Thursday, December 30, 2004


Rich Lowry addresses an issue of semantics that had intrigued me since the crime below was first reported:

In a spectacular murder case in Missouri, Lisa Montgomery strangled to death Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was eight months pregnant. Ms. Montgomery cut open Mrs. Stinnett's womb and kidnapped her child. This is a horrific crime that, like the Scott Peterson case, opens an uncomfortable window into our culture's tortured reasoning on anything related to unborn life.

...a "fetus" — something for which American law and culture has very little respect — was somehow instantly transformed into a "baby" and "infant" — for which we have the highest respect. By what strange alchemy does that happen?

An AP story effected this magic transition all in one sentence: "Authorities said Montgomery, 36, confessed to strangling Bobbie Jo Stinnett of Skidmore, Mo., on Thursday, cutting out the fetus and taking the baby back to Kansas." At one point, when Ms. Montgomery was still at large, an Amber Alert went out about the Stinnett girl, putting news organizations in the strange position of reporting such an alert for what many of them were still calling a fetus.

The full article is well worth reading, but several questions remain. How did the "fetus" become a "baby"? Was it/she in fact fetusnapped? Is fetusnapping even illegal? Was it merely robbery?

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!!!

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year to all!!!

And yes Texas, that's snow! (Could I borrow some please?)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Is Somalia Even a Country?

Maybe folks just need to name everything or they're afraid of having maps like the ones in history textbooks with ungoverned areas in gray, but please, take a break from calling Somalia a country. Somalia hasn't had a national government since 1991.

As the BBC puts it:
Somalia is the only country in the world where there is no government.
And when discussing the Somali parliament:

Somalia has been without a functioning national government for 13 years....

The new Somali parliament and government are based in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, because Mogadishu is still considered too dangerous.

In fact, there's a frequently ignored functioning government in the part of Somalia that was once a British colony:
In May of 1991, northern clans declared an independent Republic of Somaliland that now includes the administrative regions of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, Sanaag, and Sool. Although not recognized by any government, this entity has maintained a stable existence, aided by the overwhelming dominance of a ruling clan and economic infrastructure left behind by British, Russian, and American military assistance programs.
All of which raises the question: is it only ok to form a country with the approval of foreigners?

Observant Observations Challenge: great fame will be granted to the person that finds me the map referred to by Newt Gingrich here:
There are ungoverned areas of the world which are so numerous and so difficult to penetrate that there will almost certainly be effective sanctuaries for terrorist organizations. It does no good to speak of “no sanctuaries” when there are areas in which local governments have no control. An unclassified map from the Central Intelligence Agency that outlines the rural areas around the world in which there is little or no government shows just how formidable a challenge this is going to be.
And on a side note, not having a government has helped the people in one way:

Three phone companies are engaged in fierce competition for both mobile and landline customers, while new internet cafes are being set up across the city and the entire country.

It takes just three days for a landline to be installed - compared with waiting-lists of many years in neighbouring Kenya, where there is a stable, democratic government.

And once installed, local calls are free for a monthly fee of just $10.

International calls cost 50 US cents a minute, while surfing the web is charged at 50 US cents an hour - "the cheapest rate in Africa" according to the manager of one internet cafe.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Dino Rossi Third Count Update

If you're looking for updates on America's own little "Ukranian" election, check out Sound Politics, where you'll find detailed news and statistical analysis - especially in regards to the "magical mystery ballots" that continue to be "discovered" in only one of Washington's 39 counties.

Finally, a quote from former Washington Governor Dan Evans:
with the advances in our procedures and training, the system we just used (combination hand/machine count) is more accurate than a pure hand count would be. But, if we are forced to endure a third count, then the state law, based as it is on outdated concepts, requires the next count to be a hand count. With a pure hand count, we lose the main thing computers do better than humans — count.
... Simply put, a hand count will produce more errors.
Update, Dec. 16th: Elections Dept changes its own rules to benefit Gregoire. That's in addition to counting hundreds of ballots that were magically "discovered" after being unsecured for a month and a half.

