Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

I've reprinted the October 14, 2002 post that inspired the creation of the Henderson Prize.

The Third Henderson Prize For The Advancement Of Liberty

On this day in 1991, the Warsaw Pact came to an end in all but name. Wikipedia notes that in January 1991, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland announced their planned departure by July 1st that year, and in February Bulgaria followed suit. This PDF document, telling the events from the Bulgarian perspective, states:

In Budapest on 25 February 1991, a "Protocol for the Termination of the Defense Agreements Concluded within the Warsaw Treaty and Liquidation of Its Military Bodies and Structures" was accepted. According to the resolution, beginning with 31 March the activities of the Committee of the Ministers of Defense were terminated, as were those of the Supreme Command of the Unified Armed Forces, the Warsaw Pact's Military Council, the Headquarters of the Committee on Technology, and the Unified Air Defense System. The military treaties of 14 May 1955, 17 March 1969, and 18 March 1980 were nullified.
At that point the pact ceased to function. It was officially dissolved later that year on July 1.

Speaking of the end of things associated with Warsaw...

 photo SolidarityCrowd.jpg

Today the Henderson Prize is awarded to individuals and organizations who led the peaceful overthrow of Communist totalitarianism in Poland.

(Note the new site design.)


Tuesday, March 30, 2004

When The Supreme Court Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

Protest the McCain-Feingold campaign "reform" law - and the Supreme Court ruling that upheld its abridgement of the First Amendment - and help boost the economic recovery at the same time. I am now offering merchandise through CafePress. On the bumper sticker and the front of all shirts (tees, long-sleeved tees, sweatshirts) is this:

 photo McCainFront.gif

And on the back of all shirts:

 photo McCainBack.gif

In case anyone is feeling so generous, I think Justice Scalia wears a size XL.

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Monday, March 29, 2004

The French Will Have Passion This Wednesday

But not without a vain effort to block its release.

A Paris court Monday rejected a request by three Jewish brothers to ban Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" on the grounds it would foment anti-Semitism in France.


"To make the death of Jesus into the major motivation of anti-Semitism that leads to secular persecutions against Jews would stem from a narrow view of Mel Gibson's film," judge Florence Lagemi wrote in his decision.

The Benlolo brothers - Patrick, Gerard and Jean-Marc - presented their case Friday before going to a screening of the film with a lawyer for the movie's French distributor. They plan to appeal.

If the Benlolos are worried about anti-Semitism, they should focus their attention on France's foreign policy.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

United Nations Regulation Of Internet Is Being Proposed By...

...Sudan University of Science and Technology professor Izzeldin Mohamed Osman. (Link via LGF)

I can see it now: "404 error. Fatwa has been declared on this site."

Bloggage On The Bottom Of The Sea

Glenn Reynolds has underwater vacation pics.

This Legislation Barks!

The city of Santa Fe is considering a proposed ordinance requiring dogs to be buckled up while riding in motor vehicles.

I think it's a plot being launched by a secret cabal in Estonia.

Abe Foxman Was Worried About This - Sort Of

Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Mohri, a leading Shi'ite cleric in Kuwait, is requesting that his government lift the ban on The Passion of the Christ, "to expose the role of the Jews, the killers of prophets."

Of course, Foxman was worried that the film could spark anti-Semitism where it isn't already virulent, where clerics aren't already looking for phantom Zionist plots under every rock.

I've got a plan. Let Mel make a movie about Husayn, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad. His martyrdom, the centerpiece of the Ashoura holiday, fomented the schism that gave birth to the Shi'a sect.

In a passion play, you've got Jews, Romans, and a token Idumean (Herod) in the middle of a Jewish schism. The Jews are split over whether the martyred central character is the Messiah of their prophecy. In The Passion of Husayn, you've got Arabs, Persians, and other ethnicities native to the region surrounding modern-day Iraq. (Husayn was killed in Karbala.) Shi'ites believe that Husayn's father Ali was the legitimate heir to Mohammad; sunnis recognize Abu Bakr as the heir to the caliphate. Today, while Shi'ites are mostly Persian, like Christians they incorporate many ethnicities.

Will Shi'ite clerics say that a film on the martyrdom of Husayn "exposes the role of the Muslims, the killers of prophets?"

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Blogroll Update - Celebrity Edition

Blog Maverick Blog host Mark Cuban founded the Internet company (which was later sold to Yahoo! and is known as Yahoo! Platinum) and owns the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. Biographical information available from this Mavericks page and this ABC interview. All his posts relate to basketball and his program "The Benefactor" - which is currently holding auditions.

Turning the Tide Noam Chomsky not only has a blog, he has comments! And LGF readers are ecstatic! The MIT linguistics professor and radical leftist demonstrates his ability to write three paragraphs on the 2004 election without saying anything. Sorry guys, but since he's an American citizen - until Massachusetts secedes from the US and joins the European Union, his blog link gets an American flag. (Hey, maybe in return Czechia or Estonia could be our new 50th state.) I'm sure that many of Chomsky's fans will take similar offense :-)

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

In light of the recent headlines from Israel, I've reprinted two posts on mothers whose sons conducted suicide bombings for al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

While you're there, Al Maviva wrote a wonderful alternate history in which President Bush prevents 9/11 - and faces a war crimes tribunal.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Sheik Yassin Roundtable

Allison Kaplan Sommer expresses the frustration shared by many of her fellow Israelis regarding the terrorist situation:

[Israelis] see that when we try to make nice and compromise we get terror attacks. And when we're tough and aggressive we get terror attacks. Nothing we do seems to lower the motivation to slaughter Israeli civilians -- men, women, or children -- and in the case of Hamas, to see the state of Israel destroyed. So since there's absolutely nothing to lose by getting Yassin, and something to possibly gain -- at least temporarily derailing the Hamas leadership structure, and hopefully weakening it long-term -- so why not go ahead and do it?


