Archive:

July 2003, Part 1

Jim Miller on Politics



Pseudo-Random Thoughts



Washington, D. C. Schools are so terrible that even some who oppose vouchers in general favor them for the DC schools.  This John Fund column describing recent hearings on vouchers notes how hypocritical the opponents of vouchers in the District are:
After last month's hearing, elated parents spilled out of the committee room to attend a nearby picnic and rally for school choice.  They eagerly watched as several pro-choice members of Congress, among them Jeff Flake(R., Ariz.), Marilyn Musgrave (R., Colo.) and Melissa Hart (R., Pa.), announced the winners of a drawing that awarded Washington Scholarship Fund grants to deserving parents who could not afford to send their kids to a private school.

The parents attending the picnic form an impressive lobbying force that has been missing in previous choice battles in the district.  One commented that the elected officials in Washington who oppose choice have exercised it for their own kids.  Only one of Washington's City Council members, Republican Carol Schwartz, is known to have sent her children to the local public schools.
(And I believe Schwartz favors vouchers, though I have not checked.)
- 3:30 PM, 7 July 2003   [link]


Perspective From Peleliu:  Unless you have read much World War II history, you probably have not even heard of Peleliu, one of the Palau islands.   I have been slowly working my way through Samuel Eliot Morison's History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, at about two volumes a year.  I have just started on the Leyte volume and found several contemporary lessons in Morison's account of the Peleliu campaign.

Peleliu is a small island, about 5 miles long and two miles across at the widest point.   It was garrisoned with about 5300 Japanese soldiers, and about the same number of construction and support troops.  During the fight for the island, they received about 500 reinforcements.  The United States had complete control of the air and sea around the island.  US planners had worked hard to build up an accurate picture of the island and the defending forces, taking many aerial photos, and even landing parties to examine the beach.

After a heavy bombardment of the island, American Marines landed on 15 September 1944.   Major fighting continued until 25 November, and a few Japanese held out until February, 1945.  The campaign took so long because the Japanese had adopted a new strategy; rather than fight on the beaches where American firepower could destroy them, they hid in a connected network of tunnels and caves that were nearly impervious to both naval gunfire and the bombs of that time.  The maps that the planners had carefully compiled proved to be terribly inaccurate; Peleliu was far more rugged than they had thought.  All in all, we lost 1950 men killed in this campaign (including the capture of Angaur, an even smaller island to the south and east of Peleliu), and another 8500 were wounded.

Two contemporary lessons should be obvious.  Intelligence in wartime is often wrong, sometimes tragically.  Our losses in the campaign to capture this one small island were nearly ten times what we have suffered in the entire Iraq campaign to date.  We may have been too insensitive to losses then, and we may be too sensitive to them now.  One lesson is not obvious, because I have not given you Morison's summary statement about the operation.
It would take more arguments than this writer can muster to prove that operation STALEMATE II was necessary, or that the advantages were worth the cost.  Admiral Halsey had the right idea; they should have been bypassed when the great strategic step-up was decided upon.  The most valuable contribution to victory of this costly operation was to prepare the Army and the Marine Corps for what they would experience at Okinawa.
Those lessons cost almost 2,000 American (and more than 10,000 Japanese) lives.  In World War II, such losses from strategic errors were accepted as inevitable.  Now, I think, they would not be, even though our generals and admirals are no more likely to be omniscient now, than they were in World War II.
- 3:04 PM, 7 July 2003   [link]


Europe's Proposed Constitution:  If James Traub's piece on the parties shows the weaknesses of the the New York Times, this Edward Rothstein commentary on the proposed constitution for the European Union shows the strengths.  Rothstein has the knowledge and time to read and study the document, and makes a whole set of sensible criticisms.  The constitution is "marred by sloppy language", filled with a laundry list of "rights", including the "right" to a compulsory education, and inconsistent.   His summary is devastating:
This is not the Jeffersonian language of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," with its allusions to the Enlightenment, nor is it the language of the Bill of Rights, which limits government power.  This is the language of interest groups, which, enshrined as constitutional rights, will end up guaranteeing the ruling bureaucracy its right to daily bread.
As they say, read the whole thing.  (For another critique of the proposed constitution, see this column by William Rees-Mogg.  He is more passionate than Rothstein, but then he may be governed by this constitution, by, for, and of the bureaucrats.)
- 7:49 AM, 7 July 2003   [link]


