Thursday, July 17, 2003

I admire the president's forthright policies on the War on Terror. However, his domestic agenda is a disaster. The teachers at my Bill of Rights Institute conference--some of the top teachers in the country--are all aghast at the administration's federalization of what they perceive as the trainwreck of testing standards that encourage, nay require, rote learning. These aren't lazy good-for-nothing teachers complaining, but the best of the best, who are losing the little flexibility they have to make their classes interesting and engaging. Federal spending is rocketing out of control, with a new Medicare drug entitlement on its way (fellas, at least raise the eligibility threshold to reflect longer lifespans and make up the revenue!), and the drug war continues apace. Even the War on Terror is being undermined by the Justice Department's dangerous claim, going against centuries of Anglo-American liberty, that it alone has the authority to determine whether a suspect is an "enemy combatant" not subject to constitutional protections.

Left-wing anti-Semitism (via Little Green Footballs). I wrote about this years back when I was a student at Brandeis, and a campus publication dominated by communistic South Americans published a photo essay analogizing Israel to Nazi Germany. I'll try to dig the piece up from my files, and, if I do, will post it here.

When the PLO withdrew from Beirut in 1983 in a U.S.-brokered deal to save them from annihilation by the Israelis (and also spare Beirut more civilian casualties), an Israeli sniper took a picture of Yasser Arafat to show Israel's obedience to the agreeement--the nation's most mortal enemy was in their gunsights, and they let him flee. I've been wondering recently whether the sniper did the right thing. Sure, he was under orders not to shoot Arafat, but let's say he would have done it anyway. He would have been court-martialed, Israel would have been in temporary hot water with the U.S., and Arafat would have been dead. My relatively vast readings on the current Mideast situation lead me to conclude that the Israelis and Palestinians would have reached an accommodation three years ago before the current Intifada but for Arafat, and that Arafat remains the primary obstacle to peace. A bolder move by the sniper, and who knows...

Israel is losing a second chance to kill Arafat. Perhaps Sharon should simply go back on his promise to Bush, and kill Arafat along with all of his terrorist henchmen holed up in Ramallah. Sure, Bush would be furious. But let's say that Sharon did the truly heroic thing, and resigned the next day. Bush surely couldn't be furious at Sharon's successor for Sharon's breach of promise. And Sharon would have knocked off Arafat, not only serving the interests of justice, but creating the only opportutnity for peace. The Palestinian "street" would be furious, at least for a while, but with Arafat out of the way, a leadership willing to reach an accommodation with Israel could finally possibly take power. Not to mention that the Palestinian leadership would learn that they are not exempt from execution if they continue to make war on Israel; that would be a very sobering lesson.

I don't expect any of this to happen, but my gut feeling is that nothing Sharon could do would better serve the future of Israel than to order Arafat's death, and then resign.

Concerned about the safety of the car you are thinking of buying? Check out this website from Folksam, Sweden's largest insurance company. Folksam's data is based on real world accident experience, far superior data, from what I can tell, compared to crash tests conducted in non-real world conditions by U.S., European, and Australian safety agencies. The only downside is that the data only includes cars prevalant in Sweden. Also, while the page I link to suggests that each car can be compared to all other cars, a glance at the full report in Swedish makes it obvious even to an English speaker that cars are only supposed to be compared within their size class.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Sorry for the absence of posting so far this week, but I've been busy being the "host professor" at a very interesting Bill of Rights Institute conference for high school history and government teachers, and runnng some personal errands.