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June 22, 2005
5:01am EDT

The Federalist Patriot
Mike Reagan, author and radio host, reads The Patriot ... "The vision and legacy of the Reagan Revolution flourish on the pages of The Federalist Patriot." The Patriot is free by e-mail.

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America's premiere website for news, analysis, and Conservative opinion.

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Best of the Web

Note: Links were good at the time we posted this column, but they often go bad after a while. We make no guarantees.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005 4:11 p.m. EDT

Durbin Supports the Troops
Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, took the Senate floor yesterday and likened American servicemen to Nazis (link in PDF):

When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here [at Guantanamo Bay]--I almost hesitate to put them in the [Congressional] Record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. . . . On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.

We are fighting an enemy that murdered 3,000 innocent people on American soil 3 1/2 years ago and would murder millions more if given the chance--and according to Dick Durbin, our soldiers are the Nazis.

What's the Matter With Poitou-Charentes?
The New York Times has a rather amusing interview with Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the former French president who wrote the European Union Constitution, which his countrymen rejected last month. Giscard d'Estaing is blaming France's current president, Jacques Chirac, for the failure:

A crucial turning point for the fate of the constitution in France came last March, Mr. Giscard d'Estaing said, when he phoned Mr. Chirac to warn him not to send the entire three-part, 448-article document to every French voter. The third and longest part consisted only of complicated treaties that have already been in force for years.

He said Mr. Chirac refused, citing legal reasons. "I said, 'Don't do it, don't do it,' " Mr. Giscard d'Estaing said. "It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text." . . .

Still, Mr. Giscard d'Estaing said that until the end he believed the French people would vote "yes," and pointedly criticized them. "I thought at the end the French people would be rational people," he said.

Giscard D'Estaing hoped to be the European James Madison. Instead he turns out to be the French Thomas Frank.

Let Them Eat 8
"EBay Inc. said Tuesday it will stop posters from selling tickets for the Live 8 concert on July 2," the Associated Press reports from London. Live 8 is a benefit by performers of pallor to raise money for Africa's poor:

Tickets for the much-sought-after show, intended to raise the profile of poverty in Africa, were being sold for inflated prices on eBay, angering concert organizer Bob Geldof. The musician urged a boycott of the auctioneer, accusing it of "sick profiteering." . . .

More than 100 pairs of tickets had been listed by early Tuesday and some had attracted bids of up to $1,800.

"It is completely against the interests of the poor. The people who are selling these tickets on Web sites are miserable wretches who are capitalizing on people's misery," Geldof said.

EBay says it pulled the sales because of objections by its customers, but Geldof's economic analysis is fallacious. How is it "against the interests of the poor" to scalp Live 8 tickets? The miserable wretches who are doing so may be turning a ridiculous profit, but it's at the expense of their customers, not the charities that are benefiting from Live 8, which get the same amount of money for each ticket regardless.

The real objection here would seem to be one of taste, and indeed it does seem gauche to cash in on a charitable event in this manner. But in that case, why doesn't eBay allow the reselling of Live 8 tickets on the condition that the seller donate a portion of his profits to charity? The ban may make eBay's executives feel good, but our idea would actually do good in the process.

Mark Felt, Otolaryngologist
Thirty-two years after the Watergate break-in, the scandal that sank Richard Nixon has taken another curious twist. David Corn and Jeff Goldberg report in The Nation that Mark Felt, revealed last month to have been "Deep Throat," was also, "at heated moments during the scandal, in charge of finding the source of Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate scoops. In a twist worthy of le Carré, Deep Throat was assigned the mission of unearthing--and stopping--Deep Throat":

In the September 11, 1972, memo, Felt noted that the county prosecutor in Miami, Richard Gerstein, might be the Post's main source. Gerstein was investigating how a $25,000 check from Nixon's campaign had ended up in the account of a Watergate burglar. . . .

In retrospect, Felt's memo looks like an attempt to convince [FBI director] Pat Gray and other senior officials at the bureau that he was on top of the leak issue. But the leak probe he had triggered in Miami was a wild goose chase. A county prosecutor could not be the type to supply inside information to Woodward and Bernstein about the FBI's Watergate probe. . . . No FBI leakers were ever found via the Miami inquiry Felt orchestrated.

In other words, in order to cover his own tracks, Felt used federal resources to conduct an investigation that he knew would come up with nothing. Felt turned out to be on the right side of the Watergate scandal, but such behavior is morally ambiguous at best.

Maddy the Marketer
Yesterday we noted that Madeleine Albright was faulting the U.S. government for not doing enough to help sub-Saharan Africa, and especially the victims of genocide in the Darfur area of Sudan. But not so very long ago Albright was a top official in the U.S. government, and as secretary of state she was rather less enthusiastic about this cause. A reader calls our attention to a May 29, 2000, column by the Washington Post's Sebastian Mallaby:

In a meeting last December, Albright suggested that, much as she deplored the country's suffering, "The human rights situation in Sudan is not marketable to the American people." Sudan's Muslim government may condone the enslavement of black people from the south; it may have pursued a war that has cost nearly two million lives; it may regularly bomb schools and hospitals. But Albright and one of her officials declined to call this "genocide," explaining that this might require the United States to do more about it.

Mallaby called Albright's position "halfway understandable"--after all, "America cannot wade chest-deep into every crisis." But on what basis is she faulting the current administration for failing to do what she herself said then was impossible?

Voters: Who Needs 'Em?
The Washington Post reports that turnout was low in yesterday's Virginia Democratic primary, and at least one Democrat is happy:

Election officials said the heat--it was 100 degrees in some places--probably discouraged some voters. The turnout was likely to be less than 10 percent of registered voters, the officials said.

Voters who braved the weather found few lines. Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria), who was unopposed, worked the polls for his fellow Democrats.