With nothing left to lose, let's try to do what we can to protect ourselves. That's the sentiment of the man on the street.

This Danny O'Brien post links to a list of (to date) 124 major Palestinian terrorist attacks waged since Oslo. Twenty-five occurred in the 1990s, five in 2000, 40 in 2001, 46 in 2002, five in 2003, and three this year. Twenty-two have not been tied to any terrorist organization. Of the remaining, responsibility is held by: Hamas (52), Islamic Jihad (24), Fatah's Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade (21), Fatah (7), PFLP (4), Tanzim (1). (Some of these attacks were engineered by more than one organization.) The site states that victims "include citizens from the United States, Israel (Jews and Arabs), Romania, Thailand, Norway, the Former Soviet Union, South Africa, Ethiopia. " And these are only major attacks; a complete list of all attacks since Oslo is here.

In the comments to Joshua Claybourne's Saruman/Yassin post, J. F. Karr points to an column exposing myths surrounding the Yassin strike: that it "will escalate the violence," that Yassin was "an impotent old man" and "a 'spiritual leader' who deserved immunity," and that the strike "creates a western threat of Islamic terror." Check it out.

Monday, March 22, 2004

"We Hates The Nassty Zionisst Hobbitses!"

Joshua Claybourn reports the latest victory in Middle Earth - er, the Middle East.

William Peter Blatty, Call Your Office

The Exorcist, starring a cast of bunnies.

(Link via Spoons.)

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Brave, Brave Zapatero...

Andrew Sullivan has a song for the Spain's president-elect.

Perhaps there's another relevant Monty Python analogy. Think of terrorists as the killer rabbit of Caerbannog and the US as the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Zapatero's atitude certainly rings of Sir Robin's line from that scene: "Would it help to confuse it if we run away more?"

On another note, Chris Muir is channeling Clint Eastwood.

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

Some musings over putting things into context, with a reference to the previous post.

Furor Over Der Fuehrer

Under a rash of protests, a Berlin wax museum is removing a wax figure of Adolf Hitler from a display that also features likenesses of FDR, Churchill, and Stalin.

"I had to get rid of Hitler," said museum director Inna Vollstaedt on Friday. "My landlords have cancelled my lease and told me to close from today. I'm very disappointed."

Vollstaedt said the bank was worried about being associated with the Nazis and wanted her out as soon as possible.

"They were tired of being continually hassled on the phone. Apparently people have been out on the streets protesting about the figure in Israel," said the Russian-born Vollstaedt.

Dudes, it's not like Hitler was being glorified. He played a huge role in a pivotal moment in history. The post-Holocaust slogan is "Never forget," right? So don't forget. Have an exhibit that says, "Here's Hitler, and here's the guys who kicked his butt."

And what about Stalin? He oversaw one of the biggest mass murders in history - bigger (and longer-lasting) than Hitler's, at that. Is anyone demanding that his effigy be removed from the museum? Nein? I didn't think so.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Pew Research Solicits Unexpert Opinions

Check out this Newsmax headline: Survey: Muslim Countries Have Low Regard For U.N.

This passage catches my eye:

In some Muslim countries, however, support for a U.N. role was far less enthusiastic. In Jordan and Morocco, pluralities said that neither the United States nor the United Nations could do best in helping Iraqis form a stable government. Respondents in those countries also questioned whether the removal of Saddam Hussein would improve life for Iraqis.


These people live under freakin' monarchies! Morocco hasn't had any experience witn self-government until 1997, when it established a legislature for the first time. Jordan has a bicameral legislature, one house whose members are appointed by King Abdallah, and one house which had been dissolved several times in the past 30 years.

It gets worse. Take a look at the official poll results on Pew's site. People in four Islamic-majority nations were asked if they approved of suicide bombings a) by Palestinians against Israelis and b) against Americans and Westerners in Iraq The percentages of those answering "yes" were:



















Is this the profile of a population sufficiently qualified to offer any opinions on building political stability?

Le Grand Mac Attaque

Also in NewsMax, French nutritionists and authors Jean-Michel Cohen and Patrick Serog say good things about the Big Mac:

The relative fat-to-protein content of a Big Mac is considerably healthier than classic French snacks such as quiche lorraine and better than many other sandwiches or fast foods on the market, the authors say.

You're Nuts

Donald Trump wants to copyright the phrase "You're Fired."

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Slap To John Derbyshire Reduced To Poke

Reader Michael Pollard reacts to my post on an Andrew Sullivan rant against Derbyshire:

Derbyshire doesn't link "all homosexuality to pederasty." He says two things:

1) Boys organizations are likely to attract pederasts.
2) The proposition "homosexuality and pederasty are utterly different things, not related to each other in any way, shape or form whatsoever" is false.

He's right. Derb says not that homosexuality and pederasty are totally related, but that they are not totally unrelated. Still, this is such a serious charge that any time it is brought up it should be qualified with some explanation, as I have done so in my original post. It's too easy to take a comment such as Derbyshire's out of context, especially in a day and age when lots of people think that biblical calls to charity justify forced "redistribution" by the State, and that "speech" is synonymous with "expression" per the First Amendment, but not with monetary expression as described in the McCain-Feingold Law.

Sullivan's reaction to Derbyshire points to what is perhaps the most serious problem within the gay activist community: for decades its various organizations have, consciously or otherwise, enabled the pedophile movement. Back in the late '70s or early '80s many gay activists dismissed concerns that unqualified references to "sexual orientation" in proposed antidiscrimination laws could open the door for abuse by pedophiles. NAMBLA has been present at many a demonstration without being turned away. Wikipedia documents that several "pederast/pedophile groups" and supporters of such had been members of the International Lesbian and Gay Association; despite its 1994 ouster of pedophile organizations NAMBLA, Martijn, and Project Truth, ILGA lost its UN observer status the following year. Clayton Cramer references this piece of history here, and makes the following observation:

I know that most homosexuals are not child molesters. Many homosexuals read my column, and engage in calm and intelligent discussions. But just because you consider NAMBLA scum doesn't mean much, when there is so much evidence that homosexual activists are split about whether NAMBLA and similar child molestation advocacy groups are a legitimate part of the gay movement.

