Sunday, February 09, 2003

Power Line has moved to its new home: www.powerlineblog.com

Please join us there.
I have frequently noted that the Claremont Review of Books is my favorite magazine. I've been working my way through the winter issue for the past few months, and taken all together the issue by itself is something like an education in American political thought and history. It is an incredibly impressive magazine, now available on newsstands in good bookstores like Barnes and Noble and St. Paul's Bound To Be Read.

City Journal is the quarterly publication of the Manhattan Institute. Physically, it is a beautiful magazine, surely the most beautiful public policy magazine in the country. The contents of the magazine are also outstanding. The winter issue of the magazine is a good example. Among the fine articles in the issue are Kay Hymowitz's essay on "Why feminism is AWOL on Islam" and Stefan Kanfer's essay on Cole Porter, "The voodoo that he did so well." Steven Malanga's "How the 'living wage' sneaks socialism into cities" belongs in our continuing series on "studies in liberal governance."

I previously posted Tom Wolfe's tribute to the Manhattan Insititute, but it's worth an encore in this context: "Revolutionaries."
Like Maryland Governor Bob Erhrlich (see below), President Bush has some serious proposals for educational reform. Here, Deborah Simmons of the Washington Times discusses his proposal to give states and parents greater control over early childhood educational programs, and the resistance he faces from Democrats and special interest groups that want to cling to the federally mandated Head Start approach. According to Simmons, studies show that, although solid learning may occur in Head Start programs, whatever academic acumen Head Start students bring into the classroom as kindergarteners or first-graders is too often lost by third or fourth grade. President Bush would like to address this problem by giving individual school districts and families more say in intergrating what is taught to pre-schoolers with the overall educational program of the particular school district. But this common-sense approach would mean less federal control. Thus it may prove unacceptable to Democrats.
Reader Steve Nygard alerted us to this sign that the nude anti-war protest movement continues to grow. Unfortunately, these women overlooked the disadvantages of nudity in New York in February; their turnout wasn't quite enough to spell "Bush."
Republicans are trying to address the parlous state of the public schools that serve minority populations (see the postings below). For example, Maryland's new Republican Governor, Bob Ehrlich, is forging ahead with his plan to bring charter schools to Maryland, according to this editorial in the Washington Times. As noted in the Washington Times news story posted below, Prince Georges County Maryland, a predominantly African-American area in suburban Washington, D.C., is one of the two main areas in the United States where blacks have turned to home-schooling in order to escape from the public schools. Yet, Erhlich is already facing bruising opposition from Democrats and education bureaucrats as he tries to implement meaningful reform.
Read this column by Cal Thomas in conjunction with the story below about home-schooling. Thomas reports on the inability of New York City public schools to teach students to read. According to Thomas, 60 to 70 percent of black and Hispanic children in New York City are illiterate. Percentages one-third that large would be disgraceful. Referring to the bumper sticker that says "If you can read this, thank a teacher," Thomas asks who one should thank if one cannot read. Teachers' unions, education bureaucrats, and Democratic politicians would be my leading candidates.
The Washington Times reports that an increasing number of black families are choosing to home-school their children. Blacks now make up 5 percent of the estimated 1.7 million children who were home-schooled last year. In 1999, it was estimated that blacks repesented only 1 percent of home-schooled children. The increase is the logical consequence of (a) the horrendous state of the public schools available to many African-Americans and (b) the unwillingness of African-American and other Democratic politicians to countenance public funding of alternative schools.
This AP story is typical of many we will be seeing as budget battles are fought in many states:

"Ernie Bulls and Gloria Padilla pose on their couch in their living room in New Haven, Conn., Thursday, Jan. 30, 2003. Bulls, who is completely blind, and Padilla who is legally blind and can see out of only one eye, have lost their jobs assembling T-shirts because of state budget cuts."

Don't expect to see any stories about the jobs that are lost because tax increases slow job creation in the private sector.
We haven't said much about the space shuttle disaster, mostly because we didn't have anything useful to say. It is worth noting, however, that the Galileo spacecraft is now approaching Jupiter, fourteen years after being launched for the purpose of exploring that planet. The picture below is an artist's rendering of Galileo and Jupiter.

There has been a fair amount of discussion about the future of the space program in the blogosphere as well as in conventional media. For what it's worth, I think the space program must and will continue. It is human (and American) nature to want to explore and to understand the world we live in. On the other hand, I don't think there is any particular pace at which space exploration need be carried out. The federal government is spending proportionately far less on the space program today than in the 1960's, when spending was fueled by our race with the Soviet Union. That's probably appropriate, in my view. But it is good to see projects like Galileo coming to fruition.
Mark Steyn's latest follows up on his terrific column on the absurdity of the UN: "After Iraq, UN's days are numbered."
The New York Post carries a column by Kay Hymowitz this morning that nicely complements Thomas Kranawitter's piece on multiculturalism: "Feminist fog."

Saturday, February 08, 2003

The Washington Post acknowledges a difficult landscape for Democrats: Senate Democrats Face Tough '04 Election. The reasons are pretty obvious; the number of seats defended, expected retirements, etc. But the Post includes, correctly, the fact that "Democrats' fundraising difficulties have grown more serious with passage of new campaign finance rules that severely limit access to their most easily raised cash." That is, McCain-Feingold's ban on "soft" money, which, as it typically originates with fat cats, is especially prone to be Democratic. The Democrats have gone in a short period of time from agitating feverishly for McCain-Feingold to matter-of-factly acknowledging it as a serious barrier to their ambitions. Maybe John McCain is a Republican after all.
Reader John Richardson directed my attention to this article by John Leo from townhall.com about a new study on the consequences of race-based college admissions. The study considers why there aren't more black and Hispanic college professors. According to Leo, the study finds the major reason to be that affirmative action is steering minority group members to colleges they are not really qualified to attend. Thus, although black and Hispanic colege seniors are about as likely as their white counterparts to want to become professors, they are less likely to attend graduate school due to low grades and lack of self-confidence. Leo points out that it may be difficult for supporters of racial preferences to attack the study because it was sponsored by the liberal Mellon Foundation and the presidents of the eight Ivy League schools. Instead, we can expect colleges to counter the problem identified by the study through more grade inflation and stronger preferential admission programs for minorities at the graduate school level.
I've been on the road for the past few days. One night I happened to see a clip of Bill Clinton talking about various terrorist attacks that he says he prevented during his Administration. But I fear that Slick Willie won't be able to talk his way out of this one. Indeed, in his desperation to defend his record on terrorism, Clinton is digging himself a deeper and deeper hole. History will give him no credit for "preventing" particular acts of terrorism that failed to come off due to the vigilence of law enforcement agents. To the contrary, the more attacks that were thrwarted during the Clinton years, the more Clinton will be judged criminally negligent for doing virtually nothing to strike back at Al Qaeda and other sources of terrorism.
Our new site is proceeding well. It looks like we may be able to make the move as early as Monday, or Tuesday at the latest. Stay tuned, I think you'll like it!
Our friends at FratersLibertas have not only created a nifty Churchillian "Deserve Victory!" bumper sticker with which to win friends among the right thinking and aggravate the derangement of leftover lefties, but have also dusted off and annotated Merle Haggard's ever timely "The Fightin' Side of Me." Check it out!
Better late than never. National Public Radio has issued a correction and apology for slandering the Traditional Values Coalition. In January 2002, NPR's Morning Edition reported that it had called the Coalition to ask whether the Coalition had been contacted by the FBI agents investigating the mailing of anthrax to Senate offices. NPR now admits:

"This report violated NPR editorial principles. No one had told our reporter that the Traditional Values Coalition was a suspect in the anthrax mailing. No facts were available then or since then to suggest that the group had any role in the anthrax mailing."

