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Agents of imperialism unmasked: WaPo Style writer Hank Stuever
got some grief last May 31 when he wrote a 1,936-word feature
on stacking plastic resin chairs. I nearly attacked Stuever myself -- the piece
seemed like a perfect symbol of the
specatacular news drought that preceded 9/11. I mean, if you have
to write about patio furniture, it's a
slow news day! Never mind that the piece was pretty good, almost
moving in parts (especially the egalitarian attack on the
$800 stacking magnesium "Go" chair) -- this is the sort of
trivial thing journalists wrote about
before 9/11, right? Right. ... Please turn now
to pages 62 and 63 of your current New Yorker magazine, where you
will find a striking full-spread photo of weathered high-ranking dissident mujahideen "in prayer at sunset" on a dramatic
terrace overlooking the roiling Kokcha River in northern Afghanistan. It's a desolate, sacred,
awe-inspiringly primitive place, seemingly unchanged
by time, unpolluted by modernity. ... But wait. What's that
thing in the most prominent corner of the terrace, at the center of
the picture? That thing presenting itself grandly, like a royal observer?
That white thing? ... Yes, it is! ... Stuever
has been vindicated. Put this alongside
Bert of Sesame Street as
compelling evidence of the penetration of even
the most isolated, entrenched cultures by the insidious forces
of globalization. ...
Charles Murray and the anti-welfare-reform left agree: Both say the
apparent post-welfare-reform sea change in family patterns isn't much, because
while more children are living with two parents, the increase is just in
cohabitation, not actual marriage. But it's not just cohabitation.
In his long
WaPo op-ed today, Murray says "the proportion of
children living with married parents remained statistically flat." He's wrong, at least
for children under 6. Murray obviously hasn't seen the numbers recently put together by
Richard Bavier, a veteran analyst for the Office of Management and Budget.
From 1989 to 1995, the years preceding welfare reform, the
share of young children living with married mothers decreased
from 77.1 percent to 73.6 percent. Then it turned around -- from 1996, the
year of reform, to 2000 it rose fairly steadily, to 75.8 percent. That's
not a huge change, but it's statistically significant, and it's an apparent reversal of
direction for a trend that's been heading the wrong way for several decades.
Murray cleverly doesn't confront the most striking pro-marriage
statistic until two thirds of the way through
his piece. "The best evidence of a bright spot," he concedes, "is that from
1995 to 2000, the proportion of black children living with married parents increased from 35 percent
to 39 percent." Actually, Murray missed the latest figures which show
that the proportion increased again in 2001 -- from 38 percent to 41 percent for
black children under six.
Murray grouses that some of the increase comes from "children living with a stepfather," but
stepfathers are still, in Murray's own hierarchy, the second-best solution, after married biological fathers. He calls the
overall trend among blacks a
Is it? Let's see -- the proportion of young black children living with married (not just
cohabiting) parents was 58 percent in 1976. It fell to 52 percent in 1980
and 42 percent in 1985. By 1995 it had plummeted to 33 percent. In a mere five years after welfare reform, it's
back up to 41 percent, making up for almost ten years of decline. Sorry -- the
change may not last, it may not be due to welfare reform, but it's not a "minor change."
Why does Murray have his ego invested in bad news about the family? Because
if the 1996 welfare reform succeeds in turning around the black family's decline, that will
give the lie to the thesis of Murray's 1984 book, Losing Ground, which claimed that nothing less than the elimination of welfare
(not just the imposition of work requirements and time limits) would do
the trick. If welfare reform has changed the environment in which young African-Americans grow up, that would
also undermine the bogus claim, in Murray's more recent, co-authored book, The Bell Curve that "it matters little" if low black IQ scores
reflect heredity, since "environment" is also virtually
impossible to change. Looks like it's not!
In his WaPo op-ed, Murray poses as a welfare
reform enthusiast, giving his piece the false
air of a statement against interest. In reality
Murray denounced the reform bill that actually passed. "I don't
care how many women go to work," he wrote in
an attention-getting 1993 Wall Street Journal piece. He subsequently
lobbied on Capitol Hill against the basic approach of 1996 bill, which was precisely an attempt to
get women on welfare to go to work.
