Saturday, March 25, 2006

Justice Scalia Announces Opposition to Trials in Civil Courts for Alien Military Detainees

Marty Lederman at "SCOTUS blog" says:

Two weeks ago, on March 10th, Justice Scalia gave a speech at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland. Apparently he permitted it to be filmed, because the video of the speech, a follow-up Q&A, and a short interview, can be viewed here. Justice Scalia is characteristically combative and provocative. For instance, in response to a question about Bush v. Gore, he responds: "Come on, get over it." He states that the real question in the case was whether the election was to be decided by the Florida Supreme Court or by the U.S. Supreme Court -- "not a very hard question," in his view -- and "there was no way we could have turned that case down." He then states that the Florida Supreme Court -- but not the U.S. Supreme Court -- was "politically motivated." And in response to a question about affording constitutional rights to Guantanamo detainees, he states unequivocally that "foreigners, in foreign countries, have no rights under the American Constitution" and that "nobody has ever thought otherwise."

Why Is Michael Steele a Republican Candidate?

The NYT Magazine says:

Because Karl Rove and Dick Cheney called and asked him to run for the Senate. Because Maryland has the highest percentage of African-Americans in any state outside the Deep South. Because the party of Lincoln thinks it can again be the party of the African-American.

It was last spring when Karl Rove called Michael Steele, the lieutenant governor of Maryland, to sell him on running for the Senate, and to close the deal, Rove paused to put President Bush on the phone. As Steele recalls it, the president's adviser said, "Here, the boss wants to talk to you." Steele froze, then demurred. "I went, 'No, no thank you.' I was so stunned that he was going to hand the phone to the president. I said, 'That's all right, we'll have that call later.' I couldn't believe it." Other top Republicans called. Senator Elizabeth Dole. Ken Mehlman, the party chairman. One day Steele's cellphone rang, and Vice President Dick Cheney was on the other end.

.....................If the Republicans can win in a state like Maryland because they pried away some of the black vote from the Democrats, Trippi said, "It will be over." Over for whom? I asked. "The Democrats," he responded. He didn't mean just in Maryland — he meant in the whole country, because the electoral math for Democrats begins with an assumption of capturing something like 90 percent of the African-American vote.

.................Why is he a Republican, anyway? Steele's answer is that it all goes back to his mother. (No politician ever lost votes by overreferencing his mother, who, in this case, was not made available for an interview.) In his neighborhood growing up, "everyone — cousins, friends and neighbors — was always asking her why she didn't take public assistance. 'Why don't you stand in line and get a check?"' His mother, a Democrat with pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. and J.F.K. on the wall at home, would answer the same way every time: "Because I don't want the government raising my kids." Read it all

Gran Marcha--Gran Backlash!

Mickey Kaus went to the LA rally:

Mexican flags mobilize voters. Anti-immigrant voters.

Rally Report: Reader L.N. suggested I had exaggerated the number of Mexican flags at various immigrant protest rallies--maybe demo organizers had wised up to the lesson that flaunting allegiance to a neighboring country was not a good way to make most Americans want to let in more people who share your attachment!** So I went down to today's Gran Marcha against "anti-immigration legislation" in downtown L.A.:

Crowd size: Big! Bigger than a couple of football games--I'd say 200,000 plus. ***

Demeanor: Pleasant!

Makeup: 99 percent Latino (an oversimplification--I saw one T-shirt saying "I'm Mexican, not Latino")

Most telling placard slogan: "Somos illegales, no criminales!"

Flags: Evenly split between Mexican and U.S., with El Salvadoran running a very distant (1%) third. And there were lots of flags. If you said "Mexican flag" every time you saw a Mexican flag, you never stopped talking.

** Q: Why are Mexican flags troubling in a way Italian flags wouldn't be troubling at, say, a Columbus Day rally? Simplest A: Italy's not right next door! ... For more on this issue, see this discussion with Jim Pinkerton. Pinkerton says flatly, "There will be a wall." He's for it. ...

*** Of course the very size of these rallies, when coupled with the pro-illegal immigrant sentiments and the Mexican flags, might hurt the cause of the ralliers. It seems likely to make many non-PC voters think, "Jeez, next year's rally will be even bigger. We'd better build that wall quick!" ...

Downtown LA turns into "Mexico City"

Have we lost the battle already?

The LA Times says:

More Than 500,000 Rally in L.A. for Immigrants' Rights

Joining what some are calling the nation's largest mobilization of immigrants ever, hundreds of thousands of people boisterously marched in downtown Los Angeles Saturday to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security wall on the U.S. southern border. Spirited crowds representing labor, religious groups, civil-rights advocates and ordinary immigrants stretched over 26 blocks of downtown Los Angeles from Adams Blvd. along Spring Street and Broadway to City Hall, tooting kazoos, waving American flags and chanting "Si se puede!" (Yes we can!). The crowd, estimated by police at more than 500.000, represented one of the largest protest marches in Los Angeles history, surpassing Vietnam War demonstrations and the 70,000 who rallied downtown against Proposition 187, a 1994 state initiative that denied public benefits to undocumented migrants. Read it all

That can't be good


Publius Pundit reports:

The other opposition candidate, Alexander Kozulin, marched a few hundred people to a detention center where the October Square demonstrators had been taken to. They faced a SWAT team and the army. Just hours after the peaceful rally, they were all beaten.

The head of the SWAT team beat Kozulin and arrested him. They fired smoke grenades, noise-makers, and tear gas into the crowd. They exploded directly above people. One by one they were stripped away and beaten in the face, back, and legs with batons until they bled. The women, instead, were punched in the face. Then they were taken away in paddywagons to who knows where. At least one person is confirmed dead with a skull injury. Even sicker is that Belarus state television showed up so that they could film a beaten man and say that he was stomped on by his fellow protestors. The protestors are hardly the animals here. All they could do was throw snowballs back at them.

Milinkevich's press secretary Pavel Mazhejka was briefly detained, and for awhile Milinkevich himself was nowhere to be found. But he is alright and has said that the authorities are fully responsible for the slaughter of the protestors and they will be held to account. He has sworn that Lukashenko will not finish this five year term. It has become the top news on CNN.

