." Already, he is reaching out a tentative hand, looking for help from us and from the Israelis. Israel will respond, generously, as long as the much-maligned Israeli Right retains its shaky hold on power, and we will too, as long as George W. Bush continues to lead us. ... and with Russia on our side, we will win what Norman Podhoretz rightly calls World War IV much more quickly than we would without her.
Leaving aside Lerner's bizarre assumption that Putin has previously been wimpy toward the Chechens, what exactly has been the position of Norman Podhoretz and the rest of the American supporters of the Israeli Right toward negotiations with Chechen separatists?
It's interesting to examine the website of the leading pro-Chechen organization, the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, in the light of the recent mass slaughter of hundreds of children in Russia by Chechen terrorists. Some excerpts from the ACPC website:
Myth: Chechens are terrorists.
Fact: While some criminal and extremist factions have targeted civilians, Western governments, including the United States, have argued that Russia paints Chechens as terrorists in order to whitewash its own human rights violations. Chechen officials have issued public statements condemning terrorism 121 times since 1999.
Myth: Chechens are Islamic Fundamentalists.
Fact: Chechens practice a moderate form of Sufi mysticism based on indigenous pre-Islamic traditions. While radical Islam has gained some adherents since the fall of the Soviet Union, the vast majority of Chechens reject fundamentalist ideologies.
Myth: Chechens won't accept a peaceful solution.
Fact: Since 1999, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and his envoys have repeatedly called for a cease-fire, the return of international monitors and unconditional peace talks with the Russian Federation.
Other documents from ACPC compare the suffering of the Chechens to that of the Muslim Albanians in Kosovo, and applaud the granting of political asylum in America to the Chechen separatist foreign-minister-in-exile, a man Putin describes as a terrorist. (Colby Cosh has more on this story.)
So, who are the bleeding heart terrorist-excusing liberals behind the ACPC? Michael Moore? Janeane Garofalo? Noam Chomsky?
No. The 96 members of the ACPC include -- well, whattaya know! -- Barbara Lerner's favorite, Old "Mr. WW4" himself, Norman Podhoretz, his wife Midge Decter, his son-in-law Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, R. James Woolsey, William Kristol, Frank Gaffney, Joshua Muravchik, and NRO's own Michael A. Ledeen.
ACPC is by no means all neocon: Zbigniew Brzezinski has a leadership role, anti-Iraq Attaq realist Gen. William Odom is a member, and even a few liberal Democrats like Geraldine Ferraro are signed up. Richard Gere is the designated celebrity.
Now, I'm not going to pretend I know the ideal solution to Chechnya. But I am going to point out that all these people sure don't know either, but that hasn't stopped them from telling Russia what to do. These guys think they are the master strategists who deserve to run the world, but they are in way over their heads.
UPDATE: A reader writes:
Sheesh. These neocons really do have a dog in every fight, don't they? Trots without the Marxism, just like it says in the handbook...
Chechnya summed up: Here, in a nutshell, are the arguments, pro and con, on independence for Chechnya:
Pro: The Muslim Chechens are motivated by nationalism, and, as we saw watching over 200 countries compete at the Olympics, nationalism is hard to beat.
Con: Russia is still an empire, and if it lets Chechnya go, lots of other parts could try to break off, at vast human cost.
The moral of the story: Don't become an empire in the first place because you'll end up having to put down nationalist insurgencies, especially Muslim ones. So, how come the neocons on the ACPC were so hot for the U.S. to play Russia to Iraq's Chechnya? Don't they ever get it? What's wrong with these guys?
But Putin said each time Russia complained to the Bush administration about meetings held between U.S. officials and Chechen separatist representatives, the U.S. response has been "we'll get back to you" or "we reserve the right to talk with anyone we want."
Putin blamed what he called a "Cold War mentality" on the part of some U.S. officials, but likened their demands that Russia negotiate with the Chechen separatists to the U.S. talking to al Qaeda.
These are not "freedom fighters," Putin said. "Would you talk with Osama Bin Laden?" he asked.
Putin said the Chechen separatists are trying to ignite ethnic tensions in the former Soviet Union and it could have severe repercussions.
"Osama Bin Laden attacked the United States saying he was doing it because of policies in the Middle East," Putin said. "Do you call him a freedom fighter?"
Putin's comments came a few weeks after the U.S. granted asylum to Ilias Akhmadov, the "foreign minister" of the Chechen separatist movement.
Mark Steyn's Iraq trip: A reader writes:
You are, I think, a little bit over the line with your (possibly inadvertent) juxtaposition of Mark Steyn and the "pundit class back home in comfy America". Remember, he went to Iraq immediately after the invasion and spent nearly a month stomping around there when most opinion journalists still considered it an inaccessible war zone and cargo planes were still being shot at with SAMs. It was a rather extraordinary gesture for an opinion writer of his stature; there was a barely audible but quite distinct "Huh?" in Canadian circles when he went.
Yes, he was certainly much braver than me. But, did Steyn allow himself to learn anything on his trip? He went over there heavily invested in the idea that the Iraq Attaq was a great idea and came back telling us how swimmingly it was working out. The War Nerd never leaves Fresno (supposedly), but his predictions about what will happen next in Iraq have come true much more often than Steyn's predictions have since his return from over there. I am certainly hoping Steyn's not planning to go back, since it's much, much less safe over there now than when he went -- which is not what he thought would happen.
H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw went to Stalin's Soviet Union to see for themselves, too. But, as Orwell noted, "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."
Here's what I wrote about Steyn's ideas about Iraq way back in the spring of 2002, a year before the invasion:
Mark Steyn might be the best all-around pundit in the English language, since he understands the interactions among politics, popular culture, and what Camille Paglia calls sexual personae. But even Steyn has fallen for a direly silly new fad among conservatives with bad cases of war fever: lionizing the Iraqis. He writes, "The Iraqi people are secular, tolerant, literate, the antithesis of those wacky fundamentalists in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. ... Once you've got rid of the ruling gang, it's the West's best shot at incubating a reasonably non-insane polity."
I see this assertion more and more frequently, as the febrile logic takes ever greater hold of the once impressive intellects of the conservative press. With a straight face, we are assured that, while the rest of the Arabs are a bunch of savages, Iraq is the Germany of the Middle East. It just needs a U.S. imposed democratic government to resume its high rank among civilized nations. Iraq then will become a light unto the gentiles and lead the Arab world out of barbarism. You don't believe anybody could say that without giggling? The WSJ editorialized, "This is why we believe the best chance for peace in Palestine, and for stability throughout the entire Middle East, goes through Baghdad. Iraq is a serious country with a proud history ..."
Iraq? A proud history? What is the WSJ talking about - Sumer? Babylon? Haroun al-Rashid's Baghdad back in Charlemagne's time? Guatemala, with its Mayan ruins, had a prouder history in the last millennium than Iraq. Iraq has a proud history of backstabbing and cowardice.
