Mr Blair, who will seek to shift the focus of his administration on to poverty in the Third World this week during talks with President Bush, has told his closest allies: "Africa is worth fighting for. Europe, in its present form, is not."
I'm inclined to agree.
UPDATE: Plan B:The Telegraph offers an alternative -- and a much shorter one -- to the European Constitution.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile, Jim Bennett sends this link and wonders if we should start taking bets as to the collapse of the Euro.
ORIN KERR: "I can't stress enough that I am not saying this story isn't newsworthy. Every missing persons report is potentially newsworthy. Still, a person who followed the MSM uncritically might think that the only missing people in America are young attractive white women."
GAY MARRIAGE -- or something pretty close -- in Switzerland?
posted at 03:44 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A GIGANTIC MARCH AGAINST APPEASING TERRORISTS IN MADRID, according to Franco Aleman. Of course, it's the ETA terrorists, not Al Qaeda, but still . . . . When they elected Zapatero, surely they didn't expect anything else?
June 4, 2005 -- WASHINGTON — The lawyer for a U.N. staffer fired for wrongdoing in the oil-for-food scandal insisted yesterday that his client acted on orders of higher-ups and is being used as a "scapegoat" to take the heat off Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other bigwigs.
Coming out swinging two days after his client was canned, the lawyer for Cypriot mid-level bureaucrat Joseph Stephanides said he plans a major battle against U.N. leadership to get reinstated and refute charges he engaged in "serious misconduct" in the award of a lucrative inspection contract to a British firm.
(Via Newsbeat 1, which notes an odd blackout on this story in Canada.)
posted at 08:44 AM by Glenn Reynolds
June 03, 2005
I SENT COMMENTS to the FEC today on their Internet regulation proceeding, but I have to say that mine weren't a patch on the really excellent job done by Adam Bonin for Duncan Black, Kos, and Matt Stoller. You can read those here. RedState has an excellent highlights-collection of items filed so far, which you can see here. And hey, it's not quite too late for you to weigh in.
JEFF JARVIS: "Now you have to pay FedEx just to get the assurance they gave you that they'd done their job. FedEx is turning into the Post Office."
posted at 09:08 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE BELMONT CLUB: "Any environment capable of producing terrorism on a scale which could destroy America would be sufficiently powerful to destroy Islam -- and destroy it first many times over. Any weapon that AQ Khan can make can be bought by believers and infidels alike. The theorists of asymmetrical terrorist warfare forgot that its military effectiveness depends on the very restraints that it, itself, dissolves."
posted at 09:06 PM by Glenn Reynolds
LINDA FOLEY IS AT IT AGAIN: Are you sure she's not a Karl Rove plant?
posted at 07:10 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ADVICE TO COMMENCEMENT SPEAKERS: It's not about you. It's about the graduates. Keep it short, and don't abuse the captive audience.
Best-selling author Erica Jong was booed and told to "Shut up!" and "Go Home!" during her 40-minute speech yesterday at the College of Staten Island's commencement exercises. . . .
Ms. Jong's remarks were met with some vehement disapproval.
"She gave a political speech when she was supposed to be doing a pep talk," said the father of a CSI graduate who declined to give his name. "Some graduates wanted to throw stuff at her. Whoever heard of a commencement speaker talking about body bags?"
Dorothy, a 48-year-old mother of a CSI graduate, categorized Ms. Jong's speech as "all-around bashing.
"It was disgusting, despicable," said the Fort Wadsworth woman, who would not give her surname. "She called politicians liars, called us all liars. She trashed America. Mostly, she just wanted to talk. It was personal spewing. There was nothing about graduation."
Really, it's not about you. Except when they boo. Then, well, it is.
Brussels, Belgium, Jun. 2 (UPI) -- Last year, U.S. author and social critic Jeremy Rifkin wrote a best-selling book called "The American Dream" in which he predicted that the EU's vision of the future would quietly eclipse the United States'.
That EU dream now lies in tatters after the emphatic rejection of the bloc's first constitution by voters in France and the Netherlands -- a double whammy that could deal a fatal blow to the ambitious blueprint for an enlarged union.
You'll seldom go wrong betting against Jeremy Rifkin.
The Chinese government, meanwhile, continues to cover up the actual events:
A JOURNALIST considered the doyen of China correspondents has been held in Beijing and could be charged with stealing state secrets after he tried to obtain a copy of interviews with Zhao Ziyang, the Communist leader who was purged after the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong national who works for The Straits Times, a Singaporean newspaper, would be the first reporter for a foreign publication to face charges in China. . . .
Mr Ching, 55, was detained in the southern city of Guangzhou on April 22. He had been trying to obtain a copy of interviews with the late Zhao, who opposed the use of military force to suppress the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Untold hundreds died when troops moved in to break up the student-led demonstration. Zhao, who died in January, was deposed as general secretary and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.
MEGAN MCARDLE: "The appalling poverty of Sri Lanka or Mozambique is not some bizarre aberration that can be tracked to a cause we can cure. We are the aberration; Sri Lanka and Mozambique are the normal state of human history." I, of course, would like to see this aberration spread until everyone is rich and healthy. But she's right -- poverty, etc., are the default condition.
UPDATE: Reader Steve Ford sends this quote:
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded- here and there, now and then- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as "bad luck."
-Robert A. Heinlein
posted at 10:16 AM by Glenn Reynolds
IN A HOLE, DAN RATHER KEEPS DIGGING. The results aren't pretty: "It is hard to be angry or even exercised over the sad spectacle of an old man trying so hard not to admit that he'd been played for a fool."
