‘My inclination is that I would like to protect those people who are going into the clinics, so that they have their opportunity to get that service that they have a right to under Massachusetts law and under the laws of the Supreme Court.’Given that DiMasi is Speaker, he might be expected to show some jealousy with respect to the House’s constitutional role, but he seems to have no problem sharing.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Less than a year after the Larry Summers kerfuffle, the Boston Globe carries today on page 1 the story of a Harvard graduate student in biology who struggles to find time to pursue both her academic career and motherhood. The story states matter-of-factly that:
In Rud's field, biology, women are 46 percent of the doctorate recipients from the nation's top 50 biology departments. But they make up only 30 percent of assistant professors and 15 percent of full professors. A similar ''leaky pipeline" is seen in other sciences, as well. A sizable number of the women who train in the sciences never enter the academic profession -- and the desire for more family time is a major reason.
And after interviewing more than 24 female science grad students for this story the Globe also reports [emphasis mine]:
These women, most of them studying in the booming field of life sciences, often describe working in laboratories where women are a robust minority, or even a majority, of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Few of them say they have experienced much discrimination. The primary barrier, they say, is the conflict between lab and family under the grueling demands of today's academic culture.
The young woman’s faculty adviser is also quoted regarding the demands of (non-tenured) academic life:
“If you work 80 hours a week, you will be twice as successful" than if you work 40 hours, he said, explaining that more hours translates directly into more experiments, and more discoveries. ''They move the science along faster than the competition."All of this has a quite familiar ring to Globe readers. It was only last January (less than a year ago!) that the president of this student’s university spoke at lunch during a supposedly private seminar discussing barriers to women in the academic fields of sciences and engineering. He said (in an article written by the very same Globe reporter based on later interviews with participants who by speaking to the press violated the private nature of the event):
[Summers] offered three possible explanations, in declining order of importance, for the small number of women in high-level positions in science and engineering. The first was the reluctance or inability of women who have children to work 80-hour weeks.
…about discrimination. Referencing a well-known concept in economics, he said that if discrimination was the main factor limiting the advancement of women in science and engineering, then a school that does not discriminate would gain an advantage by hiring away the top women who were discriminated against elsewhere. Because that doesn't seem to be a widespread phenomenon, Summers said, ''the real issue is the overall size of the pool, and it's less clear how much the size of the pool was held down by discrimination."
This is a point for which today’s Globe article also provides considerable support. Of course it was Summers’ 2nd point that resulted in his crucifixion by the Harvard faculty and made him a bête noire among feminists. That point, as Summers explained in the Globe a year ago was:
The second point was that fewer girls than boys have top scores on science and math tests in late high school years. ''I said no one really understands why this is, and it's an area of ferment in social science," Summers said in an interview Saturday. ''Research in behavioral genetics is showing that things people previously attributed to socialization weren't" due to socialization after all. This was the point that most angered some of the listeners, several of whom said Summers said that women do not have the same ''innate ability" or ''natural ability" as men in some fields. Asked about this, Summers said, ''It's possible I made some reference to innate differences. . . I did say that you have to be careful in attributing things to socialization. . . That's what we would prefer to believe, but these are things that need to be studied.”
Today’s Globe article has a single sentence on the Summers kerfuffle:
While it was Harvard president Lawrence H. Summers' suggestion last January that women lack the same ''intrinsic aptitude" for science as men that drew international attention, Summers also cited ''the high-powered job hypothesis" as the biggest obstacle to women's advancement.