To top it all off, many gay activists distort the very definition of "pedophile." This is far worse than Bill Clinton dickering over the meaning of "is" - he was trying to change the tense of the verb, spinning the notion that he really meant "was." We're told that the vast majority of men who sexually abuse boys are heterosexual. (Wouldn't they be bisexual at the very least?)

The result is that different groups of people fight against entirely different enemies in the name of fighting child molestation. Much of the cultural Left insists that, regarding the Catholic scandal, lifting the celibacy requirement is the answer. One may find ridiculous the notion that a celibacy vow can influence a man to change his sexual orientation from adult women to pubescent boys, but somehow we're supposed to believe that no change in sexual orientation is Common sense that leads private organizations to bar middle-aged guys from taking strangers' 12-year-old daughters on campouts is abandoned when it comes to granting gay men similar charges over young boys.

Few people are willing to believe that pedophilia is either innocuous or genetic. To suggest that even a subset of homosexuality shares similar roots with it undermines the effort to carve into stone the idea that homosexuality is 100% normal and 100% biologically innate.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

Controversy abounds at the University of Southern Mississippi.

If university president Shelby Thames winds up getting fired over this, I'll take his job.

Carnival Of The Vanities #78

The Carnival is in town, and my post on the Iraqi constitution is one of the attractions.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Somebody Please Slap John Derbyshire And Andrew Sullivan

(Yes, I was watching my Patton DVD earlier this evening. How could you tell?)

The latest Derbyshire Award nomination goes to its namesake:

"Rich: I recently read Tim Jeal's excellent biography of Robert Baden-Powell (title: "The Boy-Man"), founder of the Boy Scouts. Jeal shows how the Boy Scout movement was, from its very beginnings, plagued by pederasts. Baden-Powell's first two appointees to the post of medical director at the movement's main camp, for instance, both had to be dismissed for "gross misconduct" with the boys. Only a society as willfully stupid and sunk in dogma as our own could imagine that an organization for boys would NOT attract the attention of pederasts. To insist on the "right" of homosexuals to serve as scoutmasters is to pour gasoline on a smouldering fire. (And before anyone e-mails in to tell me that homosexuality and pederasty are utterly different things, not related to each other in any way, shape or form whatsoever: I DON'T BELIEVE YOU.)" - John Derbyshire, equating homosexuality with child abuse. It is the oldest, most sickening piece of bigotry around, used against Jews in one era just as it is now used against homosexuals. There is no more logical connection between homosexuality and pedophilia than heterosexuality and pedophilia, or heterosexuality and rape. Look, there are legitimate public policy disagreements about how we treat homosexuals in society. But linking gays with child-molesters, in this way, and asserting it as a matter of faith, immune to any argumentation, is simply bigotry.

There is a community of behavioral scientists, many of whom belong to the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality, that argues that homosexuality is not innate (and not consciously chosen) but is a pathology linked largely to certain types of trauma and relationship dysfunctions during childhood. Some homosexuality has been tied to peer relationship problems, some to parental relationship problems, some to sexual abuse by a same-sex adult, some to other factors in the social environment. If these researchers are right, then one must draw three conclusions. First, there isn't just one kind of homosexuality. (That is, not just one type for each gender.) Second, one of the factors linked to homosexuality is also linked to pedophilia. Third, if homosexuality is linked to differing sets of social and psychological factors, then it produces differing sets of behavioral tendencies.

Derbyshire's error is linking all homosexuality to pederasty. That's like linking all obesity to McDonald's. Evidence suggests that a subset of homosexuality has the same roots as a subset of pedophilia (I imagine that not all pedophiles are products of sexual abuse). Gays who do not have such a history should not be expected to have the same psychological leanings as those who do.

If Andrew Sullivan were intellectually honest, he would have stated that even the researchers who argue that homosexuality is inherently dysfunctional do not argue that all homosexuality is linked to pedophilia, only that pedophilia is more prevalent among homosexuals than heterosexuals. But that wouldn't jive with his insistence that "[t]here is no more logical connection between homosexuality and pedophilia than heterosexuality and pedophilia." He acknowledges that rational people can disagree on gay-related policy, but I've never seen a post of his in which he acknowledges that rational people can disagree over the nature of homosexuality.

Sullivan has a long history of demagoguing gay-related topics; he should create an award for anticonservative hyperbole by conservatives and give it to himself.

Update: The Derbyshire quote originated here.

Update: I have carelessly misrepresented Derbyshire's comments. Retraction is here.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Madrid Subway Bombing Roundtable

All Agitptop debunks the myth that the Basque terrorist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna doesn't target civilians. Among other things, the post lists the names of many of ETA's civilian victims. Paul Jané, who has some Spanish ancestry, has many other posts on the attack - just scroll down.

Tim Blair has a photo of the protests in Madrid, and links to other protest images. Eight million people - one-fifth of Spain's entire population - took to the streets that day.

James Lileks seems to have hit on the reason why such a huge percentage of Spain's population felt energized enough to protest: "Spain doesn't have the luxury of 200 years of Constitutional rule. Young adults sitting around the dinner table look at parents who grew up under Franco; they might value freedom more than we do. We cannot possibly imagine losing it. They have heard stories of how quickly it can be lost."