Br23 reports that arrests and detentions are now occurring in other parts of the city, with riot police showing up where young people hang out, throwing them face down into the mud, and dragging them into the wagons. He also reports that the state telecommunications monopoly has shut limited the dial-up internet access for a time.

Ivan Lenin has translations from LiveJournalist Lipski who details a bit about the rally, and then even more about the second march that preceded the terrifying crackdown. Make sure to read those reports, especially for the little significant details.

This is all that is really known right now. We have to wait for more on-the-scene news and blog reports to come out and then wait for them to be translated. This post will be updated continuously as that news comes out. Scroll here as well. The Interior Minister is saying that an "unexplained" device blew up and that terrorists were behind the explosion. An impressive story, for sure, if only it were true.

Today was the largest rally in Belarus' post-Soviet history. It was also the single bloodiest one day as well. What happens next will be up to the opposition. Lukashenko will continue to rule by force, but he won't be able to now that the people are slowly but surely beginning to fight back. Milinkevich's plan is to create a popular movement to liberate Belarus from Lukashenko. The revolution has already begun in the minds of the people. The revolution that overthrows Lukashenko will take years of connecting people and helping them to resist. But that day will certainly come. Read it all

Carbon cloud over a green fuel

The Christian Science Monitor has an article today thats shows what a waste this biomass energy program is.

An Iowa corn refinery, open since December, uses 300 tons of coal a day to make ethanol. Late last year in Goldfield, Iowa, a refinery began pumping out a stream of ethanol, which supporters call the clean, renewable fuel of the future.

There's just one twist: The plant is burning 300 tons of coal a day to turn corn into ethanol - the first US plant of its kind to use coal instead of cleaner natural gas.

An hour south of Goldfield, another coal-fired ethanol plant is under construction in Nevada, Iowa. At least three other such refineries are being built in Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota.

The trend, which is expected to continue, has left even some ethanol boosters scratching their heads. Should coal become a standard for 30 to 40 ethanol plants under construction - and 150 others on the drawing boards - it would undermine the environmental reasoning for switching to ethanol in the first place, environmentalists say.

"If the biofuels industry is going to depend on coal, and these conversion plants release their CO2 to the air, it could undo the global warming benefits of using ethanol," says David Hawkins, climate director for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington. Read it all

Cheney: If Democrats can lead, then I can sing

Dick Cheney has the "Quote of the Week."

"If they are competent to fight this war, then I ought to be singing on American Idol."

During a campaign stop in Orlando, Cheney predicted that national security would dominate congressional elections in November.

"Peace be upon you"

Mohammed Taheri-Azar's letter to police

The Herald-Sun
March 24, 2006 9:20 pm

This is a transcript of the letter Mohammed Taheri-Azar left in his apartment for police to find after he drove into nine people with an SUV in The Pit at UNC on March 3:

In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate.

To whom it may concern:

I am writing this letter to inform you of my reasons for premeditating and attempting to murder citizens and residents of the United States of America on Friday, March 3, 2006 in the city of Chapel Hill, North Carolina by running them over with my automobile and stabbing them with a knife if the opportunities are presented to me by Allah.

I did intend to use a handgun to murder the citizens and residents of Chapel Hill, North Carolina but the process of receiving a permit for a handgun in this city is highly restricted and out of my reach at the present, most likely due to my foreign nationality.

I am a servant of Allah. I am 22 years of age and I was born in Tehran, Iran. My father, mother and older sister immigrated to the United States in 1985 when I was two years of age and I've lived in the United States ever since.

I attended elementary, middle and high school in North Carolina and I was accepted into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I began my college career in August 2001 and graduated in December 2005 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and philosophy with Allah's help.

I do not wish to pursue my career as a student any further because I have no desire to amass the impermanent and temporary fame and material wealth this world has to offer. However I made the decision to continue my studies and to graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill so that the world will know that Allah's servants are very intelligent.

Due to the killing of believing men and women under the direction of the United States government, I have decided to take advantage of my presence on United States soil on Friday, March 3, 2006 to take the lives of as many Americans and American sympathizers as I can in order to punish the United States for their immoral actions around the world.

In the Qur'an, Allah states that the believing men and women have permission to murder anyone responsible for the killing of other believing men and women. I know that the Qur'an is a legitimate and authoritative holy scripture since it is completely validated by modern science and also mathematically encoded with the number 19 beyond human ability. After extensive contemplation and reflection, I have made the decision to exercise the right of violent retaliation that Allah has given me to the fullest extent to which I am capable at present.

I have chosen the particular location on the University campus as my target since I know there is a high likelihood that I will kill several people before being killed myself or jailed and sent to prison if Allah wills. Allah's commandments are never to be questioned and all of Allah's commandments must be obeyed. Those who violate Allah's commandments and purposefully follow human fabrication and falsehood as their religion will burn in fire for eternity in accordance with Allah's will.

Sincerely yours,

Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar

This has to get to the Yale bureaucrats

Yale Daily News says;

Female Afghan parliamentarian Malalai Joya criticized current U.S. policy in Afghanistan, as well as the presence of former Taliban spokesman and foreign ministry official Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi as a special non-degree student at Yale, both during and after her speech, "Women's Rights, Warlords, and the U.S. Occupation of Afghanistan" on Thursday night.

After her lecture, Joya delivered a statement about Hashemi's enrollment. She said Hashemi was one of the Taliban's top propagandists and called his status as a student at Yale "disgusting" and an "unforgivable insult."

"Before he was a Talib, and now he is a student," Joya said, holding up two pictures of Hashemi. "Is it democracy?" Rest here

G.O.P. Senator Caught in Bind on Immigration

The pressure is getting to the Pols. They are trying their best to doubletalk their way around it. This from the NYT.

HOUSTON — The telephone lines in the unassuming offices of Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, have been sizzling here in recent weeks as anxious Republican voters call to find out precisely where their tough-minded senator stands on illegal immigration.

Mr. Cornyn has been criticized on conservative talk radio and labeled a "sellout" on some Weblogs for promoting legislation that would allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain here for five more years. The proposal would also create a temporary worker program that would allow those immigrants and hundreds of thousands of foreigners abroad to work here legally for up to six years.

