Friday, April 30, 2004

The Culture: Soft on communisim?

Why do communists get a free pass, and yet Nazis don't? Consider this post discussing allegations that Robert Oppenheimer was a communist from Eugene Volokh:

While I wouldn't have excluded Communists, past Communists, or Communist sympathizers from all federal jobs (not because I like them, but because of the First Amendment), I surely think it's perfectly constitutional and proper to exclude them from secret nuclear weapons research.
Huh? Change "Communist" to "Nazi," or "al Qadea," and Volokh comes off looking like a fool--the wrongness of his view is plain. Heck, just change it to "Klansmen" and he doesn’t look any better.

The Communist Party stood for the violent overthrow of America and the forcible installation of a communist dictatorship. People are free to hold whatever ideas they choose, but they can not act on ideas that call for the initiation of force. Membership in the Communist Party was just such an act; it was membership in an organization that had it succeeded in its goals, would have resulted in the destruction of the principle of individual rights and the American way of life.

The failure to condemn the communists is the failure to condemn a movement that brutalized and murdered millions. People are outraged over the absurdity of the holocaust deniers, but what about the absurdity of those who mitigate communist atrocities--people who seem to forget just what the communists stood for and the cost of their handiwork?

The question of the communists in America in not a question of the First Amendment. It is a question of whether a nation is obligated to either protect or prosecute those who seek its destruction.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Rights and Reason: Conservatives and Rights

Consider the following paragraph in an unsigned editorial in the Wall Street Journal arguing in support of the detention of US citizens such as suspected al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla as enemy combatants without the writ of habeas corpus.

In an era when the concept of "rights" has come to mean individual rights only, the idea that collective rights might take precedence over those of an individual can be a difficult notion to grasp. But it's the issue at the heart of any discussion of civil liberties in wartime, and the war on terror is no different. The ultimate civil liberty is the right to life.
The conservative Wall Street Journal has just placed the group separate from and above the individual, and it has done so supposedly in the name of the individual’s well-being. Every tyranny of the past one hundred years has relied upon the same moral claim to justify its actions.

Individual rights are the rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness; they come from the principle that man has a right to his life and that he requires freedom of thought and action in order to live. Respect for the principle of individual rights protects man from force; it leaves men free and un-coerced except in retaliation against those who would use force first, and it places the right to retaliatory force under the rule of law. All disputes between men are properly judged by the principle of individual rights; there are no other rights amoung men to consider.

Yet those who support the detention of American citizens without a trial turn the principle of individual rights up upon its head. They say, in effect, that national security allows the government to imprison citizens without having to prove its case under the law, and that the mere attempt to question the government on the strength of its evidence in a courtroom is itself is a threat to national security. Such a view is wrong and it is wicked; it represents perhaps the gravest threat to freedom in America today.

The constitution allows for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in times of invasion or rebellion; both are threats to people’s rights that demand immediate action to protect the people’s government. Yet that power is listed in Article One of the constitution; only the Congress has the power to order any suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and it may only do so in cases of invasion or rebellion where “the public safety requires it.” This is a deliberately high threshold to meet and it serves no less a purpose than to protect the people from unchecked and unchallenged government coercion.

In the post-September 11th world, the Bush administration holds that the need to protect its intelligence sources obliges it to detain Americans accused of crimes against the state without trial. Yet Congress has issued no suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, nor is their any threat against the United States that would justify such a suspension. If a foreign threat exists against America, it ought to be dealt with at its source by our military, and not at the price of destroying checks that protect the individual from the abuse of government power.

Jose Padilla is an American citizen arrested on American soil. Every American accused of a crime—even Padilla—is owed his day in court. There is no universe where the value of intelligence supersedes the rights of the accused. The answer to the dilemma of how to fight the war against militant Islam is not the creation of phony group rights to justify the incursions against individual rights here at home—it is the destruction of the terrorists and the states that sponsor them.