It's not quite that simple, of course, because Murray's
work -- especially the highly effective Losing Ground -- was, in fact, a major
impetus to welfare reform, even if it was a reform of which Murray himself did not approve. Were
Murray a more conventional Washington operator (like, say, the Heritage Foundation's
Robert Rector) he'd manage to take status-enhancing credit for reform's seeming success
while criticizing it as incomplete. But Murray doesn't seem to want conventional
Washington success. He wants to be the one notorious man who dares utter truths noone else is uttering. It's an appealing pose -- I've tried to strike it myself, on occasion.
But sometimes the rest of the world comes around. And then, if you've adopted the
lone-voice-of-truth pose, it requires
a perverse submersion of
ego to admit they've come around -- to admit you're not alone anymore, to admit that
you've been proven right. That's what Murray can't seem to do. ...
The Democrats have a good argument with their
give-the-money-to-those-who'll-spend-it stimulus arguments. But don't
middle class and upper middle class people spend too? To read
today's WaPo editorial, you'd think that
only aid to "low-paid workers" will have a booster effect. WaPo's
traditional rigid Money Liberal redistributionism (Peter Milius, this means you!) is
getting in the way of sound economic thinking. ... Robert
this basic point last week. ... Where is BIll Clinton's self-pitying demagoguery (i.e., tax cuts for the
"forgotten middle class") when you
need it? ...
Hello! Editor! WaPo spends ten
paragraphs explaining to its
readers the difference between David Duke and black civil rights activists! ...
piece is also a small gold mine of dumb professional-left grievance-mongering antiwar
quotes. (Sample: "[W]hen Bush said if you're not with us, you're with
the terrorist ... he was calling out the posse, and black people know the posse.") They're sillier than
Sorkin! We hack
anti-left sniping bloggers get to break for lunch
early today. ...
His horse went crazy: Good
ambush details. ...
WaPo, The CIA blames former Reagan national security adviser and Haq-backer
Robert "Bud" McFarlane for sending Haq into Taliban territory unprepared. ...
Help! My book on the Florida recount is dying! I need a strained 9/11 angle for
a publicity-generating NYT op-ed piece!
To Pack or Not to Pack?
Is John McWhorter's TNR review of a new
Tupac Shakur bio the great Tupac takedown this nation wants and needs? Maybe not --
it will probably take somebody with more
street cred than McWhorter to dent Shakur's rep. But it's a
good badly needed piece all the same. ...
McWhorter only touches on an essential anti-Shakur point: that he was a small, balding,
multi-talented, "hyper-literate," middle class guy who willed himself into
being a thug, which is somewhat worse than
being an untalented, desperate, impoverished thug who winds up being a thug. ... Nor
demolish the idea that there was a Good Tupac, perverted by an association
with Death Row records into the Bad Tupac --
a dichotomy advanced in Connie Bruck's
brilliant and physically courageous New Yorker investigation of
Shakur a few years ago. ... McWhorter even partially buys into
the Good Tupac/Bad Tupac concept, arguing
that the "nobility" of some of Tupac's raps alternates too closely with the repellent
thuggery and misogyny of others. But as far as I can see the "good Tupac," who sang
about putting money from selling crack in his mama's mailbox,
was bad in almost the same way ("promotion of an anti-black stereotype")
that the Bad Tupac was bad. ... Still, McWhorter says effectively what most needs to be said,
especially in the second-to-last graf. And there's a quote that will make you think more highly of Harry Belafonte. ...
Missed GOP opportunity?
Instead of complaining that federalizing airport
security will lead to thousands of new, unionized, impossible-to-fire federal employees, why don't
Republicans write provisions into the law making these particular federal
employees easier to fire -- as a sort of nose-in-the-camel's tent? That would
terrify the federal employee unions. But they'd be in a bind, forced to make their
traditional arguments for due process, etc., in a highly unfavorable context.
Are they really going to insist that fairness take precedence over competence when
it comes to airline safety? This month? ... Instead, President Bush is
parroting the seemingly absurd argument that
there are tremendous local variations ("very different circumstances") in
airports, variations requiring local control. That's like saying there are local variations in
WaPo account of how we've failed, so far, to crack the Taliban ...
Annals of Self-Importance:
"I can't come to the phone right now. I'm either on another call, writing, or out taking down
That was the message on David Brock's answering machine at the height of his
"Troopergate" fame, according to Byron
York's excellent Atlantic
Monthly account of the rise and demise of
The American Spectator.