Damian Penny links to a conspiracy theory: "Islamic fundamentalists were provoked into carrying out the 3/11 attacks because of Spain's support for the Iraq war, so Jose Maria Aznar is desperately trying to shift the blame to ETA so his party can win tomorrow's election." He also links to a story on five arrests in connection with the bombing.

Daniel Drezner has an open dicussion on the "motivations and implications" of the attack in comments.

Glenn Reynoldsreminds us of an old LGF post on two antiwar protesters in Madrid dressed as suicide bombers. I bet they're not very popular right now.

LGF has a pic of some far more recent Spanish antiwar protesters. Yesterday in Barcelona, some people were spotted holding a sign reading, "Las bombas lanzada en Irak estallan en Madrid" - "The bombs dropped in Iraq explode in Madrid."

Over at Samizdata, David Carr parodies the "Bush Knew!" hysteria with a hypothetical and equally loony post-3/11 conspiracy theory, and Perry de Havilland reacts to the critics of Carr's satire.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

PETA is protesting The Passion, and your humble bloghost has some fun ideas for a counterprotest.

Gay Marriage Today, Gay Marriage Tomorrow, Gay Marriage Forever

Thomas Sowell compares San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom and the Massachusetts Supreme Court to George Wallace:

Then there are the strained analogies with the civil rights struggles of the 1960s...Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were private citizens and they did not put themselves above the law. On the contrary, they submitted to arrest in order to gain the public support needed to change the laws.

As private citizens, neither Mrs. Parks nor Dr. King wielded the power of government. Their situation was very different from that of public officials who use the power delegated to them through the framework of law to betray that framework itself, which they swore to uphold as a condition of receiving their power.

The real analogy would be to Governor George Wallace, who defied the law by trying to prevent black students from being enrolled in the University of Alabama under a court order.

(For those who do not get the reference in the title of this post, click over to George Wallace's 1963 Inaugural Address and do a search for the word "segregation.")

Uh, Are These Glazed Lemon-Filled Donuts Good For Me?

The FDA says that foods need better nutritional labeling.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Fisking The Interim Iraqi Constitution

Healing Iraq has printed a copy of this document. I have some commentary on various sections; in all cases emphasis is added. (I can't imagine a constitution with italicized portions.)

Let's start with the Preamble:

The people of Iraq, striving to reclaim their freedom, which was usurped by the previous tyrannical regime, rejecting violence and coercion in all their forms, and particularly when used as instruments of governance, have determined that they shall hereafter remain a free people governed under the rule of law.

No! Civilized peoples must not reject violence in all its forms! Torture and rape are violent. So are contact sports and the war that liberated this country! The authors are using "violence" synonymously with "criminal violence" - murder and criminal assault against persons, and , vandalism against property. This must be stated explicitly in even an interim constitution. There are idiots who base bad policy on such vague and irresponsible language; such language must be avoided.

These people, affirming today their respect for international law...

International law is sometimes legitimate (NAFTA) and sometimes not (International Criminal Court). It is relevant to Iraq in this respect: Saddam had committed acts that violated the terms of the armistice he signed at the end of the Bush 41 phase of the Iraq War. He also committed crimes against his own people.

...especially having been amongst the founders of the United Nations, working to reclaim their legitimate place among nations, have endeavored at the same time to preserve the unity of their homeland in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity in order to draw the features of the future new Iraq, and to establish the mechanisms aiming, amongst other aims, to erase the effects of racist and sectarian policies and practices.

Many of Saddam's broken treaty obligations were stated in various UN resolutions. But the legitimate authority Saddam violated is not that of the UN but that of the nations to whom Iraq surrendered: the United States, the United Kingdom, and various allies. (Note that the majority of UN member nations wielding veto power - China, Russia, France - were not part of that coalition.)

Iraq needs a constitution to protect individual liberties. It's "place among nations" is irrelevant when totalitarian regimes like China and socialist basket cases like France are granted places of honor in the international "community." With friends like those, you don't need enemies.

This Law is now established to govern the affairs of Iraq during the transitional period until a duly elected government, operating under a permanent and legitimate constitution achieving full democracy, shall come into being.

Pretty straightforward.

Now skip to Article 4:

The system of government in Iraq shall be republican, federal, democratic, and pluralistic, and powers shall be shared between the federal government and the regional governments, governorates, municipalities, and local administrations. The federal system shall be based upon geographic and historical realities and the separation of powers, and not upon origin, race, ethnicity, nationality, or confession.

"Confession" means "religion." The context in the original Arabic is probably clearer than the English translation. I certainly hope so - I wouldn't want future jurisprudence to mangle the word "confession" the way much American jurisprudence mangled the word "militia" as stated in the Second Amendment.

Article 7, Section A:

Islam is the official religion of the State and is to be considered a source of legislation. No law that contradicts the universally agreed tenets of Islam, the principles of democracy, or the rights cited in Chapter Two of this Law [Articles 10 through 23] may be enacted during the transitional period. This Law respects the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and guarantees the full religious rights of all individuals to freedom of religious belief and practice.

Sigh. This is a sad reality, that any specific mention of Islam has to be made at all to get the Iraqis to sign this document. I have two questions. First, is Sharia among the universally agreed upon tenets of Islam? Second, do any of these universal tenets contradict the rights in Chapter 2?

Moving to the section on rights, Article 10 states that the Transitional Government and its branches "shall respect the rights of the Iraqi people, including those rights cited in this Chapter." Article 11 defines citizenship. Article 12 declares all citizens' equality before the law. Article 13 enumerates various rights. Some are worded appropriately:

(C) The right of free peaceable assembly and the right to join associations freely, as well as the right to form and join unions and political parties freely, in accordance with the law, shall be guaranteed.

(D) Each Iraqi has the right of free movement in all parts of Iraq and the right to travel abroad and return freely.

