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This blog is designed to allow members of The Dallas Morning News Editorial Board to share their personal evolving thoughts on a variety of issues, and to allow readers a window into our opinion-development process. If you'd like to respond to any of the posts below, e-mail the writer directly by clicking his or her name. Please be aware that your name and comments may be published, on this blog or the Editorial page, unless you specify otherwise.
Editorial page editor Keven Ann Willey explains the impetus for the blog

April 02, 2004

Re: Battle of Ellis County

A reader who breathes checks in:
I live just over the county line into Ellis County, and I can see one of the cement plants over in Midlothian from my house in Glenn Heights. Every spring I get a fairly bad cough, which then becomes bronchitis, and I have always wondered if it was due to those plants. I used to not get this in San Antonio growing up, but it seems to reoccur every year about springtime, when the prevalent winds are from the south. Those cement plants are NOT good for the environment, and there is no way that Ellis County should be left off the list.
Tell it to your congressman. If he doesn't listen, vote for the other guy.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 2, 12:29 PM

fake drugs

A reader writes:

I don't always agree with everything you say, but you have lots of great thoughts! I am so thankful that you keep hitting the Fake Drug Scandal HARD --- this is a horrific miscarriage of justice more suited to a banana republic than the City of Dallas. (but, then, with the monkey shootings....???)

Is the public that confused over the victims? They were not accused of trying to BUY drugs, they were accused of trying to SELL drugs. Fake drugs - powdered chalk - was hidden on the property of people who had no connection with drug dealing in any way whatsoever. If this is not clear -- to everyone -- the DMN has a responsibility to make it VERY clear. People who were totally innocent of any dealing in drugs were FRAMED by "informers" and, quite possibly, the police. That is a fact.

In one case, two guys were asked to drive a van -- not their van -- to a drive-in restaurant and wait for someone. The police swooped in - on video - searched the van and arrested them for drug dealing. You can see it in the video - these guys are not nervous or worried about anything. They have no idea the fake drugs are there and just stand around sipping soft drinks.

Whether they were illegal aliens or not, they were still totally innocent of drug dealing - and that's a fact too. Their lives were ruined - in one case a fellow contracted tuberculosis in prison - by the poor procedures (that's agreed on too) in the Dallas Police Department, the actions of "informants" who were being paid huge amounts of money, and possibly crooked police. Then we come to the DA and their knowledge too.

What it does come down to is this - either our justice system is honest or it is not. If it is, people will be prosecuted and punished for the fake drugs scandal all the way up the ladder. If it is not, you and I should be very worried about our police and courts, because any of us could be framed at any time.

Thank God!

posted by ruben navarrette @ Apr 2, 12:23 PM

Vietnam keeps surfacing

Close your eyes, Ruben, but the echoes of Vietnam keep returning. Yesterday they emerged from the lips of Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for the occupation forces: "We will pacify Falluja." (Today's New York Times; no link found).
For those Gen-Xers and younger, the "pacification program" was one of the Whiz Kids' ideas for winning the "hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese, who were showing distinctively rebellious tendencies. It failed. And it failed even when the U.S. military decided that when you grab them by the [BLEEP], their hearts and minds will follow.
I'm thinking the Marines have learned that lesson of failure well. Winning the "hearts and minds" is one tall task. We will see if they are up to it in these challenging times in Iraq.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 2, 12:10 PM

9-11 stonewalling again

This is sickening to see that the Clinton library folks want to release all of the 9-11 related documents, and the Bush administration is dragging its feet again. CYA. The American people just want the whole story, not just the carefully hoarded facts that this administration releases piecemeal when it works only to its advantage. There is plenty of blame to go around and much work to do to understand what went wrong. But blame for stonewalling on this issue seems to point only in one direction.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 2, 11:56 AM

Battle of Ellis County

Exhibit A: The American Lung Association 2003 report card for Ellis County. I'd say an "F" is a failing grade for all of those who breathe in Ellis County, don't you?
Exhibit B: "Scientists have estimated that the number of deaths in the United States associated with air pollution range from 50,000 to 100,000 per year. While particulate matter is the form of air pollution most prominently linked to premature death, there is increasing evidence that ozone pollution may also have a role in this most serious of health outcomes."
Exhibit C: EPA administrator Michael Leavitt met in Washington yesterday with Rep. Joe Barton, "who urged him to leave Ellis County out of an expanded North Texas area subject to the toughest industrial pollution rules."
We report, you decide. Is Rep. Barton hazardous to your health?

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 2, 11:49 AM

fake drugs, real confusion

A reader writes:

Unless I missed an earlier post quoting the reader, it seems to me that (s)he isn't complaining that the story is still on the newspaper pages, but that the image painted of the Mexicans is that they are innocent victims. I think the point is that the police and maybe the DA did wrong, but so did the so-called victims, which seems to be lost and missing in the stories. The reader didn't note that the Mexicans were also illegals, if I recall the first stories correctly. So, maybe there are actually 2 stories here, instead of just the one.

Does the Dallas Police Department need to be cleaned up? Yes. Does the DA need to come clean and, if he lied under oath, does he need to be prosecuted? Yes. But what about the Mexicans? Should they be let off the hook? Sure, they were imprisoned based on the fake drugs, but instead of having provided them food and shelter, albeit in a confined space, shouldn't we have kicked them out of the US?

Couldn't agree more. Illegal immigrants should be deported the minute they are detected. Take it from the son of a cop, lawbreakers shouldn't be coddled. Of course, in this case, that also goes for the U.S. employers who hire illegals in violation of federal law - soccer moms included - and who should get the $7,000-$10,000 fines dictated by law but never do. But I digress.

In the fake drug scandal, the real bad guys were the informants who planted the fake drugs on the innocent VICTIMS and they too were illegal. The police didn't deport them but instead put them on the payroll; a top supervisor even, at one point, went to the trouble of writing a letter to the INS pleading with the agency not to deport their informant - an informant who would later become a major player in the drug scandal. Who screwed up there? The police. So what we have here is a system of immigration laws that are taken so lightly that even cops wipe their feet on them. Why? Why do you think? Because Americans put their own needs and desires before the requirements of the law. If you're going to give a lecture on how we have to respect our borders, let's start there.

As for the VICTIMS, the fact that some of them (but not all) were illegal immigrants made them easy prey. It didn't make them a "free shot" where immoral people could wrongly imprison them and then turn around and call it all-expense-paid vacation.

What was done to these people was wrong. Deal with it.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Apr 2, 10:50 AM

journalism malfunction

It's a running argument in our profession, whether - when a really big story comes along - we should continue to report on it and comment on it until the last stone is overturned or whether moderation is better lest readers just get sick of hearing about it. That's especially true of scandals, which often involve individuals or institutions or government agencies doing things they shouldn't and then trying to cover it up afterward. That makes it hard for journalists to cut through the lies and get to the bottom of what really happened. Want an example - take your pick: Iran-Contra, Monica, Richard Clarke.

I make no apologies for falling into the first camp. I think we should keep telling the story until there's no more story to tell. I also think that, often times, when editors talk about reader fatigue, they're really talking about editor fatigue. They get tired of a story and so they try to talk the reporters out of doing any more reporting on it. Here's the problem with that - it assumes that the readers get it, that they've been paying attention, and that they have the facts straight. It assumes that, after all the ink's been spilled, they aren't still completely clueless about what the story was all about and what it wasn't about.

I just got an email that suggests that's not a good assumption. First, it is now an established fact - established by several investigations including one by the FBI, various media reports, court testimony, numerous public statements by law enforcement officials, and a grain of common sense - that the dozens of Mexican immigrants who were arrested, tried, convicted, and locked up in the infamous fake drug scandal were victims. It is a fact that they were innocent bystanders who had the drugs planted in their cars by an ring of unscrupulous police informants led by a guy named Enrique Alonso. The only question that remains is whether police or prosecutors suspected something was amiss and went right on arresting and prosecuting these people anyway.

Now the email, where a reader wrote:

Ever since the fake drug scandal broke, my question has been, but still unanswered, why are these “victims” being treated like they are innocent? They were trying to buy drugs. They did not know they were fake at the time.

Anyone out there think we should stop reporting this story?

posted by ruben navarrette @ Apr 2, 9:58 AM

April 01, 2004

Re: Fallujah

The difference between bombing Fallujah, as the radio guy wants, and bombing Baghdad a la Ralph Hall is this: Ralph Hall, when he was here for the ed board meeting, wanted to bomb Baghdad to rubble after Iraq had surrendered, to make sure the Iraqis knew they'd been beaten. This radio guy is asking for the military to bomb a radical city whose people have been murdering innocents (NPR, I think, reported this morning that 71 percent of Fallujahns believe it's okay to kill Americans). Fallujah is still fighting, in other words.

The Nazis rounded up innocents and shot them. I propose rounding up those we know from the video are guilty. Doesn't have to be 100 -- just those we can prove did this to those four Americans. To fail to punish these devils severely, and publicly, only invites more attacks.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Apr 1, 6:33 PM

Re: Fallujah

Brother Tatum's description of the "Mark Davis Leave Nothing Standing" solution sounds an awful lot like the ""Ralph Hall Leave Nothing Standing Invasion Strategy" he described to us at his endorsement interview. Where the two men differ is Rep. Hall's is looking for a warp-speed "withdrawal with honor" policy now.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 5:58 PM

Re: Chinese Apples

Well, Herr Navarrette, add up a couple of things your people said in Washington, and see where it goes.
Back during the great Clinton universal health care debate (the one that just kind of fell apart), I was surprised to have two different small-restaurant owners argue for universal health care, pointing out that their employees deserved it but the businesses couldn't afford it and would lose too many customers to survive if they passed on the costs.
Similarly, large corporation would love to see their health care costs go down. If we ever get universal health care, it will come because of business pressure. It also would ease the pressure for businesses to export jobs.

posted by John Chamless @ Apr 1, 5:45 PM

Re: Fallujah

Sorry to be late to the discussons about what we should do. Rod is a comparative panty waist if you listen to what the radio talk show hosts are saying today. Mark Davis at WBAP, who actually used to be a rather responsible commentator before he lost his cute personality, said he just might go along with bombing the whole city. Hey, that would really endear us to the nation we're trying to turn into a democracy.

posted by Henry Tatum @ Apr 1, 5:24 PM

Re: Chinese apples

I'd pay more for U.S. apples. I already pay more for Fair Trade coffee for the same reason. People deserve a living wage. And those making well more than a living wage can afford to help bring others along. Please, Mr. Ashcroft, don't send me to Gitmo for such thoughts!

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 5:14 PM

Re: Fallujah

Another reader:

I abhor what has just happened to Americans who are out there trying to rebuild a country we destroyed as much as I abhor the lies and deceits thrown at us for going into the war.

Our President challenged the bad guys to bring it on. Guess who is paying for that? Our dedicated soldiers, missionaries, and civilians. Our President jokes about lack of WMD which fuels the fire of hatred the Iraqis have after being bombed and gunned on our President's orders.

This is a terrible, terrible encounter we are engaged in, so help us God.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 5:07 PM

Re: Fallujah

Another reader checks in:

Anybody who would condone public shootings of 100 people as an object lesson has a lack of insight that stretches far beyond, say, Vietnam.
The Nazis did the same thing in WWII. People in France and Poland and the Czech Republic and Italy and Crete and elsewhere still remember.
That's the kind of statement someone who has never heard a shot fired in anger would make. And people wonder at the neocon takeover of the GOP.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 5:05 PM

Re: Fallujah

A reader reacts:

"Military action" aka "war" is killing other people in a fire-fight.
Grabbing 100 people, for something that happened in the past, hoping you have the right ones, and shooting them in public is execution of civilians and a WAR CRIME. Following Rod's suggestion would make the US military look like ugly thugs. Collective punishment doesn't work. And it will encourage more retaliation.

A better response would have been to launch a helicopter assault against the crowds while the mutilation was taking place. At least there would have been a chance at getting the right people. And the best response is to go in with massive force and disarm the entire city. But we can't do that because there aren't enough troops in Iraq to handle it. So the Sunni triangle remains lawless.

I was dumfounded that there was no U.S. military presence (and no Iraqi police in force) for many hours. The thugs ran for cover just at the sight of a jet overhead. There is much about the lack of law enforcement about this incident that should trouble everybody. Shooting into the crowd with helicopters means killing the kids we saw in the pictures, too. They aren't old enough to know better. We are.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 5:04 PM

Amazing story on the fake drug scandal

It'll be out in tomorrow's paper, and it's worth a read. The story lays out in wonderfully clear detail the contradictions between the sworn testimony of a Dallas PD narcotics supervisor and an assistant district attorney as each man recounts when prosecutors first alerted police of the cases that turned into the fake drugs scandal. The inconsistencies are glaring.

Seeing how I'm in the opinion business, let me offer one: Somebody's lyyyyyying. And under oath? People can get in trouble for that, can't they?

posted by ruben navarrette @ Apr 1, 5:00 PM

Illegal immigrants, health care and Chinese apples

My column tomorrow - on the health care provided to illegal immigrants and how no one ever talks about the employers' responsibility to provide health insurance - includes a little story:

During a recent trip to Yakima, Wash., I had an enlightening conversation with an apple farmer, a health care provider and a small business owner, all of whom were sitting at the same table...
What I did not expect was for the farmer to say that he would be
willing to provide health insurance to some of his workers provided he
could pass on some of the expense to consumers who buy his product.
OK, I thought, now we're getting somewhere. So, I asked the business
owner and the health provider (both of whom like apples) if they'd be
willing to pay a little more at the grocery story...
They both said no. They had options. In recent years, the U.S. apple
market has experienced a dramatic increase in the importing of apples from
China, and the Chinese apples are available for a fraction of what
Washington apple growers expect for their product.
Everyone shrugged. I shrugged.

This has little to do with immigrants or health care. It's something that Americans have to reconcile. We can't very well expect employers to pay their share of health care costs if we as consumers aren't willing to pay a few dollars more for goods and products.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Apr 1, 4:49 PM

Re: replace Bremer?

Sr. Chamless: Your reader is onto something. Wolfie would have quite the incentive to find those missing WMDs, doncha think?

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 4:49 PM

To Replace Bremer?

From a reader who definitely appreciatess irony:
Who should the US send to replace Paul Bremer? I'd nominate Wolfowitz. He thought this was such a great idea -- let's see him carry it out to a successful conclusion. Or suffer the consequences of the failure when civil war breaks out.

posted by John Chamless @ Apr 1, 4:28 PM

Re: We Broke It

A different reader's perspective:
In response to your reader who linked to the Los Angeles Times story, adding "Could it be they are planting the seeds for yet another shift in the
rationale for our involvement Iraq?"
More likely, said reader is misinterpreting what was actually said in the light of their antiwar beliefs.
The actual quote: "The fact is the United States has no alternative to remaining deeply engaged in Iraq. Failure to do so would ensure continued civil conflict and
risk intervention and competition for influence among Iraq's neighbors. It could lead to long-term instability in the production and supply of oil as well as the emergence of a failed state that could offer a haven to terrorists."
In other words, that is what could happen if the US left and Iraq collapsed. It does not mean that was the reason for our invasion, as this reader implies -- and I am certain that said reader could come up with an interesting excuse for why the reverse would not apply -- protecting Saddam Hussein and oil contracts held by their nationalized oil companies -- for France, Russia, and China.

posted by John Chamless @ Apr 1, 4:25 PM

Bush signs UVVA

The president today signed "Laci and Conner's Law," a/k/a the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. We're going to have to editorialize on it soon. What do we say?

I think that pro-choicers are right to say that this law undermines Roe v. Wade, even though the language of the law permits abortion. It's illogical to say that the mother's preference makes the difference between a form of homicide and a legally permissible act. I think this is probably why SCOTUS will overturn it.

We're a pro-choice paper (as far as I know, I'm the only pro-lifer on the editorial board, though I invite others, if they're there, to identify themselves). It's safe to say that I won't be writing this editorial, if we do in fact editorialize on the UVVA. If we come out against the UVVA, I hope y'all have good arguments to explain to the public why when Conner Peterson died, a human being did not die. And if we come out in favor of the UVVA, I hope y'all have good arguments to explain why the personhood of a fetus can only be determined by the decision of its mother. I hope y'all can explain why this is any different, morally, from the 19th-century, when the whims of white people decided the moral personhood of black people. I can see the bumper sticker now: Don't like slavery? Don't own one.

Monday's should be quite an exciting editorial board meeting.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Apr 1, 3:50 PM

Re: Fallujah

Jim F.: I really thought the United States of America was better than that. And you know what? It is.

So, what do you recommend we do with men who murder innocent American civilians and hang their burned corpses from a bridge, screaming "Allahu akbar!"? Send them to bed without their Cheerios? Seriously, is this war, or a police action?

posted by Rod Dreher @ Apr 1, 3:40 PM

Re: a conservative reader

A liberal reader writes:

For your conservative reader: What exactly are “balanced arguments against my views”????

And writes a second time:

the DMN is no longer @($@$(# right-wing. Now I think its just right-wing.

And a second reader writes:

So, conservatives only want to read conservative editorials and liberals only liberal ones? What's the point of that? I am sincerely puzzled by those who only read views they agree with. Are they afraid an opposing argument might be persuasive? I'm probably more liberal than conservative, and I eventually read the entire editorial/op-ed pages, but I freely admit that the very first columns I read every day are the conservative ones like yours. Maybe I just like to get my blood boiling early in the day. But I've read a newspaper that way for many years, and I can't see that it's done me much harm.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Apr 1, 3:36 PM

Re: Air pollution in Dallas-Fort Worth

A reader writes:

I have been impressed with The Dallas Morning News' editorial stance on the air-quality issue and its pointed challenges to, and criticisms of, Rep. Joe (“Smokey Joe”) Barton.

After this principled stance that the newspaper has taken, I wonder what its endorsement will be in Barton’s race this November. Any endorsement short of AGAINST Barton (I don’t want to see a NO ENDORSEMENT) will surely result in the paper’s loss of credibility with me and with many, many others.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Apr 1, 3:27 PM

Re: A Conservative Reader

You've presented a mirror image of what I long have heard, Rod. Friends and neighbors (randomly, since there is no political component in how I've met people) have told me they never read the editorial page because it's too conservative. Though I'll admit I don't hear it as often as I did a decade ago (or especially two decades ago).
Of course, ideologues always will see someone whom often disagrees with them as being in the other camp. And many people will judge "liberal" or "conservative" on only a small number of issues that interest them.

posted by John Chamless @ Apr 1, 3:19 PM

Re: business guys speak out

Three cheers for Messers Boone and Beecherl. My greatest thrill: They raised the issue of increasing the tax on St. Alcohol -- whose business cartel has successfully fought of tax increases for at least a decade. An excellent way to "broaden the tax burden" to pay for good schools.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 3:17 PM

Re: Fallujah

Brother Dreher is right on where we differ when he says: I believe that if we publicly shoot 100 of those devils who did the torching and mutilation -- and we know who they are -- we will teach 100,000.
I really thought the United States of America was better than that. And you know what? It is. Gen. Abizaid, to his credit, wouldn't dream of taking Rod's suggestion.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 3:14 PM

Re: Fallujah

Jim F.: In Feburary, Fallujah insurgents attacked American commander John P. Abizaid's convoy. Two days later, they blasted their way into the Fallujah jail, killing at least 15 police officers, in a disturbing episode because no help arrived from the nearby American military base. Hmm. Sounds familiar. No aid for hours this time, either.
You can believe all the blather that you want coming out of Central Command about the "progress" we've made in Iraq. Or, just three months before turning over the country to the Iraqis, you can be very, very worried. I'm worried.