What's he smoking? ... Wait, don't answer that! [You couldn't resist--ed.]
Thanks to "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin for
living up to his stereotype as a Hollywood-liberal fool. At an
Occidental College forum, Sorkin
We've heard this song before, right? In the fifties there was a blacklist, and it
ruined lives. If you're anything
like me, when you watch any of the dozens of films that have been made about the blacklist, you look at that
and think, my God, if I could only transport myself back in time to this period and knock a couple of heads
together and say, are you out of your mind?
Let the record show that Sorkin was referring to the
agony of one performer, Bill Maher, who is still on the air. Also that
Sorkin was immediately busted by producer
Sean Daniel, a Hollywood Democrat who nevertheless
lives in in the real world. (Daniel's put-down:
"My father was blacklisted, and I know the era very well. I have to tell you, I
don't think there's a party line out there ...")
Well, we're there, right now.
"Anthrax attacks now being linked to US right-wing cranks" says a British
'quality' newspaper. Wow!
Only one thing The Independent's
piece lacks: any actual evidence to support its headline. ...
Better than the Bay of Pigs!
"This is a different kind of conflict. The closest analogy would
be the drug war." -- Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as reported
Now there's a morale booster. ...
The respectable press is beating up on House Republicans for blocking the federalization of airport
security. On Sunday, Meet the Press featured two federalization
proponents who -- egged on by the bullying Voice of the Beltway, Tim
Russert -- not surprisingly
agreed that federalization is a fine idea and that House
Majority Leader Dick Armey needs to be rolled. ... It's tempting to immediately conclude
that the House Republicans
are right. But I can't, quite. The estimable John Tierney's defense
of the House GOP position is especially disappointing. Tierney suggests a federal
force would be a
"one-size-fits-all system" that ignores local conditions and expertise. But
have you noticed a lot of
variation in airports around the country? In planes? If ever there
were a one-size problem, this is it. ... John Lott's
LAT piece -- arguing that the
government should "set standards" but let
"privately run airports" decide how to meet them -- is a little more persuasive. But if the federal
government does everything slowly and badly, why does
Lott assume it will do a speedy, terrific job setting the "standards" that the
private outfits must meet? Setting "standards" and enforcing them sounds like
the sort of thing Washington could spend decades doing badly. At least if the feds take
over airport security directly they'll be
concerned with stopping terrorists first and writing bureaucratic rules second. ...
A kf exclusive: Preview the new MKN Network
Version 7 home
page! ... Look quick, because it
might not be there for long. ... Note from crack kf legal team: This
is a "parody," chock full of valuable political and social commentary.
And poor taste! ...
Ask not what Johnny Apple wants you to do for your country:
NYT's Apple chides Bush for failing to
"call for sacrifice" in the anti-terror war, but what sacrifice? Apple
doesn't even try to specify what form of self-denial
might appropriately be called for from ordinary citizens. Does
he want higher taxes? Presumably
not. Longer military tours of duty? A draft?
He doesn't say, probably because the nation doesn't
need more men under arms to fight this war... Instead Apple complains "one could not help wondering" why
Bush didn't invoke the example of some heroes -- which is really a different point, since we can
honor heroes without sacrificing anything ourselves. (Plus, hero-invoking is easy. There's plenty of it on the way.) ... Apple's
implicit argument, if his piece isn't just empty harrumphing gasbaggery,
seems to be that broad sacrifice is a way to "involve the American
people as a whole," avoiding a long term "loss of interest."
His big example is Vietnam. But is
it really true that the nation would have embraced the Vietnam War if only
Lyndon Johnson had called for higher taxes and a broader draft?
Or would that have prevented LBJ from getting the war going in the
first place? Arguably it was opposition to the
Vietnam War, not public support, that rose
and fell in unfortunate lockstep with the extent of the
sacrifices (e.g. casualties, number of men drafted)
asked of Americans. When Nixon ended the draft,
protests declined. ...
Contrary to the impression left in this Globe and Mail story (but in keeping
Kurtz's report), the big media consortium recount of Florida has
not been "spiked." The raw data compiled by the National Opinion Research Center was scheduled to be released to the
consortium members in mid-September, but the
9/11 attacks resulted in a postponement. Will the results
be published? "Oh, yeah," says Alan Murray of the WSJ. ... What about
the earlier kf report that the raw data from
NORC was beset with methodological problems and therefore
inconclusive? I'll get back to you on that one. ...
