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Tuesday, May 21  

We've moved

Patio Pundit can now be found here:

posted by Martin | 5/21/2002 11:46:00 AM

Saturday, April 20  

More on King

Colbert King's wacky column comparing the level of crime in Zurich to that of Washington, DC last week touched a nerve. King may not have a clue, but judging from the letters he got, his readers do. King quotes at length from a letter he received from a local cop, Officer Timothy Finnegan:

"We work in one of the most dangerous cities in the country and if we pepper-spray somebody or strike someone with an ASP [expandable metal baton] 2 times in one year we are put on the EWTS. Come on! And that is even if I or another officer was attacked. Who wants that hanging over their head?
"Where I work, there are many people that would not hesitate to injure or kill me if given the opportunity. And if they do happen to hurt or kill an officer it will be argued that the poor dear had a hard time growing up. PLEASE.
"You ask any officer who is in uniform working the street, and they will tell you it is not worth being sued, losing your house, your car or your savings. And the department will not back the officer up."

The problem is not impossible to fix if you elect mayors like Rudy Giuliani instead of ones like Marion Barry.

posted by Martin | 4/20/2002 11:15:00 AM

The some new ideas for the NY Times platform in 2004

Bill Keller has some new ideas for Democrats - some are good, some are horrible, all are interesting:

Take the high ground on capital punishment. When political discussion turns to issues of law and order, Democrats feel a desperate need to splash themselves with testosterone. One of my more dispiriting moments in the 2000 presidential campaign was that exchange in the third Bush-Gore debate when Mr. Gore tried to sound as execution-friendly as the Death Row King himself. (Hands up, everyone who believes Mr. Gore really, truly favors the death penalty.)
Suppose a candidate announced that immediately upon election he would create a high-powered, bipartisan commission and give it one year to design a blueprint for radically simpler taxes. The objective would be a tax code most Americans could understand without an economics degree and comply with in a couple of hours. No hidden agendas: the mandate would be to leave the government neither bigger nor smaller and to shift the burden as little as possible from one category of taxpayer to another.
The military is also looking at bunker-busting atom bombs and other nuclear novelties.
A sober, thoughtful critic might explain that, when one of the greatest threats to our homeland security is the proliferation of nuclear technology that could fall into terrorist hands, inventing new workaday uses for atomic explosives is, um, counterproductive. A candidate in campaign mode might reach for something less measured, like, "ARE THEY OUT OF THEIR MINDS?!"
Democrats muffle themselves out of fear of the right-wing Miami Cuban minority that wags the dog of Florida's 25 electoral votes. But a proposal for an opening aimed at preparing Cubans for the post-Castro era might peel some Cuban-Americans away from the zealots. (The way the Bush administration is bleeding Social Security, a Democrat might well survive Florida next time without the Cuban-Americans.)

posted by Martin | 4/20/2002 10:56:00 AM

Friday, April 19  

My goodness

Reader Dan Bruc notes in the comments under this post:

I have NEVER seen discussed, on any network or cyberzine, critical issues regarding claims and counter claims of Arabs and Israelis, and I think it would be salutary to see these discussed. Some examples:
1. Arabs claim proof that there were 19 years of peace when there WAS NO Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and a reversion to the old conditions would be the only requirement for peace between conciliatory Arabs and the Jewish state; Israelis claim to have proof that there were many killings at that time, and to revert to the old conditions would probably place Israel in great danger.
2. Arabs claim that the Jewish schools in Israel are purveyors of hate, have been so for close to two generations,and that all Israelis wish to do away with all the surrounding Arabs, while Arab schools teach peace between the two peoples; Israelis claim that the situation is reversed - Arabs have been teaching their children to hate all Israelis for many years, while Israel's schools teach peace between the two peoples.
3. Israelis claim that Arabs have been using the latest machine guns and short range missiles, have begun to use intermediate range missiles and other advance artillery, that coordinated attacks with Hezbollah have occured and threaten all of Israel, and that offensive thrusts aided by Iraq and factions in Saudi Arabia and Iran are being planned; Arabs claim that they have nothing but stones and a few rifles to face the formidable Israeli military machine, and their struggles are purely defensive and limited to the West Bank and Gaza.
4. Israelis claim roots in Palestine going back more than two millenia; Arabs claim roots going back two millenia, and that Jewish roots go back only to the 19th century.
5. Arabs claim that the Israeli defense forces show absolutely no restraint re:targeting civilians, and treat the latter as if they were all terrorists, while the IDF claims that they try to warn civilians with loudspeakers and leaflets, check areas before shelling, and try to limit violent actions to known belligerents.
May I suggest that both parties be challenged to provide photos, files, and other documentation of their allegations?

As Donald Rumsfeld might say - my goodness! My first instinct is to laugh, because I wonder what good facts do in this world anymore. More and more it seems that "the facts, while interesting, are irrelevant." But in the hopes that there are still people who need only to be shown the facts in order to make up their minds, I will answer each of Mr. Bruc's arguments. The Israeli foreign ministry has a website that provides a helpful timeline of events here.

1. From the time of Israel's founding, when the "West Bank" was under Arab control. The Arab countries immediately declared war on Israel. After the cessation of hostilities, Jordan annexed the "West Bank", instead of creating a "Palestinian State." The Arab neighbors tried to destroy Israel again in 1956, in 1967 (when Israel won Jerusalem and "the West Bank") and 1973.

2. I don't know what I can show you to prove the absence of hate in the Israeli educational system, but I can show you many pictures of Palestinian children being taught to hate:

3. Out of deference to my readers I won't show you the gory results of a "few sticks and stones," but in case you missed the news Palestinians have been "BLOWING THEMSELVES UP," taking innocent civilians with them. How do you do that with sticks and stones? There have been many gory pictures of the results for you to see. I'll show a relatively tame one here:

4. I could spend hours compiling proof of the Jewish claim to Israel. If you want the highlights, click here.

5. If Israel wanted to, it could have accomplished the Jenin operation from the air. The IDF lost 13 reservists in one battle alone. If Israel had used air power those 13 would be alive today. It didn't in order to minimize the Palestinian civilian deaths.

Is that enough "photos, files, and other documentation " for you? I suspect not. As I said, "the facts, while interesting, are irrelevant." It seems that the only way the Jews win is by dying. The world seem OK with that plan. I am not. Luckily for me and my family, the governments of the US and Israel are not OK with that plan either.

posted by Martin | 4/19/2002 10:02:00 AM

Hanson, again!

Today Victor Davis Hanson's needle pops one European's balloon of pomposity:

I had a conversation not long ago with a European, who typically so, began with the pained look of someone who was methodically entering a long grandfatherly lecture about the American pathologies of "unilateralism" and "exceptionalism." When I laughed and told him he should worry more about keeping us in NATO than threatening to leave, more about America turning its attention to Russia, India, Japan, and South America than to Paris and Rome, and expect pride rather than guilt that we stopped the Russians, fought the Gulf War, kicked out Noriega, and bombed in Serbia. In short, when I made it clear that Europe is irrelevant, he was shocked — and, mon dieu!, of all things, hurt! Europeans, I think, are going to learn that their real fears are not that we wish to control them, work with them, influence them, or corrupt them, but rather that we simply prefer to forget about them. They are rapidly becoming little more than an old windy Nestor — wordy, impotent, and full of empty advice about a glorious past in someone else's busy present.

I'll bet the guy was French.

posted by Martin | 4/19/2002 09:46:00 AM

Renewing America's Strength

It has been seven months since evil made a comeback. The question remains - will we prevail? Is civilization going to survive? The evil men have shaken my faith. I used to believe in the Statue of Liberty theory of immigration – let them all in. As I am fond of saying, America is an idea, not an ethnicity. But those bastards live among us. The murderers of September 11th lived here, breathed our air and drank our water. They somehow managed to resist the infection of the freedom virus. Their comrades live here still, watching and waiting. [Continued...]

posted by Martin | 4/19/2002 01:16:00 AM

Thursday, April 18  

If Peggy were pope

Peggy Noonan has some advice for the pope when he meets with the American cardinals:

He could begin with leaning toward a cardinal kneeling before him, thanking him for his long years of effort, and then removing and taking away his cardinal's hat and ring. Thus showing the cardinals and the world that he will not accept the continuance of the calamity.
He could start with Cardinal Bernard Law, whose actions have at least broken the spirit of the law. That would send a message to those in the church who need to hear it, that covering up, going along, and paying off victims is over. That careerism is over, and Christianity is back.