Is there any evidence that the Iraqis are the most likely candidates in the Arab world for restrained self-rule or is this just a delusion to justify a war? I mean, if you are going to consider the "sophistication" level of the Arab populations, wouldn't Lebanon be at the top of the list? Wouldn't the Palestinians be up there too? At least before they launched their on-going "war of the cradle" that is swamping the sophisticated elites with hordes lower-class youngsters? Wasn't Egypt a beacon of culture and tolerance, with a Nobel Prize-winning writer, before the peasants outbred the sophisticates? Isn't Syria also secular? Doesn't Jordan at least have a sane monarchy? Isn't Morocco the favorite destination of French fashion designers looking for boys? Isn't the Sultan of Oman a huge Gilbert & Sullivan fan?
Maybe, I'm wrong about Iraq because I've been reading Bedouinphiles like T.E. Lawrence and Wilfred Thesiger who despised the Iraqis, but I don't have a good feeling about Iraq's future prospects. But are there any Iraqophiles? (At least among people who have been there?) If not, what does that say about Iraq? Am I missing something?
One measure of a country's capacity for self-rule is its warmaking capability. Paradoxically, nation-states that are good at killing their foreign enemies tend to be be cohesive and harmonious at home. So, how good is Iraq at fighting its enemies? According to Greg Cochran, war-gamers assign a man-for-man power rating to the armies of the world. Iraq has the lowest rating. In one war, a whole bunch of Iraqi soldiers surrendered to an Italian journalist.
This delusion could have disastrous consequences after an American invasion. Which Iraq are we talking about? We could easily shatter Iraq into three or more pieces, but if we invade with the notion of making Iraq into a model nation-state, we're going need more than all the king's horses and all the king's men to put Humpty-Dumpty together again. Do we want to fight the Kurds and the Shi'ites to keep Iraq whole, so it can be a good example to the rest of the Middle East?
I suppose the Kurds of northern Iraq could rule themselves (although they fought a civil war in 1995), except that an oil-rich Kurdish state would inevitably get into a war with Turkey by supporting Kurds inside Turkey. The Turkish army would invade and crush independent Kurdistan in order to preserve Turkish national unity. The slaughter, though, would undo much of Turkey's vaunted (and exaggerated) progress toward being an Islamic "normal country," and send Turkey reeling away from its European aspirations and into the Middle Eastern morass.
Maybe the Shi'ites of the south could rule themselves, but how clear-cut are the demographic borders between Shi'ites and Sunnis? If the two groups overlap, you are headed for trouble. A Shi'ite state on the Iranian border would tempt Iran - a country with much greater potential for becoming a "normal country" than Iraq - into foreign adventurism, which could be fatal to the chances for internal reform.
And how many tribes are there among the Sunnis?
We haven't heard much about Gov. Jim "Gay American" McGreevey lately, but Nicholas Stix has the full story on the remarkably corrupt governor on Enter Stage Right. You'll want to take a bath in Lysol after reading about him. I guess you could say the press was bending over backwards to cover up for him. Or, then again, maybe it was bending over forward for him.
The Bush Pardon Pool -- If Bush loses, whom will he pardon on January 19, 2005? Nominations, please!
Economist Eric Rasmussen discusses my American Spectator essay on "The Perils of Decriminalization" here. It's interesting that the distinction between "thinking like an economist" and "thinking like a parent" is so sharp.
To track casualties in Iraq: iCasualities.org
The Derb misses the point of NeoconGate: In National Review's The Corner, John Derbyshire writes:
The paleocon websites -- yep, you bet I read them -- have been going nuts over this story of an Israeli spy in the DoD. This strikes me as disingenuous. I have always assumed that every country -- including friendly ones -- spies on the US govt to whatever degree it can get away with. The value-added of having some advance, unauthorized insight into US govt policy discussions is tremendous. Foreign governments, friendly or otherwise, would be fools not to do all they can to get insights into US policy... To throw up your hands in horror on learning that some friendly country is spying on the US is preposterous.
No, the point of NeoconGate is ... the Neocons. From what we know at present, Israel didn't hatch some elaborate operation to snatch a secret document from Larry Franklin. No, Franklin thrust the document at two Israeli agents of influence from AIPAC. (In fact, the most likely reason he did it, Laura Rozen argues plausibly, was because he felt Israel would have more influence arguing for his plan within the higher reaches of the Administration than he, the Iran desk officer, would!)
Further, the FBI doesn't believe Franklin is the only neocon traitor within the administration. They flipped him and were using him to troll for the source of the leaked secrets within the Administration that went to Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi, which Chalabi apparently passed on to Iran's Vevak secret police. Then, there's the whole issue of the Italian forgery of the Niger yellowcake documents... and on and on.
So, let's see, we've got neocons in the administration involved with nefarious goings on with Israelis, Iraqis, Iranians, and Italians. All the neocons have to do is give American secrets to the Irish, the Icelandics, and the Ivory Coastians and they can start betraying America to the Japanese, Jordanians, Kazakhstanis, Kyrgyzstanis, etc.. .
Seriously, folks, we've got a problem in this administration similar to the one Truman inherited in 1945. Bush, probably under Rove's influence, has started to pay less heed to the neocon mischief-makers within the civilian ranks of the Pentagon and the Office of the Vice President, but he hasn't fired anybody yet. When will he?
Great Minds Think Alike Dept.: In the Washington Post, Philip Longman wrote on Sept. 2, 2004:
Conservative, religiously minded Americans are putting far more of their genes into the future than their liberal, secular counterparts. In Utah, for example, where 69 percent of all residents are registered members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, fertility rates are the highest in the nation. Utah annually produces 90 children for every 1,000 women of child-bearing age. By comparison, Vermont -- the only state to send a socialist to Congress and the first to embrace gay unions -- produces only 49.
Back in the spring of 2000, I wrote in VDARE:
Our most liberal state, Vermont (which is represented in Congress by Socialist Bernie Sanders), has the lowest birthrate at only 1.57 babies per woman. In contrast, our most socially conservative state, Mormon-dominated Utah, has the highest fertility at 2.71. That's 73% more babies per woman.
Longman also wrote over the weekend:
High fertility also correlates strongly with support for George W. Bush. Of the top 10 most fertile states, all but one voted for Bush in 2000. Among the 17 states that still produce enough children to replace their populations, all but two -- Iowa and Minnesota -- voted for Bush in the last election. Conversely, the least fertile states -- a list that includes Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Connecticut -- went overwhelmingly for Al Gore. Women living in Gore states on average have 12 percent fewer babies than women living in Bush states.