Torture by Proxy: Buried in Walter Pincus' WaPo analysis, which is largely
a festival of ass-covering by the CIA, is the information that when the U.S. tries to disrupt terrorist
operations, it's standard operating procedure to "apprehend someone
and move that person to another country where he can be arrested and
interrogated," according to "an official." What's the advantage of moving a
suspect overseas? Answer: Foreign countries "use interrogation
methods that include torture and threats to family members." ...
Anybody got a problem with that? ...
In case you missed it, here's an exceptionally fair Jason
DeParle piece on what will happen when workers who've recently left welfare get laid off after 9/11. DeParle notes
a) That many of these workers won't qualify for unemployment
compensation; b) That there should be plenty of money for welfare, since states get the same federal
subsidy they got when they were serving twice as many people; c) Many former
welfare recipients will be reluctant to go back on
welfare; d) Before 9/11, many states were experiencing rising
unemployment but a continued fall in the welfare rolls. Why? Layoffs were in high-pay or high-skilled
manufacturing industries, not the low-skilled entry-level jobs welfare
recipients typically take. That may now change; e) Looming time limits are less of a problem
than you might think, in part because "of those who have already left the rolls, more than 90 percent are thought to have
time left on the clock." ...
Kausfiles hears from two sources (so it must be true!) that the NBC
assistant to Tom Brokaw who tested positive for
anthrax is the woman who opens his mail. So the contaminated envelope
was presumably addressed to Brokaw -- a bit of information you will not find in MSNBC's
story. ... Update: But AP has now
reported it, fifteen long minutes after kf. ... I guess NBC likes to
keep a lid on newsworthy information when
its own interests and personnel might be affected. Donald Rumsfeld take note. ...
Did you suspect that Bush's favorite Islamic scholar, David Forte,
was full of it? As TNR's Franklin Foer notes: "Forte argues that
the Islamic militants aren't
true Muslims at all; they find their 'inspiration' in a
seventh-century sect of puritan thugs called the Kharijites" who
were defeated over a millenium ago. But it turns out 1) Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda
religious theorists rarely invoke the Kharijites; 2) The terrorists
are much more influenced by Wahhabbism, the much more recent (18th Century)
strict Islamic movement that is
officially installed in Saudi Arabia and has a
thriving presence elsewhere in the Muslim world. ... Foer
traces Forte's (and Bush's) convenient Islamic theology to their
evangelical ecumenicism, their naive
faith in the benign quality of all
religious belief. But isn't this naive view inherent in the very concept of
freedom of religion as
enshrined in the constitution's First Amendment? We can tolerate
all religions as long as they're "good" (i.e. tolerant) religions and
not religions like Bin Laden's religion. Don't blame Bush. Blame Jefferson! ...
Great Moments in kf: OpinionJournal
kausfiles for having "predicted," on September 12, that the 9/11
"story will be off the evening news by Thanksgiving." I actually said "suspect,"
not "predict." Do ass-covering words mean nothing to
the WSJ? Either way, the sentence is looking extremely
dumb today. I claim (i.e., hope) I was thinking of the grieving
time for the damage done on 9/11, not the subsequent
military action and terror scares -- and I hew to the general point that such
emotions and information are processed faster now than, say, ten years ago. ... What
really upset the Israel hard-liners who put out OpinionJournal
was (as they put it) "the idea that an agreement
between the Palestinian Authority and
Israel would appease the terrorists, or at least
their sympathizers--even if Israel were not wiped
off the map." But this idea (if you replace
the loaded word "appease" with, say, "calm down") isn't dumb.
It's also one of the ideas behind the post-9/11 policy of the Bush administration. ...
The (Justified) Ferrer Scare:
N.Y. mayoral near-frontrunner Fernando Ferrer's hack-left inflexibility
even Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice:
Ferrer is still talking about imposing a tax
surcharge for after-school programs when we'll
need it to cover core school costs, still promising
big raises to unions more likely to see large layoffs,
still focused on billions for housing in a city that lost
the office space that, for tens of thousands of New Yorkers,
paid the salaries that pay the rents. ... It was as if he read the
September 25 exit polls that revealed that most voters were in
denial, with only 1 percent of his supporters giving the
reconstruction of downtown their top priority, and decided
that he could lead a government in denial. ...
