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Recent columns, essays,
and news articles
to a Superpower (Margaret Thatcher)
America will never be the same again. It has proved to itself
and to others that it is in truth (not just in name) the only global
superpower, indeed a power that enjoys a level of superiority over
its actual or potential rivals unmatched by any other nation in
modern times. Consequently, the world outside America should never
be the same either. There will, of course, arise new threats from
new directions. But as long as America works to maintain its technological
lead, there is no reason why any challenge to American dominance
should succeed. And that in turn will help ensure stability and
Good as Doctrine Gets (Michael Kelly)
Assume that George W. Bush is serious about projecting force
around the world to eliminate the threat from states that meet three
criteria: institutional hostility to the United States and to a
liberal respect for life, liberty and law; support for anti-American
terrorists; and a demonstrated hunger for weapons of mass destruction.
Is this a good idea? I would argue that Bushs new doctrine
is as good as doctrine generally gets necessary and workable,
although not perfect.
against Jews escalates in France (Dallas Morning News)
The vicious conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians
in the Middle East has apparently had a startling spillover effect
in France, where officials report a sharp rise in the number of
attacks on Jewish schools, synagogues and rabbis.
new anti-semitism? (Peter Beaumont)
But the problem with all this talk of a new anti-Semitism
is that those who argue hardest for its inexorable rise are dangerously
conflating two connected but critically separate phenomena. The
monster that they have conjured from these parts is not only something
that does not yet exist and I say yet with caution
but whose purported existence is being cynically manipulated
by some in the Israeli government to try to silence debate about
the policies of the Sharon government.
Deepens Assault on Faith (WP)
A religious rights group in the United States has published
a set of internal Chinese government documents describing in remarkable
detail the suppression of unauthorized religious groups, including
efforts to crush underground Catholic churches, use of secret agents
to infiltrate illegal Protestant congregations and orders for forceful
measures against the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.
Guard focuses on port security (Duluth News Tribune)
Port security is now Job One for the Coast Guard,
Adm. James Loy, the agencys commandant, told reporters at
a briefing on his new, expanded budget Wednesday. A 19 percent jump
in the services operating expenses, the largest increase since
World War II, is designed to reduce the alarming vulnerability of
Americas 361 ports and 95,000 miles of rivers, lakes and coastlines.
stymied by bureaucracy (WT)
While the former Pennsylvania governor enjoys President Bushs
personal endorsement and an office close to the chief executive,
he does not have the official status of a department secretary or
the influence with Congress. And although most of the Cabinet members
were somewhat sanguine about the prospect of losing some turf, the
agencies directly involved saw Mr. Ridges proposal as a major
threat to their interests.
Press Glorifies Bomber as Heroine (NYT)
The fame of Wafa Idris, identified by Palestinian and Israeli
officials as the first female suicide bomber to attack inside Israel,
has spread far beyond the West Bank refugee camp that was her home.
Ms. Idris, 28, has been hailed in the Arabic-language press as striking
a blow not only against Israel but also for womans equality
by blowing herself up on Jaffa Road here two weeks ago, killing
an 81-year-old man and wounding many other people. She has been
compared to Joan of Arc, the Mona Lisa and the Virgin Mary.
frightens its friends and creates new enemies (Abdeljabbar Adwan
in Lebanon Daily Star)
The driving force of the rapid changes taking place on the
international scene is America: President George W. Bush, his administration,
the peoples representatives, and the public at large. On the
other side stand those leaders, governments, and peoples who find
themselves compelled, to varying degrees, to go along with those
changes not because they are convinced of the wisdom of American
policy, but out of fear, and in submission to and awe of American
Saddam: Now What? (Todd Purdum)
For better or worse, a bipartisan consensus has emerged in
the Bush administration and Congress alike that the United States
can no longer tolerate an Iraqi regime led by Saddam Hussein. Former
Vice President Al Gore, for example, told the Council on Foreign
Relations last week, Failure cannot be an option, which means
that we must be prepared to go the limit. But how and when
to replace Saddam Hussein and with whom remains a
matter of deeply unsettled debate.