This is a bit less than the whole truth. Let’s check on the accuracy of that statement, shall we? First, Summers said that in his opinion the “high powered job hypothesis” was the largest and most important factor and was also the one he mentioned first, not merely something ‘also cited’ as the largest factor. This reporter ought to be able to remember this, since she wrote the story. With regard to aptitude, “the same” in the sense used above means ‘absolutely identical’, because Summers’ remarks specifically addressed only the small subset of individuals who perform 3 or 4 standard deviations above the population mean in these fields, and the non-disputed fact that women are under-represented among this group. Here are Summers’ exact words as later released by his office [emphasis mine]:
It does appear that on many, many different human attributes-height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability-there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means-which can be debated-there is a difference in the standard deviation, and variability of a male and a female population. And that is true with respect to attributes that are and are not plausibly, culturally determined. If one supposes, as I think is reasonable, that if one is talking about physicists at a top twenty-five research university, one is not talking about people who are two standard deviations above the mean. And perhaps it's not even talking about somebody who is three standard deviations above the mean. But it's talking about people who are three and a half, four standard deviations above the mean in the one in 5,000, one in 10,000 class. Even small differences in the standard deviation will translate into very large differences in the available pool substantially out. I did a very crude calculation, which I'm sure was wrong and certainly was unsubtle, twenty different ways. I looked at the Xie and Shauman paper-looked at the book, rather-looked at the evidence on the sex ratios in the top 5% of twelfth graders. If you look at those-they're all over the map, depends on which test, whether it's math, or science, and so forth-but 50% women, one woman for every two men, would be a high-end estimate from their estimates. From that, you can back out a difference in the implied standard deviations that works out to be about 20%. And from that, you can work out the difference out several standard deviations. If you do that calculation-and I have no reason to think that it couldn't be refined in a hundred ways-you get five to one, at the high end. Now, it's pointed out by one of the papers at this conference that these tests are not a very good measure and are not highly predictive with respect to people's ability to do that. And that's absolutely right. But I don't think that resolves the issue at all. Because if my reading of the data is right-it's something people can argue about-that there are some systematic differences in variability in different populations, then whatever the set of attributes are that are precisely defined to correlate with being an aeronautical engineer at MIT or being a chemist at Berkeley, those are probably different in their standard deviations as well. So my sense is that the unfortunate truth-I would far prefer to believe something else, because it would be easier to address what is surely a serious social problem if something else were true-is that the combination of the high-powered job hypothesis and the differing variances probably explains a fair amount of this problem.
It speaks volumes about the intolerance of our press and culture, academic and otherwise, that these remarks set off such a vast frenzy of charges and sanctions against the speaker. We certainly have no right to mock the academies of other cultures or earlier eras for being slavishly dogmatic. The treatment of Summers by the academic left is simply shameful. Ruth Wisse, one of the minority of dissenting Harvard faculty members aptly called it “...the closest thing to a Soviet show trial that we are likely to see in our lifetimes”.
Monday, December 26, 2005
Despite civil insurrection, Lincoln resisted broad intrusions on democratic rights. Bush runs roughshod over liberties.I’m sure the elected representatives of the Maryland legislature would disagree with Kuttner, since by force Lincoln kept them out of session for the whole war.
The bogus historical perspective of Kutter’s column attracted the attention of bloggers John Rosenberg and Scott Hinderaker, who each gave it a well deserved slice and dice treatment. Well done.
Here is yet another example of substandard content rating space on the Globe Op Ed page.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Friday, December 23, 2005
There is another simply amazing church story in today’s Boston Globe. The story is, I believe, indicative of what can happen to organizations as ignorant of the concept of a business process and as tradition-bound as the Archdiocese of Boston (Here I am not speaking theologically. I mean tradition with a small “t”). The story is that a priest serving as pastor of 2 neighboring parishes (what did he do with all his spare time?) who transferred over $176,000 from one to the other over six years.
The Chancery’s explanation that it is “an honest bookkeeping mistake” is not impossible, of course. But given that there was no oversight (let alone audits) in 9 years, how can anyone be sure? Certainly there will be more news on this story. Excerpts below and emphasis mine, but read the whole thing:
A Roman Catholic priest secretly funneled more than $176,000 from the coffers of
A spokesman for the archdiocese said yesterday that O'Regan, who is pastor of both churches, had simply made a mistake in moving funds to St. James.
