Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Nation Slams Global Warming: ‘Greenhousers Strike Back, and Strike Out’

Another devastating revelation of the plagiarism and intellectual dishonesty of the global warming fanatics. These people are just displaced communists, its that simple. And this by the most liberal magazine in the entire USA. The evidence is overwhelming to anyone who takes the time to look at it...T

Alexander Cockburn of Counterpunch and The Nation recently published another article highly skeptical of man’s role in global warming.

Wonderfully titled “Explosion of the Fearmongers; Greenhousers Strike Back, and Strike Out,” the piece started with a great introduction to the real problem facing our nation (emphasis added throughout):

"I began this series of critiques of the greenhouse fearmongers with an evocation of the papal indulgences of the Middle Ages as precursors of the "carbon credits"-ready relief for carbon sinners, burdened, because all humans exhale carbon, with original sin. In the Middle Ages they burned heretics, and after reading through the hefty pile of abusive comments and supposed refutations of my initial article on global warming I'm fairly sure that the critics would be only to happy to cash in whatever carbon credits they have and torch me without further ado."

Yes, Alex, it is quite certain that the fearmongers as you aptly refer to them would happily burn all of the skeptics around the world at the stake. Then they’d really have the consensus they regularly attest to:

"The greenhouse fearmongers explode at the first critical word, and have contrived a series of primitive rhetorical pandybats which they flourish in retaliation. Those who disagree with their claim that anthropogenic CO2 is the cause of the small, measured increase in the average earth's surface temperature, are stigmatized as "denialists," a charge which scurrilously combines an acoustic intimation of nihilism with a suggested affinity to those who insist the Holocaust never took place."

Cockburn was obviously referring to Ellen Goodman’s Boston Globe article from February of this year wherein she stated (emphasis added):

"I would like to say we're at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future."

Cockburn continued:

"The greenhousers endlessly propose that the consensus of "scientists" on anthropogenic climate change is overwhelming. By scientists they actually mean computer modelers. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and their computer-modeling coterie include very few real climatologists or atmospheric physicists. Among qualified climatologists, meteorologists and atmospheric physicists, there are plenty who do not accept the greenhousers' propositions. Many others have been intimidated into silence by the pressures of grants, tenure and kindred academic garottes."

That’s not something you read every day in a liberal publication like The Nation, is it? Yet, Cockburn wasn’t close to done, for he then obliterated another one of the left’s catchphrases concerning this issue:

"Peer review, heavily overworked in the rebuttals I have been reading, is actually a topic on which the greenhousers would do well to keep their mouths shut, since, as the University of Virginia's Pat Michaels has shown, the most notorious sentence in the IPCC's 1996 report ("The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate") was inserted at the last minute by a small faction on the IPCC panel after the scientific peer-review process was complete. Here's how Dr Fred Goldberg describes the probable culprit, Professor Bert Bolin, a politically driven Swede who was the first chairman of the IPCC, from 1988 to 1998. Goldberg's very interesting paper is entitled, "Has Bert Bolin fooled us all concerned climate change caused by humans?":

"In 1995 IPCC presented its second report: The Science of Climate Change". In this report a large number of researchers work through hundreds of scientific reports and delivers a comprehensive report where they conclude that there is no evidence that human beings have had an influence on the climate. This conclusion is of course very important for politicians and policymakers around the world. But what happened? The editor of the IPCC ­report then deleted or changed the text in 15 different sections of chapter 8 (The key chapter concerning whether human influence exists or not) which had been agreed upon by the panel of contributors involved in compiling the document. In practice politicians and policymakers only read the so-called Executive Summary for Policy Makers. In this document consisting of a few pages it is clearly stated that humans have influenced the climate, contrary to the conclusions of the scientific report.

"Professor Fredrik Seitz, former chairman of the American Science Academy, wrote in the Wall Street Journal already the 12th of June 1996 about a major deception on global warming: "I have never before witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report." He gave many examples of changes and redefinitions and finished by demanding that the IPCC process should be abandoned."

Pretty shocking for an article not only written by a liberal, but also published in one of the most liberal periodicals in the country, wouldn’t you agree?

With that in mind, those interested in his previous article on this subject should go here.

