March 31, 2004
Female Voices in Iraq
The Bush administration (and Republicans in general) get far too little credit for taking the lead in finding and appointing well-qualified women and minorities to government posts. Department of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao describes how the White House is paving the way for women's rights in the new Iraqi government as well:
Sometimes hope can be found in small gestures - particularly ideas or symbols that inspire others to believe that their dreams can become reality. That is what I saw earlier this year when I presented the Fatima Al-Zahra Center for Women's Rights and Democracy in Hilla, Iraq, with a photographic gallery of the eight women whom President Bush appointed to the U.S. Department of Labor, a first in America's history. The Iraqi women were astonished to learn that women composed half the top officials of a U.S. government agency.
Perhaps it could happen in Iraq, they wondered out loud.
I am gratified that when the interim Iraqi constitution was approved recently, it included guarantees that Iraqi women would have seats in the parliament. This is a step in the right direction and, although much remains to be done, it is a sign of hope for those whose voices have been silenced for much too long.
March 30, 2004
L F Colorado Cat /AKA/ Miss Kitty and UNOME sent me a cool link in support of the troops by Ricky Skaggs.. GO HERE it`s pretty cool.
Do you ever think that your problems are overwhelming and that no one on earth has problems as complex as yours? Usually it`s money, family or relationships and the problems seem huge. I don`t let things like that bother me too much, I just deal with them and move on. After reading This Article last night it put things into perspective for me and I realised that I had never really had any problems.
I`ll leave you with one more link ( I have no idea where I got it ) It`s too short but I love reading stuff like that. This is the most effective way of dealing with terrorism.
Blaming the Victim
Andrew Sullivan has an excellent article on moral nihlism in Europe. He responds to this passage from a Guardian article published shortly after the attack in Madrid:
Life stopped in the winter drizzle of Madrid yesterday. Offices, shops and cafes emptied, as funeral candles were lit in moving scenes of solidarity. Black bows of mourning appeared on shop windows, the cabs of commuter trains, and on lapels. People looking at the wreckage in Atocha burst into tears. As dusk fell, every street around the railway station was crammed with people standing in the rain. The silence was overpowering. Spaniards turned out in their millions in a collective act of grief and protest. In the Basque country, as in the rest of the country, Spain emerged from its first day of mourning with dignity. If cities across Europe were waking up to the fact that they were as much in the crosshairs of an attack on this scale, as New York or Washington were, the Israeli mass circulation Yedioth Ahronoth could not restrain itself: "Welcome to the real world", it declared unsubtlely.
But which real world? The world in which neighbourhoods are razed, water supplies cut off, children shot, in thinly disguised acts of collective retribution?
Notice how the Guardian instinctively, viscerally, blames the victim, Israel, for the terrorism that has plagued it for so long. For in the Guardian's view, the democracies are always wrong; and the terrorists always have a point. Alas, the measures the Guardian refers to are a few of the most extreme tactics that the Israeli government has deployed in an attempt to stop the constant stream of atrocities wrought upon the only democracy in the Middle East. They are not acts of indiscriminate "collective retribution"--nor, as the Guardian implies, deliberate attempts to kill children--but bids to stem the tide of murder flooding into Israel's streets and mass transportation systems.
Sullivan points out the Guardian's moral and logical inadequacies so thoroughly, there's not much left to say.
March 29, 2004
A few facts on NCLB from Jan Jarboe Russell:
...the rate of graduating students nationwide who are actually ready for college is 37 percent for white students, 20 percent for blacks and 16 percent for Hispanics.
Teachers and principals don't like the law because it gives too much power to Washington and requires hours and hours of intense drilling — draconianly referred to as "teaching to the test."
Some minority groups don't like NCLB because, if minority students do not pass the yearly tests in reading and math, their schools are identified as "low-performing."
...the NCLB bill passed with unusual bipartisan support. The House vote was 384-45; the Senate vote was 87-10. It combines the Republicans' love of accountability (standardized tests, teacher certification, yearly progress reports) with the Democrats' goal of making sure poor minority kids get the same break in the life as rich white kids.
Don't expect Bush and John Kerry to be at each other's throats on NCLB. Kerry was among the 87 senators who voted for it. The difference between Republicans and Democrats on NCLB this year isn't over what's in the bill; it's all about money. Bush wants to spend about $6 billion a year less on NCLB than Kerry does.
March 29, 1973
March 29, 1973.
The last U.S. troops leave South Vietnam.