''It was an honest bookkeeping mistake that is being corrected," said the spokesman, Terrence C. Donilon. ''He used money from Holy Trinity to pay bills for St. James." Donilon said the money was used to cover ''parish expenses" at St. James.
O'Regan, who does not receive a salary for running the two parishes, did not personally enrich himself through the transfer, said Donilon.
O'Regan ran St. James and lived there for years. He added Holy Trinity to his responsibilities nine years ago. Parish council members there said he has never convened a finance council at the church. Thus, council members have long been in the dark about the fiscal health of their parish.
After announcement of plans to close Holy Trinity, parish council members researched church plate contributions, as well as the sizable donations from those of German ancestry throughout the state and nation.
They concluded that the parish should be financially strong, making the closing decision puzzling, they said. The members requested an investigation by the archdiocese. Reporting the results of their audit in the Dec. 15 letter, David W. Smith, chancellor of the archdiocese, wrote that O'Regan had transferred $176,390 from Holy Trinity to St. James between January 1999 and December 2005.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Lawyers tell you that they shouldn't ask questions during testimony for which they don't already know the answer; doctors shouldn't start surgery unless they know where the abnormality is located. It's called preparation, and we're not seeing a lot of it from the Republican leadership in the Senate.Amen.
Yesterday over 123,000 signatures in favor of a 2008 ballot initiative regarding gay marriage were certified by the
Opponents of the ballot question say the eye-popping number of signatories does not reflect a tidal wave of support for overturning the
''This is a groundswell of fraud and deceit, not of voter insistence," said Arline Isaacson, cochairwoman[sic] of the
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
THOMAS OLIPHANT must have great confidence in his predictive powers (''A credibility chasm," op ed, Dec. 15). On the very day Iraq's Sunnis were abandoning violence in favor of the ballot and a pan-ethnic coalition was showing signs of healing Iraq's sectarian strife, Oliphant told Globe readers to ignore ''baloney from our government and president" that ''celebrated democracy and consensus across regions and sects." Oliphant let us in on the ''dirty little secret" that
How does Oliphant know that? By allowing regions to choose their representatives, the new Iraqi constitution will give Sunnis a voice that cannot be drowned out by high Shi'ite turnout in the south. With a stake in Iraqi politics, the Sunnis might be less inclined to support violent opposition to their government.
On Dec. 15 we watched a people take into their own hands the powers of state that for three decades had smashed their lives from above.
Oliphant should criticize the White House's handling of the war in
The writer is a lecturer in international relations at
My least favorite part of today’s Globe, the one that may haunt us in years to come and caused my daughter to shout “No!”, is the awful news that Johnny Damon will become a New York Yankee. Ugh.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
The initial results suggest that a government that was heavily secular and nationalist under Hussein will become far more religious and sectarian in character, with Shi'ite and Sunni Muslim parties dominant, raising the chances of sectarian tension for years to come.Shi’ites and Sunnis and Baathists – OH MY! These democratic processes certainly are messy and risky, aren’t they!
I guess the Globe longs instead for the good old days of ‘secularists’ like Saddam, when there was absolutely no uncertainty about how elections would turn out. This just goes to show that those primitive Iraqis are not as well suited for democratic government the way we enlightened Massachusetts Yankees are. Yes indeed! Our elections are certainly not marked by religious voting patterns, and there is never a sign of sectarian tension among our election losers. Those poor primitive Iraqis.
Friday, December 16, 2005
"If we take back the House, there's a solid case to bring articles of impeachment against this president."Today’s Globe has an unusually short piece (for Peter Canellos) which says it was all a mistake. Except the piece sounds as though Canellos isn’t quite buying it:
Then again, even [Kerry spokesperson April Boyd] suggested that the remark might not have been fully in jest.Retreating to the 'Bush lied!' meme, I guess.