Can’t wait to see his next piece.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

1688 and All That: how the "Glorious" Revolution led to the American one

Another history lesson today. I've been reading the authors latest book - "A History of the English Speaking Peoples since 1900" - and it's a great addition to Winston Churchill's series of the same name, which ended it's narrative in 1900. This episode in history gets scant attention outside college history curriculum these days, and yet it was not always so. There was a great "Masterpiece Theater" series on this period done in the early 70's, if any of you can remember, but I have not been able to find it since then...T

When the English-speaking peoples consider the forces that have made them the global hegemonic political culture since the mid-19th century--representative institutions, the rule of law, religious toleration and property rights among them--they look back to Britain's "Glorious" Revolution of 1688. What at first looks merely like a minor coup d'état that replaced the Catholic King James II with his Protestant Dutch nephew and son-in-law, King William III, was much more than that. It heralded nothing less than a complete realignment of worldview for the Anglosphere. It changed everything.
Michael Barone, the distinguished political commentator and co-author of "The Almanac of American Politics," demonstrates both an encyclopedic knowledge of late 17th-century European politics and a keen appreciation of their long-term implications. He sees in the Glorious Revolution--which he dubs The First Revolution--the genesis of "changes in English law, governance and politics that turned out to be major advances for representative government, guaranteeing liberties, global capitalism, and a foreign policy of opposing hegemonic powers." He argues that it was essentially in defense of the rights won in 1688 that the American colonists rose against George III in 1776.

The handful of Whig aristocrats who secretly invited Prince William of Orange over from Holland to overthrow their anointed monarch, James, were undeniably rebels and traitors, as were, of course, the American colonists who signed the Declaration of Independence. Yet they both acted in the name of an ancient, inherent, legitimate and noble cause: liberty. English common-law rights dating back to Magna Carta were perceived to be under threat from King James, and they trumped whatever allegiance might have been owed him. The Founding Fathers were thus repeating 88 years later, and in an American and republican context, largely what the "first" revolutionaries had done in 1688.

What makes "Our First Revolution" stupendously better than a political tract or a work of straightforward narrative history is Mr. Barone's sense of how close the Glorious Revolution came to failing. The whole adventure was predicated on a series of hideous risks. If it had fallen at one of any number of hurdles, the repercussions for both Britain and, later, America would have been incalculable. It is a story of midnight escapes, invisible ink, secret passageways, royal nosebleeds, base betrayals and amazingly few high ideals. William of Orange may not set foot in England until page 155 of Mr. Barone's 243 pages--at Torbay, in Devon, in November 1688--but "Our First Revolution" has all the elements of a political thriller.

Although James II stood for Catholic obscurantism, pro-French appeasement, and Stuart paternalism and monopoly--all of which would have held Britain back politically and commercially in the 18th century--it is hard not to sympathize with his Lear-like cries of anguish as both his daughters, Mary and Anne, betray him in order to safeguard their claims to the throne. Meanwhile, William rightly comes across, in Mr. Barone's account, as more interested in protecting his native Holland from France than in extending the liberties of a new kingdom.

James was brave throughout his life except at the time that courage was most needed; in the weeks immediately after William landed, he was curiously indecisive. Lest we forget, he was the man after whom New York City was named: As duke of York, he had successfully fought the Dutch in America 20 years before. Yet in 1688, as his army steadily defected to the Protestants--led across the channel by Winston Churchill's ancestor John Churchill (later Duke of Marlborough)--James decided to flee to France, fearing imprisonment in the Tower of London. By the time he got around to fighting--at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690--it was too late.

Yet had James II not made myriad errors after succeeding his brother, King Charles II, in 1683--errors that help to trigger William's later intervention--"French-style absolutism might really have sprung into life" in England, Mr. Barone writes, perhaps "in late 1688 or early 1689." Such absolutism was doing well on the Continent, especially under Louis XIV, and James was busy trying to buy the coming general election and pack the House of Commons. When an heir was born to James in June 1688, establishing the Catholic succession, the moment of decision had arrived: William had to invade then or never. As it was, he risked a difficult sea crossing; the English Channel in November was treacherous throughout the age of sail. In the event, about 21,000 Dutchmen decided the matter.