If he doesn't, the Catholic Church is in deep, deep, trouble.

posted by Martin | 4/18/2002 11:49:00 PM

How do you define terror?

Benjamin Netanyahu in the Wall Street Journal: (link requires registration)

Mahatma Gandhi fought for the independence of India without resorting to terrorism. So too did the peoples of Eastern Europe in their struggle to bring down the Berlin Wall. And Martin Luther King's campaign for equal rights for all Americans eschewed all violence, much less terrorism.
If the deprivation of rights is indeed the root cause of terrorism, why did all these people pursue their cause without resorting to terror? Put simply, because they were democrats, not terrorists. They believed in the sanctity of each human life, were committed to the ideals of liberty, and championed the values of democracy.
But those who practice terrorism do not believe in these things. In fact, they believe in the very opposite. For them, the cause they espouse is so all-encompassing, so total, that it justifies anything. It allows them to break any law, discard any moral code and trample all human rights in the dust. In their eyes, it permits them to indiscriminately murder and maim innocent men and women, and lets them blow up a bus full of children.
There is a name for the doctrine that produces this evil. It is called totalitarianism.

Simplisme. But that's a good thing.

posted by Martin | 4/18/2002 11:14:00 PM

More on Pearl

The poise that Mariane Perl exhibited on TV is in evidence in this NY Times piece:

Both Danny and I knew better than to believe what the fundamentalists were telling us about jihad. Jihad is the name of a process that can be undertaken successfully only by a courageous person. A jihadi fights with himself or herself in what I, as a Buddhist, think of as a personal revolution. It doesn't involve demonstrating in front of TV cameras or murdering innocent people. It is a slow and difficult process in which one seeks to overcome fears, prejudices and limitations to defend justice and do something that we call épanouir in French — allowing our personality to expand and blossom so that we can fully contribute to society at large.
I came to believe that only through such struggle — a true jihad — could Pakistan address the core issues that the fundamentalists use to manipulate people and exploit ignorance. Education, freedom of expression and the alleviation of poverty could no longer be considered a government responsibility alone. Citizens had to find ways to claim and defend their own rights. It was for the people of Pakistan to decide where their country stands in the global arena, and it was for the people of Pakistan to shake off submissiveness and restore their country's dignity.
Then Danny was kidnapped.

You must read it. She is a remarkable woman.

posted by Martin | 4/18/2002 11:02:00 PM

Pithy NYT

Friday's NY Times Op-Ed on Thursday:

The Times spanks Andrew Cuomo for his immature criticism of Pataki.
Paul Krugman invokes cartooning blogger Tom Tomorrow to link Bush's tax cuts to medicare shortages. Unlike David Broder, Krugman ignores the recent CalPERS 25% hike in premiums.
This installment of the Nicholas Kristof world tour comes to us from the Sudan, where he lauds the performance of the Bush team over that of the Clinton team. He claims former Senator John Danforth, Bush's envoy, achieved a cease-fire because it was willing to negotiate with a terror-tainted regime. Naive Kristof misunderstands the Bush doctrine (and Arafat) and says that there is a lesson here for the Israel/Palestinian issue.
Mariane Pearl writes about her experiences in Pakistan.

Mariane Pearl's column is a must read for obvious reasons. Kristof is compelling reading for much the same reason as a Pink Panther movie is. You understand more about what he sees than he does, and you marvel at how thick he is. Krugman is Krugman.

posted by Martin | 4/18/2002 10:28:00 PM

The hero is a mind of such balance...

...that no disturbances can shake his will, but pleasantly, and, as it were, merrily, he advances to his own music, alike in frightful alarms and in the tipsy mirth of universal dissoluteness. Ralph Waldo Emerson

A group of 100 family members of the passengers and crew of hijacked flight 93 got to hear the cockpit tapes:

Before hearing the tape, Alice Hoglan, of Los Gatos, California, said she knew the contents would be disturbing.
Her son, Mark Bingham, was one of the passengers hailed as heroes for vowing to take on the hijackers moments before the crash.
Ms Hoglan said she was told families would hear a woman pleading for her life, and the last five to seven minutes would be filled with violence and yelling in both Arabic and English.
"Still, I feel compelled to listen. I owe it to the memory of Mark to learn all I can," the former United flight attendant said before she went inside.

We will never forget you, flight 93.

posted by Martin | 4/18/2002 06:52:00 PM

Is it live or is it PhotoShop?

Color pictures of the New York Times's columnists. What has Gail Collins wrought? Krugman and Friedman don't make out too well, but Maureen Dowd looks like a babe! (well, kind of - not as much when you look at the larger version, but still, photographer Fred Conrad can have a booming boudoir business if he so chooses.

posted by Martin | 4/18/2002 06:37:00 PM

Would you like some fries with that?

Is this the way the youth of France treat the "big cheese?"

(via Jonah)

posted by Martin | 4/18/2002 03:03:00 PM

Technical problems

The page has been loading slowly. I removed the counters and it seems to be fine now. If Patio Pundit seems slow to you, please leave a comment. (I mean slow to load - there's not much I can do about my intellectual slowness)

posted by Martin | 4/18/2002 01:25:00 PM

The good (bad) old days

Mark Evanier remembers Sam Kinison:

The Comedy Store loved him. One night, I dropped in to catch another friend in the Original Room and noticed that Kinison was scheduled to appear in about half-an-hour in the Main Room. I strolled over there and found that the room was packed for the comic performing...but there was a line of people waiting to see Kinison. I whispered to the host, "There aren't any more seats...why are these people waiting?"
He whispered back, "Don't worry. It'll work out. With Sam, it always does."
And, sure enough, when Sam emerged and started his act, just enough red-faced patrons walked out so that there were empty seats for everyone waiting in line. The Store got to collect twice on the same seats. Why shouldn't they love Sam?

Go, kinderlach, there's more where that came from.

posted by Martin | 4/18/2002 01:09:00 PM


Today's grab bag of links:

Put on your thinking cap to stimulate creative thinking.
Music trivia lovers - here's one for you. The Covers Project aims to build a database of "cover songs (songs performed by an artist other than the original performer) with the intention of creating cover chains. A cover chain is a set of songs in which each song is a cover of a song by the band who covered the preceding song. " Fun for all you academic shut-ins that are in breadstick withdrawal.
A site devoted to pithy writers that can say what is on their minds in exactly 100 words.
Over at the UK MSN site there are 5 people who live their lives according to the wishes of web voters. I wonder if CAIR knows about this?
TLC literally searches for paradise.

posted by Martin | 4/18/2002 10:51:00 AM

Broken breadstick

Attention all you shut-ins. Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom reports:

Because of some snafu at Network Solutions, protein wisdom will be down for a coupla days. Can you please maybe post an alert (I'm sure we share at least a few readers).
Of course, most people won't even notice that we're gone -- but for those 5 or 6 shut-ins who rely on breast jokes and daily snark, your willingness to help us out might be all they have...
Meantime, I'll be out throwing stones at squirrels

We'll try to pick up the slack so that you horny shut-ins don't suffer needlessly. And all you squirrels out there - duck!

Update: Through the technical knowledge of Richard Bennett, I can tell you that Protein Wisdom can be seen here.

posted by Martin | 4/18/2002 10:34:00 AM

Conservative Caribou

While I don't generally trust the Republicans on the environment, from what I can tell drilling in ANWAR makes sense. Ann Coulter manages to give me second thoughts with her latest shrill attack. The "Mary McGrory" of the right wing says:

There is not a thinking man's Democrat in the country. If only caribou voted instead of Democrats, the country would finally have a serious energy policy.

I guess she's coming out - Ann Doolittle can talk to the animals.....

posted by Martin | 4/18/2002 09:27:00 AM

Wednesday, April 17  

Andrea Koppel

I got a copy of the e-mail about Andrea Koppel that Andrew Sullivan discusses today. I've held back on it until I could check it out. Apparently Andrew did. The part he quoted is identical to the e-mail I got from friends in Israel. It is a he said/she said, but sadly I do not find Koppel's denial credible.

posted by Martin | 4/17/2002 11:56:00 PM

Pithy NYT

Thursday's Op-Eds, Wednesday:

Bob Herbert defends New York's new police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, from what he thinks is a cheap shot.
Bill Safire examines the effect of Botox on politics.
Jennifer McCoy says that Hugo Chávez now has a second chance to make things right in Venezuela. It just takes her 556 words more than it took me to tell you that.
Terrence Joyce explains how global warming could wind up making the Northeast cooler.