In other words, the NPR broadcast was motivated by sheer malice, based on political disagreement. If NPR's reporters are willing to perpetrate this kind of hoax, one can only imagine how their liberal bias infects their day to day reporting.
A tempest is brewing over proposed amendments to the Patriot Act; the amendments, billed as "Patriot Act II," are being worked on by Justice Department staff. Someone leaked a draft of the possible legislation to a left-wing front group called the Center for Public Integrity, which published it on its website. (I would link to the site, except that a banner headline by Matt Drudge has made the Center's site inaccessible for the time being.) The Justice Department responded to the leak by saying that the draft is being worked on by staff, that no final decisions have been made, and the draft has not yet been presented to the Attorney General. Notwithstanding the fact that no legislation has yet been proposed, the leaked draft is being greeted with hysteria by the left--see, for example, Talk Left--and by condemnation from libertarians like Glenn Reynolds.
All of this seems wildly premature, but for what it is worth, I thought that the original Patriot Act was enirely reasonable and, with respect to many of its provisions, long overdue. (For example, prior to the Patriot Act, wiretap orders could only be obtained for specified telephone lines. This allowed easy circumvention by merely changing cell phones. The Patriot Act permits orders allowing all phone lines used by a particular person to be tapped.)
Due to the overwhelming traffic at the Center for Public Integrity's site, I have not yet been able to read the draft amendments, but to the extent I have seen them summarized, it is hard to see what the fuss is about.
The left's goal here, of course, is not to focus on any particular anti-terrorism efforts, or to engage in any serious discussion of how best to balance security and freedom from government intrusion. (This distinguishes leftists from responsible libertarians like Reynolds and many others.) What the left wants to do, through the hysterical repetition of "civil liberties" slogans, is to achieve political goals by demonizing John Ashcroft and George Bush. See, for example, the new advertising campaign just launched by the ACLU, which--in the ACLU's own words--"paint[s] Ashcroft as a zealous ideologue who has hacked away at American civil liberties using post-September 11 concerns about national security as a pretext." As usual, you can count on the ACLU for reasoned, constructive discourse.
Several readers have asked us whether we are aware of any signs that are being produced to counter the "No War With Iraq" lawn signs that have sprouted up in recent weeks. Until today, the answer was No. But today's Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that an Eagan resident named Joe Repya, a retired Lieutenant Colonel, has produced a "Liberate Iraq" sign, shown below.

Col. Repya says that when word of his signs got out, they were quickly snapped up; he handed them out in front of a local talk-radio station. He expects to have more signs in about a week.
We'd be curious to know whether similar signs are appearing in other parts of the country.
Former Arizona Cardinal and exemplary American Pat Tillman is now an Army Ranger: "Tillman just a phone call away from deployment." (Courtesy of No Left Turns and Andrew Sullivan.)
We can't defend America if we don't love her, and there's nothing that the traitors in the academy want more than to make us hate her. But America is under ideological assault not only in the universities, but also in the schools from kindergarten on, where multiculturalism has become the official state religion. We have therefore long needed a citizen's guide to multiculturalism -- a brief but serious account that explains the phenomenon and sketches out an appropriate critique. The chapter on multiculturalism in Dinesh D'Souza's early 1990's book on the universities, Illiberal Education, does a good job of providing such an account and critique, but the book has lost the currency it had upon its publication. Now the Claremont Institute's Thomas Kranawitter has done an outstanding job tackling this difficult subject in "The Intellectual Errors and Political Dangers of Multiculturalism."
The anti-war nudity movement continues. In what I believe is the largest such protest so far, approximately 750 Australian women shed their clothes to protest Prime Minister Howard's participation in the possible war with Iraq. The Prime Minister had no immediate comment.

We'll do our best to keep you informed as the movement spreads.
The most important column on the Web today is Michael Ledeen's "Godfathers of terror."
The issue of the Weekly Standard out this morning features its arts editor's reflections on the cancelled White House poetry event honoring Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Langston Hughes: "The poets vs. the first lady." Former Nixon administration White House counsel Leonard Garment also has a column on the subject in this morning's New York Times: "A song of themselves."

Another subject I can't get enough of is that of France. On Thursday the Wall Street Journal carried an excellent column by Christopher Hitchens that it has now made available online: "The rat that roared."

Friday, February 07, 2003

Pro-Saddam demonstrators are gathering in Munich, where Donald Rumsfeld will address an international conference on security policy tomorrow.

The London Times reports that the State Department has warned Americans to stay away from Munich for the next few days. Munich's mayor "dismissed the warning as ridiculous," but the Times says that "the fact that Munich now counts as unsafe for Americans along with Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen has taken the Germans aback. Suddenly, they see themselves being edged towards pariah status."
Here is Thomas Sowell on a recent study titled "Increasing Faculty Diversity," which examines the shibboleths of affirmative action and finds them to be unsupported by the facts.
Debka File reports that the major terrorist organizations of the world--Iraq, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and other Palestinian groups--have come together to plot "a multi-pronged mega-terror offensive assault" on targets in Europe, the Middle East and the United States, potentially including nuclear weapons. Debka says further that "sources report too that interrogation of the dozens of terrorist suspects in custody revealed that Iraq and Saudi intelligence agents continue to provide the terror cells with operational intelligence, while Saudi institutions and bodies are al Qaeda’s primary source of funds and manpower." Debka's theory is that the U.S. has refrained from making this intelligence public, notwithstanding the fact that it would decisively incriminate Iraq, because the Administration is not yet ready to deal with Saudi Arabia's central role in the terror network.
Today Hamas organized a pro-Iraq demonstration in Gaza City. Here is a young boy carrying a poster of Saddam Hussein.

And here, the always-charming Palestinians burn American and Israeli flags.

In another world, one might expect the Palestinians to have some sympathy for the suffering of the Iraqi people under Saddam. But in this world, the same all-consuming hatred that drives them to try to exterminate the Jews makes them indifferent to the afflictions of their fellow Arabs.
Minneapolis's execrable Mayor Rybak has "clarified" his day-old ban on unmonitored communications between the police and the media: "Rybak clarifies police media policy."
You may remember that some days ago, we linked to a story about an Iraqi man who jumped into a U.N. inspection van in Baghdad, yelling "Save me!" in Arabic and clutching a notebook. He was hauled away by Iraqi security guards while the U.N. inspectors watched impassively.

Now his relatives outside Iraq are pleading for information about his whereabouts; their relatives in Baghdad "cannot say anything." Hans Blix "appeared flummoxed" when questioned about this matter. He said that other than awaiting a report from Iraqi authorities, the U.N. has "not taken any other steps to ascertain whether the man might have been an Iraqi scientist or otherwise in possession of information he wanted to share with inspectors about Iraq’s secret weapons programmes." Blix was assured, however, that "there was nothing in the booklet he seemed to be carrying." (I like that "seemed." The notebook was clearly visible in photographs.) As to the possibility of the man having valuable knowledge of the Iraqi weapons program, Blix noted that Iraqi scientists could find "more elegant ways" of communicating with the inspectors.

That really sums up the United Nations pretty well. This poor man was foolish enough to look to the U.N. for protection, assuming that as between him and a murderous dictator, the U.N. would be on his side. In all likelihood, he has since been tortured to death. But for Mr. Blix, he just wasn't elegant enough to meet the U.N.'s standards.

(Via PoliPundit.)
President Bush again frames the Iraq issue as a test of the United Nations, not of his policy: "This is a defining moment for the U.N. Security Council. If the Security Council were to allow a dictator to lie and deceive, the Security Council will be weak....The U.N. Security Council has got to make up its mind soon as to whether or not its word means anything."

This continues the brilliant strategy that the President began with his speech to the U.N. several months ago, when he told the U.N. it risked irrelevance if it failed to enforce its resolutions on Iraq. Once again the President has put himself in something of a no-lose position, at least as far as the U.N. is concerned. If the Security Council wants to sanction action to get rid of Saddam, great. If instead it chooses to consign itself to history's dustbin, that is perhaps regrettable, but something the President and the U.S. can certainly live with.

