Monthly Archives: February 2006

From Mullah, Mullah to Boola, Boola

Harvard forces out former Clinton Treasury Secretary for being insensitive to women while Yale admits a former Taliban spin doctor.

What a country!

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Coulda Happened to Anyone?

The European indifference to violence against Jews.

Mark Steyn writes:

…every public official insisted there was no anti-Jewish element [in the murder of French Jew Ilan Halimi]. Just one of those things. Coulda happened to anyone. And, if the gang did seem inordinately fixated on, ah, Jews, it was just because, as one police detective put it, ”Jews equal money.” In London, the Observer couldn’t even bring itself to pursue that particular angle. Its report of the murder managed to avoid any mention of the unfortunate Halimi’s, um, Jewishness. Another British paper, the Independent, did dwell on the particular, er, identity groups involved in the incident but only in the context of a protest march by Parisian Jews marred by ”radical young Jewish men” who’d attacked an ”Arab-run grocery.”

…A lot of folks are, to put it at its mildest, indifferent to Jews. In 2003, a survey by the European Commission found that 59 percent of Europeans regard Israel as the “greatest menace to world peace.” Only 59 percent? What the hell’s wrong with the rest of ’em? Well, don’t worry: In Germany, it was 65 percent; Austria, 69 percent; the Netherlands, 74 percent. Since then, Iran has sportingly offered to solve the problem of the Israeli threat to world peace by wiping the Zionist Entity off the face of the map. But what a tragedy that those peace-loving Iranians have been provoked into launching nuclear armageddon by those pushy Jews. As Paul Oestreicher, Anglican chaplain of the University of Sussex, wrote in the Guardian the other day, “I cannot listen calmly when an Iranian president talks of wiping out Israel. Jewish fears go deep. They are not irrational. But I cannot listen calmly either when a great many citizens of Israel think and speak of Palestinians in the way a great many Germans thought and spoke about Jews when I was one of them and had to flee.”

It’s not surprising when you’re as heavily invested as the European establishment is in an absurd equivalence between a nuclear madman who thinks he’s the warm-up act for the Twelfth Imam and the fellows building the Israeli security fence that you lose all sense of proportion when it comes to your own backyard, too. “Radical young Jewish men” are no threat to “Arab-run groceries.” But radical young Muslim men are changing the realities of daily life for Jews and gays and women in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and beyond. If you don’t care for the Yids, big deal; look out for yourself. The Jews are playing their traditional role of the canaries in history’s coal mine.

Tortured and Murdered in Paris

The dangers of being Jewish in France.

The Die-Hard Left's Coup

One Harvard professor lists Larry Summers’ “sins.”

Ruth Wisse writes:

The movement to unseat Mr. Summers remains a mystery to most people outside Harvard. In the early days of his presidency, he challenged several tenured professors to account for the direction of their research and teaching. After some faculty had signed a petition urging divestment from Israel, he warned against the recurrence of anti-Semitism in a new guise. At an academic conference on the under-representation of women in science, he speculated on the implications of the differences between male and female test scores. At convocation ceremonies he congratulated Harvard students who served in the ROTC, which had been banned from the campus since the days of the Vietnam War.

Jurisprudence of Prevention

Some good common sense from Alan Dershowitz.

In an column about Dershowitz’s new book, Tony Blankley writes:

To see the difference between traditional Anglo-American criminal jurisprudence and [Dershowitz’s] proposed jurisprudence of prevention, he raises the great maxim of criminal law: better that ten guilty go free, than one innocent be wrongly convicted. That principle led our law to require proof beyond a reasonable doubt before conviction in criminal trials. Most of us agree with that standard.

Prof. Dershowitz updates the maxim thusly: “Is it better for ten possibly preventable terrorist attacks to occur than for one possibly innocent suspect to be preventively detained?” I would hunch that most people would not be willing to accept ten September 11th attacks (30,000 dead) in order to protect one innocent suspect from being locked up and questioned for a while.

Is it possible to go beyond such gut instincts and ad hoc decision making during a crises, and begin to develop a thoughtful set of standards for conduct in this dangerous new world? I don’t know.

As Prof. Dershowitz observes, a jurisprudence develops slowly in response to generations, centuries of adjudicated events. But to the extent we recognize the need for it and start thinking systematically, to that extent we won’t be completely hostage to the whim and discretion of a few men at moments of extreme stress.