If you are interested in NYC, read Herbert. There is not much else of interest here today.

posted by Martin | 4/17/2002 11:22:00 PM

Pithy WaPo

Thursday's Op-Eds, Wednesday:

Mary McGrory plays it cute by comparing Bush's handling of the Middle East crisis with the Pope's handling of the pederast/pedophilia crisis. Yes, reading this content free column was a waste of my time but --hey, but at least you don't have to read it now.
Robert Kagan examines Tom Friedman's idea of putting US troops in Israel as a way of keeping the peace. I think it is a great piece, but then I would, since Kagan makes many of the same arguments I used when I deconstructed the Friedman column that first suggested it.
Jim Hoagland gets inside Arafat's head. Using the first person narrator he explores what Arafat is really after.
George Will looks at GM, and their 70 year old "car guy" Bob Lutz.
Richard Cohen thinks that Bush flunked foreign policy. This arrogant, self indulgent effort presents Charles Austin with truly scourge worthy target.

Kagan's column really stands out - don't miss it. If you have some time, you might enjoy Will and Hoagland as well.

posted by Martin | 4/17/2002 10:52:00 PM

People make me laugh - part of an ongoing series

Why is it so hard for people to say "I don't know?" It is, by far, the biggest problem holding scientific progress back today. It is a major issue in the business world - admitting your mistakes does not go over well in corporate America. It is a real problem for the armed services. Pretty much anywhere you look, you can see a field or a process that would benefit tremendously from a candid willingness to admit "I don't know."

How was the Universe created? "I don't know." There. That wasn't so hard. What about "the Big Bang?" What about it? It is a theory that explains much of what we can observe about the Universe quite well. It can be contorted to explain the rest of what we can observe pretty well. But I can say with absolute certainty that 200 years from now, it will not be taught in high school texts without some major revisions. How can I be so sure? Because our ability to observe the Universe is growing exponentially every ten years or less. We don't have enough facts to figure it out yet, and a whole boatload of new facts are headed our way. Who knows how much being stuck here on earth handicaps us? Maybe if we could see the Universe from the vantage point of Alpha Centauri we'd get a whole different perspective.

When scientists say that the Big Bang theory is a theory, that's all it means. It is what scientists think is the best explanation we have so far. Human nature being what it is, most scientists forget, and behave as if the "Big Bang" theory is a fact. This blinds them to new ways of thinking. The same scientists that scorn Galileo's contemporaries for small-mindedness are scorning their iconoclastic colleagues right now.

I don't think that Fred Hoyle's "Steady State" theory is stronger than "the Big Bang," but it does explain certain facts (like the red shift) more elegantly than the "Big Bang" does. But put the merits of Hoyle's theory aside. A keen observer of human nature can easily see that the venom that Hoyle's colleagues heaped upon him for putting his theory forward came from the same impulses that motivated Galileo's critics. The scientific orthodoxy responds no differently to being challenged than the hierarchy of the Catholic church does, or than the leaders of the US Senate do when challenged. A cozy tenured position, a Nobel prize, international acclaim are all factors that human scientists use when evaluating other people's work. Sometimes the challengers are wrong, but the human tendency to resist change is a great hindrance to scientific achievement.

When Sir Isaac Newton developed what we now call Newtonian physics, he explained just about every motion that was observable by humans of his time. But he couldn't explain many of the things we can now observe. Who knows what someone of Newton's intellect would come up with today. When one of my teachers once looked at some old Sanskrit meditations he joked "this is what mathematicians born a thousand years too soon had to do to amuse themselves. Imagine being Einstein before mathematics was invented. What would you do to keep that brain occupied?"

Year ago when I was in Yeshiva, some of my friends asked me if I believed in the theory of evolution. As it happens, in religious Jewish circles evolution is not heresy. The modern orthodox believe that evolution is the method God used to create the Universe with, and will show you supporting text in the Torah to "prove" it. What my friends were asking was really, do you believe in evolution in the context of the Torah, or do you just believe the straight Torah narrative without the evolutionary spin. My answer was not what they expected. So do I believe that the theory of evolution as it is currently taught is factually correct? Nope.

It is true, I don't have a better explanation. But I am comfortable with "I don't know." Evolution is the best theory we have so far. It is very good at explaining "what is," but it does not do as well at explaining "how it got to be that way." For example, I see the similarities in bone structure between mammals as very compelling evidence of a link between species. The DNA links are also strong evidence. But how do you go from an ape to a human? How can a species grow wings slowly over time? What is the mechanism? Am I slowly evolving? How does that work? Do you start out with one species, add 10 million years, and you get a new species? Are my kids 1/10,000,000th more evolved than I am? I can believe that we evolved from apes over time, but nothing I've seen proves to me that time alone will do it. Perhaps there really is a "missing link." Or perhaps there isn't, but rather there is another explanation for how humans "evolved" from one of the hominids that is currently identified. Perhaps the mechanism is mutation from cosmic radiation. Perhaps it is something else. Perhaps it really is just the passage of time, as I was taught. One way or another I am confident that enough evidence will be discovered to shed light on the real answer.

The theory of evolution as it is currently constituted is the best answer we've got, so let's teach it to our kids. I have no doubt that 200 years from now some elements of the theory of evolution will still be taught, and hopefully by then a more satisfying answer will be found to the question of how one species evolves into a new one. But let's not stop asking questions, because as far as I can tell, the real answer to the question of how evolution works is - we don't know.

Next time you see a specialist of any kind come across your TV screen give an explanation that sets off your BS detector for reasons you just can't explain, ask yourself - could it be that he just doesn't know the answer to the question he was just asked? You might just catch yourself laughing.

posted by Martin | 4/17/2002 08:26:00 PM

One more thing

My dad read in a french language paper that a columnist was wondering why surveys keep showing that esteem for France keeps falling. We had a good chuckle over that. They must think the whole "cheese eating surrender monkey" epithet is meant as a joke.....

posted by Martin | 4/17/2002 07:52:00 PM

News from Europe

I just picked up my folks from the airport and took them home. If you missed an earlier post, they were visiting friends and family in Belgium and Germany. From what my parents say, it sounds like being a Jew in Germany is safer than being one in Belgium these days. They report that at least one of the parties in Belgium's ruling coalition is very concerned about the ant-Semitism. They sent fliers to all the synagogues stating that the agitators are a foreign element and don't speak for Belgium. My folks didn't bring the flyer - I'll see if I can get it from someone.

Meanwhile, my cousin's car war destroyed by a Molotov cocktail late one night. It is not officially a hate crime, since my cousin was not in the car, but he is an orthodox Jew - and recognizable as such. I'd say it was more than just kids goofing around. There were many reports of Jews being hassled or worse. One aunt will no longer walk the certain streets that she has been walking on for 30+ years. The younger generation is leaving Belgium if they can.

The situation in Germany is much better, with support fro Israel much higher in general. My dad says that there is more than just politics at play in the wrangling over Merkava tank parts -- he thinks there may be some price issues. Again, some of the governmental problems in Germany are due to the more leftist coalition partners. Immigration concerns loom large in the coming election. One of the major candidates is looking to halt immigration altogether until they can "solve some of their problems," whatever the heck that means.

My dad really regrets that they didn't go to Israel and visit his family as well. While my dad and I went to baggage claim to get the luggage, my mom sat next to a lady who was waiting for her grandchildren to return from a trip to Europe. The lady said she had never been to Europe and asked if the people there were nice. My mom replied "in all my travels I've concluded that the nicest people in the world are Americans." :-) My parents are very happy to be home. I am happy, but relieved as well.

posted by Martin | 4/17/2002 07:37:00 PM

Italian women

Oriana Fallaci sounds like someone you'd enjoy a drink and a cigar with. Can you imagine what it would be like to have her mad at you?