(E) Each Iraqi has the right to demonstrate and strike peaceably in accordance with the law.

(F) Each Iraqi has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religious belief and practice. Coercion in such matters shall be prohibited.

(G) Slavery, the slave trade, forced labor, and involuntary servitude with or without pay, shall be forbidden.

And two are not. Section B reads:

The right of free expression shall be protected.

In the US, people oppose flag burning amendments partly on the basis of "freedom of expression." We have no such enumerated freedom in the US our Constitution defends the freedom of speech and press. The wording of the First Amendment is appropriate: "expression" is a vague term that can describe any public activity.

Then there's Section H:

Each Iraqi has the right to privacy.

Americans don't have any such right, as any business that has dealt with OSHA and the IRS can testify. A "right to privacy" implies that a government can be 100% unintrusive. That just ain't so. The US Constitution, illustrating common sense, states that government may invade privacy only under explicit circumstances. The Iraqi constitution follows te example of the Fourth Amendment later on in Article 15, section B. This should suffice for addressing privacy issues; promising an open-ended "right to privacy" makes for bad law.

Article 14 must have been drafted by Ted Kennedy:

The individual has the right to security, education, health care, and social security. The Iraqi State and its governmental units, including the federal government, the regions, governorates, municipalities, and local administrations, within the limits of their resources and with due regard to other vital needs, shall strive to provide prosperity and employment opportunities to the people.

"You have the right to be given other people's stuff." This makes me sick. Iraqis should have the right to engage in peaceable commerce, and health care, education, and retirement plans should be market-driven, not granted by the State. And what in the heck is the "right to security?" No such guarantee can be realistically promised in a world where there is no risk-free living.

The first sentence in Article 15, Section A is right out of Monty Python:

No civil law shall have retroactive effect unless the law so stipulates.

I suspect that the authors are trying to say that a body of laws superseding the civil code may state exceptions to the ban on ex-post-facto laws within the civil code. But that's not what was written here. The language must be explicit.

Article 15 covers various aspects of criminal investigation and prosecution. In addition to search and seizure issues previously mentioned, the article prohibits unlawful arrest and detention, detention "by reason of political or religious beliefs," double jeopardy, civilian trials before military tribunal, and torture. It protects the presumption of innocence in trial, the right to speedy trial, and the right to "recourse to a court to determine the legality of his arrest or detention without delay."

Article 16 states:

(A) Public property is sacrosanct, and its protection is the duty of every citizen.

(B) The right to private property shall be protected, and no one may be prevented from disposing of his property except within the limits of law. No one shall be deprived of his property except by eminent domain, in circumstances and in the manner set forth in law, and on condition that he is paid just and timely compensation.

(C) Each Iraqi citizen shall have the full and unfettered right to own real property in all parts of Iraq without restriction.

I don't like Section A - it doesn't stipulate how citizens should protect public property. At the very least, they shouldn't steal or vandalize it, and should report to the authorities those who do commit such acts. Section B proclaims the right on private property, but includes too many loopholes. One such loophole, eminent domain, is roundly condemned by libertarians as a license to government theft of private property - refer to the Libertarian Party platform. Section C bans geographical restrictions to owning property - a necessary stipulation in a nation with major ethnic and religious divisions.

Article 17 was not drafted by the NRA:

It shall not be permitted to possess, bear, buy, or sell arms except on licensure issued in accordance with the law.

If it's licensed, it's a privilege and not a right. (Which means there's no right to marriage in the US, but that's another story.)

Article 18 sounds Monty Pythonian, but it's not:

There shall be no taxation or fee except by law.

I would add one word to this article: "There shall be no taxation or fee except by written law." In many parts of this world, government functionaries have been known to extort property by authority and means not stipulated in written laws. (Ever heard of Robert Mugabe?)

Article 19 does not guarantee that political refugees will be granted asylum, but states that asylum, once granted, cannot be revoked. Article 20 defines the rights to vote and run for office.

Article 21 is interesting:

Neither the Iraqi Transitional Government nor the governments and administrations of the regions, governorates, and municipalities, nor local administrations may interfere with the right of the Iraqi people to develop the institutions of civil society, whether in cooperation with international civil society organizations or otherwise.

Instead of pondering "institution[s] of civil society," the constitution should simply defend the rights of citizens to peaceable assemble with each other (which it already does) and with foreigners.

Article 22 addresses redress of grievances:

If, in the course of his work, an official of any government office, whether in the federal government, the regional governments, the governorate and municipal administrations, or the local administrations, deprives an individual or a group of the rights guaranteed by this Law or any other Iraqi laws in force, this individual or group shall have the right to maintain a cause of action against that employee to seek compensation for the damages caused by such deprivation, to vindicate his rights, and to seek any other legal measure. If the court decides that the official had acted with a sufficient degree of good faith and in the belief that his actions were consistent with the law, then he is not required to pay compensation.

Note what I have italicized. If the government functionary believes he has followed the law, he is not liable. The law must be objective, and the functionary's prejudice should play no role in its interpretation.

Article 23 addresses unenumerated rights.

The enumeration of the foregoing rights must not be interpreted to mean that they are the only rights enjoyed by the Iraqi people. They enjoy all the rights that befit a free people possessed of their human dignity, including the rights stipulated in international treaties and agreements, other instruments of international law that Iraq has signed and to which it has acceded, and others that are deemed binding upon it, and in the law of nations. Non-Iraqis within Iraq shall enjoy all human rights not inconsistent with their status as non-citizens.

The first sentence means that not all rights descend from this constitution. I have a big problem with the reference to "other instruments of international law." Treaties are the only source of international law, and only those treaties that are in accord with the laws of the signatories. A treaty with hate speech provisions, for instance, would violate both this and the US Constitution.