On Wednesday President Bush called the Darfur killings "genocide," a description that implies some moral obligation on the part of the United States to act to stop the killing. But his administration has yet to improve on the schizophrenic pressure-cum-cooperation approach of the past year, in part because it is hemmed in by the world's indifference. China courts Sudan because of its oil. Russia seeks to sell arms to Sudan. Egypt and other Muslim states appear unmoved by the killing of Darfur's Muslim people. The diplomatic challenge for the United States is to persuade these partners to see Sudan's government for what it is: the problem, not the solution.
As I've suggested before, some Special Forces trainers and a whole lot of AK-47s (conveniently available in Saddam's captured warehouses) might do some good, too.
Victor Navasky, former editor and now publisher of The Nation, has begun to play a "key role" at Columbia Journalism Review, according to E&P. Will the often-embarrassing media-crit magazine (and blog) now become an ideological clone of The Nation? That might require moving CJR slightly to the right. . . .
Zimbabwe is about ready to explode in a nightmare mass murder, or bloody revolution. It’s not genocide this time, but democide (government killing massive numbers of its own citizens.) The Zimbabwe government, in power since the country became independent in 1980, dealt with increasing unpopularity by terrorizing political opponents, rigging elections, and paying off supporters by driving its most productive citizens (the white farmers) out of the country and stealing their property. This move made it impossible for the country to feed itself. Relief agencies sent in tons of food, but this was distributed in a punitive fashion, with anti-government areas getting less food, or none at all. Last year, the government proclaimed the food emergency over, and said it needed no more charity from foreigners. That was a face saving lie. This year, the government admitted there was a food problem, and requested 1.2 million tons of food.
But it appears that the government will again use the food as a weapon. For the past month, police have been shutting down black markets in the cities, where the anti-government feeling is the strongest. Over 20,000 people have been arrested and several hundred squatters have been driven back into the countryside. The black markets have been a major source of food and other goods for the urban population. Without the black markets, the urban population will be totally dependent on the government for food.
Mugabe is the poor man's Pol Pot. And like Pol Pot, he is getting help and support from people in the West who will later pretend not to know what was going on.
This passage points to a solution, though: "There hasn’t been any revolution so far because the potential rebels cannot get guns. No one is willing to arm the dissatisfied majority, and over two thirds of the population lives in poverty. . . . The government seems determined to starve its enemies to death, secure in the knowledge that the victims are unarmed, and the government forces have lots of guns."
That's a reason for an international right to arms, of course. But at a more immediate level, it suggests that -- as with Darfur -- the United States should be sending weapons to the rebels.
Curvy women are more likely to live longer than their slimmer counterparts, researchers have found. Institute of Preventative Medicine in Copenhagen researchers found those with wider hips also appeared to be protected against heart conditions.
Will this be FDA approved, though?
posted at 10:24 PM by Glenn Reynolds
SPELLING BEE UPDATE: "'Appoggiatura' was music to 13-year-old Anurag Kashyap's ears. Correctly spelling the word that means melodic tone, he clinched the 2005 national spelling bee championship. . . . Tied for second place were 11-year-old Samir Patel, who is home-schooled in Colleyville, Texas, and Aliya Deri, 13, of Pleasanton, Calif." Kind of reinforces this piece from last year.
UPDATE: Reader Joseph Sarles says that AP has it wrong: "An appoggiatura is not a melodic tone – it’s a dissonant embellishment that’s NOT part of the melody."
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL seems to have flushed its credibility with the comparison of Guantanamo Bay to a Gulag, which it continues to repeat. By doing so, of course, it only helps the Bush Administration.
Roughly 18 million prisoners -- "enemies of the people" or common criminals -- were sentenced to forced labor in camps across the Soviet Union, beginning in 1919. The gulags -- a Russian acronym for the government agency that oversaw the network of camps -- went into full swing under Josef Stalin in 1934 and were not publicly acknowledged until after his death. They were all shut under Mikhail Gorbachev. Millions of people died from starvation, cold, exhaustion, disease and physical abuse, according to Anne Applebaum's authoritative 2003 book, "Gulag: a History."
There is no evidence the 600 or so U.S. prisoners at Guantanamo are being starved; nor are they being forced into slave labor. However questionable the evidence may be against some of the prisoners -- more than 100 have been released free and clear after some months in the camp -- they are being imprisoned not for their political beliefs but for their alleged involvement in terrorism and attacks on U.S. forces.
That so many have been released is itself rather non-Gulag-like, of course. John Podhoretz observes:
Financial purpose of Gulag: Providing totalitarian economy with millions of slave laborers.
Financial purpose of Gitmo: None.
Seizure of Gulag prisoners: From apartments, homes, street corners inside the Soviet Union.
Seizure of Gitmo prisoners: From battlefield sites in Afghanistan in the midst of war.
Even the most damaging charge Amnesty International levels against the United States and its conduct at Gitmo, that our government has been guilty of ``entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law,'' bears no relation to the way things worked when it came to the Gulag. Soviet prisoners were charged, tried and convicted in courts of law according to the Soviet legal code.
Gulag prisoners were systemically starved, beaten, and forced to labor in sub-zero weather. The lucky ones were shot immediately. In contrast, at Guantanamo Bay, 1,300 Korans in 13 different languages were handed out to prisoners. Prisoners are served "proper Muslim-approved food." . . .
Nevertheless Amnesty International's "gulag" reference came as a bit of a surprise. The left has been notoriously silent about the gulags. It is normally a chapter in the history of socialism they prefer to leave out. On the other hand, the fact that Amnesty International used the term shows how little respect the left has for the tens of millions that suffered the hell of the gulag. You would never hear Amnesty International call Guantanamo Bay the "Auschwitz of our Time." Auschwitz is sacred to the memory of the Jews and Poles who died there. The gulag? That's not sacred. Just a failed experiment. . . .