March 28, 2004
First let me settle this WMD issue once and for all so that you can understand my point of view.
What would you do if someone in your neighborhood had a proven violent reputation. That same someone had gotten ahold of illegal machine guns, grenades and rockets. That same someone had used those illegal weapons on his own family and even attacked 2 of his neighbors.
After the 2nd attack on his neighbor, the police come, slap him around, destroy some of his weapons and make a policy of patrolloing his neighborhood, but basically leave him alone.
12 years later a new police chief tells this someone to either give up his weapons or be raided. He didn`t, so he was.
If a crack house were to spring up in my neighborhood , the first thing I`d do is tell them I`m aware of their actions and I want them to get out. By doing that it let`s them know that not everyone is afraid of them and they`re not as sneaky as they thought. If the neighborhood knows what they are up to you can bet the police know.
What happens when the police raid the crack house? Do they ask them to give up their dope and guns and just decide to leave them alone when the crack heads refuse? DUH!!! NO!!! They go in with everything they have. They bust the doors down, round the criminals, drugs and guns up, and haul them off to jail.
That analogy is how I saw Iraq, on a larger scale.
Saddam had been given notice for 12 years. Not just by the U.S. but by the U.N. (equilivent to a search warrent in the above analogy). He refused to comply so the police ( Coalition Military ) busted down his door and hauled him off to jail.
As far as I`m concerned, WMDs or not ( I still think they are there in Iraq, and in the Bekka Valley and Syria )we did the exact right thing.
Nothing-Anyone-Can-Say will change my mind.
On a different note:
I just watched the interview with Richard Clark and the impression that I kept getting was that he is angry at the Bush administration because his opinion wasn`t as valued by them as it was by Clinton. Everybody keeps asking what his motivation was for writing the book, and after seeing the interview, I can`t help but think it was for the sake of his own ego (Pride).
His suggestions for handling terrorism seemed to always be to launch a few missiles and then a dialog. He even said that his priorities in dealing with Al Quaida and the like was to try to change them from within.
I immediatly thought "Huh? Social engineering and welfare? That`s a theory, a theory that is unfounded, as 40 years of experimentation in the U.S. has proven", and a theory we can`t afford to explore so long as American lives are at stake.
He seemed to have nothing but praise fot the Clinton administration, while at the same time excusing their lack of effectivness and missed oppertunities as "having to be taken into context", but he slams Bush while taking nothing into context.
When the subject of the invasion of Iraq came up, his motivation for the book became clear to me.
He was opposed to invading Iraq and apparently very obstinate about it. For 8 years he had been used to being "the voice" that Clinton listened to concerning dealing with terrorism. In fact, Clintons whole policy for dealing with terrorists can be blamed on Clark. It was Clarks suggestions to lob cruise missiles and then talk. It was Clarks suggestions to negotiate with Al Quaida in hopes of a peaceful settlement rather than go after them where they live and breath.
Islamic fundamental terrorist will not negotiate seriously. They will meet to "discuss" issues, but that is only so they can stall for time. To their way of thinking everyone who doesn`t think like them are infidels, including moderate muslims. Their stated policy toward all infidels is that we must die.
Rather than wait for the inevitable (death through natural causes) they intend to do everything in their power to expidite our deaths. The only negotiation they understand is from the buisness end of a loaded weapon.
Clarks motivation for his book is simple. After years of being regarded as the infallible expert his opinions and methods were discarded. When he became obstinate and arrogant he was transferred. The sudden downfall from his vaunted position was more than his ego could take. He lashed out against Bush. Not Clinton or Bush I or Reagan all of whom he worked for, but Dubya.
He was apparantly hopeful of keeping the status quo of being "the authority" and dealing with terrorism piecemeal. The same strategy that he had been pushing for the last 30 years. The very same strategy that allowed events to lead up to 9-11.
That Bush would dare to question his expertese, and after having made a nuisense of himself, that Bush would dare to have him transfered to a less noble position was too much for him.
Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton more or less took Clarks advice. Bush II (Dubya) didn`t. The fact that the 3 previous presidents never had anything near an issue like 9-11 to deal with seems to have escaped his notice. The possibility that following his advice for the last 30 years is what allowed Al Quaida to be in the position to execute the 9-11 attacks is unthinkable to him. He seems to think that Islamic terrorism is localized, like the SLA of the 70s (remember them?), and that with compassion and understanding, we should negotiate peace with them.
I have no compassion for terrorist.
I have no understanding for their cause.