Partisans Often Pay the Other Party the left handed compliment of thinking it tougher and more ruthless than their own.  Supporters of the Republican party often complain that the Democrats are tougher and nastier, less constrained by Marquis of Queensberry rules, than their own party.  Supporters of the Democratic party often make the same complaint, with roles reversed.  Many Democratic activists, like their Republican counterparts, are convinced that the other party wins because it is less scrupulous.  Anyone who has watched both parties over the years has to be at least a little amused by these shared sentiments.  But you have to watch both parties to know this, and, as this New York Times piece reveals, James Traub is completely unaware that Republican activists share his complaints about their own party.  He asks:
Could it be that the Democrats are constitutionally incapable of acting as single-mindedly -- as ruthlessly, as unfairly -- as the Republicans? If so, is this the kind of Christian virtue that leads to being eaten by lions?
There are millions of Republicans who would ask the same question, with the parties reversed.

Activists of both parties often err or exaggerate when they charge their own party with weakness and the other party with ruthlessness.  Traub makes a whole series of errors in this short piece, like his claim that "the Democrats have never sought to discredit Bush's presidency".   Actually, many Democrats have used the legitimacy argument to support their claim that President Bush does not have the right to nominate judges they don't like.  And Traub seems completely unaware of the evidence of fraud in the 2000 election by Democratic operatives and election boards.  Remember, for instance, the Democratic operative caught bribing the homeless with cigarettes in Wisconsin?

As I said, anyone who watches both parties would know that the activists in the parties share this view.  That a political writer for the New York Times does not know this shows an amazing ignorance.  (And at least one editor has to be equally ignorant, since someone besides Traub must have read it before the piece went to print.)  It is time for some remedial training at the New York Times, I think.

(Which party really is more ruthless?  As someone who has been voting Republican ever since George McGovern, I would not be everyone's choice for an unbiased observer, but I do think that a better case can be made that the Democrats would win that dubious prize.   The use of race in the 2000 election by the Democrats, including Al Gore, and their allies, had no parallel in the Bush campaign.  And there is far more evidence of Democratic vote fraud in 2000 and other recent elections, than Republican vote fraud.)
- 7:15 AM, 7 July 2003   [link]


Not Everyone Sees the 4th as a day that should be celebrated.   The Guardian, judging by this O'Farrell column and many other examples, thinks that George III had a point back in 1776, and that Americans do not deserve independence.  George III did not think that the United States should have an independent foreign policy, free from the wise tutelage of London; the Guardian agrees.   George III thought that the United States was becoming too powerful and arrogant; the Guardian agrees.  George III thought that United States citizens should be tried in foreign courts; the Guardian agrees.  George III opposed freedom of trade for United States merchants; the Guardian agrees.  George III thought that Americans would go too far in responding to terrorist attacks (from the Indian tribes); the Guardian agrees.  Most Britons, as far as I can tell, long ago reconciled themselves to American independence.   Perhaps, in another century or two, the Guardian will leave George III's side and join the majority there.

O'Farrell ends with one of those stock denials that are impossible to believe:
But being against US government policy should not be lazily extended to general anti-Americanism.  If you're a US citizen please do not think I bear you any personal ill will (unless you yourself happen to be reading this, George W - which, let's face it, is unlikely, given the absence of pictures).
At least he didn't say, "Some of my best friends are Americans", the traditional claim of bigots, at least in the United States.
- 8:24 PM, 6 July 2003   [link]


Kirkland's 4th of July:  Kirkland is, I think, just the right size to celebrate the 4th of July properly.  There are enough people here to support a reasonable parade, without making it a professional affair.  Kirkland's parade starts with with this informal procession of little kids, often on bicycles, and escorted by their parents.



After the little kids comes a more organized parade with everything from car clubs to the Brownies.  (I may put up some more pictures of it in a day or two.)
- 7:46 AM, 6 July 2003   [link]


Good Posts:  
  • Jim Bowen defends nuclear power against the usual economic critique.  One point I would add.  The last comparison I saw had nuclear power less expensive, slightly, than coal power.