By making such asinine comparisons, Amnesty International risks losing whatever credibility it has left. This is unfortunate because the organization normally does important work. However, Amnesty is caught in a Catch-22 situation. It can risk losing its credibility by throwing a bone to its wealthy liberal donors, or risk losing its funding. Amnesty has obviously chosen to risk its credibility.
Like a lot of people, Amnesty has lost perspective here. Instead of making constructive criticisms that might address actual problem areas, it has chosen posturing and over-the-top hysteria that ensure that it can be written off as lacking perspective and credibility. As the editors of the Washington Post noted last week:
Turning a report on prisoner detention into another excuse for Bush-bashing or America-bashing undermines Amnesty's legitimate criticisms of U.S. policies and weakens the force of its investigations of prison systems in closed societies. It also gives the administration another excuse to dismiss valid objections to its policies as "hysterical."
Indeed. Amnesty once realized that balance, fairness and -- most importantly -- self-discipline were vital to its mission. It seems, however, to have joined the rather lengthy list of those suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome. Bush's ability to induce that state in his critics, and thereby cause them to blow their own credibility, is astonishing, and surely one of his greatest strengths.
UPDATE: Ed Driscoll emails that Steven Den Beste spotted Amnesty International jumping the shark two years ago, and drew unfavorable comparisons with the ACLU. "I use the ACLU's Skokie decision because Amnesty International now faces exactly the same decision. But Amnesty International is selling out. . . . Unlike the ACLU, AI is demonstrating that when the cards are down, its soul is for sale."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Julian Ku: "Amnesty is veering dangerously close to Noam Chomsky/Ramsey Clark-land here. They are not quite there yet, but give them another year, and the once-proud Amnesty International will be simply dismissed as another hotbed of fervent leftish-anti-Americanism which is no more credible on these matters than the U.S. government itself."
Actually, I think "no more credible" is putting it rather kindly.
If the U.S. joins France, Brazil, Iran, Japan, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands in opposing something, it's not clear to me whether the U.S. has really triggered "global animus" or just animus among international lawyers.
As Michael Reisman once said in my International Law class, it's a serious mistake to think that the opinions of international lawyers represent anything much beyond the opinions of international lawyers.
Meanwhile, Christopher Hitchens writes on Karimov -- and I agree with this observation:
It has always to be remembered that such regimes will not last forever, and that one day we will be asked, by their former subjects, what we were doing while they were unable to speak for themselves. Better to have the answer ready now and to consider American influence in a country as the occasion for leverage rather than as the occasion for awkward silence.
Indeed. Perhaps Karimov is afraid we'll do just that.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
I work with the State Dept and I haven't seen anything saying that families have been evacuated. I see a travel warning and nothing else.
The Department of State has authorized the departure of non-emergency personnel and all eligible family members of U. S. Embassy personnel and urges all U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to Uzbekistan.
The blogosphere's sources are just way ahead of the official version.
UPDATE: Charmaine Yoest connects these developments with Pepsico President Indra Nooyi's finger analogy:
Nooyi told us that the index finger, the European Finger, points the way . . . . But a funny thing happened on the way to the (legal) forum -- the subtext about yesterday's vote: the European Finger seems to have a wrist below -- the (pesky) people -- turning the hand in another direction.
Despite overwhelming support for the constitution by the governments of both France and the Netherlands and a huge media campaign by political leaders in both countries, voters have rejected the constitution.
And just as the media and political establishment in the US found during last year's presidential election, European elites have now felt the sting of these online upstarts, the bloggers. . . .
The "Yes" campaigners argued that the blogs were perpetuating myths and half-truths, French internet consultant Stanislas Magniant told the BBC.
But those opposed to the constitution found the internet in general and blogs in particular as one of the ways to get their message out, he said.
"Proponents of 'No' have said the mainstream media have been shamelessly in favour of the 'Yes'. They said the internet was the main area where the democratic debate can take place," he added.
Another Goliath, brought down by an army of Davids? Well, perhaps a bit. (Via USS Neverdock, which observes: "I'd like to see more UK bloggers take on the British media.")
Megan McArdle isn't impressed. Neither, I suspect, will German voters be.
posted at 12:37 PM by Glenn Reynolds
BLOGS PIONEER COVERAGE on the latest Tennessee political scandal. Meanwhile, Frank Cagle says Tennessee legislators need advice on how to take bribes. "The amateurish way this whole bribery scheme was handled is an embarrassment to the profession."
posted at 11:01 AM by Glenn Reynolds
IN THE MAIL: A copy of the new Civil War alt-history novel, Never Call Retreat, by Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen. No word on whether it includes a plug for Hillary.
I actually thought that their widely panned WWII alt-history novel, 1945 was pretty good -- though that was partly because much of the action (involving a raid by Otto Skorzeny on the Oak Ridge bomb facilities) took place within 20 miles of my house.
Here's our advice to the Federal Election Commission regarding Internet regulations: Tread lightly. If the federal government must apply campaign-finance laws, specifically McCain-Feingold, to the Internet as a federal judge ruled last fall, it should do so with as light a touch as possible. Unfortunately, no matter what the FEC decides, there's a chance that the days of unbridled political discourse on the Internet are nearing their end.
So much for all that "make no law" stuff, I guess. John McCain should be tarred and feathered, not spoken of as a presidential timber, for the travesty he produced. On the other hand, here's some constructive advice:
In keeping with the judge's order, however, the FEC has to do something. It has asked for public comment on the proposed rules and e-mails that can be sent to email@example.com until the deadline tomorrow.