Update, Dec. 17th: 37 out of 39 counties have manged to recount again with a net change of a single vote for Rossi. We wait to see if King and Spokane counties can match that accuracy.

Update, Dec. 21: After labeling Rossi's 261 vote lead a "tie" and his 42 vote lead a "tie" Democrats have claimed victory after King County unofficially reported an 8 vote lead manufactured for Gregoire.

Update, Dec. 24: Democrats, having convinced the Washington State Supreme Court to change election law after 38 out of 39 counties had completed their second recount, begin to demand that the count be ended immediately and the changed law not be applied to the other 38 counties (31 of which voted for Rossi).

Additional Observant Observation: this all would have been over on election night if we used a form of the Electoral College.

Update, Dec. 30: After 38 counties refuse to apply revised election laws, Rossi suggests runoff. Revote ordered in North Carolina.

Update, Jan. 9: Rossi contests election, voting and counting errors exceed margin of victory from all three counts combined.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Ents of Europe?

An article by Victor Davis Hanson brings together one of the great questions of our times with The Lord of the Rings - a good way to get my attention. I recommend reading the whole article, but here's a quick overview:

One of the many wondrous peoples that poured forth from the rich imagination of the late J. R. R. Tolkien were the Ents. These tree-like creatures, agonizingly slow and covered with mossy bark, nursed themselves on tales of past glory while their numbers dwindled in their isolation. Unable to reproduce themselves or to fathom the evil outside their peaceful forest — and careful to keep to themselves and avoid reacting to provocation of the tree-cutters and forest burners — they assumed they would be given a pass from the upheavals of Middle Earth.....

Tolkien always denied an allegorical motif or any allusions to the contemporary dangers of appeasement or the leveling effects of modernism.... But the notion of decline, past glory, and 11th-hour reawakening are nevertheless everywhere in the English philologist's Lord of the Rings. Was he on to something?

More specifically, does the Ents analogy work for present-day Europe? Before you laugh at the silly comparison, remember that the Western military tradition is European. Today the continent is unarmed and weak, but deep within its collective mind and spirit still reside the ability to field technologically sophisticated and highly disciplined forces — if it were ever to really feel threatened. One murder began to arouse the Dutch; what would 3,000 dead and a toppled Eiffel Tower do to the French? Or how would the Italians take to a plane stuck into the dome of St. Peter? We are nursed now on the spectacle of Iranian mullahs, with their bought weapons and foreign-produced oil wealth, humiliating a convoy of European delegates begging and cajoling them not to make bombs — or at least to point what bombs they make at Israel and not at Berlin or Paris. But it was not always the case, and may not always be.

As an American, I can recognize the value in a weakened Europe if its primary objective is going to be to undermine the U.S. in the world:

Of course, we are amused by the spectacle. Privately, most Americans grasp that with a Germany and France reeling from unassimilated Muslim populations, a rising Islamic-inspired and globally embarrassing anti-Semitism, and economic stagnation, it is foolhardy to create 70 million Turkish Europeans by fiat. Welcoming in Turkey will make the EU so diverse, large, and unwieldy as to make it — to paraphrase Voltaire — neither European nor a Union. Surely Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia will wish to get in on the largess. Were they not, after all, also part of the historical Roman mare nostrum, and did they not also enjoy long ties with France and Italy?

Alternatively, as someone who has enjoyed wandering about the old imperial cities of Europe, one must hope:

But gut-check time is coming for Europe, with its own rising unassimilated immigrant populations, rogue mosques entirely bent on destroying the West, declining birth rate and rising entitlements, the Turkish question, and a foreign policy whose appeasement of Arab regimes won it only a brief lull and plenty of humiliation. The radical Muslim world of the madrassas hates the United States because it is liberal and powerful; but it utterly despises Europe because it is even more liberal and far weaker, earning the continent not fear, but contempt.

The real question is whether there is any Demosthenes left in Europe, who will soberly but firmly demand assimilation and integration of all immigrants, an end to mosque radicalism, even-handedness in the Middle East, no more subsidies to terrorists like Hamas, a toughness rather than opportunist profiteering with the likes of Assad and the Iranian theocracy — and make it clear that states that aid and abet terrorists in Europe do so to their great peril.