The Gail Collins NYT
editorial endorsing Ferrer's primary opponent, Mark Green, is
also refreshingly calm and reasoned -- free of her predecessor Howell Raines' posturing, and only slightly bemused. ...
In a classic 1984 chop-up, Michael Kinsley wrote this of Felix "The Fixer" Rohatyn:
Rohatyn's "philosophy," in a nutshell, is this. Life is like the New York City fiscal crisis. And doom is imminent on all fronts unless
the normal processes of democracy and capitalism are suspended and someone like Felix Rohatyn is put in
It's almost 18 years later. You'd think Rohatyn would have been
permanently discredited along with the
Mussolini-like (and Japan-like) program of business/government/labor industrial
policy he was demanding in the 1980s. Or embarrassed by
the repeated failure of his predictable predictions of disaster ("The United States
today, like New York City in 1975, is on the
edge of crisis," he wrote in 1980, and every few years thereafter). But no. He's back again, on
the NYT op-ed page, preaching doom and corporatism,
exaggerating New York's post-9/11 budget problems into a grave crisis threatening
"the city as a viable economic
and social entity" -- a crisis requiring extraordinary federal government intervention,
"private-public partnerships," industrial policy, and ... men like Felix Rohatyn. Temporarily. ...
Did he mention that he saved New York? ...
NYT's Thomas Friedman berates
Ariel Sharon in terms
so self-righteously thuggish -- "[T]here is only one thing for
Israel to say: How can we help? Period." -- it almost makes you feel sympathy for the
Israeli PM. Almost. ... But isn't the unspoken reality that a heated,
high-profile dispute with Israel isn't such a bad thing for the
United States to have right now, since it shows the Arab world that we're
not blind defenders of Israel's actions and interests? ...
Maybe they hate the French too ... In case
you missed it, that huge petrochemical plant explosion in
have been radical Islamic terrorism after
all (though not necessarily a Bin Laden production). ...
It's All About Spain! Virginia
Postrel suggests that Bin Laden is obsessed with the
"tragedy of Andalucia" -- mentioned in the first sentence of his video! -- precisely because of
Muslim Spain's celebrated reputation for tolerance and pluralism. To Bin Laden, that was
the problem: tolerance led to weakness and Muslim defeat
(in part, perhaps, by leading to prosperity!) ...
The West's rules (freedom, pluralism, tolerance) only assure the
destruction of his strict religion, he seems to feel, and it's hard to say he's not right in that
conclusion (though the same might be said of the Fascists we defeated in World War II, I guess). ...
I'm actually not convinced by the
source Postrel cites that this contrarian antitolerant
interpretation of Spanish history is a common one in the Islamic world, but her theory is
provocative and very relevant. ... See also Chris Suellentrop's excellent
Slate Explainer on Bin Laden's various historical references
(e.g. "80 years" from what?) ...
Fear of Freddy: There's a real possibility New Yorkers will elect Bronx borough president Freddy
Ferrer mayor. (It's a close call whether he will beat Mark Green
in the runoff for the Democratic nomination on Thursday.)
Fred Siegel explains why a Ferrer mayoralty isn't
a good idea. Ferrer's proposal to disperse the city's financial center
is foolish. And his economic model is
the Bronx, a borough without a chamber of commerce, where "health care workers
represent 30 percent of the employment" and "politics has
often been organized around competing Medicaid empires." ...
"The Israel-connection idea has been put forward by Europeans and other shady characters. .. I have tried
to disbelieve this theory -- but I can't." In Monday's WSJ,
David Gelernter makes Norman
Podhoretz look really, really bad. ... (N.B.: Gelernter's piece is
not on the WSJ's
free OpinionJournal site.) ...
NYT baffled by Smyrnans:
NYT's Danny Hakim makes it clear what a big loss
Wednesday's Nissan vote
was for the UAW, but then starts making excuses (or letting those he quotes make excuses) for the union.
The UAW "tried a new approach," relying on phone banks rather than
recruiting actual workers. Nissan had a "captive audience" they could "put
pressure on" and "threaten to move work overseas." It's "'a Southern environment,'"
plus there were "'threats articulated in one-on-one meetings and
punitive disincentives for supporting the union,'" according to Steve Babson, a "labor
program specialist at Wayne State University" who gives no evidence in the piece to back up
his charges. ... The Times doesn't even consider the outlandish possibility that the
Nissan workers knew exactly what they were doing and made a sound choice. No
workers are interviewed, in fact. Only a UAW official, a UAW consultant, and the "labor
program specialist." ...
Welcome, Robots! 10,061 visits to kausfiles on Thursday,
although most seem to be from crazed automated search engines. (They
visited andrewsullivan.com first.) ... OK. You can stay as long as you behave and
don't tell our advertisers. ... Update: The robots have
vanished, as quickly as they came. And they never call ...
How Much of a Stretch is Islamic Fundamentalism? We link. You decide! ... Here is a page with several pieces, the
first of which argues that "Islam itself
is not moderate. There is no difference between Islam and Islamic
fundamentalism: at most there is a difference
of degree but not of kind." ... And here is an op-ed by Bush's advisor, David
Forte, arguing that Bin Laden represents "one tradition in Islam," but
"a tradition that Islam
early on rejected as opposed to the universal message of its Prophet." ... Which
article is persuasive? Neither is, actually. Ziauddin Sardar's essay, available
on the first link, is the
best of the bunch. Sardar doesn't pretend that fundamentalism was rejected centuries ago, but
does speak of Islam being "hijacked by obscurantist, fanatic extremists." He even issues his own
Clearly something should be done to reform and expand the unemployment insurance
system -- liberal Democrats are right when they argue that (due to various outmoded
restrictions) too few people who are working
qualify for benefits. Boston Globe's Tom Oliphant, in hack Washington fashion, tackles the
subject by finding a source to
feed him material ("Senator Edward M. Kennedy,
Congress' go-to-guy on this subject") and repaying that source by seemingly
advocating the source's entire agenda. Is there a part of the Kennedy program
Oliphant is in any way skeptical about? Do we really need
"above all" big across-the-board benefit increases, as
opposed to coverage for more people? Oliphant would be much more
persuasive in the service of Kennedy's basic cause if he didn't seem to be flacking for his
home-state Senator. ...
The Seattle Times reports that births to mothers on welfare have
fallen dramatically after welfare reform -- the birth rate is
down about 30 percent since 1994, and is now well below the rate in the general population. ...
Causality is less clear. (The drop could even be a statistical mirage if, for
example, mothers giving birth tended to leave the welfare rolls entirely, either because they
couldn't meet work requirements or because they actually got jobs.) The Times' Alex Fryer emphasizes the state
welfare bureaucracy's slightly creepy-sounding
"zero births" informational campaign. But the bureaucracy would think it
deserves the credit. ... It's also true that a general decline in the
birth rate of this population
preceded the 1996 reforms (though it
didn't precede well-publicized state-by-state reforms). ... Still, both the state's
informational campaign and the general trend are occurring in a changed economic
environment, in which young
women know that they will be expected to support
themselves, and that it will be that much harder if they have
too many children. Suddenly, information on birth control becomes interesting. ... That's
the Marxist explanation and I'm stickin' to it. ...
UAW Crushed at Nissan: "It's the first time we feel
confident we have majority support in the Nissan
plant," said UAW organizing chief Larry Steele in a mid-August NYT story. But
in yesterday's vote, the union lost by more than a 2-1 margin. ...
That August story, by the
NYT's Keith Bradsher, wasn't especially pro-union but
gave no indication that the UAW's boasts
of impending victory weren't accurate. Unions tend to
dominate pre-vote press coverage because they supply chanting workers and quotable injury
victims, while management mumbles things like "We feel we have a great working relationship with our
employees ..." ... One point Bradsher
made back in August now highlights the extent of the UAW's defeat:
"Nissan was among the first foreign automakers
to open a factory in the United states," he notes, and
hired lots of autoworkers with union backgrounds. They have been
the UAW's core supporters. Other manufacturers who opened newer unorganized auto plants
have tried to avoid hiring workers with union
sympathies. In other words, Smyrna was the UAW's best shot! ... The union
lost there by a similar 2-1 margin in
1989, and abandoned two other organizing campaigns in the 1990s. At this point, are
continued UAW attempts to organize Smyrna (which the union has promised) more of an
attempt to harrass and distract a productive competitor of the UAW's
Big Three plants than an attempt to actually organize more workers? ... Update:
The UAW says
it's now trying to
organize Honda's Ohio plants. No doubt they "feel confident" of victory. Don't hold your breath. ...