(via everyone)

posted by Martin | 4/17/2002 12:41:00 PM

Meeting minutes

I hereby bring this meeting of the Victor Davis Hanson fan club to order. First order of business, a reading from his latest work, a parody of the Powell/Sharon talks:

Mr. Sharon: How shall I bring up a sensitive point?
Mr. Powell: Go ahead.
Mr. Sharon: Well, the talk here is that there exists some type of vendetta — an old feud between Saddam and the Bushes. Of course that is silly; but even some in Europe believe that Bush junior is attacking Saddam to avenge the plot to kill his dad. They are claiming that the blood hatred goes way, way back — a personality thing between two proud leaders that gets in the way of peace.
Mr. Powell: That is puerile.
Mr. Sharon: Yes, but a feud between two men is exactly what they are saying — and it gets worse. Some also lie that this strike against Iraq is an American war party obsession, claiming that Clinton and the Democrats would have never gotten America into this war. As a general and veteran you know the stereotypes yourself.
Mr. Powell: Look the American people voted for Bush — in part because they were tired of Clinton's inaction and failure to deal with terrorists.
Mr. Sharon: We know that. But the perception lingers that the present American administration is full of hawks, obsessed with Saddam — and wants to punish an old nemesis rather than deal with more fundamental social issues.
Mr. Powell: Mr. Bush was elected. There is no such thing as a "Bush-Saddam" grudge. We don't implement policy that way.

Next order of business - how do we ensure that Hanson is not snubbed in next year's Pulitzer voting like he was this year? I'll open the floor for sugestions....

posted by Martin | 4/17/2002 09:01:00 AM

This is not good

Well, at least they are admitting it:

The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.
Intelligence officials have assembled what they believe to be decisive evidence, from contemporary and subsequent interrogations and intercepted communications, that bin Laden began the battle of Tora Bora inside the cave complex along Afghanistan's mountainous eastern border. Though there remains a remote chance that he died there, the intelligence community is persuaded that bin Laden slipped away in the first 10 days of December.
After-action reviews, conducted privately inside and outside the military chain of command, describe the episode as a significant defeat for the United States. A common view among those interviewed outside the U.S. Central Command is that Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the war's operational commander, misjudged the interests of putative Afghan allies and let pass the best chance to capture or kill al Qaeda's leader. Without professing second thoughts about Tora Bora, Franks has changed his approach fundamentally in subsequent battles, using Americans on the ground as first-line combat units.

Damn. But I still think he sleeps with the fishes.

Update: Reader Ray Clutts (click on the comments) suggests that this is an example of one of our great advantages over our enemies - the ability to admit our mistakes and then to correct them. He also suggests that I link to a Victor Davis Hanson column on the topic. How about this one?

posted by Martin | 4/17/2002 12:33:00 AM

Happy Birthday Israel!

It is hard to believe that this happened 54 years ago:

posted by Martin | 4/17/2002 12:00:00 AM

Tuesday, April 16  

Wednesday's Post on Tuesday

On the Washington post Op-Ed page:

Count Michael Kelly in with the rope-a-dope camp - sort of. He say that Bush was laying down markers in his April 4th speech, against all evidence to the contrary. Encouraging if true. I have my doubts, but am willing to be convinced.
David Broder warns of an impending health care crisis. He thinks that the large increase in premiums announced by CalPERS represent the canary dying in the coal mine.
Phyllis Oakley examines world population trends and sees the improvement in the treatment of women as a key to solving long range problems. She leaves the minor implementation issues for the readers to work out for themselves.
Anthony Clark Arend is concerned that the proper case for a war against Iraq has not yet been made. He argues that such a case is needed in order to conform with the requirements of the UN Charter. (You think I could make this up?)
The Post runs the Robert J. Samuelson piece on the Wall Street Journal redesign that you might have seen in Newsweek. He explains that even venerable brands like the Journal need to stay fresh to appeal to the next generation of consumers.

Kelly, Broder and Samuelson are all worth reading.

posted by Martin | 4/16/2002 11:12:00 PM

It's your principles, stupid

When the Wall Street Journal editorial board (registration required) starts turning on Bush, you know there is trouble. Bushies look to the Wall Street Journal like Clintonites looked to the New York Times. The White House won't enjoy this:

Will the George W. Bush we once knew please stand up? Suddenly the President who soared by standing on principle seems to have been replaced by an imposter who's lost his foreign-policy bearings.
Last weekend alone, the U.S. got caught winking at a failed coup in Venezuela. A news leak targeting Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz seemed intended to undermine Mr. Bush's inspections strategy toward Iraq. And on ABC's "This Week," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice admitted that the U.S. isn't sure what it's doing next in the Mideast. "A lot has happened in the last week or so, and we need to assess where we are," she said.
This isn't yet the gang that couldn't shoot straight, but without a course correction it may get there. The Administration that once dominated events now seems hostage to them. If we had to pick a date when this slippage began, we'd choose March 5. That was the day Mr. Bush imposed steel tariffs for domestic political reasons. The decision irritated most of the world, but that is not always bad. What made that decision so damaging was that it repudiated a core principle of Mr. Bush's foreign policy: free trade.

Ouch! If Bush is playing rope-a-dope, he is paying a huge price. If he isn't, he may be a one-termer like Poppy.

posted by Martin | 4/16/2002 11:02:00 PM

The Fun(d) never stops

John Fund on Al Gore in Opinion Journal:

Mr. Gore prefers to look back at the career of another former vice president, Richard Nixon. In 1960, Nixon lost a heartbreakingly close election to John F. Kennedy. Two years later he ran for governor of California and was trounced. But in the years after, he gamely campaigned for dozens of GOP candidates, building up political chits while improving his television skills. In 1968 he was elected president.
Mr. Gore hopes to repeat the Nixon model of political rehabilitation in only four years, and he's working hard to convince skeptical Democrats to take a second look at him. That's no doubt why the former vice president had the band play "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" as he left the stage in Orlando.

A Gore boomlet? We'll see. But Gore's lay low strategy seems to have been smart. He's starting to be taken seriously.

posted by Martin | 4/16/2002 10:59:00 PM

Note to James Lileks

Since you are now extending Blogger technology to replace e-mail, I meant to ask you - what do you think of the Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series? I prefer them over the Partagas - unless you mean the D4's that er, you can smoke in London. I'm smoking an Exclusivo as we speak....

posted by Martin | 4/16/2002 10:36:00 PM

NYT Roundup

Wednesday's Op-Ed's on Tuesday:

Thomas Friedman sees opportunity within the Middle East madness, if Bush steps up to the challenge.
Maureen Dowd has an amusing look through the big mailbag she got from her last column, where she lamented that men don't want to date women who out-achieve them.
Max Rodenbeck, The Economist's Middle East correspondent, takes a look at how Arab TV has internationalized the Palestinian struggle. Rodenbeck's piece is interesting and informative, but includes a couple of cheap shots that I've come to expect from the "morally equivalent" Economist.
Beautiful Mind author Sylvia Nasar argues against the Authors Guild's protest of's practice of selling used books. Nasar, recently elected to the Guild board, thinks that used books will expand the market, making for a classic "win-win" situation. Refreshing.

If you are short on time, read Friedman and Dowd, otherwise read them all. Of course, if you are short on time, why are you reading this? [ Because Patio Pundit is a must read -ed Oh.]

posted by Martin | 4/16/2002 09:23:00 PM

Z -1

Sgt. Sheridan is off to Z'ha'dum. Will he return? If so, when?

posted by Martin | 4/16/2002 08:43:00 PM

The other Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to have a pretty successful trip to the US this week. He managed to get himself on just about every cable TV show, spoke to members of congress, and generally advanced Israel's case in the states. Despite his very Hebrew last name, his years in American schools are readily apparent. It is no wonder that Israelis think of him as an American-style politician. Any time spent looking at Israeli politics is enough to convince one that this is a compliment, though it is surely not meant as one. But Bibi has some things in common with one famous American politician, John F. Kennedy, besides good looks and Harvard. Like Kennedy, Netanyahu served in his country's armed services. And like JFK, he emerged from the shadow of an older brother killed in combat. Many historians wonder if Joseph Kennedy would have become president if he had lived. Who knows what Jonathan "Yoni" Netanyahu would have accomplished had he lived.

Since today is the day that Israel remembers her fallen soldiers, it is an appropriate time to remember Yoni. I can vividly recall that day back when I was in 6th grade. The stunning news came out about the daring hostage rescue raid on Entebbe, and the loss of the mission commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Netanyahu (zt'l). You can read the whole story at the Yoni tribute site. It is full of interesting details like this one:

His most important meeting at the Kirya was, without a doubt, the one he had with Defense Minister Shimon Peres.
“I asked somebody what the meeting was about,” says Rachel, the secretary to Motta Gur, the chief of staff. When she saw Yoni waiting to go into Peres’s office, she “was told that Shimon had asked Yoni to come so that he could look him in the eyes and ask him straight, ‘Yoni, can it be done?’ That was the whole purpose of the meeting. Yoni stood there [outside Peres’s door] with maps in his hands, very preoccupied….He was pressed for time and said that he was in a terrible hurry and they should let him in already.”
“He presented the plan to me in detail,” recalls Peres, “and I liked it very much. The two of us sat alone…My impression was one of exactness and imagination…and complete self-confidence…which without a doubt influenced me. We had a problem with lack of intelligence. But Yoni said: ‘Do you know of any oepration that wasn’t carried out half blind? Every operation is half blind.’ But Yoni was well aware of the problem, and he told me that the operation was absolutely doable. And as to the cost, he said we had every chance of coming out of it with almost no losses.”