"There's only one voter every five minutes," he said. "It's great, because I can give my whole spiel."

Democrats used to yearn for high voter turnout, as exemplified by former Enron adviser Paul Krugman's Election Day column last year:

I always get a little choked up when I go to the local school to cast my vote. The humbleness of the surroundings only emphasizes the majesty of the process: this is democracy, America's great gift to the world, in action.

But over the last few days I've been seeing pictures from Florida that are even more majestic. They show long lines of [early] voters, snaking through buildings and on down the sidewalk: citizens patiently waiting to do their civic duty. Those people still believe in American democracy; and because they do, so do I. . . .

Regular readers won't be in any doubt about who I want to win, though New York Times rules prevent me from giving any explicit endorsement. (Hint: it's the side that benefits from large turnout.)

As it turned out, voter turnout was huge, and President Bush won re-election, carrying Florida by a 5% margin. Now we're hearing that high voter turnout somehow disfranchises Democratic voters. Robert Kuttner wrote in the Boston Globe last week that John Kerry "came up just one state short in 2004, perhaps due to deliberately contrived long lines that held down Democratic turnout in Ohio." To paraphrase Yogi Berra, nobody votes anymore; it's too crowded.

Flyboys Tie the Knot
"Two men were married in the chapel at Nova Scotia's Greenwood airbase in May, in what's being called the Canadian military's first gay wedding," the Canadian Broadcast Corp. reports. Andrew Sullivan seems overjoyed--though we wonder how happy he'd be if he had to rely on the protection of the Canadian military.

This Just In
"Jihad May Be Fueling Attacks"--headline, USA Today, June 15

Land of the Lost--II
Yesterday we noted a story from London's Guardian about "lost boys"--young men who had been cast out of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a polygamous sect that broke away from the mainstream Mormon church more than a century ago.

It turns out the Los Angeles Times over the weekend carried a much more thorough version of the story, which quotes various FLDS defenders as claiming that the boys were exiled not to reduce the competition for wives, as the critics contend, but because of their own bad behavior:

FLDS officials rarely speak to the media. But church lawyer Rodney Parker, who isn't a member of the faith, said some of the ousted boys were delinquents or proved unable to live up to the community's strict moral code.

"I think many are minimizing their own behavior," he said. "These places are very different and very strange. But broad-stroke claims about what goes on down there are exaggerations--and often fiction." . . .

Hildale [Utah] Mayor David Zitting, an FLDS member, said the exiled boys were defiant.

"The people in this community have certain standards and values," Zitting said. "If you have a son or daughter in your home, and their behavior got worse and worse and they defied you, wouldn't you want them to leave?"

Girls are rarely banished for improper behavior; but there have been several high-profile cases of girls running away to avoid arranged marriages or escape sexual abuse.

The "bad behavior" for which the boys have been punished includes, according to the Times, "wearing short-sleeved shirts, listening to CDs and having a girlfriend." Blogger David Tufte has more links on this disturbing story.

So They Are Limousine Liberals!
"Clinton Limousine Service & Rental"--entry in Limousine-directory.com

What Would We Do Without Experts, Man?
"Experts Dispel Weed Fears"--headline, Australian Broadcast Corp. Web site, June 14

Zero-Tolerance Watch--or Maybe Not
We're not quite sure what to make of this Associated Press dispatch from Olathe, Kan.:

A high school student who vomited on his Spanish teacher has been charged with battery against a school official. . . . Rick Guinn, an assistant district attorney, said witnesses can corroborate that the boy intentionally vomited on teacher David Young.

If convicted, the boy likely would face probation, Guinn said. Prosecutors also are seeking an apology. . . . The student's father said his son told him he did not mean to throw up on the teacher but had been made uncontrollably ill by the stress of final exams.

If it really was intentional, it's hard to fault the prosecutors here, but unless the kid self-administered an emetic before the alleged assault, it's hard to see how one could establish intent beyond a reasonable doubt.

On the other hand, the oddest thing about this story is that prosecutors are "seeking an apology." An immediate and profuse apology would have been in order had the vomiting been accidental, and if the youngster hasn't yet said he's sorry, perhaps that contributes to the view that he's guilty.

Must've Been Casual Friday
"An executive tried to liven up a dull day at the office by stripping naked to interview a 25-year-old woman, a court heard yesterday," London's Daily Telegraph reports from Scotland:

Saeed Akbar, 35, said at first that it was part of his "tough interviewing technique" but later admitted that he was bored and wanted a "cheap thrill."

He asked the woman, who was applying for a translator's job, if she minded if they took their clothes off. When she refused, he left the room for a few minutes and returned naked, carrying only a clipboard.

Perhaps Akbar learned his interviewing techniques from a certain former governor of Arkansas.

(Carol Muller helps compile Best of the Web Today. Thanks to Reg Jones, Joel Goldberg, Bill Dart, Avi Bell, Rob Schaaf, Ed Lasky, Tom Elia, Michael Nunnelley, Ruth Papazian, Michael Segal, Joseph Palm, Christopher Coleman, Guillermo Christensen, Tim Rhyne, Mark Collins, Donald McCormick, Juan Hovey, Steve Jackson, Kevin Patrick, Mark Taylor, Edward Himmelfarb, Allan Mosak, Leonara LaMantia and Bill Hargrove. If you have a tip, write us at opinionjournal@wsj.com, and please include the URL.)

Today on OpinionJournal:

  • Review & Outlook: Is there hope for the U.N.? Yes, if Bolton is there and Annan is gone.
  • Claudia Rosett: "Tell them we are ready for democracy" is a Libyan dissident's message to Washington.
  • Nat Hentoff: National Endowment for the Arts head Dana Gioia champions jazz, "one of the great American inventions."





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