  • Stuart Buck spots something interesting in Justice Kennedy's dissent, testimony that "diversity" is important to some professors only if those who get preferences are not Republicans.  

  • Susanna Cornett makes a necessary point about the late Katherine Hepburn.  She was a homewrecker who destroyed a marriage.  We can admire Hepburn as an actress without excusing her selfish behavior.

  • "Mindles Drek" tries to explain that what we might think ought to be in the Constitution may not be there.   This is a common confusion that he does not entirely dispel, as you can see in the comments to that post and a follow up.

  • Daniel Drezner teaches Michael Kinsley a lesson in logic.  (Scroll down to June 24th.)

  • "Jane Galt" does the numbers on an absurd claim about illegal abortions before the Roe decision.

  • Joanne Jacobs has a succinct summary on what makes schools successful.  It is not the total resources; it is how they are used.

  • Mickey Kaus corrects a New York Times story on the latest employment statistics.  There are two different sets, the payroll numbers and the household survey.  The first showed no improvement, and the second showed a healthy gain.  The Times story was built entirely around the first set of numbers.  (Scroll down to July 4th.)

  • John Rosenberg compares two Robert Morse columns from the San Francisco Chronicle to show the limits of tolerance in that city.

  • Dr. "Smith", the medpundit, keeps us up to date on both the political fight over tort reform, and how the malpractice problem is limiting which patients doctors will treat.  

  • Kimberly Swygert describes an unforgettable calculus teacher, who was also a "certifiable lunatic".

  • Dr. "Weevil" discusses the rules on the use of the serial comma.

  • Pejman Yousefzadeh thinks another blogger exaggerated just a bit in his description of a Condoleezza Rice speech.  Rice was burying Clinton's policies more than praising them.  (By the way, "Condoleezza" really is spelled with two z's, although you will often see it with just one.)
- 5:22 PM, 6 July 2003   [link]


The Missing Word:  This morning's Weekend Edition NPR program had an entirely positive segment on the visits of surviving members of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion to Spain.  (The Abraham Lincoln battalion was part of the International Brigade that went to help the leftist Spanish government during the 1930s Spanish civil war.)  The NPR reporter told us of the pleasure these old men had visiting the battlefields where they fought, and of one man's defiling of Franco's monument.  He told us, accurately, that members of the Lincoln Battalion were not well treated after they came back to the United States.  But all through this segment, he avoided mentioning the central fact about the Lincoln Battalion, avoiding the word that would explain their struggles.  The word, of course, is "Communist".  The International Brigade, including the Lincoln Battalion, was a Communist front group.  As Hugh Thomas explains in his history, The Spanish Civil War, it was organized by Stalin at the suggestion of the French Communist leader, Maurice Thorez:
Before the effects of Cominterm aid would be seen, on September 22 [1936] Thorez visited Moscow.  He supported arguments put by Rosenberg, Russian ambassador in Madrid, for military aid from Russia direct.  He also suggested that aid should be given to the [Spanish] Republic in the form of volunteers raised internationally by foreign Communist parties (though they would welcome non-Communists). (p. 376)
So, these wonderful members of the Lincoln Battalion were working for Stalin, though many may not have been aware of it at the time.  A real reporter could have asked them some interesting questions about the Gulag and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The NPR reporter knew better than to bring up such unpleasant subjects.

The reporter also omitted, out of politeness, no doubt, what happened to the members of the International Brigade who fled to the Soviet Union after Franco's victory.  The United States may have been investigated and persecuted members of the Brigade, but Stalin was a little rougher:
In the late 1940s all those Communists from East Europe who had fought in Spain came under the cloud of Stalin's suspicion. . . . many were arrested and many were shot. (p. 622)
Stalin's reach even extended to the United States.  A Soviet general who had broken with Stalin, Krivitsky, was found murdered in his Washington, D. C. hotel room in August, 1941.

