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Sunday, February 27, 2005

The New York Timrs> OP-ED> The Tipping Points

February 27, 2005
OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Tipping Points
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

he other night on ABC's "Nightline," the host, Ted Koppel, posed an intriguing question to Malcolm Gladwell, the social scientist who wrote the path-breaking book "The Tipping Point," which is about how changes in behavior or perception can reach a critical mass and then suddenly create a whole new reality. Mr. Koppel asked: Can you know you are in the middle of a tipping point, or is it only something you can see in retrospect?
Mr. Gladwell responded that "the most important thing in trying to analyze whether something is at the verge of a tipping point, is whether it - an event - causes people to reframe an issue. ...A dumb example is the Atkins's diet, which reframes dieting from thinking about it in terms of avoiding calories and fat to thinking about it as avoiding carbohydrates, which really changes the way people perceive dieting."
Mr. Koppel was raising the question because he wanted to explore whether the Iraqi elections marked a tipping point in history. I was on the same show, and in mulling over this question more I think that what's so interesting about the Middle East today is that we're actually witnessing three tipping points at once.
Thanks to eight million Iraqis defying "you vote, you die" terrorist threats, Iraq has been reframed from a story about Iraqi "insurgents" trying to liberate their country from American occupiers and their Iraqi "stooges" to a story of the overwhelming Iraqi majority trying to build a democracy, with U.S. help, against the wishes of Iraqi Baathist-fascists and jihadists.
In Lebanon, the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which Syria is widely suspected of having had a hand in, has reframed that drama. A month ago, Lebanon was the story of a tiny Christian minority trying to resist the Syrian occupation, which had the tacit support of the pro-Syrian Lebanese government and a cadre of Lebanese politicians who had sold their souls to Damascus. After the Hariri murder, Lebanese just snapped. Lebanon became the story of a broad majority of Lebanese Christians, Muslims and Druse no longer willing to remain silent, but instead telling the Syrians, and their Lebanese puppet president, to "go home." Lebanon went from a country where few dared whisper "When will Syria leave?" to a country where nearly everyone was shouting it, and Syria was having to answer.
The Israel-Palestine drama has gone from how Ariel Sharon will use any means possible to sustain Israel's hold on Gaza, which he once said was indispensable for the security of the Jewish state, to being about how Mr. Sharon will use any means possible to evacuate Gaza - with its huge Palestinian population - which he now says is necessary for saving Israel as a Jewish state. The issue for the Palestinians is no longer about how they resist the Israeli occupation in Gaza, but whether they build a decent mini-state there - a Dubai on the Mediterranean. Because if they do, it will fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the West Bank.
While all three of these situations would constitute tipping points by Mr. Gladwell's definition, I would feel a lot better about all three if I thought that they were irreversible - and couldn't tip back the wrong way.
For Iraq to be tipped in the right direction, it was necessary to have the election we did, but that was not sufficient. The sufficient thing is that a stable, decent Iraqi government emerge that can also quell the Sunni insurgency. That will depend in part on America's willingness to stay the course in Iraq. It will depend in part on the Shiite majority's willingness to share power with the Sunnis - particularly one of the crucial cabinet portfolios of defense, intelligence or interior - and not go on a de-Baathification rampage. And it will depend in part on the Sunni Arab leaders finally supporting the Iraqi majority.
For Lebanon to liberate itself from Syria, the Lebanese opposition groups will have to find a way to translate their aspirations into a withdrawal deal with Damascus. The Syrians will not be pushed out. And for Israelis and Palestinians to really tip toward peace, the moderates on both sides are really going to have to help each other succeed.
Indeed, in the Middle East playground - as Friday's suicide bomb in Israel reminds us - tipping points are sometimes more like teeter-totters: one moment you're riding high and the next minute you're slammed to the ground. Nevertheless, what's happened in the last four weeks is not just important, it's remarkable. And if we can keep all three tipping points tipped, it will be incredible.