At the minimum, an early effort at a jurisprudence of prevention would at least help in defining events. Consider the long and fruitless recent debate about the imminence of the danger from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, or the current debate on Iran’s possible nuclear weapons. Under traditional international law standards they are both classic non-imminent threat situations: “early stage acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by a state presumed to be hostile.”

But as Dershowitz points out, while the threat itself is not imminent, “the opportunity to prevent the threat will soon pass.” Once they have the weapons it is too late [my emphasis].

Or, a low price in innocent casualties might soon pass. For instance, in 1981 when Israel bombed Iraq’s nuclear site at Osirak, if they had waited much longer the site would have been “radioactively hot” and massive innocent civilian casualties would have been incurred from radioactive releases. It is simply not enough anymore to say a country violates the norm by acting in its ultimate, but not imminent, self-defense. We need new standards for a new age.

Three Years in Jail?

I agree with Powerline that Holocaust denier David Irving, while a jerk, should not be going to jail.

The Perpetually Outraged

Thank God for the Wall Street Journal editorial page. They can always be counted on to cut through the hypocrisy and cant of the liberal media, and today they are in fine form.

First is a column by a former CIA agent who demolishes the recently famous Paul Pillar, also a former CIA agent, who’s been dining out on the increasingly tiresome claim that Bush cooked the pre-Iraq war intelligence. Interviewed yesterday on NPR’s Fresh Air, Pillar was even more smug than the insufferable hostess, Terry Gross.

In the Journal, Guillermo Christensen writes:

Why Mr. Pillar would even attempt to argue that the White House ignored the CIA’s intelligence is beyond me–as innumerable investigations have demonstrated, all of the “intelligence” within his responsibility was 100% in agreement that Iraq posed a serious danger and that it had an active program for acquiring WMD. Over the course of a decade and a half, and thousands of pages of intelligence analysis, it is hard to think of anyone in the government who was more directly involved in reaching the wrong conclusions about what was going on in Iraq than Mr. Pillar himself.

The lead editorial does a wonderful job on the gaseous platitudes emanating from the Senate committee that this week eviscerated Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff:

As usual in Washington, the politicians want a ritual sacrifice, but firing Mr. Chertoff would do nothing to solve the real problem — which is that vast bureaucratic landmass known as Homeland Security. If any heads deserve to roll over Katrina, we have a different suggestion. How about the resignations of all the Congressional chairmen who voted three years ago to integrate 22 semi-autonomous agencies into a single Homeland Security Department and then expected it all to run like General Electric? Even big corporate mergers can take months or years to succeed, and they have financial incentives to help. Congress created DHS in a fit of political self-preservation and then hoped for miracles, which are rare enough in religion but impossible in government.

Finally, there’s the regular Friday column by Dan Henninger who today examines the cynical Democratic political strategy:

Have you ever noticed how on a scale of one to 10, every untoward event in the life of the Bush presidency goes straight to a 10?

The Abu Ghraib photos? A 10 forever. Dick Cheney catching a hunting buddy with some birdshot? An instant 10. The Bush National Guard story? Total 10. How can it be that each downside event in this presidency greets the public at this one, screeching level of outrage and denunciation by the out-of-power party and a perpetually outraged media?

There was a time when what’s been called news judgment would deem some stories a five or six and run them on page 14, or deeper in the newscast. Back then the Senate minority leader wouldn’t bother to look up from his desk. Not with this presidency. Every downside event–large, small, in between–plays above the fold on the front page now. And when Dick Cheney accidentally pops Harry Whittington, old Harry Reid jumps up from his Senate leader’s desk faster than a Nevada jack rabbit to announce, one more time, that this “is part of the secretive nature of this administration.”

Here are some of the political and media bonfires that have been lit on the White House lawn, stoked and reignited the past five years: the “stolen” 2000 election, Halliburton, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Cheney lives in an “undisclosed location,” Abu Ghraib, torture at Guantanamo, Bush lied about WMD, secret CIA prison sites, Valerie Plame, the neocons, Rumsfeld, Cheney’s “secret” energy task force, Cindy Sheehan, Bush is destroying Social Security, Hurricane Katrina, Jack Abramoff, illegal wiretaps, Bill Frist’s stock sales, what else?

Admittedly it’s a partial list. This week alone wasn’t half over before it had already dumped onto the public first the Cheney shooting scandal and then that George Bush made Katrina worse. This morning’s papers may have more bad news.