Sadly, he was wrong about the cost - it was far too dear. For those morally bankrupt UN delegates who don't understand the passion that Benjamin Netanyahu has for fighting terrorism, a little history lesson might give them a better understanding of some root causes.

Benjamin Netanyahu kneels at brother Jonathan's grave as his wife Sara looks on.

posted by Martin | 4/16/2002 05:38:00 PM

PR at the retail level

Jens Peter Hansen of the Danish SID Generel Workers Union decided to postpone buying a large order from an Israeli software company because he objected to the Israeli military action. He sent a letter of explanation to Dov Shoam, the general manager of the Israeli company Radix. Shoam posted his reply on the Radix web site:

Imagine yourself drinking beer in your lovely Tivoli gardens when a bomb exploding under the seat spreading your body all over the garden. Imagine yourself in a situation when a bus exploded in the center of Copenhagen and you know that your daughter might be on that bus. You can't reach her because thousands like you trying to reach their relatives using the same overloaded cellular network.
Now imagine that this is the everyday situation in Denmark for 18 months.
Would you accept such situation? I don't think so.
No mater what is the cause of the Palestinian suffer, my daughter is not responsible for that. She is not the one that has to be blamed for the Palestinian suffer and she shouldn't pay the price for Arafat's megalomania.

I found the whole exchange most instructive.

(via The news, Uncensored)

posted by Martin | 4/16/2002 11:20:00 AM

Robert Urich R.I.P.

When I was a kid I loved to watch the TV show "S.W.A.T." It had great action combined with some drama and the best theme song on TV. My favorite character was Officer Jim Street, played by Canadian born actor Robert Urich. Urich went on to star in "Vega$" and "Spenser: for Hire" (with pre-DS9 Avery Brooks). He went for laughs in his small but important role as libidinal tennis pro Peter Campbell on "Soap", and in the short-lived "Bewitched" spin-off "Tabitha" (opposite Lisa Hartman). Urich died this morning at a hospital in Thousand Oaks.

He never won an Emmy, let alone an Oscar, but he was a good, solid actor who constantly worked. I will miss him. If you happen to be walking around Hollywood, you can see his "Star" near 7083 Hollywood Boulevard. His NY Times orbituary can be found here. Robert Urich, R.I.P.

posted by Martin | 4/16/2002 10:16:00 AM


Tunku Mad. You not like Tunku when he is angry. Tunku SMASH:

The man embodied Venezuela. In the three weeks I was there, I encountered numerous people with his mindset: brooding, impotent folk whose aim in life was to get happy quick, to make a buck without a sweat, to gratify the senses instantly. I've traveled widely--in all continents--and never have I encountered a national character that is so feckless, and so indolent, as the Venezuelan one.
Of course, these are impressions; by their nature, they are superficial. But the sense I had on that trip through the country--in Caracas, in Merida, Maracaibo, Puerto Ordaz, Tucupita, Ciudad Guayana--has endured; and nothing I have read about Venezuela, or seen on TV since I left, has caused me to alter my assessment in the slightest.
From top to bottom, Venezuela is a welfare state that lives off oil. Nothing of note is manufactured there. Nothing of note is manmade. The country's riches--oil, vast rivers, rich delta soil, rainforests, a vivid coastline, huge gold deposits, spectacular waterfalls and some of the most beautiful landscape one could hope to see--are all part of nature's bounty. What man--Venezuelan man--has done is to take, take, take.

Mr. Varadarajan also has a few choice words about Hugo Chavez.

posted by Martin | 4/16/2002 01:18:00 AM

Bonus column

P.J. O'Rourke guest stars (requires registration) in today's Wall Street Journal:

Israel banned journalists from covering military operations in the West Bank. The Committee to Protect Journalists called this "unacceptable." The International Federation of Journalists stated, "Censorship will not bring peace." Margaret Engel, managing editor of the Freedom Forum's Newseum, said, "It's an outrage."
Actually, it's a mistake. (Something Israel seems to have realized, since it has partially lifted the ban.) Journalism is the opposite of pancake makeup and boudoir lighting. The farther journalists get away from you, the worse you look. But attempting to control news during a war is too usual to be labeled outrageous. Stalin didn't ban journalists from Stalingrad. He sent them there. They couldn't refuse. I'd rather be banned. And there was censorship in the Soviet press anyway. The International Federation of Journalists is right. Censorship did not bring peace. Not that peace with Germany would have been a good idea.

I'm not sure that Israel did the wrong thing, but it sure needs to get better at PR.

posted by Martin | 4/16/2002 01:13:00 AM

Monday, April 15  

Tonight's NYT

The round up:

The editors do a nice obit for Whizzer White, whose opinions I always enjoyed reading in college.
Robert Semple Jr. marks Arnold Palmer's last Masters.
Nicholas Kristof continues his worldwide search for a clue, this time from Sudan, and discovers Arab hypocrisy. "After lots of soul-searching conversations with Arabs" he concludes that there are "double standards" at work. No word from the editors why they need to send him to the Sudan to learn this, or why they continue to pay him. Don't miss this one -- it is priceless.
You know Paul Krugman couldn't pass up the opportunity to bash Bush on the aborted coup in Venezuela. The Valenzuela take in the Post that I told you to skip earlier is better.
Stanford Law Prof. Deborah Rhode worries that the indictment of terrorist defense lawyer and suspected collaborator Lynne Stewart will make lawyers reluctant to represent terrorists. She doesn't explain what kind of attorney fears Ashcroft more than she does having convicted terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman as a client, but I can figure that out for myself.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Joe Biden supports the idea of having a Middle Eastern peace conference along the lines of the one held in Madrid in 1991.

Read the White obit, the Semple golf piece and the Kristof column (for a laugh), skip the rest.

posted by Martin | 4/15/2002 11:20:00 PM

Tonight's WaPo

A quick run through the Post Op-Ed's reveals:

Richard Cohen seconds Ehud Bark's suggestion that Israel should build a fence, in his own fingernails-on-the-blackboard style that he has perfected. Skip it and read Barak's original piece instead.
Ex-Clinton diplomat Arturo Valenzuela nails Bush for accepting the aborted military coup in Venezuela. Bush spoke too soon and was - busted! Valenzuela is correct, if a bit nit-picky. Hugo Chavez had not been acting very democratically.
E.J. Dionne trumpets the Ryan Commission report in Illinois improve the administration of the death penalty.
In his argument against polygraph tests, Mark S. Zaid reveals that polygraph inventor William M. Marston, also created Wonder Woman, and her golden lasso, under the name Charles Moulton. And you wonder why I read the Op-Eds.
Finally, Thomas Carothers looks at foreign aid, but fears that we will wind up short-changing the poorest countries that tend to have the worst infrastructure for deploying aid. Carothers does not explain how we can increase aid to those countries with send good money after bad.

Nothing special tonight. Dionne was the best of them tonight, but not a must-read. Your time is better spent visiting this Wonder Woman page.

posted by Martin | 4/15/2002 10:47:00 PM

Bush v. Gore II?

Future GOP presidential campaign manager Patrick Ruffini has more thoughts on Al Gore:

In a general election, Gore would face the same basic disadvantages he faced last time: an opponent with who knows when to advance, and perhaps more importantly, when to back off. This is important because Bush’s more relaxed strategy has ultimately proven more sustainable than the perpetual clanging of a Gore campaign that invariably feels a misplaced need to always be on top. The big risk of Gore’s strategy is that it makes him seem so easily overwrought. That perception hurt him in 2000, and there’s no reason to believe it work in his favor in 2004. However, it’s the entirely novel liabilities Gore would confront by running as a challenger that might deal him his most decisive setbacks: this time, Gore will have to run as the candidate second in experience, second in maturity, second in gravitas. So much of the public’s sense of what the presidency means was defined in the aftermath of September 11, and it was defined by none other than President George W. Bush.