Barring a reversal of the judicial ruling, the only alternative would have to come from Congress, where there are currently bills in both chambers to exempt the Internet from FEC regulations. We encourage lawmakers to support the bills so that Internet free speech can advance unimpeded.
UPDATE: Ron Coleman points out that free speech isn't just for the Internet. And several readers not that McCain isn't solely at fault. That's true. In my speech at the Politics Online conference, I noted that in my opinion President Bush violated his oath of office by signing McCain-Feingold.
I can't respond to John Keegan about his article you linked, but I can respond to you. Keegan is absolutely right about the Court-Martial process working better for the military than a system of civilian justice. Interestingly, from my experience of doing over 60 Court-Martials as a military lawyer, military juries are actually harder on solidiers committing misconduct on the battlefield and military related misconduct than civilian juries. A good friend of mine was the lead prosecutor in the Gernier case stemming from the Abu Garib abuses. The defense's strategy was to pack the jury with as many combat veterens as possible on the theory that they would understand. What happened instead was, as in many trials, the unpleasant truth came out, which was that Gernier had a cush job at a prison in Baghdad, wasn't exposed to danger every day the way many of us were and was basically a sadistic bastard. The military had no sympathy for him and gave him 10 years. No way does a civilian jury give that hard of a sentence. They would not have known any better and bought the poor stressed out soldier defense. The point is that military juries are more likely to punish war crimes than civilian juries where those war crimes are truly crimes.
BTW, I have always dreamed of Posner getting a Supreme Court gig, if for no other reason than how much better written his opinions would be over what we get now. Compare a good Posner opinion to the muddle put out by the likes of O'Conner. Its embarassing for O'Conner. The liberals would go bizerk over Posner for the same reason they went bizerk over Bork. He would write great, well reasoned, easily understood, broad opinions that would have lasting precidential effect. That is the liberal's great nightmare. Better to have someone like O'Conner who muddles along and leaves behind a body of work that can be ignored or twisted to mean whatever you like. The social conservatives who would object to him, would do well to support him for that reason alone.
E.U. UPDATE: A Fistful of Euros reports that Latvia has approved the E.U. Constitution -- by parliamentary vote, not referendum -- and observes:
Meanwhile French media are announcing that there is a plan B, it’s called Blair. Tony Blair, they are suggesting, will seize the opportunity presented by disarray in the federal Europe camp to push ahead with ’liberal’ economic reforms, leaving the institutional infrastructure to languish. Possibly the outcome the French fear most.
Heh. Meanwhile, Austin Bay's latest column looks at the EU-vote aftermath, and what it means.
Bush has a key weapon with which to beat any reluctant groups into submission -- the truth. "This is the greatest jurist of our time," he can say. "How can you oppose him? Such opposition could only be based on crass politics."
And he'll be right.
The social-conservative folks probably won't like it, but I think it's a great idea. Almost as good as Justice Volokh -- though I think that Eugene's skill at consensus-building makes him a natural choice for Chief Justice, not Associate Justice.
UPDATE: Stephen Bainbridge is one of those social-conservative folks who don't like the idea much. My response: Would you prefer another Souter? Because in the real world, that's probably the choice.
Certainly, Judge Posner is the most qualified man for the job on credentials and intellectual accomplishment alone, moreso even than, say, Ken Starr or Laurence Tribe or his Seventh Circuit colleague Frank Easterbrook. My sense is that this would make Posner an attractive candidate if Bush faced the need for a compromise a down the road. But I have no doubt that Posner would not be his first pick, particularly due to his age.
I'd like to mention three others: Alex Kozinski of the 9th circuit; Miguel Estrada, whose nomination to the DC circuit was filibustered to death by Senate Democrats, apparently for being Hispanic and conservative; and Janice Rogers Brown of the DC circuit, also filibustered for years, again apparently for being a conservative and a minority, but recently confirmed.
I like Kozinski a lot. With Eugene Volokh, and Posner, that makes three.
MORE: Reader David Gulliver emails:
At my law school, the professors are nearly unanimous in their outright disdain for Posner. With this kind of “support,” how can I not love the guy? I am a social conservative and I would absolutely support the President if he nominated Posner for Chief Justice. I think many other social conservatives, given the opportunity to learn more about Posner from a well-informed source, would rally around him, too.
An exit poll broadcast by state-financed NOS television said the constitution failed by a vote of 63 percent to 37 percent, an even worse defeat than the 55 percent "no" vote in France's referendum Sunday.
Turnout was 62 percent, far exceeding even the most optimistic expectations and a reflection of the heated debate in recent days over an issue that has polarized Europeans. Dutch liberals worried a more united EU could weaken liberal social policies, while conservatives feared losing control of immigration.
Although the referendum was consultative, the high turnout and the decisive margin left no room for the Dutch parliament to turn its back on the people's verdict. The parliament meets Thursday to discuss the results.
It's a double-whammy this week. Dutch blog PeakTalk has much more.
UPDATE: Daniel Drezner has more on the Dutch decision, and how it differs from what happened in France.
Like the French, many Dutch voters said in interviews that they were concerned the 25-member European Union had grown too much, too fast in recent years and that they feared giving more power to European bureaucrats in Brussels to regulate everyday life across the continent. . . .
"Europe is big now and that's a good thing," said Peer van der Wonde, a 52-year-old artist and furniture designer, shortly after he voted "no" at city hall in The Hague."But we have to be careful. In the last 10 years, the people in Brussels have tried to minimize the input of regular people in democratic decisions."
That doesn't sound too Lou-Dobbsish to me. Also, see Dutch blog Zacht Ei for more, including this observation:
EC President Barroso made his familiar point again, about how nine countries have ratified the constitution already.
André Rouvoet of the ChristenUnie just pointed out the fallacy in this argument: only three of those countries have put the constitution to a vote. And two of them rejected it.