Would NPR do a segment celebrating followers of Hitler that never mentioned him?  Or without mentioning something about the cause they were, however naively, supporting?   Of course not.  So, why the special treatment for Stalin's followers?
- 10:04 AM, 6 July 2003   [link]


The Pursuit of Happiness:  When I noticed that I had, without planning to, written the two previous posts on life and liberty, it seemed natural on Independence Day to follow them with a post on the third of the listed unalienable rights, the pursuit of happiness. As I thought about it, I realized that, although I have some sense of what the founders meant by life and liberty, I had no idea what they meant by "pursuit of happiness".  It is easy to see how the founders thought government should protect life and liberty, but it was not at all clear to me how they thought government should protect the pursuit of happiness.  I even began to wonder whether it was simply a rhetorical flourish, put in to make a better sounding phrase than, say, "property".

Then, while listening to the Hugh Hewitt show, I heard Harry Jaffe speaking on that very question, speaking too briefly for me to get a full understanding of what Jefferson and the other founders meant by the phrase, but saying enough for me to get a hint, which I will now share.  Happiness, I think, must have meant something rather different to the founders than it does to moderns.  Jaffe quoted an instructive phrase from Washington's first inaugural.  Here it is, in context:
. . . the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world.  I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; . . .
No "truth more thoroughly established" than an "indissoluble union between virtue and happiness".  It is hard to imagine a modern American politician saying that, especially presenting the link between virtue and happiness as an established truth.  In our cynical age, some may believe this, but few care to say it.

(Here is the entire inaugural, a brief speech that is well worth reading.)  
- 1:31 PM, 4 July 2003   [link]


Try to Post a Flier, get convicted of "disruption" at Cal Poly.  When Steve Hinkle tried to post a flier on a speech by Mason Weaver, a black conservative, last November, other students prevented him from doing it, and even called the campus police.  The university convicted Hinkle of "disruption", even though the flier had been approved.  More evidence that Abigail Thernstrom was right when she said campuses were islands of repression in a sea of freedom.  The civil liberties group, FIRE, is on the case.
- 8:54 AM, 3 July 2003
Update:  This UPI article has more on the original incident and the case.  One striking detail:
Hinkle told UPI that at the Feb. 19 hearing, Vice President for Student Affairs Cornel Morton called attention to Hinkle's blond hair and blue eyes and the fact that Hinkle was a white male member of the Republican club.  Morton said that to students of color, this could represent "a collision of experience."  The chemistry of the situation has racial implications, Morton said, and Hinkle was naive not to acknowledge this.
The defendants in the Michigan cases argued that "diversity" is so important in the educational experience that it justifies racial preferences in admission.  In this incident, Cornel Morton is arguing that the mere presence of a person of another race, especially one of markedly different appearance, is threatening.  So, at Michigan, the "collision of experience" is essential for education, but at Cal Poly, it is dangerous.  Color me confused.

And one thing about the case has me baffled.  Regardless of their views, I would expect the Cal Poly administrators to behave more sensibly, just because they would know how much trouble this will cause.  Apparently they are really that out of touch, or at least Cornel Morton is.
- 5:40 PM, 4 July 2003   [link]


At the End of World War II,  British voters gave power to the Labour party, throwing Churchill and the Conservatives out of office.  One reason for the shift was the desire of voters for a national health service, what American critics call "socialized medicine".  A half century ago, there were large gaps in health and life expectancy between the poor and the wealthy in Britain.  Those proposing national health expected that it would reduce those gaps, and I believe that it did, in the first decades of the program.  Now, however, in spite of universal, taxpayer supported health care, the life expectancy gap between the wealthy and the poor in Britain is increasing.  
Health inequalities are getting worse, ministers admitted yesterday.  Over the past 30 years the rich have been living ever longer, and the gap between their life expectancy and that of the poor has widened.
The gaps between areas in Britain are surprisingly large.
A man born in Manchester, where average life expectancy is 69 years, can expect to die 10 years before a man born in north Dorset.
For what it's worth, the last report that I saw on life expectancies in the United States showed that life expectancy gaps were decreasing between blacks and whites, and between men and women.
- 6:14 AM, 3 July 2003   [link]


Bureaucracies Like Racial Preferences, almost by their nature.   Bureaucracies like numerical goals, and the internal freedom to make policies that allow them to meet those goals.  For at least three decades in the United States, bureaucracies left to themselves have tended to install racial preferences in their hiring, admission, and contracting decisions, openly if they could, surreptitiously if they must.  In few areas is this more true than education.  When Washington state voters passed Initiative 200 outlawing racial preferences in admission to public schools, the educational bureaucracies objected bitterly.  Even now, the Seattle public schools explicitly take race into consideration, in a complex system, described here.   The bureaucrats there believe so strongly in racial preferences that, a year or so ago, a popular Seattle principal actually resigned, claiming that he could not do his job in conscience without racial preferences.