And throughout this crisis, Bush has benefited greatly from the fact that friends and foes alike know that he means what he says. Whether the Security Council's "word means anything," as the President says, is very much in doubt. Whether Bush's word is good, no one questions.
Josh Chafetz is the young prodigy who has brought Oxblog to deserved prominence. Josh discovered the immutable "laws of Dowd," among other notable accomplishments. Apparently Josh's Oxford studies and blogging accomplisments aren't enough to occupy a 24-hour day; Josh has now become the co-founder of the Oxford Democracy Forum to promote democracy around the world and support the just use of force. Josh's announcement follows the announcement of the founding of the Yale College Students for Democracy.
I received the new (March) issue of The American Enterprise magazine in the mail yesterday. It should be available on newsstands shortly. The issue is devoted to the theme of the Civil War, a theme occasioned by the release of Gods and Generals -- the prequel to the movie Gettysburg -- on February 21. Bill Kauffman of the magazine's editorial staff has a long piece in the issue on Gods and Generals that is available online: "The Civil War Returns." You might say he liked the movie.

Karl Zinsmeister, the magazine's editor, has an introductory essay on American interest in the Civil War that is also available online: "What do you mean, 'a good war'?"
FrontPage has an excellent symposium on the question "The 'Peace' Movement: A Front for the Anti-American Left?"
Oliver North has a hilarious column comparing Secretary Powell's presentation to the UN with the OJ trial: "The OJ trial at the UN." North concludes as follows: "In the O.J. trial, Cochran made much of the fact that no murder weapon was ever found and convinced a jury of 12 to let O.J. off the hook. The evidence on Saddam is now before a 'jury' of 15 in the UN. President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair need to act soon, before Dominique de Villepin persuades them that the Scud doesn't fit -- and they vote to acquit."

David Brooks expands on this point in his piece on the Weekly Standard's Web site: "French Kiss-Off." Is it wrong to hope that the French hold to their position and therefore assist us in drawing the correct conclusions about the absurdity, irrelevance and odiousness of the UN? Just asking.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

The 101st Airborne Division has been deployed to the Gulf. Saddam, this might be an opportune moment to high-tail it to Libya.
We've been promoting the Rottweiler lately, but today's fisking of a liberal commentator is especially worth reading. Here is a sample:

"' I'd say right wingers demand that everyone *thinks* whatever they *think* but right wingers don't think. They listen and obey. Free thinking threatens right wingers. It weakens their precarious hold on their make-believe world. Jawohl, mein Fuhrer. I believe every little zing zat mein Fuhrer tells me.'

"As a bona fide former card-carrying feces-flinging Lefty Loon, I find that statement particularly amusing. One of the major factors in moving me to the other side of the aisle and find my true ideological "home" was that those pesky right wingers kept pestering me with facts. And those facts, combined with my own observations of the real world, always collided with my carefully constructed Marxist dreamworld.

"Eventually my brain couldn't handle the endless contradictions between facts and Socialist groupthink and I ended up switching. It was either that or going stark raving mad."

Check out the Rottweiler for the rest.
Andrew Sullivan has been banging away relentlessly against the forces of evil; today he notes: "More nations sign on to doing something about Saddam. What do Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia have in common? They know what tyranny is like and they know who saved them from it. Doesn't this confluence of countries who actually love freedom tell you something about the real issue here?"
Here are the raw data on the Washington Post/ABC poll following Secretary of State Powell's U.N. presentation. They are generally very favorable.

By a 61% to 32% margin, Americans approve of the President's handling of the Iraq situation. Interestingly, this is a small change from the prior poll; even before Powell's speech, Americans approved by a 61%-35% margin. I have to think the poll's margin of error comes into play here.

By a 67% to 27% margin, Americans favor "having U.S. forces take military action against Iraq to force Saddam Hussein from power." Moreover, by far the largest group is the 45% that strongly favor military action.

Even in the face of U.N. "opposition," a plurality supports military action. But what is significant here is that there is no prospect at all of U.N. opposition. At worst, a majority of the Security Council will support military action.

As to Secretary Powell's speech, 50% thought Powell made a "convincing case for going to war with Iraq," while only 19% disagreed. (The remainder are those who claimed to have seen the speech, but weren't willing to express an opinion about it.)

The most interesting thing about these numbers, I think, is how greatly they exceed the support for military action in prior situations, including the Gulf War in 1991. There is a consistent and healthy reluctance to go to war among citizens of democratic republics, which has repeatedly been reflected in American polling data. The current majority favoring war is really unprecedented, and is no doubt the effect of September 11. The bottom line is that Americans have not forgotten why we are at war, and the Administration--make that George W. Bush--continues to enjoy the support and confidence of a broad majority of the American people.
President Bush and his speechwriters have been in top form lately. "The game is over" seems to me to strike exactly the right note.
Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

This photo, of course, is eight or ten years old. President Reagan is 92 years old today. It is satisfying to see Reuters describing Reagan as "one of the most popular presidents of the United States and now the longest-lived."
Now we're getting somewhere. Mark Steyn's latest is "Let's quit the UN." (Courtesy of No Left Turns.)
UPDATE by Hindrocket: Great piece. Amen.
Studies in liberal governance: Fortunately, we wrote our columns about gang crime in Minneapolis this past December before the city's execrable former journalist mayor banned unapproved communications between the police and the media: "Rybak: Police need city's OK to talk to media." Although the police endorsed Rybak for mayor, we can report (based on our pre-ban interviews with the police) that they don't have anything good to say about him now. (Courtesy of Peter Swanson.)
We submit for Deacon's consideration Norah Vincent's "Feminists are poor sports on issue of fairness to male athletes."
Our friends at RealClearPolitics have rounded up several more excellent columns commenting on Secretary Powell's historic presentation to the UN: Jim Hoagland's "Powell exposed more than just Saddam," William Safire's "Irrefutable and undeniable," and George Will's "Disregarding the deniers." In the New York Post Jonathan Schanzer also does a good job of explicating Powell's remarks on "The al Qaeda connection."
John Podhoretz of the New York Post has a column this morning that captures my reaction to Powell's speech yesterday and pays tribute to the president's measured, deliberate handling of the Iraq problem: "Smoking guns." This is a brilliant column; don't miss it.

Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard also has a fine column commenting on the speech of the French foreign minister responding to Powell's: "Oui, oui more inspectors." This column does a difficult job well: it does justice to the ridiculously supine position of the French on Iraq.
The New York Times responds to Colin Powell's U.N. presentation by admitting that the Administration has been right about Iraq all along: Powell "offered stark evidence that Mr. Hussein has not only failed to cooperate with the inspectors, as Resolution 1441 requires him to, but has actively sought to thwart them." (The Times terms the evidence of Iraq's links to al Qaeda "more tenuous," but doesn't explain why.)

However, admitting the Administration is right on the facts doesn't sway the Times from its commitment to U.N. supremacy: "As the crisis builds, [President Bush] should make every possible effort to let the council take the lead....Because the consequences of war are so terrible, and the cost of rebuilding Iraq so great, the United States cannot afford to confront Iraq without broad international support." Which means, apparently, that no matter how evident a threat to the security of the United States may be, France, Russia and China all have veto rights over our ability to do anything about it. The Times doesn't try to explain why this principle makes sense, or why it never applied to the Clinton Administration.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Unlike its sports page, the editorial page of the Washington Post is brimming with common sense today. Here, the Post makes "the case for action" against Iraq. As the Post puts it, "The removal of Saddam Hussein would advance the task of containing the spread of weapons of mass destruction to rogue states. It would also free millions of Iraqis from deprivation and oppression and make possible a broader movement to reshape the Arab Middle East. . . ."