Outsiders, Worship Is Risk in Saudi Arabia (NYT)
At a secret location every Sunday evening, a young Catholic
priest does a dangerous thing. He says Mass. He arrives in street
clothes and retrieves his vestments, liturgies, hymnals, Bibles,
crucifix and chalice from a locked cupboard. Discretion is crucial,
he says, because the Mutawwain, the street-patrolling morality police
employed by the kingdom, has threatened to hunt him down.
Over Amnesty Legislation Continues After 9/11 (Georgie Anne Geyer)
After 9/11, the nation was filled with new truths.
So much change was in the air that no one dared even question the
basic assumption. The nation will never be the same again,echoed
from coast to coast. We must rethink all of the propositions
on which so much of our actions have been based. One of those
new truths was the assurance that our out-of-control immigration
would finally be addressed; that citizenship would be strengthened
and respected; and that, above all, amnesty (and thus, full American
citizenship) would not be wantonly given to millions of illegal
aliens. Well, wake up, my fellow citizens its now the
pay dearly for silence on abuse (CT)
Despite two decades of warnings that when churches allow pedophiles
to remain in their ranks they risk not only grave damage to children
but also huge financial liability, many groups still appear more
concerned with protecting clergy than stopping the abuse, critics
say. Religious organizations as diverse as the Roman Catholic Church
and the Hare Krishnas are entangled in costly litigation charging
clergy with sexually abusing children.
and forget (Portland, Maine, Press Herald)
Older people are more likely to forgive, while people in their
20s and 30s are prone to view the sexual assaults as a crime so
serious that the priests should be removed, said Stacey Daigle,
32, a disc jockey at a Caribou radio station and a member of Audibert's
parish. It has shaken a lot of people, she said, but
some people aren't fazed by it at all.
Aims to Broaden Churches Politicking (WP)
Analysts say the bill, sponsored by Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr.
(R-NC), would allow churches to endorse candidates and spend money
to help elect them. Under current law, churches may address political
issues and invite politicians to speak, but they risk their tax-exempt
status if they specifically call for a candidates election
Misleading Measure of Poverty (Nicholas Eberstadt)
The original poverty rate calculations were an inventive effort
to fashion an index of material want under real data constraints.
Today almost four decades later no similar excuse
for that index exists. The poverty rate misleads the public and
our representatives, and it thereby degrades the quality of our
social policies. It should be discarded for the broken tool that
it is and a poverty rate worthy of the name should be crafted
anew in its place.
Global Crossing Board Member: Former Secretary of Defense (Washington
Global arranged for DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe an investment
in company stock that increased 18,000 percent, from $100,000 to
$18 million in about a year and a half. The company paid a former
justice department lawyer, Anne Bingaman $2.5 million for lobbying
efforts. Bingaman was assistant Attorney General under Janet Reno,
head of the Anti-trust Division and considered an expert in international
monopolies. Global Crossing owns 20 percent of all undersea communications
cable and was increasing its ownership. She is also the wife of
Senator Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, one of those investigating Enron.
influence for sale (Joseph Perkins)
Indeed, in practically every news story, every broadcast report
on Enron, we are reminded that the fallen energy giant was a big
contributor to the Republican Party, and that former Enron Chairman
Kenneth Lay personally donated $100,000 to President Bushs
Inaugural fund. Yet, no major newspaper and no network newscast
has mentioned that Global Crossing has given more to Democrats than
Enron gave to Republicans.
Groups Worry About Effects Of International Court (CNS)
Just eight more countries must ratify the statute setting
up the International Criminal Court for the body to become a reality,
and pro-ICC campaigners believe this could happen within just two
months. Critics fear the court will infringe on nations sovereignty,
and could even become a forum for the United Nations to impose pro-abortion
and anti-family measures on member-states.
Deep Throat play a second time? (Paul Craig Roberts)
Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, once thought
to be an honest man, has called for a special prosecutor to investigate
what he alleges was a cash-and-carry government run
by the Bush administration for Enron, the failed energy company.