So do the bureaucrats running the University of Washington.  Yesterday, the Seattle Times published this column from 15 deans at the University of Washington, asking for the freedom to use racial preferences openly.  The deans omit one important fact, which was printed, recently, in one of Seattle's two main "alternative" newspapers, the Stranger:
With respect to the UW's undergraduate program, the bottom-line impact of I-200 has not been as substantial as first feared by affirmative action advocates.  In the immediate wake of I-200, minority enrollment dropped precipitously, but has since recovered to pre-I-200 levels, as admissions officers have found ways of expanding the pool of qualified minority applicants without resorting to direct racial preferences.
(Although the Stranger is not an unimpeachable source, I have seen this same information in more mainstream publications.)  Let me repeat the point, because this is important.   Without using race, at least openly, the University of Washington now has just as many minority undergraduates as before Initiative 200.  Despite this, the deans still want to use racial preferences in admission, even though that has been soundly rejected by the majority of voters.

At least the University of Washington deans are asking for a change in policies.   Other educational bureaucrats celebrated the split decisions in a way that showed that they intended to install open racial preferences as fast as they could, even though the two Supreme Court decisions made it clear that their use should be sharply limited, should be, in fact, a last resort.  The man who had installed the illegal discriminatory system at Michigan, Lee Bollinger, thought the two decisions were wonderful.  Terrence Pell, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the cases, accuses the universities of wanting to use "camouflaged quotas".  By the evidence that he presents, I would conclude that he is being too kind when he adds the "camouflaged".  Note, too, that the University of Texas has been able to admit more minorities than ever without using racial preferences, but, like the University of Washington, still wants to use racial preferences for "diversity".

Let me summarize.  The educational bureaucracies claim that they need to use racial preferences to achieve "diversity", after they have proved that they do not need to use racial preferences to achieve diversity.  If a 5 year old child made an argument like this to me, I could understand it, though I would still try to explain why they were wrong.  But from university deans?  Of the two possibilities, I am not sure which is worse, that they believe this nonsense themselves, or that they expect us to believe it.  One last thought:  So far, to my knowledge, not a single official at the University of Washington has disagreed openly with these 15 deans.  Some might think that unanimity of opinion shows a disgraceful lack of intellectual diversity for a university, but I doubt that the University of Washington is embarrassed.
- 6:25 PM, 2 July 2003   [link]


If Not the Shuttle, What?  The shuttle has proved to be a failure on almost every ground.  It is too expensive and too unreliable for its tasks.  Robert Zubrin, perhaps the most prominent advocate of manned missions to Mars, has some sensible suggestions for near term replacements
The Shuttle needs to be replaced with a small crew transfer capsule, which at a mass 10 percent of the orbiter would be light enough to launch on top of a Delta or Atlas launch vehicle.  These expendable launch vehicles cost one-tenth as much as a Shuttle launch, and would be safer to ride to orbit as well, since they are modern, brand new every time they are flown and positioned beneath the payload they are lifting rather than to its side.  Thus, if something goes wrong with the booster, (as in the Challenger incident) the crew capsule can get away, and if something should fall from it (as with Columbia), the crew vehicle will not be hit.
He also favors adapting the current lower stages of the space shuttle to reconfigure it into a heavy launch vehicle that could put large payloads into orbit.  Both ideas strike me as good suggestions, even if you do not share Zubrin's enthusiasm for a Mars trip.  Both, I would guess, could be implemented within a few years.
- 9:34 AM, 2 July 2003   [link]


Worth Reading:  Janet Daley's description of the axioms of the BBC.  
The axioms of this institutional wisdom are quite explicit, but so universally held as to be virtually invisible to those within the system.  Although the detailed strictures of the orthodoxy vary over time, they are always Left-of-centre and, for the most part, to the Left of New Labour, although they are not identical with Old Labour except in a vague sentimental sense.