Wrote Boyd: ''He did make the serious point, which he's made forcefully before: 'How are the same Republicans who tried to impeach a president over whether he misled a nation about an affair going to pretend it does not matter if the administration intentionally misled the country into war?' Good luck finding a Democrat in America who disagrees."
The press release referred to by Canellos is apparently not on the web.
An early report of the incident is here and the Globe story today is here.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
"Mitt Romney has announced that he won't run for re-election as governor of Massachusetts, the Boston Globe reports. But he 'refused to close the door on speculation he will seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
A Globe editorial calls on Romney to resign immediately:
Our New Year's wish: a governor who wouldn't rather be elsewhere.We're too lazy to do this, but here's an assignment for a reader who has access to Factiva or Nexis: Find the Globe editorials from 1987-88 and 2003-04 demanding the resignations, respectively, of Michael Dukakis and John Kerry*.
By thumbing his nose at Massachusetts after less than three-quarters of one term as its chief executive, Mitt Romney, yesterday surrendered his clout and squandered his legitimacy. If, as it appears, his heart and mind are no longer in Massachusetts, he should resign.
* The haughty, French-looking Vietnam war hero, who by the way serves in the U.S. Senate."
Note: Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
So it seems that Menino knows neither the Bible, nor the catechism, nor the teaching of popes and bishops.In Menino’s case one could reasonably hypothesize ignorance as the root cause. Other Catholic politicians may be more informed but, I suspect, feel a compelling need to spin or ignore all of these teachings. I digress, but see this post during the Kerry campaign for a classic example of this type of political side-step. Back to Weigel:
Why should anyone beyond Catholics care? Because Americans will continue to debate the role of religiously informed moral reason in public life. That debate can be intelligent or dumb; it can strengthen democracy or weaken it; it can build bridges of understanding through serious conversation or fracture communities and stoke animosities. If political leaders like Mayor Menino continue to promote caricatures and cartoons of Catholic conviction, the debate will be unintelligible and fractious. And American democracy will be the weaker for it.True enough, and not only regarding Catholic convictions I would say but also convictions of all sorts of believers, among whom I would include both Islamics and groups dismissed as the “religious right”. But politicians of all stripes want to take all sides of an issue rather than connect the dots between religion and their own policies. They run away from opportunites to “debate the role of religiously informed moral reason in public life”. Too often in such matters our simplistic and biased media serves the interests of politicians more than the public. Adding the thoughts of people like George Weigle to the Globe OpEd page is a helpful step.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
‘I don't understand why we would tinker with the model that has been so wildly successful’Quite a novel thought for a Massachusetts Congressman. Please keep that thought, Congressman, and try to generalize.
Monday, December 12, 2005
They are a tiny band of antiabortion zealots, being exploited by the hierarchy in hopes of promoting a backlash against reformers outraged by the criminal conduct of predatory priests and the bishops who protected them.And at the end of her column:
Sadly, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley and Bishop Richard G. Lennon are willing to exploit them as long as their antics distract attention from the real challenges confronting the church.So Ms McNamara somehow knows the motives of Archbishop O’Malley and his associate. She says they hope to “promote a backlash” against reformers (by which she means the Voice of the Faithful organization) and to “distract attention from the real challenges confronting the church”.
Is there a shred of evidence that this charge is true? None is presented. Is Eileen a clairvoyant? Then how does she justify the charge that the Archbishop of Boston is acting out of these motives? She doesn’t have to, it seems, in order to get her column published.
Will the Boston Globe's editors give a license to anyone who trashes the Catholic hierarchy these days? After a BC-bashing photo in 2004 (see here and here), Metro editor Carolyn Ryan when asked about anti-Catholic bias as the reason said ‘it’s unfortunate if we gave people cause to even think that.’ Yet with absolutely no substantiation, a Globe columnist attributes Machiavellian motives to the actions of the Catholic Archbishop, and the Globe editorial process gives the column a complete pass. Would the Globe treat Boston’s leading minister, rabbi, or imam the same way?