The Post's other editorial denounces the idea of a filibuster against the nomination of Miguel Estrada, President Bush's nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Not only does the Post oppose such a filibuster, it takes the following elegant shot at the nature of the Democratic opposition to Estrada: "Having failed to assemble a plausible case against him, Democrats are now arguing that this failure is itself grounds for his rejection -- because it stems from his own and the administration's discourteous refusal to arm Democrats with examples of the extremism that would justify their opposition." As the Post concludes, "this circular logic should not stall Mr. Estrada's nomination any longer."
More madness from the Washington Post sportspage The Detroit Lions football team is under fire for hiring Steve Mariucci without having first interviewed black candidates for the position. Mariucci was the successful young coach of the San Francisco 49ers. He left that team because it would not give him all of the authority he wanted. The Lions saw the opportunity to hire an outstanding coach. However, before doing so, the Lions sought to interview African-American candidates for the job in order to comply with league policy, which was implemented after Johnnie Cochran and another prominent "civil rights" lawyer threatened to sue the NFL for not having enough black head coaches. Unfortunately for the Lions, the black candidates they had in mind declined to be interviewed because they concluded, correctly it would appear, that the Lions wanted to hire Mariucci.

What is the Lions' sin here? Even the civil rights lawyers say they are not attacking the selection of Mariucci. Rather, they are attacking the "process" through which he was hired. But the Lions attempted to follow the process. They offered interviews to African-Americans. The lawyers are really complaining that the Lions reached their decision earlier in the process than the lawyers would like them to. But so what? Either the decision to snatch Mariucci was racially motivated or it wasn't. If it wasn't, and no one is suggesting that it was, then that should be the end of the matter. The civil rights nags are exalting form over substance or, more likely, are simply upset because their right to tell NFL owners how to run their businesses has been questioned.

As a footnote, I should add that last year at this time, the self-appointed guardians of racial fairness in coaching selections (the Post's Michael Wilbon being the worst offender) were up in arms because the Tampa Bay Bucs didn't hire as head coach an African-American named Marvin Lewis. Instead of hiring Lewis, who had never been a head coach, they selected John Gruden, the successful coach of the Oakland Raiders. This good piece of judgment was probably the biggest reason why Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl last month.

The attempt to import traditional principles of employment law into sports is misguided not primarily because of differences between sports and other employment settings. It is misguided primarily because ordinary employment law has lost its way.
We are counting down the days until we move to our new site. While Blogger was a great way for us to get started, we have been increasingly frustrated by its glitches and limitations, and have been working with web designer Stacy Tabb of Sekimori Design on a brand-new site. We'll have a new look, a new URL, and a new host. We'll be using Movable Type software, which will add functionality in several areas. The site will be searchable, permalinks will be easy, posts will categorized by subject and author. And we think the look of the new site is pretty cool. Readers who have followed us for a while and have gotten acquainted with our personalities probably won't be surprised to learn that none of us has a great deal of artistic talent. No offense, guys, but it's true. The new site will benefit from Stacy's artistic talent as well as her technical skills, and we think you'll like it. We have always wanted Power Line to be informative above all, but also fun. We think the look and increased versatility of the new site will add to the fun. Of course, for better or worse, the content will be the same. We expect to have the new site up and running by next week.
The Stalinist group A.N.S.W.E.R. held a demonstration in New York today to protest Colin Powell's presentation at the U.N. Reuters reports that "hundreds" participated:

Given that you could get hundreds of people in New York to turn out for a Puerto Rican transvestites' parade, this is a pathetic showing. Which won't deter the Washington Post from continuing to report breathlessly on the fast-growing anti-war movement.
The Senate Democrats announced at a press conference today that they are undecided as to whether they will filibuster the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. This might seem like an odd occasion for a press conference, but the Evil Weasel appears to be lost in the beltway echo chamber and may actually believe that we are waiting anxiously for news about how the minority will proceed. My favorite quote came from the execrable Pat Leahy: "What little record we have calls into question his sensitivity, his fairness, and whether he would be a neutral referee or an advocate and activist from the bench." Now that we have a Republican President, the Democrats want judges to be "neutral," and above all not "advocates" or "activists." That makes sense, of course: if Republican nominees are all neutral, and only Democratic nominees can be advocates and activists, they'll win.
The Washington Post reports that the "emerging sports" that have been established at the intercollegiate level to enable colleges to comply with Title IX " are a "mixed bag." Post sports reporter Liz Clarke discusses the issue more candidly than any male sportswriter is likely to. She notes that some of these sports -- archery, badminton, synchronized swimming, and team handball -- have drawn virtually no interest, while others, such as intercollegiate women's bowling, are struggling to find a niche. These "quirky" sports (to use Clarke's term) are replacing hundreds of men's wrestling programs, for example, that can no longer be maintained due to the current Title IX enforcement regime. And Clarke reports that female athletes can be victimized by Title IX too, as when colleges eschew traditional sports like softball and women's soccer in favor of an equestrian program because such an "emerging sport" is conducive to larger team size.
It is not clear what effect, if any, Colin Powell's speech this morning is having. The Security Council members who have been dragging their feet spoke immediately after hearing Powell's presentation; their remarks were prepared in advance and could not have been influenced by anything Powell said. The comments by Russia's Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, as reported in the Washington Post, were especially ludicrous:

"The information given to us today will require very serious and thorough study. Experts in our countries must get down to analyzing it and drawing the appropriate conclusions from it....The information provided today by the U.S. secretary of state once again convincingly indicates the fact that the activities of the international inspectors in Iraq must be continued. They alone can provide an answer to the question of to what extent is Iraq complying with the demands of the Security Council."

It shouldn't really take a lot of study to draw the "appropriate conclusions" from the data Powell presented. It might take a little courage, however. And note the brand-new standard articulated in the last sentence: "to what extent" Iraq is complying with UN resolutions. What does that mean? If he's only storing modest amounts of nerve gas, he is mostly in compliance?

I don't suppose anyone actually believes that Iraq is not harboring chemical and biological weapons, so I was most interested to see what Powell would say about links between Iraq and al Qaeda. The following narrative seemed extremely important to me:

"This senior Al Qaida terrorist was responsible for one of Al Qaida's training camps in Afghanistan. His information comes first-hand from his personal involvement at senior levels of Al Qaida. He says bin Laden and his top deputy in Afghanistan, deceased Al Qaida leader Muhammad Atif (ph), did not believe that Al Qaida labs in Afghanistan were capable enough to manufacture these chemical or biological agents. They needed to go somewhere else. They had to look outside of Afghanistan for help. Where did they go? Where did they look? They went to Iraq.

"The support that (inaudible) describes included Iraq offering chemical or biological weapons training for two Al Qaida associates beginning in December 2000. He says that a militant known as Abu Abdula Al-Iraqi (ph) had been sent to Iraq several times between 1997 and 2000 for help in acquiring poisons and gases. Abdula Al-Iraqi (ph) characterized the relationship he forged with Iraqi officials as successful."

The most cogent point made by critics of the President's Iraq policy is the alleged lack of any clear evidence that in the future, Saddam Hussein is likely to share chemical or biological weapons or expertise with al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. The fact that he has already done so, according to a high-ranking, captured al Qaeda operative, would seem to be the best possible evidence that he is likely to do so again.
Natonal Review Online has a full set of excellent comments on Secretary of State Powell's historic UN presentation this morning. Among these outstanding comments is one by our fellow Claremont fellow Mackubin Thomas Owens, "A Hawkish Powell." Other commenters include Laurie Mylroie ("The War Against America"), Mark Steyn, Mark Bowden ("Black Hawk Down"), and Frank Gaffney.
Our friends at the Claremont Institute have just posted Steve Hayward's salute to President Reagan on the occasion of his ninety-second birthday on February 6: "Happy Birthday, President Reagan." The piece is adapted from Steve's work-in-progress, the second volume of his history of the Reagan era to be titled The Age of Reagan: Lion at the Gate, 1980-89.
The current issue of the New Yorker carries Jeffrey Goldberg's "The Unknown" on the links between Iraq and al Qaeda. To write this fine piece Goldberg spoke with Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Robert Gates, James Woolsey, and Angelo Codevilla, among others. It deserves your attention.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

The Reuters caption accompanying this picture reads:
"A German woman places a carnation next to a sign reading 'no war' during the annual demonstration to commemorate murdered German communist leaders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg in eastern Berlin.... There is a growing rift between Berlin and Washington over Germany's opposition to a war with Iraq.... Hostility to U.S. policies and suspicion of war is particularly prevalent among Germans from the former Communist east."