You know what? I agree with Jim on this. The Wall Street Journal editorialized today, with deliberate understatement: It is not a good sign that Iraqis feel free to mutilate the bodies of dead Americans in front of the world's TV cameras. The Journal goes on to say that the ordinary Iraqis are suffering the most from the lawlessness, and to urge a much tougher US policy against the Fallujah insurgents, who really don't have a lot to fear right now. Writes the Journal: Those who've chosen to work with Americans obviously share our hopes for the emerging democratic Iraq, and they can't quite understand why our mighty army tolerates so much thuggery.

Here's where I depart from Jim, I suppose: I believe that if we publicly shoot 100 of those devils who did the torching and mutilation -- and we know who they are -- we will teach 100,000.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Apr 1, 3:07 PM

A conservative reader writes

A reader, presumably a conservative, sends this to me:

Awhile back, y'all were discussing on the blog how liberal-leaning the Letters to the Editors and those who write into the blog seem to be, despite the overall conservative makeup of the area. I think I could offer up a reason for what you see: many of your conservative readers have simply tuned out the editorial section. I know that I did - I'd read nearly every section of the paper, but I'd avoid the editorials, because I knew they wouldn't share my views or at least present balanced arguments against my views. I didn't start looking at it again until you came to the paper, and that was just because I knew you by reputation, and your beliefs.

I hear this all the time, conservatives saying they only read the paper for the news and sports. Yet I also hear liberals I meet talking about how &*%$# right-wing this editorial page is. This is all very interesting and mysterious to me. I wish the paper would do some research to find out how the editorial page is perceived by the community.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Apr 1, 3:00 PM

Re: Air pollution in Dallas-Fort Worth

A reader writes:

About that Ellis County meeting last week with Joe Barton...

It was his meeting. But most of us in the room that night were also his constituents. And we had questions and concerns that were not adequately addressed. We are not demanding that these industries pack up and leave town. But we do want them to be better neighbors. We realize they are not going to just go away -- but neither are the families and children.

I, for one, voted for Congressman Barton in the last general election. But with his apathetic attitude regarding those of us who don't happen to have a large kiln in our front yards, we're going to need a really good reason to vote for him again.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Apr 1, 2:55 PM

Business guys speak out

We have an oped piece in today's paper that argues for many of the same school finance principles I just outlined. The significance of it is that Dallas businessman Louis Beecherl authored it along with Dallas attorney Mike Boone. Mr. Beecherl is a conservative's conservative. He's helped many state officials get elected. The fact he's willing to push for a bold solution to school finance, one that calls for more state spending, sends a clear signal to Gov. Perry and the Legislature. Don't give us a half-way answer.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Apr 1, 2:45 PM

Re: We Broke It

From a reader
Here's a link to an article that appeared in the LA Times on March 30........
What I find interesting is that one of the reasons Schlesinger and Pickering give for our continued presense in Irak is to assure stability in the production and supply of petroleum.
As far as I know, this is the first time that a non-dissident has come out and said this.
Could it be they are planting the seeds for yet another shift in the rationale for our involvement Iraq?
After all, in lieu of the events of yesterday, the current reigning reason for our presense in Iraq -- that we are there to "help" the Iraqui people, to give them the gift of "liberty" and "democracy" -- is wearing mighty thin. And many (such as in your lead editorial today) are now calling for indiscriminate revenge, hardly "liberating" or "democratic," wouldn't you say?
So having failed to find WMD, having failed to link Saddam Hussein to terrorism or Al Queda, and having failed to establish democracy in Iraq, perhaps now its time to come up with a new reason to justify our presense there.

posted by John Chamless @ Apr 1, 2:44 PM

What's going through the mind of Jim Bowles?

First, elation at the fact the criminal charges have been dismissed. But almost immediately thereafter, anger at the fact that he's no longer Sheriff. Why? Because the indictment hanging overhead probably went a long way toward convincing voters in the Republican primary that it time for a change. So here the guy beats the rap, but he's still out of a job.

Is that fair? I can argue it round or flat. On the one hand, it doesn't seem right. On the other, there was the perception of wrongdoing. And the rulebook says people are innocent until proven guilty in the courthouse not in the voting booth.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Apr 1, 2:44 PM

Bring it on!

Our website's now reporting Gov. Perry will call a special session on school finance. It looks like it may start after Easter. Okay, here we go. Let's hope the Legislature ends the practice of shipping money from wealthy to poor districts, maintains a commitment to equitable resources for all districts, creates a new business tax, reduces local property taxes and adds more money to our schools. That's the recipe for success. Anything short of it doesn't count.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Apr 1, 2:39 PM

Bowles beats the rap

Dallas County Sheriff Jim Bowles gets off. His attorney, Reed Prospere, can now double his billing rate. Dallas justice rolls on ... Fake converted campaign funds maybe?

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 2:33 PM

Israel and NATO

For those of you who were jumping on Ard Seanacha O'Leary's suggestion that NATO troops go in to be the buffer between Israel and Palestine, a comment from Ariel Sharon in a speech Wednesday:
"The stalemate will inevitably bring a flood of international initiatives."
We certainly hope so.

posted by John Chamless @ Apr 1, 2:23 PM

Re: on the word 'shrill'

One more reader post:

One of your readers thinks Grandma Carole is making up imaginary people who are suffering. Go tell that to the staff at Child Protective Services trying to take care of all those imaginary children. Go tell that to the teacher who just got laid off because of an imaginary lack of money in the imaginary public education system we have right now. It's that message of me-me-meanness again coming from those Libertarian infiltrators trying to crash my party.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 1:56 PM

O'Franken Factor: Day 2

A reader, listening to the second day of Air America, gives this report:

I missed the debut but am listening now on my lunch break at work. So far so good. Robert Reich was just on and there was an intelligent, albeit left-ish, discussion of the 9-11 commission and some related topics. Hillary is on the agenda today, too. There was also a very funny parody of Rush singing a song with lines like "...my drugs are red, white and blue". Some good discussion, a healthy sprinkling of humor and yes, ripping of the Bush Administration. This at least provides a counter-weight to the unballanced, heavily conservative national and local talk radio.
p.s. And yes, they acknowledged that was Bebe Neuwirth yesterday doing Ann Coulter. I'm sorry I missed it.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 1:53 PM

Re: on the word 'shrill'

Another reader checks in:

Websters defines shrill as : adj. producing a high, thin piercing sound. I guess the word was used as an insult. Personally I find Ms. Strayhorn's approach very straight forward and refreshing. She is asking the tough questions, the ones that need to be asked if we are to seriously fix education in this state. She is someone that I could work for, and I would vote for. And I am a Democrat!
I find an underlying tone which reflects why it is usually only used against women. That because they are women, they are naturally hysterical. But I must admit this is the first time I was aware of a woman calling another woman "shrill." Hmmmm.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 1:46 PM


I'm not surprised that most of us are overlooking Uzbekistan. It's a truly hidden part of the world to most Americans, and there isn't much good that anyone can say about either the government there or the apparently al Qaeda-affiliated guerrillas who are trying to overthrow it.
It's a beautiful part of the world, with rich history. And it was a lively, interesting place when part of the Soviet Union. Only part of the Soviet Union I've visited where if locals realized you were a tourist, they would first try speaking French.
Ironically, Samarakand has the ruins of an observatory that fundamentalists destroyed because they objected to their ruler's scientific interests. The clash between mainstream and fundamentalist Muslims goes back well over a thousand years.

posted by John Chamless @ Apr 1, 12:56 PM

We Broke It; We Bought It

You are right to be worried about Iraq, Herr Frisinger. However, news out of Iraq is so mixed regarding progress there that people who want U.S. troops to stay will point to all the good news and accuse those who want to withdraw of distorting the picture -- and vice versa. That will just make the ideological divide in this nation even worse than it already is (seems impossible, doesn't it?).
I'm not sure what the worst-case scenario is, because I see two very bad ones. One is if we cut our losses and run, leaving Iraq in chaos and the entire region in even worse shape than it was. The other is if we stay but become an Israeli-style occupation force. The proper course is walking a very fine line, making allies of the great bulk of Iraqis by improving their lives and engaging in none of the military overreaction that different factions are trying to provoke.
Before the first Iraq war, I wrote a column in this newspaper arguing that invasion wouldn't work because neither we nor any of our trustworthy allies would be willing/capable of establishing the kind of long-term occupation that transformed Germany and Japan. I suspect it still is true.

posted by John Chamless @ Apr 1, 12:41 PM

Re: on the word 'shrill'

A reader checks in:

I could care less how Carole Keeton Strayhorn says it -- the shrillness comes from the fact that she, who constantly whines about the state not having enough money, blocks every cut that comes along and makes up imaginary stories about people who are "suffering".
I think it's time that she and her fellow neo-liberals start asking the tough questions -- like why is the imaginary "single momma" that she talks about not receiving child support of some sort? Once again, is it my tax dollars making up the fact that she doesn't want to hold people responsible for their foolish decisions?
Child support: That's the Attorney General Greg Abbott's department. "Suffering" -- yeah, all those kids thrown off the insurance rolls. It's bad medicine. Their health will suffer. They'll show up in the emergency rooms and the taxpayer tab will be even bigger. And those imaginary "single mommas" are real. Personally, I don't know how they do it all. Maybe we disagree on that, too.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 11:49 AM

Good news in Afghanistan

Not only did the Afghanistan donor conference in Berlin draw a major international commitment ($8.2 billion, according to Canadian AP) but a major anti-drug agreement was signed with countries surrounding the Central Asian nation. For those interested in the nitty gritty of progress there, this story about the fledgling Afghan Army's move into Herat is heartening.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 11:41 AM

Re: On the word "shrill'

Herr Jimbo, 'shrill' is what they say to people of both sexes when they don't like what you're saying.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Apr 1, 11:41 AM

On the word 'shrill'

Rick Perry's spokeswoman Kathy Walt defended the governor against criticism by Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn by saying this:
"Never have shrill, negative attacks or name-calling educated a child, created a job, cut property taxes or solved any problem."
My question: Can you ever call a man shrill? Don't think so. Does that bother anyone?

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 11:30 AM

The O'Franken Factor debuts

Lots of newspaper reviews on "The O'Franken Factor" this morning, including Uncle Barky's in today's DMN. I had trouble with the streaming audio, which others have noted. I listened to the replay of Al Franken's three-hour segment for about 45 minutes (losing it once or twice). Then finally their technicians gave up, cut the re-broadcast altogether, and ran a short message saying to listen to the live broadcast [which doesn't exist at 11 p.m. Dallas time].
I found the flavor of the show unique. First two callers were Ben Stein and G. Gordon Liddy -- not in anybody's liberal camp -- but friends of Al's. And who couldn't appreciate the lame bit from Bob Elliott did at the London airport doing his Wally Ballew. That's entertainment. And was that broadway/TV actress Bebe Neuwirth's voice I heard doing the Ann Colter bits?
Also enjoyed the Franken-Stein exchange, (or as they billed themsleves to confuse some joint appearance, the Stein-Franken show). Franken said he had introduced former Nixon speechwriter Stein once by saying he wanted the audience to know that Stein had not penned the words "I am not a crook." That was the revised draft. Stein's original proposal was "I am a crook."

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 11:27 AM


I'm horrified as anybody about the savagery around the deaths of the four American ex-Green Berets/SEALS working security for the Pentagon. But no surprise here: Fallujah has been a hotbed of anti-American activity since at least two weeks after Baghdad fell last year. That's when American troops took over a school for a barracks and then shot into a crowd of Fallujah protestors, killed more than 15 civilians. Not a good first impression for the occupation army, eh?
In November, Fallujah-area insurgents shot down an American helicopter outside of twon, killing 16. "Townspeople danced on the wreckage," the NYT reminds us in today's edition.
In Feburary, Fallujah insurgents attacked American commander John P. Abizaid's convoy. Two days later, they blasted their way into the Fallujah jail, killing at least 15 police officers, in a disturbing episode because no help arrived from the nearby American military base. Hmm. Sounds familiar. No aid for hours this time, either.
You can believe all the blather that you want coming out of Central Command about the "progress" we've made in Iraq. Or, just three months before turning over the country to the Iraqis, you can be very, very worried. I'm worried.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 11:10 AM

Air pollution in Dallas-Fort Worth

On Monday, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial page described an interesting exchange at the Ellis County courthouse between Rep. Joe Barton of Texas and Jim Schermbeck of Downwinders at Risk. When Mr. Schermbeck asked if he could share with Mr. Barton some information prepared by the state's environmental regulators, the congressman replied, "no" and "this is my meeting."

The editorial page then opined, "With all due respect, Congressman, that may have been your meeting in that you called it, but you're talking about our lungs and our air -- the air that several million residents of North Central Texas must breathe 24-7 whether it is foul or fair."

Hear, hear!

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Apr 1, 10:56 AM

Perry better not be joking!

That Perry is expected to call a special session in April is great news! Let's just hope it's not some sick April Fool's joke.
Time is running out for a special session. Legislators don't want to meet when teachers are out of school and have enough time on their hands to flood into Austin with picket signs. ...

posted by Michael Landauer @ Apr 1, 10:44 AM

Re: Happy April Fool's Day

Michael: Gotta wonder if DMN Daily will be the next thing added to your teacher's district Web filter system. Subversive we can be!

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Apr 1, 10:42 AM

September 11, 2001

On Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was scheduled to give yet another speech where she would declare enemy missiles to be the gravest threat to the country's security, according to this story in today's Washington Post.

I said it before the attacks, and I repeat it now: The Bush administration's obsession with missile defense was blinding it to the bigger threat facing the United States, namely that terrorists, using stealth, would attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction. Many people tried to tell Mr. Bush and his coterie, but they didn't believe it. It's cold comfort that they do now.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Apr 1, 10:05 AM

Re: Happy April Fool's Day

From a local teacher:
You gotta love this. Two of the three sites that you listed are blocked by our district filtering system, citing reasons like Tasteless, Gross, Profanity, Sex and Violence. So, our kids can't use them to look things up to see if they are true or not. Your education dollars at work!

posted by Michael Landauer @ Apr 1, 9:17 AM

Happy April Fool's Day

Get that "Favorites" button ready. Add these links to your bookmarks. These are my top three favorite debunker sites. Whenever something doesn't quite seem right to me, like pretty much every forwarded e-mail I recieve, I check it out on these sites, where people spend a lot of time researching rediculous claims (no, Bill Gates will not pay you for forwarding an e-mail). But they can also be used to verify things that are true, like the recent story making the rounds about the Secret Service trying to save a child's life outside of Crawford.
To keep April Fool's Day from being the kind of holiday that we celebrate year round, PLEASE bookmark these sites and reference them before spreading false information.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Apr 1, 9:09 AM

March 31, 2004

Re: Pro-choicers vs. reality

John C.: Sorry, Rod, but this is one issue you can have both ways. It all boils down to choice and how a woman perceives her own pregnancy.

In what other area of ethics do we say that the moral status of a human being depends solely on how other human beings feel about that person?

I remember the time I saw my unborn son, my first child, on an ultrasound fairly late in my wife's pregnancy. Look at him, I thought. My boy. And I thought then that if my wife wanted to, she had the legal right to abort that baby, and I couldn't have stopped her. Yet you could not have convinced me that what would be aborted wasn't a child, a human being just like you and me, save for being on the other side of a thin wall.

I encourage readers to go to follow this link. It takes you to a General Electric Medical Systems page, where you can watch GE's famous commercial for its 4D ultrasound technology. See it, and understand that what looks to you like a baby is, to the pro-choice folks, not a baby if the mother doesn't say so. Who you gonna believe, them, or your eyes? And if you're a pro-choicer, I especially encourage you to see the GE commercial, so you can see what being you have to defend killing in order to maintain Roe.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 31, 7:18 PM

Re: Pro-choicers vs. reality

Sorry, Rod, but this is one issue you can have both ways. It all boils down to choice and how a woman perceives her own pregnancy.
I have no problem with a woman (or her survivor) pursuing criminal charges over damage to a fetus -- though I think that decision properly should come from the woman (or her survivor). Police, prosecutors would have an advisory role. The prosecution of the Utah woman for not having a cesarean was just bizarre.
Similarly, I have no problem with a woman having an abortion. It's her choice.
In a case like Peterson's there isn't much point in adding a charge concerning the fetus. If it makes a significant difference in sentencing, murder is punished too lightly.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 31, 6:22 PM

Re: Pro-choicers vs. reality

Jim F.: I find this silly. And I am a serious person. If I want to cut my arm off at the elbow, I have every legal right to do so. But if you try to cut my arm off at the elbow, I'm calling 911 and they'll put you in the slammer. Next question.

OK, sorry, I didn't mean to say that you aren't a serious person. What I meant to say is that if you want to be serious about this argument, you've got to do better than trot out bumper-sticker rhetoric. Roe is built on the premise that a fetus is not a person. The UVVA (and similar laws) are premissed on the belief that a fetus is sometimes a person. We can't have it both ways. It makes no sense to say that a fetus is a person when someone else ends its life, but not when its mother ends its life. Something's got to give.

So you support Roe. Fine. How do you explain to the people at the funeral of Laci Peterson and her unborn son that they were only burying one person that day? Because that's what you implicitly affirm if you affirm the bedrock premise of Roe. Eh, Jim?