"I have people come to see me who say, 'The wall is the answer,' " Mr. Cornyn said as he settled into a leather couch in his office here. "I hear others say we ought to be sympathetic, we ought to just let them stay and call them legal and declare an amnesty. And I don't think either of those alternatives are possible or viable.

"Sometimes they end up yelling at me," he said of his conservative constituents. "But my job, and our job in Congress, is to see the whole picture and to come up with a realistic consensus" Rest here

Back to Basics!

The NYT reports on the shift to the "3R's." I hated to see the Feds move into education, but it is paying off. The schools would not have done this otherwise. A couple of quotes:

Schools from Vermont to California are increasing — in some cases tripling — the class time that low-proficiency students spend on reading and math, mainly because the federal law, signed in 2002, requires annual exams only in those subjects and punishes schools that fall short of rising benchmarks.

The changes appear to principally affect schools and students who test below grade level.

The intense focus on the two basic skills is a sea change in American instructional practice, with many schools that once offered rich curriculums now systematically trimming courses like social studies, science and art. A nationwide survey by a nonpartisan group that is to be made public on March 28 indicates that the practice, known as narrowing the curriculum, has become standard procedure in many communities.

The survey, by the Center on Education Policy, found that since the passage of the federal law, 71 percent of the nation's 15,000 school districts had reduced the hours of instructional time spent on history, music and other subjects to open up more time for reading and math. The center is an independent group that has made a thorough study of the new act and has published a detailed yearly report on the implementation of the law in dozens of districts. Read the rest

Sobering analysis by Volokh

It's Not Islamophobia When There Really Is Something To Fear:

The striking thing about the Abdul Rahman prosecution — in which an Afghanistan court is considering whether to execute Rahman because he converted from Islam to Christianity — is how Establishment the prosecution is. The case is before an official Afghani court. The death sentence is, to my knowlege, authorized by official Afghani law. The New York Times reports that the prosecutor, an Afghan government official, "called Mr. Rahman 'a microbe' who 'should be killed.'" The case is in a country which is close to the West, and is presumably under at least some special influence from Western principles (whether as a matter of conviction or of governmental self-interest).

We're not talking about some rogue terrorist group, or even the government of Iran, which is deliberately and strongly oppositional to the West. We're talking about a country that we're trying to set up as something of a model of democracy and liberty for the Islamic world. And yet the legal system is apparently seriously considering executing someone for nothing more than changing his religion.

This is telling evidence, it seems to me, that there is something very wrong in Islam today, and not just in some lunatic terrorist fringe. Doubtless many, I would hope most, Muslims would not endorse executing converts. But a strand of the religion, and a strand that is not far from the levers of political power in at least some countries, does seem to endorse such a position. This is deeply dangerous, most obviously to residents of countries in which radical Islamism has broad support, but also to residents of Western countries as well. Read it all

Mark Steyn: Reality in Iraq is “Very Different From What Tim Russert Thinks”

Mark Steyn on Tim Russett. Hewitt's talk show via Radioblogger

“Tim Russert said today, he defended NBC, the media's Iraq coverage, by saying we capture reality. Yeah, they capture reality in the same sense that those insurgent guys capture people. They saw its head off and shout Allah Akhbar at reality. That's what they're doing when they capture reality. The reality of what's happening in Iraq is very different from what Tim Russert thinks it is.”

War in their future, Mids choose Marines

The Baltimore Sun says that more Naval Academy seniors are making the Corps their first preference, lately more than it can take. [hat tip instapundit]

"In my eyes it's a perfect community," said Dove, an Annapolis High School graduate. "The idea of being a platoon leader in charge of guys that have done two, three tours in Iraq already, when I haven't been over there - that's an awesome responsibility. I'm eager to take it on."

Having a surplus of mids who want to be Marines has been a change from the Vietnam era. In 1968, the Marine Corps failed to meet its quota for the first time in academy history.

Most academy officials believe interest is high for patriotic reasons - the phenomenon began not long after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Others, including midshipmen, said the enthusiasm could be part of a common trend in wartime at the nation's service academies, where young students have been eager to bolster their military credentials with combat experience.

Why Can't Democrats Win?

That's the headline of a book review by Peter Beinart of "Crashing the Gate," the new political book by by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, in the NYT today. Beinart says,

Armstrong and Moulitsas are self-conscious outsiders, successful liberal bloggers determined to overthrow the "Beltway mafia" that runs the Democratic Party in Washington. And yet they have written a manifesto devoted almost entirely to political procedure. Behind their indignant, even revolutionary rhetoric, Armstrong and Moulitsas seem angry about just one thing — that the Democratic Party continues to lose.
He points out that:

During the 1980's, the Democratic Party tried to reinvent itself by concentrating on procedural changes. In 1984 and 1988, Democrats addressed their post-Vietnam weakness by limiting the influence of liberal interest groups in the nominating process. In the run-up to 1984, the party created "superdelegates" — politicians who were presumably more in tune with average voters than the issue activists who had dominated Democratic conventions since 1972. In 1988, moderate Democrats instituted Super Tuesday, a bloc of mostly Southern primaries intended to steer the nominating process to the center. Both these reforms failed.

And ends up by saying

Armstrong and Moulitsas may well be right that the next great partisan transformation will be theirs. In "Crashing the Gate" they have written an insightful guide to how the Democratic Party can retake power. Now all they need to do is figure out why it deserves to.
Read it here.

Al-Qaeda trial lands FBI in dock for criminal ineptitude

The Times UK covered this trial better than our MSM did:

This week a wealth of new evidence of how the FBI bungled the Moussaoui investigation became so Pythonesque in its absurdity that even the victims’ families were roaring with laughter.

Into the witness box stepped Harry Samit, the FBI agent who arrested Moussaoui. He was called by the prosecution but became the star witness of the defence.

He said that he warned his supervisors more than 70 times that Moussaoui was an al-Qaeda operative who might be plotting to hijack an airplane and fly it into a building. He said that he was regularly thwarted by two superiors, David Frasca and Michael Maltbie, from obtaining a warrant to search Moussaoui’s flat. He accused the men of being criminally negligent.