Sadly, I must say this column gives me “cause to even think that”.
Bobby Kennedy even doubted [McCarthy's] Irishness. Fixing me with his blue eyes, he earnestly told me, ''Gene's not all Irish, you know.' ''You're kidding, Senator,' I protested. ''You sound like a guy from South Boston smearing an opponent who might be Lithuanian or Canadian.' ''I'm serious,' RFK said. ''Gene's mother was German. That's why he's so mean.' ''What's your excuse?' I asked. Kennedy blushed with embarrassment.
In early 1968, after RFK chose not to run, he saw college students flock to McCarthy's antiwar campaign. Kennedy's reaction, Mary McGrory wrote, evoked ''a Victorian whose daughter has run off with the dustman.' The feud, which echoes today, split the Democratic left. ''Why are liberals different from cannibals?' Lyndon Johnson used to ask. ''Cannibals eat only their enemies.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
...if the government of the United States learns anything from the last four years, it surely ought to be that there's a price to be paid for not waging the war as effectively in the psychological arenas as in the military one. What does it mean when one party can talk repeatedly about the liquidation of an entire nation and the other party responds that this further "underscores our concerns," as if he'd been listening to an EU trade representative propose increasing some tariff by half a percent?The Globe could sure use a columnist like Steyn...of course there aren't any, so they would have to syndicate him. Why not?
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Mayor Thomas M. Menino, responding to critics who have questioned his Catholicism…Beginning an article this way shows either utter incomprehension or willful distortion. Of course no examples are given of any statement that “questioned his Catholicism” because I suspect there aren’t any.
The Archbishop’s absence was in response to this statement by the US bishops:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.Denying “support for their actions” is far different from questioning someone’s faith. Are Globe reporters so obtuse with respect to religious matters that they can't appreciate this distinction? Will someone at the Globe please document the existence of “critics who are questioning his Catholicism”?
Friday, December 09, 2005
The article is worth reading. A Catholic blogger myself, I am slightly familiar with the blogs mentioned, and found Bettnet to be an excellent one, the others not so. This one passage concerning the bloggers struck me:
…even their opponents acknowledge that they are commanding attention where once they could safely be ignored.Distill all theology of Christian living into one thought, and it would be this:
Nobody can “safely be ignored”.
Nobody. No exceptions.
At either end of the second floor were rooms where food was set out buffet-style. It was a meat dinner, fully kosher and prepared under rabbinical supervision. We were told that the fully kosher meal was a White House first, at least insofar as the Hannukah reception goes. We ran into my friend Rabbi Joshua Borenstein, finance director of Torah Academy in St. Louis Park, just outside Minneapolis. Joshua conveyed great emotion in noting the hospitality and respect accorded to observant guests, of whom there were many.Read the whole thing.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
"Q. What do you think of Fox News?
A. Well, my son [Chris Wallace] works for them. . . . [Fox News chairman and CEO] Roger Ailes is a man I admire very much. He understood there was a market that was not being served. He was right.
Q. You said recently that you thought Dan Rather should have resigned after his producers lost their jobs over the infamous story last year about President Bush's military service record.
A. When everybody who helps you put together a piece like that gets fired, don't you think it ought to cross your mind?"
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
The Globe, like almost all news organizations, doesn't usually report details of its own staff changes (although the paper offered quite a detailed report of Boston Herald reporters and editors who signed up for a buyout in June). That's too bad, because many readers have been curious to know what changes have been happening.The Globe is typically corporate in that behavior. Richard, now that you have a blog and access to a lot of unpublished news, you are once again a reporter! Well done.
Like ‘em or not, sincere best wishes to all who are leaving.