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 31, 5:47 PM

school finance

We are approaching High Noon on school finance. Tomorrow's April 1, and the governor has yet to call a special session. What's more, it's anyone's guess as to whether he will. From my perspective, the worst situation would be for him to call a special session, have the Leg pass a so/so fix, call it reform and then move away from the subject for several years. We'd be stuck again. The Leg either needs to really overhaul our school finance system, or get out of the way and let the courts do it.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 31, 5:44 PM

Ben Stein

We have a letter on the page tomorrow from Ben Stein, the Hollywood writer. I spent a day with him during the LA Democratic convention, and found him one enjoyable, smart guy. He's equal parts Yale, Columbia and Hollywood. He could talk economics as well as Hollywood bigshots. When we were walking back to his house after lunch, a bus pulled up next to us. A woman stuck her head out the window and yelled, "Win Ben Stein's Money!" He was thrilled and went over and shook hands with people on the bus. Not your Hollywood snob.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 31, 5:36 PM

Re: NATO in Israel

Herr Frisinger is right, there is a lot of good will toward Americans throughout the Middle East. In fact, Americans in the occupied territories get along rather well. Remember the stories sometime back about the Jewish American (admittedly a peace activist) living in Jenin? Israelis were stunned, but he got along quite nicely.
Palestinians know that American opinions concerning the Israeli-Palestine dispute are all over the map, even as they decry U.S. governmental policy.
The difference beatween peacekeepers and occupiers isn't lost on the local population.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 31, 5:36 PM

Re: Pro-choicers vs. reality

Rod said: But if you want to be a serious person, then you've got to figure out how to explain why it's morally acceptable for a woman (for example) to abort her six-month-old fetus, but it's a crime for someone else to take the life of the fetus.
I find this silly. And I am a serious person. If I want to cut my arm off at the elbow, I have every legal right to do so. But if you try to cut my arm off at the elbow, I'm calling 911 and they'll put you in the slammer. Next question.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 5:32 PM

Re: NATO in Israel

The United States, up until recently, had a tremendous amount of good will among the Palestinian people. We may have lost that in the last several years, I don't know. If the Palestinians think they can get a fair shake from NATO troops protecting them -- and NATO troops can come from any of many, many nations in Europe plus Canada -- it might just work. The biggest obstacle may be Israeli opposition to the idea. But a fundamental fact staring everybody in the face is the Israel-Palestinian war has reached rock bottom, the Road Map is dead and we all must think outside of the box to new ideas. The current ideas have failed.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 5:16 PM

Fallujah: Are we being lied to?

A reader picked up this midday New York Times story posted on the Web and begins by quoting this passage:
"The steadily deteriorating security situation in the Falluja area, west of Baghdad, has become so dangerous that no American soldiers or Iraqi security staff responded to the attack against the contractors.
"There are a number of police stations in Falluja and a base of more than 4,000 marines nearby. But even while the two vehicles burned, sending plumes of inky smoke over the closed shops of the city, there were no ambulances, no fire engines and no security."
And yet, we are reassured almost daily by our government that things in Iraq are improving, that we are making progress.
It's almost surreal. What's it going to take to shock the American people out of their fairytale world?

Brother Navarrette's reluctance to citing Vietnam about anything, it won't take the American people 10 years to end this war. But it may take an electorate courageous enough to change course in difficult times -- or a president with enough wisdom to do the same.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 5:08 PM

Re: NATO and Fallujah

A reader writes: Would your colleagues care to explain the logic by which they expect NATO forces in Palestine to encounter less opposition than Americans are encountering in Iraq (and particularly in Fallujah today)?

Good point. Gentlemen?

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 31, 4:41 PM

Re: Pro-choicers vs. reality

Jim F.: Well, Rod, looking to go back to the "Good old days," eh? Teenagers bleeding to death after botched self-abortions. The return of the coat hanger for operations. Back-alley abortions and abortionists. It's like an entire generation has missed the reality of what life was like before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion for women.

Jim, here's some reality for your excitable liberal boilerplate. First, Roe v. Wade did not "legalize" abortion for women. Abortion was, prior to Roe, regulated by the states. Some states had it, others didn't. All Roe did was declare that abortion was a constitutional right. This did have the function of making it legal in all states, but it's misleading to write as if it was illegal everywhere prior to 1973.

And as Saletan's article -- did you read it? -- makes clear, the usual pro-choice scare rhetoric simply won't work anymore. You are evading the real moral and political questions raised by the UVVA, what we've learned about fetal development in recent years, and the way ultrasound technology has caused a sea change in the public's perception of the rights of the unborn. If you want to argue for unrestricted legal abortion, fine, be my guest. But if you want to be a serious person, then you've got to figure out how to explain why it's morally acceptable for a woman (for example) to abort her six-month-old fetus, but it's a crime for someone else to take the life of the fetus. And if you don't believe it's a crime because the fetus is a non-person, then you have to explain to people why only one person died when a pregnant woman is killed.

You can't evade that dilemma by running for the scare rhetoric, Jim. I'd appreciate a serious answer to this serious question.

(And with the North Richalnd Hills CVB drug store case, it looks like the religious right is flexing its muscles to go after birth-control pills.

Oh, give me a break, willya? A single pharmacist refuses to sell the Pill, and suddenly you imagine Jerry Falwell and an army of Bible thumpers ready to steal all contraception from America's bedside table. Look, I think the pharmacist was wrong in this case, and I'm against contraception. Where, aside from your imagination, can we find the foot soldiers of this vast movement to end contraception (It can happen again. Maybe it's happening right now.)? This is hardly a "barbarians at the gates" moment in the culture.

If you don't want an abortion, don't have one. Just don't force your religious views on the rest of the nation.

Who said anything about religion? No religious doctrine is at stake in the UVVA debate. You didn't have to be a religious person to believe that when the bodies of Laci Petersen and her unborn child were discovered, that two people, not one, were dead. If you believe that, then, that has logical implications for your view of abortion. Bumper-sticker philosophizing doesn't square the circle.

Besides, to apply your moral reasoning to slavery, one can hear the Southern plantation owner saying to the Northern abolitionist: "If you don't want a slave, don't own one. Just don't force your religious views on the rest of the nation."

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 31, 4:37 PM

Re: Picture worth a thousand words

Hmm, and you are against the death penalty, Rod?
One of the nice things about a legal process is that it can keep you from blowing away people who happen to look like the guilty guys. Remember the case back in the '70s where an Israeli hit squad not only killed the wrong guy (an innocent waiter, well away from the conflict), and got captured to boot (I think in Norway)?

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 31, 4:34 PM

Re: picture worth a thousand words

Another reader comments:
I don't know how many bad Iraqis there are. I think there must be an awful lot if Israel is still allowed to be ostricized by the "new democratic" government.
There aren't that many good Palestinians, either, when, in a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between March 14 and 17, 2004 (before the Israeli assassination of Ahmad Yasin.)
Wide support for armed attacks: 87% support attacks against Israeli soldiers; 86% support attacks against settlers; and 53% support attacks against Israeli civilians.

The reader is referring at the top to the fact our installed Iraqi regime refuses to allow Iraqi Jews who sought refuge from Saddam inside Israel to return.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 4:31 PM

Re: picture worth a thousand words

A reader reponds:

You wrote, "It's tough going without Rod's good guys-bad guys scorecard."
I'm afraid that Mr. Dehrer has the same tendency as our President to see everything in terms of black and white ("You're either with us or against us"). There are some extraordinarily useful colors of gray available to the human. I'm afraid that, as a nation, we're not using those colors much these days.
Brother Navarrette likes to call it "nuance," tho I'm wondering if he doesn't need a reminder every now and again.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 4:26 PM

Re: Pro-choicers vs. reality

Another reader's take:
Right on, brother Jim! We must remain vigilant against creeping theocracy and the wishy-washy officials who bow to the radical religious right.
Imagine a new fundamentalist movement that preaches a message of "life begins at ovulation". (It's not that far-fetched once you recognize that a fertilized human ovum has more in common with an UNfertilized ovum than it does with a full term fetus.) What then? Do we wring our hands and say that we can't offend their belief so we must cater to the most stringent theology? So we pass a law that mandates repetitive impregnation of females of all ages? After all, MENSTRUATION IS MURDER!
No. We've been through the arguments over and over again, and reasonable people still disagree on whether abortion is moral. The Pro-Life community doesn't even agree on whether life begins at conception or implantation. It's a matter of religious belief. The current laws must be a terrible pain to the Pro-Lifers, and I'm truly sorry for that. You may try to preach your message to the public if you mind your manners. But you may NOT impose your religious beliefs on me. Not in this country.

At least, not yet....

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 4:23 PM

Re: Pro-choicers vs. reality

A reader responds:

You are so harsh on Rod for his religious views. Might it occur to you that some of us share Rod's view on abortion and it has nothing to do with our religion and everything to do with the sanctity of life.
I am sorry that people were so desperate to get rid of the life inside of them that they resorted to back-alley abortions. That was their choice and it was illegal, just like it should be unless medically necessary. People are hip on providing rights for some while taking the rights of others away, in this case the unborn child. And in the case of abortion, doctors don't perform them until the babies heart starts beating at six weeks.

Fine. We disagree. It's either a personal view or a religous view o this issue. What is wrong with you and your millions of co-believers going your way and me and my millions of co-believers going our way? Why do we have to put doctors in prison for murder because you believe that the sanctity of life begins, well, whenever you happen to believe it begins? Why is that? And by the way, there will be a body count of dead children from botched abortions if Roe vs. Wade is repealed. And apparently, we'll be throwing doctors in jail for performing abortions.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 4:21 PM

Re: Picture worth a thousand words

Jim F.: So every man seen in the Fallujah photo "desecrating the body should be rounded up and shot before sundown." That doesn't sound like much of a foreign policy.

Huh? In what way does bringing the hammer down on a group of bad men who committed this atrocity and celebrated it constitute a foreign policy? What are you trying to say?

Does this mean that "those Iraqis" in the picture are the "bad" Iraqis and the Iraqis we liberated (them other ones) are the "good" Iraqis? Is this anything like those "bad" Palestinians who are homicide bombers and all the rest being the "good" Palestinians who aren't?

That you have to put quotes around the word bad to describe the Iraqis who murdered four innocents, then desecrated the bodies, tells me something. And I don't know if Palestinians who aren't suicide bombers are good, bad, or morally indifferent, but I do know that those who are suicide bombers are evil, and deserve to be treated that way.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 31, 4:19 PM

Re: Today's Outrage

A reader poses some good questions. Such actions are not out of the realm of possibility if some group starts a campaign against the morning-after pill.
Would the proposed law also protect pharmacists who decide to fill prescriptions? Would it prevent workers from being picketed? Would it guarantee them a safe haven in their homes, their workplace, and their houses of worship? Would it protect them and their families from physical attack? Would it protect the drugstores from harassment? Would it protect their suppliers from intimidation?

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 31, 3:47 PM

Re: picture worth a thousand words

Brother Dreher: So every man seen in the Fallujah photo "desecrating the body should be rounded up and shot before sundown." That doesn't sound like much of a foreign policy. Does this mean that "those Iraqis" in the picture are the "bad" Iraqis and the Iraqis we liberated (them other ones) are the "good" Iraqis? Is this anything like those "bad" Palestinians who are homicide bombers and all the rest being the "good" Palestinians who aren't? It's tough going without Rod's good guys-bad guys scorecard.
Shoot! Texas can't even manage to convict one New York millionaire who confessed to cutting up into itty bitty pieces the corpse of the man he knifed to death in Galveston.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 3:28 PM

Re: Pro-choicers vs. reality

Well, Rod, looking to go back to the "Good old days," eh? Teenagers bleeding to death after botched self-abortions. The return of the coat hanger for operations. Back-alley abortions and abortionists. It's like an entire generation has missed the reality of what life was like before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion for women.
(And with the North Richalnd Hills CVB drug store case, it looks like the religious right is flexing its muscles to go after birth-control pills. Wal-Mar refuses to sell the morning-after pill at all -- that's market power that kind of decides the issue -- forget about the doctor! The attack on birth control is another generational thing; few alive can remember when birth control was illegal in the United States. It can happen again. Maybe it's happening right now.)
I say no. There is a severe split in this nation between those who feel abortion doctors should be sent to prison for murder and the rest of us, who disagree. That's why it is called choice. If you don't want an abortion, don't have one. Just don't force your religious views on the rest of the nation.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 3:11 PM

Re: Atrocity in Fallujah

A reader writes:

We would have been better off leaving Saddam Hussein in place to deal with these "people." Is it too late to say "sorry" and put him back in power?

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 31, 3:00 PM

Asteroid strike

John Derbyshire over at The Corner is asking an interesting set of questions, related to the recent news that astronomers came close to alerting President Bush that an asteroid was approaching earth, and could strike it (further measurements showed it to be no threat). Derb wants to know at what point scientists should alert the president of such a threat. When it's a one-in-1000 chance of an earth strike? A one-in-100?

And if the president does get such a warning three days in advance of the possible strike, what should he do? Should he tell the public, and urge an orderly (ha!) evacuation of coastal cities, in preparation for a catastrophic tidal wave if the thing hit either the Atlantic or the Pacific? Or would it not be worth it, given the panic that would likely result? Anybody have any good ideas?

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 31, 2:51 PM

Grassley takes on toxic tents

Sharing the alarm that a whistleblower and the Defense Department were blowing of contract malfeasance by a military contractor, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has challenged Donald Rumsfeld for answers to this troubling contract. Hooray! Accountability!
Key graphs from CNN about the use of prohibited, toxic substances in making camouflage material, most of it ending up in military tents:
"A federal investigator, in an affidavit, said the government believed senior BondCote officials were aware of the prohibited use, and tried "to withhold this information from the government."
"Should authorities prove a cover-up, Grassley said in his letter to Rumsfeld, BondCote should be prohibited from doing business with the Pentagon."

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 2:50 PM

So noted.

From the Reuters dispatch from Fallujah:

As the victims lay burning, a crowd of around 150 men chanted "Long live Islam" and "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Greatest") while flashing victory signs.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 31, 2:25 PM

Re: Today's outrage

John: Even more disturbing is the push to pass laws protecting pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions.

This is imprecise, thus misleading. The push is not to pass a law protecting pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions. The push is to pass a law protecting pharmacists who refuse to fill a prescription for the morning-after pill, which, if it works properly, will cause a fertilized egg -- which most pro-lifers consider a human life -- not to implant. For those who believe life begins at conception, that's no different morally than an abortion. In Texas, doctors and some health care personnel have the right to refuse to perform an abortion if it violates their conscience. There are some -- me, for instance -- who think that right should be extended to pharmacists regarding medication that, if used properly, would cause an abortion.

The birth-control situation would not be covered in this case, and rightly so. I am personally against contraception, but it's not a matter of life and death, at least not in the way the morning-after pill is (or, were it to become legal here, RU-486 would be). You make it sound like, John, that there are folks pushing for pharmacists to be allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions for anything. That's not true.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 31, 2:22 PM

Americans consider too many jobs "beneath them"

A reader responds to my rant about those who rant about outsourcing:

Amen, Ruben!

In the fall of 2000, when I moved to Dallas, I had a master's degree,
doctoral coursework, and seven years of director-level experience in my
chosen field.While I expected to quickly find a job, I took a position with
a temporary agency to cover the bills. Nine months later, when even that had
dried up, I went through a series of short-term contract jobs, finally
ending up as a waiter. However, that job led to other temporary jobs and
then to my final permanent position -- all because people were struck by how
well I did the job I was doing. I didn't exactly enjoy it, nor was it
"appropriate" to my educational background and experience, but it WAS a job
-- and it was an opportunity to work, to keep my skills polished, and to
develop new insight and outlook on what I could do.

The attitude that people have that any work is "beneath" them is what's
fueling the current discontent with the economy. True, there are people
living below the poverty line because they're unemployed....but there are
lots more people who have moved "poverty" to equate with not having a new
car, not having the latest electronics, not having 99 channels, and not
being able to dine out constantly. One wonders if the problem is not that
Americans lack potential jobs, it's that Americans lack the will to work.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 31, 1:48 PM

Re: Dallas police

Too often when looking back at a sad situation like this, we want to reshape some policy to prevent it from happening again. Fine, lots to rethink in the wake of the gorilla incident. But sometimes it just comes down to people not doing their jobs the way they were supposed to. That's harsh, but true. I think the focus should be on making sure people know how to do the jobs they are supposed to do.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 31, 1:35 PM

But wait...

This just in: Dallas Police say that a search of the cage of the late Jabari the Gorilla has turned up several bags of a white powdery substance. A special prosecutor has been appointed.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 31, 1:32 PM

Lower standards at Notre Dame?

Former Notre Dame great Paul Hornung says his school needs "the black athlete" to compete. OK, fine. It's probably not realistic to think that any school could win with all white, Asian or black athletes, so maybe he's got a point there. But he also says his school needs to lower its academic standards to compete. Hmm. Maybe he's got a point there, too. Notre Dame has turned away some great athletes who didn't make the cut.
Where he really got into trouble, though, was saying that his school needed to lower its academic standards to get "the black athlete." What in the world was he thinking?
In fairness, he probably wasn't thinking, but to equate lower academic ability automatically with one racial group is insulting and unacceptable. Besides, Notre Dame is proof that you DO NOT need lower standards to get talented black athletes in your system. Dan Patrick on ESPN reported that Notre Dame's football team is 55 percent black, about 10 percentage points higher than the NCAA Division I average. What's more, 12 recruits this year are black; only five are white.
Sounds like Notre Dame's standards are just fine. Maybe they were lower when Hornung attended ...

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 31, 1:31 PM

Another police scandal?

This just in: A crowd of protestors has surrounded the Dallas Police Department. Apparently incensed by media reports suggesting that police bungled their response to a Gorilla's escape from the Dallas Zoo, the crowd is chanting: "No Jabari, No Peace!"

Okay, it's not really happening. But it could.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 31, 1:27 PM

NATO in Fallujah?

A reader, riffing off of Tim's NATO-Israel comments yesterday, sarcastically asks, re: the Fallujah massacre:

Why isn't "send in NATO troops" the answer? Or better yet, why not "the
Americans are an occupying force and need to withdraw immediately; if they
won't withdraw, then France, Russia and Belgium should send in peacekeepers
and forcibly remove the American occupying force." Or how about writing an
editorial for tomorrow's paper: "We must do something to stop the cycle of
violence in Iraq. The activists who engaged in this conduct in Fallujah are
simply responding to the horrible conditions imposed upon them by
occupation, just like anyone else would do. Any retaliation by the US would
be counterproductive and merely perpetuate the endless cycle of bloodshed.
The Hawkish President Bush and his right wing government need to immediately
commence negotiations with the activists in the Sunni triangle to find a
peaceful solution."

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 31, 1:22 PM

Re: Atrocity in Fallujah

I hope part of the answer is introducing those in the mob to the "caught on tape" aspect of justice. Video was rolling, and these monsters should be held individually accountable for their roles. Whether they were just a member of the mob or a leader, there is proof that they were involved, and that proof better be used to punish them harshly. May God have mercy on them, because we (and their fellow Iraqis) shouldn't.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 31, 1:21 PM

Pro-choicers vs. reality

Slate's Will Saletan, who is no conservative, has a very interesting column talking about how reality keeps running headlong into standard pro-choice rhetoric. He says that the US Senate's passing of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act showed the limits of the pro-choice side's attempts to preserve Roe v. Wade by denying the humanity of the fetus. Writes Saletan:

It's a strategy of denial. And this week, it ran into too much reality.

On the Senate floor, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., displayed a devastating series of pictures of murdered women accompanied by the viable fetuses who died with them. "The question is simple," Brownback told his colleagues. "Do we have one victim or two involved in violent crimes such as these?" In one case, Brownback pleaded, "Look at this photo again of Christina and Ashley in the coffin. Is there one victim? Or are there two?" In another case, Brownback noted that the woman survived, but the fetus died. "Any congressman who votes for the 'one-victim' amendment is really saying that nobody died that night," said Brownback, referring to the Feinstein alternative. "And that is a lie."