So will the old Ents awaken, or will they slumber on, muttering nonsense to themselves, lost in past grandeur and utterly clueless about the dangers on their borders?

Now, for another reason I see something in the analogy, a statue I found in Salzburg:

Half the World to Speak English

From our friends in England:

English learning is set to rocket with half the world's population speaking the language by 2015, new research revealed today.

Chinese, Arabic and Spanish are all popular and likely to be key languages in the future....

German is also apparently being used more as a foreign language, particularly in parts of Asia.

French as an international language could be a major casualty of this wave of "linguistic globalisation"

This recalls a British article I read a few years ago titled "Waste your life, learn to speak a foreign language":
Ordering everyone to learn another language is as pointless as ordering everyone to dig holes and fill them up. The reward for our ancestors persuading the rest of the world to speak English is that there is no need for us to learn what the
rest of the world speaks. All the time we spend learning another language, we should spend instead learning something useful - like economics, business studies, politics, law or computer science. If everyone in the country were forced to study economics as remorselessly as they are forced to learn French, then Britain would be in a far better state...

Now I do believe there is value in learning a foreign language. My high school German helped me make it through Austrian and German grocery stores fairly unscathed. On our return from Prague, I was the only student in the train car to understand that we had to get off the train barely outside of Innsbruck and take a bus for the remainder of the trip. There are even many benefits to non-travelers, but that is another topic. The question today is one of priorities - both for Britain and the U.S.: for an English-speaker, the importance of being multi-lingual is entirely different than it is for speakers of less common languages.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

After Gun Control: Knife Control

From the BBC:

Public fears over young people carrying knives in school and on the street could prompt new government restrictions, the Home Office says.

Home Secretary David Blunkett and Education Secretary Charles Clarke are considering moves to combat the proliferation of knives.

They include raising the age at which teenagers can buy a knife to 18 and introducing searches in schools.

The age limit would bring knives into line with fireworks and alcohol.

The Home Office said there were 272 homicides involving a sharp instrument in 2002/3 out of a total of 1,007 - up 4% on 2001/2....

They didn't specify what was involved in the other 73% of homicides, raising the question: will knife-control be followed by blunt-object-control?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Does Financial Aid Cause Tuition Increases?

I thought of this yesterday and took a look around the web. There seems to be some solid support for the idea, as well as some other relevant observations.

My hypothesis was that the ready availability of large sums of money, primarily loans, could have the same effect as a credit card on consumers' willingness to pay.

The best summary comes from the Heritage Foundation:

Since the [Higher Education Act of 1965]'s inception, Congress has added numerous programs, expanded eligibility to middle- and upper-income students, and increased institutional aid. The rising usage of federal higher education programs by middle-class and wealthy students is costly to taxpayers, contributes to student indebtedness, and fosters greater dependency on the federal government by individuals and institutions. Even more alarming, some researchers have found a link between government loan usage and the rising cost of education.

The HEA was enacted to help low-income students gain access to higher education, but it now subsidizes institutions and higher-income students. Taxpayers - three out of four of whom do not have a bachelor's degree - should not have to subsidize wealthy and middle-class students and college graduates....

Forbes writer Ira Carnahan puts it this way,

Over the past three decades the Federal Government has poured three-quarters of a trillion dollars into financial aid for college students.... So why is college getting less - not more - affordable? One answer seems to be that all those federal dollars have given colleges more room to jack up tuition.... The more cash the government pumps into parents' pockets, the more the schools siphon from them.
The same concerns are addressed in several other articles including Why College Costs Are Rising (John Hood, 1988 - old, but with good detailed analysis)and Does Financial Aid Cause Tuition Increases? (Christopher Shea, Nov. 2003).

There seems to be a significant problem in studying these issues, primarily because of the multitude of pricing factors (is there a Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in economics?). As a recent college graduate and current law student, I can identify numerous instances of radical inefficiency and unnecessary bureaucracy that perhaps would have been reconsidered if the school had to be financially responsible.