If it all seems more than a little tiresome, if you wish it would all just go away, well, maybe that’s the point–their point. Induce swing voters to seek respite from the Bush experience.

The Journal provides respite from the New York Times/Chris Matthews experience.

Why Satire is Dead

You try to satirize the media’s obviously silly behavior and then a New York Times columnist plays it straight.

From a Wall Street Journal editorial today:

The press corps is outraged that the White House waited 20 hours or so to disclose that Vice President Dick Cheney had shot a hunting companion, and we can see why. Don’t these Bush people understand that the coverup is worse than the crime?

In the name of media solidarity, and in the interest of restraining the Imperial Presidency, we have put together the following coverup timeline with crucial questions that deserve to be answered:

…• 11 a.m. Katharine Armstrong, owner of the ranch where the shooting took place, blows the story sky-high by giving the news to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. According to Ms. Armstrong, Mr. Cheney told her to do what she thought made sense. Has Ms. Armstrong ever worked for Halliburton? [my emphasis]

From today’s Maureen Dowd column:

Scott McClellan told the White House press corps that Katharine Armstrong, a lobbyist with government ties who owns the Texas ranch (and whose mother, Anne, was on the Halliburton board that hired Mr. Cheney as C.E.O. [my emphasis]), “pointed out that the protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington when it came to notifying the others that he was there.”

Go Figure

I never thought I’d see the day when the New York Times editorial page quotes the villainous National Rifle Association as a source of wisdom. But there it is in today’s paper: the organization responsible for countless deaths, including the Columbine Massacre and the victims of the Beltway Sniper, is cited approvingly in an editorial attacking the Times currently favorite ogre, Dick Cheney:

Mr. Cheney was a weekend guest at a ranch owned by Katharine Armstrong, a lobbyist whose family has longstanding ties with the Texas Republican Party and the Bush White House. Mr. Cheney, who is proud of his reputation as an outdoorsman, was gunning for quail when, according to Ms. Armstrong, a 78-year-old lawyer named Henry Whittington got between the vice president and the bird. Mr. Cheney pulled the trigger, forgetting one of the National Rifle Association’s top rules for gun safety: “Be absolutely sure you have identified your target beyond any doubt. Equally important, be aware of the area beyond your target.”

The Times has certainly identified its target.

In Judges and Albuquerque We Trust

National security run by judges.

National security determined by Albuquerque as The Wall Street Journal’s Dan Henninger writes:

The issues at the center of this dispute [over surveillance of terrorists] are in fact intellectually interesting, having to do with separation of powers, legal rules versus legal discretion, and competing interpretations of the Fourth Amendment and Article II of the Constitution.

But let us here consider something that tends to fall outside legal considerations–effective management. On Tuesday, Vice President Cheney said, “You can’t take 535 members of Congress and tell them everything and protect the nation’s secrets.” Mr. Cheney was reflecting the view, which arose at the time of the Founding Fathers, that foreign policy was disorganized under the Articles of Confederation and belonged under a strong executive. A primary reason for calling the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was the mess Congress had made of managing foreign policy.

Then later in the week GOP Rep. Heather Wilson suddenly became famous for presumably dissenting from the White House line and demanding a “complete review” of the surveillance program. Rep. Wilson, who chairs a House intelligence oversight subcommittee, is rightly regarded as one of the House’s savvier and more serious members on national security issues. But . . .

Rep. Wilson is in a neck-and-neck re-election fight back in her New Mexico district with state Attorney General Patricia Madrid. Rep. Wilson is under pressure because her district is heavily Democratic; the opposition’s primary line of attack has been that Rep. Wilson isn’t sufficiently “independent” of the Bush White House. Right after her highly publicized NSA declaration this week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee got out a statement that “Rep. Wilson is now and has always been a rubber stamp for the policies of the Bush-Cheney administration.”

What this means is that the local politics of Albuquerque is now setting national security policy. Why them? Why not accord the same overweighted political status to the Third District in North Carolina, which happens to house Camp Lejeune? The primary argument against letting Albuquerque set national security policy through Rep. Wilson’s political problems back home is found in that earlier statement from the 9/11 Commission: You simply cannot disperse policy formation in this area across all branches of government in the guise of checks and balances and then expect efficient management in, say, stopping terrorists. Nor can you present the paperwork required to satisfy “probable cause” before a FISA judge prior to every proposed antiterror wiretap and not risk flipping the competition’s outcome in favor of the terrorists.