Saletan rightly points out that the UVVA makes no moral sense when it says that nothing in it shall be construed to deny the right to an abortion. If a mugger stabs a pregnant woman in the belly and her unborn child dies, under this act the mugger would face homicide charges. But under the act, the child would somehow become non-human if the mother decides to have an abortion. That's illogical, and that's why the Supreme Court will probably overturn it, under Roe.

But the Court would also be saying that when Laci Peterson and her unborn child were murdered, only one person died. Who's the public going to believe, their eyes, or federal judges?

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 31, 1:20 PM

Civil Unions

Maybe I shouldn't open the floodgates again, but a few random thoughts popped into my mind while reading a column about opposition to the Massachusetts bill.
If a married person enters into a civil union with a same-sex partner, could he/she be charged with bigamy?
Will a man and woman in Massachusetts be allowed to establish a civil union?
Must one civil union be legally abolished before either party can enter into another civil union? (This one probably is covered in the legislation.)

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 31, 1:19 PM

Today's Outrage

For some of us, this is today's outrage story. The pharmacist who refused to fill the prescription for birth control pills drew lots of fire during our editorial board meeting this morning. I can't believe CVS allows pharmacists to do this (I applaud Eckerd for firing the pharmacists who refused to fill a prescription for the morning-after pill).
Even more disturbing is the push to pass laws protecting pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions. That takes discretion completely away from the employer (if a company has a policy not to sell certain products, that is well within its rights, but we are talking about a situation where a company is trying to sell a product and the salesman (or woman) is refusing).
My analogy would be a restaurant waiter who is a vegetarian. How long would he hold his job if he refused to fill orders that contained meat? Even if he argued that it wasn't a philosophical problem with meat but that meat posed a coronary danger (this pharmacist reportedly said that birth control pills cause cancer).

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 31, 1:09 PM

Outsourcing problems "of our own making"

A reader jumps in:

I have to side with much of your view with regards to outsourcing. There is no doubt that it is costing some jobs and hurting folks, particularly those in the IT industry. However, many of those folks who have thrown in the towel need to look no further than their own mirror for the root of their problem. As a technical recruiter, I have interviewed many people who have excellent skill sets, if we were talking five years ago. Unfortunately, the greatest majority of them have done nothing at all to update those skills. When their resume reveals that they have not worked in over a year, the question is always asked, "What have you been doing?" Not once have I heard they had or were in the process of updating their skills. I do hear a lot of lamenting as to the state of the industry, but very little admission of their own responsibility.

I have had well paying positions go unfilled because there was no one here to fill them. Guess where I had to go to get someone....it seems that many of our problems are of our own making.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 31, 1:08 PM

Re: NATO, Israel and the PA

Yesterday, with regard to the discussion about using NATO to secure the territories occupied by Israel, I asked a reader to explain what she meant by "NATO members will be killed by those who want to stop terrorists."

Here's her reply:

I mean that Israel will try to kill the terrorists that are attacking her citizens. If the terrorists are hiding behind NATO forces, Israeli soldiers will not target NATO forces. But if NATO forces get in the way, they may get accidently shot.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 31, 12:20 PM

Re: Atrocity in Fallujah

Look, I don't really favor collective punishment, as my prior blog entry might suggest. But I hate that insurgents are operating with such impunity against Americans in the Sunni triangle. In truth, flattening Fallujah and killing all its inhabitants would be no answer. I wish I had an answer.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 31, 12:11 PM

Atrocities in Fallujah

Hama rules anyone?

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 31, 12:06 PM

Re: so how would you defend Saddam?

Or, how about this line of questioning by Saddam's defense attorney. "We thought you Americans liked our regime. You sent Rumsfeld over here for a photo-op in 1988 back when you were tilting toward us in the Iran-Iraq war. You even sold us the pre-cursor chemicals we needed to fire into Ayatollah Khomeini's trenches during the war. Now you say I'm a criminal?"
Hey, even terrorist Tim McVeigh had to have a robust defense.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 12:00 PM

Gloves on a chalkboard

I spoke last night to the German-American Chamber of Commerce about media access. I'm happy to be able to report that I didn't say "Herr." Honest.

You see, people can change.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 31, 12:00 PM

Re: Dallas police

Hear, hear, Jim. That gorilla made a monkey out of the Dallas PD. If they go to pieces and forget the crisis plan when faced with an escaped gorilla at the zoo, what the heck would they do in the event of a terrorist attack?

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 31, 11:56 AM

Picture worth a thousand words

What an attractive and life-sustaining culture these Iraqis have. (Warning: graphic photo). Every single man shown in this photo desecrating the body should be rounded up and shot before sundown.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 31, 11:55 AM

Dallas Police: true to form

I know the boys in blue down at the back room of the Beckley Grill aren't gonna want to hear it, but today's DMN story on the escape of gorilla Jabari re-affirms the department's reputation to the rest of the world.
I wasn't born here, moved to Texas in 1984. My colleague Henry Tatum brought me up to speed on what was meant as "Dallas justice."
So the afternoon of the gorilla shooting Brother Tatum takes on the intonation of a mythical police spokesman and says something like, "He had a choice." We roar with laughter down here in our close quarters called Camp Willey.
Today we have more evidence of this reputation from the zoo's emergency weapons team leader Michael Glover, recalling the scene of tracking Jabari down a zoo path with colleague Alex Vasquez -- with a small horde of police officers on their heels and in the way. From the story:
"There, they watched Jabari. But every step of the way, police appeared to be distracting them, according to Mr. Glover.
" 'The police did not seem to recognize that they needed to remain behind us and we had to instruct them that their handguns would not be effective and they needed to stay out of our field of fire,' Mr. Glover wrote.
" 'At no time did [Jabari] ... face us directly,' Mr. Glover's statement continues. 'There were a lot of whispers from the police, such as "Shoot him," "What are you waiting for?" and "You've got to take him right now." '
" 'I repeated over my shoulder in a whispered tone, "If you guys don't be quiet and stay down, he is going to come over this gate at us." ' They complied.'
"Mr. Glover said that one of the early police responders 'became almost mutinous and pressed me for an explanation as to why we had not shot. Alex responded to this guy that we had no intention of firing unless a direct threat arose or we were ordered to do so by the ... [emergency response team] leader.' "

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 11:50 AM

Illegal immigration, Bush and leadership

After my post insisting that Bush was showing real leadership in standing by his wildly unpopular immigration reform plan, a reader wrote in to take exception:

I don't think Bush's plan is leadership. It is followship. He's
following the path of least resistance (to get elected).

Illegal immmigration is a problem. People are exploited. People die.

Mexico is a very close neighbor of the US. We share a very extensive
national border and close cultural ties. Mexico should be our top
priority for legal immigration. Mexicans wanting to immigrate to the US
should be put on the short list.

Keep out the crooks. Keep out the freeloaders. Let in those who want
to come here to stay and contribute.

People who come here illegally should be put on a bus back home.

Couldn't agree more. And Americans who hire people who come here illegally should be on the very next bus, headed to the nearest federal pen. Hey, we're a nation of laws, remember?

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 31, 11:35 AM

"I'm not giving up but..."

I was thinking about how Americans are trying to turn griping self-pity over outsourcing into an Olympic sport, and in comes this - as if to demonstrate just how bad the situation is:

I'm not giving up but How can I compete? I can not afford to go to college to be re-trained! If I could how would I know what to take to be a candidate for a new job? How do I pay the bills until I finish college and find a job? What if I have to move ? How can I pay for that when I have already given up one meal a day just to keep the power on?Where do I find the money for proper attire for interviews?
Outsourcing cause alot of different problems in finding a job and I need money to fix them. Where do you suggest I look?
These are but a few problems that could have a solution if there were jobs here and not in India!

This is really sad. This woman says she isn't giving up but her attitude says otherwise. Does she want us all to take up a collection to buy her "proper attire for interviews?" Here you have all these Mexican immigrants with no education and who can't even speak English and somehow they're able find multiple jobs and start their own businesses - all without the slightest complaint.

My fellow Americans, snap out of it. You're embarrassing me!

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 31, 11:29 AM

Re: Bush - Caving or Co-opting?

A reader responds to another:

Uh, pardon me, but Bush wasn't "bred" in Texas. He was "reared" in Texas, unless you count it against him that he spent his summers up East and not in the heat of Midland or the humidity and heat of Houston. I might just do that, if I happen to dwell on those 107-degree days in Wichita Falls when I was a kid.
Let's be honest: He's a politician. If you don't happen to believe that, then compare the statement he made yesterday about Condi Rice's coming testimony with a speech he gives at a fund-raiser. In the latter, he's droppin' his g's left and right and soundin' like he just climbed down off the onion truck with little more than his dignity and his sense of right and wrong.
As we know, that's wrong.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 11:13 AM

outsourcing - Have Americans squandered their blessing?

In response to the comments of another reader who advocated protectionism, this reader writes:

I find it hard to believe that someone who has actually been to China or India believes that those countries are so close to catching up to the USA. Traveling abroad reminds one of how much we take for granted. We have no idea how hard it is to do simple things in other countries. When I was in Russia in 1994, the only way to find a bus to charter in a city of a million was to find someone who knew someone who had a bus to charter. There was no phone book, no advertising, etc. to make such shopping efficient. I was in Panama last week, and amazed to see how many properties employ security guards, even behind closed gates in small apartment buildings in good neighborhoods. And don't get me started on how widespread corruption is.

If people in those countries are about to catch us, we should be ashamed of how little we have done with the blessing bestowed on us simply because we were born here.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 31, 11:10 AM

Reality TV

Just got this message about a new reality TV show. To me, it doesn't sound that different from existing ones, like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy or What Not to Wear. The basic thrust on all of these types of shows is "this poor slob could be a lot more attractive if he/she didn't make such lousy decisions" (and making fun of the subject's previous decisions is a key part of each). I hadn't thought much about how offensive these concepts could be (my philosophy is "if you don't like it, don't watch it," and I don't -- when I saw the NBA promo with the Queer Eye cast, somebody had to tell me who the strange guys in the ad were).
The whole concept of the reality TV show doesn't appeal to me, but my wife has become hooked on one, maybe because it can be viewed as a parody of reality shows. That one is Sci-Fi's Mad Mad House.
I saw a commercial tonight for Fox TV which made my skin crawl. It was a bit for a new show called "Swan" which showed overweight, "homely" women, that are taken and given plastic surgery etc. to look "presentable." Out of a dozen or so women, one is chosen to be the "Swan." I almost became sick at the sight of this concept, of this Hollywood depravation of normal Americans.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 31, 11:09 AM

Bad day for optional war

This was a particularly bad day for Bush's war for no good reason. A far better day today for the war that made sense against al-Qaeda, in Afghanistan.
But I join President Bush in his appreciatiation for what we have done for the women of Afghanistan. We've both seen the first post-Taliban produced Afghan movie, Osama. (I saw it last night at the Inwood Theater.)
The future for all the women, who suffered so under Taliban rule, is now in the hands of donors nations meeting today in Berlin. We are watching with great hope!

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 31, 11:03 AM

outsourcing - it's about not giving up

In response to my post on outsourcing, a reader writes:

A couple of years ago I was with a company in San Francisco that had a huge project to be completed in a short time and within a small budget. We couldn’t afford to hire local talent because they were simply too expensive, so we hired a company from Pune, India to fly in and complete the project at half the cost. They were great and things went well.
But, they were no more or less talented than the Bay Area high-tech folks,
just cheaper...I realize this is anecdotal evidence, but how can we compete with workers who live in countries with such low costs of living?

Look, the point of my blog post (and the column that preceded it) was never to suggest that the fact that foreign workers work for less wasn't a significant obstacle for American workers to overcome. It was to lament that so many Americans don't even want to try to overcome, that they'd simply rather throw in the towel. That's not the spirit that built this country and it's not acceptable.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 31, 11:00 AM

RE: So how would you defend Saddam?

Yesterday I asked how an attorney would defend Saddam in court. A reader has this idea.

OK. It would go something like this:

"Furthermore, I will bring in witnesses who will testify that Mr.
Hussein was out of the loop and did not know what was going on."

posted by jim mitchell @ Mar 31, 8:40 AM

March 30, 2004

Re: Bush -- Caving or Co-opting?

Father McKenzie: I don't care to "pound Bush" about his decision to do the right thing. I will applaud him for coming around, but his circle-the-wagons attitude, not uncommon in other White Houses, is worse than most. Here's a reader's take on the Bush-Condi deal:
Part of the problem with the 9-11 commission and Prez Bush is a cultural, Texas kind of thing. In Texas, you don't tell a man what he's gotta do. He'll behave just like that bull refusing to go through the gate at the Fort Worth Stock show. You have to use a prod. Good or bad, it is the way we breed our males in Texas. Good trait for some situations, bad for others.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 30, 6:09 PM

re: cleric

Rod, obviously that cleric is out of bounds. He's wrong and we can't afford that kind of bigotry/hatred. Still, there are people like Rabbi Melchior who are trying to find some common ground, and I'm for them.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 30, 6:06 PM

Re: Israel/Palestine

Finally, someone not on the editorial board has something to say about this:

The idea that Israel is the font of all Arab anger toward the West has irritated me for some time because it is a complete straw man. Muslims tend to hate Israel, but they do hate the West more. Israel is just a geographically close subset of the West. This is indeed a clash of civilizations, between one inexorably advancing forward and one stubbornly remaining plateaued (if not actually regressing). Why this can't be seen -- or at least accepted -- is beyond me.

Thanks also for the request for an "herr" drop. That's been fingers on a
chalkboard for me since Day 1.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 30, 5:58 PM

Re: NATO, Israel and the PA

Monsieur Dreher and others may want to apprise themselves of the Dallas Morning News' position with respect to NATO and Israel-Palestine by clicking here and here.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 30, 5:42 PM

Re: Israelis/Palestinians

Bill: We need a "prophetic message" that calls both sides to a different vision. For starters, both sides need to recognize the land belongs to God, not to them.

Lovely words, Bill, but what do they mean in reality? Palestinian Authority-paid imams call on their people to murder the Jews as a divine duty. Here's the March 12 sermon at a Gaza mosque, in which the imam preached, "They deserve death, and we deserve life, because we are the people of Truth." You can easily find strong elements in Israeli society that want to make peace and share the land (though those forces have been weakened by the last intifadeh). Where are the Palestinians who believe in sharing the land and living in peace?

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 30, 5:40 PM

Re: Catholicism as Monty Python skit

I'm appalled too that Bishop O'Brien got off so lightly. Forgive me, but once, just once, I'd like to see an American bishop go to prison for his crimes. I know it's bad to want Bishop O'Brien to pay for the collective misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance of the bishops, but I'm fed up with their impunity. If a bishop won't be punished for hit and run, then you can surrender all hope that a bishop will ever be punished for shielding pedophile priests.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 30, 5:37 PM

Re: NATO, Israel

Tim, I agree that the situation in the West Bank is untenable. Israel can't occupy it forever, but the PA can't be trusted now to run their own state without it being used as a terrorist base from which to attack Israel (as Friedman recognizes). If Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a NATO force, I wouldn't oppose it in principle, but I would still not look forward to US troops trying to root out terrorism there. It's impossible for me to believe that the American public would go for Americans being killed trying to secure the West Bank, esp. when Israeli occupation of the land has been unable to do so.

Frankly, I don't think there is any hope for a solution until Sharon and Arafat's generation have passed from the scene. Unfortunately, Arafat and his cronies have done a splendid job of making sure the younger Palestinians are radicalized.

John, I don't believe that this is America's fight mostly because I don't think we have any business making an enemy of Israel, a country that is not our enemy. If we took the post-Iraq battle to Syria or Lebanon, that would have been justifiable (though perhaps imprudent) because rooting out Arab despotism is a worthy national security goal. I simply don't share the belief that you and Tim have, which holds the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be the linchpin of all the misery and radicalism and terrorism in the Arab Muslim world. If all the Israelis moved to south Florida tomorrow, all that would mean is Arab despots and the people they misrule will have to find other scapegoats for their own haplessness and hopelessness.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 30, 5:33 PM

Rabbi Melchior

And while we're on the notion of a different vision for the Mideast, I loved hearing from Rabbi Michael Melchior a couple of years ago. He was in here for an interview, and did an excellent job trying to carve out a better vision for the region. He was one of the driving forces behind the Alexandria Declaration of 2002, which decried the violence on both sides.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 30, 5:32 PM

Re: Bill's column

Nobody wants to live in the kind of conditions that have existed in the occupied territories, Rod. Palestinian Christians have had better escape routes. Still, it's too bad that they have dwindled to such a small portion of the people remaining in Palestine, because that has obscured the basic problem, giving a religious coloration to a political battle.
Muslims have fled, too (walk around your neighborhood, and you might find some). Even Israelis have been moving to other countries.
When a place becomes a combat zone, the only people left are (a) the ones who can't get away (or have such a heavy stake in the land that they feel they can't afford to flee -- Palestinians learned how high the price of fleeing combat can be) or (b) the ones who would rather risk death than give up and leave. We call them fanatics, whether they are in Gaza mosques or West Bank settlements.
Incidentally, even animals leave combat zones.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 30, 5:27 PM

re: Israelis/Palestinians

Rod, I don't dispute that many Palestinian Christans are angry at the Sharon government. They feel they've been denied justice. But, in my experience, I have never gotten the impression they despise Israelis, as you suggest.
Having said that, my point in the column was that we can't afford more finger-pointing. We need a "prophetic message" that calls both sides to a different vision. For starters, both sides need to recognize the land belongs to God, not to them. As the Psalms say, the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 30, 5:24 PM

re: Alistair Cooke

Here's my confession: I listened to Alistair Cooke most Sunday nights on KERA, and I found myself stewing every time I did. His windiness drove me crazy. But here he was, in his 90s, still delivering weekly commentaries. I loved that. The guy was an institution.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 30, 5:13 PM

more on caving versus coopting

Herr Frisinger: I guess I don't see the reason to pound Bush about the Condi reversal since we wanted her to testify. I think it's good that he changed his mind, just as I thought it was smart when he sidestepped trouble as governor. There's something about knowing how to to avoid "borrowing trouble" that makes for good leadership. Unfortunately, I don't think he's done that as well in Washington as in Austin.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 30, 5:08 PM

Bill's column today

Bill McKenzie's column today talks about Christian clerical leaders in Israel and the Palestinian-controlled territories and their opposition to the Israelis. I wish to dissent from a couple of things Bill wrote.

There can be no doubt that the small and dwindling number of Palestinian Christians living in the Holy Land despise the Israelis. But in my experience talking with them in the region, quite a few fear their fellow Palestinians even more. When I was there in 2000, and had my notebook out, Pal. Christians were quick to run Israel down. But when I put my notebook away, they'd talk to me about how terrified -- literally -- they were by the Islamic extremists in their society. They figured that if they ever did get a Palestinian state, that it would become an Islamic fundamentalist state run by Hamas & Co., and that they would be oppressed. They didn't dare to publicly criticize Arafat or any other Muslim leader. They truly were, and are, in a hopeless situation, between Israel and Islamic Palestine. You have to factor that into any public criticism they make of Israel. They are not telling you the whole story, because their lives would be at risk.

