Tuesday, February 28, 2006

SOTUS throws RICO under the bus

I've always held contempt for ultraliberal pro-abortionists eager to use every tool to stifle free and peaceful protests with RICO, a law meant to fight racketeers. What's surprising in this case is the 8-0 verdict. And the abortionists -- excuse me pro-choicers -- were worried about Alito?

Bravo for Breyer and the AFL-CIO

In Tuesday's ruling, Justice Stephen Breyer said Congress did not intend to create "a freestanding physical violence offense" in the federal extortion law known as the Hobbs Act.

Instead, Breyer wrote, Congress chose to address violence outside abortion clinics in 1994 by passing the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which set parameters for such protests.

Social activists and the AFL-CIO had sided with abortion demonstrators in arguing that lawsuits and injunctions based on the federal extortion law could be used to thwart their efforts to change public policy or agitate for better wages and working conditions.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Contra Patrick Buchanan, reformed neocon Fukuyama offers advice on assimilation

What to make of Francis Fukuyama? I haven't read his New York Times Magazine piece (TimesSelect only sorry!) opting out of post-Iraq neoconservatism. I never bought into his "End of History" motif. It overlooked culture as much as economics and overplayed liberal democracy as the end game of humanity.

How could the acclaimed scholar holed up for years at the Rand Corporation overlook the march of the Islam, particularly when it was centrifugal to the politics of the Mideast?

Why should we take his advice on how the Europeans should best assimilate their unhuddled but ghettoized masses? Fukuyama is right to say that European integration -- resting on the thin blood and and soggy soil -- is a failure. And he is right to look to the American model of assimilation that's mostly successful. That's because the American model is open-ended based on an idea (individualism) not blood weight and blood lines.

But should one dismiss Pat Buchanan's clarion call altogether as does Fukuyama? Where does one get the spine to reorient one's course in the ongoing battle? One gets spine from reading a bit of Tony Blankley, a bit of Bruce Bawer and a modest bit of Buchanan. All while tossing a few bitter bits in favor of a rational policy. Few have dispelled Buchanan's grasp of the demographics. See the more libertarian Mark Styen.

We hope that Mr. Fukuyama remembers the need for a little spine-building when the next opportunity to opt out arises. While he doesn't ignore the problem facing the Europeans, he ought to give the Americans a little more credit.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The vindication of Sam Huntington?

Naill Ferguson has a great piece in today's London Telegraph. He thinks Huntington and not Fukuyama has the better track record.

It is nearly 13 years since my colleague and near neighbour, Samuel Huntington, published his seminal essay "The Clash of Civilisations?" in Foreign Affairs. As works of academic prophecy go, this has been a real winner - up there with George Kennan's epoch-making 1947 essay, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct", on the containment of the Soviet Union.

"In this new world," wrote Huntington, "the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilisations? The fault lines between
civilisations will be the battle lines of the future."

The other great think-piece of the post-Cold War period, Francis Fukuyama's The End of History - published in the summer of 1989, before the fall of the Berlin Wall - went from seeming prescient to seeming over-optimistic within just a few years. In
particular, Bosnia's bloody civil war showed how history might actually resume with a vengeance in some post-Communist societies.

By contrast, Huntington's vision of a world divided along ancient cultural fault-lines seems to have stood up much better to the test of time. Indeed, the Bosnian war was a good example of what Huntington had in mind, since it was a conflict located precisely on the fault line between Western Christianity, Orthodoxy and Islam.

Muslims were the losers in Bosnia, though belated international intervention prevented their complete expulsion from the country. Huntington's point, however, was that in other respects Islam was a civilisation in the ascendant, not least because of the extraordinarily high birth-rates prevalent in most Muslim societies. The terrorist attacks of September 2001 were interpreted by many Americans in
Huntington's terms; this was an attack on America's "Judaeo-Christian" civilisation by the fanatical followers of a prophet spurned by both Jews and Christians.