Monday, April 26, 2004

The War: Now that is motivating

There is nothing more outstanding in war then a motivated Marine Corps sniper.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Politics & The Culture: The Threat of Bush’s Faith-based America

Ashland University history professor and CAC policy analyst Dr. John Lewis offers devastating reasons to oppose President Bush at Initium:

In the war between reason and religion, declared by Islamic fundamentalists, President Bush is firmly on the side of religion.  The positions he supports most passionately are those of theocracies: prayer in schools, a national pledge “under God” recited by children, judges who uphold religion in government, laws against abortion, publicly-funded faith-based initiatives, bans on cloning and genetic research, censorship of pornography, and a marriage amendment to the Constitution. If he has not imposed religious censorship, it is not because it is antithetical to his core values. Mr. Bush is energizing the political foundations of an American theocracy.

Nevertheless, there is only one issue in the 2004 election: the war with militant Islam. Here Mr. Bush has also remained true to his principles. He has not acted against a single religious government.

He took down the Taliban because they had aided those who “hijacked a great religion.” He threw down a secular dictator in Iraq and established the terms by which the country can become fundamentalist. Iranian mullahs have been assured that their overthrow is not on our agenda. We have bombed their opponents in Iraq, and negotiated with their Shi’ite stooges who plan to take over Iraq. If they succeed, they will control a second country— bordering on their first, Iran. A greater Islamic state, armed with nuclear bombs, would be a gift from George Bush.

Mr. Bush accepts that people may establish a government based on religious principles; after all, he thinks, that is what we did in America. He uses US troops to preserve the “rights” of foreigners to establish the same religiously-inspired governments that attacked us to begin with.
From the start, Mr. Bush exercised his leadership by declaring the war not against militant Islam, but against “terrorism.” This has obfuscated the nature of our enemies and led us to squander our resources in ways not central to our interests. Had our president named the enemy properly, but then taken no action at all, we would be able to repudiate that inaction and fight the war properly.  Now we must repudiate the very aims of the war. It will take extraordinary leadership to reverse this error.

The result is that the source of America’s enemies remains untouched. Iran is building nuclear bombs. Pakistan (a thug who seized power) and Russia (an ex-KGB officer) are called allies.  Syria and the Saudis have not been confronted. Afghanistan and nuclear-armed Pakistan remain hideouts for Al Qaeda. We arm Islamic soldiers while our money builds schools in Baghdad. When we leave, those schools will teach radical Islam, and those soldiers will shoot at us.

Further, Mr. Bush is undercutting the very idea of self-defense. He spent over a year asking the UN for permission to invade Iraq, while claiming that no permissions will be sought. He is re-defining “overwhelming force” into a consensual war fought with compassionate regard for “innocents.” Such a conceptual stew leaves people with little guidance as to what offensive retaliation against foreign enemies is.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush has established a permanent, institutionalized state of siege at home. The war can now be fought against Unabomber-types, without ethnic “profiling.” And, don’t forget: you are permanently at risk; the war will be long; better buy some duct-tape.

This is all a consequence of Mr. Bush’s “faith-based” thinking. He has “faith in markets,” “faith in the American people,” “faith that people want freedom.” He holds such ideas as religious absolutes.  He shoots out a strong statement from his subconscious (“we will make no distinction between the terrorists and those who harbor them”), and then watches it dissolve in the face of arguments he cannot answer. The statement becomes an empty utterance, compromised in words and actions, precisely because it was held on faith rather than as a rational, defensible conviction.

More specifically, Mr. Bush’s policies are defined by two elements: religious patriotism, and religious altruism. The first demands that he stand tall against America’s ungodly enemies. The second demands that he spend billions to help the unfortunate. Picture two bombers over Afghanistan: one drops a bomb (precision-guided, to avoid hitting a Mosque), and the next drops peanut butter. The first satisfies the patriot, the second redeems the altruist. This, he thinks, is how God wants him to fight the war.

It is a positive sign that many Americans want a forthright offense against our enemies. But they are confused if they think that Mr.  Bush advocates this in fact. I do not wish to abet that confusion.

What about John Kerry, an obnoxious Carter / Kennedy / Clinton wannabe who sees Americans as war criminals? He does not hide his desire to subordinate American defense to a foreign consensus.  This leaves less confusion in its wake; no one will mistake him for George C. Patton. Besides, Mr. Kerry will be desperate to be seen as tough on terrorism; he might actually do a better job against America’s real enemies.