Mr Maltbie told him that getting a warrant, which could be troublesome, might harm his — Maltbie’s — career prospects. Mr Maltbie has since been promoted.

On Tuesday Ed MacMahon, Moussaoui’s defence laywer, cross-examined Michael Rolince, of the FBI. He was there to defend the bureau, but his answers brought down the house.

Mr Rolince was forced to concede that he had never seen an April 2001 intelligence briefing paper warning that bin Laden was preparing to mount an attack, even though he had signed it. Mr MacMahon then introduced an April 13, 2001, FBI communication, approved by Mr Rolince, giving warning about bin Laden’s threat inside the US. Mr Rolince said that he had not approved it.

“Is it possible for a document to say you approved it if you have not approved it?” the judge asked.

“Absolutely,” he replied. With that, the jury, the press benches, the victims’ families and the press gallery erupted in laughter.

You Built What?!—A Tiny Helicopter

Popular Science tells us that:

A Norwegian engineer reinvented the way helicopters keep themselves stable. The result: create a radio-controlled craft that can take off from the palm of your hand

Rapping in "Flyover Country"

The Saturday Morning Video

"Lazy Muncie"
[hat tip Michelle Malkin]

Will we stick our necks out for his faith?

That's what Mark Steyn asks:

The fragile Afghan state is protected by American, British, Canadian, Australian, Italian and other troops, hundreds of whom have died. You cannot ask Americans or Britons to expend blood and treasure to build a society in which a man can be executed for his choice of religion. You cannot tell a Canadian soldier serving in Kandahar that he, as a Christian, must sacrifice his life to create a Muslim state in which his faith is a capital offense.

As always, we come back to the words of Osama bin Laden: "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse." That's really the only issue: The Islamists know our side have tanks and planes, but they have will and faith, and they reckon in a long struggle that's the better bet. Most prominent Western leaders sound way too eager to climb into the weak-horse suit and audition to play the rear end. the Canadian columnist David Warren put it: "We take it for granted that it is wrong to kill someone for his religious beliefs. Whereas Islam holds it is wrong not to kill him."

Read it all

Friday, March 24, 2006

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

NYT - U.S. and Europe Plan Sanctions Against Belarus
The sanctions are likely to irritate Russia, which endorsed the presidential election and made light of the violence on Friday.
Belarus Opposition Stakes Out Jail

Iraq Qaeda Chief Seems to Pursue a Lower Profile
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has lowered his profile, and his group claims to have submitted itself to the leadership of an Iraqi.

Red Cross Fires Administrators in New Orleans
Two key supervisors were dismissed as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into the improper diversion of relief supplies after Katrina.

WaPo - Russians Gave Iraq Information, Study Says
Details on U.S. troop movements and attack plans were given to Saddam Hussein in the early days of the Iraq war, according to a U.S. military study.
Ann Scott Tyson and Josh White
Translator Charged With Trying to Bribe Iraqi Police
Navy Won't File Charges in Iraq Contractor Fracas

Salvadorans' Memories in Iraq
Veterans of El Salvador's fierce civil war find insurgent conflict uncomfortably familiar.

Impeachment Whispers Grow
Some Democrats see anti-Bush movement as distracting from vital issues and boosting the GOP.
Michael Powell
Bush Shows Strategy for Keeping Hill Majorities

A Fearful Springtime in Paris
Labor law protests highlight French worries of diminished stature in a world of rapid globalization.

Classy Economist

Thomas Sowell is a lifetime student of the market force.
JASON L. RILEY, of the WSJ editorial board, does the "Weekend Interview" [open] quotes:

Free-market economics, a legacy of the classical school, is thought of as an old conservative doctrine. But Mr. Sowell explains that it was in fact one of the most revolutionary concepts to emerge in the history of ideas. Moreover, "the thinking of the classical economist was not only a radical break from landmark intellectual figures like Plato and Machiavelli but also from mainstream thinking to this day." The notion of a self-equilibrating system--the market economy--meant a reduced role for intellectuals and politicians, he says. "And even today many still haven't accepted that their superior wisdom might be superfluous, if not damaging."
Read it all

As Israel Votes, Sharon's Vision Is Taking Hold

'Disengagement' Becomes The Best Hope for Security For Many Weary of Violence

The WSJ has an article [pay site] agreeing the viewpoint I see taking hold in Israel. They are going to vote for Sharon's vision. Olmert can carry out Sharon's policies without the legacy of Sharon's past to hurt him. Sharon turns out to be the "Moses" that led them to the top of the mountain, but did not survive to lead them into the valley below. The fact that Hamas is now in control keeps the Israeli left from pushing for a "negotiation" with the Pals. Israeli voters prepare to go to the polls on Tuesday, Mr. Sharon's controversial vision for Israel has done more than survive. Kadima, the political party he created just weeks before suffering a brain hemorrhage, may score a sweeping victory, according to polls. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, previously Mr. Sharon's little-noticed deputy, is poised to ride Mr. Sharon's legacy to the prime minister's office.

That could mean important changes in Israeli policies, especially concerning relations with the Palestinians. And it could present new challenges for the U.S. and Europe when it comes to Middle East peacemaking. Under the 60-year-old Mr. Olmert's surprisingly assertive leadership, Kadima is pushing forward Mr. Sharon's ideas for reshaping Israel's future faster and more forcefully than Mr. Sharon did.

The party, whose name means "forward" in Hebrew, has embraced an idea that just a few years ago was so controversial few Israeli politicians spoke openly about its full implications for Israelis, Palestinians and the international community. Dubbed "disengagement," the idea is straightforward: Israel can't expect to negotiate a deal with the Palestinians or to crush them militarily, so it must separate from them by drawing its own borders based on what's best for Israel.

.........A few analysts argue disengagement might lead in the end to a better solution for all sides. It would begin to roll back settlement expansion that has inflamed Palestinians for years. And if Hamas, the militant group swept to power in recent Palestinian elections, focuses more attention on Palestinians and less on attacking Israel, both sides could wind up curtailing the activities most provocative to the other. "You'll have two parallel processes," says Asher Susser, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. "Maybe in the end a better result emerges than you could get through negotiations."