Mr. Hollings has confused the Bush administration with the Clinton
Taxes, and the Attack on Iraq (Richard Muller)
In the next few months, spring will return, we will pay our
taxes, and the United States will attack Iraq. The seasons have
always returned, with perhaps a few exceptions when asteroids and
comets slammed into the Earth. Taxes are often listed among those
things considered inevitable. Why do I put the U.S.
attack on Iraq on the same list? Because it is also going to happen,
and happen soon.
cheating is on the rise, researchers say (Kansas City Star)
High school students cheat. Not all of them, of course, but
many. And those who do think its no big deal. Thats
what a national researcher found, and thats what former biology
teacher Christine Pelton says she saw when 28 of her 118 sophomores
plagiarized on a botany project at Piper High School in western
Kansas City, Kan.
Back Valentines Day (Wendy McElroy)
Politically correct feminists want Valentines Day to
become V-Day, standing for Vagina, Violence (committed by men against
women) and Victory.... The stated purpose is to raise awareness.
In reality, V-Day embodies the same double standard and dishonesty
that has characterized most feminist pronouncements for decades.
fear sound of silence (BBC)
Orchestras might be forced by European law to play music more
quietly, according to a leading British musicians body. The Association
of British Orchestras (ABO) is fighting to be exempted from a European
directive under consideration that would place limits on noise in
were paranoid of everyone (Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune)
The Kesslers had been thrust into the rapidly growing group
of Americans victimized every year by identity thieves. Police seldom
investigate cases like the Kesslers unless officers think
a ring is responsible or they detect large financial losses. Although
banks, credit agencies and insurance companies reimburse victims
for most of the money, victims spend an average of 175 hours and
$800 to straighten out their finances, a privacy-rights group found.
me, with love (Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Courier Times)
Many single, working women will create the illusion in their
workplaces today [Feb. 14] that they are romantically involved by
sending themselves Valentines Day flowers, say area florists.
cocoa shortage may curtail chocolate lovers treats (Minneapolis-St.
A world without chocolate would be barren indeed, but there
is that grim prospect if scientists cant find a cure for diseases
and pests that already destroy a third of the worlds annual
cocoa bean crop and are threatening to spread, with devastating
roll right into court (Cory Farley)
I dont want to take anything away from the Beamer Foundation,
nor from its namesake, who apparently was one of the leaders of
the passengers attempt to take that plane back. Well
never know how many lives they saved. Still
for Lets roll? If they get it, Im going
to register Hurry up, Pick up your socks
and Why didnt you go before we left home? Use
my phrase, pay my fees.
of more permanent interest
out grammar (Linda Chavez)
I learned how to diagram sentences in elementary school
or what we used to call, appropriately, grammar school.... Progressive
teachers and their professional associations, especially the National
Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), believe diagramming sentences
is make-work that bores students and turns them off to writing.
So they banished diagramming from the classroom years ago, along
with most grammar instruction.
Toward Bias: A Neo-Conservative Critiques the Media (Poynter)
The media, notably certain powerful big city dailies
and the network news divisions that generally follow their lead,
reflect a worldview that is not only distinctly liberal in character,
but hostile to those who hold alternative views.
Education of Abraham Lincoln (Eric Foner)
He read incessantly, beginning as a youth with the Bible and
Shakespeare. During his single term in the House of Representatives,
his colleagues considered it humorous that Lincoln spent his spare
time poring over books in the Library of Congress. The result of
this stunning work of self-education was the intellectual
power revealed in Lincolns writings and speeches.
Days in September (WP)
This series is based on interviews with President Bush, Vice
President Cheney and many other key officials inside the administration
and out. The interviews were supplemented by notes of National Security
Council meetings made available to The Washington Post, along with
notes taken by several participants.
Boys (Amy Benfer)
Suddenly, the debate among researchers is focused on the boys:
Are they behind because of the girl empowerment movement? Are they
being shortchanged in the classroom simply because they are boys?