The New York Timrs> OP-ED> The Tipping Points

February 27, 2005
OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Tipping Points
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

he other night on ABC's "Nightline," the host, Ted Koppel, posed an intriguing question to Malcolm Gladwell, the social scientist who wrote the path-breaking book "The Tipping Point," which is about how changes in behavior or perception can reach a critical mass and then suddenly create a whole new reality. Mr. Koppel asked: Can you know you are in the middle of a tipping point, or is it only something you can see in retrospect?
Mr. Gladwell responded that "the most important thing in trying to analyze whether something is at the verge of a tipping point, is whether it - an event - causes people to reframe an issue. ...A dumb example is the Atkins's diet, which reframes dieting from thinking about it in terms of avoiding calories and fat to thinking about it as avoiding carbohydrates, which really changes the way people perceive dieting."
Mr. Koppel was raising the question because he wanted to explore whether the Iraqi elections marked a tipping point in history. I was on the same show, and in mulling over this question more I think that what's so interesting about the Middle East today is that we're actually witnessing three tipping points at once.
Thanks to eight million Iraqis defying "you vote, you die" terrorist threats, Iraq has been reframed from a story about Iraqi "insurgents" trying to liberate their country from American occupiers and their Iraqi "stooges" to a story of the overwhelming Iraqi majority trying to build a democracy, with U.S. help, against the wishes of Iraqi Baathist-fascists and jihadists.
In Lebanon, the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which Syria is widely suspected of having had a hand in, has reframed that drama. A month ago, Lebanon was the story of a tiny Christian minority trying to resist the Syrian occupation, which had the tacit support of the pro-Syrian Lebanese government and a cadre of Lebanese politicians who had sold their souls to Damascus. After the Hariri murder, Lebanese just snapped. Lebanon became the story of a broad majority of Lebanese Christians, Muslims and Druse no longer willing to remain silent, but instead telling the Syrians, and their Lebanese puppet president, to "go home." Lebanon went from a country where few dared whisper "When will Syria leave?" to a country where nearly everyone was shouting it, and Syria was having to answer.
The Israel-Palestine drama has gone from how Ariel Sharon will use any means possible to sustain Israel's hold on Gaza, which he once said was indispensable for the security of the Jewish state, to being about how Mr. Sharon will use any means possible to evacuate Gaza - with its huge Palestinian population - which he now says is necessary for saving Israel as a Jewish state. The issue for the Palestinians is no longer about how they resist the Israeli occupation in Gaza, but whether they build a decent mini-state there - a Dubai on the Mediterranean. Because if they do, it will fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the West Bank.
While all three of these situations would constitute tipping points by Mr. Gladwell's definition, I would feel a lot better about all three if I thought that they were irreversible - and couldn't tip back the wrong way.
For Iraq to be tipped in the right direction, it was necessary to have the election we did, but that was not sufficient. The sufficient thing is that a stable, decent Iraqi government emerge that can also quell the Sunni insurgency. That will depend in part on America's willingness to stay the course in Iraq. It will depend in part on the Shiite majority's willingness to share power with the Sunnis - particularly one of the crucial cabinet portfolios of defense, intelligence or interior - and not go on a de-Baathification rampage. And it will depend in part on the Sunni Arab leaders finally supporting the Iraqi majority.
For Lebanon to liberate itself from Syria, the Lebanese opposition groups will have to find a way to translate their aspirations into a withdrawal deal with Damascus. The Syrians will not be pushed out. And for Israelis and Palestinians to really tip toward peace, the moderates on both sides are really going to have to help each other succeed.
Indeed, in the Middle East playground - as Friday's suicide bomb in Israel reminds us - tipping points are sometimes more like teeter-totters: one moment you're riding high and the next minute you're slammed to the ground. Nevertheless, what's happened in the last four weeks is not just important, it's remarkable. And if we can keep all three tipping points tipped, it will be incredible.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Village Voice > War Crimes

VOICE in the News
By Nat Hentoff
There cannot be an absence of moral content in American foreign policy. Europeans giggle at this, but we are not European, we are American, and we have different principles. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Telegraph, London, February 5, 2005
It shall be the policy of the United States not to expel, extradite, or otherwise effect the involuntary return of any person to a country in which there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture . . .