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Hit Parade Archive
October, 2001

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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. ... (10/31)

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 "minor change."

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. ... (10/30)

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 Samuelson made 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? ... (10/29)

Hello! Editor! WaPo spends ten paragraphs explaining to its readers the difference between David Duke and black civil rights activists! ... This 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. ... (10/29)

His horse went crazy: Good Haq ambush details. ... Also in WaPo, The CIA blames former Reagan national security adviser and Haq-backer Robert "Bud" McFarlane for sending Haq into Taliban territory unprepared. ... (10/29)

Help! My book on the Florida recount is dying! I need a strained 9/11 angle for a publicity-generating NYT op-ed piece! (10/28)

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 does McWhorter 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. ... (10/26)

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 Starbucks'. ... (10/26)

Good, short WaPo account of how we've failed, so far, to crack the Taliban ... (10/26)

Annals of Self-Importance:

"I can't come to the phone right now. I'm either on another call, writing, or out taking down a President."
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. (10/25)

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 said:

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?

Well, we're there, right now.
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 ...") (10/24)

"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. ... (10/23)

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 in WaPo.
Now there's a morale booster. ... (10/23)

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. ... (10/22)

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! ... (10/17)

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. ... (10/16)

Contrary to the impression left in this Globe and Mail story (but in keeping with Howie 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. ... (10/15)

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? ... (10/15)

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." ... (10/13)

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. ... (10/12)

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! ... (10/11)

Great Moments in kf: OpinionJournal attacks 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. ... (10/11)

The (Justified) Ferrer Scare: N.Y. mayoral near-frontrunner Fernando Ferrer's hack-left inflexibility frightens 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. ... (10/10)

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 charge--temporarily.
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? ... (10/9)

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? ... (10/9)

Maybe they hate the French too ... In case you missed it, that huge petrochemical plant explosion in Toulouse may have been radical Islamic terrorism after all (though not necessarily a Bin Laden production). ... (10/9)

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?) ... (10/9)

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.) In Newsday, knowledgeable neoliberal 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." ... (10/8)

"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.) ... (10/8)

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." ... (10/6)

Welcome, Robots! 10,061 visits to kausfiles on Thursday, although most seem to be from crazed automated search engines. (They visited 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 ... (10/6)

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 fatwa! ... (10/6)

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. ... (10/5)

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. ... (10/5)

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. ... (10/4)

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. ... (10/3)

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 slammed by 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 NYT reported at the time. ... (10/3)

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 piece Salon's 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? ... The 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 extremist movement "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.") ... (10/2)

Yes, There Is a Welfare Reform Angle! Click this 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." ... (10/2)

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." ... (10/1)

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Why Can't Charles Murray Admit He Was Right? Resisting the good news about welfare reform and the family.

America, the Screw-Up Mark Danner's sour oppositionalism.

Bin Laden's Instructive Home Video He seems to feel Israel's an issue.

Drudge Report
80% true. Close enough!
Main home page.
Not always awful.
New Republic
Gore, now and forever!
What's left.
N.Y. Observer
That orange thing.
Page Six
Too good to check?
Goldberg File
Indulgent, but viciously funny.
John Leo
One anti-PC bullet a week.
Virginia Postrel
Friend of the future!
It's still there!
Fab bigthink on man's destiny.
Shake that ketchup bottle!
Daily horror stories.
John Podhoretz
He's one smart Pod.
Washington Monthly
Includes "Tilting at Windmills"
Jim Pinkerton
Quality ideas from quantity ideas.
Andrew Sullivan
He asks; he tells!
Dick Morris
Best thumbsucking toesucker.
Weekly Standard
See them snipe at Bush.
The Occasional
Bright young 'wingers.
Josh Marshall
Chandra Central.
Center on Budget & P.P.
Money Liberal Central
Rich Galen
Sophisticated GOP insider.
Ann Coulter
Leggy legal antiliberalism.
Steve Chapman
Ornery but lovable libertarian.
He still ain't got no transcripts.
Walter Shapiro
Politics and ... neoliberal humor!
Gone left, but good.
Lloyd Grove
Don't let him write about you.
Jeannette Walls
Her free newsletter's fun too.
John Tierney
NYT's non-lib metro columnist.
Harry Shearer
America's funniest man?
N.Y. Press
Good dirty Bushie tab.
NYT-Bashing Central.
Stirs the drink.
Bull Moose
National Greatness Central.

Copyright 2001 Mickey Kaus.