I haven't really seen this reported anywhere, but somehow it makes me feel better to know that Germany's "no war" crowd consists largely of people who cheered lustily for the murder of somewhere between 100 million and 200 million people. And, puhleeze, are they still holding demonstrations in honor of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg in East Germany? We'll know that Prussia has been de-Communized when that practice stops.
The Society of Actuaries has issued a press release that takes issue with the portrayal of actuaries in the film "About Schmidt": "'While highly humorous, the perception of actuaries -- based on the character portrayed by Jack Nicholson in the film -- is incorrect,' said Deborah Bowen, spokesperson for the SOA. 'To be more to the point (literally), the perception that actuaries are math-obsessed is 94.00632% incorrect, the perception that actuaries are socially disconnected is 98.34343% incorrect, and - most shockingly of all - the perception that actuaries tend to favor bad comb-overs is 99.67893% erroneous.'" (Courtesy of Pat Everheart.)
Heh heh.

This cartoon is by Patrick Corrigan of the Toronto Star.
An important decision reported by the BBC (not the Onion, I swear) takes us to the crossroads where affirmative action and gender studies meet. According to a ruling rendered yesterday by an Indian court, eunuchs are tecnically men and therefore cannot serve in a mayoral position reserved for women: "Indian court rejects eunuch mayor." The BBC helpfully explains that the election of eunuchs has become the means by which Indian voters express their dissatisfaction with mainstream politics. Don't miss this story!

UPDATE by Hindrocket: I think that's happened a few times here too.
We have expressed several times our admiration for Minnesota's new Governor, Tim Pawlenty. In particular, we have endorsed Tim's proposal to reform Minnesota's welfare system by enforcing work requirements, a policy which is consistent with an article we wrote a couple of years ago contrasting Minnesota's welfare system with Wisconsin's much more work-oriented approach. (See "Welfare Reform" link at left.) Here is more evidence that Tim's efforts are on the right track: "Anti-poverty groups say Pawlenty's plan for welfare system will fail".

The inevitable failure of Pawlenty's proposal was announced yesterday by "a coalition of social service, labor and religious groups." Why? Because it is based on "a failed experiment in welfare reform in Wisconsin." The groups attacking Pawlenty were particularly incensed by his proposal that people who refuse to follow the State's work rules should have their welfare benefits cut off. (At present, the worst that can happen if someone repeatedly refuses to work or to participate in training is a 30% cut in benefits, and that sanction is rarely applied.) Yesterday's "coalition" explained that "For us, the sanction is a red flag that the person needs more help to get them on track." So that consistently flouting the State's rules results in "more help," not a loss of benefits. As to Wisconsin's "failed experiment," that state's "W-2" program reduced welfare rolls by 90%. We call that success; the fact that the welfare "rights" lobby calls it failure speaks volumes about their real agenda. These "anti-poverty" groups are in fact pro-poverty.
Dick Morris provides a good summary of France's relationship to Iraq over the last 15 years, concluding that "The only consistency in French policy toward Iraq since the Gulf War has been support for Saddam Hussein to weaken U.N. and U.S. measures against him." France's view of Iraq and other Middle Eastern terrorist states has been dominated by "French commercial deals" involving oil. Morris joins many other pundits in predicting that when the time comes, France will climb on the anti-Saddam bandwagon: "Eventually, France will cave to the U.S. position: To fail to do so would be to consign the Security Council, France's only forum for the exercise of global power, to irrelevance." Personally, I think I'd forgo the pleasure of France's company for the more useful goal of seeing the Security Council weakened.
Reader Joshua Sharf is one of the organizers of an "anti-anti-war" rally in Denver at 1:30 on February 16, at the State Capitol building. He's got the details on his site, http://www.viewfromaheight.blogspot.com/. Sounds like fun; If you're in the Denver area, we'd encourage you to attend.
I dunno about that photo, Trunk. From what I've seen on InstaPundit and Little Green Footballs, the people who say that isn't the wing have the best of it. I don't know whether it's a hoax or a picture of something else, but I don't think it's the wing.

UPDATE by Big Trunk: I'm deteting the link and turning this over to our quality control department.
Diversity update: And the beauty thereof, from this morning's Star Tribune: "Immigrant mothers having lots of kids, and having them early."
If the "They must have known" photo/story on Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs site is a hoax, I'm deleting the link to it. I'm substituting as the most interesting story of the day the portrait of life in Wacko Jacko's world from this morning's New York Post: "Inside Jacko's Bizarro World."

Monday, February 03, 2003

I can't think of any nation that has a worse record picking winners than Jordan. In 1967, it joined with Nasser in the coalition that set out to destroy Israel. King Hussein's troops, it is said by Isrealis, fought more bravely than any other members of the Arab coalition, but they were trounced nonetheless. In 1973, when Jordan's participation might have tipped the balance against Israeli forces reeling from Sadat's surprise attack, King Hussein elected to stay on the sidelines. In the 1991 Gulf War, Jordan cast its lot with Saddam Hussein. But Jordan has not paid a heavy price for its seeming lack of acumen. For example, its 1991 decision was arguably the correct one, since Saddam Hussein remained in power after the war and Jordan continued to get 90,000 barrels of Iraqi oil per day at cut rate prices. And Jordan got the most important thing right years ago when it butchered Palestinian forces within its borders, and drove the Palestinians out of Jordanian territory.

Now King Hussein is gone and his son, King Abdallah II, is in power. In this piece for National Review Online, Amir Taheri notes that Jordan is backing the U.S. against Saddam Hussein this time. In exchange, Abdallah will insist on a substantial role in the affairs of the new Iraq. More ominously, he will press the U.S. to push for the creation of a Palestinian state by the end of 2005. Indeed, Taheri speculates that Jordan has already extracted promises from President Bush in this regard. After the 1991 war, the first President Bush did the bidding of the Palestinians and Jordanians with respect to Israel even though both parties had sided against the U.S. Will the current President Bush coerce Israel into another sham peace process following the upcoming war, in which Jordan appears ready to take a pro-American position?
Michael Ledeen on Nelson Mandela's track record with respect to international affairs. It isn't pretty. Mandela has praised dictators such as Castro and Khadaffi, and has been unwilling even to call for the ouster of the heinous tyrant Mugabe. Now, with his attacks on President Bush, Mandela has become, in Ledeen's words, "yet another African loudmouth, giving moral lessons to the world and tolerating corruption and misery on his own continent."
Rocket Man, I think the fear is that this issue could hurt Republicans with women willing to vote for them -- married women who are politically in the middle-of-the-road. The damage would not be great if the Republicans could get their message out -- Title IX is a good concept that, under the Clinton administration, went too far, and correcting the Clinton excesses would not materially affect women's sports. Moreover, the boys who cannot wrestle at the intercollegiate level because of the current Title IX enforcement regime have mothers who, presumably, are not pleased. However, the feminists and their media supporters have gotten such a head-start on this issue, and the "soccer moms" are such important swing voters, that it seems understandable (albeit unfortunate) that the White House wants to proceed very cautiously on this issue.
What I don't understand about the Title IX issue is why the White House apparently thinks it can't get rid of the Clinton administration's regulations. No doubt a few hard-core feminists would be outraged, but I don't think the Republicans are getting their votes anyway. If the change were explained by attacking the social engineering underlying the existing regulations--girls are going to go out for sports, damn it, whether they want to or not--a large majority would agree.
Stanton Brown, one of our perceptive readers, alerted me to an argument in favor of quota-style Title IX enforcement with which I was unfamiliar. Apparently, an AP writer named Steve Wilstein thinks that Title IX needs to become even more stringent because women's pro sports are not as popular as men's. This argument leads Brown to reflect as follows: "The complete absence of intelligent discourse on Title IX has reached looking glass proportions. It is beyond curiouser. Wilstein is content to have the government discriminate against millions of boys because he thinks the discrimination will enhance the profitability of women’s professional sports. One, I fail to see how discrimination against boys will somehow cause an increase in fan interest for women’s events. Two, even assuming that such causation could be demonstrated, it takes an incredibly twisted set of values to approve of a vast regulatory scheme of discrimination for the purpose of enhancing the profitability of a few pro athletes."