Most of all, in the war with fundamentalist militant Islam, Bush is pro-religion, all the way to the core of his soul. Kerry does not share this premise.
If you think that a turn towards a theocracy in America is far-fetched, remember that “The Passion of the Christ” is approaching a half a billion dollars in box-office take, and conservatives have lined up to extol its blood-soaked message. 
I personally have struggled with the question of evaluating President Bush's leadership, until now. Bush betrays secularism. A war fought half-heartedly is worse then not fighting at all. There is but one conclusion: Bush's hold over the Republican Party must be brought to an end.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Antitrust News: Yet another Microsoft settlement

This from the AP:

Microsoft Corp. said Monday it has reached a settlement of a class-action lawsuit brought by Minnesota customers who claimed the software giant overcharged them in violation of state antitrust laws.

The world's biggest software company said final terms of the settlement were still being worked out. The deal will be presented to the state court in early summer, company spokeswoman Stacy Drake said. She declined to say whether the settlement would affect Microsoft's earnings.

A message on a trial information line said the settlement would be presented in early July.

The settlement interrupted a jury trial that was expected to last several more weeks. Attorneys for the plaintiffs had said they were seeking as much as $505 million.

The suit alleged that Microsoft had violated Minnesota antitrust law by overcharging for its Windows operating system and its Excel and Word programs. The company had denied the overcharges, saying the prices on its products had dropped.

Microsoft had previously settled with nine states and Washington, D.C., paying out a total of $1.5 billion. Cases in 16 other states were dismissed.
I often hear from businessmen that they have a fiduciary responsibility to take the path of least resistance on antitrust, and settle antitrust suits as quickly as possible. In the short term, that may make sense. Long term, all that strategy does is grant others the right to loot them left and right without consequence. After all, will Microsoft's $1.5 billion in payouts placate or embolden those who would use antitrust against it?

Monday, April 19, 2004

Humor: Fun with Dilbert

I know, for shame!

Antitrust News: Federal appeals court rules Maurice Clarett ineligible for NFL draft.

Finally, someone has their head on straight.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Antitrust News: When is one man's need . . .

. . . a mortgage on the life of another? Apparently, when you are infected with HIV. Consider this press release from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation:

LOS ANGELES, APRIL 16, 2004 -- A broad coalition of AIDS advocates and patients will come together in protest over Abbott Laboratories' recent unprecedented 400% price hike on Norvir (ritonavir), their key AIDS drug. The activists and AIDS advocates will hold a 34-hour vigil and protest in front of Abbott's South Pasadena site (820 S. Mission Street). AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the Southern California HIV Advocacy Coalition (SCHAC), Bienestar, Whittier Rio Hondo AIDS Project (WRHAP) and many individual AIDS activists and patients will join in this vigil. In addition, the Organization of HIV Healthcare Providers, nationwide group of doctors & providers, has lent their support.

Abbott's price hike has prompted an unprecedented outcry from AIDS advocates nationwide, and led to other protests and boycotts of the company by activists and physician groups. This in turn prompted the opening of antitrust investigations by the Attorneys General in Illinois and New York, as well as government hearings on Abbott's actions by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health in Washington, and gave rise to the filing of private antitrust and false advertising lawsuits against Abbott by AHF.

In addition, overburdened and under-funded state Medicaid programs such as Medi-Cal, may be adversely affected by this huge price increase. To date, Abbott has been unwilling or unable to publicly explain how, if at all, this price hike will not affect such Medicaid programs in cash strapped states like California.
Heaven save us if a private business cannot explain how overburdened and under-funded government programs are to endure the free market.

I visited Abbott Laboratories' website to see what the company had to say about this controversy. In one of several press releases, the company wrote:

Norvar plays a central role in the treatment of HIV. While the number of patients receiving Norvar as a booting agent has grown over time, there has been a steady decline in sales due to the significant reduction in dose, with the majority of patients taking 100 mg daily, as opposed to the initial 1200 mg daily. At the same time, the value of Norvar to patients with HIV has increased significantly. Abbott has taken this re-pricing step with Norvar in order to come to terms with these economic realities, while others have addressed thought premium pricing of their new drugs.
Abbott also states that it is not changing the price for AIDS drug assistance programs and has expanded its patient assistance program so patents without drug coverage can receive Norvar for free.