Here's my take: Will Gore win the nomination? Going for him he has:

- The staunch support of African-Americans, unless Al Sharpton is taken seriously as a candidate and stays in the race long enough to siphon votes from Gore.
- The support of core rank and file Democrats who feel that "Gore wuz robbed" in 2000, and feel that Gore deserves another chance out of fairness
- The "green vote"
- More "National Security" credibility than anyone except for Kerry
- Many of the strongest challengers will fold if Bush is still polling well after the mid-term elections

Going against Gore in securing the nomination:

- He is no longer the incumbent, nor is he an office holder. He doesn't get to use Air-Force 2, and can't get the press to cover quasi-campaign events as if they were "non-political," which the Democratic office holders can do to some extent
- Many of the key money men are not backing him (yet?)
- Many of the sharpest political operatives that were on his team in 2000 have gone elsewhere, since a bunch of them don't really like him personally
- He has to break the perception that he blew the 2000 election that he should have won in a landslide
- Voter know him, so any positions he takes on the issues will be seen in the context of his past positions to a far greater extent than any of his rivals

Bottom line: If I had to bet right now on someone, I'd bet on Gore to get the nomination. I'd say he has a 40% chance vs. 60% for the rest of the field.

If he wins the nomination, can he beat Bush? I think 2004 will be decided by how well Bush has done at fighting the war. If the Iraq and/or Iran campaign is decisively won - Bush wins. Unless Bush has clearly screwed up, it will be difficult for Gore to beat him. The biggest problem Bush faced in 2000 was the perception that he wasn't up for the challenge. That fear is gone (for the swing voters).

Bottom Line: In a switcheroo from 2000, the 2004 contest is Bush's to lose. Gore can't beat him unless Bush stumbles.

Update: Reader Mac Thomason comments "Gore won." Please see the second bullet point under my list of factors that work in favor of Gore above.

posted by Martin | 4/15/2002 10:05:00 PM

College courses we'd like to see

Bad people 101

posted by Martin | 4/15/2002 06:31:00 PM

Reality check

Gerald Steinberg examines the outlook in Israel right now:

For the vast majority of Israelis (80 percent, according to the polls, meaning all but the radical Left fringe and the hostile Arab minority), the Oslo experiment is now viewed as a disaster. Many of the politicians and intellectuals who supported the fiasco that brought Yasser Arafat and his terror network into Israeli cities, have either recanted or been removed to the edge of political life. Shimon Peres, who directed the Oslo negotiations, has been reborn as Ariel Sharon's foreign minister, and often sounds as hawkish and angry as Sharon. Uri Savir, who was the main negotiator, and was naïve enough to believe in the smiles and handshakes from his Palestinian "partners", has disappeared from public life. Yossi Beilin and Shlomo Ben Ami, who had central roles under Peres and later in Ehud Barak's government, are clinging, barely to positions in the Labor Party, but have lost any hope for playing leadership roles. (The fact that these has-beens are still the main Israeli interlocutors for the European Union only demonstrates how little EU leaders and academics understand the Middle East.) Labor Party leaders are trying to get the public to forget its role in Oslo, and the policies of the new leader, Defense Minister Eliezer, are hard to distinguish from those of Ariel Sharon.

The bookers for cable TV shows should read this before selecting guests for their shows.

posted by Martin | 4/15/2002 04:29:00 PM

Reader mail

Philippe Richards writes:

While one might quibble about Alterman's sloppiness, you, and others who have gotten all upset about Eric's List seem to have avoided the fact that it is largely accurate. Looking at the first 17 names you list, Alterman's on the money. I'd say 18, because I think one could quibble with Kondracke(but not much). Then he's pretty much gold until you get to William F. Buckley, and Bill O'Reilly. Most of this can be gleaned from your summaries of their columns. No one has really pointed out anybody that Alterman got wrong, only suggesting that the list is nonsense because he seemed to have guessed Cathy Young's leanings rather than drawing conclusions from her own writings on the Middle East. Then it turned out he guessed right.
The fact that ideological enemies seem to be fellow travelers on Israel is not ridiculous. Novak is arch-conservative, but he'll trash his own any day he feels like talking about Israel. The fact that Dershowitz, Safire, and Coulter would probably not want to be in the same room with each other does not mean that they cannot share some common viewpoints. They all presumably believe that Communism is bad, for example. And alliance of Dick Morris, Bill Bennett and Andrew Sullivan seems implausible, but look at their columns.
As for Lawrence Kudlow, I hope this answers it for you.

Mr. Richards - thanks for writing in. If Eric Alterman could manage to answer his critics as cogently as you did he would be taken more seriously.

I will concede your point that Alterman largely got the grouping of people in his "Pro-Israel" category correct - they are in fact pro-Israel. As you might agree, I have done more to prove that point than Alterman did. My two main objections to Alterman's list are (1) the dismissive and somewhat paranoid tone of his categories and (2) the implication that the only fair and objective writers are those few even-handed commentators in the middle - like lonely Eric Alterman.

When Alterman groups publications under the title "PUBLICATIONS THAT, FOR REASONS OF OWNER OR EDITORSHIP CAN BE COUNTED UPON TO SUPPORT ISRAEL REFLEXIVELY AND WITHOUT QUALIFICATION" he discounts the possibility that those publications have valid reasons to assert the positions they do. It also feels kind of creepy. I don't dismiss everything that runs in the Nation just because Katrina vanden Heuvel is the editor (though I admit I am tempted). I try to use facts and reason to refute a given article that I object to. I have more respect for "Pro-Palestinian" commentator Christopher Hitchens than I do for "Pro-Israeli" pundit Mort Zuckerman, though I still evaluate each column they write on its own merit. (As a side note, I have not seen a single post 9/11 column from Christopher Hitchens that argued for negotiating with terrorists, or that excused suicide bombers.)

There are some issues where the right answer, the moral answer, is not the even-handed one in the middle. I think that the reason that so many distinguished columnists, who usually take divergent positions on the major questions of the day, are now united in support of Israel is because Israel's position is the morally correct one. If a survey of political commentators was conducted just before the civil war, would you argue that the characterization of "PUBLICATIONS THAT, FOR REASONS OF OWNER OR EDITORSHIP CAN BE COUNTED UPON TO SUPPORT BLACKS REFLEXIVELY AND WITHOUT QUALIFICATION" was a fair one to opponents of slavery? I wouldn't. I believe that slavery was just plain wrong and leaves no room for compromise, just as terrorism is wrong and leaves no room for compromise. I submit that the reason why the "Pro-Israel" category is so large is for reasons of moral clarity rather than for reasons of religious or ethic affinity.

posted by Martin | 4/15/2002 01:01:00 PM

Busy guy

"A-List" commentator Daniel Pipes has been busy, with two columns out today. In the New York Post he suggests that we should make the Saudis pay for terrorism. He outlines some promising legal developments that may enable family members of the victims in the 9/11 attacks to hold the Saudis accountable for the mischief they financed, and then he says:

Together, these three developments suggest that 9/11 claimants are on solid legal, factual and political grounds in seeking compensation from the kingdom. Should Riyadh reject their claims, they can demand per death as much as the Lockerbie families, which would bring their claim to more than $100 billion.

The second piece today, coauthored with Jonathan Schanzer, is in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only). Strangely, they stray from foreign policy to family planning in a warning against using old birth control methods. In this piece, called "Withdrawal Won't Work" they say:
There's a widespread notion that if only Israel would withdraw its forces and population from the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian violence against Israelis would stop and negotiations would start. After all, what more would they have to fight about?.
In this spirit, the French government insists that the Israeli army "must withdraw." President Bush told Israel that "the occupation must end through withdrawal to secure and recognize boundaries consistent with United Nations Resolutions." And no less a personage than U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan reports that "the whole world is demanding that Israel withdraw."
It sounds good -- but only if you ignore the historical record. We have seen this movie and it did not have a happy ending. The movie is titled "Lebanon 2000," and it bears retelling for the lessons it contains.

OK, so maybe I misunderstood the title. I will link to the WSJ piece if and when it appears on Opinion Journal.

posted by Martin | 4/15/2002 10:33:00 AM

Rally for Israel

You can watch the webcast here.

posted by Martin | 4/15/2002 09:51:00 AM

News from the reap what you sow department

The IDF has captured Marwan Barghouti.

posted by Martin | 4/15/2002 09:37:00 AM

Sometimes it is better to shut up

Somewhere along the line I learned that you don't have to win every argument right away, and that your credibility will often serve you better than a dazzling display of rhetoric. So when I see people breaking those rules it makes me laugh. I pointed this out in my critique of Tracy Wilkinson's LA TImes report last Tuesday. You may recall that I noted that it seemed bizarre that Wilkinson chose to depart from the standard journalistic practice of evaluating CIA associations skeptically, and reported that Israel had attacked the offices of a "moderate", Jabril Rajoub. This type of inconsistency is glaring when spotted and quickly erodes the credibility of anyone who employs the tactic. Bill Safire devotes today's column to the topic of Mr. Rajoub.