There will be no peace between us.
They must either stop terrorism or be killed.
If they don`t stop they will be killed.
No debate. No comprimise. No quarter given. Period.
My childhood always comes back to me in a welter/rush of jumbled memories: places, times, experiences all confused and thrown together with no order or reason to sort them out. But there is one place, the memory of which is knit tightly together - all in one piece, as though I spent just a single day there and not three years. Whenever an Indian summer day comes, when the sky is brilliant blue, the air is crisp and cool, and the leaves rustle together in the breeze over my head, I am a child again in Newport, Rhode Island; the air is electric with opportunity and the world is waiting for me to out and explore.
My three years in Newport did not come all at the same time. We first moved there in June of 1966. My parents bought their first house: a small clapboard place near the town reservoir. Maybe it was the security of owning a home at last that made my mother relax her usually strict rules, or perhaps she was impressed by my seriousness and newfound maturity at the grownup age of seven. At any rate, I found myself possessing an unaccustomed degree of freedom which I was quick to exploit.
My father, home from sea, bought me a fishing rod, and I woke as early as I could and sneaked out of the silent house and down to the reservoir to fish. I rarely caught anything, but catching fish was not the purpose of my dew-soaked excursions. On the banks of the reservoir, I was alone. Whatever happened out there was mine to keep all to myself - a secret no one could force me to tell. Fascinated, I trailed my fingers in the water as fish glided silently through the reeds. Swans whooped eerily over the lake, their feet skipping along the surface as they took off in the morning mist. I always returned home in time to escape detection, and if my mother wondered at my wet sneakers and flushed cheeks, she was wise enough not to ask.
Seasons passed, and when summer came again we moved away. But we returned again when I was in fourth grade. My father was far away in Vietnam and my mother found solace in church and volunteer work. Left to my own devices, I explored my old neighborhood by bicycle and found a deserted war shelter. The dark, forbidding entrance was set into a grassy hillside. Inside, I shined my flashlight on bedpans and cots with the webbing falling apart. Mysterious boxes were stacked in a dark corner I was too frightened to examine closer. I knew I should leave, but the power of the secret drew me back again and again, and I knew I wouldn't tell my mother where I had been.
Next year we moved again, as we always did when school ended, and I did not return to Newport until the sixth grade. I was 1970 - the start of a new decade - and change was in the air. The seeds of rebellion that were dormant in me while I was away now began to quicken and grow. I skipped school to wander along the cobblestones of Thames Street, staring into the windows of psychedelic shops with names like The Magic Mushroom. They seemed to symbolize everything my parents disapproved of, and I desperately wished I were old enough to go inside and become part of that strange and fascinating world that mesmerized me with colors as bright as a Peter Max poster.
But I am older now, and that world which once called to me with mysterious wonders now seems about as exciting as a favorite sweater, worn for several years and becoming rather shabby at the elbows... yet on certain days, when the birch leaves whisper overhead in a crisp sea breeze, I feel like a child again and the future calls to me: as exciting and unknowable as it was in Newport when I was very young.
March 27, 2004
Outsourcing and Democracy
Thomas Friedman on India:
Few people in India with energy and smarts would think of going into politics. People don't expect or demand much from their representatives and therefore they are not interested in paying them much in taxes, so most local governments are starved of both revenues and talent.
Krishna Prasad, an editor for Outlook magazine and one of the brightest young journalists I met in India, said to me that criminalization and corruption, caste and communal differences have infected Indian politics to such a degree that it attracts all "the wrong kind of people." So India has a virtuous cycle working in economics and a vicious cycle working in politics. "Each time the government tries to put its foot in the door in IT [information technology]," he said, "the IT guys say: `Please stay away. We did this without you. We don't need you now to mess things up.' "
That attitude is not healthy, because you can't have a successful IT industry when every company has to build its own infrastructure. America's greatest competitive advantages are the flexibility of its economy and the quality of its infrastructure, rule of law and regulatory institutions. Knowledge workers are mobile and they like to live in nice, stable places. My hope is that the knowledge workers now spearheading India's economic revolution will feel compelled to spearhead a political revolution.