The largest cost for many medicines is the price of their development. Abbott faces a considerable economic challenge because of the dosage reduction for Norvar; clearly, its previous economic models for recouping its investment in Norvar no longer hold water. But to claim that Abbott has a responsibility to keep its medicines at the same price, even if it results in Abbott having to forfeit its profits for a drug that keeps people alive, means that Abbott employees and shareholders do not live and work for their own sake, but instead live and work for the sake of others. The AIDS coalition and government regulators are questioning Abbott's ethics, but I question theirs: by what right to they have to demand that Abbott sacrifice its interests so they can pursue their own?

The most-repeated claim in debates such as this is that because Abbott produces a life-saving medicine, the trader principle of mutual exchange for mutual benefit breaks down; if Abbott's customers do not receive their medicine, they will die. By that standard, the whole world becomes slave to the needs of others. Why is medicine different from other needs such as food, or housing? Why is the first question always how a price hike will affect Medicaid programs in cash strapped California, and not how coercion in the marketplace will affect the lives of producers who create live-giving medicines?

Still, the most troubling issue in my mind is Abbott's response. Abbott has defended itself, but only thinly and vaguely. I had to hunt for the pull quote I used above, yet it is the fundamental statement on the issue. Abbott relies mostly on terms that attempt to show that it is not "heartless," such as its programs to provide its drugs to the needy for free. Yet isn't it the AIDS coalition's point that all those affected with HIV are needy?

Abbott would be better served by refuting its critics at the heart of their claim. There will always be those who attempt to loot their neighbor, but the key is in the response. Abbott should proudly state that it exists to return a profit and that it will not sacrifice itself to anyone--that it exists to save the lives of its customers, for the sake of its investors. Yet I suspect Abbott's leaders would be reluctant to defend themselves in such principled terms; given my long experience with antitrust enforcement in the heath-care industry, I am all but sure of it. The profit-motive is a dirty part of doing business, not something that should be defended proudly and without compromise.

Yet when critics damn corporations such as Abbott for "putting profits ahead of people," they really damn the self-interest of people. For these crtics, life is a hospital, and man's life mission is not the pursuit of his own happiness, but the alleviation of suffering of others. It would be refreshing to see, in response, the genius that creates things such as breakthrough medicines applied with the same intensity in defending the very motives that make such breakthroughs possible.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

The War: The Fruits of Appeasement

Victor Davis Hanson understands the war against militant Islam (hat tip: Ben Rathbone).

Imagine a different November 4, 1979, in Teheran. Shortly after Iranian terrorists storm the American embassy and take some 90 American hostages, President Jimmy Carter announces that Islamic fundamentalism is not a legitimate response to the excess of the Shah but a new and dangerous fascism that threatens all that liberal society holds dear. And then he issues an ultimatum to Teheran’s leaders: Release the captives or face a devastating military response.

When that demand is not met, instead of freezing Iran’s assets, stopping the importation of its oil, or seeking support at the UN, Carter orders an immediate blockade of the country, followed by promises to bomb, first, all of its major military assets, and then its main government buildings and residences of its ruling mullocracy. The Ayatollah Khomeini may well have called his bluff; we may well have tragically lost the hostages (151 fewer American lives than the Iranian-backed Hezbollah would take four years later in a single day in Lebanon). And there may well have been the sort of chaos in Teheran that we now witness in Baghdad. But we would have seen it all in 1979—and not in 2001, after almost a quarter-century of continuous Middle East terrorism, culminating in the mass murder of 3,000 Americans and the leveling of the World Trade Center.
Read the whole essay.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The War: The Spirit of America

The Marines are asking for donations so they can challenge the anti-American propaganga in Iraq:

Help U.S. Marines Equip TV Stations in Iraq

Support an alternative information source in the "Sunni Triangle."

News broadcasts in Iraq can be biased, inaccurate and incomplete - to put it mildly. Your contribution will create a television alternative owned and operated by Iraqis. This will provide better information, counter efforts to provoke and help reduce tensions.

$1,950 purchases a PC for editing video and programming
$538 buys a digital video camcorder
$109 provides a multi-region DVD player

Any amount helps! [Spirit of America]
Maj. Gen. James Mattis then makes the following statement:

It is essential to success of the Marine Corps' mission in Iraq that the Iraqi people understand our sincerest desires to help them rebuild their country and lay the foundation for a viable and free democratic society.