I wrote in 2002, echoing an article (not on Google) that I wrote in late 2000 (using earlier data than Longman uses and only looking at white fertility):
On the other hand, Republicans seem to be doing better than Democrats at growing the next generation of white voters. After the 2000 election, UPI calculated that Bush won the 19 states with the highest white birth rate. The states where Bush won a majority in 2000 had a 16 percent higher birth rate overall than the states where Gore and Nader combined won the majority. Presumably, differences within those states made the overall disparity in white fertility by party even greater.
Anyway, it's nice to see that my articles are having such a direct (if uncredited) influence on another writer.
Iraq Statistics -- I realize that ever since June 28th, when the U.S. declared Iraq to be "transcendent," excuse me, "sovereign," the media have been much more fascinated by certain events during the 35 year old war in Vietnam than the ongoing one in Iraq. As Mark Steyn crowed in a piece on why Bush was going to win, "As for Iraq, ever since the transfer of sovereignty that's all but off the radar."
But here are some statistics about the average day our soldiers in Iraq enjoyed in August while Steyn and everybody else in the pundit class back home in comfy America had their radars fixated on the Swift Boats of yore:
Attacks on Americans (and allies) per day: 87
Total American casualties per day: 38
Americans killed per day: 2.1.
Both the figures for attacks and for casualties were the worst yet in the 17 month old rebellion. Worse, we're losing the war ... at least in terms of the most fundamental measure: control of territory. The places where an unarmed American can go has steadily shrunk to very little. Moreover, the U.S. military has written off even armed patrols of important sectors of the country.
(In the good news from Iraq, a cooling trend should reduce the Baghdad high temperatures from 116 on Wednesday to 104 by next Monday.)
What do the candidates say about this? Sen. Kerry announced on Labor Day that he'd like to get America's troops home within four years. (Let's see, 38 casualties per day times 365 days per year times 4 years equals ... 55,000 additional casualties under President Kerry, on top of the nearly 8,000 already. Time to build some more VA hospitals.) In response, Pres. Bush denounced Kerry for "flip-flopping" and refused to set any kind of deadline. (Let's see, 38 casualties per day times 365 days per year times infinity years equals ... )
We're all agreed now that in Vietnam the only two sensible choices were Win or Get Out. Right now in Iraq, we're headed toward the Defeat of a Thousand Cuts. Don't believe me? Then tell me what those nearly 1200 casualties during August accomplished strategically. Every month, we lose control of a larger portion of Iraqi territory because whenever push comes to shove in Iraq, Bush backs down.
Yet, neither candidate advocates either of the two practical strategies: Win or Get Out. Instead, they argue over whether we should continue the current bleeding for four years or for some indeterminate amount of time.
The problem with marijuana is not that it's some wild and crazy thing, but that it's middle-age-in-a-bong. Smoking dope saps the energy from youth, turning them into sedentary couch potatoes.
The parents of America already have a hard enough time getting their teenagers -- and, increasingly, their adult children who have come back home to live -- off the TV room floor when they are perfectly straight. Parents understand that changing laws to make marijuana more readily available -- and, let's not kid ourselves, that's what these "reforms" would do -- would create an even more inert and obese generation of young people.
Smoking dope may not do all that many of the horrible things often attributed to it, but it definitely makes people want to sit down. And that's something even the most clean and sober young people of the 21st Century do way too much of already.
From "Tracking the Field" in the 9/27/04 issue of The American Conservative:
That the first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896 turned out to be an inspired choice. Not only did ancient Greece invent the games in 776 B.C., but modern Greece's struggle for freedom from the Turks in the 1820s -- the rebellion in which Lord Byron gave his life -- fired the 19th Century romantic nationalist imagination, of which the Olympic revival was a felicitous outgrowth.
A particularly creative tribute to patriotism was the organizers' invention of a footrace over the 26 miles that Pheidippides is said to have run from Marathon to Athens with the joyous news of the defeat of the Persian invaders in 490 B.C.. The inspiring victory of a Greek shepherd named Spiridon Louis in the inaugural marathon did more than anything else to help the Olympic spirit survive the organizational ineptitude of the next two Olympics.
In that distant era, national pride drove European artists to create masterpieces redounding to the glory of their homelands. Such atavistic attitudes are as rare in the cultural realm today as the artistic greatness they spawned.
In the globalist's fantasy of post-nationalist sports, the Olympics likewise wouldn't be organized around anything so passé as patriotism. Instead, athletes sponsored by Coke could battle Nike's hired guns for world marketing supremacy. The only problem with this vision is that nobody would watch. (Well, I'd tune in, but I'm a sports statistics geek.) In these hypothetical Globalist Games, how would you know for whom to root? Watching eight strangers splash around face down in a swimming pool is dull unless you can use nationality to choose a favorite.
In reality, the only sport where fan loyalties are more corporate than regional is NASCAR, and that's because stockcar racing as a whole is already a festival of ethnic pride for white Protestants from the red states.
At the Athens Games, the stratagems of the sponsors receded to the level of inevitable background noise while overt patriotic gestures took center stage. Back in 1984, it was an unusual and controversial gesture when Carl Lewis waved a large American flag while jogging his victory lap after winning the 100 meter dash. By 2004, however, almost every medallist literally wrapped himself in his country's flag, draping his national banner across his shoulders while celebrating for the television cameras.
Rivalries among nations stoke competitive excellence, both on and off the field. Killjoy economists warn that Greece's vast investment in staging the 2004 Olympics may never pay off, but the Greeks will remember that, in the face of universal skepticism about their ability to pull it off, they threw the world one helluva party.
There won't be a new VDARE column this Monday morning -- we're not laboring on Labor Day.
More on Kerry's IQ: A reader writes:
First, if you look among his military records you can find that he graduated from his Officer Candidate School class with fairly good marks, 80th in a class of 543.
Well, that's not nothing, better than he did at Yale, where it's pretty clear he was no scholar. Kerry's Yale grades appear to be kept under tighter security than Pentagon secrets, probably because they must have been pretty bad. The Boston Globe reported: "During his senior year [at Yale] he 'majored in flying,' as Kerry put it, learning aerobatics and performing loop-de-loops instead of focusing on his studies." As you would expect for someone so preternaturally ambitious, he majored in poly sci, but that doesn't exactly rank up there with chemical engineering as a tough major.
His attending Boston College law school in 1973 instead of an Ivy League school struck one of his professors at BC as bizarre, since Kerry was already nationally famous, and had just lost election to Congress in the most expensive House race of 1972. The Boston Globe reported:
A nationally known figure, Kerry was not your typical law student. "I remember looking up at my first-year class, and sitting there, big as life, was this guy I had seen on television, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and running for Congress," recalls Thomas J. Carey Jr., one of Kerry's professors. "He stood out from the beginning."
My reader continues:
Also, his bio stuff indicates that while at Yale he was on the debate team, and was a star. I don't know that much about this "sport," but clearly it is one in which high-IQ (or, more likely, some correlate), wins.