The remainder of the constitution details the structure of the interim government; I will leave those sections alone.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

I'm holding a contest to come up with new theme songs for the 50 US states. The District of Columbia gets 28 of 'em - see the post.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Jane Fonda - Fact And Fiction

FrontPage Magazine seems to have fallen for a rather famous urban legend. Snopes explains which part of the story is true...

During a 1972 trip to North Vietnam, Jane Fonda propagandized on behalf of the North Vietnamese government, declared that American POWs were being treated humanely and condemned U.S. soldiers as "war criminals" and later denounced them as liars for claiming they had been tortured.

...and which part isn't.

The most serious accusations in the piece quoted above -- that Fonda turned over slips of paper furtively given her by American POWS to the North Vietnamese and that several POWs were beaten to death as a result -- are proveably untrue. Those named in the inflammatory e-mail categorically deny the events they supposedly were part of.

"It's a figment of somebody's imagination," says Ret. Col. Larry Carrigan, one of the servicemen mentioned in the 'slips of paper' incident. Carrigan was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and did spend time in a POW camp. He has no idea why the story was attributed to him. "I never met Jane Fonda."

The tale about a defiant serviceman who spit at Jane Fonda and is severely beaten as a result is often attributed to Air Force pilot Jerry Driscoll. He has repeatedly stated on the record that it did not originate with him.

One other detail in the urban legend is true:

The story about a POW forced to kneel on rocky ground while holding a piece of steel rebar in his outstretched arms is true, though. That account comes from Michael Benge, a civilian advisor captured by the Viet Cong in 1968 and held as a POW for 5 years. His original statement, titled "Shame on Jane," was published in April by the Advocacy and Intelligence Network for POWs and MIAs.

The Snopes article also remarks on Fonda's famous apology:

In 1988, sixteen years after denouncing American soldiers as war criminals and tortured POWs as possessed of overactive imaginations, Fonda met with Vietnam veterans to apologize for her actions. It's interesting to note that this nationally-televised apology (during which she attempted to minimize her actions by characterizing them as "thoughtless and careless") came at a time when New England vets were successfully disrupting a film project she was working on. It's also interesting that not only was this apology delivered sixteen years after the fact, but it has not been offered again since. More than a few have read a huge dollop of self-interest into Fonda's 1988 apology. (Finally, in an interview in 2000, almost thirty years after the fact, Fonda admitted: "I will go to my grave regretting the photograph of me in an anti-aircraft carrier, which looks like I was trying to shoot at American planes. It hurt so many soldiers. It galvanized such hostility. It was the most horrible thing I could possibly have done. It was just thoughtless.")

Why did her apology receive so little appreciation? Because of what she didn't apologize for. When David Horowitz defected from the radical left, he condemned groups (such as the Black Panthers and the New Left movement) and ideology (such as Marxism) he had once supported. Jane Fonda did not condemn the Radical Left. She did not apologize for believing that the cause of North Vietnam was a good thing. And she did not apologize for believing, as her fellow radicals did, that the entire US military, from the Pentagon down to the lowliest private, as evil. Arlo Guthrie expressed the sentiment in his 1967 anthem Alice's Restaurant:

I went over to the sargent, said, "Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to ask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'm sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Group W bench 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug."

(No, Guthrie wasn't prejudiced by the My Lai massacre - that occurred in 1968.)

In short, Jane Fonda has shown little sign of repentance. Saying "sorry" about one incident is no substitute for disavowing the destructive mindset behind it. And becoming a Christian doesn't absolve her of the need to confront the past - all of it, not just Hanoi.

Heck, the Archbishop of Canterbury is nominally Christian, and he sucks up to supporters of terrorism. He needs to repent, too.

Yasser Arafat And The Great Wall Of Gaza

NewsMax reports John Kerry's wavering opinion of Yasser Arafat:

John Kerry called terrorist leader Yasser Arafat a "role model" and a "statesman" in a 1997 book "that Kerry cites as proof of his own foresight about foreign policy," the New York Post's Deborah Orin revealed today.

Kerry's latest flip-flop: He "expressed the opposite view eight days ago, when he told Jewish leaders in New York that he shares President Bush's belief that Arafat must be isolated because he's not a 'partner for peace' - much less a statesman."

In his book "The New War," which like his scandalous 1971 book, "The New Soldier," is out of print, Kerry claimed: "Terrorist organizations with specific political agendas may be encouraged and emboldened by Yasser Arafat's transformation from outlaw to statesman."

He added that terrorists "whose only object is to disrupt society require no such 'role models'" as Arafat.

That Kerry could ever be taken in by Arafat during his adult lifetime speaks ill of his common sense.

The article also reports Kerry's inconsistent remarks on the Israeli security fence:

Yet another flip-flop: Kerry told Arab American Institute in July that Israel's security fence was "provocative" and a barrier to peace. But he told Jewish leaders last week that the fence was "necessary to the security of Israel."

And still another waffle to add to Kerry's supersized stack: Jim Zogby, a member of Democratic National Committee who backs Kerry, says Kerry's aides told him the Massachusetts Democrat objected to the location of the fence.

Quite frankly the fence irks me - but not for the same reason that it irks the Left. It looks like Israel is trying to win a war by playing defense. That didn't work in Vietnam, and it won't work anywhere else. Israel needs to capture Yasser Arafat, and capture or kill every last terrorist.

Why not kill Arafat? Practically speaking, it would create more problems than it would solve. Besides, I think it would be quite appropriate for him live to see the day that Fatah is liquidated.

Update: Michael J. Totten thinks Kerry's statements about Kerry are being misinterpreted:

Okay, so Kerry is waffling again. But, hey, at least he learned something in the meantime, perhaps. Lots of people thought ol' Yasser was worth something before the second intifada, and if Kerry wised up (as I did), good for him.