The last California governor to grant clemency was Ronald Reagan in 1967, but the case was far different from Williams's situation and times have changed dramatically since then…[clemency] has become a little-used option in the three decades since states resumed executions. Before 1976, the year the US Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume after a brief hiatus, clemency was routinely granted. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 204 inmates nationwide were spared between 1960 and 1970. Excluding the 167 Illinois inmates whose death sentences were commuted in 2003, only 63 lives have been spared since 1976…Why? A few paragraphs below some California history is recalled:
The odds of getting a reprieve were better in the days before the California Supreme Court twice overturned the death penalty in 1972 and 1976. Following that, the public and lawmakers began cracking down on crime. The Legislature reinstated the death penalty in 1977. A year later, 72 percent of California voters adopted an even stiffer capital punishment law. In 1986, the voters removed three state Supreme Court justices for reversing too many death sentences.So what we have here is, I believe, a case of liberal judicial activism that has completely backfired. I don’t recall the facts of the California Supreme Court decisions, but given the dates and the state, it is not hard to I guess by ‘the public and lawmakers began cracking down on crime’ they mean that the public through pressure on elected representatives enacted laws that reinstated (and how!) punishment practices that were both constitutional and widely supported. A little Googling of the subject takes one to this California Department of Corrections page which has some relevant history:
Legal Challenges and ChangesJudicial activists beware, I would say is the lesson here. Activitsts who sought through the courts to"impose their own moral view on others" (to use a term from John Kerry and others) have failed and have wasted their moral ammunition in the process. Unless they would say that two wholesale batches of commutations constitutes success.
For 25 years after 1967, there were no executions in California due to various State and United States Supreme Court decisions.
In 1972 the California Supreme Court found that the death penalty constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the state constitution. As a result, 107 individuals had their sentences changed to other than death. In November 1972, nine months after the decision, the California electorate amended the state constitution and overruled the State Supreme Court.
In 1973 the United States Supreme Court held that the death penalty was unconstitutional as it was being administered at that time in a number of states.
California legislation was passed in 1973 which made the death penalty mandatory in certain cases under certain conditions. Among these were kidnapping if the victim dies, train wrecking if any person dies, assault by a life prisoner if the victim dies within a year, treason against the state, and first degree murder under specific conditions (for hire, of a peace officer, of a witness to prevent testimony, if committed during a robbery or burglary, if committed during course of a rape by force, if committed during performance of lewd and lascivious acts upon children, by persons previously convicted of murder).
In late 1976, the California Supreme Court, basing its decision on a United States Supreme Court ruling earlier that year, held that the California death penalty statute was unconstitutional under the Federal Constitution because it did not allow the defendant to present any evidence in mitigation. Following this ruling, 70 inmates had their sentences changed to other than death.
Capital Punishment Reinstated
The California State Legislature re-enacted the death penalty statute in 1977. Under the new statute, evidence in mitigation was permitted.
The death penalty was reinstated as a possible punishment for first degree murder under certain conditions. These "special circumstances" include: murder for financial gain, murder by a person previously convicted of murder, murder of multiple victims, murder with torture, murder of a peace officer, murder of a witness to prevent testimony and several other murders under particular circumstances.
In 1977, the Penal Code also was revised to include the sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. At that time, the punishment for kidnapping for ransom, extortion, or robbery was changed from death to life without parole. Treason, train derailing or wrecking, and securing the death of an innocent person through perjury became punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole.
Proposition 7, on the California ballot in November 1978, superseded the 1977 statutes and is the death penalty statute under which California currently operates.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Krauthammer concludes that McCain's uncompromising stance is partly for show. He urges us to abandon ''moral preening" and honestly admit that sometimes, ''we must all be prepared to torture."