Uncertainty of causation is be a good reason to end or reduce the role of the federal government in education: if these programs were run at the state level rather than the federal, at least we'd have some variations to study.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

European Weapons: Just Another Cash Crop

From the BBC:

China has warned the EU that it risks damaging bilateral ties unless it lifts a 15-year embargo on selling arms to Beijing.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui said the ban, imposed after the 1989 crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square, was "outdated"....

Germany and France have called for the arms ban to be lifted, while the US and some EU countries are in favour of it remaining in place....

The US is concerned that arms sold to China by the EU could be used against Taiwan and risk sucking the US into a regional conflict.

France and Germany, meanwhile, believe China could prove a fertile market for heir arms and related industries.

There's a lot to say here, but I'll keep it simple:

France is lucky it didn't take this approach with Nazi Germany.

Semi-Related Update, Dec. 5: If you find plastic explosives in your luggage, it may be a free gift from the government of France.

I-297: Populist Imperialism?

From the Seattle P-I:

YAKIMA -- A federal judge yesterday granted a court order that prevents a state initiative -- dealing with cleanup at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation from taking effect....

Washington's voters last month overwhelmingly approved Initiative 297, which would bar the U.S. Department of Energy from sending more radioactive waste to south-central Washington's Hanford site until all existing waste there is cleaned up....

Justice Department lawyers ultimately hope to invalidate the initiative on grounds that it violates federal laws governing interstate commerce and nuclear waste. Hanford, a federal site, is immune from state regulation, the government argues....

Now, for the observant observations: this initiative can be summed up in three words: unconstitutional populist imperialism.

While I-297 passed statewide by almost a 40 point margin, it managed to fail in only two counties - Benton and Franklin. What's so special about Benton County? That's where Hanford IS. Franklin County? It's right next door.

So besides the fact that the initiative is unconstitutional, maybe someone should have thought to ask the people they claim to be helping first.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Dino Rossi Interim Update

Nov. 29: The Longview Daily News calls on Gregoire to concede:

"A 42-vote margin, my friends, that is a tied race." So said Christine Gregoire, the Democratic candidate for Washington governor, after coming out on the losing side of that 42-vote margin last Wednesday.

She is wrong. A zero-vote margin, that is a tie. To have more than 2.8 million votes cast in a race and have the difference come down to a mere 42 votes is amazing. Statistically astounding. And, no doubt, excruciating, if you're on the wrong end of that number. But it is not a tie....

The Daily News endorsed Gregoire for governor. We still believe she was the best candidate. Almost half the voters in the state agreed with us. Almost. We now believe the state would be headed down a path of bitter partisanship that would not serve us well over the next four years if repeated counts were to turn the governorship over to Gregoire....

If the ballots in King County are recounted by hand we can expect bickering, bullying and lawsuits aplenty for Christmas. Reminiscent of the Florida presidential mess in 2000, we'll have political partisans peering over the shoulders of elections officials as determinations are made as to a voter's "intent." Should that slight pencil mark near the Gregoire oval be counted? Should that dimple go to Dino?

If Gregoire and the Democrats insist on putting us through this, we ask that Gregoire pay to have the entire state recounted. It wouldn't be a bad political strategy on her part, considering that outside King County the results probably wouldn't change much. On the other hand, if the recounting is done only in King County and she picks up the votes she needs to pull ahead, taxpayers are automatically on the hook to pay for a hand recount of the rest of the state.

But it would be better for all if Gregoire took the proper step and avoided all that. It's time for Christine Gregoire to swallow hard and congratulate Dino Rossi for his victory in an historically close race.

Update, Nov. 30: The Everett Herald agrees:

The votes have been counted and recounted. Both times, Rossi was the winner. Gregoire should take the high road and concede, rather than putting up more roadblocks to an effective transition.

And we can be glad Edward David Perrotti isn't designing airplanes:

Ask any engineer at Boeing. Dino Rossi is not the winner. It has to do with the science of quality control....