Secondly, the behavior of the Roman Catholic clergy in the Islamic gunman takeover of the Church of the Nativity was, I believe, contemptible. I received two phone calls at home in New York on the morning of the takeover. One came from a very high-level Catholic source overseas, telling me that he'd received a phone call from a Catholic priest in the church itself, telling me that the Muslims had shot their way in. Twenty minutes later, I received a call from a Vatican official giving me another story entirely -- a spin making it seem that the Franciscans in the church had invited the gunmen in to offer them sanctuary, and asking me to write a column calling on the Israelis to call off the dogs. I remain convinced that this was a lie, especially given what the Eastern Orthodox monks who share the church, and who have no particular love for the Israelis, had to say once the siege had ended.

Finally, Bill writes that "the Tom Delays" support Israel so strongly because of how it figures into a certain view of Biblical prophecy. Some do, but others support Israel because it is the only democracy and civil nation in the entire region, and they quite rightly don't want to see the Jews have their throats cut by those fine folk in Hamas, Fatah and other exemplary organizations within Palestinian society.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 30, 5:04 PM

Re: Catholicism as Monty Python Skit

I agree with you on this one, Rod. We should have editorialized about it. The guy kills someone and runs away -- and doesn't get as harsh a punishment as Martha Stewart. That isn't justice.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 30, 4:59 PM

Re: NATO, Israel and the PA

Here are more excerpts from Thomas Friedman:

April 3, 2002: Mr. Bush has rightly condemned Palestinian suicide bombing as beyond the pale, but he is not making clear that Israel's war against this terrorism has to be accompanied by a real plan for getting out of the territories.

Why? Because President Bush, like all the other key players, doesn't want to face the central dilemma in this conflict -- which is that while Israel must get out of the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinians cannot, at this moment, be trusted to run those territories on their own, without making them a base of future operations against Israel. That means some outside power has to come in to secure the borders, and the only trusted powers would be the U.S. or NATO.

Dec. 11, 2002: The main Israeli criticism of this idea has been that such an international force would block Israel from hot pursuit of Palestinian terrorists, who would kill Jews and then run behind NATO, and NATO itself would become a target. The fact is, though, Ariel Sharon has adopted a policy of hot pursuit and it has resulted in the Palestinian Authority's being destroyed and more Israelis being killed and feeling insecure than ever. The only way Israel is going to have security is if Palestinians provide it by restraining their own, which will happen only when they have a responsible state, which can emerge only under energetic NATO supervision -- not Israeli occupation.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 30, 4:59 PM

Re: NATO, Israel

This may be between you and Timofeo, Rod, but I can't help but jump in.
If "it's not our fight," why are we financing it, Rod? The billions of dollars we've poured into Israel should have bought us some consideration, if not the right to lay out a settlement plan. You believe we should call our loans, take our money and go home? "It's not our fight" is an unexpected position coming from you. You mean like Israel vs. Hamas (or Hezbollah)? Or Iraq?
Seems like I remember you arguing that now that we've invaded Iraq, we should push on and take out Syria or Lebanon, too.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 30, 4:56 PM

Re: NATO, Israel and the PA

I can't provide direct hyperlinks to Thomas Friedman's columns about the Middle East and NATO, but readers may purchase them from his archive by clicking here. The columns appeared in the New York Times on Dec. 11, 2002, April 3, 2002, Sept. 4, 2001 and Aug. 24, 2001.

Here are excerpts:

Aug. 24, 2001: The only solution may be for Israel and the U.S. to invite NATO to occupy the West Bank and Gaza and set up a NATO-run Palestinian state, a la Kosovo and Bosnia. I'm serious. Israel can't stay in the West Bank and Gaza and remain a Jewish democracy; but it can't unilaterally withdraw, put up a wall and leave an uncontrolled Palestinian entity there -- without creating a permanent threat to Israel's existence. Nor, for that matter, can Israel trust Mr. Arafat anymore to administer these areas properly. What is needed is for Israel to turn these areas over to NATO or a NATO-like force. The Palestinians can have their state -- but no army -- under NATO's watchful eye.

It's a long shot, but it addresses the real problem, and a future column will explain how it might work.

Sept. 4, 2001: NATO could play a critical role. Obviously, first there will have to be a cease-fire and some cooling-down period. After that, though, one can still imagine a deal in which Israel agrees to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza along the lines proposed by Bill Clinton -- which is to say from roughly 95 percent of the territories, with Israel retaining the other 5 percent, where 80 percent of the Jewish settlers live. The Palestinians would be compensated with 5 percent of the northern Negev near Gaza, as well as certain purely Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

In return, the Palestinians would have to agree that their state would be entirely demilitarized and that this demilitarization would be supervised and maintained by 30,000 NATO troops, similar to Kosovo's. NATO would have responsibility for controlling all borders and entry points, to ensure that no heavy weapons come in, and would work with the Palestinian police force -- the only armed units Palestinians would be permitted -- on internal security.


Yes, yes, yes, I know -- this is not a perfect solution, and millions of issues would have to be resolved. But perfect isn't on the menu anymore. The only choices are "awful," "worse" and "least bad." Israel indefinitely occupying the West Bank would be awful. Israel simply quitting part of it, and leaving behind a roiling mess, would be worse. Some variation of this NATO approach could be the least bad. Think about it.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 30, 4:51 PM

Catholicism as Monty Python skit

Forget being disgusted by the way the hierarchy of my Church behaves, and just try to be amused. If you pretend that this stuff isn't real, just an enactment of a script written by Michael Palin and Eric Idle, it's so much easier to take.

So: remember Archbishop Thomas "Beep-Beep" O'Brien, the Buick-driving former prelate of Phoenix, who ran over a pedestrian one night last year and kept on truckin' -- till the cops came for him two days later? Well, he was convicted for leaving the scene of the accident, and the judge sentenced him to, get this, probation. And you know what appears to be his community service? To be available to answer sick calls from a hotline.

If you are ill or dying or otherwise in need of a housecall from ol' Beep-Beep, give the hotline a ring, and he'll put on his sneakers and scoot right over there (one hopes someone else will be driving). You might be asking yourself, "Umm, how is this punishment? Shouldn't a retired bishop be doing this sort of thing anyway?" Clearly you don't understand how the Catholic hierarchy works in this country. Incidentally, no other bishop has criticized O'Brien for his disgraceful behavior.

Frankly, I wish NATO would invade Phoenix and put Beep-Beep in the pokey.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 30, 4:40 PM

Re: NATO, Israel and the PA

Tim writes:

You've got to admire Herr Dreher's rhetorical parry. First distort my position, then refute the distortion.

I'm tired of the Herr thing. Please drop it. And while I can't find your original post -- it's already dropped off the blog -- I don't think I've distorted your position.

I didn't say that NATO should invade Israel. I said that NATO should secure the territories occupied by Israel, which even the U.S. government believes isn't Israel.

Sorry, but there are Israeli soldiers and Israeli settlers in those territories. Do you really think Israel is going to stand aside and let territory it occupies be invaded by foreign troops against its will? If Israel wishes to withdraw and invite NATO in, fine, I've got no problem with that. But unless I've misunderstood you, Tim, and I don't think I have, you want an invasion of the occupied territories by a NATO force. That's not a war I want to risk. Do you really want to put American troops in the position of dragging 200,000 Jews out of their homes on the West Bank, loading them into trucks against their will, and delivering them across the green line? The French and the Germans have an old taste for that sort of thing, but not Americans.

And this assumes that if only the Israelis and Israeli settlers left the West Bank, there would be peace between Israel and the PA. I prefer to believe Arafat and Hamas when they say that they won't stop fighting until Israel has been eliminated. Furthermore, it's absurd to think that NATO troops will be able to stop suicide bombers going into Israel when the IDF can't.

The idea would be to keep Israelis and Palestinians from killing each other. What could he possibly find wrong with that?

1) A serious risk of war with a powerful army -- Israel's -- if NATO takes such a move against Israel's wishes; 2) an unwillingness to insert American soldiers into an intractable conflict, in which they'll likely have to use the very same anti-terrorist tactics that some of us sitting in our safe American homes deplore when the IDF uses them; and 3) no exit strategy.

Does he really think that NATO and and the Palestinian Authority are doing such a good job of it?

You mean, I think, the IDF and the PA. No, they're doing a lousy job of it. But there is no reason to believe that NATO troops would be any better at it. It's silly to think that a Palestinian who believes the land of Israel is rightfully his will cease to believe that, and strive to reclaim it, because Americans and Dutchmen and Poles, et alia, stand between him and the land. This is not our fight.

Is he really so out of sync with the editorial policy of The Dallas Morning News, which has long advocated that NATO should intervene under a U.N. mandate?

If that's the editorial policy of the DMN, then yes, I'm really out of sync with it. So? What else is new?

And what's wrong with my asking what he means by saying "that Israel, with a large and effective standing army, and nuclear weapons, would not be willing to stand by while foreign invaders treat the country like their own." I'm willing to say that Israel shouldn't resist a NATO move into the territories. Is he?

No, I'm not, because I'm not inclined to believe that friends and allies of the United States should allow territory they occupy to be invaded and occupied against their will by a multinational force. It's a terrible precedent. The analogy is imperfect, but one wonders if a NATO invasion of Ulster could be justified under the same basic principle. Would that be good for the world?

Anyway, it doesn't matter what you or I think about what the Israeli Defense Force's response to a NATO invasion of the territories would be. They don't care what TDMN thinks. They would almost certainly fight. That's not a fight for us.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 30, 4:29 PM

Re: Minivans

I don't have a minivan, but don't put down the people who do. I've had just about everything, ranging from a VW bug to a full-sized van. You always have to get what makes most sense for whatever stage of life you are in (if you are going to cart around a kids team, don't do it in a bug).
I miss no driving a van because you have such better vision. The VW vans have been called unsafe, but you sure can avoid accidents because of better visibility.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 30, 4:24 PM

Re: Minivans or SUVs?

A reader responds:

After I traded in my truck for a minivan, when I first drove up to my golf buddies, one of them asked 'What? Mommy got the truck today?'. But after they rode in it, they all commented on how much more comfortable and fuel efficient it was than the truck.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 30, 3:59 PM

Bush: Caving or Co-opting?

Father McKenzie, the president has been getting some bad advice on the 9-11 commission. Has it been from Karl Rove? Rather than co-opting on Rice, I'd say it's the latest in the string of bad decisions on the 9-11 commission.
First, the president didn't want to have a commission at all, as the Twin Towers widows demanded it. That looked bad. Then, making known that he would give only one hour of his time to meet with the commission -- at about the time he went out to mingle for hours with NASCAR Dads in Florida. That looked bad.
Now, to drag his feet for a painful week or so on the Condi Rice testimony looks just like digging in his heels again. For what purpose? I can't figure it out.
Now, because the White House was slow to give the 9-11 commission the documents it requested, the final report had to be delayed even closer to Election Day. Bad advice, from whatever quarter. Even it its his own.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 30, 3:54 PM

Re: NATO, Israel and the PA

You've got to admire Herr Dreher's rhetorical parry. First distort my position, then refute the distortion.

I didn't say that NATO should invade Israel. I said that NATO should secure the territories occupied by Israel, which even the U.S. government believes isn't Israel.

I said that NATO should secure the territories with the legal blessing of the United Nations Security Council.

The idea would be to keep Israelis and Palestinians from killing each other. What could he possibly find wrong with that? Does he really think that NATO and and the Palestinian Authority are doing such a good job of it? Is he really so out of sync with the editorial policy of The Dallas Morning News, which has long advocated that NATO should intervene under a U.N. mandate?

And what's wrong with my asking what he means by saying that "Israel, with a large and effective standing army, and nuclear weapons, would not be willing to stand by while foreign invaders treat the country like their own." I'm willing to say that Israel shouldn't resist a NATO move into the territories. Is he?

Incidentally, I should mention that asking NATO to secure the territories isn't my original thought. I stole it from Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist, three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and observant Jew, whose commentaries on the subject I'll post as soon as they're available.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, the Nebraska Republican who with fellow Republican Richard Lugar is probably the body's leading internationalist, also raised the idea in a recent speech, which you can read by clicking here.

Stephen Cohen, the highly regarded Middle East and South Asia expert, supports the idea, too. He says, "The only solution is a new U.N. mandate for U.S. and NATO troops to supervise the gradual emergence of a Palestinian state — after a phased Israeli withdrawal — and then to control its borders."

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 30, 3:44 PM

Reagan Dime

I missed this the first time around. Removing FDR's image and replacing it with the image of living ex pres.? Bad really bad idea Glad Nancy Reagan thought so too.

posted by jim mitchell @ Mar 30, 3:35 PM

The Mighty Spam Killer

A few weeks ago, we got a spam-killing program that has made e-mail life a lot easier here. However, it is swatting lots of short e-mails. We love one-liners; our computers don't.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 30, 3:26 PM

Re: minivans vs. SUVs

Brother Landauer, I stop pretty fast when "cool" gets a $5,000 to $10,000 markup. That seems to be the premium SUVs have enjoyed over the "beer-can edition" minivans I've bought from Chrysler. (One of them was a stick shift!). I can think of a whole lot of things, from books to foreign travel to education -- hey, even a Texas mountain laurel for my back yard -- that cash would be better suited for in my world. (Truce: no talk of charities on this post.) But then, nobody ever accused me of being "cool." Now I know why! I'm 2 liters and 1,000 pounds short of the vehicle standard!

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 30, 3:23 PM

Re: Minivans vs. SUVs

Look, I drive a big truck. Not one of those trucklets, like the Chevy s-10 or anything. And my gas mileage is over 20 mpg, not great, not bad. So I really don't have a horse in this race. But when I buy something new, I hope the industry can provide "cool" with all the attributes Jim mentioned. I just think, stylistically, we have evolved from the station wagon to the minivan and now to the SUV. I think manufacturers are getting the message. Even today's Explorers drive less like trucks than the old ones did, and they don't flip over quite as easily, too.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 30, 3:13 PM

Bush's one-man debate on immigration reform

My column tomorrow talks about this strange one-man show that President Bush has going on immigration reform. He's still beating the drum in support of his plan, and good for him. But no one else will even mention the "i-word" Not Kerry. Not Republicans who support Bush. And you can see why, this is one case where expressing their true feelings to go where Bush wants to go - or in Kerry's case, even further - would only frighten away voters. Cowards!

Look here, folks. This is a clear demonstration of leadership. W has it. Many others don't.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 30, 3:11 PM


A reader writes:

I agree that outsourcing is not tantamount to treason. But this is not simply another phase of industry and labor shifting overseas as we’ve experienced before. The combination of technology advances, the rapidly growing educated labor force in countries like China and India along with the increasingly globalized economy present are causing a major paradigm shift. Many of the old barriers to tapping into cheaper labor outside the U.S. are disappearing. These trends have unleashed unprecedented “opportunities” for expanding the labor market which takes advantage of different levels of cost and standards of living and in the workplace in other countries. There should be a certain amount of “protectionist" ( there, I said it) policies to assure our continued economic and political viability.

And crutches make your legs stronger. One more time: Once you give into protectionism, you surrender. And once you surrender, you're no longer economically and politically viable.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 30, 3:02 PM

Hire Americans - they need a break!

The firestorm is still raging after my column on outsourcing. Seems some protectionist outfit picked it up and sent it around the bunker to the rest of the membership. Did you know there's even an organization called "The Hire American Citizens Society?" They even have a website.

These people shouldn't be complaining. They could be learning new skills. It's obvious they have time on their hands.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 30, 2:55 PM

Favorite Countries

My list of "favorite countries" is very short, Rod. It's one. This one.
There are countries I love to visit and countries that I pay a lot of attention to, but that doesn't make any a "favorite."

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 30, 2:53 PM

re: Minivans vs. SUV

Another reader sends along some great links for a better comparison, minus all the hyperbole and rhetoric. This one shows minivans and their fuel economy. This one shows SUVs. This one is a comparison of annual costs.
And finally, here's a note that gets it. It's all about style! From a reader:
My wife is now on her sixth Dodge Grand Caravan, her vehicle of choice since 1989. Minivans are the hands down winner for function, utility and practicality. People only buy SUV's because they are stylish (okay, except for the miniscule percentage who really do take them off-road). But I do understand the irrational mental block. My wife is appalled every time I suggested that we might buy a station wagon.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 30, 2:47 PM

Re: Minivans vs. SUVs

Herr Landauer, as an owner of a mini-van, let me make the case for them.
They generally are more stingy on gas -- and seem to offer the choice of less muscular engines if you get the low-end ones. The drive more like cars. They are less likely to kill others in a car wreck. They tend to roll over less. Their bumpers are generally in line with that of cars, so when the crash happens hits, it's bumper to bumper, not bumper to rear windshield.
These are generalizations, and the market has so many new, unique vehicles that make such a conversation more challenging.
But, of course, one things mini-vans don't have is "cool" -- which fire-breathing, gas-guzzling, intimidating, car-crushing, air-polluting monster SUVs seem to have. What a civlization we have!

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 30, 2:22 PM

Stock options

Here we go again. Proves once again that any incentive system especially onelinked to market timing can be gamed.

Interesting IBM approach to the issue mentioned deep in the story. Some companies are trying to mollify critics of stock options. Earlier this year, International Business Machines Corp. said it would begin pricing stock options for its 300 top executives with an exercise price 10% above the market price on the day of issuance. Executives can get market-priced options if they use bonus money to buy and hold IBM stock for at least three years.

posted by jim mitchell @ Mar 30, 1:50 PM

So how would you defend Saddam

This comes from the NYT: Jacques Verges, a French lawyer who claims to be representing Saddam at his family's request, said he expects that a trial is still some time away. Verges has not met with Saddam and is trying to act as his lawyer from afar, a U.S. intelligence official said.

So how would you defend Saddam? What's your best legal argument? Inquiring minds want to know.

posted by jim mitchell @ Mar 30, 1:45 PM

Yes, men are a complicated lot,

At last, a defense of men! Well, sort of.

posted by jim mitchell @ Mar 30, 1:34 PM

Re: NATO, Israel and the PA

Victor Davis Hanson knows the moral difference between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Read his whole piece. He speaks for me, and, I'd say, most Americans. Excerpt:

If the Palestinians wish to hold periodic and open elections, establish an independent judiciary, create a free press, arrest murderers, subject their treasury to public scrutiny, eschew suicide murdering, censure religious leaders who call for mass murder, embrace non-violent dissidents, extend equal rights to women, end honor killings, raise funds in the Arab world earmarked only to build water, sewer, transportation, and education infrastructure, and pledge that any Jews who choose to live in the West Bank will enjoy the same rights as Arabs in Israel, then they might find Americans equally divided over questions of land and peace.