Another amusing example of this technique appears in today's very informative column by Robert Novak. It is no secret that while Novak is generally right wing, he is a critic of Israel and the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. Novak is a great reporter, and there are some interesting nuggets of information that shed new light on the Bush wobble, if they are true, notably:

Bennett represents gradual but accelerating escalation of support for Israel from the Republican Party's dominant conservative wing, especially from the Christian religious right. When 46 years ago a Republican president in the midst of his re-election campaign took a tough stand against the Israeli attack on Egypt, Dwight D. Eisenhower did not have to worry about his party's base. Conservatives then tilted toward the Arabs. The move by the American right, overwhelmingly non-Jewish, toward Israel has intensified over the last 10 years.
Some Israeli policies are more popular with Republican conservatives than others. The Oslo agreement and the former Prime Minister Ehud Barak's failed peace initiative are not. Sharon's Bismarckian policy of settling the Palestinian question with blood and iron are.

You can almost hear Novak's teeth gnashing as he wrote the column, can't you?. So it should not be that surprising that when he switched from reporting mode to persuasion mode, he succumbed to the temptation of using the same cheap trick that Wilkinson did. Look at which Israeli politician Novak quotes to bolster his case:
[...] Bush might consider the words of a distinguished Israeli Knesset member: former Justice Minister Yossi Beilin. In a PBS interview Thursday, he asserted "this operation has cost us a lot, not only in our international image, which has deteriorated, but I believe that mainly we increased ambitions on the Palestinian side to take revenge, and we increased the hatred toward us."

I wouldn't bat an eye if If Nicholas Kristof has quoted Beilin, but Novak! This is roughly equivalent to Novak quoting Janet Reno to Bush on the topic of judicial appointments, or George McGovern on foreign policy. Beilin is far to the left of Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton, almost in Cynthia McKinney territory, as Novak well knows. You just gotta laugh.....

posted by Martin | 4/15/2002 12:03:00 AM

Sunday, April 14  

Voices from the A-List

It is time to check in on the commentators on our favorite paranoid's list, as promised. For our first go around, I thought we'd look at the latest work I could find on each person (where possible). I'm planning to do a more in depth look at a small subsection in the future. For now, let's see what we've got:

"Reflexively Pro-Israel":

George Will - bashes Bush for screwing Pakistan over tariffs
William Safire - urges US to let Sharon finish the job
A.M. Rosenthal - nothing in 2002 on Google
Charles Krauthammer - warns us about the danger from Lebanon
Michael Kelly - reviews the evidence against Arafat
Lally Weymouth - conducts an interview with Rumsfeld (in December)
Martin Peretz - writes a brief history of Arafat
Daniel Pipes - appeared on Hardball and CNN
Andrea Peyser - writes about the deaf Lesbian couple that engineered a deaf baby for themselves
Dick Morris - argues that Israel should build a wall
Lawrence Kaplan - writes that there are limits to what US diplomacy can accomplish
William Bennett- signed the "Don't go Wobbly" letter to Bush
William Kristol and Robert Kagan- think that the Bush administration is Lost in the Wilderness
Mortimer Zuckerman - says that the Israeli is now fighting on the front line in the war against terror
David Gelertner - thinks that Europe has just told Israel to drop dead
John Podhoretz - writes that Sharon doesn't work for Bush
Mona Charen - examines why the Nobel committee want to revoke the prize from Peres
Morton Kondracke - argues that congress should allow, but control cloning
Fred Barnes - reminds us how how Israel got here with Arafat
Yossi Klein Halevi - asks if the world prefers it when the Jews are the victims
Sidney Zion - nothing recent on Google, or in the New York Post
Norman Podhoretz - takes the anti-war crowd seriously
Jonah Goldberg - says that the fastest route to congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's brain is through her Alterman
Laura Ingraham - got a kiss from Bono
Jeff Jacoby - thinks that the US should let Israel fight its way to peace
Rich Lowry - thinks that Israel should not do as Egypt says, but rather do as Egypt does
Andrew Sullivan - sent the multitudes to this patio (and oh yeah, also thinks that Israel should build a fence)
Seth Lipsky - is busy preparing for the launch of the Sun
Irving Kristol - nothing recent, but son Bill has picked up the slack (see above)
Allan Keyes - is trying to make sense of what he calls the Euro-Powell approach to the Middle East
Brit Hume - interviewed Donald Rumsfeld
John Leo - is opposed to paying reparations to blacks for slavery
Robert Bartley - hopes that Bill Clinton will find peace
John Fund - reports that some unions in Washington state were playing dirty
Peggy Noonan - is literally praying for peace in the Middle East
Ben Wattenberg - examines Middle East and the Media
Tony Snow - interviewed Senator Joseph Biden on Fox News Sunday
Lawrence Kudlow - argues for Israel's economic freedom
Alan Dershowitz - wants to make sure torture is an option
David Horowitz - give five reasons why reparations are bad
Jacob Heilbrun - nothing recent
Thomas Sowell - muses about firing people
Frank Gaffney Jr - asks What If Bush 41 had finished Saddam, and both the Taliban and Arafat had said "yes"
Emmett Tyrell - goes to a party celebrating a new Sun rise
Cal Thomas - looks at Arafat's books
Oliver North - thinks the International Court is a danger to the military
Michael Ledeen - once again urges the Bush administration to go Faster, Please
William F. Buckley - bashes Ariel Sharon
Bill O’Reilly - thinks America should keep its powder dry, and ready
Paul Greenberg - writes about the murder of Gus Artemakis, proprietor of the D&D diner on Main Street in downtown Little Rock
L. Brent Bozell - thinks the media is hypocritical for calling Bush fuzzy, since they've been asking him to be
Tod Lindberg - says that the Democrats are on the defensive
Michael Barone - writes about Our Vichy gamble of sending Powell to the Middle East
Ann Coulter - revisits the Orlando Bosch pardon
Linda Chavez - asserts that Israel has a right to defend herself
Cathy Young - writes her first article about Israel(!), prompting Eric Alterman to prove what a sloppy jackass he is
Uri Dan - says Arafat is looking to widen the war
Dr. Laura Schlessinger - is at the The Yeah Baby! Family Expo
Rush Limbaugh - looks at Israel as the US' first line of defense in the Middle East
Zev Chafets - covers Brooklyn Benedict Arnold Adam Shapiro

"Critical of Both Israel and the Palestinians, but Support Israeli Security over Palestinian Rights":
Thomas Friedman - thinks Bush's speech last week restored clear lines to the future for the Middle East
Richard Cohen - smacked a ruler across the Catholic Church's knuckles
Avishai Margolit - most recent piece was this article in January called Occidentalism, coauthored by Ian Buruma
David Remnick - sees One Way Out of the Middle East Crisis - for Bush to step up to the plate
Eric Alterman - thinks Jennifer Harbury is cool
The New York Times Editorial Board - think that congress should look to make CEO's more accountable
The Washington Post Editorial Board - is thinking about what Washington will look like after the 2012 Olympics, should DC win the bid to host the games

"Reflexively Anti-Israel and/or Pro-Palestinian":
Robert Novak - reports that Bibi Netanyahu warned Senators about the Iraqi nuclear threat
Pat Buchanan - says that Bush's presidency is at the breaking point
Alexander Cockburn - gives Israel a break (sort of ) to ruminate and reflect on the barbecue
Christopher Hitchens - takes on religion
Edward Said - is Thinking Ahead

posted by Martin | 4/14/2002 05:02:00 PM

Does he have a blog?