Brown continues: "I guess we really shouldn’t be surprised, however. For one to even participate in the Title IX discussion, it is necessary to suspend belief in reality. First, one must accept the ridiculous pretense that girls have the same interest in sports as boys. Second, one has to adopt a Stalinist’s willingness to reject economic reality. In the never-never land of Title IX, spending has absolutely no relationship to revenue. Since revenue is believed to grow by magic, government edicts can require spending to be allocated equally between sports teams which generate millions in profit and sports teams which lose millions. Common sense is decidedly unwelcome in this alternative universe."
National Review Online has a fine column memorializing the death of Columbia astronaut Ilan Ramon: "Twice a hero."
How'd the New York Times manage to miss this story? Courtesy of the New York Post, don't miss "Iraq's thug bares evil poison plot."
William Safire also sees what a great story the Journal had with its ministerial opinion column supporting the United States, and he tells it from an outsider's perspective in his column this morning: "And now: Op-ed diplomacy." His attribution of a similar scoop to his colleague Tom Friedman is utterly lame, but the column is otherwise excellent.
What a great story--the story of how the Wall Street Journal revealed alleged American unilateralism on Iraq to be a case of Franco/German unilateralism. Michael Gonzalez tells the story in a column on OpnionJournal this morning: "Our statement." And the Journal rightly boasts of its accomplishment in an editorial: "The op-ed alliance."

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Former Senator Bill Bradley shows himself to be among President Bush's most phlegmatic critics in this piece in the Washington Post. Bradley basically offers a compendium of the arguments for inaction that we've been attacking for months on Power Line. But note the dishonesty of Bradley's parting shot: "International consensus. . .doesn't fit a political calendar, but it is far preferable to unilateral action that jeopardizes our long-term leadership abroad and our unity at home." Here, Bradley is suggesting that President Bush wants to attack Iraq within weeks, rather than waiting for "international consensus," for political reasons. But Bush's political interests would be better served by a war closer to the 2004 presidential elections than by a war in the winter of 2003. Bradley knows that Bush wants to attack this winter for military reasons, but he can't resist taking a cheap shot at the president. Please remind me why anyone ever thought of Bradley as other than just a typical politician. It must have been his jump shot.
Mark Steyn's latest is on our loss of the Columbia and its crew: "Americans are tougher about these things now."
Geroge Will on how events have conspired, fairly predictably, to intellectually disarm the critics of President Bush's policy on Iraq. In passing, Will notes the exasperation of Hans Blix with Iraqi obfuscation, and he wonders whether the president's critics are "even more phlegmatic than Blix." Yes, George, they are.
One of the highlights of the Conservative Political Action Conference was the panel addressing the question "Is Islam a Religion of Peace?" The star of the panel was Daniel Pipes, although his fellow panelists were similarly outstanding. Upon returning home I have found that Pipes has the lead article in the new issue of Commentary. Not surprisingly, the article is a must-read: "Does Israel Need a Plan?"

Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs links to an interview of Pipes by "a belligerently ignorant CBC interviewer": "CBC ignorance on display." Added bonus: the hilarious idiotarian "antiwar" "poetry" that precedes and follows the interview. The CBC segment runs 24 minutes.

And just for good measure, as long as we have touched on the CBC, let us also recommend Pipes's "The rot in our (Canadian) Universities."
Gregory Kane is a columnist for the Baltimore Sun. He happens to be African American, and writes about Jesse Jackson (or "Revvum Jackson" as Kane calls him) with more insight than anyone else I've read. Here is a sample. Kane's best line might be this one: "No one's quite sure what the revvum's employment is. A squeegee kid has a more discernible (and productive, not to mention useful) job description than Jackson has."
Good report, Trunk. Bluegrass is one of those things that I approve of in principle but haven't actually listened to a lot, unless you count the wonderful Alison Krauss, whom the Trunk turned me on to some years ago. I'll have to give Foggy Hollow a try.

Don't miss Stephen Hayes's brick-by-brick disassembly of the Evil Weasel in The Weekly Standard. Here is Tom Daschle in 1998:

"'Look, we have exhausted virtually our diplomatic effort to get the Iraqis to comply with their own agreements and with international law. Given that, what other option is there but to force them to do so?' That's what they're saying. This is the key question. And the answer is, we don't have another option. We have got to force them to comply, and we are doing so militarily." What a difference a change in administration makes.
I wrote the host and Webmaster of Australia's wonderful Music from Foggy Hollow show that is streamed over the Internet on WAMU's 24-hour a day BlueGrassCountry site to ask about the program. Michael Kear is the man and he has kindly responded as follows:

"G'day Trunk: It's a thrill for me to hear from people all over the world who are listening to my show. Until a few months ago, it was played to an audience in Sydney, and to get it on bluegrasscountry.org is exciting for us all in the bluegrass community in Australia - it's a way for us to play up to date bluegrass music to Australians all over the country, and for Australian bluegrass to get a play to a wider audience. The show you're hearing now was recorded from the air a few weeks ago - it takes that long to edit out our Sydney weather forecasts and news reports, and get the show to Washington DC to be broadcast. Hopefully in due course we'll find a way to make the show immediate. The show is a weekly 3 hour show, but it’s repeated several times a week at different times each day so people in different time zones around the world can pick a convenient time to listen. Thanks again for your note. Keep listening to the music!"
I fell in love with bluegrass music about fifteen years ago. As an addled college student, I loved Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, and the Jefferson Airplane. Now my idea of heavy metal is the banjo of J.D. Crowe, the dobro of Jerry Douglas, the guitar of Tony Rice, the fiddle of Stuart Duncan, and the mandolins of Tim O'Brien and David Grisman. I've discovered that the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia came right out of the folk/bluegrass tradition and even recorded a great one-shot bluegrass album with a group called Old & In The Way (including David Grisman and Vassar Clements), playing a sprightly modifed Scruggs-style two-fingered banjo (he was missing the third finger necessary for playing pure Scruggs-style). That album came out in 1975; the group recently reunited minus Garcia, plus Herb Pederson for the wonderful "Old and in the Gray."

While in Washington over the weekend I checked out the DC station WAMU that has a well known bluegrass program. The WAMU Web site has led me to its incredible 24-hour a day site for continuous streaming of bluegrass over the Internet, BlueGrassCountry. I'm listening now to the show Music from Foggy Hollow broadcast from--where else?--Sydney, Australia. Absolutely fabulous. Please do check out WAMU's continuous streaming on the BlueGrassCountry site if you have, or think you might have, a place in your heart for this music that in so many ways comes straight from the heart of America.
More on welfare reform: Rocket Man and I spent several months researching and writing about the welfare systems adopted by Minnesota and Wisconsin following passage of the federal welfare reform law of 1996, which required the states to adopt welfare systems to replace AFDC, but left the states free to design the systems within certain broad constraints. Under the leadership of then-Governor Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin adopted a system (dubbed W-2, short for "Wisconsin Works") that actually required welfare recipients to work in exchange for benefits. The result was the virtual disappearance of Wisconsin's welfare case load. Minnesota, on the other hand, adopted a system (MFIP, short for the "Minnesota Family Investment Program") that "encouraged" work, but did not require it. The result was a system that was reformed in name only and that has accordingly continued to produce all the negative effects of AFDC.