But all that is a lot of ifs. And so for the present, Palestinian leaders shouldn’t be too surprised that Americans increasingly find very little in their society that has much appeal to either our values or sympathy. If they continually assure us publicly that they are furious at Americans, then they should at least pause, reflect, and ask themselves why an overwhelming number of Americans—not Jewish, not residents of New York, not influenced by the media—are growing far more furious with them.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 30, 1:32 PM

Re: NATO, Israel, and the PA

I'm grateful to be corrected on NATO's expanded role in world affairs, though am also nervous about a North Atlantic alliance being sent far afield from its traditional theater of operation.

But: Rod sounds almost gleeful at the slim, slim possibility that Israel would be able to repel NATO, whose principle member is the United States. What's up with that?

Let me get this straight: you actually think that NATO should invade a sovereign nation that is both an ally of the United States and not the problem when it comes to Islamic terror?! You actually want NATO to invade the only democracy in the Middle East?! You actually want NATO to engage a nuclear power in a hostile action, and reckon that there's a "slim, slim possibility" that Israel would be able to keep a hostile NATO force out?!

Call me crazy, but I am not enthusiastic about the prospect of risking war with Israel -- did I say Israel was a nuclear power? Did I? -- for the sake of Yasser Arafat and Sheikh Saruman's berserk followers. I know Israel is not on your and John Chamless's list of favorite countries, Tim, but don't you think this is going just a smidge too far? I mean, sheesh!

And your thinly veiled, groundless accusation of treason is not welcome. You can do better than that.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 30, 1:29 PM

Masterpiece Theatre

The passing of a public television icon who connected American and British culture.

posted by jim mitchell @ Mar 30, 1:26 PM

A vote for minivans

From a reader (quoted in part):

When gas is $3/gallon, you can have your 10 mpg SUV. Sliding doors, a car ride, great handling (I love passing SUVs in my minivan on the ramp from the George Bush to I-35), 7 passenger capacity along with their gear (try that in your average '7 passenger' SUV), lower cost, and better gas mileage. Other than towing, SUVs have nothing on minivans. ... The only thing that's great about SUVs is their marketing (and the profit the car manufacturers make from adding a row of seats, carpeting, and some roof to a truck). It might not be evident in TX, but there's a growing number of people who refuse to buy SUVs. Look around the next time you're in NYC, or Boston, or Chicago.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 30, 12:42 PM

Bush: Caving or Coopting?

You can call Bush caving for sending out Condi, but I think it's a smart move. What's more, it reminds me of the Bush of old. As governor, he repeatedly headed his critics off. To cite one example, there was a big legislative debate over regulating HMOs. He wasn't wild about doing that, but he pivoted and embraced it. That was one of the reasons he was successful as governor. He often coopted his opponents. I just wish he had done the same with his Iraqi critics by giving the inspectors another 90 days to find WMD. Oh well, that's another debate. I'm just glad he will let Rice testify about pre 9/11 stuff.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 30, 12:36 PM

Re: Israel-Palestine

Well, Timofeo, since Israeli troops regularly intimidated U.N. troops during their occupation of Lebanon, they probably wouldn't act any different toward NATO troops. Maybe we should ask some Liberty survivors what they think.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 30, 12:31 PM

Mary Richards

We referred to the great Mary Richards in an editorial today, and a reader called to say that she was an associate producer not a writer. Three thoughts:
1. I love our readers. That someone would call to point out her exact title is wonderful. I hope all readers feel like they can and should raise questions like that.
2. Regardless of what her title was, she was a writer by nature. Bob remembers fondly episodes where she would pound out copy only to have Ted mess it up.
3. Now that I have spent some time thinking about all of this, I can't seem to get that song out of my head. "She's gonna make it after ah-all ..." Somebody help me!

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 30, 12:08 PM

Irony Alert

Has anyone noticed that this year's election falls on the Day of the Dead?

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 30, 12:01 PM

Re: Israel-Palestine

A reader comments:

NATO will very unlikely stop terrorist acts from being committed against Israeli civilians. It will be successful, however, in stopping Israel from going after terrorists in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas and beyond (in places where Jews live beyond the artificial "green line"). In the meantime, NATO members will be killed by those who want to stop terrorists and by those who are terrorists.

So, you're advocating giving terrorists relatively free reign to do their acts of terror and allowing Israeli civilians to be slaughtered without repurcussions for the terrorists while protecting "Palestinians."

And Israel is doing such a good job of protecting itself against "terrorists." Hey, who am I to want to tamper with success?

I wonder: What does the reader mean when she says that "NATO members will be killed by those who want to stop terrorists." Am I hullicinating or is she, like Rod Dreher yesterday, suggesting that Israelis would attack or otherwise try to kill the NATO troops who would be in the territories under authority of the United Nations? I'm intrigued.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 30, 11:56 AM

Minivan vs. SUVs

OK, this may be my age talking, but I just don't understand why anyone would buy a minivan anymore. It looks like SUVs are winning the battle, but I think minivans are tomorrow's Betamax.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 30, 11:49 AM

Re: Texas mountain laurels

A reader is intrigued:

Do these do well up here? And, where can I get them? I have looked for them, but have been unable to find any anywhere (ok I wasn't really looking hard). These were all over the campus at UT-San Antonio where I went, and I loved them. I would love to put them all around my house.

Three reasons they seem rare here: they are somewhat pricey and slow growing. They may also be pressing the northern limits of their range (I'm not sure on this). However, I saw several Texas mountain laurels for sale at a South Arlington nursery this past weekend. My specimen, now about six years old, is on the south side of the house, fully protected from wintry north winds. Call around before you go. The dozens I saw at Trinity University in San Antonio two weeks ago made the air positively intoxicating!

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 30, 11:07 AM


8.5 million listeners/ Whoa! That would constitute a hell of a voting bloc. Cut that in half and you still have a formidable constituancy. Could the Sternmeister really cause The Prez more than a sleepless night or two? Was it a Bush-led initiative that's forced the FCC to disinfect the airwaves?... Or just backlash from a superbowl halftime gone awry?... How would a Stern-Bush debate go over?[just musing]. But say this was a debate point and Howard could confine his comments to anything but the first lady's bra size. Boy! Now this would be attack politics of the first order. Think of some stand-ins for the President. Al Haig? Karen Hughes?... Help me out here.

posted by Bill DeOre @ Mar 30, 10:55 AM

Re: Bush caves to DMN editorial

Of course he caved to the editorial demanding that Rice testify.

For our next act, we'll ask Mr. Bush to guarantee us in writing that the sun will rise in the east on Wednesday. No stonewalling!

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 30, 10:51 AM

Race week

Here's something to think about as we prepare for race week. It's odd that driving fast and drinking beer are activities that seem to exist in juxtaposition without much thought. In Bristol, though, they are thinking about it this week, as racing's best drivers and their drunken fans flock to Fort Worth.
Look, I'm all about drinking some beer and taking in pro sports (though I still have trouble thinking of driving a car as a sport). But it's just something to think about.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 30, 10:42 AM

Wacko juror

Score one for the nuts [ The other eleven don't count for diddly]. seems to be the way the Tyco case is headed. The defense could have just as easily hired a circus act to defer attention away from the case against brother dirtballs Kozlowski & Swartz. Give the old gal 2 or 3 inches in The New York Times and send her home. Isn't this what alternate jurors are for? Dontcha just love the idea of the govt. spending several million more of our hard earned bucks trying to send these two clowns up the river?

posted by Bill DeOre @ Mar 30, 10:31 AM

Richard Clarke

Some of the later parts of Richard Clarke's Against All Enemies read like Dallas Morning News editorials as they match longtime positions of this newspaper.
On terrorism issues, he is a real hawk -- no quarter given. Yet as he urges an all-out offensive against al-Qaeda and extremely expensive defensive mesures, he says the most significant thing we could do is broker a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The other major political step would be to engage the Muslim world, stressing out shared values, which would help the Muslim world isolate al-Qaeda.
I hope a lot of the policy-makers are giving the book thorough attention, not the "Washington read," where they check the index for their names and scan the relevant entries.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 30, 10:23 AM

Bush caves to DMN editorial

So Condi will testify both in public and under oath. Did this editorial from his hometown newspaper bring President Bush to his senses? Or maybe he just saw the wisdom of what Democrats and Republicans alike were saying: forget the parsing of precedent on when a National Security Adviser can testify under oath in public.
Bush's fellow Republican, 9-11 commission member and Reagan's Navy secretary John F. Lehman, said it well in today's NYT:
"I find it reprehensible that the White House ia making her the fall guy for this legalistic position. I've published two books on executive privilege, and I know that executive privilege has to bend to reailty."

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 30, 9:54 AM

Re: Israel-Palestine

From a reader who, for him, shows uncommon good sense:

Tim, You and "your reader" are absolutely correct about using NATO to break up the Israeli-Palestinian slugfest. NATO separating the Palestinians from the Israelis along the Green Line would end a conflict that neither has been able to do by themselves, or ever will. Terrorism generated by this conflict affects the entire world, and your solution gives the world an opportunity to stop it. For all practical purposes, that is the only workable way to end this debacle. The only obstacle will be getting the Bush administration to go along with something that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will not approve. Rod Dreher's obstinacy toward this plan is an indicator of what to expect from both Bush and Sharon, unless, of course, Bush is ready to go it alone, and take back control of Middle East events. That, sadly enough, is highly unlikely. However, your idea could catch fire with the American people, and that pressure could cause the Bush administration to understand they must either act on it, or lose the election.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 30, 9:48 AM

Condi does the 9/11 commission

The Bush administration will allow the national security adviser to testify.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 30, 9:43 AM

Re: Condi does 60 Minutes

A reader replies to another reader's comment:
Your reader said, "So, Clarke may have been registered as a Republican, but I don't think that he considered himself a Republican."
"First, Richard Clarke is no Republican."
There's no contradiction in being a Republican and voting against Bush. What doesn't make sense is saying that you believe in the traditional Republican principles and then voting for Bush anyway.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 30, 9:42 AM

USDA doesn't get it

Ninety-five percent of Americans will happily pay an extra dime a pound of beef to have 100 percent of it tested for Mad Cow Disease, but the USDA continues to drag its feet with its proposal to test only 1 pecent of beef. Worse, now comes a small Kansas City beef packer who wants to respond to this consumer demand by paying for having 100 percent of its beef tested for Mad Cow, and the USDA won't allow it! Your government at work.
Is this stupid? If so, notify your congressmen and president to ask for better beef standards.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 30, 9:24 AM

Re: Condi does 60 Minutes

A reader cites the original source for how we know Clarke vote for Gore:

Clarke answered the Tim Russert questions on TV about who he voted for. Also beside the point, the secret ballot is not in the US Constitution. In the early days, voters lined up at the polls and voted vocally. Congressmen votes are recorded - not often enough. If they have to do it, why shouldn't you have to tell if you voted for the candidate who promised you the most money?

Another reader adds this:

He [Clarke] also said [on Meet the Press] he wouldn't endorse Kerry. Those Sean Hannity types need to get their stories first hand instead of taking the Rushified version as gospel.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 30, 8:51 AM

March 29, 2004

Take it outside, Sean

This is one Irishman -- yes, I'm an Irish citizen and a U.S. citizen -- who supports the Ahern government's smoking ban in pubs. I was in Ireland last month and couldn't stand the smoke in the pubs of rural Kerry and Limerick. It'll take some momentary adjustment, but Ireland will get used to the ban and be better for it.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 29, 7:11 PM

Re: Israel-Palestine

My reader rises to his own defense against Herr Dreher's twisting and spinning:

1) The North Atlantic Council, the Alliance's top decision-making body, agreed on April 16 to significantly expand NATO's support to the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, paving the way for NATO's first mission beyond the Euro-Atlantic area. On August 11, NATO took over command and coordination of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

On June 12, NATO ministers meeting in Brussels agreed on a "new streamlined NATO command structure" to prepare the alliance for missions far outside Europe, including a supporting role in Iraq."

The decision came as Spain and Ukraine each committed a brigade to an 8,000-strong multinational division to help in the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The new division is led by Poland with NATO's support, officials.

Said NATO Secretary General George Robertson, "This is a new NATO, a NATO transformed."

Said Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, the alliance "needs to pivot from an inward focus to an outward one, because the greatest threats we face are no longer from within Europe, but from the region stretching from North Africa to Central Asia."

2) In just one example, European nations were repeatedly affected by the Palestinian issue during the "hijacking years" in the 1970s. They, as well as the United States, have a legitimate interest in solving this protracted dispute. Europe has an strong interest in a war-free Mediterranean Sea.

3) Rod Dreher says, "Israel would not stand by while foreign invaders treat the country like their own."

NO one is saying "invade Israel." The proposal is that NATO would supervise the separation of the Palestinians from the Israelis along the Green Line and remove illegal settlements from Occupied Territories. If the United States backed NATO, Israel would have little to say, since they cannot survive without the enormous amount foreign aid provided by Washington.

4) Rod Dreher says, "Where do you suppose the billions the Palestinian Authority has have gone?"

That's just it. Money invested in the Occupied Territories THIS TIME would be supervised by NATO, not the Palestinian Authority. It actually would build water systems, sewage systems, schools and hospitals, not fund thieves, cronies and terrorism. The people would actually benefit and not be oppressed by either their leaders or the Israelis.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 29, 6:52 PM

Re: Israel-Palestine

The world must've passed by Rod Dreher while he wasn't looking.

I repeat: NATO operates outside the North Atlantic theater now. Searching for relevancy after the Cold War, it found it in protecting the alliance from beyond the borders of its members. It commands the international security force in Afghanistan and supports the Polish led multinational force in Iraq.

I also repeat: NATO's "mandate" for securing the territories would come from the United Nations Security Council, the same body that provided NATO's mandate for Bosnia and Afghanistan and Australia's for East Timor.

But here's the statement of Rod's that really throws me: "One imagines that Israel, with a large and effective standing army, and nuclear weapons, would not be willing to stand by while foreign invaders treat the country like their own."

Does Rod seriously entertain that Israel would be any match for NATO, if it should come to that? Please. And which "country" would NATO be treating "like their own"? The territories? Under international law, they're not Israel's. As the CIA's World Fact Book explains, the "West Bank and Gaza Strip are Israeli-occupied" (my emphasis added).

Rod sounds almost gleeful at the slim, slim possibility that Israel would be able to repel NATO, whose principle member is the United States. What's up with that?

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 29, 6:38 PM

Hate speech idiocy

I find this encouraging, not because I like the idea of the feds investigating professors for possible civil rights violations, but because I like to see bullying liberals who push for these idiotic hate speech regulations as a way of silencing debate they don't like having the tables turned on them.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 29, 6:25 PM

Reality TV ...

I love Extreme Makeover home edition. It qualifies as reality TV, and it has choked me up like I haven't been choked up since Little House on the Prairie. This week, it was all about helping a family rebuild after a flood destroyed their house ... in Watts. They just couldn't believe that anyone would help them in such a historically "bad" neighborhood, but these folks cared so much about their neighborhood. It was really touching.
Tomorrow, we decry the downfall of the sitcom, but I personally think that some of the reality TV taking its place is pretty good when it highlights the best parts of humanity like this show does. (Few do, I acknowledge.)

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 29, 5:50 PM

Re: Condi does 60 Minutes

How does Sean Hannity know how ANYONE voted? Last time I looked, we still had secret ballots everywhere.
Clarke's claims do not rise or fall based on his party affiliation. AND, this week, he is being proven correct as the administration has finally come clean about Bush's request to dig into Iraq the day after 9/11. The more we hear and the longer they protest, the more the administration has been admitting Clarke's points are true. That's a bad spot to be in.

Maybe the Sean Hannity fans will know how he knows how Clarke voted in 2000. Our temporary quarters down here in Camp Willey don't accept radio signals....

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 29, 5:39 PM

Laurels in bloom

I think it would greatly improve North Texas if we started planting Texas mountain laurels every chance we get. The one I planted seven years ago has made my driveway a delightful perfumery the past 10 days. It improves the neighborhood and my disposition -- right before I head off for pounding of an Interstate highway commute to work.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 29, 5:30 PM

Black or white: Death of nuance

The political party straitjacket makes people do intellectually dishonest things. Was Richard Clarke a "good man" for his career working under four presidents until the wrote his book, taped the 60 Minutes interview and criticized President Bush (among others, including himself). Then he became a "bad man"? This is the sort of "you're with us or against us" nonsense that drives out nuance. But all of us are nuanced. We all find things to like and dislike about every president; they aren't God.
Was Paul O'Neill a good Bush administration man until the moment he was fired by Bush and wrote a book and taped a 60 Minutes interview? He agrees with many things the administration did, but not all of them. What kind of national conversation can we have if we run around picking out the good guys and bad guys and ignoring the policy points coming out of their mouths? John McCain a good Republican or a bad Republican? John Chaffee? And those Democrats, Rep. Charles Stenholm has a miserable environmental voting record but is a deficit hawk -- except for farm subsidies. Bad Democrat?
Senor Navarrette at this morning's staff meeting commented that the strength of Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts comes from his approach of looking at issues without having to wrap himself in the Washington straitjacket of party politics. It's refreshing. And it reaches the nuanced middle where I think most American voters really reside. Even if they don't know it.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 29, 5:28 PM

Re: Hubbert

One reader to another, but this is a subject we all should pay attention to.
For your other reader:
Hubbert's curve was based on information known in the 1950s. The foundation of his theory is: Production follows discovery. Mapping the discoveries in the USA, he predicted that US oil production would peak in the early 1970s. That was 20 years away and everyone -- including Shell, his employer -- thought it was crazy. What happened? US Oil production peaked in the early 1970s and has been declining ever since. You cannot produce what has not been discovered.
More recently, researchers have begun applying Hubberts theory to global oil production. In the 1970s when the US was short on oil, we simply went overseas and bought more. But when global production peaks, there won't be "another place" to get oil.
While it may be totally true that there are "50 years of oil left," that doesn't mean life is going to be easy for 50 years. China's oil consumption is shooting through the roof. US gallons per mile driven have increasing for the past 10 years, primarily due to increasing consumption by individual vehicles.
The pinch comes when global demand for oil moves past the capacity for production. Basically, we've been in a "buyers market" for oil since it was discovered. We are about to be in a "sellers market" for the first time. Prices will increase -- gradually or dramatically. Either way, the next 50 years are going to be uncomfortable unless we have an alternative.
Global reserves have not increased significantly for 10-20 years. Yes, we are getting more oil out of the ground due to technology. And that technology has a price. Where oil was once extracted at a ratio of 20 units out for 1 unit of energy in, it is now falling below 10. More technology will help pump more oil, but reduce the ratio further. It will take more energy to get the oil out in the first place.
Finally, let's say we do have 50 years -- fifty whole, fun, enjoyable years - before oil "runs out." What are we doing burning it faster? Why aren't we thinking of what will replace petroleum as our cheap energy source? We only pay the price at the pump to gas up our cars, not to replace gas with a new form of energy. Stop and think about all the uses of petroleum -- fertilizer, food transport, airlines, shipping, rail, heating, cooling, refrigeration.
Now.... You've got 50 years left to reinvent how the world runs. Shouldn't we get started??