Lots of people were fooled into thinking ol' Yasser was worth something before the second intifada. MEMRI explains:

Yasir Arafat has never been less than clear about his goals - at least not in Arabic. On the very day that he signed the Oslo accords in 1993 - in which he promised to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel - he addressed the Palestinian people on Jordanian television and declared that he had taken the first step "in the 1974 plan." This was a thinly-veiled reference to the "phased plan," according to which any territorial gain was acceptable as a means toward the ultimate goal of Israel’s destruction.

In response to this:

In his book "The New War," which like his scandalous 1971 book, "The New Soldier," is out of print, Kerry claimed: "Terrorist organizations with specific political agendas may be encouraged and emboldened by Yasser Arafat's transformation from outlaw to statesman."

He added that terrorists "whose only object is to disrupt society require no such 'role models'" as Arafat.

Totten says this:

Well, look at that! Kerry didn't say the Palestinian terror-master was a statesman or a role model. He criticized other people for saying so.

Totten is half right. Kerry put "role model" in scare quotes, meaning that Arafat was perceived as a role model to terrorists. But Kerry says outright that Arafat became a statesman, not that he was merely perceived as one.

Arafat gained acceptance in the "international community" without calling for an end to the terror war against Israel, and encouraged that war in front of Arab audiences, as MEMRI documents. (I personally recall that he proclaimed that the Palestinian flag would one day fly over Jerusalem.) That encourages terrorists to carry on with their intifadas.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Up In Smoke

CNS News reports a trend among African farmers: growing marijuana instead of food crops.

She'll Be Disappointed To Learn That Prison Garb Doesn't Come In Pastels

Martha Stewart has been found guilty on four counts.

Speaking Of Infamy...

Rand Simberg reports a campaign ad controversy. Nope, not the one you've been hearing about.

A Day Which Will Live In Infamy

Yesterday Samizdata marked the tenth birthday of spam.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Public Announcement

The next Henderson Prize for the Advancement of Liberty will be awarded on March 31.

He Lives In Florida. He Suffered Addiction To OxyContin. He Is...

Palm Beach County Judge Robert Schwartz...

...who heard cases in the same jurisdiction now dealing with the matter of Rush Limbaugh's addiction case - was hooked on OxyContin and although removed from the bench, was never subjected to the kind of investigation now leveled at Limbaugh to determine if he obtained the pills legally, Matt Drudge revealed today.

According to the Drudge Report, 18 months ago Schwartz was "involuntarily retired" and removed from the bench after he checked himself into a treatment center for addiction to the painkiller OxyContin - the very same drug at the center of the Limbaugh probe.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Disney Sucks

Y'all may have heard that Michael Eisner, while remaining in his post as CEO, has been stripped of his post as chairman. I don't know all the details of the turmoil in Mouseville, but I know a few reasons why the company deserves every bit of it:

They Ain't Making Gubernatorial Candidates Like This Guy Anymore

Kinky Friedman, author and lead singer of The Texas Jewboys, is running for governor of Texas.

I wonder how Indymedia and the Democratic Underground will react to this?

Why Aaron Sorkin Should Never Become A Foreign Policy Consultant

The West Wing recently filmed an episode that tackles the situation in Sudan. Evidently, producer Sorkin doesn't know precisely what that situation is:

One of President Josiah Bartlet's (played by Martin Sheen) aides informs him early on that three bible-carrying Christian Relief Workers in northern Sudan were arrested for proselytizing: "Sir, these are Christians doing work in a drought-stricken, civil war-ridden nation." And here is precisely where the problem begins.

To the unknowing, hearing the phrase "civil war" automatically brings forth an assumption that there are two or more sides involved in a domestic dispute. But in the case of Sudan this is factually incorrect. In Sudan one side has been brutally attacked and made war against by the other. One side is heavily armed, the other is not. One side has seen its people brutalized and massacred, and hard as it is to believe in the 21st Century, had tens of thousands of its women and children put into chattel slavery. Only one side suffered from famine because they were denied access to relief supplies. In every instance the victims in Sudan have been the black Christians and animists who mainly populate the southern half of Sudan, while the perpetrators are the Arab Muslim jihadist rulers of Khartoum in the north.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Headline Of The Day

Working Poor Face Higher Obesity Rates

The story has a serious side and a silly side. The serious side is that the poor can be prone to obesity due to choice in diet. Many of the poor will often buy only the cheapest food products, creating a diet heavy in processed grains and sugars and neglecting certain nutrients. This ain't news in the South, where the corn-heavy diet was once so out of hand that pellagra, a disease caused by niacin deficiency, was rampant. (Now you know why so many foods are enriched with niacin.)

Now for the silly side. Why only the working poor? "Dude, you can't afford food if you're not working." Ever heard of food stamps? One of the scandals of the program is that food stamps can be used to buy any agricultural food product. You can't buy Gatorade, but you can buy all the cookies, ice cream, chips, and candy you want - not exactly the Atkins diet. I don't think the subsidized poor are any less prone to malnutrition than the nonsubsidized poor.

Crabs Are Food, Not Friends

Anne Wilson and Emperor Misha report that Norway is being overrun by giant crabs. As the titles of their posts suggest, the way to deal with the problem is to introduce natural predators into the environment:

 photo HereCrabbieCrabbie.jpg

Oh, and over at the Rottweiler, lots of seafood recipes have been posted in the comments section.

Meanwhile, an island off the Australian mainland is being inundated by koalas. Unfortunately, sentimental attachment to cute and cuddly critters is getting in the way of a solution - and threatens to doom the local eucalyptus population. So clearcutting is okay when marsupials do it, eh?

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Virus Alert

Yesterday I received the following email:

From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2004 10:27 PM
Subject: Notify about your e-mail account utilization.