Everything that flowed from the Whig victory of 1688--limited government, the Bank of England, tradable national debt, triennial Parliaments, mercantilism, free enterprise, an aggressively anti-French foreign policy, the union with Scotland, eventually the Hanoverian Succession and the Industrial Revolution--combined to make the English-speaking peoples powerful. Mr. Barone proves beyond doubt how much the Glorious Revolution inspired the Founding Fathers to launch their own, with Virginia gentlemen farmers seeing themselves as the heirs of England's revolutionary aristocrats. The 1689 Bill of Rights in Britain thus unquestionably paved the way to the American Bill of Rights of 1791.
To comprehend how America's birth pangs came about--and why its title deeds were drawn up in the way they were--it is therefore crucial to understand the ideals and passions of 1688. The very best introduction is this well-researched, well-written, thought-provoking book.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007


If only it had been him - and not Ned Beatty......T
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Monday, May 21, 2007

Peanut Envy: The latest absurdities to emerge from Jimmy Carter's big, smug mouth.

This is the article I've been awaiting for the last 17 years or so - ever since Jimmuh decided he had a chance at rehabilitating his image, at least in the press. This article, from an avowed life-long liberal, only hints at the dangerous incompetence we faced, almost destroying America in four short years, from 1976 to 1980. This is what liberal democrat, and Vietnam protester turned presidential candidate, Sen. Eugene McCarthy says about Jimmuh today:
"I once had quite an argument with the late Sen. Eugene McCarthy, who maintained adamantly that it had been right for him to vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980 for no other reason. 'Mr. Carter,' he said, 'quite simply abdicated the whole responsibility of the presidency while in office. He left the nation at the mercy of its enemies at home and abroad. He was the worst president we ever had.' "

Almost always, when former President Jimmy Carter opens his big, smug mouth, he has already made the psychological mistake that is going to reduce his words to absurdity. When he told the press last week that the Bush administration had aroused antipathy around the world, he might have been uttering no more than a banality. But no, he had to try to invest it with a special signature flourish. So, he said instead:

I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history. The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including [those of] George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me.

Leave aside the sophomoric slackness that begins a broken-backed sentence with the words "as far as" and then cannot complete itself. "Worst in history," as the great statesman from Georgia has to know, has been the title for which he has himself been actively contending since 1976. I once had quite an argument with the late Sen. Eugene McCarthy, who maintained adamantly that it had been right for him to vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980 for no other reason. "Mr. Carter," he said, "quite simply abdicated the whole responsibility of the presidency while in office. He left the nation at the mercy of its enemies at home and abroad. He was the worst president we ever had."

I still think Richard Nixon has to be the prime candidate here, but you will notice that Jimmy Carter evinces nostalgia for that period, too. Apparently, the Christmas bombing of Vietnam, the invasion of Cambodia, the subversion of democracy in Chile, the raising of illegal slush funds, and the attempt to bug the Democratic National Committee offices were assertions of America's "basic values." Leave aside Carter's newfound admiration for Ronald Reagan, who is now undergoing a more general historical revision thanks to the work of professors Diggins and Brinkley, and just concentrate for a moment on what he says about George Bush Sr. What did he say at the time? Many people in retrospect think Bush did a good job in assembling a large multinational coalition, under U.N. auspices, for the emancipation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. But Jimmy Carter used his prestige, at that uneasy moment, to make an open appeal to all governments not to join that coalition. He went public to oppose the settled policy of Congress and the declared resolutions of the United Nations and to denounce his own country as the warmonger. And, after all, why not? It was he who had created the conditions for the Gulf crisis in the first place—initially by fawning on the shah of Iran and then, when that option collapsed, by encouraging Saddam Hussein to invade Iran and by "tilting" American policy to his side. If I had done such a thing, I would take very good care to be modest when discussions of Middle Eastern crises came up. But here's the thing about self-righteous, born-again demagogues: Nothing they ever do, or did, can be attributed to anything but the very highest motives.

Here is a man who, in his latest book on the Israel-Palestine crisis, has found the elusive key to the problem. The mistake of Israel, he tells us (and tells us that he told the Israeli leadership) is to have moved away from God and the prophets and toward secularism. If you ever feel like a good laugh, just tell yourself that things would improve if only the Israeli government would be more Orthodox. Jimmy Carter will then turn his vacantly pious glare on you, as if to say that you just don't understand what it is to have a personal savior.