Also in the ascendant, Huntington argued, was Confucianism, the civilisation of China. This forecast, too, has been vindicated by the seemingly unstoppable growth of the Chinese economy. How can the Chinese have what seems to be a dynamic market economy without Western-style institutions like the rule of law and representative government? The pat answer is that Confucianism permits the coexistence of liberal economics and patriarchal politics.

Huntington's model makes sense of an impressively high proportion of the news. When young Muslim men riot in protest against Danish cartoons of Mohammed, it looks like yet another case of clashing civilisations. Small wonder so many congressmen are baffled by the Bush administration's willingness to let a
Dubai-based company take over terminal operations at six US ports: Sorry, wrong
civilisation. And when the European trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, announces protectionist measures against imports of Chinese footwear, he's also
playing a part in the great culture war. Those Confucian trainers are just too damned cheap.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A sad commentary on City Lights Bookstore

Remember the following: the folks who started the vaunted City Lights bookstore in San Francisco were the darlings of the counterculture going out on the limb for freedom of expression. Today, City Lights has become a caricature of the politically correct.

It's easy to be for freedom when that gratituious freedom is practiced under the velvet glove of liberal capitalist democracy. But it's another story when freedom is on the line in the clash of civilizations. Today the vendor of classics like Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" cower under the threat of Islamofascism. They don't sound so brave these days.

Cathy Siepp has this sad commentary.

A FRIEND OF MINE took his young daughter to visit the famous City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, explaining to her that the place is important because years ago it sold books no other store would ? even, perhaps especially, books whose ideas many people found offensive. So, although my friend is no fan of Ward Churchill, the faux Indian and discredited professor who notoriously called 9/11 victims "little Eichmanns," he didn't really mind seeing piles of Churchill's books prominently displayed on a table as he walked in.

However, it did occur to him that perhaps the long-delayed English translation of Oriana Fallaci's new book, "The Force of Reason," might finally be available, and that because Fallaci's militant stance against Islamic militants offends so many people, a store committed to selling banned books would be the perfect place to buy it. So he asked a clerk if the new Fallaci book was in yet. "No," snapped the clerk. "We don't carry books by fascists." Now let's just savor the absurd details of this for a minute. City Lights has a long and proud history of supporting banned authors ? owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti was indicted (and acquitted) for obscenity in 1957 for selling Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," and a photo at the bookstore showed Ferlinghetti proudly posing next to a sign reading "banned books."

Yet his store won't carry, of all people, Fallaci, who is not only being sued in Italy for insulting religion because of her latest book but continues to fight the good fight against those who think that the appropriate response to offensive books and cartoons is violent riots. It's particularly repugnant that someone who fought against actual fascism in World War II should be deemed a fascist by a snotty San Francisco clerk.
Is Lawrence Ferlinghetti spinning in his grave?

Remember this about post-modern liberals or "progressives" as they like to call themselves: they are hypocrites beneath contempt. This is something I learned as a teenager growing up in "busing-battered" Boston where the so-called civil rights activists bemoaning the segregation of public schools exercised their options. They chose alternatives to the city schools, public and away from the unwashed both white and black. Over the years they have lived off their indignation becoming the manufacturers of speech codes and color-coded diversity. So the city Lights episode doesn't really surprise me.

Volokh Conspiracy has a good back and forth on City Lights. Does not the bookstore have the right to not carry Fallaci's polemic. Of course they have that right. But don't keep telling the world that you're into free expression and taking great risks because you're not. Remeber Fallacci's been sued in Italy by Islamist sympathizers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The New York Times and Kelo: It's a coverup for the liberal wing of the SOTUS

Tom McGuire catches the New York Times playing favorites in its Kelo coverage.

Yes Justice Stevens is a bit remorseful in giving the green light to the bulldozers, the pencil pushers at City Hall and their private developer friends. But what's this? No acknowledgement of Justice Thomas's ringing defense of private property. Naw, that would be too much for the Gray Lady. The editors can't possibly give Thomas a plug for sticking up for poor homeowners and principle. Instead it's Stevens who's the apple of the Times' eye as state legislatures far and wide undo the damage done.

