Thursday, June 27, 2002

THIS IS WHY I WASTED MY YOUTH: Any comic-book addict must read the item titled "Killing Monsters" by Virginia Postrel.
SHAPE UP OR... Fouad Ajami, in his usual poetic way, tells the Palestinians to break with their destructive nostalgia. He also points out the essential truth of Oslo
For nearly a decade, under the Clinton presidency, and the unwritten rules of the peace of Oslo, the regime of Yasser Arafat was granted undue indulgence. The man winked at terror, aided and abetted and committed it, but he was Pax Americana's man, and he was seen as the best of a bad lot. It was either Arafat or the deluge, we were told.
But it was Arafat and the deluge. We couldn't have a democratic Palestine, the logic had it; we had better settle for a stable Palestine. The bargain did not work. Arafat was skilled at taking the furies and the failures of his regime, as well as the wrath of his people, and diverting it, away from himself, toward Israel and its American benefactor. He had young men and young women aplenty willing to commit terrible deeds: He would feed this cult of "martyrdom," the merciless suicide bombers, and now and then, under duress, issue tepid condemnations of terror that he himself had exalted and called forth.


SOMEONE GETS IT: Ari Shavit has some intriguing thoughts on the Bush speech in Ha-aretz, arguing that Bush is applying his distaste for the "soft bigotry of low expectations" against the Palestinians.
A PICTURE WORTH NO WORDS: Further evidence of the psychotic death cult possessing the Palestinians.
ANOTHER EDITION OF "BE CAREFUL FOR WHAT YOU ASK FOR"? The Supreme Court has found school vouchers to be constitutional.
I've been a long-time supporter of vouchers, for a ariety of reasons. But, as Prof. Reynolds points out, there is an undeniable likelihood that vouchers will be used to support students' attendance at schools like jihad-loving madrassas.
Jonathan Rauch has pointed out some likely yet unforseen consequences of a wide adoption of school vouchers:

[V]oucher schools won't be unregulated. Taxpayers will demand to know why their money should support any schools that lack certified teachers, that reject affirmative action, that have leaky roofs, that produce low test scores, that duck testing altogether, that ignore special education, that teach only in English, that provide no counseling, that expel students without due process, that turn away too many applicants, that teach goofy curriculums, that shortchange girls' sports, that skimp on antidrug education, that ban gay clubs, that allow gay clubs, that teach too much about sex, or that teach too little about sex.
The public is accustomed to holding schools politically accountable, and to thinking of quality schooling as a right; it will apply both principles to voucher schools, much as it already applies them to health maintenance organizations, and may soon apply them to pharmaceutical companies. Some schools, especially religious ones, will hold out by shunning government money. But their number and market share will dwindle, as billions of taxpayer dollars pour into voucher schools. Over time, the character of American private education will change. Eventually, most private schools may look less like private schools and more like privately owned public utilities.
The qualification is that there would be more competition in education than exists today. Voucher money would seed thousands of new private schools, and public schools would be more competitive. In fact, competition would pressure ossified public schools to cut red tape, even as politics pressured private schools to spin more of it. Because public schools enroll almost 90 percent of the country's pupils, the net effect would almost certainly be positive.
If you happen to be a New Democrat, say, or some other variety of government-friendly pragmatist, vouchers are a great idea. Increased competition in the education sector as a whole will delight you, and the increased regulation of private schools won't bother you much. The Right's unalloyed enthusiasm for vouchers is a bit harder to justify. Conservatives want to get the state out of public education; they may succeed at getting the state into private education. Twenty years from now, they may be slapping their foreheads and saying, "What were we thinking when we crusaded to hook private schools on public money?" And the teachers unions, which by then may have extended many of today's anticompetitive public school rules to the private realm, may be saying, "Boy, were we ever lucky we lost that fight. Now all schools are public."


I think Rauch is correct. It's impossible to take government money and hold out indefinitely against strings, and in general, the trend towards greater federal governmental involvement in education is very strong.

MEGAN MCARDLE IS READY TO GET MARRIED: I think it's apparent from this entertaining and informative post on the WorldCom disaster:

One of the driving forces at the end of the nineties was that most research analysts were rather like fiancees. They had developed unrealistic expectations of the future based on the very short, and unusually rosy, period through which they had just lived. In the case of the equity analysts, they had begun to feel that they were entitled to see beautifully rising earnings each and ever quarter even though it was clear that if one extrapolated their expectations into the not-so-distant future, Toys 'R Us would be producing more revenue than the entire US economy. Much like a fiancee who is told that she should not expect her prospective groom to indefinitely continue to give up his best friend's superbowl party in order to escort her to the mall, research analysts got very cranky when they were told that their dreams of infinitely expandable earnings might be a tad unrealistic.
Like prospective grooms, CEO's were very anxious to please the equity analysts, because they were very afraid that if they didn't meet expectations, their beloved would start throwing the wedding china at someone's head.