Now, why would Kerry be hiding his intelligence (if that is so)? I think the answer is pretty obvious: people already knock him for being an out-of-touch blueblood. Among his supporters, IQ is important but they already think he has it (both absolutely and more importantly, over Bush). Among undecideds, though, is the palpable advantage of "being like them", which is part of the reason that the only thing Kerry can campaign on is his military service.
Could be. Then again, maybe Kerry is both out of touch and not all that bright. If he was smarter, he could fake in-touchness better.
Keep in mind, he's now 60, and everybody loses a step mentally as they age. If he was 50, he'd probably be smart enough, but as he heads toward old age, this could become a problem, especially if he were to get a second term.
Best wishes to President Clinton on his recovery -- The scary thing about a heart bypass operation is that it can mess with your mind. For example, you can see the exact point, about 100 pages from the end, in Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full where he broke off to have his heart operation. He suffered terrible depression after the operation and his writing style didn't recover. Wolfe has a new novel coming out, so let's hope he's feeling better.
FBI had flipped Franklin before leak - Time reports that in August, Larry Franklin had been calling people who might have some knowledge of who leaked the American secrets to Ahmed Chalabi that wound up in Iranian hands, presumably with the FBI listening in on the extension. The assumption is that Franklin was cooperating with the FBI to mitigate his crime of handing a secret document to AIPAC, which then went to Israel. Of course, once somebody leaked the story to CBS nine days ago, Franklin's usefulness to the FBI was kaput. Sure would be interesting to know the story behind the original leak.
1945 all over again: The Bush Administration today resembles the federal government at the time an unprepared Harry Truman took over. Truman slowly learned to his horror that the Administration he inherited was riddled with a wartime ally's agents of influence. Truman slowly discarded the Soviet sympathizers who infested the U.S. government during the later years of the Roosevelt Administration.
So far, there is only the most marginal evidence that Bush is attempting to excise the Israeli and Saudi agents of influence within his government. Fortunately, some institutions, such as the FBI, appear to be still mostly devoted to the national, rather than the Israeli or Saudi, interest.
Over on WarandPiece.com, Laura Rozen asks: "In general, why are the neocons soft on al Qaeda? They want us to go after every other Islamist terror group but the one that struck the US on 9/11." The answer is that al Qaeda is less of a threat than other groups are to Israel. It is much more of a threat to the United States of America than Hamas or Hezbollah, but the neocons have their loyalties and act accordingly.
It's striking how there has been a community of interest between the Israeli and Saudi agents of influence within the government. The Iraq Attaq distracted attention away from Al-Qaeda, which is heavily manned and funded by Saudis. Now, the Israeli-oriented members of the Administration want to go after non-Arab Iran, further distracting attention from the Saudis and their propensity for funding extremist preachers.
Bush as LBJ: After a week of red meat rhetoric at the Republican National Convention, it's striking to return one's focus to the real world of Iraq, where the Bush Administration's war plan resembles something crafted by the combined talents of Lyndon Baines Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. The NYT reports:
In Iraq, the list of places from which American soldiers have either withdrawn or decided to visit only rarely is growing: Falluja, where a Taliban-like regime has imposed a rigid theocracy; Ramadi, where the Sunni insurgents appear to have the run of the city; and the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf to the south, where the Americans agreed last month to keep their distance from the sacred shrines of Ali and Hussein.
The calls are rising for the Americans to pull out of even more areas, notably Sadr City, the sprawling neighborhood in eastern Baghdad that is the main base for the rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr. There, leaders of his Mahdi Army are demanding that American soldiers, except those sent in to do reconstruction work, get out.
Negotiations with rebel leaders foundered last week on precisely the issue of the freedom of American soldiers to enter the area; the Iraqi government, possibly with American backing, refused to accept the militia's demand. Even so, the point seemed clear enough: where Iraqis once tolerated American soldiers as a source of stability in their neighborhoods, they increasingly see them as a cause of the violence. Take out the Americans, the Iraqis say, and you take out the problem. Leave us alone, and we will sort our own problems.
"All we want is for the Americans to stay out," said Yusef al-Nasiri, a top aide to Mr. Sadr. "When the Americans come into the city, they insult our people. That's when the people get nervous. It makes them uncomfortable."
That certain Iraqis believe their cities and neighborhoods would be better off without American soldiers is neither new nor surprising; that is what the guerrillas' insurgency, now in its 17th month, is all about. What is new, however, is that the Americans, in certain cases, appear to agree or have decided that the cost to prove otherwise would be too high.
Whatever happened to "Win or Get Out"?
This is military strategy as designed by Karl Rove with one goal in mind: to get through November 2nd without American voters having to think much about Iraq. Despite almost 1,200 American causalities in August, so far that seems to be working.
War Nerd: "Holy Shi'ite!"
That's what's hardest for Americans to understand about the Shia: they don't think winning is everything. It'd be closer to the truth to say that they think losing is everything, that losing is a sign of being in the right.
The point is, they don't think like us. A whole lot of what's gone wrong in Iraq comes from thinking that everybody in the world wants to be like us. That's just plain wrong. Hell, I'm not sure I even want to be like us. And I know for certain the Shi'ites don't.
We believe in winning. Remember the beginning of Patton, when George C. Scott stands up in dress uniform and says, "No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country -- he won it by making some other poor son-of-a-bitch die for HIS country"? That sounds pretty obvious to us, but it's not the only way you can think about war...
If the Shi'ites wrote the script for Patton, George C. Scott would get up and say something like, "Go ahead and kill us -- you'll be sorry!" We're talking about a martyr culture here, where dying makes you stronger. You know, that shouldn't be so hard for us to get, because we've got Christ, who won by losing, by dying. But that was a long time ago, and it's so prettified by now that Mel Gibson had to make a whole movie to remind people that martyrdom actually hurts.
The Shi'ites' martyrs are a lot more recent. Their favorite disaster happened in 680 AD, at the battle of Karbala. Yup, THAT Karbala -- the same city where we've been fighting Shi'ites for the last few months. Karbala means "anguish." That should tell you something about the way Shi'ites see the world, that they named one of their holiest cities after something we'd call "clinical depression." They're not smiley-face optimists. If a Shi'ite coached your kid's soccer team, he'd start every practice with a video of the team's biggest defeat: "Yet again we see Jason missing the goal! Truly we AM/PM Minimart Big Gulps are out of the playoffs forever and a day!"
How smart is Kerry? I'm stumped at finding out anything at all about Kerry's academic smarts. I can't find anything on Google about his college or law school GPA, much less his SAT and LSAT scores.