Two countries that are, by the way, founding members of the EU.
MORE: Over at ChicagoBoyz, Lex writes: "I think I am going to go out and buy some Dutch beer this weekend."
posted at 04:23 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ANYBODY IN THE KNOXVILLE AREA INTERESTED IN ADOPTING A CAT? The Insta-Daughter and Insta-Wife have turned out to be allergic, explaining all sorts of medical problems, and although my Dad has Nicholas as an outdoor cat, we still need to find a home for Precious, shown below. She's a quiet, mostly-indoor cat. We're sad to lose them both, but the Insta-Daughter's asthma seems to be triggered by cats, and we can't have that. Please email me if you're in the area, and interested in adopting.
posted at 02:26 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ODDJACK is the latest Nick Denton blog, this time devoted to gambling. Strangely, John Bolton makes an appearance.
NASA's new administrator and Texas Republican Rep. Tom DeLay said Tuesday the space agency will have the necessary funding to implement President Bush's vision to send astronauts back to the moon and to Mars.
At least, I think it's good news.
posted at 12:20 PM by Glenn Reynolds
GREG SCOBLETE wonders if the current outbreak of Deep Throat nostalgia isn't based on the media's current troubles. "This is the perfect chance to relive - in Al Bundy-like fashion - the Big One."
Of course, it's not so clear that the story reflects as well on the press as some think.
And Austin Bay observes that "conspiracy theorists of another era would have a field day with a J. Edgar Hoover protege bringing down a president."
Yep. I don't mind Nixon going -- I think he was a pretty lousy President for all sorts of reasons aside from Watergate -- but it's obvious that the simplistic Woodward & Bernstein hero-tale is a bit, um, incomplete.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ben Stein offers a defense of Nixon, but I'm unpersuaded. And his historical claim that Felt, Woodward, Bernstein, et al., laid the foundation for the Cambodian genocide seems a bit hysterical. I think it's also ahistorical, as I don't see any reason to think that events in Cambodia would have gone differently had Nixon finished his term.
MORE: Stephen Bainbridge has more thoughts on Deep Throat and anonymous sourcing: "Might we not have evaluated Woodward and Bernstein's work with a more informed eye if we knew they were being fed stories by somebody with a bureaucratic axe to grind?"
Amnesty International is paying a hard price for its PR cheap shot, and it should. . . . Amnesty’s current leadership inhabits a self-referential echo chamber, and over the next few months will find that there is such a thing as bad publicity, particularly when an organization relies on “moral principles and human rights” An organization with genuine moral principles and genuine respect for human rights must be able to distinguish between scattered crime and focused genocide, between criminal actions at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo (on the one hand) and 9/11, the Taliban, Bali, Saddam, suicide bombers (etc) on the other. Koran flushing? Does anyone remember the Taliban’s destruction of the Buddas of Bubiyan? Does Amnesty? Amnesty has cheapened the language of suffering, and for an organization espousing Amnesty’s principles, this is a grievous error.
Yes, when you go over the top like that, people quit taking you seriously. Read the whole thing, which has a useful quote from just after 9/11.
UPDATE: Reader Wagner James Au emails:
Back when Amnesty International actually used to promote global human rights, they'd lead widescale letter-writing campaigns against rights abusers around the world, in the hopes that the public attention would shame the regimes into reform. By focusing so much ideologically-driven, disproportionate attention on alleged rights violations committed by the US, they are actually providing PR and moral cover to genuine gross violatars around the world. By the simple principle of opportunity cost, any excessive public pressure spent on US behavior is pressure *not* invested on, say, China, North Korea, Burma, Sudan, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, etc, etc.. Who really benefits most from describing Guantanamo as a "gulag"? People genuinely concerned with legitimate complaints against Gitmo-- or regimes which run actual gulags right now, and are more than happy that their behavior doesn't warrant anywhere near the same high moral dudgeon from the most recognized rights group in the world? (Who now have a perfect diversionary alibi, if Amnesty International ever condescends to devote as much attention to them. Tell them about their mass executions, or their forced labor camps, or their collective starvation campaigns, and they'll retort, "At least we don't have a Guantanamo." Thanks, Amnesty!)
The cause of promoting human rights worldwide is being actively impeded by the leadership of the largest human rights group in the world. So how about a letter-writing campaign against Amnesty International itself, in the hopes that that the public attention will shame them into reforming?
BILL HOBBS has some thoughts on what journalism schools should be teaching that they're not. Actually, the UT journalism program is trying to address some of these issues -- they've had me over several times to talk with students, and I've worked a bit with some colleagues there on a mass communications textbook.
A MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SUPPORT SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM, according to a new poll. Two caveats: (1) it's from Zogby; and (2) I suspect that most people's feelings on this are fairly provisional at the moment. Nonetheless, it suggests that Bush's proposals aren't as unpopular as some have been saying.
All three crises are extremely dangerous. Yet most European and Turkish politicians are sleepwalking into them behind the banner "There is no Plan B" -- Plan A being Turkey's EU admission. And Washington echoes the same slogan because it strongly supports the Turkish application.
In reality there is always a Plan B, even if the politicians avoid considering it until Plan A has collapsed. Under this particular Plan B, the United States would rescue Turkey and the EU from their joint crises while also advancing U.S. interests in transatlantic integration.
It would work as follows:
First, the EU and the United States (together with its partners in NAFTA) would merge their markets to form TAFTA -- or a transatlantic free trade area.
Second, they would invite all the existing European countries not in the EU, including Turkey, Norway and Switzerland, to join this enlarged TAFTA. (Ukraine, Russia and Latin American countries outside NATFA would be eligible to join once they met criteria similar to those required for EU entry.)