News: Fair and balanced coverage requires diversity of opinion (Cathy
Neither Goldberg nor McGowan allege a deliberate vast left-wing
conspiracy to distort the news. Rather, they convincingly argue
that news coverage is often influenced by a knee-jerk bias stemming
from the journalists own views on political and social issues.
and Diversity in American Religion (Alan Wolfe)
No aspect of life is considered so important to Americans
outside higher education, yet deemed so unimportant by the majority
of those inside, as religion. The relative indifference to religion
in higher education may be changing, however, as a wide variety
of social and intellectual trends converge.
Trouble With Self-Esteem (Lauren Slater)
There is absolutely no evidence that low self-esteem
is particularly harmful, Emler says. Its not at
all a cause of poor academic performance; people with low self-esteem
seem to do just as well in life as people with high self-esteem.
In fact, they may do better, because they often try harder.
We Don’t Marry (James Q. Wilson)
“Marriage was once a sacrament, then it became a contract, and
now it is an arrangement. Once religion provided the sacrament,
then the law enforced the contract, and now personal preferences
define the arrangement.”
Us: Were So Easy (Fred Reed)
First, people will watch any television rather than no television.
Second, sooner or later they will begin to imitate what they see
on the screen. Third, while you cant fool all of the people
all of the time, you can fool enough of them enough of the time,
especially if you are a lot smarter than they are, and do it patiently,
calculatedly, over time, like water eroding stone. And that is all
Turn (Roger Kimball)
The most delicious news to emerge from the art world this
year  came in October, courtesy of the BBC. Under the gratifying
headline Cleaner Dumps Hirst Installation, the world
read that A cleaner at a London gallery cleared away an installation
by artist Damien Hirst having mistaken it for rubbish. Emmanuel
Asare came across a pile of beer bottles, coffee cups and overflowing
ashtrays and cleared them away at the Eyestorm Gallery on Wednesday
morning. I hope that Mr. Asare was immediately given a large
raise. Someone who can make mistakes like that is an immensely useful
chap to have about.
our religion (Theo Hobson)
It has become unthinkable for a Church leader, or any public
figure who is a Christian, to speak as if the gospel of Jesus Christ
is superior to other creeds; to talk about Christianity as an exceptionally,
uniquely good thing. In public, at least, such talk is taboo. Some
of the bishops might still say this sort of thing in their pulpits;
maybe the Blairs tell their children. But it is not for public hearing.
This Views Column
Reform and Connect the Dots
Its that time of the year. If I told you I woke up with a
headache this morning, and Im so dizzy today that I can hardly
stand without falling, youd probably commiserate and say,
Got that nasty flu bug?
Nope. Im just following the news about Campaign Finance Reform
(CFR) and trying to figure out whats really going on.
Some members of Congress, and of the mainstream media, have somehow
seized on the Enron business debacle as a springboard from which
to launch another attempt at CFR. The previous attempt, March 2001,
was known as McCain-Feingold, after the senators (John McCain, R-Arizona,
and Russell Feingold, D-Wisconsin) who sponsored the legislation
in the Senate. This time around, we have a couple of other names
tacked onto legislation in the House: Shays-Meehan, after the representatives
who sponsored the bill (Christopher Shays, R-Connecticut, and Martin
As far as I know, any CFR legislation sent to the president would
have to be a compromise between McCain-Feingold and Shays-Meehan.
Would that be McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan? Gotta get in those precious
names, dont they, for the history books and the interviews
during the next campaign?
Anyway, Enron and its employees had thrown their campaign contributions
around broadcast, to both Republicans and Democrats. Then, Enron
went bust, and many people were cast adrift who had thought their
futures were planted securely.
Now, some conservatives are in a tizzy because Enrons political
largesse has become the pretext for the latest attempt at CFR. Enrons
political contributions, they say, bought no favors from the White
House: the Bush administration did nothing to stave off the corporations
bankruptcy. (As I understand it, Enrons execs tried to get
the White House to influence Enrons creditors to cut them
some slack. No go. Some Democrats then took the tack, for a very
short while, that the White House should have intervened,
for the sake of the little guy: but that would merely
have allowed Enrons scam to live a little longer, no?)