In the Carter years, the United States was an international laughingstock. This was not just because of the prevalence of his ghastly kin: the beer-sodden brother Billy, doing deals with Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi, and the grisly matriarch, Miz Lillian. It was not just because of the president's dire lectures on morality and salvation and his weird encounters with lethal rabbits and UFOs. It was not just because of the risible White House "Bible study" sessions run by Bert Lance and his other open-palmed Elmer Gantry pals from Georgia. It was because, whether in Afghanistan, Iran, or Iraq—still the source of so many of our woes—the Carter administration could not tell a friend from an enemy. His combination of naivete and cynicism—from open-mouthed shock at Leonid Brezhnev's occupation of Afghanistan to underhanded support for Saddam in his unsleeping campaign of megalomania—had terrible consequences that are with us still. It's hardly an exaggeration to say that every administration since has had to deal with the chaotic legacy of Carter's mind-boggling cowardice and incompetence.

The quotation with which I began comes from an interview that he gave last week to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He also went on the British Broadcasting Corporation to make spiteful and cheap remarks on the retirement of Prime Minister Tony Blair, calling him "loyal, blind, apparently subservient." Yes, that's right, Mr. Carter. Just the way to make friends and assert "America's basic values." Show us your peanut envy. Heap insults on a guest in Washington: a thrice-elected prime minister who was the first and strongest ally of the United States on the most awful day in its recent history. A man who was prepared to risk his own career to be counted as a friend. A man who was warning against the Taliban, against Slobodan Milosevic, and against Saddam Hussein when George Bush was only the governor of Texas. Leaders like that deserve a little respect even when they are wrong—but don't expect any generosity or courtesy from the purse-mouthed preacher man from Plains, who just purely knows he was right all along, and who, when that fails, can always point to the numberless godly victories that he won over the forces of evil.
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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The GOP's future belongs to Rudy

Excerpted here is the New Republic's take on Giuliani's surprising (to some) success so far in the nominating process, given his (again, to some) moderate views on some social issues (again, they are not moderate or liberal, they are intellectual, nuanced and well considered, not simpleminded boilerplate). This is an decidedly liberal article in a liberal publication - yet it reminds me in stark fashion of what the erudite elites used to write about Reagan - while trying to tear him down, they could not contain their admiration, however unintentional. This is clear in these excerpts. I concur that Rudy could be a transformational figure, and not just because he may be the only candidate with a great chance of winning...T

William "Rusty" DePass named his dogs Goldwater, Reagan, and Bush. He is, needless to say, a conservative man, one who lives in a conservative state where the psychological scars of the Civil War still run deep. Six bronze stars on the west wall of the Capitol building here in Columbia mark the trajectory of Sherman's 1865 cannon fire from across the Congaree River. A state senator points me to the deep gouges on the building's banisters--gashes left, he says, by the sabers of Union officers charging the stairs on horseback. The Confederate flag still flies proudly in front of the statehouse. This is not, in short, hospitable political terrain for a drag-dressing, gay-friendly, abortion-loving, serially married, abrasive presidential candidate from New York.

Indeed, it is thanks to voters like DePass and states like South Carolina that Rudy Giuliani is widely thought to be doomed. "You need to suspend all your analytical faculties to believe the GOP will nominate for president a Republican (who holds moderate social positions)," says Stu Rothenberg, author of The Rothenberg Political Report. "It just isn't going to happen, at least not in my lifetime." Political analyst Charlie Cook said six months ago that he would "win the Tour de France before Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination." More recently, he told me he was "nervously" sticking to that prediction. "If Giuliani wins," he said, "it means that everything that I have ever learned about Republican presidential nomination politics is wrong."

Many (liberal) observers believe Giuliani's early success is the result of his calculated move rightward--a savvy effort to trick conservative voters into believing he is really one of them. But there is another possibility, one that assumes a bit more intelligence on the part of conservative voters like DePass: What if we are witnessing not Rudy moving toward the rest of the Republican Party, but rather the Republican Party moving toward Rudy?

If Giuliani's liberal inclinations on certain sexual issues represent his party's future, so does his decided conservatism on nonsexual domestic matters. Take, for instance, the question of how much risk is desirable in our economic system and what, if anything, government should do to encourage or discourage it. Ever since Reagan, Republicans have seen themselves as the party that embraces risk as a worthy feature of American life; and Giuliani, with his criticism of the social safety net, is very much an heir to this tradition. A Weekly Standard article recently quoted Giuliani as saying that Democrats want "a no-risk society." Explaining his opposition to health care mandates, he said, "We've got to let people make choices. We've got to let them take the risk--do they want to be covered? Do they want health insurance? Because ultimately, if they don't, well, then, they may not be taken care of. I suppose that's difficult."