Count one, the gap was 261, in favor of Rossi. Count two the gap was shrunk to 42, in favor of Rossi....

Take the 261 and subtract the 42. This number (219) is the inherent rate of change of the error in the election. It is likely to expect that on the next count, the gap will reverse, by this same number....

A third and final hand count, controlled and with inspectors, should result in a 177-vote win for Christine Gregoire.

Do the math. This is not rocket science.

But, as Sound Politics wisely points out:

The theory that every recount would produce a constant increase in Gregoire's lead is interesting, but would also predict surprising results -- For example, after 38 more recounts, Gregoire would increase her lead to 8,280, and she would need only 6,268 recounts to make her victory unanimous.

Do the math. This is not rocket science. Clearly, Edward David Perrotti is no rocket scientist. Neither are the editors of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who deemed this letter worthy of publication.

Mr. Perrotti seems to be retired, but we can thank God that it doesn't look like he continued his pursuit of a career in Aeronautical Engineering, opting instead for the ambiguous world of finance.

Reforming the U.N.

They're still talking about reforming the U.N., mainly by throwing a whole bunch more countries into the Security Council. What they have yet to ask is how adding more members, possibly including veto power, is going to make the Security Council any less obstructionist.

From the New York Times, the scramble begins:

"For every country you can name," [a British Foreign Office minister] said, "there are two or three next in line who feel their positions entitle them to frustrate the process."

In Africa, the leading contestants are South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. In the Americas, Mexico and Argentina will have doubts about the primacy of Brazil. In Asia, Pakistan can be expected to oppose India, and China is wary of admitting Japan and, with its veto, could single-handedly keep Tokyo out.

Egypt wants Arab and Muslim permanent representation on the Council while Indonesia pressed its case this fall to be considered the voice of what its foreign minister, Hassan Wirajuda, called "moderate Islam."

Italy, which does not want to be the only major Western European country without permanent representation on the Council, has publicly sought to undermine Germany's candidacy. It suggests instead that there be a seat for the European Union, although the charter at the moment recognizes only nation states, not groups of states, as members.

Of course, more obstructionism in the U.N. may not be such a bad thing. It could help us find a better road, like the Caucus of Democracies:

Since the U.N.'s creation, millions have been killed, maimed, starved, tortured or raped by brutal rulers whose governments nevertheless wield great influence in the U.N. General Assembly and the Security Council....

The U.N. today remains far short of realizing its potential or its stated aspirations. Its direction and control have been hijacked by authoritarian regimes, the relics of yesterday. We must work diligently toward realizing its original goals: freedom, democracy and human rights for all the peoples of the world. Until then, with our national values and security at stake, we must not permit our interests to be diverted and undermined by the unprincipled.

At a minimum, it is essential that the U.S. take the lead in establishing and strengthening a Caucus of Democratic States committed to advancing the U.N.'s assigned role for world peace, human dignity and democracy. The recently established Community of Democracies (CD) has called for this move, a recommendation jointly supported in a recent report by the Council on Foreign Relations and Freedom House....

A strong case may be made for the need for an international body to which all of the world's states, democratic and authoritarian, belong. Discussion and constructive exchange may flow from it. But let us not bestow on it the appearance of being a forum of principle or wisdom qualified to judge the dimension of our national welfare and value. The changes necessary in the U.N. will be difficult to achieve, and some may not be achieved at all. But the impetus for such change must be a commitment to human rights and democracy. We should put Kofi Annan's statement to the test: "When the U.N. can truly call itself a Community of Democracies, the Charter's noble ideas of protecting human rights . . . will have been brought much closer."

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Rossi Wins! - Twice!

Nov. 24: Rossi Wins! Again! Democrats call it a "tie".
Democratic King County elections official says "the machine count is going to be more accurate than a manual count."

Nov. 23, 5:20pm: Recount Update: Rossi has a net gain of 55 votes from 36 counties representing 64% of all votes, for a total lead of 316. Sound Politics provides timely analysis of the situation, including some magical mystery ballots discovered in Snohomish County as well as the ongoing selective hand-count in King County. We're still waiting on results from King, Kitsap, and Whitman counties.