Your (Spirit of America) gifts will reduce adversarial relationships and bridge cultural gaps. You have significantly impacted our ability to do good and, I fervently hope reduce the potential for combat.
So according to Mattis, the Iraqi people are simply poorly informed and culturally misunderstood. Yet the Iraqi people have never been bothered by patently false and misleading information before (consider the spectacle of the Saddam’s information minister). The only thing the Iraqi people have shown themselves to respect is brute force. And in this regard, the US must be willing to supply it in spades.

Imagine if the Union army took Mattis’ stance toward the South during the American Civil War. Imagine if Sherman’s Atlanta campaign, instead of crushing the will of the Southern rebels to fight the war, focused on performing acts of “compassion” for the South, so the Confederates would see that the Union was only interested in “a viable and free democratic society.” Then imagine not living in America as it exists today, because under such tactics, the Confederacy would never have been defeated.

I am reminded of Sherman’s response to the Mayor of Atlanta demanding Sherman spare Atlanta after he had ordered civilians to flee the city:

You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go on until we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war. The United States does and must assert its authority, wherever it once had power; for, if it relaxes one bit to pressure, it is gone, and I believe that such is the national feeling. This feeling assumes various shapes, but always comes back to that of Union. Once admit the Union, once more acknowledge the authority of the national Government, and, instead of devoting your houses and streets and roads to the dread uses of war, I and this army become at once your protectors and supporters, shielding you from danger, let it come from what quarter it may. I know that a few individuals cannot resist a torrent of error and passion, such as swept the South into rebellion, but you can point out, so that we may know those who desire a government, and those who insist on war and its desolation.

You might as well appeal against the thunder-storm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable, and the only way the people of Atlanta can hope once more to live in peace and quiet at home, is to stop the war, which can only be done by admitting that it began in error and is perpetuated in pride.
Maj. Gen. Mattis would do well to focus his mission on destroying the intransigent pride of the Iraqi insurgents. As I was taught when I was a Marine, Marines today must locate, close with and destroy the enemy, not coddle him. It will not be a new TV network that prevents Marines from being killed in Iraq. It will be the sure knowledge that any act of force committed by those acting against the United States will result in individual ruin. Lincoln, Grant and Sherman knew it when they fount the South. It is high time our leaders accept the same lesson.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

The Culture: Sunday!

Sunday!: A Monster Truck rally is the annihilation of the everyday by overpowering technology. And to think you scoffed when CAC got its Monster Truck.

The War: Defense Science Board Calls for Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons

It seems the Pentagon wants low-yield nuclear weapons. Consider this excerpt from the Defense Science Board's Report on Future Strategic Strike Forces:

Over a decade ago, new nuclear weapons production ended. Plutonium fabrication--a key requirement for making nuclear weapons--came to an abrupt halt when Rocky Flats shut down in 1989 and is just now planned to be restored at very modest levels. Nuclear testing stopped in 1992 and the U.S. continues to observe a testing moratorium. A sense of "nuclear drift" characterized the early post-Cold War period, with falling budgets, personnel upheavals, no clear mission for the nuclear complex, and the like. . . .

. . . The current vision for the nuclear stockpile is focused on refurbishing legacy nuclear weapons from the Cold War, and modifying some to lower yield. What has been severely curtailed, however, is work to push the envelope in nuclear design. For deterrence to be effective, we at a minimum must be seen as having the capability to destroy what an adversary values most, as well as having the will to use this capability. We join others in judging that a credible force should include, for ex-ample, some nuclear weapons that cause much less collateral damage to achieve their desired effects against the highest priority targets. The problem is that the current plan embedded in the SSP consumes virtually all available resources simply to sustain the aging stockpile of declining relevance. The sole exception is the proposed Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP), including the low-yield options, which is a step in the right direction. . .

. . . We envision a future nuclear stockpile that retains (1) some legacy weapons (by which we mean the high-yield weapons that were designed for the Cold War threat), (2) some legacy weapons modified for lower yields, and (3) some number of new weapons based on previously tested nuclear devices and designs. Currently the plan is almost exclusively oriented toward refurbishing the legacy weapons through life-extension programs and the more recent RNEP activity. We would significantly scale back on the former effort in order to shift focus, and free up resources, for acquiring weapons based on previously tested devices and designs that have quite different characteristics than the legacy weapons: lower yields, special effects (all with greatly reduced fission yield), robust performance margins, and ease of manufacture and maintenance under today’s conditions.
In short, the board wants practical nuclear weapons for use against today's threats.