Many predicted that Kadima -- which Mr. Sharon formed by luring high-profile politicians from both the left-leaning Labor and right-leaning Likud parties -- would crumble without Mr. Sharon's forceful and popular personality at the helm. After Mr. Sharon's stroke, Mr. Olmert and a team of Mr. Sharon's longtime advisers held the party together by twisting arms behind the scenes and laying out the disengagement vision with a clarity and forcefulness Mr. Sharon himself never dared.

"Olmert has taken it much, much further than Sharon," said Avraham Diskin, a political scientist at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

.....But whatever the outcome, the appeal of separation isn't likely to evaporate with a Hamas-led government representing the Palestinians and an Israeli public tired of dealing with an occupation.

Sharon's Spirit, and Absence, Pervade Election

These two grafs sum up this NYT article on the coming Israeli election.

The focus groups continue to show strong attachment to Mr. Sharon, Mr. Arad said, as a guarantor of security. "Now he's gone, people wonder, 'What will happen to us?' They're looking for someone not with a particular policy statement, but someone who can continue the same path as Sharon."

The effort has been to portray Mr. Olmert and his team "as good enough people to follow in the footsteps of Sharon," Mr. Arad said. "People liked the center, and Sharon promised to build them a home there. They liked the builder. But the wish for the center and the liking of the plans doesn't disappear."


That's what Kathryn Jean Lopez at "The Corner" asks:

From a pro-illegal immigration protest:

Teodoro Maus, an organizer of the Georgia protest, estimated as many as 80,000 Hispanics did not show up for work. About 200 converged on the steps of the Georgia Capitol, some wrapped in Mexican flags and holding signs reading: "Don't panic, we're Hispanic" and "We have a dream, too."

Jennifer Garcia worried what would the proposal would do to her family. She said her husband is an illegal Mexican immigrant."

Europe’s Ailing Social Model: Facts & Fairy-Tales

The "Brussels Journal" is the best I have read on Europe's problems. [hat tip Roger Simon] Some excerpts:

On 23 and 24 March the European Council is meeting to discuss the future of Europe’s social model. The very essence of the welfare state is at stake. Europe’s present social model is unable to tackle the modern challenges of globalization, and has left Europe with gigantic problems: an unsurmountable public debt, a rapidly ageing population, 19 million unemployed, and an overall youth unemployment rate of 18%. The unemployment figures may easily be doubled to account for hidden unemployment. The untold reality is that Europe’s real unemployment stands at the level of the 1932 Depression.

.......The reality of Europe’s ailing economy contrasts sharply with its economic potential and with the massive resources employed to cure its ailing growth. The whole arsenal of Keynesian remedies has now been tried and has failed one by one. Massive deficit spending throughout the eighties and nineties has left Europe with a public debt unequalled in history. The size of Europe's monumental public debt is only surpassed by the hidden liabilities accumulated in Europe’s shortsighted pay-as-you-go public pension schemes.

.....In an effort to keep the dancing on the Titanic going, Europe’s catastrophic situation is systematically hidden from public opinion. Official unemployment data, debt figures, and poor growth performance are systematically and grossly underestimated. Thus the public debate and the whole democratic decision making process is being falsified by lies and wishful thinking. Even the best policy makers are making the wrong diagnosis based on the wrong statistics, and as a consequence prescribe the wrong remedies. Having accumulated such monumental debt through years of over-consumption, Europe can indeed no longer blame its ailing growth on slow consumer sales. It is the supply side that is failing. Policies aimed at boosting Europe's economy should therefore no longer be aimed at stimulating consumption but at stimulating the defaulting creation of wealth. Read it all
Mark in Mexico has a great line:

Hugo Chavez decides to continue shipping oil to the United States. He will not, at this time, cut off oil supplies to the US, thereby bankrupting Venezuela in, oh, 24 hours or so.

A Misleading Headline

"In From the Cold" suggests the following:

The document raises an interesting question: was the information provided by the ambassador an actual copy of U.S. war plans, or (more likely) a summary of Russian intelligence information on the disposition of Allied forces in/around Iraq. We should hope it was the latter, and not the former. If Moscow had a copy of our war plans before Operation Iraqi Freedom began, then (obviously), we have serious security problem at the upper levels of government, and other operational plans may have been compromised as well.

On the other hand, a Russian prediction of U.S. military actions (based on intelligence assessments of our forces in theater), does not compromise a security breach, or the disclosure of war plans. It took months for the U.S. and its coalition parnters to assemble the forces required to topple Saddam Hussein. This build-up was carefully monitored by the Russian intelligence services, and Moscow shared the information with some of its client states and allies. Based on the number of troops, tank and aircraft arriving in theater, Russian intel analysts could easily divine potential military options, which could be passed to Saddam. Rest here


If you are a Simpsons nut, Don Surber has the "Real People" opening that will run this Sunday.

"I Saw Our Soldiers Greeted as Liberators": Hitchens Mashes Matthews' Mantra

Newsbusters says

Seemingly on every evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews enjoys chanting a mantra of allegedly failed Bush administration promises on Iraq. Chief among them is his taunt that the White House claimed that our troops would be greeted as liberators.

Just as it might be soothing to see someone silence an ostentatious Berkeley hippie endlessly iterating 'ummm', it was most satisfying to witness Christopher Hitchens on this evening's Hardball comprehensively refute Matthews on his claim.

Once again, Matthews launched into his leitmorif: Pres. Bush: "strikes out . . . on the fact that we were going to be treated as liberators."

Hitchens: "I saw it myself."

Matthews: "Pictures?"


"No. I was there. I saw it myself. American soldiers and British soldiers were greeted by hundreds of thousands of people with real joy. I saw it myself. I can't believe people say it didn't happen."

David Frum says

If it's true that the Russian ambassador to Iraq presented Saddam Hussein with the US war plans for the invasion, I'm left with four questions:

1) Who made the decision to share these plans with the Russians in the first place? True, it was not yet positively clear in the spring of 2003 that Vladimir Putin's government was fundamentally unfriendly to the United States. But self-evidently Russia was not an ally fit to be trusted with such ultra-secret information.

2) Having learned the truth, why does anybody still put any stock in Russia as a potentially helpful partner in the Iran crisis?