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 29, 5:15 PM

Re: Condi does 60 Minutes

Another reader responds:

I have no desire to defend Rice, but please don't praise Mr. Clarke for his apology as you did: "By contrast, her fellow Republican Richard Clarke showed the magic of a true, unabashed apology last week. Wow!"
No, Jim, say it ain't so. First Richard Clarke is no Republican. Second, that apology was the biggest bit of grandstanding condescending drivel I've ever heard. Do you really think he feels the weight of guilt for the victims? He himself admitted that the 9/11 attacks could not have been stopped. Why the weepy public apology for something that was not his (or the administration's) fault? I'll tell you why - public grandstanding. He wants to take in the limelight as the "bigger man" who admits when he is wrong. But he wasn't wrong. But I'll tell you what is wrong - when someone makes a production out of apologizing for something he said was not his fault.

I'm truly mystified by how some people have turned on Clarke. Why should we doubt whether anyone feels "the weight of guilt for the victims"? Condi felt sorry for what the survivors went through. I don't doubt that, either. I say it's the "black and white" phenomenon. (see my next post).

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 29, 5:14 PM

immigration debate...

Excuse me, but weren't we supposed to be neck deep in a hot debate over immigration reform right about now. Bush put a plan on the table. Kerry put out a press release promising that he could do better. Now neither one talks about the issue - despite the enormous amount of interest at the grassroots. And they call that leadership?

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 29, 5:10 PM

Re: Condi does 60 Minutes

A reader responds:

You wrote, "By contrast, her fellow Republican Richard Clarke showed the magic of a true, unabashed apology last week. Wow!"

Just one small point. Technically, Clarke may have been a Republican. He voted in the Republican primary. But in the general election in 2000, he voted for Gore. Gore! This according to Sean Hannity. Gore was a raving liberal. So, Clarke may have been registered as a Republican, but I don't think that he considered himself a Republican.

Thanks for sourcing the point, I'd like to hear more on Clarke's Republican affiliation. I keep hearing he's a Republican. But voting for somebody who isn't a Republican doesn't change your party "registration" which is more formal in some state than here. In Texas there is no "official" party registration, but if you vote in one of the party's primaries, there is an officially recorded affiliation towards that party. But I'm not sure where that leaves independents. And as North Texas increasingly becomes a one-party area, if you want to vote to make a difference in many local races, the only choices are on the Republican side of the ballot at primary time. Then there's the Libertarians and the Greens....

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 29, 5:10 PM

Karl Rove: "Mi casa NO es su casa!"

From today's Washington Post:

Several hundred people stormed the small yard of President Bush's chief
political strategist, Karl Rove, yesterday afternoon, pounding on his
windows, shoving signs at others and challenging Rove to talk to them about
a bill that deals with educational opportunities for immigrants.

So a bunch of Hispanics stormed Karl's crib. I don't see the big deal. Everyone knows that the White House's chief political strategist is trying to reach out to Hispanics. It was only a matter of time before they reached back.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 29, 4:57 PM

More Spanish troops to Kabul

I need a clarilfication here from the crowd that called Spaniards "appeasers" after their last election. Now that they're doubling their countribution of troops to the battle against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, are they still appeasers or are they something else?
And, bonus question: what does this make such Bush allies as the Mexicans and Saudis?

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 29, 4:53 PM

strong feelings

The commentator on CNN said of Condi Rice's refusal to testify publicly: "The administration feels very strongly about executive privilege." You better believe it. Like a drowning man feels strongly about a life preserver.

posted by ruben navarrette @ Mar 29, 4:50 PM

Kerry jobs plan

I was ready to jump down Kerry's shorts when I heard that he was proposing a jobs plan. But after it came out, I'll only jump him for claiming his administration will add 10 million jobs. Puh-leeze.
But his proposal to switch the corporate income tax rates around, so an overall tax cut for profits earned at home can be "paid for" by increasing the tax on profits made overseas seems to help rewarding job creation at home.l It left me scratching my head unable to discern whether I am for it or against it. It seems promising, in a small way, but I'd like to hear others first.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 29, 4:36 PM

Condi does 60 Minutes

A reader notes: Was it merely wishful thinking, or did big, bad, Ed Bradley have Condoleeza Rice on the edge of tears when he kept asking her how she
could claim the Administration was focused on al-Qaida when former
cabinet members and the President himself, as reported by Woodward, said
they weren't?

Ed Bradley was tough on Condi. Near tears? No. But it's hard defending a weak case, and she didn't do well. Every administrations makes mistakes, and she is the ultimate face of arrogance for this administration. The worst moments in the Sunday interview were the contortions she went through about when Ed tried to get her to say she was sorry to the 9-11 families. Instead, she gave us the "of course we're sorry" version of the "never having to say your sorry" line that is the hallmark of many big institutions, including this administration. By contrast, her fellow Republican Richard Clarke showed the magic of a true, unabashed apology last week. Wow!

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 29, 4:32 PM

Oil Supplies & Hubbert Curve -- My $1.86

I like it when the discussion is substantive. This reader and I aren't disagreeing on facts, but are looking at different time frames. He admits that oil is getting more expensive, if not difficult, to extract. That should be driving prices up. The other detaill that will drive prices up is demand. "Current consumption rates" may stay stable for this nation, but as other countries dream of matching our roadway system, that will change. And the honesty of reserve estimates increasingly is coming into question.
I am not an alarmist. We can adjust to declining oil supplies. The question is whether we are adjusting quickly enough to avoid an oil shock when the end of the fossil fuel economy is within sight
Is oil (or natural gas) unlimited? No. But continued referrel to the MK Hubert Curve is misleading. Hubert based his curve on consumption, production, reserves and methodologies in place in the 1950's.
A couple of points -- if the curve is to be believed, we should be running out of oil right about now. But we aren't. New reserves have more than made up for consumption -- around 1970, someone estimated we had about 50 years of oil left. As of 2004 (some 30 years later), we have more than 50 years of oil left at current consumption rates.
It should be noted that at the time, the "deep" water in the Gulf of Mexico that was being drilled was in less than 50 feet of water. Today, we drill in 1 mile of water -- before hitting the ground and going another couple of miles to hit pay. As expensive as that is (and it is), we're still getting gas in our cars at an inflation adjusted price below that of the pre-1973 embargo. Technology has made that possible.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, it was common to "explore" for oil by going to a known well and shooting arrows into the air to find your next wildcat drill site. Now, 3-D (and even 4D) seismic computer simulations allow geologists and engineers to virtually walk through rock formations and direct drilling to the sweet spot more often than not.
Is it more expensive today? Yes. Is it evironmentally more benign? Yes. But the reason that the market has yet to do anything drastic about changing our addiction to oil is that it is still VERY cheap when compared to anything else.
BTW -- I do work for CVX.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 29, 4:25 PM

Texas Stadium ...

Although I once swore that I would only return to Texas Stadium if U2 was opening for the Pope, I won tickets to the George Strait/Alan Jackson/Jimmy Buffet show. How cool is that? I'm not sure there could be a better concert lineup. I am, however, sure we could have a better venue for such a great concert.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 29, 3:58 PM

Oil Is Not Forever

Will we develop the technology to avert an oil crisis? We better. Stories like this one, sent in by a reader with particular interest in the oil industry, are becoming more common.
One of the things mentioned, I believe, in Hubbert's Peak is that oil exploration and production will get progressively more expensive. Business Week's April 5 2004 European edition carries the below cover story.
At any rate, the costs of new production of oil in Saudi Arabia seem quite high ... part of the escalating in prices predicted as demand crosses the supply curve. What will we do to address the fact that oil is not forever?
"Saudi Arabia: There's plenty in the ground, but it won't be easy to get.
"The kingdom may need major new foreign investors. Will it dare open up?
"The issue is not whether there is enough oil but rather whether they have the willingness and the ability to develop it in a timely manner," says Edward L. Morse, a former U.S. official for global energy policy and now a senior adviser at Hetco, a New York-based energy trader.
"The numbers are huge. With new capacity costing $3,000 to $6,000 per daily barrel, the Saudis would have to spend somewhere around $6 billion to $12 billion just to get to 12 million bbl. a day -- along with substantial costs to maintain production. Doubling output would require much broader investment, perhaps $150 billion, Birol estimates. He worries that because Saudi Arabia and other big Mideast producers, such as Iran, are largely closed to foreign investment, there may be financing constraints. "If the reserves are closed to [foreign direct investment], they may not be able to find the necessary funds," he says."

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 29, 2:55 PM

Electronic Voting

By now, we've all heard enough horror stories about electronic votiing to be a bit skittish. A reader has sent along an item to make us even more skittish.
Wired News published a long article today (3-29-04) about E-Voting and the companies that make the machines. The article is 6 pages long, but worth reading.
Just for grins, here are some interesting excerpts:
"Harris discovered that she could enter the vote database using Microsoft Access -- a standard program often bundled with Microsoft Office -- and change votes without leaving a trace. Diebold hadn't password-protected the file or secured the audit log, so anyone with access to the tabulation program during an election -- Diebold employees, election staff or even hackers if the county server were connected to a phone line -- could change votes and alter the log to erase the evidence."
"In Dallas County, Texas, in 1998, for example, ES&S; tabulation software failed to count about 44,000 votes that its optical-scan machine had recorded on ballots. In 2000 in Allamakee County, Iowa, 300 ballots fed into an ES&S; optical-scan machine produced 4 million votes. The machine broke down repeatedly and flashed absurd numbers throughout the evening, election auditor Bill Roe Jr. told the Chicago Tribune. "

This all reminds me how a few decades ago I visited a buddy at the Chicago Tribune, and sat down at the copy desk to wait for him to finish his shift. The Tribune had a Hendrix system, so I idly logged on using that secret password for the system in Dayton, Ohio. Tribune people were not amused that a stranger could walk in and sign on their system. Not changing the manufacturer's password is unwise.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 29, 2:30 PM

Read the Book

It's been interesting getting all the mail from readers arguing about both Richard Clarke's assessment of the war on terrorism and which admiistration did what about terrorism -- and then comparing public perceptions with the book.
It's actually a quite good read, one that might appeal to many people who think they hate Clarke. Make no mistake, Clarke is a hawk, and an opinionated one at that. Everyone will find points of agreement and disagreement with his perceptions. And no president could devote enough resources to anti-terrorism to satisfy him.
But when he lays out the scenario of how successive administrations slowly came to the realization that there was some non-state player that we now call al-Qaeda, everything rings true. The bureaucratic infighting and the arguments among different arms of government over what they were capable of doing should surprise nobody. And lots of his revelations don't fit stereotypes
As for its depictions of the Bush administration (I've still got about a third of the book to go, so most of that is ahead of me), so far everything about its worldview tracks pretty well wtih Ivo Daalder's book, "America Unbound."
Agree of disagree, you should read the book first.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 29, 2:13 PM

Re: a teacher's lament

Y'all might remember the reader last week who wrote to me:

i am tired of teachers whinning and people who know teachers whinning for them. if teachers dont like the class room environment they have only themselves to blame. stop complaing and do something about it. they are responsible for their own working environment and they can change it if they want to. oh and by the way my son is a high school teacher and coach.

An 8th-grade English teacher just responded:
I have counted at least 15 grammatical and punctuation errors in this response. This person dares to criticize teachers? Give me a break!

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 29, 2:08 PM

WJI and me

Seems that I've been caught up in the controversy over the World Journalism Institute and scandal-plagued ex-USA Today star reporter Jack Kelley. Kelley, as you may know, was recently found by his paper to have fabricated numerous stories. Kelley is also a devout Christian, and used to go around telling groups that, in essence, God was his managing editor.

Kelley had also taught a class on one or more occasions at the World Journalism Institute, a summer program for journalism students who happen to be Christian. Lots of other secular-media folks did too (here's a list of WJI guest teachers), including ... me, last summer. WJI apparently has a philosophy of "presuppositional journalism," which states that Christians ought to approach the craft of journalism with a set of "Biblical" biases in mind, to guide their reporting. This is, of course, a violation of the journalistic ethics the overwhelming number of mainstream journalists, Christian ones as well, profess.

The thing is, I was not aware of this philosophy when I agreed to teach a two-day seminar there, nor was I ever asked to affirm it in any way in my presentation. I spoke to the students about how to write various forms of opinion journalism (editorials, op-ed columns, reviews), and critiqued their attempts to do same. I did speak to them about prejudice and misunderstanding they'll likely encounter in newsrooms if they are open about their faith, and how to deal with it. I told them that they must have an absolute obligation to telling the truth as fully and as fairly as they can -- even if it leads them to clash with their own religious leaders, as I have tried to do with my writing on the Catholic church scandal.

I was treated with courtesy and professionalism by the WJI people last summer, and did nothing I should apologize for. I strongly doubt that any mainstream journalist who agreed to guest-lecture there agrees with the WJI philosophy, and I also doubt they were even aware of it. In the wake of the Kelley debacle, WJI guest lecturers are becoming easy scapegoats for critics who think we're all crypto-Kelleys. Nevertheless, in this time of increased scrutiny to journalistic ethics, to make it completely clear that I do not agree with WJI's core journalistic philosophy, I have asked the folks there to remove my name from its website.

If anybody has any further questions about this, drop me an e-mail and I'll answer them.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 29, 1:52 PM

All alone

A reader and I have had an offline debate abotu whether we are truly going it alone in Iraq. I said last week that to see an example of when we really did go it alone, look to Vietnam, not Iraq. We have dozens of nations helping us, not with just money and supllies, but also with troops. he said it was just Great Britian, then realized he was wrong and backtracked to this:
If the now narrow point you want to make is that not everybody is against us, gee, I'll concede it.

Damn near most of 'em, however. The Pew poll from last month of Muslim man-on-the-street interviews, taken in so-called moderate allied Muslim states (Egypt, Morocco, Turkey et al) showed upwards of 90% having no problem with suicide bombers acting against Americans.

I'd say that number - for those countries - is up significantly from pre-Iraq invasion days, not to mention how we're now viewed within the historic NATO Alliance nations of Western Europe.
So now this gentleman, who doesn't seem to mind research and facts from getting in the way of making a good argument, is just assuming that these poll numbers have risen since the U.S. went into Iraq. Maybe it is. But I just can't stand it when folks make assertions and pass them off as fact.
Here's a fact that we can and have tracked over time. This month, for the first time, a BBC poll showed that a majority of Iraqis think they are better off than before the war. Not since the end of the war, but since BEFORE the war.
We're winning.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 29, 1:42 PM

Imagine that

So far, I'm unaware that "The Passion of the Christ" has caused any synagogue burnings or pogroms. But it has caused a conscience-stricken neo-Nazi (!) to turn himself in to police.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 29, 1:35 PM

Somebody tell a joke

A reader complains that we are too dang serious on this blog, that we need to lighten up from time to time. OK, fine:

Free beer at Hooters! Free beer at Hooters! Free beer at Hooters!

There, I've done my bit.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 29, 1:05 PM

Another network faux pas

Why are television networks losing viewers? Sure, cable and satellite competition is part of it, but there still is a network mentality of wanting to make decisions for the viewer that sometimes comes across as arrogance. We saw a great example of that Friday night, when my family slipped out to a sports bar to watch an NCAA game.
We chose our destination because it bought the full package, where any game could be viewed in its entirety (if you'd prefer to see a different game, just switch the channel, since you've bought all of them). Yet in the middle of the second half of a close game, the network decided that people would really prefer to see the end of a different game. It stayed away for a long time (in basketball terms), while one team built a lead that essentially put the game out of reach before the broadcast switched back.
One exceptionally stupid decision ticked off a lot of people (some were even yelling at the screen to get back to the game).

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 29, 1:01 PM

Re: Israel/Palestine

Tim's reader writes to argue in favor of NATO invading Israel to impose a solution on the Israelis and the Palestinians. Last week, I argued that aside from the fact that such an idea is crazy, NATO -- as in the NORTH ATLANTIC Treaty Organization -- is an organization that exists to defend the peace in Europe, not insert itself into the Middle East. The reader wrote:

The United States also had neither a mandate nor a right to invade Iraq. Those facts didn't stop us from occupying that sovereign nation.

Very big differences. For one, the US was technically still at war with Iraq, as Iraq was in non-compliance with the terms on which it ended the Gulf War. Secondly, an individual nation may plausibly claim a "mandate" to do whatever the heck it wants to. But NATO is an organization that exists for a specific purpose, a purpose that doesn't extend to police actions in the Middle East. Does the reader believe the Organization of American States should invade Israel? That the ANZUS treaty signatories should do so? I mean, where does it stop?

The Palestinian territory and the Mid-East slugfest has affected the rest of the world to a far greater extent than anything Iraq ever did in the past. Who's to say NATO has no right?

How about the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO's founding document? It makes clear that NATO is a North American/European alliance dedicated to keeping the peace in those regions and defending member states from attack.

There's no doubt that terrorism is a major problem -- so let's go after that one, too. Divide the territories on the Green Line (knock down any non-compliant walls) and separate the two combatants. No more illegal Israeli settlements either -- all those will be closed and removed.

Excuse me, reader, but one imagines that Israel, with a large and effective standing army, and nuclear weapons, would not be willing to stand by while foreign invaders treat the country like their own.

Add assistance to the Palestinian infrastructure for roads, hospitals, water and sewer systems so they do not have to live in misery. A decade or so of economic development under controlled circumstances would begin to give people a reason to live and some hope for the future.

Good grief. Where do you suppose the billions the Palestinian Authority has had at its disposal for the benefit of the Palestinian people has gone? Ask Ya$$er Arafat.

Back to the drawing board, Dear Reader. Hey! Maybe these cats can be persuaded to come solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 29, 12:58 PM

Postrel on teachers

In her NYTimes column, Dallas-based Virginia Postrel explains why, "In hiring teachers, we get what we pay for: average quality at average wages." The answers may surprise you.

posted by Rod Dreher @ Mar 29, 12:27 PM

Holding Kids Back

Sometimes, the story that gets everyone talking is one that the Editorial Board won't really take a position on. This one, about the trend of holding kids back in school so they will be older than their classmates, is one. It is, after all, a kid-by-kid decision that may be right right thing to do in one case and the wrong thing in the next.
Still, one aspect of it has bothered me as long as I've been in Texas -- how some parents hold a child back to increase the kid's chances in competitive sports. To those of us who had kids in their normal grades, it always seemed like cheating to have kids who really should be in a higher grade competing to make a sports team. This is particularly true in junior high years, when six months can make a big difference in development and size (growing four inches or more a year is pretty normal).
Watching one group of kids advance has made me even more critical of holding kids back for sports. To start with, the advantage a kid has in junior high (which can be the difference between making a team and being cut) generally is gone by the junior year of high school. The older kid who was a dominant 5-8 seventh-grader can end up growing only another inch or two, while the 5-foot kid who almost doesn't make the squad may well be a 6-footer.
But the real question is what this does psychologically to the older kid. To go from being a star in junior high to an average kid who can't make the team in high school has to be devastating. It's devastating to all kids to be cut, but to be cut (or even be a bench warmer) when you expect to be a star is even worse.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 29, 12:04 PM

Re: Toxic tents scandal

A reader reminds us:

Just a thought. Hexavalent chromium. Has everybody seen the movie Erin

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 29, 11:32 AM

Re: Pledge

A reader notes:
An earlier correspondent wrote: “I am both a teacher and a parent, and I can tell you that NO child will escape being ostracized by his peers for refusing to say the pledge because of the "under god" part in it.”