Third, this TAFTA would establish joint procedures for harmonizing existing and new regulations between NAFTA, the EU and non-EU states,.
Fourth, free movement of labor would not be a provision in TAFTA, but there would be preferential immigration rules between members.
Laid out in this way, such a Plan B inevitably sounds utopian. Many of its individual features, however, have been widely discussed for years. Indeed, a full-scale EU-U.S. free trade area almost came about a decade ago.
At the time it was vetoed by the French. But Europeans might now see the value of a program for economic integration that does not involve free immigration -- but that would offer Turkey a solid substitute for EU membership, mollify the Islamic world, and build an long-term economic bridge to Russia, North Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
And in their currently shaken state, even the French might be prepared to accept American leadership out of the crisis -- so, Condi, act quickly.
NEW YORK May 31, 2005 — Two U.S. citizens accused of being al-Qaida loyalists were each ordered held without bail Tuesday as they appeared in federal courtrooms in New York and Florida. . . .
Prosecutors say the two men swore a formal oath of loyalty to al-Qaida as they conspired to use their skills in martial arts and medicine to aid international terrorism.
The men were arrested Friday following a sting operation that the government said started in 2003. If convicted, each could face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Good thing they weren't pirating DVDs, or they'd really be in trouble.
posted at 02:22 PM by Glenn Reynolds
SENATORS JOHN MCCAIN, LINDSEY GRAHAM, AND JOHN SUNUNU visited Uzbekistan last week and criticized the Karimov government's record on democracy and human rights. The government refused to meet with them. Gateway Pundit has more, including pictures and video.
While there's no doubt that porn is much more widespread (amusingly, there's a link to the "Paris Hilton collection" on Shapiro's Amazon page), as I've noted before, there's not much support for the idea that more-available porn (or pro-sex material generally) is doing any harm to America's children.
Thanks to video games, TV shows and movies such as ''Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith'' that are loaded with special effects, today's children don't have a realistic impression of space or space travel, says Buzz Aldrin, one of the men who planted the U.S. flag on the moon.
But, he adds, it's not the kids' fault. Those working in the fields of math, science and engineering -- the people who were inspired by the accomplishments of Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and others during the space exploration boom of the 1960s and '70s -- haven't reached out enough to capture the youngsters' interest, he says.
Buzz and I were on the National Space Society board back in the 1990s, and I was very impressed with his commitment to this kind of thing.
Unlike France's referendum, which was binding on the government, the Dutch vote is advisory. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's governing party said Monday it will accept a "no" verdict only if turnout reaches at least 30 percent and if 55 percent of those who vote reject the charter.
As Steven Den Beste noted, these votes are serving a valuable educational purpose as they reveal what the EU is all about. (Via PoliPundit).
posted at 07:57 AM by Glenn Reynolds
IT'S NOT EASY BEING A TORY AT THE BBC: Though I don't think it's easy being a Tory anywhere these days.
Brooklyn College's School of Education has begun to base evaluations of aspiring teachers in part on their commitment to social justice, raising fears that the college is screening students for their political views.
posted at 07:44 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MICKEY KAUS expects a McCain third-party run in 2008. I doubt McCain would do that: It would be shameless grandstanding, putting himself and his pique above the welfare of his party. Unless, like Kaus, he thought he could win. . . .
Immediately after the vote, European Commission President José Barroso acknowledged this was a serious problem for the Constitution. The UK now wonders whether it should even both to hold its own referendum. The Netherlands is bolstered in its intention to vote No. Poland is puzzled by such a result, especially when the French vilified so much the "Polish Plumber", a character created to frighten French workers and make them believe the Constitution would open the doors to foreigners who would take their jobs. The Czech Republic can now be more opposed to the treaty. And Italy is wondering if it was too hasty in ratifying it.
Aside from this immediate reaction, a political trend has strengthened. The French referendum was not only about the European Constitutional Treaty, nor Europe itself. It was just a pretence to confirm a widespread feeling in the French political class, to spread fear among workers, to provide a life insurance policy for a close-to-bankruptcy welfare state. It was a referendum about the kind of society France wants. That is why the outcome was already known to most of us: It was No to free trade, and Yes to a collectivist society.
That doesn't sound promising.
UPDATE: Greg Djerejian has much more, and predicts a political crisis in Europe:
The ultimate answer, at the risk of sounding too simplistic, is that not enough French people believe in a Greater Europe deep in their bones. Great leaders might have persuaded them through honesty and passion and charisma, but such leaders were manifestly not present. Now an era of confusion and flux looms for Europe. It is not a happy result, perhaps. But it is the reality that must be forcibly understood by European leaders if they can hope to turn around this debacle. If instead they insist on saying: "these were but French domestic troubles", "the show goes on after a spot of reflection", "it was but a plebescite on Jacques" and so on--it will mean yet again that no one is fundamentally addressing the basic issues that must be confronted head on.
I know which way to bet, based on recent performance. Meanwhile, The Belmont Club notes that it takes a theory to beat a theory, and, weak as the pro-EU arguments are, opponents will have to come up with an approach of their own.
IN THE MAIL: Thomas Sowell's Black Rednecks and White Liberals, which purports to explain black failure as a consequence of absorbing poor cultural values from "white trash," in the form of Scots-Irish rednecks. As Sowell writes in this distillation of the book's thesis:
The culture of the people who were called "rednecks" and "crackers" before they ever got on the boats to cross the Atlantic was a culture that produced far lower levels of intellectual and economic achievement, as well as far higher levels of violence and sexual promiscuity. That culture had its own way of talking, not only in the pronunciation of particular words but also in a loud, dramatic style of oratory with vivid imagery, repetitive phrases and repetitive cadences.