We know Bush scored 1206 on the SAT (stop giggling youngsters, that was a much better score back before they made the scoring easier for your generation around 1995). Charles Murray and I worked out that Bush scored at about the 95th or 96th percentile among all Americans. Bush's grades at Yale were mediocre, although they were somewhat better than Al Gore's at Harvard. And Bush later graduated from Harvard Business School while Gore's post-graduate attempts were dope-hazed disasters. (Gore, however, scored 1330 on the SAT, and twice took IQ tests at St. Alban's, which gave him scores of 134 and 133.) Historian Jim Chapin guesstimated that Bush's IQ would fall between the 25th and 50th percentiles among U.S. Presidents, and Gore's between the 50th and 75th percentiles. (Here's one of my articles on the subject.)
The only other confirmed IQ score for a President is John F. Kennedy's 119. Long ago, I heard somewhere that Nixon scored 143, which sounds about right, but, unfortunately, when I recently tried to confirm it, most of the references on Google to that score trace back to an article I wrote five years ago, so, lacking my notes from 1999, I can't confirm it.
Gore's academic career at Harvard was undistinguished, but his social career was striking. His roommate was football player Tommie Lee Jones, the future Oscar winner. Classics professor Erich Segal modeled the character, hockey player Oliver Barrett IV, played by Ryan O'Neal in the movie version of his novel "Love Story" on Tommie, but drew a few of the character's less attractive qualities from Al, who mistakenly claimed to be the main model (and wrongly suggested Tipper was the model for Ali MacGraw's character). However, Al was not bereft of enjoying a professor's creepy-sounding devotion to a hunky undergrad of his own: Professor Martin Peretz, who went on to marry rich women and buy The New Republic, was Al's valuable catch. (In the late 1990s, Peretz fired TNR editor Michael Kelly for not sharing his infatuation with Al.)
With his SAT and grades, Bush didn't really expect to get into Yale, his father's school -- he was telling his prep school friends that he was looking forward to being a U. of Texas Longhorn -- so his admission came as a pleasant surprise. That was the last year Yale gave big breaks to members of the old WASP elites. My late friend Jim Chapin was a history professor there at the time, and says that the intellectual improvement between Bush's class and the next class was striking. (That accounts for Bush's famous alienation from much of campus life after his freshman year -- Yale filled up quickly with a lot of very smart Jews and Catholics, many of them leftwing, with whom Bush had little in common.)
Kerry is a couple of years older than Bush, so he too was admitted under Yale's old admission system that gave lots of brownie points for good blood, good bone.
I have been able to find absolutely nuthin' on Kerry's grades. Googling on terms like "honors" and "laude" comes up with nothing either, so it's clear his grades weren't good enough to deserve any recognition. The only other fact we know is that Kerry attended Boston College Law School rather than an Ivy League school. Kerry offers some convoluted scheduling excuse about why he couldn't go to Harvard or Yale Law, but it doesn't make much sense. Boston College Law is a good place for aspiring local politicians to go, but Kerry's ambitions were more focused on the national stage.
So, the evidence, and lack of evidence, suggests that Kerry is probably about as smart as Bush overall, maybe somewhat dumber. (After all, Bush got into Harvard for his professional degree while Kerry went to Boston College.)
Based on the last four years, this is not encouraging. Of course, it doesn't take a huge amount of intellectual firepower to not invade the wrong country -- most other Presidents before George W. Bush managed that feat. For example, FDR was no Dick Feynman, but after Pearl Harbor, he didn't invade, say, Paraguay.
Kerry reminds me of another tall Democratic Senator, Bill Bradley, who, as the star of the NCAA Final Four-making Princeton basketball team, was even more celebrated as a youth than even Kerry. New Yorker journalist John McPhee developed an infatuation with Bradley similar to Segal's with Jones and Peretz's with Gore, and wrote an embarrassing book about how the golden boy was a genius on and off the court. This reputation stuck with Bradley for decades, so, when it came out, as he began his run for the Democratic nomination for the President in 2000, that his SAT verbal score was only 485 (Bush's was 566), much derision was cast on the SAT. But, then, during his disastrous campaign, Bradley proved to be a deadly dull man, and the validity of the SAT was once again upheld.
On the other hand, Bradley really was a dedicated public servant who tried hard within his intellectual limits. The 1986 tax simplification legislation, for which Bradley was primarily responsible, was a far more impressive accomplishment than anything Kerry has done in 20 years in the Senate (although little is left of that bill these days, now that loopholes are back in style).
On the other other hand, Kerry has married two rich women, one incredibly rich, so he must have something going for him.
One thing you've got to say for Bush -- the only influential older men who developed a deep and abiding interest in him were his relatives.
Fewer troops in Iraq mean fewer deaths: The conventional "liberal hawk" view is that we don't have enough troops in Iraq. But William M. Arkin points out in the LA Times:
we have been unable to break out of our old mind-set, it's actually a
blessing we don't have more troops in Iraq. The fact that the
coalition force is relatively small is one reason that, on average,
fewer than two soldiers are being killed each day [well, in August, 2.1
per day, along with 36 wounded per day] , compared to the 30
American soldiers who died each day during the peak of U.S. fighting in
Vietnam in 1968.
Kerry promises immediate illegal immigration cave-in:
FRESNO, Calif. -- Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry capped a recent farm workers convention by promising to propose "comprehensive immigration reform" within his first 100 days in office if he defeats President George W. Bush.
Kerry made the promise in a seven-minute telephone call to delegates last Saturday at the 17th Constitutional Convention of the United Farm Workers in Fresno, California. He also vowed to immediately sign the bipartisan AgJobs bill, which would allow undocumented farm workers to gain legal residency status.
"Within hours of being sworn in, there will be health care for all Americans," said Kerry. [What is he talking about?!? -- SES] "Every child in America will be covered by child care. In addition to that, we will be introducing an opportunity for kids to graduate from high school differently."
Back in the days when the United Farm Workers leaders were more concerned about raising the wages of their members than of increasing the number of dues-paying members, Cesar Chavez was strongly anti-immigration.
1,100 American soldiers wounded in August - This is the highest monthly total yet. It goes along with 66 Americans killed. The Washington Post reports: "Since the start of the war in March 2003, 979 U.S. troops have died in Iraq and almost 7,000 have been wounded."
Why did W.F. Buckley wash his hands of NR so precipitously? Maybe I'm all wrong about this, but didn't William F. Buckley's June 29th announcement that he was leaving National Review after 49 years seem much more rushed than you'd expect? I had always kind of assumed he would have a bit of a well-deserved farewell tour (metaphorically speaking), like a Hall of Fame athlete in his final season, timed to culminate with the magazine's 50th anniversary next year. Instead, boom, just one day, he relinquishes his shares with no public warning.
Normally, one would expect him to choose a ceremonial date of transition a few months in advance to allow his countless admirers to write and place "What WFB Meant to Me" articles. But there's no market for them because he walked off so quickly.
Is there a story here? What's the story?