3) What consequences will follow for Russia? Anne Applebaum has argued that Russia should already have forfeited its status as a member of the elite club of democracies, the former G7 now renamed the G8. That certainly seems right. Over the past months, we've learned that Germany provided all kinds of quiet help to the United States in Iraq even as Chancellor Schroeder publicly opposed it - a demonstration of the depth and endurance of German-American friendship despite passing quarrels.

With Russia, though, the record is now exposed as exactly the opposite: surface friendship, deep underlying jealousy, hostility, and finally sabotage.

Accountability, anyone?

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race

No wonder Jared Diamond comes up with the wrong answers. Look at the premise he started with in 1987. "We were better off when we were 'hunter-gatherer's' than when we became farmers." He has stuck with the "Noble Savage" premise.

"Hunter-gatherers practiced the most successful and longest-lasting life style in human history. In contrast, we’re still struggling with the mess into which agriculture has tumbled us, and it’s unclear whether we can solve it. Suppose that an archaeologist who had visited from outer space were trying to explain human history to his fellow spacelings. He might illustrate the results of his digs by a 24-hour clock on which one hour represents 100,000 years of real past time. If the history of the human race began at midnight, then we would now be almost at the end of our first day. We lived as hunter-gatherers for nearly the whole of that day, from midnight through dawn, noon, and sunset. Finally, at 11:54 p. m. we adopted agriculture. As our second midnight approaches, will the plight of famine-stricken peasants gradually spread to engulf us all? Or will we somehow achieve those seductive blessings that we imagine behind agriculture’s glittering façade, and that have so far eluded us?"
Rest here

Can You Imagine if Bush Did This?

"Chicago Boyz" passes this along:

PRESIDENT CHIRAC stormed out of the first session of a European Union summit dominated by a row over French nationalism because a fellow Frenchman insisted on speaking English.

Einstein was right: Nationalism is an infantile disease:

When M Seillière, who is an English-educated steel baron, started a presentation to all 25 EU leaders, President Chirac interrupted to ask why he was speaking in English. M Seillière explained: "I'm going to speak in English because that is the language of business."

Without saying another word, President Chirac, who lived in the US as a student and speaks fluent English, walked out, followed by his Foreign, Finance and Europe ministers, leaving the 24 other European leaders stunned

But it gets better:

Embarrassed French diplomats tried to explain away the walk-out, saying that their ministers all needed a toilet break at the same time.

LOL or even ROTFL doesn't quite cover it.

Plan for reality in Iraq

Barnett's prediction;

"Here’s my definition of realism on Iraq: it would include fairly autonomous and successful nations arising in the Kurdish and Shiite portions and the Sunni triangle remaining a mid-90s-Bosnia-like mess for years on end.

To me, that’s two out of three, and having Saddam gone and triggering the amazing amount of political and economic change in the region over the past three years--that works out fairly well in terms of the sacrifices made." Rest here

Foreign Exchange

Glenn Reynolds says, "Yale seems to have gotten itself into a PR quagmire." asks: Why did Yale slam the door on Afghan women?

A statement from Yale University, defending its decision to admit former Taliban spokesman Ramatullah Hashemi, explained that he had "escaped the wreckage of Afghanistan." To anyone who is aware of the Taliban's barbaric treatment of the Afghan people, such words are offensive--as if Mr. Hashemi were not himself part of the wrecking crew. It is even more disturbing to learn that, while Mr. Hashemi sailed through Yale's admissions process, the school turned down the opportunity to enroll women who really did escape the wreckage of Afghanistan.

In 2002, Yale received a letter from Paula Nirschel, the founder of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women. The purpose of the organization, begun in that year, was to match young women in post-Taliban Afghanistan to U.S. colleges, where they could pursue a degree. Ms. Nirschel asked Yale if it wanted to award a spot in its next entering class to an Afghan woman. Yale declined.

Harvard's Paper on Israel Drew From Neo-Nazi Sites

The NY Sun reports that a prominent Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, is alleging that the authors of a Harvard Kennedy School paper about the "Israel lobby," one of which is the Kennedy School's academic dean, culled sections of the paper from neo-Nazi and other anti-Israel hate Web sites.

"What we're discovering first of all is that the quotes that they use are not only wrenched out of context, but they are the common quotes that appear on hate sites," Mr. Dershowitz, who is identified in the paper as part of the "lobby," told The New York Sun yesterday.

"The wrenching out of context is done by the hate sites,and then [the authors] cite them to the original sources, in order to disguise the fact that they've gotten them from hate sites."

"They didn't do direct research, they didn't do primary research," Mr. Dershowitz said of the paper's authors. "They're just taking ideas that already existed out there in hate sites - in the work of Chomsky, in the work of Buchanan, and in the work of David Duke - and they're claiming it as their scholarship."

"Don't abandon 'Red America.'"

That's what Stephen Spruiell at the Media blog says:

there are two quick points I'd like to make. First, the allegations of racism against Domenech are a case study in the kind of mendacious, oppressive speech policing that has made discussion of race in this country paranoid and banal. The attacks on Domenech's family were an affront to reasoned debate. It seemed that when it came to Ben Domenech, no personal insult was out-of-bounds. These people who meant to shame the Washington Post have no shame themselves.

Second, regardless of whether the plagiarism charges make it impossible for Domenech to continue as the WaPo's "Red America" blogger, the WaPo would be foolish and craven to bow to this mob — for whom attacking the blogger was just a means to an end — by abandoning the project altogether.

Adding a conservative blog was a smart editorial decision to widen the variety of viewpoints on offer at — not a "sop to the right." But jettisoning that blog, and thereby limiting the viewpoints on offer, would indisputably be a sop to the left.


With our modern online search ability, plagiarism is easy to prove. Ben, at age 24, has ruined his career.

Ben Domenech Resigns

"In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.

An investigation into these allegations was ongoing, and in the interim, Domenech has resigned, effective immediately."

Jim Brady
Executive Editor,

"Give me that old time religion"

Arkansas Teacher Can't Say 'Evolution' in Class:
Arkansas Times
The missing link. Scientist discovers that evolution is missing from Arkansas classrooms.