Yet what good will such honesty accomplish? Yes, a ''no torture" stance is likely to be qualified with tacit acknowledgment that, under narrow and extreme circumstances, the rules may be bent. That seems vastly preferable to open endorsement of torture. If we start with a ''thou shalt not torture" absolute, we are likely to be vigilant about lapses from this commandment, limiting them only to absolute necessity. If we start with the premise that torture is sometimes acceptable, there's no telling how low we're going to go on that slippery slope.What good will such honesty accomplish? Just one little thing, Cathy. It will bring these actions of government under the rule of law. Instead, what you propose would give bureaucrats the self-determined authority to, as you say, bend the rules under narrow and extreme circumstances. Tolerance of such practices outside of existing rules is not a formula for 'vigilance'. On the contrary, it is exactly this sort of confusion about what was and was not allowed that was the infection precipitating the Abu Ghirab abuses. Krauthammer correctly rebukes the Bush administration for this when he says:
The Bush administration is to be faulted for having attempted such a codification with the kind of secrecy, lack of coherence, and lack of strict enforcement that led us to the McCain reaction.Once you have placed such action outside the rule of law, Cathy, you will find the slope very slippery indeed. Cathy, a contributing editor of Reason magazine, is here contributing instead to foolishness.
Just for the record, below is the text from Krauthammer’s superb Weekly Standard article with his recommendations, which do not at all constitute the "open endorsement of torture" charged by Young. The contrast with Young's work shows all too clearly the lesser quality of Globe Op Ed columns, including those written by their token conservatives.
Begin, as McCain does, by banning all forms of coercion or inhuman treatment by anyone serving in the military--an absolute ban on torture by all military personnel everywhere. We do not want a private somewhere making these fine distinctions about ticking and slow-fuse time bombs. We don't even want colonels or generals making them. It would be best for the morale, discipline, and honor of the Armed Forces for the United States to maintain an absolute prohibition, both to simplify their task in making decisions and to offer them whatever reciprocal treatment they might receive from those who capture them--although I have no illusion that any anti-torture provision will soften the heart of a single jihadist holding a knife to the throat of a captured American soldier. We would impose this restriction on ourselves for our own reasons of military discipline and military honor.
Outside the military, however, I would propose, contra McCain, a ban against all forms of torture, coercive interrogation, and inhuman treatment, except in two contingencies: (1) the ticking time bomb and (2) the slower-fuse high-level terrorist (such as KSM). Each contingency would have its own set of rules. In the case of the ticking time bomb, the rules would be relatively simple: Nothing rationally related to getting accurate information would be ruled out. The case of the high-value suspect with slow-fuse information is more complicated. The principle would be that the level of inhumanity of the measures used (moral honesty is essential here--we would be using measures that are by definition inhumane) would be proportional to the need and value of the information. Interrogators would be constrained to use the least inhumane treatment necessary relative to the magnitude and imminence of the evil being prevented and the importance of the knowledge being obtained.
These exceptions to the no-torture rule would not be granted to just any nonmilitary interrogators, or anyone with CIA credentials. They would be reserved for highly specialized agents who are experts and experienced in interrogation, and who are known not to abuse it for the satisfaction of a kind of sick sadomasochism Lynndie England and her cohorts indulged in at Abu Ghraib. Nor would they be acting on their own. They would be required to obtain written permission for such interrogations from the highest political authorities in the country (cabinet level) or from a quasi-judicial body modeled on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (which permits what would ordinarily be illegal searches and seizures in the war on terror).
Monday, December 05, 2005
Another positive image of white males
Best wishes and thanks for reading,
From a reader re the Globe and Church governance:
Yes, the Globe feels utterly free to editorialize and condemn the alleged failings of the Catholic Church. No women priests!
Trying to get gay priests out of the seminary! How outdated and close-minded! I don't recall ever seeing any Globe editorial condemning Orthodox Jews for not allowing female rabbis, or criticizing Muslims because women can't be imams (let alone pray in the same room). In fact, the one Muslim woman who led prayers a few months ago in New York now walks around with a body guard because her life was threatened. The Globe has never criticized Islam for its beliefs on gays, which is that homosexuality is an abomination, and is punishable under sharia law by beatings and death. Such punishment was and is carried out in several Muslim countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The double standard of the Globe is mind-boggling.