They are right about Enron, specifically. It does seem, however,
that campaign contributions did help, indirectly, to fuel
Enrons eventual collapse. For Enrons execs would not
have been able to keep their scheme going for as long as they did
except for the deeds or misdeeds, or non-deeds
of their auditors, Arthur Andersen.
As Dick Morris pointed out in a New York Post article,
Jan. 29, Arthur Andersens behavior had been encouraged
through legislation championed years ago by Sen. Christopher Dodd
It was on account of Dodds tireless efforts
that Arthur Andersen was able to act as both independent
auditor and management consultant to Enron for $100 million
a year. That role so fraught with conflict of interest
that it makes a joke of the concept of outside auditors protecting
shareholders has been identified as one of the major causes
of the debacle. In 1995, it was Dodd who rammed through legislation,
overriding President Clintons veto, to protect firms like
Andersen from lawsuits in cases just like Enron.
Big names in the accounting industry have been especially generous
to Dodds campaigns, you see, both before and since the legislation.
(Dodd has, of course, disputed Morris account of the events.
But Morris is sticking by it, in an article
in the Jewish World Review, Feb. 13, providing more details
So, I think they are wrong who say that campaign contributions
had nothing to do with Enrons collapse. But they are wrong,
too, who say that Shays-Meehan will help to prevent a recurrence.
Why? Because the contributions that (according to Morris story)
resulted in legal breaks for the accounting industry were hard-money
contributions: Shays-Meehan puts restrictions on soft-money
contributions in federal elections, but actually increases
the limits on hard-money contributions.
So, those who support this CFR on the basis of wiping out alleged
Enron-like political corruption are playing some kind of weird double
bait-and-switch: neither contributions from Enron, nor soft-money
contributions, were part of the problem supposedly being fixed.
(Hard money? Soft money? No, were not talking about the difference
between coins and bills. Hard money is that contributed directly
to a candidate. Soft money is contributed more generally to a party
or is spent by organizations, including corporations and labor unions
and other special-interest groups, on election-related issues.)
Another aspect of this hard-money, soft-money tango is referred
to quite obliquely in an article
in the Washington Post, Feb. 14:
Mixed signals throughout the day from the White
House created some uncertainty about the bills eventual
fate. Bushs spokesman criticized a last-minute change in
the bill, which some Republicans characterized as a Democratic
maneuver designed to help pay off party debts from this falls
As reported on the Quinn
in the Morning radio program that same day, the last-minute
change allows soft-money contributions to be used to pay off
campaign debts which is currently illegal. Reportedly,
the Houses minority leader, Dick Gephardt (D-Missouri), would
be one of the chief beneficiaries of this last-minute change.
What a shocker. Not.
Shays-Meehan isnt only about campaign contributions. As the
Post reported in the same article:
Another provision, aimed at curbing thinly veiled
attack ads by outside groups, would ban corporations, unions and
advocacy groups from targeting candidates by name in issue
ads within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a
Whoa. The politicians now in office dont want groups targeting
them by name within a month or two of an election. Is this not a
brazen attempt at repression of political speech? What kind of reform
True, you might get disgusted (as I do) by the mud-slinging, muck-raking
depths to which certain groups will descend in the heat of a campaign
battle. But thats a price we pay for freedom of expression:
putting up with expressions we cant stand.
Now, it seems to me that most folks dont know or care whats
going on in elections until well into the one- or two-month period
before voting day. During that time, incumbent politicians will
have, as they always do, ready access to the voting public: press
releases, interviews in the mass media, mention in news stories,
and taxpayer-funded mailings. But concerned groups, often comprising
like-minded individuals who have no effective political voice without
pooling their money, will be shut out.
No wonder some pundits are calling the bill the Incumbents
Moreover, the power and influence of the mass media would be enhanced
considerably: as voting day nears, outside organizations would be
largely silenced, while editors and reporters would be free, as
always, to pontificate, and to pick-and-choose or manufacture
whatever news stories they like.
So, Shays-Meehan might also be called the Mainstream Media
Influence Enhancement Act.