In the fall of 2004, I received an e-mail from an old friend back in Arkansas, where I was raised. She was concerned about a problem her father was having at work. “Bob” is a geologist and a teacher at a science education institution that serves several Arkansas public school districts. My friend did not know the details of Bob’s problem, only that it had to do with geology education. This was enough to arouse my interest, so I invited Bob to tell me about what was going on.

He responded with an e-mail. Teachers at his facility are forbidden to use the “e-word” (evolution) with the kids. They are permitted to use the word “adaptation” but only to refer to a current characteristic of an organism, not as a product of evolutionary change via natural selection. They cannot even use the term “natural selection.” Bob feared that not being able to use evolutionary terms and ideas to answer his students’ questions would lead to reinforcement of their misconceptions.

But Bob's personal issue was more specific, and the prohibition more insidious. In his words, "I am instructed NOT to use hard numbers when telling kids how old rocks are. I am supposed to say that these rocks are VERY VERY OLD ... but I am NOT to say that these rocks are thought to be about 300 million years old."

As a person with a geology background, Bob found this restriction hard to justify, especially since the new Arkansas educational benchmarks for 5th grade include introduction of the concept of the 4.5-billion-year age of the earth. Bob's facility is supposed to be meeting or exceeding those benchmarks.

The explanation that had been given to Bob by his supervisors was that their science facility is in a delicate position and must avoid irritating some religious fundamentalists who may have their fingers on the purse strings of various school districts. Apparently his supervisors feared that teachers or parents might be offended if Bob taught their children about the age of rocks and that it would result in another school district pulling out of their program. He closed his explanatory message with these lines:

"So my situation here is tenuous. I am under censure for mentioning numbers. … I find that my 'fire' for this place is fading if we're going to dissemble about such a basic factor of modern science. I mean ... the Scopes trial was how long ago now??? I thought we had fought this battle ... and still it goes on."
Read the rest.

Brokeback Batman

Ace of Spades says:

Hollywood serves up a murderous metrosexual morality play that clumsily strokes every erogenous zone on the leftist body politic

I went to see V for Vendetta last night for two reasons: 1, I've written about it a lot, so I should see what I've already criticized, and 2, I like superhero movies and I also like fascist dystopia movies, so, really, if you've got both of those together, how bad could it be?

Let's cut to the chase. Even ignoring all the brain-dead ham-handed sledgehammer-subtle political text-messaging in the film -- white male Christian conservatives are just plain evil, gays are lumious beings strong with the force whom the Sith want to eradicate, terrorism is often justified, but there is actually no external terrorist threat at all, as the government did it all -- this is just witless, dreary, clumsy, amateurish and, most inexcusably of all, flat-out dull movie. It wins the award for the both the worst superhero movie and worst furture dystopia movie I've ever seen, and I've seen both versions of the The Punisher (including the one with Dolph Lundgren and Louis Gosset Jr.) as well as Soylent Green. Rest here

REDSTATE strikes back

This is About Decency
By: machiavel · Section: Democrats

The critics of Ben Domenech are on a fishing expedition. They attacked the fact that an ex-political appointee would ever be given a job in journalism. Then, they trolled for comments he left on a blog. They attacked his upbringing. They attacked his mother. They attacked his father. They called him a homosexual. "Plagiarism" is only the sixth or seventh line of attack they've tried in their campaign to assassinate the character of a good and decent person.

When they invoked the man's family, when they resorted to an unremitting torrent of smears and lies and invective, they lost their right to be respected in this argument. Their accusations no longer carry any weight. Because Ben Domenech is no longer the issue. They are.

Decency is now the issue. The character of those on the attack is in the spotlight. Violating a man's family to score a tangential point about the "SCLM" is beneath contempt. To allow them any influence over who is heard on the web site of one of America's most prominent newspapers would be a death blow to what is left of the credibility of traditional media.

The character assassins must be defeated. Completely and utterly defeated.

Some Readers See Red Over's New Blogger

Howard Kurtz says:

The Washington Post Co.'s Web operation has touched off an online furor by hiring as a blogger a 24-year-old former Bush administration aide who co-founded a conservative site and recently referred to Coretta Scott King as a "communist."

Ben Domenech, an editor at the conservative Regnery Publishing, said he regrets the King reference, which he insists was tongue-in-cheek, and that the reaction to his new "Red America" blog is "a little meaner" than he expected.

More than 1,000 people and a Democratic member of Congress have sent the newspaper letters of complaint. The decision to hire Domenech was made by, an Arlington-based division that works with the newspaper but is editorially independent.

Jim Brady, executive editor of, said Domenech was hired because "we were completely unrepresented by a social conservative voice." He said his goal "is to provide voices from as many perspectives as possible" and that Domenech is not intended to balance anyone in particular on his staff.

Domenech is "controversial" and the fact that liberals object to his hiring "shouldn't really be a shock to anybody," Brady said.

Said Domenech: "I'm there to do opinion. That's what I do. I'm not a journalist."

In a letter yesterday, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said: "Balanced coverage and ideologically diverse editorials have long been hallmarks of responsible journalism. If The Post would like to appear evenhanded, I strongly suggest the Web site launch a similarly partisan liberal blog, 'Blue America.' "

Domenech, who was home-schooled by his mother in South Carolina and Virginia, says he began writing for the conservative publication Human Events when he was 15 and continued until he left to attend the College of William & Mary. He was an intern and researcher for the Bush White House, served as a speechwriter for Tommy Thompson, then the health and human services secretary, and then spent two years working for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.).

Late yesterday, the liberal Web sites Daily Kos and Atrios posted examples of what appeared to be instances of plagiarism from Domenech's writing at the William & Mary student paper. Three sentences of a 1999 Domenech review of a Martin Scorsese film were identical to a review in Salon magazine, and several sentences in Domenech's piece on a James Bond movie closely resembled one in the Internet Movie Database. Domenech said he needed to research the examples but that he never used material without attribution and had complained about a college editor improperly adding language to some of his articles.

Domenech is a board member and one of three founders of, which bills itself as a "Republican community Weblog." Under his regular pseudonym, Augustine, he questioned President Bush's decision to attend King's funeral because she is a "communist."