Dear user of gateway e-mail server,

Your  e-mail account will be disabled  because of improper using in next
three  days, if you are still wishing to use it, please, resign your
account information.

Please,  read the  attach  for further  details.

The Management,
    The team                     

The attachment is infected with the W32.Beagle.A@mm virus. Norton automatically detected and deleted the virus, so my computer is safe.

If any of y'all receive a similar email from someone claiming to be your ISP, do not open the attachment. Don't trust any official-sounding emails with attached files and atrocious grammar ("Your  e-mail account will be disabled  because of improper using in next three  days"). I suggest reporting any such emails to your ISP; I have already notified Everyone's Internet.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004


Check out EIA Communiqué's Quote Of The Day (emphasis added):

"If I didn't think a charter school was necessary, these letters have convinced me the high school was not doing an adequate job in teaching English language arts." – Massachusetts State Board of Education member Roberta Schaefer, referring to a student letter-writing campaign opposing a proposed charter school in Marlboro. Many of the letters contained spelling and punctuation errors. The board approved the charter. (February 25 Boston Herald)

Today's Guest Blog At Sasha's

Give Mel the Oscar next year - for Best Documentary.

Two Soviet Legacies: Yasser Arafat And Saddam Hussein

At FrontPage Magazine, Jamie Glazov interviews Ion Mihai Pacepa, the intelligence chief who defected from Communist Romania in 1978. Pacepa believes that Iraqi WMDs are missing because Saddam followed disposal plans designed by the Soviets:

Not long ago, every Western leader, starting with President Clinton, fumed against Saddam's WMD. Now almost no one remembers that after General Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law, defected to Jordan in 1995, he helped us find "more than one hundred metal trunks and boxes" containing documentation "dealing with all categories of weapons, including nuclear." He also aided UNSCOM to fish out of the Tigris River high-grade missile components prohibited to Iraq. That was exactly what my old Soviet-made "Sãrindar" plan stated he should do in case of emergency: destroy the weapons, hide the equipment, and preserve the documentation. No wonder Saddam hastened to lure Kamel back to Iraq, where three days later he was killed together with over 40 of his relatives in what the Baghdad official press described as a "spontaneous administration of tribal justice." Once that was done, Saddam slammed the door shut to any UNSCOM inspection...

Pacepa knows about Sãrindar because he carried out a small-scale version in Libya:

Soon after I was granted political asylum in the US, Gaddafi staged a fire at the secret chemical weapons facility I knew about (the cellar underneath the Rabta chemical complex). To be sure the CIA satellites would notice that fire and cross that target off its list, he created a huge cloud of black smoke by burning truckloads of tires and painting scorch marks on the facility. That was written in the Sãrindar plan. To be on the safe side, Gaddafi also built a second production facility, this time placed some 100 feet underground in the hollowed-out Tarhunah Mountain, south of Tripoli. That was not in the Sãrindar plan.

Later he details the rigins of the Palestinian Liberation Organization:

In 1964 the first PLO Council, consisting of 422 Palestinian representatives handpicked by the KGB, approved the Palestinian National Charter—a document that had been drafted in Moscow. The Palestinian National Covenant and the Palestinian Constitution were also born in Moscow, with the help of Ahmed Shuqairy, a KGB influence agent who became the first PLO chairman...This new PLO was headed by a Soviet-style Executive Committee made up of 15 members who, like their comrades in Moscow, also headed departments. As in Moscow—and Bucharest—the chairman of the Executive Committee became the general commander of the armed forces as well. The new PLO also had a General Assembly, which was the Soviet-inspired name given to all East European parliaments after World War II.

Based on another "socialist division of labor" [whereby the Kremlin delegated some of its geopolitical activities to Warsaw Pact satellites], the Romanian espionage service (DIE) was responsible for providing the PLO with logistical support. Except for the arms, which were supplied by the KGB and the East German Stasi, everything else came from Bucharest. Even the PLO uniforms and the PLO stationery were manufactured in Romania free of charge, as a "comradely help." During those years, two Romanian cargo planes filled with goodies for the PLO landed in Beirut every week, and were unloaded by Arafat's men.

And Arafat?

"Tovarishch Mohammed Abd al-Rahman Abd al-Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini, nom de guerre Abu Ammar," was built into a Palestinian leader by the KGB in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day Arab-Israeli War. In that war Israel humiliated two of the Soviet Union's most important allies in the Arab world of that time, Egypt and Syria, and the Kremlin thought that Arafat could help repair the Soviet prestige. Arafat had begun his political career as leader of the Palestinian terrorist organization al-Fatah, whose fedayeen were being secretly trained in the Soviet Union. In 1969, the KGB managed to catapult him up as chairman of the PLO executive committee. Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was also a Soviet puppet, publicly proposed the appointment.

Soon after that, the KGB tasked Arafat to declare war on American "imperial-Zionism" during the first summit of the Black International, an organization that was also financed by the KGB. Arafat claimed to have coined the word "imperial-Zionism," but in fact Moscow had invented this battle cry many years earlier, combining the traditionally Russian anti-Semitism with the new Marxist anti-Americanism.

There's more. Read the whole thing.

Monday, March 01, 2004

An Award That John McCain And Russ Feingold Will Never Win

Talkers magazine and the National Association of Talk Radio Hosts will award their Freedom of Speech Award to Rush Limbaugh.

The French Have No Passion

NewsMax reports that, fearing the specter of anti-Semitism, the French film industry will postpone distribution of The Passion of the Christ in that nation:

Falling back on the discredited claim that the film is anti-Semitic, French movie moguls say they fear the impact viewing "The Passion" might have on audiences, and want to wait and see how the rest of Europe reacts to it before allowing it to be seen in La Belle France, according the Chicago Sun-Times.

If they do eventually release the film in France, will it be legal for viewers to wear Muslim headscarves?

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