Actually, as someone who keeps noticing interesting overlaps between the culture of my Nigerian relatives and my white southern ancestors, I think the cross-fertilization went both ways. And I'd be interested to hear what James Webb thinks about Sowell's thesis.
UPDATE: Reader John Richardson emails:
I read Webb's Born Fightin, as I am from East Tennessee Scots Irish stock (Bulls Gap). Isn't is more than a little bigoted to call the Scots Irish 'White Trash'? Such epithets are forbidden about other ethnic groups. And while I will admit Scots Irish setelers may have had their prejudices, few were slave holders. I read Sowells summary of the book at opinionjournal, but did not see his point. Today's Scots Irish descendents do not have the overwhelming social problems Sowell so eloquently writes about in his columns.
I believe that Scots-Irish weren't very well-represented among slaveholders, either, who were mostly wealthier. On the other hand, reader Russ McSwain emails:
As I read Dr. Sowell's book my reaction was the same as your initial observation. There's no doubt that Sowell's right, but the cultural cross-fertilization cuts both ways. I can't find again it but somewhere in his writings VS Naipaul, when asked about his impressions of the American South, responded with: "It has the same smells as a typical West African village." Can you say Barbeque?
A recent "Opinion Survey of the Arab Street 2005" by Al Arabiya news network provides some interesting answers. The survey sought to see what Arabs thought about the relative lack of economic progress in the Arab world. In answer to the question, “What is stalling development in the Arab world?,” 81 percent chose "Governments are unwilling to implement change and reform", 8 percent citing "The ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict," 7 percent "Civil society is failing to convince governments", and 4 percent chose "Terrorism".
Another question, "What is the fastest way to achieve development in the Arab world?", had 67 percent choosing "Ensuring the rule of law through justice and law enforcement", 23 percent chose "Enhancing freedom of speech", and 10 percent chose "Resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict".
Islamic terrorists represent a small minority of Arab thinking, and interests. But most Arab media and governments, for obvious reasons, avoid the “bad government” issues and instead concentrate on the Arab-Israeli conflict as the cause of all that is bad in the Arab world. While few Arab governments support all Islamic terrorists, many support some (like the Palestinian terrorists, or Hizbollah in Lebanon).
Read the whole thing.
posted at 10:34 AM by Glenn Reynolds
DON'T MISS THE MEMORIAL DAY ROUNDUP at Winds of Change, featuring links to other Memorial Day posts, ways to help the troops, etc.
posted at 10:33 AM by Glenn Reynolds
MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ on the French vote. Though Matt Welch offers his own explanation, involving a midget with pasties, for the outcome.
UPDATE: Read this column from David Ignatius, too, who stresses the fear of change I noted earlier. The overlong and overcomplicatd EU Constitution, of course, encouraged a "no" vote from skeptical voters.
What I like is the way the pro-EU advocates are starting to show their true anti-democratic colors during this process. It's making blatantly obvious what I concluded long ago: the constitution of the EU is intended to set up a benevolent dictatorship by the progressive (read "socialist") elite of Europe.
It is, I think, an effort to restore the sort of transnational aristocracy that ran Europe before World War I, though with a somewhat different flavor.
UPDATE: Reader Kjell Hagen emails:
I have a great deal of respect for Steven den Beste´s analyses. However, I think this is over the top. The EU will be ruled by some mix of elected national governments compromising (as now), or by an elected, European assembly, with still a great deal of power in the hands of the national governments. Not totally unlike the US, actually, only with more power to the national governments than currently with the US states. I don´t really see how this is going to be a dictatorship. And as for the socialists, they are the minority
in the EU parliament.
(Also in the US, there are tendencies of centralization of power, as you have pointed out, and under a Republican president, no less.)
I agree that the constitution is bureaucratic, unnecessary and mostly a product of French elitist ambitions. However, even if they succeeded in making the EU into a superstate, it would be a similar structure as the US, hardly a dictatorship.
Another matter is that they won´t succeed. Even their own nation rejects this. Even most socialists reject this. The possible strategy of having referendums again and again until people vote for the constitution, won´t work. People vote independently, as we have seen now. It is much more likely to backfire on the political leaders trying it. And when it does, they will stop trying, in the interest
of not losing personal power.
Well, that certainly trumps. I think, however, that Hagen means something different than Den Beste when he talks about socialists. By American standards, pretty much all European politicians are socialists.
MORE: More on the French election map here, from Patrick Ruffini, and here, from Michael Barone.
posted at 10:20 AM by Glenn Reynolds
ARLEN SPECTER AND SAM BROWNBACK on Stem Cell research -- Crooks&Liars has video from This Week.
Meanwhile, Trey Jackson has video of Jim Pinkerton talking about Linda Foley as part of a media vs. the military segment on Fox News Watch.
UPDATE: Joe Gandelman watched the Brownback/Specter video and wonders if the stem cell issue isn't the point of no return for the GOP. "What strikes us is how Brownback tries to change the subject away from the living, away from stem cell research's potential to save lives. And all of this being done a[long]side a ghostly Arlen Specter — failing before our very eyes."
Lebanon's anti-Syrian alliance has swept the board in the first round of general elections, officials say. Amidst a low turnout, the coalition headed by the son of murdered former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri took all 19 seats in the capital Beirut.
Pro-Syrian Shia groups are tipped to fare better in next Sunday's second round of voting in the south. But the country-wide result is expected to see a big parliamentary majority for Syria's opponents.
French voters were said tonight to have resoundingly rejected the EU Constitution, sending a defiant message to France’s political establishment and dealing a blow to plans for further European integration.
As polls closed around the country, the three major French polling organisations all reported a “no” vote of around 55-56 per cent, in line with opinion polls before today’s vote.