Remember the end game for the Times is to obscure the fact that it was the liberal wing that cut loose goverment power to rob the poor in favor of tax-fatten private developers -- not the conservative wing. It would be best if we forgot that the liberals who perverted the concept of eminent domain.

Here's the New York Times

The Supreme Court seemed to invite such a response [legistalive action curbing eminent domain] in its narrowly written ruling in the case, Kelo v. City of New London. Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority, expressed sympathy for the displaced homeowners and said that the "necessity and wisdom" of the use of eminent domain were issues of legitimate debate. And, he added, "We emphasize that nothing in our opinion precludes any state from placing further restrictions on its exercise of the takings power."

Two months after the ruling, addressing a bar association meeting, Justice Stevens called it "unwise" and said he would have opposed it had he been a legislator and not a federal judge bound by precedent.

Here's Tom McGuire fisking the New York Times hagiography of J.P. Stevens.

The life and hard times of Justice Stevens, strict constructionist.

Well. Just as sophisticated Muscovites learned that it was what was *not* in Pravda that was as important as what was, so to do savvy readers of Pravda-on-the-East River know that the answers can often be found in the empty spaces.

In the case at hand, common sense guides the answer - if Justices Scalia and/or Thomas had led a majority that provoked this reaction, it would have been mentioned by the third paragraph. Hence, even casual court-watchers unfamiliar with Steven's reputation will correctly guess the truth - the Kelo decision was achieved by the liberal members of the Court.

But it may take readers with a longer memory to recall that the Times
editorialized *in favor* of Kelo at the time.

Meanwhile over at An Inclination to Criticize. Carina calls the New York Times bluff on today's Kelo coverage. It appears the Gray Lady has a distorted view of what qualities comprise a "neutral observer." Activist government types like the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute are hardly "neutral" when it comes to Kelo v. New London. They favor the grabbing,not-so-dead hand of busy-body government. Just like the Times does. That's neutral? Some cherry pick!

What the KosKrowd at Harvard has wraught

Chalk one up for the Politically Correct crowd at Harvard. They smelled blood and they pounced. The only question remaining is this revenge of Cornel West?

Certain like gender differences in the hard sciences are off-limits. Tip toe around that one.

This is a real shame. Larry Summers is a bright man who was willing to challenge the consensus on campus whether it be the growing movement to "divest" from Israel or the right of military recruitors to set up shop on college campus. He was a breath of fresh air in the halitosis halls of ivy academia, where the stakes are so small and the battles so shrill.

Wm F. Buckley was right years ago when he quipped that he would rather be ruled by the first ten names in the telephone book than by the Harvard faculty.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Shoveling Treasury Secretary Snow's Job

Russell Roberts doesn't like Secretary Snow latest spin on tax cuts and postitive busines investment. A chart unmasks the spin.

The problem is that if you took away the dotted line showing the date when Bush signed the tax cuts, the resumption of positive business investment looks perfectly consistent with the trend beginning in mid-2001?the negative rates of investment shrink until they turn positive in 2003. There doesn't appear to be any impact at all from the signing of the Act.

Read the whole thing. It's not good news for Team Bush.

Meanwhile, the American Shareholders Association says that the 2003 Bush Tax Cuts saved shareholders $100 billion.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The NHL needs a biggger ice surface

What's with those NHL types? Don't they see the big picture? Not really they're worried about injuries to marquee players like Hasek. Jamie Fitzpatrick thinks otherwise.

It will all be taken as damning evidence by those who believe NHL players don't belong in the Olympics. (Is it too outlandish to suggest that a 41-year-old goaltender with a heavy workload might be a groin injury waiting to happen, regardless of what uniform he's wearing?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

An alternative universe with the Democrats in charge.

The irrepressible Don Luskin, Brad DeLong's worst blog experience, paints a bizarro world should the Democrats regain the slightest thread of power in November.

Think along these lines: "it will make Maryland?s union-backed punitive attack on Wal-Mart look like a small ripple."

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Viva Ayaan Hirsi Ali!