Besides, we already have tons of election-related laws on the books
that are inadequately enforced. Michelle Malkin wrote about that
in a Creators Syndicate column,
Feb. 13: Democrat fund-raiser (funny money honey)
Maria Hsia was found guilty almost two years ago on five felony
counts, and she could have been sentenced to up to 25 years in jail.
She was finally sentenced this month to... what? Three months
house arrest, three years probation, and a four-figure fine.
Malkin sums it up neatly:
During the 2000 presidential campaign, the Buddhist
temple scandal [of 1996] was repeatedly invoked as a reason to
support campaign finance reform. But the proposals by McCain &
Feingold & Shays & Meehan would do nothing more to prevent
politicians and fund-raisers from hustling cash from foreign nationals
under the robes of monks and nuns in tax-exempt temples. Its
already illegal. Piling on new laws while the old ones get broken
with impunity is a pointless exercise in Beltway sanctimony. Campaign
finance reform is a joke, and fund-raising criminals like Maria
Hsia are getting the last laugh.
The cable talk shows are already awash with experts
who disagree on what actual effects Shays-Meehan would have. Some
say Democrats would benefit more than Republicans would; others
say that President Bush would benefit greatly in the next election
cycle. And all of them have their reasons. Who knows for sure? Nobody.
(It may be instructive to point out that this attempt at CFR would
allegedly fix the problems produced by previous CFR.) Shays-Meehan
is a prime example of a bill thats a seedbed for the Law
of Unintended Consequences.
Connect all the dots, and draw a monstrosity. Lets see.
- The pretext for passing Shays-Meehan supposed political
corruption by Enron money has nothing to do with reality.
- The kind of campaign contribution that just may have enabled
the Enron scam hard-money contributions influencing legislation
and regulation of the accounting industry would actually
be allowed to increase.
- And, for the purpose of paying off campaign debts, soft money
could be converted to hard-money use a practice now illegal.
- Outside interest groups would be prohibited from naming candidates
including incumbents, of course in issue ads in
the days immediately preceding an election.
- But incumbents will, naturally, have their usual access to
the voting public.
- And the mainstream media will be as free as always to editorialize
for their candidates of choice both in opinion pieces and
in news stories.
- Election-related laws and regulations already on the books are
- And nobody knows for sure what real long-term effects Shays-Meehan
would actually have on the political process.
This kind of reform should never see the light of day
in a representative republic that respects constitutional rights
of freedom of assembly and speech.
Depending on which pundit you read, CFR will be DOA in the Senate,
or it will breeze through. Time will tell. And shortly, too, I should
The legislation that may eventually be presented to the president
would be a momentous challenge. I would advise him to rise to that
occasion, if need be, as he has done so well before, and to veto
this Incumbents-Protection and Mainstream-Media-Influence-Enhancement
Act. And to tell the American people exactly why he is vetoing
Easy to do? Certainly not. But George W. Bush has our ear, as few
before have had it: let him use it well.
On the day the Premier Issue of the View was published (last Monday,
February 11, 2002), the Islamic Republic News Agency published an
about Iranian President Mohammad Khatami having addressed a
large crowd of people who had gathered in Azadi (freedom) Square
to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of triumph of the Islamic Revolution.
It may come as a surprise to you, but President Khatami is concerned
about Americans rights: The American nation has the
right to question their administration to what extent terrorists
were responsible for the dreadful terrorist attacks on September
11, 2001 and to what extent the wrong policies of the United States
Indeed. Here are some questions that I, as an American, have the
right to ask:
- Did certain wrong policies emigrate to the USA from the
Middle East prior to September 11, 2001?
- Did any wrong policies buy tickets and get boarding passes
for US commercial airliners on September 11?
- Did wrong policies board those airplanes on 9/11?
- Did wrong policies force their way into the cockpits
of those planes on 9/11?
- Did wrong policies thereby take over those planes on 9/11?
- And did wrong policies then fly those planes into buildings
occupied by innocent, unsuspecting civilians?
No, President Khatami. The answer to all my questions
is No. Im sure you would be glad to see that my
rights as an American have been vindicated. Thank you for your support.