The rejection of the treaty, drafted by a panel headed by Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president, leaves the Constitution effectively dead in the water and the 25-nation European Union in crisis. It also means that Tony Blair may no longer need to argue the case for a Constitution in a UK referendum that had been due next year.
“It’s a massive ‘no’, a heavy rejection of the Constitution and a huge humiliation for President Chirac,” said Charles Bremner, Times correspondent in Paris. “It’s also a huge repudiation of the political establishment – all the major parties were in favour of this document.”
It's possible that this is a mere bump in the road, although it's a big one. On the other hand, it's possible that this is the beginning of a significant political shift in Europe, which I suspect will be a good thing if it happens.
UPDATE: Perhaps this response: "Your votes say no no no, but your better classes say yes, yes, yes!"
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jonathan Smith emails: "I have yet to see an american blogger that has recognized that a lot of people that voted Non want France to be a MORE socialist state. It's a fear that the EU will be more capitalist."
Well, that's been a theme of a lot of the coverage I've linked to, and it certainly seems to be true. In fact, though I can't find a working link to the story now, I seem to recall that French free-market activist Sabine Herold supported the EU because she thought that only an external institution could break the power of the French unions.
As for the defeat on two grounds, it seems an obvious consequence of the EU's general strategy of obfuscation -- this works well in a bureaucratic environment, but in the context of referenda, where people tend to vote their fears more than their hopes, it's been self-defeating. Transparency tends to work better under such circumstances, and transparency has not been the Eurocrats' forte.
PARIS - French voters rejected the European Union's first constitution Sunday, President Jacques Chirac said — a stinging repudiation of his leadership and the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent.
Ouch. Meanwhile, Daniel Drezner has thoughts -- presciently ahead of the vote -- on the consequences of a French no.
This is almost as good as the purple fingers in Iraq. It is a step in the right direction. . . .
The fact that anti-Americanism drove much of the vote doesn’t bother me at all. I don't want people to like us nearly as much as I want them to be able to govern themselves the way they see fit, have real elections with real consequences, and get the benefits and bear the consequences of those decisions. If the French don't want capitalisme sauvage or anglo-saxonisme or hyper-liberalisme, OK by me. They are free to have as much socialism as they can get away with.
And it's certainly not a great day for Jacques Chirac, is it? One might say that he's now completely damaged goods. Pity. Meantime, let's now keep an even closer eye on Sarkozy as '07 looms. Truth be told, it's silly and sophomoric to emptily cheer-lead this historical repudiation of the EU constitution solely because it's such tremendously poor news for Jacques. . . .
There will doubtless be yet another referendum a few years hence on the issue. Giscard d'Estaing, for instance, is already on the record stating there will have to be a re-vote going forward. But this is a tremendous setback indeed to the entire process of European integration, of course, and it also showcases a massive failure of leadership by the Chirac Administration. They simply were not able to convince their country on the merits of their vision of Europe's future. And carping on about "multipolarity" and the big, bad Anglo-Saxon meanies didn't do the trick, it seems.
Interesting times ahead for French politics. Read this post by Djerejian, too, for some additional background.
STILL MORE: TM Lutas wonders how the French Muslims voted. And the Eclectic Econoclast doesn't expect the pro-EU forces to take no for an answer, in spite of their prior statements.
MORE STILL: Mark Steyn joins the list of skeptics who doubt that the Euro-establishment will give up:
So, a couple of days before the first referendum, Jean-Claude Juncker, the "president" of the European Union, let French and Dutch voters know how much he values their opinion:
"If at the end of the ratification process, we do not manage to solve the problems, the countries that would have said No, would have to ask themselves the question again," "President" Juncker told the Belgian newspaper Le Soir.
Got that? You have the right to vote, but only if you give the answer your rulers want you to give. But don't worry, if you don't, we'll treat you like a particularly backward nursery school and keep asking the question until you get the answer right.
A pretty safe bet. On the other hand, The New York Times calls this a "crushing defeat" for the E.U. Constitution. We'll see. I suspect that a lot depends on whether the politicians who pushed it have a political future, or get hammered. In the meantime, I note that both Chirac and Schroeder have tried to prop up their political fortunes by playing the anti-Americanism card, and both have found that gambit insufficient to the task.
David Carr, meanwhile, is offering heartfelt thanks to the responsible parties. And Jeff Jarvis observes: "It's about trying to turn Europe in to a faux nation. It's about protectionism. It's about Europe thinking it is a world player when it is no longer. And it's about a bad constitution that made up for in bureaucracy what it lacked in vision."
It’s clear that a disgruntled and discombobulated French electorate expressed various types of outrage and enrage (an odd construction but given France’s constant straddling act, strikes me as appropirate). However, if the Communist Redshirts and Le Pen’s fascist Brownshirts are politically determinative in France –and that’s an argument one can make based on this plebiscite– then let’s recognize France as the politically sick society it truly is. If “sick” is a push word and too therapeutic for the pragmatic set, then call it the “lost” society. In some ways the news that the Cold War really is over has finally reached Paris.
He has some thoughts on what ought to come next, too:
So let’s offer NAFTA membership to Holland and the United Kingdom. If you’re Dutch or British, why be stuck in the floundering lost cause of a Franco-centric Greater Europe? We’ll call it the North Atlantic Free Trade Association. Heck, we don’t even have to change the acronym.
The French people decided to look out for their own individual financial interests and also to demonstrate their independence of other countries. How can Chirac be suprised when this is exactly what led him to oppose the U.S. attempt to enforce UN resolutions on Iraq? People criticize Chirac's leadership on the issue of the referendum but actually the French are following his lead precisely.