UCLA Law Professor Russell Korobkin contributes the rarest thing seen in a discussion of the Middle East - a novel approach:

The problem of nonsimultaneous performance is common in bargaining contexts. Why would I pay you today for goods to be delivered later when you might decide to keep my money and either never provide the goods or provide shoddy goods?
Two types of solutions can make such bargains possible. First, an external enforcement mechanism such as a judicial system can guarantee to the first party the performance of the second party. Second, the agreement itself can provide a mechanism for the first party to recoup its losses if the second party fails to perform, both to protect the first party and provide incentives to the second.
Many commentators have essentially called for the development of an external enforcement mechanism by suggesting that U.S. or other outside peacekeeping forces go to the region. The problem with this approach--besides Western reluctance--is that neutral soldiers cannot prevent Palestinian suicide bombings any better than Israeli soldiers can.
A better approach is to build into the agreement a provision that permits Israel to reoccupy portions of the territories if the Palestinians fail to provide the peace they promise, with higher levels of terror triggering the right of Israel to reoccupy larger portions of land. This approach would give Israel the security to sacrifice land and the Palestinians the strongest possible incentive to prevent future terrorism.

Perhaps this idea is not practical right now, but the concept sounds like a good idea to me. If a clean enforcement mechanism could be developed, it could work.

posted by Martin | 4/14/2002 03:46:00 PM

Another must read

Bret Stephens looks at how the quest for "objectivity" and "balance" in modern journalism means that it is now bereft of moral clarity. News reports emphasize certain facts to shoehorn a story into a phoney balanced narrative. To prove his point Stephens looks at how the New York Times and Newsweek recently used resorted to a TV-style split screen format in covering teenage homicide/suicide bomber Ayat al-Akhras on one side and (one of) her victim(s) Rachel Levy.

Stephens' critique is insightful. He found Joshua Hammer's coverage of the story to be deeper and more informative, but notes that even here the facts don't fit Newsweek's neat teen vs. teen narrative:

The larger failing of Hammer's story, however, lies in the basic narrative choice of playing this as an Akhras versus Levy story. For whatever your view on the vexed subject of martyrdom or murder, the supermarket bombing was not a one-for-one deal. There was a second victim, security guard Haim Smadar. The Israeli press has given him his due, as does Etgar Lefkovits's story in today's Jerusalem Post magazine. But in the West, he doesn't count: his presence interrupts the happy fictive symmetries of its political imagination. So a word about Haim Smadar.
He was a father of five. Two of his children are deaf. He had been married for more than 30 years. He made a security guard's salary. He prided himself on his alertness. He received a commendation last year from Mayor Ehud Olmert for his diligence. His knowledge of Arabic - he was born in Tunisia - may have alerted him to the danger posed by Akhras. Witnesses attest that his last words, as he struggled to stop Akhras from entering the supermarket were, "You are not coming in here. You and I will blow up here." He may have saved 12 or 20 or 30 lives, or more.

I wonder why the New York Times didn't focus on that act of courage.

posted by Martin | 4/14/2002 02:47:00 PM

Plan B

I'm happy to know that my daughters are Americans, and would find it strange for anyone to question why they think of themselves as Americans. There is no better place for a human being to live than the United States. I pray that in the next millennium the world finally learns to cherish American ideals as I do. As much as I love Israel, there is still much the founding fathers could teach her. And yet, the existence of America does not vitiate the necessity for Israel.

From my perspective as a child of holocaust survivors the need for the state of Israel has always been obvious, but I find that is much less clear to others. I suspect that my children think of Israel as the place where Mark, Chava and their kids live. The place with all of Dad's aunts, uncles and cousins. The place where Mom sometimes goes to research her thesis. But for me Israel represents Plan B, as it has for as long as I can remember. It is the place to go if the world decides that it is time to kill Jews again.

If you have the poor judgement to share this belief with others, you will often find yourself receiving a "are you scared of black helicopters too" kind of stare. No, I don't believe that the United States will falter in my lifetime. The beacon of liberty will not lose her strength nor betray her principles. Patrick Buchanan will not be elected President. But I assume that the world of 2102 will be as different from the world today as 1902 was.

In the mid 1930's my paternal grandfather went on a visit to the Holy Land. He fell in love with the place, and with Zionism. When he returned home to Hust, he decided that it was time to pack up the family and move to Palestine. But my grandmother gave him what I imagine was the 1930's version of the "black helicopter stare." The Nazi thing will blow over. Czechoslovakia is one of the most enlightened countries in Europe. The family was wealthy, and well established. Who wanted to go drain some swamps in Palestine? That's no place for us.

My grandmother, of blessed memory, was one stubborn lady. So they stayed. A couple of years later, the whole family was scattered in various concentration camps. The irony was, of course, they all came back. Except for my grandfather, the one I never knew, the one for whom I was named after. After the war my father's family reunited in Israel, where most of them now live. In my mind, it also helps explain why my grandmother became so devoutly religious.

Though no surprise to me, I hope that the reactions of European leaders to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict of the past two weeks has woken up the Jews of Europe. Save for the exceptional United States, the league of nations seems quite happy to condemn the Jews to death by suicide bomber. I hope that my maternal family in Belgium hears the message. For them, Israel should become "Plan A."

If I haven't convinced you by now to read Daniel Gordis' wonderful NY Times Op-Ed on why we need Israel, perhaps this will convince your mouse to click:

On Tuesday night, my 12-year-old son, Avi, told me about a Yom Hashoah class discussion about whether the Holocaust could happen again — a session he said he found "stupid." Why? I asked. "Because we have a strong army," he answered, "America is our friend, and look out there now — we take care of ourselves."

What more can I say?

posted by Martin | 4/14/2002 10:28:00 AM

Saturday, April 13  

NY Times while standing on one leg*

I don't have the time to go through the whole NY Times Op-Ed page today. The pithy take is:

Steven Weisman: Bush should have been engaged in the Middle East - good thing he finally realized it. Think Sandy Berger, but candid. This is what Bush gets for his fuzzy wuzzy imitation.
Daniel Ford: Solid piece that argues that we should have tight quality control, if we are going to have nuclear reactors.
Denise Clark Pope: Poorly argued, content free piece against the SAT. Joanne Jacobs, call your office.
Frank Rich: Bush Doctrine R.I.P. I think that Rich is wrong as usual, but Bush's fuzzy wuzzy imitation means Rich has plenty of arguments in his favor.
Daniel Gordis: So good it deserves a full post. You can go read it in the meantime.

Gotta run, late for dinner....

*Allusion to famous old story about the sages Hillel and Shamai. Discuss in comments.

posted by Martin | 4/13/2002 05:57:00 PM

Are you sure it wasn't the food?

A sign that America is getting back to normal:

The lack of leg room on a flight from Paris to San Francisco led to a near-fatal heart attack, according to a suit filed against two major airlines by a woman who blames "economy-class syndrome" for her ailment.
Debra Miller, 37, of Oakland, sued Air France and Continental Airlines in federal court earlier this week.
Miller traveled from Paris to San Francisco, with a stop in Newark, N.J., on April 12, 2001. On April 28, while visiting Napa with her husband, Miller suffered a near fatal heart attack and had to have a blood clot removed from her body, said Michael Danko, one of Miller's lawyers. The medical term for "economy-class syndrome" is deep-vein thrombosis.

Air France is so horrible that I will avoid it at almost any cost, but this is unbelievable.

(via Drudge)

posted by Martin | 4/13/2002 12:53:00 PM

Skinny WaPo today

Pretty quiet at the Post. Colbert King compares crime in Zurich, Switzerland to Washington D.C. In Washington:

Last Saturday I reported that 55 people had been murdered in the city since Jan. 1. Scratch that: Make it 57 as of yesterday.
And gun-related crimes in which folks live to tell about it? Sorry, there's not enough space.
Which, in light of the city's tough gun control laws, might be laughable were the consequences not so sickening -- and deadly. At night, some of our neighborhoods sound like shooting galleries.
Contrast that scene with Switzerland, where every man between 21 and 32 has, courtesy of the government, an M-57 assault rifle and two dozen rounds of ammo, which he is required to keep in his home. Switzerland, where as many as 2 million firearms may be in homes, has a national gun crime rate that is probably on a par with Disney World's.

King notes that on the bright side, DC did not collaborate with the Nazis like Switzerland did. Strangely, the comparative merits of the varieties of cheese popular in each city was not discussed. Meanwhile Lisa Danetz warns that enacting Campaign Finance Re-Form was not enough:
But even assuming that the law's provisions are perfectly tailored to have the effects intended, true reform will remain elusive without proper enforcement by the Federal Election Commission. If recent history is any guide, the FEC has little appetite for rigorous enforcement of the nation's campaign finance laws.

She fears Ashcroft won't enforce the law. Oddly, she does not comment on the DC crime rate. Also on the page are editorials on Washington's bid for the 2012 Olympics, lobbying in Maryland, and Venezuela's meltdown.

posted by Martin | 4/13/2002 12:10:00 PM
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