Michael Ledeen, NRO's International Man of Mystery, Exposed: Speaking of National Review, NRO Contributing Editor Michael Ledeen was long suspected of treason by his Reagan Administration superiors. Here's an excerpt from Stephen Green's "Serving Two Flags" article, which the FBI has found most useful in their wide-ranging and ongoing investigation into NeoconGate:
In 1983, on the recommendation of Richard Perle, Ledeen was hired at the Department of Defense as a consultant on terrorism. His immediate supervisor was the Principle Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, Noel Koch. Early in their work together, Koch noticed with concern Ledeen's habit of stopping by in his (Koch's) outer office to read classified materials. When the two of them took a trip to Italy, Koch learned from the CIA station there that when Ledeen had lived in Rome previously, as correspondent for The New Republic, he'd been carried in Agency files as an agent of influence of a foreign government: Israel.
Some time after their return from the trip, Ledeen approached his boss with a request for his assistance in obtaining two highly classified CIA reports which he said were held by the FBI. He'd hand written on a piece of paper the identifying "alpha numeric designators". These identifiers were as highly classified as the reports themselves....which raised in Koch's mind the question of who had provided them to Ledeen if he hadn't the clearances to obtain them himself. Koch immediately told his executive assistant that Ledeen was to have no further access to classified materials in the office, and Ledeen just ceased coming to "work".
In early 1986, however, Koch learned that Ledeen had joined NSC as a consultant...
Koch's belated attempts to draw official attention to his former assistant were too late, in any event, for within a very few weeks of leaving his DOD consultancy in late 1984, Ledeen had found gainful (classified) employment at the National Security Council (NSC). In fact, according to a now declassified chronology prepared for the Senate/House Iran- Contra investigation, within calendar 1984 Ledeen was already suggesting to Oliver North, his new boss at NSC...." that Israeli contacts might be useful in obtaining release of the U.S. hostages in Lebanon." Perhaps significantly, that is the first entry in the "Chronology of Events: U.S.- Iran Dialogue", dated November 18,1986, prepared for the Joint House-Senate Hearings in the Iran-Contra Investigations.
What is so striking about the Ledeen-related documents which are part of the Iran-Contra Collection of the National Security Archive, is how thoroughly the judgements of Ledeen's colleagues at NSC mirrored, and validated, Noel Koch's internal security concerns about his consultant.
- on April 9, 1985, NSC Middle East analyst Donald Fortier wrote to National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane that NSC staffers were agreed that Ledeen's role in the scheme should be limited to carrying messages to Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres regarding plans to cooperate with Israel on the crisis within Iran, and specifically that he should not be entrusted to ask Peres for detailed operational information;
- on June 6, 1985, Secretary of State George Shultz wrote to McFarlane that, "Israel's record of dealings with Iran since the fall of the Shah and during the hostage crisis [show] that Israel's agenda is not the same as ours. Consequently doubt whether an intelligence relationship such as what Ledeen has in mind would be one which we could fully rely upon and it could seriously skew our own perception and analysis of the Iranian scene."
- on 20 August, 1985, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense informed Ledeen by memorandum that his security clearance had been downgraded from Top Secret-SCI to Secret.
- on 16 January, 1986, Oliver North recommended to John Poindexter "for [the] security of the Iran initiative" that Ledeen be asked to take periodic polygraph examinations.
- later in January, on the 24th, North wrote to Poindexter of his suspicion that Ledeen, along with Adolph Schwimmer and Manucher Ghorbanifar, might be making money personally on the sale of arms to Iran, through Israel.
During the June 23-25, 1987 joint hearings of the House and Senate select committees' investigation of Iran-Contra, Noel Koch testified that he became suspicious when he learned that the price which Ledeen had negotiated for the sale to the Israeli Government of basic TOW missiles was $2,500 each.
Upon inquiring with his DOD colleagues, he learned the lowest price the U.S. had ever received for the sale of TOWs to a foreign government had been a previous sale to Israel for $6,800 per copy. Koch, professing in his testimony that he and his colleagues at DOD were not in favor of the sale to begin with, determined that he--Koch--should renegotiate the $2,500 price so that it could be defended by the "defense management system." In a clandestine meeting on a Sunday in the first class lounge of the TWA section of National Airport, Koch met over a cup of coffee with an official from the Israeli purchasing mission in New York, and agreed on a price of $4,500 per missile, nearly twice what Ledeen had "negotiated" in Israel.
There are two possibilities here--one would be a kickback, as suspected by his NSC colleagues, and the other would be that Michael Ledeen was effectively negotiating for Israel, not the U.S.
Like his friend Stephen Bryen (they've long served together on the JINSA Board of Advisors) Ledeen has been out of government service since the late1980s....until the present Bush Administration. He, like Bryen, is presently a serving member on the China Commission and, with the support of DOD Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, he has since 2001 been employed as a consultant for the Office of Special Plans OSP). Both involve the handling of classified materials and require high-level security clearances.
Why does the U.S. government hire for sensitive roles guys with long track records of suspicious behavior? Oh, I get it. It's because they get hired by other guys with longer track records of suspicious behavior.
The GOP case for Bush's Re-election: The Three R's: Racial-Religious Revenge -- Distilled from all the speeches at the Republican convention, here it is: "Some Arab Muslims blew up the World Trade Center, so we invaded Iraq and blew up some Arab Muslims. Mission accomplished!"
Would Kerry rather lose than cross AIPAC? We've spent the last six weeks watching, first, John Kerry self-apotheosize himself as the Great American Warrior who deserves to be elected President for doing the same things large numbers of other men of his generation did, and, second, George W. Bush's surrogates muddy the waters over Kerry's service while Bush tries to act like he's above it all. Of course, all this is water 35 years under the bridge.
Now, just as Bush is getting his convention bounce in the polls, Kerry has a live Bush scandal handed to him: NeoconGate. But will Kerry even mention that American secrets have ended up in Iranian hands, much less Israeli hands? Or would he rather lose than cross the American Israel Political Action Committee (which The Forward describes as "an organization that to a large degree is successful because of its image of virtual omnipotence")? We shall see.
One harbinger is that even Michael Moore refused to touch the neocons in "Fahrenheit 9/11" (here's my review), where the only criticism they came in for was for Paul Wolfowitz's un-hygienic grooming habits. Moore never mentioned Ahmed Chalabi!
"Hero" is vaguely based on a celebrated assassination attempt on the ruthless King of Qin. He ruled the most aggressive of the seven Warring States in the Third Century B.C. Subsequent Imperial historians have tended to demonize this pre-unification era as anarchic, thus justifying the Emperor's monopoly on power. In truth, competition between the Warring States made this the most innovative era in Chinese history, just as European culture flourished during the centuries of state competition following the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, while our arts are now losing momentum under the orderly but uninspiring European Union. How many years has it been, for instance, since a European movie could compare to "Hero" in artistic ambition?