Although the Defense Science Board's does not make radical calls (the board did not recommend the US withdraw from the nuclear test ban treaty), it is refreshing to see it address a long neglected fact: the US's current nuclear arsenal does not deter everyone, and against those enemies, the US needs more advanced and precise ways to strike.

Not everyone is pleased with the Defense Science Board's newfound determination. According to one news report:

"Pre-emptive nuclear war, that's what they're pushing, and it's absolute madness," said Bob Peurifoy, a former Sandia National Laboratories weapons manager. "Nuclear weapons are the absolute weapons of last resort. If we're losing American cities, then we should respond (with nuclear strikes). Short of that, I can't see any use of weapons with any nuclear yield, I don't care how low."
Madness? Hardly. Allowing terror states like North Korea and Iran to arm themselves with nuclear weapons because the US did not have the right deterrent that could destroy the nuclear facilities of each is the real madness.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Rights and Reason: Why is Chris Dodd Praising Robert Byrd's Racist Past?

Sen. Chris Dodd thinks Sen. Robert Byrd is a man for all times; including times of bitter racial strife. [Hat tip: Harry Binswanger]

On the occasion of Byrd's 17,000th vote in the Senate, Dodd offered the following testimonial:

"It has often been said that the man and the moment come together. I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia that he would have been a great Senator at any moment. Some were right for the time. ROBERT C. BYRD, in my view, would have been right at any time. He would have been right at the founding of this country. He would have been in the leadership crafting this Constitution. He would have been right during the great conflict of civil war in this Nation. ... I cannot think of a single moment in this Nation's 220-plus year history where he would not have been a valuable asset to this country".
Dodd thinks Byrd would have made a great leader during the US Civil War? Yes, but only for the Confederacy.

Byrd was a former Kleagle in the Ku Klux Klan. In his early political career, Byrd opposed racial equality for blacks and was an outspoken opponent of racial integration in the armed forces. In 1947, as a member of the West Virginal state senate, Byrd wrote that he would “never submit to fight beneath that banner (the American flag) with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”

As a US Senator, Byrd led a fourteen-hour filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on the grounds that the races should be kept separate. And let we think that Byrd has undergone a dramatic personal transformation on the issue of race, as recently as 2001 was complaining about the existence of "white niggers."

"There are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time; I'm going to use that word," said Byrd on the Fox News Sunday show.

When Republican Trent Lott praised Sen. Strom Thurmond at Thurmond's retirement party, saying that former segregationist would have made a great president, Lott was removed as Senate majority leader. So why then do the Democrats continue to tolerate Robert Byrd, and why Chris Dodd get a pass for praising Byrd's odious (and not so distant) past? Do Democrats condemn Republican racism, while winking at the racists within their own ranks?

There has never been an accounting for the racism in the Democratic Party. The question for it is the same one we put to the Republican Party during the Lott fiasco: will the Democratic Party tolerate racial bigots and those who think racial bigots make great leaders. If such men are fit to serve as senators, then the Democratic Party is the party of racism. If the Democratic Party aspires to be the party of equality under the law, such men have no place within its ranks.

Monday, April 05, 2004

The War: The Barbarity in Fallujah

Mark Bowden examines the psychology of last week’s barbarity in Fallujah in today’s Wall Street Journal:

Lynching is deliberate. It is opportunistic rather than purely spontaneous, and it has a clear intent: to insult, to challenge and to frighten the enemy, and to excite and enlist allies. The mutilation and public display of bodies follows a distinct pattern. The victims are members of a despised Other, who are held in such contempt that they are considered less than human. Respectful treatment of the dead is the norm in all societies, and a tenet of all religions. Publicly flouting such basic dignities is a communal expression of hatred designed to insult and frighten. Display of the mutilated remains must be as public as possible. In Fallujah they were strung high from a bridge. In Mogadishu, where there were no central squares or bridges, the bodies were dragged through the streets for hours. The crowd, no matter how enraged, welcomes the camera--Paul Watson, a white Canadian journalist, moved unharmed with his through the angry mobs in Mogadishu on Oct. 4, 1993. The idea is to spread the image. Cameras guarantee the insult will be heard, seen and felt. The insult and fear are spread across continents.