Nov. 17, 7pm: Rossi wins by 261; headed for recount.

8,140 votes were counted today (2,013 more than the counties previously projected). Benton County (where Rossi leads by almost 40 points) finally reported in at 6:33, putting Rossi over the top. Secretary of State Sam Reed had already declared there would be a recount.

Nov. 16:

Despite King County's "discovery" of around 10,000 magical mystery ballots and Grays Harbor's "oops we counted those twice" revelation, Rossi managed to eke out a 19 vote lead today (from 158 votes behind yesterday).

If the remaining 6,127 ballots both (1) exist and (2) follow the pattern of all previous ballots, Rossi will win by 599 (requiring a statewide recount).

When this is all over, there should be an investigation into the King County elections office. Our one consolation is that least this year they shouldn't be able to be sitting in there eating chads.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Road Trip Across America, the Sequel?

The Next Road Trip Across America?


NEW ORLEANS - Beginning in January, die-hard Republicans can drive coast to coast without ever passing through a state run by a Democratic governor.

In large part, they have Gov. Bob Taft to thank.

Likewise, President Bush would not be planning for his second inauguration in January were it not for Ohio and Taft, a fact acknowledged by Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, when he led the Republican Governors Association in a standing ovation for Taft at a recent dinner.

As chairman of the group, Taft guided a nationwide fund-raising effort that netted a record $18.3 million, two-thirds of which fueled governors' races in 11 key states. The Republican Governors Association became the top Republican "527" fund-raising organization in the country this year.

Republicans won nine of 11 governorships, including three states -- Indiana, Missouri and Washington -- which had not had a GOP governor in more than a decade. They lost two races, including incumbent Gov. Craig Benson in New Hampshire, and Montana, where the seat was open.

Republicans now control governorships in 29 of 50 states, covering 65 percent of the U.S. population....

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Ukraine: Polarization and Democracy

And they say the U.S. is polarized...

From "Ukraine's Democratic Strengths", by Stephen Sestanovich:

In last month's first round, two-thirds of Ukraine's 27 regions preferred one of the two finalists to the other by a margin exceeding 3 to 1. Yushchenko, strongest in western Ukraine, won 10 of these lopsided contests; Yanukovych, an easterner, won eight. In five regions, the gap was more than 10 to 1 -- and in some places it approached 30 to 1.

Yet Ukraine's very dividedness has turned out to be a crucial ingredient of its emergent democratic success. To be sure, after every election (no matter who wins) a large portion of the public feels deeply estranged from its leaders. That may be bad for national identity and civic consciousness, but it has so far been good for democracy. In Ukraine, merely winning an election doesn't enable you to put your opponents out of business -- something that, across the former Soviet Union, incumbents have had no trouble doing. The country's divisions give losers a political base that can't be taken away.


Ukraine is sometimes treated as a "halfway" country of Eastern Europe -- less burdened by Soviet legacies than Russia, but not able to throw off the past as easily as countries that were never part of the U.S.S.R. There is much truth in this description, but it is wrong about one thing: popular attitudes. Perhaps because they are so divided, Ukrainians actually have more democratic views than almost any other post-communist country.

When pollsters from Pew Research Center's 2003 Global Attitudes Project asked people in Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria and Russia their view of a series of democratic norms, they found that Ukrainians came in first in their support for fair elections, a fair judiciary, freedom of the press and free speech.

By the way, President Bush's greatest margins were 45 points in Utah (2.7 to 1) and 40 points in Wyoming (2.4 to 1). Kerry's were 81 points in DC (10 to 1) and 25 points in Massachusetts (1.7 to 1).

Update, Nov. 23: Ukrainian Leader Calls for Talks to Avert Violence:

KIEV, Ukraine — Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma called for negotiations in Ukraine's spiraling political crisis Tuesday, hours after the leader of the opposition declared himself the winner of a disputed presidential election to the approval of tens of thousands of protesters....