Another element of the Reagan tradition to which Giuliani can lay claim--and that bolsters his chance of winning the nomination--is his appeal to white, working-class voters: the Reagan Democrats who became the angry white men of the 1990s. Their switch to the GOP fractured the class basis of the New Deal coalition, and they have been crucial to every Republican presidential victory since 1968. These are Giuliani's people. He is pro-cop, anti-Sharpton, the mayor whose meritocratic streak led him to end the open admissions policy at the City University of New York. He stood in a flat-bed truck in front of City Hall in 1992 and told 10,000 beer-drinking cops that a proposed civilian review board was "bullshit" designed "to protect David Dinkins's political ass." He famously lectured a mother whose son had been killed in a hail of police bullets, "Maybe you should ask yourself some questions about the way he was brought up and the things that happened to him"...Giuliani was the tough guy who restored order to a city verging on chaos by breaking the back of the liberal interest groups that had once dominated local politics; and many white, lower- and middle-income voters in the outer boroughs loved him for it. They, more than any other factor, are the reason he was twice elected mayor of one of the country's most Democratic cities. And their hero now uses the same tough rhetoric that he once used to talk about criminals to talk about terrorists.

"I listen a little to the Democrats, and, if one of them gets elected, we are going on defense," he recently told an audience in New Hampshire. "We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation, and we will be back to our preSeptember 11 attitude of defense."

Giuliani is more than just lucky, however. He is also smart. The former New York mayor has chosen the right moment to take his idiosyncratic brand of conservatism to the national stage. Hawkish on defense, bullish on unrestrained capitalism, socially tolerant on some questions, acidly intolerant on others, despised by his foes, beloved by his allies, eminently comfortable with combative politics, he is plausibly positioned to capitalize on--and perhaps drive--the reconfiguration of the Republican Party. This would have seemed improbable a decade ago, given the substantial differences that separated him from his party's base. But, today, he seems less a misfit in the GOP than a candidate with the potential--if he doesn't short-circuit--to become a transformational figure at a crucial moment in the party's history: someone, like Goldwater, Reagan, or Bush, who could redefine how Republicans win elections and what the label "conservative" means. Perhaps Rusty DePass will name his next dog Giuliani.
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Was Osama Right? Islamists always believed the U.S. was weak. Recent political trends won't change their view.

Little commentary needed here - Lewis is the most widely accepted expert on the Islamic world by general consensus, and has been for long (He's in his 80's now) - and he is a strong supporter of Bush's policy of democratization. So Will Bin Laden be proven right in the end? I don't believe so, but it is an open question at this point...T

During the Cold War, two things came to be known and generally recognized in the Middle East concerning the two rival superpowers. If you did anything to annoy the Russians, punishment would be swift and dire. If you said or did anything against the Americans, not only would there be no punishment; there might even be some possibility of reward, as the usual anxious procession of diplomats and politicians, journalists and scholars and miscellaneous others came with their usual pleading inquiries: "What have we done to offend you? What can we do to put it right?"

A few examples may suffice. During the troubles in Lebanon in the 1970s and '80s, there were many attacks on American installations and individuals--notably the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, followed by a prompt withdrawal, and a whole series of kidnappings of Americans, both official and private, as well as of Europeans. There was only one attack on Soviet citizens, when one diplomat was killed and several others kidnapped. The Soviet response through their local agents was swift, and directed against the family of the leader of the kidnappers. The kidnapped Russians were promptly released, and after that there were no attacks on Soviet citizens or installations throughout the period of the Lebanese troubles.

These different responses evoked different treatment. While American policies, institutions and individuals were subject to unremitting criticism and sometimes deadly attack, the Soviets were immune. Their retention of the vast, largely Muslim colonial empire accumulated by the czars in Asia passed unnoticed, as did their propaganda and sometimes action against Muslim beliefs and institutions.
Most remarkable of all was the response of the Arab and other Muslim countries to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. Washington's handling of the Tehran hostage crisis assured the Soviets that they had nothing to fear from the U.S. They already knew that they need not worry about the Arab and other Muslim governments. The Soviets already ruled--or misruled--half a dozen Muslim countries in Asia, without arousing any opposition or criticism. Initially, their decision and action to invade and conquer Afghanistan and install a puppet regime in Kabul went almost unresisted. After weeks of debate, the U.N. General Assembly finally was persuaded to pass a resolution "strongly deploring the recent armed intervention in Afghanistan." The words "condemn" and "aggression" were not used, and the source of the "intervention" was not named. Even this anodyne resolution was too much for some of the Arab states. South Yemen voted no; Algeria and Syria abstained; Libya was absent; the nonvoting PLO observer to the Assembly even made a speech defending the Soviets.