In "Hero," the normally wary King of Qin suffers an unknown swordsman (played by martial arts whiz Jet Li) to approach within an unheard of ten paces of his throne to tell of how he killed the three famous assassins sent by the enemy state of Zhao. The visitor explains in a red-saturated flashback that he exploited the assassins' moral flaws, but the king is suddenly dubious, saying his enemies were warriors of the highest character. More untrustworthy Rashomon-style color-coded flashbacks follow until we learn that the guest is a fourth assassin. Will the hitman get his revenge on the aggressor, or will he sheath his sword to spare the life of the only man brutal enough to unify "Our Land" (or as, other translations more ominously put it, "All Under Heaven")?
The suspense might be tauter if you don't already know that the King of Qin survived to become one of the most important figures in world history. In 221 B.C., he completed his conquest of the other Warring States and declared himself Qin Shi Huangdi, the "First Emperor of China." Somewhere between Napoleon and Stalin on the Evil Tyrant-Meter, he imposed the relatively efficient but ultimately stultifying template of centralism that has held China back ever since.
Fortunately, the disunity of the Chinese during the 1970s allowed Deng glimpses from Mao's mainland of madness of what Chinese people were accomplishing in Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong under sane government.
"Hero's" Chinese-unity-uber-alles philosophy should seem ominous to the Taiwanese. Still, there's little question that director Zhang Yimou, the one time often-censored bad boy, has tapped into an authentic current of mounting Chinese national pride that has re-energized his art. In his drive to reimagine the founding myth of this emerging industrial and potential military superpower, Zhang's movie might even bear comparison to the great nationalist operas of the 19th Century: "Hero" as visual Wagner.
2004: A 1972-Style Pyrrhic Victory Ahead? President Nixon won a smashing victory in 1972, but the GOP was in ruins by the 1974 midterm elections. A second term for Bush would likely be dominated by the news of his first administration's more lawless foreign policy operatives being arrested or fleeing abroad.
NeoconGate: Some terrorists are more equal than other terrorists -- A standard talking point of the neocons has been that being in a War on Terror mandates that the United States battle all terrorist groups, especially ones targeting only Israel and not the U.S. Yet, the neocons have their own favorite terrorist group, the MEK, because it is trying to overthrow Israel's number one enemy, Iran.
One of the issues in NeoconGate is the battle within the Administration over America's attitude toward the Islamic-Marxist group MEK or Mujahedin-e Khalq, which murdered Americans back in the 1970s and has been on the official U.S. terrorist list since 1997. The neocons like the MEK and try to foster American support for it, since some of its terror has been directed at the Iranian regime.
Warren P. Strobel of Knight-Ridder, whose pre-Iraq Attaq reporting was some of the least deluded, writes:
Officials outside the Pentagon have questions about still-unexplained meetings that [Larry] Franklin and Defense Department official Harold Rhode had in December 2001 in Rome with Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms dealer who played a role in the Iran-Contra affair.
The first meeting was intended to put U.S. officials in contact with Iranian dissidents who claimed to have information about threats to American forces in Afghanistan, according to former Reagan administration official Michael Ledeen, who helped broker it.
Officials in Feith's office also argued for maintaining contacts with an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, that's dedicated to overthrowing the theocracy in Tehran.
The administration official said Pentagon aides and contractors tried to conceal some of their contacts with Ghorbanifar and the Mujahedeen Khalq from the State Department and the CIA. He stressed that doing so isn't new or necessarily wrong, and that the CIA itself does that to other agencies routinely.
From an official U.S. Navy website, here's more information on the neocons' darlings, the MEK, and their long ties to terrorism and to Saddam Hussein:
Description The MEK philosophy mixes Marxism and Islam. Formed in the 1960s, the organization was expelled from Iran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and its primary support came from the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein since the late 1980s. The MEK’s history is filled with anti-Western attacks as well as terrorist attacks on the interests of the clerical regime in Iran and abroad. The MEK now advocates the overthrow of the Iranian regime and its replacement with the group’s own leadership. First designated in October 1997.
Activities The group’s worldwide campaign against the Iranian Government stresses propaganda and occasionally uses terrorism. During the 1970s, the MEK killed US military personnel and US civilians working on defense projects in Tehran and supported the takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in Tehran. In 1981, the MEK detonated bombs in the head office of the Islamic Republic Party and the Premier’s office, killing some 70 high-ranking Iranian officials, including chief Justice Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, and Premier Mohammad-Javad Bahonar.
Near the end of the war with Iran during 1980-88, Baghdad armed the MEK with military equipment and sent it into action against Iranian forces. In 1991, it assisted the Government of Iraq in suppressing the Shia and Kurdish uprisings in southern Iraq and the Kurdish uprisings in the north.
In April 1992, the MEK conducted near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian Embassies and installations in 13 countries, demonstrating the group’s ability to mount large-scale operations overseas. In April 1999, the MEK targeted key military officers and assassinated the deputy chief of the Armed Forces General Staff. In April 2000, the MEK attempted to assassinate the commander of the Nasr Headquarters—Tehran’s interagency board responsible for coordinating policies on Iraq. The normal pace of anti-Iranian operations increased during the “Operation Great Bahman” in February 2000, when the group launched a dozen attacks against Iran. In 2000 and 2001, the MEK was involved regularly in mortar attacks and hit-and run raids on Iranian military and law-enforcement units and government buildings near the Iran-Iraq border, although MEK terrorism in Iran declined throughout the remainder of 2001. In February 2000, for example, the MEK launched a mortar attack against the leadership complex in Tehran that houses the offices of the Supreme Leader and the President.
Coalition aircraft bombed MEK bases during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the Coalition forced the MEK forces to surrender in May 2003. The future of the MEK forces remains undetermined with Coalition forces.
But the neocons want the MEK to be the INC of Iran, the exile group that provides lots of "intelligence" on the Iranian WMD programs to justify attacking Iran.
The MEK is actually quite an entertaining cult: much of its supposed "fighting troops" consist of Amazon corps of women warriors who take vows of eternal celibacy and loyalty to the charismatic husband-wife team, the Rajavis, who head it. A New York Times Magazine article on the MEK by Elizabeth Rubin concluded:
"This past winter in Iran, when such a popular outburst among students and others was still just a dream, if you mentioned the Mujahedeen, those who knew and remembered the group laughed at the notion of it spearheading a democracy movement. Instead, they said, the Rajavis, given the chance, would have been the Pol Pot of Iran. The Pentagon has seen the fatal flaw of hitching itself to volatile groups like the Islamists who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and, more recently, the Iraqi exile groups who had no popular base at home. It seems dangerously myopic that the U.S. is even considering resurrecting the Rajavis and their army of Stepford wives."
NeoconGate: "Wider FBI Probe Of Pentagon Leaks Includes Chalabi" reports the Washington Post:
The FBI probe is actually much broader [than just Franklin-AIPAC], according to senior U.S. officials, and has been underway for at least two years. Several sources familiar with the case say the probe now extends to other Pentagon personnel who have a particular interest in assisting both Israel and Chalabi, the former Iraqi dissident who was long a Pentagon favorite but who has fallen out of favor with the U.S. government...