Some examples you may recognise: tax-and-spend economics is the only morally acceptable approach to domestic policy (government spokesmen are always asked why they are not giving "more resources" to any problem, and spending cuts are always inherently wicked); anyone who uses the word "asylum" or "immigration" in conjunction with the word "problem" is a bigot; and all Euro-sceptics are lunatics.
A very similar set of axioms is held by those running the major networks in this country, too.  They also share this close mindedness:
What is most disturbing about encounters with BBC current affairs people is not that one has disagreements with them, but that they regard their own quite narrow frame of reference as the only rational one.
Doesn't that remind you of Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, and Bill Moyers?
- 7:33 AM, 2 July 2003   [link]


Illegal Immigrants, Cop Killers:  This afternoon, KIRO talk show host Dori Monson made a striking claim.  In the last ten years, if I heard him correctly, every single law official killed in eastern Washington state was killed by an illegal immigrant.  He then made the usual legal correction, noting that the suspect in the latest cop killing has not been convicted.  (Eastern Washington state is not an area with a high crime rate, though far higher than when I grew up there.  Much of it is still rural, and even the largest city, Spokane, had a population of less than 200,000 in the 2000 census.)  I can not, from own knowledge, verify Monson's claim, but I can recall several examples that support it, and none that don't.

News organizations here, as elsewhere in the United States, do not want us to know about this pattern.  News stories usually do not mention a suspect's status as an illegal immigrant, even when that is obviously relevant to the story.  Kudos to Monson for being politically incorrect enough to mention this.
- 4:46 PM, 1 July 2003
Update:  Politically correct cities have been obstructing the enforcement of our immigration laws for years.  There are some vivid examples of the consequences in this article.   The authors also claim that these "sanctuary" policies are illegal under federal law.   The public opposes these policies by very large margins, nationally, though perhaps not in the cities that have them.
- 9:17 AM, 2 July 2003   [link]


Science Outpaces Our Laws:  Many of our laws are based on assumptions that scientific progress has falsified.  Not that long ago, a Louisiana woman went to court to have her child declared legitimate.  Under Louisiana laws, a child born within one year of a legal father's death was held to be legitimate.  The father, who was suffering, if I recall correctly, from cancer, had stored his sperm before his death so that his wife could bear their child.  She did, but not before a year had passed.  That example would appear to be easy to solve; most of us would consider the child legitimate and would favor changing the laws.  Many other examples are more difficult.  Here are a few, in no particular order.

Fatherhood after death, without explicit permission from the deceased:  The sperm in a man's body usually survive his death long enough so that they can be removed and stored for later fertilization.  Children born from this process may modify the rights of previous children or stepchildren.  I think I have already seen a few reports of legal cases in which the rights of these children have been disputed.  Given the length of time that sperm can be stored, this presents some complex possibilities.

Refusal of fatherhood after a divorce:  Commonly, when couples resort to in vitro fertilization, a number of fertilized eggs are created at the same time, and they are implanted a few at a time, with the additional eggs stored in a freezer.  I have read of cases in at least three countries, the United States, Australia, and now Britain, where, after a divorce or death, a man or his survivors have gone to court to prevent the woman from using those stored eggs.  This has always struck as unspeakably cruel, since it often prevents the woman from ever having children.  Nonetheless, given the realities of child support and its costs, I can not quite say that I favor the woman in all such cases.  Nor is splitting it by allowing the woman to bear the child, but not requiring the man to support it, entirely satisfactory since that deprives the innocent child of a father.

Donation of fertilized eggs:  Some couples, having all the children they want from this process, have chosen to donate their extra fertilized eggs to infertile couples.   This does not bother me in itself, but I wonder whether current laws protect both couples.

Surrogate mothers:  Women can be surrogate mothers in two different ways, by carrying another woman's child through implantation, or by bearing a child for a couple through artificial insemination (or perhaps through more old fashioned processes, if the couple wanting a child agree).  The first is less troubling than the second, which led to a spectacular court fight in New Jersey.