While researching the long essay we published about the two welfare systems, we interviewed both Minnesota's then-House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty and Governor Pawlenty's recently appointed welfare commissioner, then-Representative Kevin Goodno. Kevin understood what was wrong with Minnesota's system, and understood that its "reform" was mostly pretend, including the putative time limits. It appears that Governor Pawlenty and Commissioner Goodno now mean to bring Minnesota's system closer to Wisconsin's. We shall see. In the meantime, the Star Tribune reported on these developments in a story last Friday: "Pawlenty outlines tougher welfare rules."
For some reason I haven't been able to find this anywhere else, but Australia's Herald Sun newspaper is reporting that Saddam Hussein's top bodyguard has fled Iraq and is being debriefed by the Israelis somewhere in the Negev desert. The bodyguard, Abu Hamdi Mahmoud, has allegedly described the whereabouts of Iraq's principal biological and chemical storage warehouses, some of which are buried under sand dunes in the desert, while others are underneath Baghdad's sewers. According to the Herald Sun, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has shared only a few snippets of Mahmoud's information with American and British intelligence agencies. A source close to Sharon is quoted as saying that Sharon "intends to shatter the growing anti-war movement" by contacting wavering European leaders to relate how Saddam has fooled the U.N. inspectors.

Two weeks ago, Debka File reported the defection of one of Saddam's bodyguards. He was identified only by a pseudonym. The information attributed to that individual sounds similar to what is now coming from Mahmoud. One wonders whether Mahmoud defected two weeks or more ago, and Debka scooped the rest of the world's media.

If the Herald Sun's information is correct, it is hard to see a basis on which Democrats or hostile Europeans can continue opposing the President's poicy on Iraq. But I suppose they'll think of one.
Trunk, I just read the Steyn piece and I think he's right. The French aren't cheese-eating surrender monkeys. They're something worse.
In considering the present inanity of leading Democrats on American foreign policy, former CIA agent Reuel Marc Gerecht's review of two books on Clinton-era foreign policy is extremely helpful: "While Clinton slept."
Returning home this morning from the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, I read the Sunday book sections of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Washington Times. By far the best was the Washington Times', with interesting reviews of two books that appear worthy of note. Robert Royal has a thoughtful review of Norman Podhoretz's new book on the prophets: "Fifteen books of Bible's prophets." And there is no one I would rather read than Chester Finn for an evaluation of what appears to be an important new book by Peter Brimelow on the teachers' unions: "Schools choked." (The linked words in quotes are the review headlines, not the titles of the books.)

Reflecting on the three days of CPAC panels, I remain struck by the depth of the sentiments among the conservative troops on the subject of border control and immigration. Yesterday's program featured a panel including two relatively pro-immigration speakers, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal and Grover Norquist of I'm not sure what at this point, and two serious advocates of border control and immigration control, Joe D'Agostino of Human Events and the lovely independent journalist Michelle Malkin. In my view, Michelle Malkin blew the guys away.

The subject that generated the next most sentiment among the subjects addressed by the conference's various speakers was the French and German effort to subvert American goals in Iraq. On this subject there were almost equally intense feelings among the conference audience and no dissension whatsoever. But none of the speakers brought quite the level of analysis to the subject that Mark Steyn does in his column today, "French opposed to war--unless it's their own."

The soul of the Democratic Party appears more sincerely pacifist than the French do. During the Clinton administration, however, this pacifism was tempered by a willingness to use military force--so long as the force was not exercised in the national interest of the United States. Now Zev Chafets proposes that the Democrats go all the way toward enunciating a pure doctrine of anti-American pacifism by running Gary Hart as their candidate for president: "McGovern's children." (Courtesy of RealClearPolitics.)
The New York Post reports on an interview with Iraq's "Vice President" Ramadan in Der Spiegel, in which Ramadan unveils Iraq's secret weapon: suicide bombers. "We have no long-range missiles or bomber squadrons, but we will deploy thousands of suicide attackers," Ramadan says. "These are our new weapons." Well, here's a hint, Mr. Ramadan: guys with hidden explosives taped to their bodies are effective in shopping malls and pizza parlors because the people there aren't fighting. They are doing things like shopping and eating pizza. Sending suicide bombers against actual soldiers is something else entirely. They really aren't likely to get close enough to an American tank division (let alone an Apache helicopter or a cruise missile) to do a great deal of damage. In fact, should there be a war in Iraq, it will be difficult to distinguish Iraq's suicide bombers from the rest of her soldiers.
Steve Earle's return to Minnesota draws an admiring profile in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. No mention of the fact that he can't sing. It's good to see, though, that the "controversy" over his last record, with its trite denunciations of "Amerika" and its tribute to John Walker Lindh, didn't do much for its sales.
The latest ABC/Washington Post poll, released yesterday, indicates that "President Bush has reversed the slide in public support for a possible war with Iraq," presumably as a result of the State of the Union speech. Sixty-six percent now say they support military action, up from 57 percent in mid-January, with 51 percent now expressing support even if the U.N. is opposed.
The Washington Times reports on two studies, by researchers at the University of Michigan and the Heritage Foundation, both of which lend support to the Administration's "work first" approach to the next round of welfare reform. The Michigan study concluded that:

"welfare reform was a major factor in increasing incomes. Regardless of state unemployment rates, they said, families with the highest income gains lived in states with strong welfare-to-work incentives, strict penalties for not cooperating with welfare agencies or strict time limits on benefits."

The Heritage study found that "Low work levels by parents are a major cause of child poverty"--a conclusion that should not be surprising, but will be, I suppose, to some.

These findings are consistent with our own work on welfare reform, in which we contrasted Wisconsin's implementation of welfare reform (strict work requirements) with Minnesota's (no strict requirements). A short version of our article is reproduced here.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Wow, Rocket Man, I feel somewhat frivolous prattling on about sports while you're posting on fundamental questions of biology, religion, and freedom of speech. It's a bit too late for me to venture deeply into this discussion right now, nor is it clear to me that I'll be capable of doing so intelligently at any time. Personally, I've long been skeptical about Darwin's theory and I recall that the president of Dartmouth in our day, the eminent mathemetician and some-time philosopher John Kemeny, was also skeptical about it. Whether the theory is an obvious fraud, I cannot say.

I guess I understand why a professor who believes that Darwinian evolution is an incontrovertible scientific fact would be reluctant to write a recommendation for a student who, having studied the matter, did not believe this theory, especially if the student declined to subscribe to the theory on religious grounds. Such a professor may be a fool to think that the theory is indisputably true (again, I cannot say), but to one holding that doctrinaire view, it must be difficult to think much of the intellect of a student who denies it. (Could an astronomy professor easily write a recommendation for someone who thinks that the moon is made of green cheese?) Notwithstanding all of this, I think the better practice by far is to write positive recommendations for good students without imposing an ideological standard, even a reasonable one. If I were a professor, I'm pretty sure I would write positive recommendations for otherwise promising students who believe in Marxism (a belief-system that, in its pure form, comes pretty close to "the moon is made of green cheese"). At the same time, other things being equal, a student who didn't believe in Marxism might well get a more favorable recommendation from me.

Finally, Rocket Man, I concur with your general observations about the cultural and religious fault line in our society.
One of the pioneers of modern women's sports is Debbie Yow, now the athletic director at the University of Maryland. Yow is a great favorite of mine. Under her leadership, the men's basketball program has just won a national championship and the long-moribund football program has become a national power. Yow has not ignored women's sports, either. When the women's basketball team slipped, she hired (stole, some would say) the successful young female coach of the University of Minnesota's team. On a local sports radio show, Yow pronounced her attractive new coach a "babe."