The other message at a lynching isn't as obvious. It is also an appeal. It is a demonstration of potency designed to sway and embolden those who are sympathetic but fearful. It says, Look what we can get away with! Look what we can do! The sheer horror asserts the determination of the rebel faction, and underlines the seriousness of the choice it demands from its own community. It draws a line in the sand; it is a particularly graphic way of saying, You are either for us or against us.
In reply to Iraq's barbarians, I vote against.

Bowden contemplates an accounting for those so viciously attacked:

The rebels in Iraq who ambushed those American security workers in Fallujah ought to be hunted down and brought to justice, but they are not the only ones responsible. The public celebration that followed was licensed and encouraged by whatever leadership exists in Fallujah. Whether religious or secular, its insult, warning, and challenge has been broadcast around the world. It must be answered. The photographic evidence should be used to help round up those who committed these atrocities, and those who tacitly or overtly encouraged it. A suitable punishment might be some weeks of unearthing the victims of Saddam Hussein's mass graves.
Bowden is far more chartable to the enemy then I would ever be.

Rights and Reason: One Party's Pork is as Good as Another

The Republican Party is dead as a party of limited government and even Bob Novak sees it:

The highway bill marks the absolute termination of the Gingrich Revolution ushered in by the 1994 Republican sweep. In the face of President Bush's repeated veto threats, Republicans are determined to pass a bill filled with earmarked spending for individual members of Congress. The 1982 highway bill contained only 10 earmarks. The 1991 bill, the last highway bill passed under Democratic leadership, contained 538 such projects. But the addiction for pork has grown so large that the current bill contains at least 3,193 earmarks. . .

. . .Only 58 Republicans (and six Democrats) joined [Rep. Sue] Myrick in voting no Friday. She is not opposed to spending money for roads, within reason. It's the non-highway money that bothers her. "Why are we paying for all of this stuff?" Myrick asked me (using a more vivid word than "stuff"). "It's just the way you get along here."

That so serious a conservative as Sue Myrick feels she would like to quit shows how much the climate has changed on Capitol Hill since she and other bright-eyed new Republican House members were sent there by the 1994 election.

I wrote 10 years ago that Republicans, taking control for the first time in 40 years, faced a test. Metaphorically, would they close the executive washroom or just change the locks? It was almost immediately evident that they would take the latter course. Now, it's becoming clear the erstwhile Republican reformers are also super-sizing what they once condemned.
Despite his admission, it's no surprise that the philosophically disarmed Novak still misses the big picture. Contrary to the claims of Novak and other conservatives, the Gingrich Revolution was not a revolution. The 1994 Republican takeover of Congress was not an embrace of capitalism, but yet another rejection. Remember how just a few hours after the gavel was passed to the Republicans, Gingrich made a statement praising the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Remember how impotent the Republicans were as they battled Bill Clinton during the government shutdown? That’s not a revolution—that’s more of the same, but under a different party banner.

The question is, just what are the Republican defenders of capitalism (if there even are any) going to do about it?

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Capitalism & The Law: Turns out the "little guy" was a woman-beater

Martha Stewart wants a new trial:

Martha Stewart requested a new trial Wednesday, saying one of the jurors who convicted her failed to disclose a checkered past that includes an arrest on assault charges.

Stewart's lawyers said juror Chappell Hartridge has been sued three times and has been accused of stealing money from a Little League group ? but improperly left the accusations off his jury questionnaire.

The lawyers said Hartridge, who called Stewart's guilty verdict a victory for "the little guy," showed a clear bias against Stewart that damaged her right to a fair trial. . .

. . . Hartridge was the most vocal of the 12 jurors who convicted Stewart, speaking at length to reporters outside the courthouse on March 5 and making several television appearances.

"Maybe it's a victory for the little guy who loses money in the markets because of these types of transactions," he told reporters on the day of the verdict.

Morvillo submitted a batch of news articles quoting Hartridge making similar statements. The lawyer claims they show an unfair bias that would have kept Hartridge off the jury if lawyers had known about it sooner. [AP]
Martha Stewart was owed a jury of her peers, not one of batterers and embezzlers.

Press Release: CAC Announces Conversion Van as New Headquarters

I'm proud to announce that CAC will have an official office.