One might have expected that the recently established Organization of the Islamic Conference would take a tougher line. It did not. After a month of negotiation and manipulation, the organization finally held a meeting in Pakistan to discuss the Afghan question. Two of the Arab states, South Yemen and Syria, boycotted the meeting. The representative of the PLO, a full member of this organization, was present, but abstained from voting on a resolution critical of the Soviet action; the Libyan delegate went further, and used this occasion to denounce the U.S.

The Muslim willingness to submit to Soviet authority, though widespread, was not unanimous. The Afghan people, who had successfully defied the British Empire in its prime, found a way to resist the Soviet invaders. An organization known as the Taliban (literally, "the students") began to organize resistance and even guerilla warfare against the Soviet occupiers and their puppets. For this, they were able to attract some support from the Muslim world--some grants of money, and growing numbers of volunteers to fight in the Holy War against the infidel conqueror. Notable among these was a group led by a Saudi of Yemeni origin called Osama bin Laden.

To accomplish their purpose, they did not disdain to turn to the U.S. for help, which they got. In the Muslim perception there has been, since the time of the Prophet, an ongoing struggle between the two world religions, Christendom and Islam, for the privilege and opportunity to bring salvation to the rest of humankind, removing whatever obstacles there might be in their path. For a long time, the main enemy was seen, with some plausibility, as being the West, and some Muslims were, naturally enough, willing to accept what help they could get against that enemy. This explains the widespread support in the Arab countries and in some other places first for the Third Reich and, after its collapse, for the Soviet Union. These were the main enemies of the West, and therefore natural allies.

Now the situation had changed. The more immediate, more dangerous enemy was the Soviet Union, already ruling a number of Muslim countries, and daily increasing its influence and presence in others. It was therefore natural to seek and accept American help. As Osama bin Laden explained, in this final phase of the millennial struggle, the world of the unbelievers was divided between two superpowers. The first task was to deal with the more deadly and more dangerous of the two, the Soviet Union. After that, dealing with the pampered and degenerate Americans would be easy.

We in the Western world see the defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union as a Western, more specifically an American, victory in the Cold War. For Osama bin Laden and his followers, it was a Muslim victory in a jihad, and, given the circumstances, this perception does not lack plausibility.

From the writings and the speeches of Osama bin Laden and his colleagues, it is clear that they expected this second task, dealing with America, would be comparatively simple and easy. This perception was certainly encouraged and so it seemed, confirmed by the American response to a whole series of attacks--on the World Trade Center in New York and on U.S. troops in Mogadishu in 1993, on the U.S. military office in Riyadh in 1995, on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000--all of which evoked only angry words, sometimes accompanied by the dispatch of expensive missiles to remote and uninhabited places.

Stage One of the jihad was to drive the infidels from the lands of Islam; Stage Two--to bring the war into the enemy camp, and the attacks of 9/11 were clearly intended to be the opening salvo of this stage. The response to 9/11, so completely out of accord with previous American practice, came as a shock, and it is noteworthy that there has been no successful attack on American soil since then. The U.S. actions in Afghanistan and in Iraq indicated that there had been a major change in the U.S., and that some revision of their assessment, and of the policies based on that assessment, was necessary.

More recent developments, and notably the public discourse inside the U.S., are persuading increasing numbers of Islamist radicals that their first assessment was correct after all, and that they need only to press a little harder to achieve final victory. It is not yet clear whether they are right or wrong in this view. If they are right, the consequences--both for Islam and for America--will be deep, wide and lasting.