It will be interesting to see whether the prosperity brought by IT jobs will bring about improvements in goverment in India, or whether the corruption endemic in her government will stifle the IT industry before it gets off the ground. Ramesh Ramanathan, a recently-returned former Citibank executive, is hopeful:
India's independence revolution in 1947 began in urban India and its political reform revolution is also going to begin in urban India — "this time fueled by the forces of globalization," he said to me in his Bangalore office, surrounded by young volunteers. "Globalization is creating the affluent urban Indian who is going to demand more from government and is not going to be content with islands of affluence. [Because] it will be impossible for them to fully take advantage of the opportunities globalization is giving them without airports and roads and sidewalks . . . acceptable in any city in the world. And the only way they are going to get that delivered is if they get engaged in government. We have [in India] a motto: `Elect and forget.' And what we need is to `elect and engage.' "
March 26, 2004
The "Best Black" Syndrome
Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe:
William F. Buckley once remarked, upon being told that Lillian Hellman was America's finest female playwright, that this was on the order of celebrating the tallest building in Wichita. Perhaps the 32 students hailed in the ad really are gifted whiz kids with a genius for advertising -- but when the competition excludes more than 70 percent of the field, how would one know?
It doesn't seem to have occurred to the American Advertising Federation or its corporate sponsors that it is insulting to tell a group of students that, for minorities, they are hot stuff. It doesn't seem to have occurred to the students, either. No wonder: They're winning at the game of racial double standards that for years has reinforced the stereotype of black and Hispanic inferiority -- the degrading myth that members of certain racial and ethnic groups can succeed only if the bar is lowered for them.
The ad industry's "most promising minority students" campaign is an example of what Yale law professor Stephen Carter, in "Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby," called the "best black" syndrome.
"We are measured," he wrote, "by a different yardstick: first black, only black, best black. The best black syndrome is cut from the same cloth as the implicit and demeaning tokenism that often accompanies racial preferences: `Oh, we'll tolerate so-and-so at our hospital or in our firm or on our faculty, because she's the best black.' Not because she's the best-qualified candidate, but because she's the best-qualified black candidate. She can fill the black slot. And then the rest of the slots can be filled in the usual way: with the best-qualified candidates."
Once upon time it was racists who insisted that "nonwhite" was a synonym for "intellectually deficient." Today that attitude is promoted most emphatically by the defenders of affirmative action, a system rooted in the belief that blacks and certain other minorities can't hope to win if they have to compete on a level playing field. And so racial preferences are used to tilt the field in their favor: lower admissions standards at colleges and graduate schools, minority set-asides for government contracts, unofficial racial quotas to benefit those applying for jobs. Racial preferences are clearly a boon for some minorities -- particularly those from upper-middle-class families who know how to leverage them to get into a good school or land a good job or get in on a good investment. But they do no favors for minority groups as a whole. Preferences stigmatize them as less able than other Americans to stand on their own two feet. Many end up resenting those who believe they need such a crutch -- and resenting those who would take it away.
This phenomenon demonstrates what's wrong with the liberal movement to homogenize our language - to remove distinctions and meaning (and consequently, the ability to "discriminate" between one thing and another) from textbooks and official documents. We end up expressing ourselves in euphenisms, afraid to call things what they truly are for fear of offending anyone.
But there are ideas and practices which are truly offensive, and this is one such practice. The odds are that if the glowing language were stripped away, most minorities would not be pleased to be described as "best black" or "best hispanic" if the best candidates were described, not as "best white", but as "best overall".
Which is really what we are talking about, since it is considered discriminatory for general competitions to exclude minorities.
William F. Buckley offers some sobering thoughts on democracy:
It is right that we should proclaim the goal of bringing democracy to Iraq, but it is presumptuous to suppose that that alone will bring ordered freedom. Democracy spoke abruptly in Spain on the matter of concerted efforts to effect regime change in Iraq. Democracy just doesn't work, much of the time.
Bush vs. Kerry? Looking back on Bush vs. Gore, Professor Joseph Olson of the Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, gives us a shrewd perspective. Adding up the counties in the U.S. won by the two candidates, it was Gore 677, Bush 2,434. Taking the population of those counties, it was 143 million for Bush, 127 million for Gore. In square miles of land won, Gore 580,000, Bush 2,427,000. The murder rate in Gore counties, 13.2 per 100,000 residents, contrasted with 2.1 in the Bush counties.
This tells us how wrong it is to make facile generalities about the workings of democracy. How would the Iraqis themselves vote, if given the option between tranquilization under a Saddam successor, or months and years of terrorism? The United States suffers from the immaterialization of an objectifiable enemy: there is no Berlin, no Tokyo, no enemy fleet. There is just John Stuart Mill.
Osama bin-Laden observed that the American public is complacent and has a short attention span. History is likely to prove him right.