There appears to be at least two common threads in the multi-faceted investigation. First, the FBI is investigating whether the same people passed highly classified information to two disparate allies -- Chalabi and a pro-Israel lobbying group. Second, at least some of the intelligence in both instances included sensitive information about Iran.
The broader investigation is also looking into the movement of classified materials on U.S. intentions in Iraq and on the Arab-Israeli peace process, sources added.
U.S. officials said the alleged transfer of classified intelligence to Chalabi has been part of the FBI investigation at least since a raid in May by Iraqi officials on the Baghdad compound of Chalabi's party, the Iraqi National Congress. Classified U.S. intelligence material was found in that raid, a senior official said.
Conspiracies, Italy, and Michael Ledeen:: Most of us Americans feel a deep aversion toward conspiracy theories.
In contrast to America, in Mediterranean countries, conspiracy theories are most people's preferred explanation for how the world works. You saw a little of that during the Olympics when Greek fans in the track and field stadium held up the running of the 200m for some time by booing and chanting the name of the Greek 2000 gold medalist in the 200m, Kostas Kenteris, who had dropped out of the Olympics after a mysterious motorcycle "accident" and a missed drug test the night before the Opening Ceremony in which he was expected to light the Olympic Torch. Booing was particularly loud when any of the three American finalists were shown on the stadium screen. Reports indicate that many Greek fans in the stadium believed the U.S. had somehow rigged the disgrace of Kenteris to eliminate the only competition for their runners. The simpler explanation -- that Kenteris only won in 2000 because he was juiced to the eyeballs and that he staged his motorcycle crash with his girlfriend, the silver medalist in the women's 100m in 2000, to avoid being caught by an improved drug test -- did not appeal to Greeks, for whom Occam's Razor is a poor guide to public affairs. (Of course, it didn't help that the American favorite and eventual victor, Shawn Crawford, had appeared barechested on television the night before looking like an ad for BALCO, yet he passed his drug tests.)
Now, there's a reason that Mediterraneans like conspiracy theories: there are lots and lots of conspiracies in their countries. Extended family ties are stronger, justice is less certain, and so much of publics affairs resembles only somewhat more respectable organized crime activities.
Only in this year, for example, have I learned how much of Italy's history from the American invasion of Sicily in 1943 onward happened below the surface. For example, the U.S. Army helped revive the Mafia, which had been beaten down by Mussolini for 20 years, to ease the way into Sicily and to keep order afterwards so our troops didn't get bogged down in occupation duty.
Likewise, the overwhelming importance of defeating our subsequent ideological foe during the Cold War caused the U.S. to tolerate, even subsidize, a lot of conspiratorial criminality in Italy, where the chance of a Communist takeover, by invasion, coup, or election was always fairly high. The Mafia's get-out-the-vote abilities in southern Italy made it a bulwark of the anti-Communist Christian Democrats, which we heavily subsidized. Our main man in Cold War Italy, Giulio Andreotti, seven times Prime Minister of Italy, has spent most of his retirement being tried for connections to the Mafia and murdering a scandal-mongering journalist.
In the north of Italy, the CIA established a network of potential sleeper cells of armed, trained resistance fighters who would sabotage any Soviet takeover (Operation Gladio). Very patriotic, but of course, being Italians, some of the conspirators weren't content to wait around until their country needed them and began to freelance on their own.
The late 1970s and early 1980s were the fever years in Italy, when the chance of a Communist takeover at the ballot box and leftwing kidnappings were at their peak. Bizarre events were common, such as the horrendous bombing of the Genoa train station, apparently by rightwingers, the hanging death of "the Pope's banker" Roberto Calvi, and the discovery, most ridiculous sounding of all, of the secret and sinister P2 Lodge of Free Masons to which much of the right of center Italian establishment apparently belonged.
All this seems very alien to most Americans. Yet a few Americans positively love to conspire, most notoriously Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald almost certainly shot JFK alone, but not for a lack of trying to attain co-conspirators. The chief reason there have been so many JFK conspiracy theories ever since is because Oswald had deeply wanted to be part of a conspiracy. So, he had previously contacted potential partners: the KGB most notably, but also the CIA, the Mafia, the Castroites, and the anti-Castroites. Most realized, sooner or later, that Oswald was trouble with a capital T and washed their hands of him, so he was forced to win his place in the history books alone.
Another inveterate plotter is NRO Contributing Editor and International Man of Mystery Michael Ledeen. Separating truth from fiction about Ledeen is hard, but a few things are agreed-upon, such as his role in initiating the Iran-Contra scandal that almost destroyed the Reagan Presidency and his central role in setting up the recent meetings in Europe, including Rome, between the Neocongate suspect Larry Franklin, fellow Feith operative Harold Rhode, Italian Intelligence agents (SISMI), and Ledeen's old collaborator from Iran-Contra, the notoriously unreliable Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar.
Ledeen spent most of his formative years in the late 1970s and very early 1980s in Italy, moving in CIA-related journalistic / intelligence circles. He was apparently a consultant for SISMI, the Italian Intelligence service, during those years. For an anti-Ledeen report on what he was supposedly up to during those years, see this, the accuracy of which I absolutely cannot vouch for.
We now know that the the forged documents relating to the purported purchase by Iraq of the Niger yellowcake emerged out of Italy, with a tie to the Italian Intelligence service SISMI -- see Josh Marshall's report.
Is there a connection to Ledeen? I know of no proof. But all I can say, from what I see of Ledeen's history and personality, is that if he wasn't involved in the yellowcake forgery, he must be kicking himself for missing out on all the fun.
On Bush: Readers respond:
1. Bush & Rove are following a calculated strategy to get around the Iraq problems by conflating Iraq with 9/11. All the speakers that I heard -- all the big ones -- merged them together.This seems to be working. Kerry can't do much about it because he also favors the war.
2. The convention seemed to follow the Sailer strategy of going for white guys and married white gals in the battleground states, giving them good reasons to come out and vote on Nov. 2: protection from terror and tax cuts. Then to make some moderates feel good and at least not voter for Kerry, Bush threw in a bunch of proposals for new socialist programs, most of which won't go anywhere.
It'll probably work, unless it's really close and the immigrant vote does Bush in.
Perceptive analysis on Bush's ability to get-away saying things because people feel he's just a puppet.
Give him credit: he may not have applied himself at school, but he went to school in politics and had an education there that rivals no one's. He knows how to sell an idea that will draw the least amount of fire. He's a master at creating a small target.
Also, limited abilities might help Bush in a way. Being US President, the number of things a remarkably smart person could get distracted on are endless. Think of the streams of data that constantly bombard a US President. Bush is probably overwhelmed by it, as most of us would be, so he filters -- maybe too much.
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