Suitors are directed to her site.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

THIS IS NOT A JOKE: Michael Dukakis' fantasy has finally come true.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh defends the 9th Circuit's reasoning, but predicts it will probably be struck down nonetheless by the Supreme Court.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Walter Dellinger half-jokingly points out the ramifications of the decision:
Article VII of the Constitution itself—which makes the document operative as a proposal for ratification—concludes "done in Convention … the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven … ." If "Year of Our Lord," like "under God," can make something unconstitutional, then the Constitution itself is unconstitutional and the court's decision a nullity. In fact, without the Constitution, the 9th Circuit doesn't legally exist.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

PARTIALLY ON VACATION: Joshua Marshall checks in from vacation to object to the Bush speech, comparing it to "cheap donuts."
Marshall states:
The highlight, the shot in the arm, of this exercise is supposed to be the US endorsement of a Palestinian state, or rather a provisional state.
That comment presupposes that the purpose of the speech was to give the Palestinians a "shot in the arm." While the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Washington Post persist in that misunderstanding, the rest of the speech served strong notice to the contrary. The speech was much more akin to an intervention, with the aim of forcing the Palestinians to confront the hopelessness of the current path. Hopelessness is the key. In the words of Joe Katzman, "until the Palestinians lose all hope, they must not be allowed to have it."
Marshall also says:
The rub to the proposal is that the Palestinians can have their state - or rather their provisional state - only if they get rid of their current leadership. So they can rule themselves if they choose leaders acceptable to the United States and/or the Israelis. Not to be knee-jerk about this, but isn't that almost the definition of colonialism, the antithesis of what it means to have your own state? The essence of sovereignty or statehood is that you pick your own leaders.
I think Marshall would agree that a Palestinian state under current leadership would be, to put it mildly, a danger to Israel and to the interests of the United States. Were that state to be in existence, Israel and/or the US would be justified in invading it and terminating its sovereignty when faced with such a threat. I don't see why preventing such a state from coming into being is worse, whether you call it "colonialism" or "self-defense." Sovereignty is not an absolute right; it can be infringed when a nation poses a threat to its neighbors, and may forfeit its right to exist when it poses a threat to the existence of another.
Marshall's retort would probably be this sentence from his piece:
But that's the law of power and violence. And that law more or less gives the Palestinians free rein to continue their own campaign of unbridled violence.
No, it doesn't.
Leaving aside the relevance of comparative morality (i.e., if there is a contest for survival betwen two entities, and only one of them has a deliberate policy of murdering innocent civilians, the choice of which one to support is not especially difficult), the existence of a Palestinian state has never been predicated on violence. Just the opposite - two words: Camp David. The Palestinian's turn to violence was in rejection of a peaceful alternative, and no "law" permits violence in the face of such an alternative.
I don't think Marshall meant everything I'm accusing him of, but his piece lends itself to that interpretation.
Take it up again when you get back from hiatus.
BUSH TO ARAFAT: "DROP DEAD": I was fortunate enough to hear President Bush's magisterial speech while driving home yesterday.
I think the President's speech was the best one on the subject since...since the statement of "Whatever decision Minister Dayan makes, I wish him good luck" (or similar words to such effect), allegedly made by then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to Israeli emissaries seeking assurances that the U.S. would not intervene if Israel would pre-emptively launch what became the Six-Day War. I cannot think of any public addresses that compare to it; certainly the amount of recognized realities in the speech far exceeded the recommended dosage for the digestive system of your average State Department official. But this site has a long-standing belief that free-riding is the best policy. Accordingly, in lieu of an extended exposition on the subject, I direct you to the following:
1-3: Steven Den Beste, who has outdone himself again in three separate posts: an overview, a discussion of the ramifications for the Arab world generally, and an argument why the speech should be viewed as an ultimatum paving the way for a larger war. I think the last piece may be more wishful thinking than intended policy, but let's hope it's true.
(As an aside - why is that something to be hoped for? Well, just to pick one example, is there another way to change a region with these types of kindergarten graduations? Tal G. provides an English translation of an article on the affair, along with a link to the Hebrew original.)
4-7: Start your Joe Katzman reading with this analysis of Palestinian strategy. (Unfortunately, the Stratfor piece referenced in the article is no longer freely available.)
Continue with this scenario as to how the current conflict could widen into something much, much bigger. Then see this piece about the abyss towards which the Palestinians and most other Arab states are careening, as well as this one.
8: This Stratfor item, freely available for now, discusses the ramifications of the speech for Saudi Arabia and the larger fight against Al Qaeda. It is a good summary of the Saudi motives behind their promotion of the Palestinian cause and attempted dissuasion of the U.S. from an invasion of Iraq.
9: David Brooks has a good short summary.
10: In Ha-aretz, David Landau got off the best soundbite: "Yasser Arafat, the seemingly immortal leader of the Palestinian national movement, was politically assassinated Monday by President George W. Bush."


Sunday, June 23, 2002

I RULE! I won't be able to post again until Monday night. But in the meantime, you may amuse yourselves by reading the first (as far as I know) "Warblogger Watch" nasty takedown of yours truly. The post to which they refer now looks even better. I may respond to them in greater detail when I return.