Frankly, I absolutely don’t believe this. I have always viewed this concern as a manufactured crisis unworthy of our attention for exactly this reason. I attended schools in Kansas, Arizona, Delaware, and Texas (two in Richardson, two in Plano). Sometimes I said the pledge sometimes I didn’t. Not once in 13 years of public school did a single person even notice if I said the pledge or not, much less actually say something about it.

It’s possible that there are a few isolated places where such things are noticed, the assertion that “no child will escape” is absolutely ridiculous. I’m now 34, and I highly doubt things have gotten worse. If anything we are growing less religious over time.

posted by jim mitchell @ Mar 29, 8:31 AM

March 28, 2004

The Battle of Ellis County

Another reason people who breathe in Dallas-Fort Worth should care about the Battle of Ellis County: we share the same airshed. What their heavy industry spews upwind in the summer ozone season contributes to what we have to breathe.
After all, Midlothian by self proclamation is the "Cement and Steel Capital of Texas": of the 10 largest cement plants in the country, Midlothian is home to three: Holcim, TXI and Ashgove-Texas. Gosh. They didn't lay claim to being home to some of the nation's top hazardous waste and tire-burning facilities. Hmm. Make a note to the Chamber of Commerce webmaster on that. TXI's Chapparral Steel mill sits just west of TXI's cement kiln.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram map published on its front page Friday carves off only the tiniest northwest corner of Ellis County for inclusion in the smog non-attainment area. While it may include the TXI cement and steel facilities, it does not seem to include TXI's new business park, TXI RailPort which is still seeking tenants. The value of that real estatement development, which still has one phase remaining for build out, might be hurt if the 1,700-acre development is included on the wrong side of the smog map.
A story about the the park a few years ago said it would have "an anticipated value of $800 million, RAILPORT will create about 4,800 direct and indirect employment opportunities and will create a cumulative regional economic impact of $12.8 billion over 30 years."
It already includes the 1,100-megawatt gas-fired power plant owned by American National Power. These are the kind of industrial projects developed just outside of urban centers that can create havoc to regulators' efforts to control emissions in our airshed. Regulators from the EPA should include all of Ellis County -- not just a tiny slice of it around Midlothian -- to make it easier to control.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 28, 5:34 PM

Re: Toxic tent scandal

Whistleblower Keith Ayers, who let the world know that those camouflage tents that are standard in the military may be hazardous to our soldiers' health, contacted me after I posted The New York Times story Wednesday. (The toxic compounds include lead chromate, hexavalent chromium and trivalent chromium -- all banned for use by the military but which a military contractor used anyway.) Now the Atlanta Journal-Constitution weighed in Saturday with its profile of the dispute, which it appears the Pentagon is trying paper over a minimize. Sen. Charles Grassley is now checking into it. Soldiers' health always seems to come last!
Here's part of what whistleblower Mr. Ayers told me:
Thank you for helping to spread the news. The problem with the toxic tents is much more severe than the government will admit. There is a search warrant in the western district of Virginia where Dr. Victor Kalasinsky, head toxicologist for the Army, says that anyone who comes in contact with these tents is in danger. I have a copy. The DOD [Department of Defense] has since backed-off of that position in light of the potential liability involved. Even after their own investigation of the causes of Gulf War Syndrome showed that military personnel were contracting skin rashes after handling tents, the military choses to turn its back on the issue. Skin rashes are the first sign of exposure to lead chromate.

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 28, 4:01 PM

March 26, 2004

Re: Israel-Palestine

A reader responds to Rod's comment earlier in the week that "NATO has neither a mandate nor a right to invade the West Bank and Gaza":

The United States also had neither a mandate nor a right to invade Iraq. Those facts didn't stop us from occupying that sovereign nation. The Palestinian territory and the Mid-East slugfest has affected the rest of the world to a far greater extent than anything Iraq ever did in the past. Who's to say NATO has no right?

There's no doubt that terrorism is a major problem -- so let's go after that one, too. Divide the territories on the Green Line (knock down any non-compliant walls) and separate the two combatants. No more illegal Israeli settlements either -- all those will be closed and removed. Add assistance to the Palestinian infrastructure for roads, hospitals, water and sewer systems so they do not have to live in misery. A decade or so of economic development under controlled circumstances would begin to give people a reason to live and some hope for the future.

It is very easy to find recruits for terrorism and suicide bombings when there is no hope, no dignity, no future prospects of any sort. Let's begin to provide that and see how it turns out. Hell, everything else has been tried but common sense.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 26, 9:01 PM

9/11 commission hearings

Man's capacity to delude himself knows no bounds.

I'm more convinced of that than ever watching congressional Republicans try to destroy Richard Clarke, the former counter-terrorism aide to President Bush, who claims in a new book that Mr. Bush didn't do enough to stop al-Qaeda before the attacks on the United States.

The mere idea that the Republicans can make Mr. Clarke's accusation go away by dismembering him is laughable. The record of Mr. Bush's inattention is abundantly evident even without Mr. Clarke's denunciation.


o Mr. Bush seldom mentioned terrorism during the 2000 presidential campaign. When he did, he almost always did so in the context of the need to defend against ballistic missile attacks.

o When Mr. Bush became president, he didn't push his advisers to tackle the issue. On the contrary, he emphasized counter-terrorism less than the Clinton administration had.

o Mr. Bush did all this even though George Tenet, the CIA director, had warned him that al-Qaeda was a "tremendous" and an "immediate" threat to the United States.

o U.S. intelligence knew of failed Islamist plots to use hijacked commercial airplanes as weapons and of the Islamists' general interest in the tactic.

o After 9/11, Mr. Bush himself said that he had not be very attentive to the threat. "I was not on point, but I new he was a menace, and I knew he was a problem. I knew he was responsible, for the [previous] bombings that killed Americans. I was prepared to look at a plan that would be a thoughtful plan that would bring him to justice, and would have given an order to do that. I have no hesitancy about going after him. But I didn't feel that sense of urgency, and my blood was not nearly as boiling."

The fact of the matter is that Mr. Bush just didn't care that much about counter-terrorism against non-state actors. People tried to tell him and his top aides to wake up. The record is replete with evidence of that. He ignored it.

I applaud Mr. Clarke for telling that truth.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 26, 8:34 PM

Re: Perry, Leavitt split the baby?

In the fight to clean Dallas-Fort Worth's air, Gov. Perry has been more of a hindrance than a help, except for his grudging signature of an emissions reduction bill in 2003.

So how does Mr. Perry finally choose to assert himself? By undercutting the regional coalition that is trying develop a fair and equitable plan for cleaning the air enough to avoid federal sanctions.

I had a long talk today with Collin County Judge Ron Harris, the Republican who chairs the North Texas Clean Air Steering Committee. He said he was shocked to learn on Thursday from Texas environmental commissioner Ralph Marquez (an appointee of former Gov. George W. Bush) that Mr. Perry had written to EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt on Feb. 24 suggesting that only a portion of Ellis County be included in the non-attainment area.

So much for the bottom-up approach to pollution mitigation that Mr. Perry and his aides always said they wanted in North Texas. When they finally do what he asks, after much hard work and relationship building, he tries to pull the rug right out from under them -- and all to appease Ellis County industrial interests. What about the interests of Dallas, Collin, Tarrant and Denton counties? Why is Mr. Perry so willing to sacrifice them for the sake of industrial development in Ellis County?

Dallas-Fort Worth needs help from its congressional delegation. You can forget its Republican House members, who won't do anything to anger Rep. "Smokey Joe" Barton, who represents Ellis County and is chairman of the powerful Commerce and Energy Committee. No, the help must come from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Sen. John Cornyn, but especially Hutchison, who aspires to replace Perry as governor. Hutchison could be the knight on the white horse in this political drama, which would be entertaining if the economic and environmental wellbeing of North Texas weren't hanging in the balance.

posted by Timothy O'Leary @ Mar 26, 8:18 PM

Re: Perry, Leavitt split the baby?

Can the Republican Party find its environmental heritage? Here in North Texas in the Battle of Ellis County we are seeing evidence that it may. A major showdown involving two factions of the Republican Party may be already be under way -- one side a new (dare we call it) environmental wing of the local GOP establishment.
We're hearing murmurs of major power politics, with major Ellis County businesses involved, in dividing up Ellis County for this 11th-hour "smog map." Just where did they draw the non-attainment boundary that cuts across the northwest corner of Ellis County? Which industries were drawn inside and which were drawn just outside? Maypearl seems to be well outside the non-attainment boundary, for instance.
We will be discussing a possible major editorial at Monday's regular editorial board morning meeting to expose the shenigans. We understand there are some industrial rail projects in the area that might have figured into the political stew that Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Smokey Joe Barton, Ellis County Judge Chad Adams and "Texas Commission on Environmental Quality" commissioner Marquez are swimming in. Is this as politically charged a map drawing as redistricting?
Any and all help from the blogosphere is welcome. It's a battle of titans!
Watch out when all these pachyderms rumble!

posted by Jim Frisinger @ Mar 26, 6:29 PM

Re: Hutchison vs. Strayhorn

This may not be an uncommon popular reaction. But would Strayhorn want to be a senator? The word has been out for a long time that both women have their eyes on the Governor's Mansion.
If Senator Kay wants to be governor, I'd be in favor of recruiting Grandma Strayhorn to replace her in the Senate!

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 26, 6:07 PM

re: Dems v Dems

I should have known better than to go up against Will Rogers.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 26, 6:02 PM

Re: Surprised About Hutchison

Kay Bailey's run for governor has been rumored for so long that nobody may have realized it was news. A Hutchison-Strayhorn primary race could be a lot of fun.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 26, 5:09 PM

Re: Dems v. Dems

What were you expecting, Brother McKenzie? Wasn't it Will Rogers who said that he didn't belong to an organized political party, he was a Democrat? And how many pundits have noted that Democrats form a circle for their firing squads?
You've got to be an alpha male (OK, maybe an alpha female) to go after the top job to start with. Put a bunch of them together, and it ain't gonna be pretty, not matter their party affiliation.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 26, 5:06 PM

Traditional Irish Music

Is Hendrix a traditional Scottish name? Anyway, the Irish festival at Fair Park already had pumped us up to attend the Scottish festival.
What, you've never heard Jimmy Hendrix 'Purple Haze' played on the bagpipes? Sounds like you need to visit that Scottish festival they have out in Arlington every August.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 26, 5:00 PM

Dems v. Dems

Dems like to talk about how united they are in this election, but that dinner they had for John Kerry in DC last night looked like the most awkward political dance imaginable. Clinton and Gore waltzing around each other. Same with Clinton and Carter and Kerry and Dean. They all don't much like each other. If this is unity, I'd hate to see division.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 26, 4:54 PM

Radio/TV Dinner skit

Have we blogged about Bush's skit at the Radio and TV Correspondents' Dinner? If so, I missed it. Anyway, this is the skit where Bush is videotaped looking around his office for WMD. I love it when politicians poke fun at themselves, but this one went too far when you consider what our soldiers and their families have gone through. Bad form, bad form.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 26, 4:50 PM

Zell's not the only one

Ms. Barta, you pointed out that John Connally once led Democrats for Nixon. My recollection is that former Gov. Allen Shivers led Dems for Eisenhower. In fact, it seemed like most every presidential election we had some Texas Democrat leading a Dems for the GOP nominee. Just shows how the state was ready to go Republican.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 26, 4:32 PM

Conservative Dems update

I blogged recently about conservative Democrats pushing their own budget in the House. Here's the update: They lost, but their plan also got the most bipartisan votes of any budget considered in the House this week. I liked their budget because it would force both those who want more spending and those who want more tax cuts to come up with a way to pay for them. More power to these guys!

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 26, 4:30 PM

surprised about Hutchison

Carolyn, did it surprise you and the audience last Friday when Sen. Hutchison acknowledged she was thinking about running for governor? Gromer Jeffers reported her remark this week, and it really jumped out at me. I don't recall KBH ever being so explicit. She also seemed pretty honest, saying her kids had changed her and maybe she should just go back home and "buy a dog."

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 26, 4:27 PM

re: frost/sessions

Ms. Barta, you're right about that Frost/Sessions race. It's going to be as heated as Bush/Kerry. I take Frost at his word about the number of Hispanics in the district, but I never had heard the figure he quoted.

posted by bill mckenzie @ Mar 26, 4:24 PM

On a Less Serious Note...

My daughter swears she heard an Irish folk group performing John O'Reilly at the Irish festival a few weeks ago.
It amuses me, because even though the song is about an Irish immigrant, it's as Irish as Shel Silverstein's The Unicorn. In fact, just about every other song by Charlie Robison (or his brother Bruce) proclaims his Texas roots. How long does it take for an "Irish" song to become traditional?

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 26, 3:46 PM

Richard Clarke

If any non-economic statistic should scare the Bush campaign, it is that 90 percent of the public knows who Richard Clarke is and they are at least vagely familiar with what he said. New York Times this morning had a story about how quickly his book is selling. Even around Dallas, it's getting scarce (I just had a copy set aside at my local bookstore, and the clerk told me there weren't many left).
And he didn't even need Mel Gibson's help with publicity.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 26, 3:24 PM

Atheists in Foxholes

A letter writer this morning repeated the old saw that there are no atheists in foxholes, and another letter writer (in tomorrow's paper) immediately objected to that as an insult.
I always assumed that whoever coined that phrase had spent minimal time, if any, in foxholes. One atheist friend of mine actually died in a foxhole. Another credits his lack of religion to his combat experience.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 26, 3:13 PM

Warrantless Searches

This Associated Press story certainly caught a reader's eye. This appears to be throwing away too much precedent and procedure. There are legitimate exceptions to warrants (hot pursuit), but ...
Ruben, who is the son of a cop and a particular stickler for police procedures, should weigh in on this issue.
Key highlight below: The judges on the Fifth Circuit are essentially saying that, hey, if a cop goes to someone's home, for whatever reason, a warrantless search may be justified. Yikes!
"A federal appeals court has opened the door for police officers in Texas and two other states to search homes and buildings for evidence without a warrant — a ruling that two dissenting judges called "the road to hell."
Acting on a Baton Rouge case, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that police do not need an arrest or search warrant to conduct a swift sweep of private property to ensure their own safety.
Any evidence discovered during that search now is admissible in court as long as the search is a "cursory inspection," and if police entered the site for a legitimate law enforcement purpose and believed it may be dangerous.
The 11-4 ruling affects Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi and replaces a standard set in 1994, when the 5th Circuit held that police can make a so-called protective sweep only if officers are there to arrest someone.
In the majority opinion, Judge William Lockhart Garwood wrote that any in-home encounter poses a risk to police officers, even if it is simply to interview someone.

posted by John Chamless @ Mar 26, 2:56 PM

Re: Talking points

I should mention that those talking points all oversimplify things and demand oversimplified responses, so here goes:
Bush may have been wrong about WMDs, but he did not lie. He outlined numerous reasons for war, and almost all of them have been substantiated. Yes, there are 500 young men and women whom we have lost, and the number may rise. This is a sad fact, though, not a polticial argument. This is not another Vietnam. We've been there one year, people. Not a decade. And we're not there unilaterally. We have had help from more than 50 other nations. Want to see unilateral, go brush up on Vietnam again since you're so interested.
And to suggest that Bush was weak on defense and did not do enough prior to 9/11 to prevent it is the easiest (and weakest) jab to take. There's a reason for the hindsight cliche, and it's meant to point out the weakness of arguments like these.
Finally, it's not an "attack" when it's on someone's record. That's called criticism. When Dems "attack" Bush's decisions, we call it being "critical." Return the favor. So to call it a Republican Attack Machine, is, in itself, an attack on anyone who chooses to criticize and question the record of the man the dems have nominated. Heaven knows they didn't do enough of that themselves in the primaries where one primal scream from the front runner sent them scurrying to the safety of John Kerry.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 26, 2:37 PM

Talking points

If I understand the Democrats lately, no matter what the topic is, they have a few points they will make in any conversation.
Me: Good morning. What do you think about Marty Turco getting suspended? Will it mean no home ice for the Stars in the playoffs?
Partyline Dem: Whatever it means, it better mean that we elect anyone but Bush. He lied to the American people to avenge his father and cater to big oil. He never should have gone to Iraq. 500 soldiers are dead and the number is rising. Iraq does not want us there. This is another Vietnam, and going into countries unilaterally has destroyed our credibility overseas with our allies. However, it would have been wise to pre-emptively invade Afghanistan before the 9/11 attacks, but instead Bush did nothing and then said "Bring it on" to terrorists. Oh, and the Republican attack machine is lying about John Kerry's record.
Did I miss any of the talking points or did I get them all in? I'm new at this. I prefer to debate and discuss things rather than to roll out rhetoric, so let me know if my depiction is somehow inaccurate.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 26, 2:11 PM

Pledge fun facts!

I just came back from a journalism conference where we talked about the pledge of allegiance issue. I learned a lot, and am still pretty undecided on it. But I was surprised to learn that the guy who wrote it was a socialist and that it was written to sell flags as a marketing gimmick. The words "under God" were included long after it became popular (in the 1950s, when we were at "cold war" with the godless communists) and have been included in less than half of its history. Also, the court ruled that any child can opt out of the pledge BEFORE those words were added. Not sure how all this affects my opinion, but I found it interesting and wanted to pass this along.

posted by Michael Landauer @ Mar 26, 1:10 PM

re Democrats for Bush

from a female responder:

You wrote, "The biggest reason would be the deception employed by the administration in launching the war in Iraq and questions about Bush's judgment. Yet, while we hear conservatives and nominal Republicans saying they can't vote for Bush, will they vote for Kerry?"

I think you have it all wrong. I think most Republicans are not upset about going into Iraq. I think most think that Bush and others truly believed that they would find WMDs, not that they lied. Even Clinton, when his term was ending, thought that Iraq had WMDs. Republicans think that Bush would be much stronger than Kerry on defense against terrorism. Most Americans, according to polls, think that Bush would be much stronger.

But you are right. Bush has lied about SOME things. Plus, he has grown government and is seeking amnesty for people who came here illegally from a country that seems not to want to combat terrorism or to stop terrorists. Kerry will definitely NOT fit the bill for these Republicans, but Bush may not, either. November will tell!

posted by carolyn barta @ Mar 26, 12:50 PM

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