Anyway, regarding the bill to protect religious freedom in the workplace. I subscribe to an a-mailing list from CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, and I see almost every week that CAIR either sues or threatens to sue some company for work practices that apparently go against the existing religious freedom in the workplace act. Under this act, companies are being required to allow Muslims to basically practice their faith on company time. Some examples are that some Dell facilities now allows afternoon prayer breaks, even of people on an assembly line, even where Muslims are in the minority. The company wanted the employees to pray on the regularly scheduled afternoon break, but CAIR protested and now the company has to allow the prayer breaks which occur at a different time every day. How efficient is that for an assembly line? There have been quite a few other examples, such as requiring company cafeterias to serve halal food, allowing women to refuse to shake men's hands in positions where they are greeting the public (!!), suing fire departments so male firefighters don't have to shave their beard (even though respirator manufacturers say a beardless and chin is needed to have an effective seal). Perhaps I'm jaded because I'm getting this info from CAIR, but it does sound to me like the Religious Freedom in the Workplace Act is largely used by Muslims, and in ways that strike me as frankly ridiculous and anti-business.
Before there were any changes to this Act, I'd want somebody to look long and hard at what the results have been so far. Who uses this Act, and what have they gained, and what has it cost business?
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Chart from BostonGasPrices.com
The Globe article says:
Officials said the surcharge would be temporary, saying it would be removed when gas prices decrease. They did not say how far gasoline prices might have to fall before ending the surcharge.“When gas prices decrease" was 3 months ago. The last time gas prices were this low was 9 months ago. Hmmm. Get ready to pay for a long time when the government calls a new charge “temporary”.
By the way, it took all of about 60 seconds to find this chart on the web. Couldn’t the Boston Globe publish this chart or ask a single pointed question to these anonymous “city officials”? For heaven’s sake why not? Do your job!
Friday, December 02, 2005
I'm not going to extract her moneygraph. The post is too good. Go read it, please.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Best of the day is the Mayor of Boston calling ‘uncharitable’ those Catholics who had declined to attend the Catholic Charities dinner honoring him. Then Hizzonner adds this little gem:
‘When the pope speaks on doctrine, that is absolute," Menino said. ''I don't think choice and gay marriage are doctrine.'Hmmm. I’ll take that as evidence that this is indeed a religious matter, rather than a civic one. And personally, I’ll give more weight to advice from Archbishop O’Malley than from Archbishop Menino.
Jeff Jacoby’s column looks humorously at the valiant efforts of secularists to De-Christmas the holiday season, focusing his attention on the reflexive secularization of Christmas events (done in service to the higher cause of inclusiveness, of course) by the administration of that same Archbishop Menino. Jeff is on his game for this column:
Sometimes it springs from clanging ignorance, as with the New York City policy that prohibited the display of Christian nativity scenes on public school grounds, while expressly allowing such ''secular holiday symbol decorations" as Jewish menorahs and the Muslim star and crescent.Finally, the Globe publishes a letter to the editor from Father Joe Hennessey (I sent one in, too) concerning their intrusive editorial on the Catholic Charities kerfuffle. Says Father Joe:
…this attempt to fade Christmas into a nondenominational winter holiday stems from a twisted notion of courtesy -- from the idea that tolerance and respect for minorities require intolerance and disrespect for the majority.
‘[Menino] would be a welcome guest and contributor at the Catholic Charities annual Christmas dinner, but he ought not be the honoree, no more than Justice Antonin Scalia would be the honoree at a NARAL event or George W. Bush at the Globe's holiday brunch.’Certainly that last one is designated as a ‘holiday’ event. But if they do have a holiday brunch on Morrissey Boulevard instead of an evening party, that sounds like a poor substitute for old time Christmas parties when journalists were reputed to favor large quantities of amber liquids as refreshment.