Mr. Lewis, professor emeritus at Princeton, is the author, most recently, of "From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East" (Oxford University Press, 2004).
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Sunday, May 13, 2007


"Extremism in the defence of Socialism, surrender, and total capitulation to the Islamists is no vice!" - Harry Reid (If Goldwater were a democrat today)...T
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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Giuliani and Abortion

Great article on Giuliani as an intellectual candidate - unlike certain others (who shall remain nameless here) who choose to pander and "suck up" at every opportunity - His answers here, in full context, explain why I am more enthusiastic about Rudy than any other since Reagan: He's an idealist and an intellectual with the guts to make difficult and unpopular decisions. Stare Decisis is a critical concept in our constitutional history, and yet candidates pass over it with briefly a mention, thinking the public too difficult to educate, if they even give it a thought themselves. Rudy is one thing: Honest to a fault, and determined to do what is right - what the nation needs, regardless of the polls - like, well, like Reagan did...T

Legalizing abortion by judicial fiat (Roe v. Wade) instead of by democratic means has its price. One is that the issue remains socially unsettled. People take to the streets when they have been deprived of resort to legislative action.

The other effect is to render the very debate hopelessly muddled. Instead of discussing what a decent society owes women and what it owes soon-to-be-born infants, and trying to balance the two by politically hammering out regulations that a broad national consensus can support, we debate the constitutional niceties of a 35-year-old appallingly crafted Supreme Court decision.

Just how tangled the issue gets is illustrated by the current brouhaha over Rudy Giuliani's abortion response in the first Republican presidential debate. Spokesmen for the other candidates have gleefully seized upon what they deem to be Giuliani's gaffe -- not only defying Republican orthodoxy but appearing to want to have it every which way.

On repealing Roe v. Wade:

Giuliani: It would be OK to repeal. It would be also (OK) if a strict constructionist judge viewed it as precedent and I think a judge has to make that decision.

Moderator: Would it be OK if they didn't repeal it?

Giuliani: I think the court has to make that decision and then the country can deal with it. ... states can make their own decisions.

Giuliani's response has been almost universally characterized as a blundering two-way pander. I think not. I've actually heard Giuliani elaborate his position on abortion. His debate answer is an overly concise version of it, which makes it so open to ridicule.

Democrats are pro-choice and have an abortion litmus test for judges they would nominate to the Supreme Court. Giuliani is pro-choice but has no such litmus test. The key phrase in his answer is ``strict constructionist judge.'' On judicial issues in general he believes in ``strict constructionism,'' the common conservative view that we don't want judges citing penumbral emanations and other constitutional vapors to justify inventing new rights they fancy the country needs.

However, one strict constructionist might look at Roe v. Wade as the constitutional travesty it is and decide to repeal it. Another strict constructionist judge could, with equal conviction, decide that after 35 years the habits and mores shaped by Roe v. Wade are so engrained in society that it should not be overturned.

And there is precedent for strict constructionists accepting even bad constitutional rulings after the passage of time. The most famous recent example is Chief Justice William Rehnquist for years opposing the original 1966 Miranda ruling as ``legislating from the bench," but upholding it in 2000 on the grounds that it had become so engrained in American life that its precedental authority trumped its bastard constitutional origins. (He used different words.)

In a country with a rational debate about abortion, Giuliani would simply have been asked how he would regulate (up to and including banning) abortion. That's not a relevant question here because neither presidents nor legislatures nor referendums decide this. Judges do. All presidents do is appoint judges.

Giuliani's answer on how to go about picking such judges is perfectly reasonable. It appears to be a dodge about the abortion issue itself simply because -- thanks to Roe -- every such debate becomes tangled with otherwise irrelevant issues of constitutional doctrine and stare decisis.

To give you an idea of how muddied the abortion debate has become thanks to this gratuitous constitutional overlay, consider the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the ban on partial-birth abortion. It has been misread by partisans on both sides. Pro-choice advocates denounced it as the beginning of a gradual cutting back on abortion rights. Pro-lifers celebrated it for precisely that reason.
It is nothing of the kind. The only reason the court upheld the ban is because an alternative (far more commonly used, in fact) to this mid-to-late-term procedure is readily available. Hence no ``undue burden'' on the woman. Hence it respects the confines of existing abortion jurisprudence. Roe (and its successors) lives.

I hope for the day when Roe is overturned, not because I want to see abortion criminalized -- I once voted in a Maryland referendum to keep abortion legal if Roe is ever repealed -- but to sweep away this ridiculous muddle. Perhaps Giuliani should have said something like that rather than leaving the precedent question up to judges. Abortion is already so contaminated with legalisms, why not turn the issue into one of simple democracy? Let the people decide. Let them work it out the way everything else in this country is worked out -- by political argument and legislative accommodation.
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