"I regret using the term because I think it's been way overblown," Domenech said. But he said King worked with organizations affiliated with communists in the 1950s and 1960s. Brady called it "a silly comment" but said he is satisfied with Domenech's admission of error.

As Augustine, Domenech has engaged in numerous personal attacks, some of which were compiled by the blog Dragonfire. Domenech has called cartoonist Ted Rall a "steaming bag of pus"; said Teresa Heinz Kerry looks like an "oddly shaped egotistical ketchup-colored muppet"; called Pat Robertson a "senile, crazy old fool"; and described's "White House Briefing" columnist Dan Froomkin as "an embarrassment."

Liberal bloggers, some of whom have been criticizing The Post since its editorial page backed the war in Iraq, have expressed varying degrees of outrage over Domenech's hiring. Many say there is a false equivalence in hiring a Republican political activist to balance Post bloggers, such Froomkin, who are viewed as left-leaning but have journalistic backgrounds.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo wrote that he is "embarrassed for The Post" and that the editors' explanation "doesn't cut it. If they want to make a blogger Crossfire with a firebreather on the left and on the right, they should do it. . . . But here they've just been played by bullies and played for fools."

John Amato of Crooks and Liars wrote that The Post "continues to become more and more a mouthpiece for the GOP by hiring a right-wing blogger."

Domenech said his views are his own. "I part with the president on a whole host of issues," he said. "I consider myself a conservative blogger but not a Bush loyalist."

City Hall evicts Easter Bunny

Jay Nordlinger comments in "Inpromptus": human-rights director? This is what Tyrone Terrill is, the human-rights director? Odd -- I thought I wrote about human rights when I wrote about the torture of innocents in dungeons and so on. Little did I know that the real human-rights action City Hall, where a secretary displays pastel-colored eggs.

St. Paul civil rights chief says non-Christians might find the holiday decoration offensive
Pioneer Press

So long, Easter Bunny.

A toy rabbit decorating the entrance of the St. Paul City Council offices went hop-hop-hoppin' on down the bunny trail Wednesday after the city's human rights director said non-Christians might be offended by it.

The decorations — including the stuffed rabbit, Easter eggs and a handcrafted sign saying "Happy Easter," but nothing depicting the biblical account of Christ's death and resurrection — were put up this week in the office of the City Council by a council secretary.

It was not the first holiday decoration ever to go up in the building, but City Hall observers believe it is the first one to come down out of concerns for religious sensitivity.

"I sent an e-mail that Easter is viewed as a Christian holiday and advised that it be taken down," said Tyrone Terrill, the city's human rights director. "It wasn't a big deal."

China harvesting inmates' organs, journalist says

Bill Gertz should not have written this, and the Washington Times should not have run it, with this sourcing.

A Chinese journalist has uncovered a secret detention center in northern China that is being used by a hospital to harvest human organs for sale to domestic and international buyers.
Jin Zhong, a pseudonym for the journalist who fled China recently, also said in an interview that a failed Chinese intelligence operation led to the 2004 death of a Japanese diplomat who committed suicide rather than give up secrets.
On the prisoner abuse, Mr. Jin said he first learned of the harvesting operation between October and December and that the prisoners used were members of the outlawed Falun Gong religious group.
"This is murder, and murder sponsored by a state," said Mr. Jin, who in the past has been a contributor to a Japanese news agency. "It must be stopped."
Mr. Jin said he came across the underground detention center while researching the Chinese government's response to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
A Chinese official was the first person to reveal that secret medical work was being done at the Liaoning Provincial Thrombosis Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, in Sujiatun, a suburb of Shenyang, the major city in northeastern China, he said.
Mr. Jin then said he found out that a large underground prison was built beneath the hospital and that members of the outlawed Falun Gong religious group were being held there. As many as 6,000 people are thought to be held prisoner at the underground facility, he said.
The hospital is harvesting the organs of the prisoners, including kidneys, livers, and eye parts, he said. The organs are then sold to people, from both China and abroad, who need medical organ transplants.
One source for Mr. Jin was the wife of a hospital doctor who was involved in the organ harvesting. The doctor suffered psychological problems as a result of the gruesome medical work and disclosed the secret activity. The Chinese woman also has fled to the United States.
Several other hospital workers also revealed details about the prisoner organ harvesting.
Mr. Jin said he had to hide his true identity after being threatened by Chinese government agents. He was arrested twice for his reporting and recently fled to the United States, where he hopes to seek political asylum.
Mr. Jin said bodies of the prisoners were burned in the boiler room of the hospital and that boiler room workers had taken jewelry and watches from the dead and sold them. He said he has provided information about the organ harvesting to U.S. government officials, including members of Congress.

Goood Morning to the Mainland!

NYT - Red Cross Sifting Internal Charges Over Katrina Aid
The accusations include improper diversion of relief supplies, and officials said some of the actions might have been criminal.

Bush Is Facing a Difficult Path on Immigration Bush Is Facing a Difficult Path on Immigration
Many Republicans object to the president's call for a guest-worker system, insisting that the focus be on stopping illegal immigration.

Master of Slow and Deliberate at Ground Zero Master of Slow and Deliberate at Ground Zero
A look at Larry A. Silverstein's negotiating style suggests that, when it comes to making deals, it is almost never over.

Challenge for U.S.: Iraq's Handling of Detainees
U.S. troops are trying to train Iraqi forces to battle the Sunni-led insurgency without resorting to abductions, torture and murder.

WaPo -
Immigration Evolves Into Election Issue for 2008
As Bush pushes guest worker program, would-be successors jockey for position ahead of next week's Senate showdown on illegal immigrants.
Jonathan Weisman and Jim VandeHei

Protest Turns Violent in Paris
Gang rampage in one of city's most affluent neighborhoods disrupts march against job law.
Molly Moore

Prayer's Power Still a Mystery
Medical research that attempts to scientifically test its impact on healing is met with mixed opinions.
Rob Stein

Envoy Accuses Iran of Duplicity
U.S. official says Tehran professes support for Iraq's political process even as it aids insurgents.
Jonathan Finer and Ellen Knickmeyer
Three Abducted Peace Activists Rescued in Iraq

Flint Losing Its Defining Trade
As GM and Delphi plan buyouts, Mich. city is left to weigh future without security of auto industry.

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