In the context of fear and chilling winds (real ones not the those wagged in the far out imagination of the American Left) Ayaan Hirsi Ali puts herself at risk. This is a lot more than we can say for the Boston Globe and The New York Times.

Shame on those politicians who stated that publishing and re-publishing the rawings was ?unnecessary?, "insensitive", "disrespectful" and "wrong". I am of the opinion that Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark acted correctly when he refused to meet with representatives of tyrannical regimes who demanded from him that he limit the powers of the press. Today we should stand by him morally and materially. He is an example to all other European leaders. I wish my prime minister had Rasmussen?s guts.

Shame on those European companies in the Middle East that advertised "we are not Danish" or "we don?t sell Danish products". This is cowardice. Nestle chocolates will never taste the same after this, will they? The EU member states should ompensate Danish companies for the damage they have suffered from boycotts.

Liberty does not come cheap. A few million Euros is worth paying for the defence of free speech. If our governments neglect to help our Scandinavian friends then I hope citizens will organise a donation campaign for Danish companies.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Landlord & Craigslist dilemma

We are faced with what I'll call the Craiglist dilemma. Self organizing, self-regulating or top down threats from the government. Two ideals at loggerheads: fair housing laws v. free press and free association.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Yes we have pictures of Mahomet

Mohammed pictured through the ages. What will the Islamofascists do next, call for the banning of Dante's Inferno?

Meanwhile Tim Blair from down under gives apologists the middle finger.

*Image nearby From the 1911 Italian silent film L'Inferno by way of http://www.outpost911.com/

Hat tips to Instapundit.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Postrel lays into Moslem intolerance. It's all about freedom

The ever-wise Virginia Postrel exposes the double standard. It's OK for some Islamicists to blow up people they don't like. That's not obscenebut satire about the Prophet apparently is enough for phoney indignation. This logic leads one to conclude that Islam is a backward religion, I'm sorry to say.

My response to this nonsense is to wonder why Muslims don't grow up. If your co-religionists are going to take political stands, and blow up innocent people in the name of Islam, political cartoonists are going to occasionally take satirical swipes at your religion. Those swipes may not be nuanced, but they're what you can expect when you live in a free society, where you, too, can hold views others find offensive. If you don't like it, move to Saudi Arabia. Or just try to peacefully convert people to Islam. As Fred Barnes points out, the current cover of Rolling Stone is offensive to (hypersensitive, paranoid, publicity-seeking) Christians, but they aren't threatening anyone with physical violence.

Buckley on the Muslim and non-Muslim discomfort with freedom of the press

Yes indeed Christians are often ridiculed; so are the Jews in the Middle East in appalling dispatch and fashion. Kayne West wears a crown of thorns in mockery of Christ. We've been through the madonna in dung and Piss Christ and on a bad day Howard Stern. But we're used to it since we are liberal and tolerant and very Western and committed to a free and adventursome press. By the way did you ever see Christians in the Bible Belt pelting an embassy? Bill Buckley sums it all up.

Iconoclastic expressions in America are broadly condemned as being in bad taste. However, there is certainly freedom in America to deride Christ. This is done every day on Broadway, and every other day in Hollywood. Americans do not take up arms in protest. Derisory material at the expense of Jews is permitted only if the executioner is a Jewish comedian. Care on this front is a welcome legacy of the Holocaust: No jokes are told by visitors to Buchenwald.

But is the day imminently ahead when Muslim influence expresses itself here as vigorously as it is doing in Europe? How exactly to account for the nearly universal decision of the press not to reproduce the Danish cartoons? The arrival of decorum in Slate?

The question not being ventilated with sufficient thoroughness is: What are Muslim leaders doing to dissociate their faith from the ends to which it is being taken by the terrorists?

And file under "even a broken clock is right twice a day." Andrew Sullivan stresses a good point.

And lost in the selective outrage over the cartoons is the leftist mayor of London is the kind of company he keeps.

The pathethic Boston Globe sides with the enemy of freedom all in the name of tolerant multiculturalism. What did the Globe say about Piss Christ?