Kf's Obscure Link of the Day:
Here's V.S. Naipaul
on Muslim rage. Naipaul describes Islam (in this case, non-Arab Islam) as
a shut-in society with fixed rituals in which the urge to explore the past, or the future,
is dulled if not wiped out entirely. Confronted
by the successful West, its reaction is "philosophical hysteria." ...
The message that I remember
from this lecture -- that Islam is therefore incompatible with
the progress of knowledge and science that characterize
the "universal civilization" of the West -- exists mainly
between the lines of Naipaul's talk. (If I could find
a "money sentence," I'd give it to you.) ... The
triumphalism that I also
remember is all there, though, and now seems slightly naive.
Here Naipaul describes the idea of the 'pursuit of happiness":
So much is contained in it: the idea of the
individual, responsibility, choice, the life of the
intellect, the idea of vocation and perfectibility
and achievement. It is an immense human idea.
It cannot be reduced to a fixed system. It cannot
generate fanaticism. But it is known to exist; and
because of that, other more rigid systems in
the end blow away.
Not quite ...
How to fight terrorists? Of course: Bring back the three-martini-lunch! That's
what Rep. Neil Abercrombie ((D-Hawaii) wants to do, by restoring the full 100%
business meal and entertainment deduction. (It's now 50%.) Abercrombie
says he's not "trying to come in and take advantage of the
situation," but he's introduced the same
bill "repeatedly since 1993," the LAT reports. ...
Here's the now-notorious
Grover Norquist column from last June claiming that Bush won the presidency
because of the Muslim vote. Nothing wrong with that. But
Norquist claims Bush
won the Muslim vote because he took a stand against the
use of "secret evidence" in immigration cases,
a practice that now looks less indefensible. ... Hmmmm. Are the irresponsible Muslim leaders
Bush is now
bringing into the popular front (see below) the same ones
he wooed during the campaign? Answer: Yep. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American Muslim Council
(AMC), the two main groups
Jake Tapper, were
among the four Muslim organizations in a PAC that
endorsed Bush on October 23, 2000. Bush had been "responsive
to their concerns over sensitive issues like deportation," the
at the time. ...
Helped by a good lead anecdote, WaPo's Hanna Rosin
and John Mintz bust
the irresponsible American Muslim leaders courted by
the White House -- the same basic
Jake Tapper wrote last week. ... Isn't
it also the White House's fault for picking these clerics to ally with? And the
press's for relying on ready-with-a-quote grievance-mongers as representatives of the larger
American Muslim community?
issue nobody in the mainstream press
want to touch, of course,
isn't the extent to which these particular clerics have winked at terrorism, but the extent to which
Islam itself does. Is it really
true that the Islamic
"perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam," as President
Bush (and William Safire, in full PR-man mode) have asserted? Or does the Islamic tradition gives more
support to extremism than we'd like to admit? I don't know
the answer to that question. (Note to P. Beinart: this is why
there's a New Republic!) ... But where does it say that all religions have to
be nice, peaceful bourgeois organizations that encourage a
private relationship with God,
keep to themselves, organize picnics and aren't offended by what
others believe? ... Update: The issue is discussed usefully by
Warren Ross, a Houston Randian, here. And William F. Buckley takes a hard line
here. ("It is all very well for individual Muslim spokesmen to
assert the misjudgment of the terrorists, but the Islamic world is
substantially made up of countries that ignore, or countenance or
support terrorist activity.") ...
Yes, There Is a Welfare Reform Angle! Click
link to hear former labor Secretary Robert Reich
declare that 9/11 means Congress should "restore some funding for people about
to be dropped from the welfare rolls." ...
How badly does The Microsoft Network want to get back to normal?
On the top screen of MSN's home page (as of Monday A.M.) news of 9/11 has been reduced to one small link to an
"America on Alert Update," tucked under a headline on "How to cut your credit card
costs." ... Are terrorism stories not getting hits from MSN's adolescent-heavy audience? ...
The first 9/11-free page would seem to be days away. ... Update: Now
the sole 9/11 link is tucked under a story on "Exercise: What Makes Us Fatter and How to Live With It." ...
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