Last week, it was Debbie Yow who proposed to the presidential commission considering Title IX reform that the current quota enforcement system be relaxed (not ended, just loosened). Although her proposal stopped far short of the reform I support, it was meaningful reform nonetheless. Unfortunately, it narrowly failed to pass, largely, I believe, because of shrill claims that Yow's proposal would ruin women's intercollegiate athletics. These claims came from sportswriters, feminists, and a few pampered female athletes. The contributions of these critics to women's sports, if any, pale in comparison to Yow's, and, to my knowledge, none of them has ever had responsibility for running the athletic program of a major college. Although the vote of the commission does not bind the Bush administration, the defeat of Yow's modest proposal signals to me that reform of Title IX is not in the cards.
Yesterday our friend Hugh Hewitt challenged us to comment on the story of a Texas Tech professor who refuses to write recommendations on behalf of biology students who decline to profess a belief in Darwinian evolution. I happened to hear Hugh discussing this issue with Eugene Volokh on Hugh's radio show Thursday evening.

Professor Volokh seemed to assume that someone who doesn't believe in evolution is a harmless crank, who should not on that account be barred from pursuing a career in, say, medicine. My own view is different. I think that Darwin's theory of macroevolution is plainly wrong, on strictly scientific grounds. So to bar a student from progressing in his career because he refuses to sign on to what is, in my view, a rather obvious fraud, which cannot withstand the mildest scrutiny, is really an outrage. It is no different from the practice in Soviet Russia of promoting only biologists who believed (or pretended to believe) in the theories of Lamarck, who argued that acquired traits could be inherited. But Darwinism is the official religion of the biological (and more generally, the scientific) establishment, and as such is rigorously enforced.

One could argue (as Volokh did, if I remember the conversation correctly) that, apart from the merits of the issue, a professor is under no duty to write a recommendation for a student, and therefore should be able, legally and morally, to refrain from recommending any student on any non-discriminatory basis. But discrimination against Christians, observant Jews and conservatives is much more prevalent in our society than race or sex discrimination (putting aside, of course, affirmative action). The reality is that in the academic world, and to a lesser degree in the business world, being a liberal and subscribing to the liberal creed on subjects like abortion and affirmative action are qualities that, while not necessary, are certainly desirable for promotion. (It is the social and cultural issues that are key; tax policy is optional.)

As to the Texas Tech professor, I doubt that he is very atypical. Karl Popper argued long ago that Darwin's theory of evolution was never a matter of science; it was always about faith. As the empirical foundations of Darwinism have crumbled under attack by a new generation of biologists, especially microbiologists, its advocates have become increasingly shrill and sectarian. This particular professor's mistake was to announce publicly that he refused to write recommendations for some of his students. If he had kept quiet and simply written qualified, reserved recommendations for his skeptical students, while saving his enthusiastic endorsements for the true believers, there would have been no controversy. And his practice would, I suspect, have mirrored that of most of his peers.

The great fault line in our society is not economic. It is cultural, and specifically, religious. What motivates liberals to launch their increasingly wild and intemperate assaults on conservatives is, in most cases, their fear and hatred of the "religious right." (This is, I think, what principally motivates the Bush-haters, whose venom is so puzzling to those of us who see the President as--whether one agrees with his policies or not--an obviously good man.) It is an article of faith (and I mean the word "faith" very literally) that religious people are dumb, irrational, retrograde, and doomed to extinction.

Unfortunately for the left, religious people in this country, as in Latin America, Africa and Asia--everywhere but western Europe--aren't going away. And to a degree that frustrates and confounds the left, they frequently aren't stupid. To take just one example of many, I read an article a couple of years ago in the Harvard Law School alumni magazine about a young woman who had just achieved the highest grade average in the history of the law school--higher than Frankfurter, higher than Brandeis, higher than any of countless titans of the legal profession. She was a devout Mormon from Salt Lake City, who, when she was not studying law or (if my memory is correct) performing piano concerts, taught Sunday school to LDS children in Boston. I am afraid, however, that her achievement was possible only because law students' examinations are identified only by number, not by name. If her professors had known whose tests they were grading, I doubt very much that she could have done so well.

This is more than enough for now on a large subject. Deacon and Trunk, feel free to weigh in. And I would be curious to know whether the Rocket Prof thinks I am too hard on academia.
Of all the distortions of fact presented by the opponents of Title IX reform, the most offensive is probably the claim that the present Title IX enforcement regime is responsible for the success of women's sports in this country. This week, for example, we heard that the big showdown between the women's basketball teams of Duke and the University of Connecticut would not be taking place but for the current Title IX regime. And, in 1999, after the U.S. women's soccer team won the World Cup, liberal pundits (and the many sportswriters who wish they were liberal pundits) claimed that this victory was the product of Title IX, and cited it as an argument against reform. This claim was sickeningly reminiscent of what we used to hear from countries like East Germany and Romania after notable sports accomplishments by their athletes ("we thank our beneficent leader for conferring this great gift on our people"). However, as the Weekly Standard pointed out at the time, most of the members of the 1999 Cup-winning team were world class soccer players before the Clinton administration began its quota-style enforcement of Title IX. Indeed, most were well on the way to becoming stars before they ever reached college, having developed their skills in grassroots programs in which the federal government had no role. In large measure, the success of women's sports in this country is the result of the same thing that has produced nearly all great successes here -- the efforts of individual citizens (in this case mostly women) at the grassroots level -- and it should be insulting to women to suggest otherwise. This is not to deny that Title IX may have helped. But there is no reason to believe that, going forward, women's soccer and women's basketball would suffer at all if Title IX were repealed. Nor is there any reason to believe that rigid quota-style enforcement of Title IX has ever contributed to the success of women's soccer, women's basketball, or women's athletics in general.
As part of the North Korean government's propaganda campaign to stir up anti-American sentiment, a series of posters are being put up all over North Korea. Here is one, in the unmistakable old-fashioned Communist style--a reminder that North Korea is a Cold War relic.
Here, also from National Review Online, is an outstanding piece by author and Title IX expert Jessica Gavora about the recommendations of the Commission On Opportunity in Athletics regarding gender-equity in college athletics. As I noted earlier this week, the Commission, under pressure from bleating feminists and their media accomplices, backed away from recommending any meaningful reform of the quota-style enforcement regime imposed on college sports programs by the Clinton administration. As Gavora notes, the Commission's recommendations are not the final word. It is up to the Bush administration to decide these issues. But given the politics of the issue, the propensity of the media to distort the message of the reformers, and Bush's unwillingness to take a meaningful position against preferential treatment in the less politically-difficult Michigan race discrimination cases, I'm not betting on Bush to deliver real Title IX reform.
Byron York of National Review Online provides the details on the progress of Miguel Estrada's nomination to the Senate floor, as well as the nature of the Democratic opposition to Estrada's confirmation. The imagery used by Senator Schumer provides a good glimpse into the Democratic psyche: Estrada "is like a stealth missile -- with a nose cone -- coming out of the right wing's deepest silo. I'm scared of what will happen if he is confirmed." Forget Saddam Hussein, the Republic is in grave danger of a sneak attack by conservative jurists.

These are dark days. Rest in peace.
This story is so typical: it turns out that Paul Wellstone, champion of the little guy, scourge of corporate interests, illegally failed to procure workers' compensation insurance for his campaign's employees. The four employees who perished in the airplane crash along with Wellstone and his wife were therefore uninsured. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune announces today that the Wellstone campaign has reached a "settlement" with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, whereby the campaign will pay $400,000 and the remaining amounts due--estimated at around $600,000--will be picked up by the taxpayers, courtesy of a fund for employees whose employers break the law by failing to obtain the required coverage or to properly self-insure.

The Strib, anxious that readers not think poorly of its favorite politician, volunteers helpfully that "election campaigns are believed to widely overlook the requirement" to buy workers' compensation insurance. I wonder where they got that information; from our old friend Dave Lillehaug, the Wellstone campaign's lawyer, I suppose. I'd bet a nickel, however, that heartless Republican Norm Coleman took the trouble to make sure that the people who worked for his campaign were insured as required by law.

This illustrates once again the principle that liberals love humanity in general, but don't necessarily care much about the particular humans who actually depend on them.
Thomas Sowell's column brilliantly recounts the parallels between appeasement then and now in his column this morning: "Disarmament ditherers."