Update, Nov. 24: U.S. Rejects Ukraine Vote Outcome.

Update, Nov. 29: Behind the Scenes at Kiev's Rally.

Update, Dec. 4: Ukraine Prepares for New Election.

Update, Dec. 7: Doctors at the Austrian Clinic That Treated Ukraine’s Opposition Leader Confirm There Was a Plot to Kill Him.

Update, Dec. 26: Yushchenko Declares Victory.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Let's Have a Good Old-Fashioned Filibuster

I still like the idea of having structures like the Senate that slow down the government, but these "filibusters" where Senators don't do anything more than refuse to vote are just cowardly. If they want to fight, let's have a good old-fashioned filibuster, a spectacle before the cameras. As Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute puts it:

Back in the 1950s, when filibusters against civil rights bills were almost routine, the Senate would force the filibusterers to take to the floor and go around the clock, bringing the Senate to a halt and letting the public see what was going on. The way to overcome intense minorities is to do just that. If anything, the live television feeds on C-SPAN would make the images even more resounding today. If the filibusterers' actions are outrageous and unsupportable, let the public react. Their resolve will eventually be broken.

Last year, Senate Republicans took a faux step in this direction with a 35-hour debate to highlight the issue. But it wasn't serious.

So get serious. When Democrats filibuster Miguel Estrada or Priscilla Owen, make them take to the Senate floor around the clock. Stop every other Senate action. Set up cots outside the Senate floor, just as Johnson, then-Majority Leader, did in 1957 and 1958. The press will eat up the drama.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Arafat's Legacy

Charles Krauthammer, in the Washington Post, reviews the legacy of Egyptian Terrorist Yasser Arafat:

Arafat invented modern terrorism: airplane hijackings, kidnappings and the spectacular mass murder, like the Olympic massacre of 1972. Others had tried it. Arafat perfected it. He turned terrorism into a brilliantly successful political instrument, a vehicle to international recognition and respect. The man who murdered more innocent Jews than anyone since Hitler died an international hero. The president of France bowed to his casket. The secretary general ordered U.N. flags to fly at half-staff.

Jeff Jacoby, in the Boston Globe adds:

YASSER ARAFAT died at age 75, lying in bed surrounded by familiar faces. He left this world peacefully, unlike the thousands of victims he sent to early graves.

In a better world, the PLO chief would have met his end on a gallows, hanged for mass murder much as the Nazi chiefs were hanged at Nuremberg.


It would take an encyclopedia to catalog all of the evil Arafat committed. But that is no excuse for not trying to recall at least some of it.

Perhaps his signal contribution to the practice of political terror was the introduction of warfare against children. On one black date in May 1974, three PLO terrorists slipped from Lebanon into the northern Israeli town of Ma'alot. They murdered two parents and a child whom they found at home, then seized a local school, taking more than 100 boys and girls hostage and threatening to kill them unless a number of imprisoned terrorists were released. When Israeli troops attempted a rescue, the terrorists exploded hand grenades and opened fire on the students. By the time the horror ended, 25 people were dead; 21 of them were children.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Importing Price Controls

Mark Steyn, covering the Presidential campaign for the Chicago Sun-Times, had this to say about drug "reimportation." It sums up the ignored reality of the issue pretty well:

...if there's four words I never want to hear again, it's "prescription drugs from Canada." I'm Canadian, so I know a thing or two about prescription drugs from Canada. Specifically speaking, I know they're American; the only thing Canadian about them is the label in French and English. How can politicians from both parties think that Americans can get cheaper drugs simply by outsourcing (as John Kerry would say) their distribution through a Canadian mailing address? U.S. pharmaceutical companies put up with Ottawa's price controls because it's a peripheral market. But, if you attempt to extend the price controls from the peripheral market of 30 million people to the primary market of 300 million people, all that's going to happen is that after approximately a week and a half there aren't going to be any drugs in Canada, cheap or otherwise -- just as the Clinton administration's intervention into the flu-shot market resulted in American companies getting out of the vaccine business entirely.