Eggs from aborted fetuses:  Scientists are making progress, if that's the right word, in removing the ovaries from female fetuses, and keeping them alive in a culture.   In time, they may, as this article explains, be able to keep the ovaries alive in a culture and even stimulate them to produce eggs, making it possible for a baby that had never been born to become a mother.  Somehow I don't think that current inheritance laws allow for that possibility.

Womb transplants:  They may happen within the next few years, and, would not, at first glance, seem to pose enormous legal problems.  Except, as this article notes, it may be possible to implant wombs in men and, with the help of hormones, have the man carry a baby to term.  This would allow a man to be both father and surrogate mother of his child, something that our legal codes certainly have not taken into account.

There is just one thing I am certain about for all these possibilities in our brave new world.  Legislatures, not courts, should make our laws on these subjects.
- 4:02 PM, 1 July 2003   [link]


Worth Reading:  Writers on the left have claimed that the use of depleted uranium during the first Gulf War caused high rates of cancer among the Iraqi people.  In particular, John Pilger has made this argument, again and again.  The BBC's John Sweeney, proving that not all the journalists at that organization are hopeless, makes this devastating critique of Pilger's arguments.  Sweeney does not mince words in his conclusion:
If Pilger and Arbuthnot accept that DU [depleted uranium] cannot have caused cancers observed in 1992, why haven't they made this clear?  None of the cancers and birth defects that Pilger's researcher dates back to 1992 can be the fault of depleted uranium.  To omit the possibility that some of the cancers were caused by Saddam's chemical weapons is to misrepresent the facts.  To imply by that omission that depleted uranium is solely responsible for the cancers and birth defects in Iraq as he does in his book, his film and in the Daily Mirror is a disgrace to journalism.

I accuse John Pilger of cheating the public and favouring a dictator.
People in this area, even if they have not read anything by Pilger, will recognize his arguments since they have been repeated, again and again, by Seattle Congressman McDermott, who is, technically, a physician.  (For more on depleted uranium, see Aaron Oakley's site for many posts on the subject, and links to scientific papers.)
- 2:51 PM, 1 July 2003   [link]


Michael Moore Was on the Chomsky Cult Program  this last weekend.  Seattle's KUOW gave him two hours for what amounted to a commercial for his book, Stupid White Men.  (The Alternative Radio program is broadcast at 3:00 PM on Saturday afternoons and repeated at 11:00 PM Sunday evenings.)   Moore will not see anything improper in this gift from the taxpayers, and neither will anyone at KUOW or NPR.  (You see the same blindness to conflicts of interest with PBS and Bill Moyers.  Here's Stephen Hayes' devastating expose, and Moyers' limp response.)

Moore's speech, which had the same title as his book, was given in Boulder, sometime last fall.  (One of the minor irritations about the Alternative Radio programs is their lack of professionalism.  An example is their omission of the date in their introductions to the speeches.)  Moore began with his book, retelling (and, I suspect, greatly exaggerating) the story of the publisher's request for changes after the 9/11 attack.  Among other things, Moore claims never to have heard of a book being "pulped", which seems unlikely for a published author.  He also claimed—I'm not making this up—that the book went into its fourth printing in its first five days.  That may be physically possible, but seems unlikely.

From there, he slid into a series of disconnected riffs, some connected to the book, some not.  He was absolutely certain that President Bush did not have majority support, just like some of the tinfoil hat rightwingers who refused to believe that President Clinton had majority support a few years ago.  The speech was apparently given before the Republican gains in the 2002 election.  I don't know whether that caused Moore to revise his opinions, but think it unlikely.  The 9/11 attack did not cause Moore to change his mind about the dangers to this country; he still thinks President Bush is a far greater danger than that "invisible bogeyman", Osama bin Laden.  He repeated the lie that the Bush administration sent 43 million dollars to the Taliban.  (In fact, as anyone interested in the truth can determine, the administration sent money to international relief agencies working in Afghanistan, not the Taliban.)  He explained with considerable glee his racist policy of hiring only blacks, which he cheerfully admitted is illegal.

Much of the talk was given over to boasts about his own career.  Whether there was much truth to them, I can not say, though most seemed, at the very least, exaggerated.   One point was not.  As he said, "I am a flawed individual."  On that, I am in complete agreement.
- 9:41 AM, 1 July 2003   [link]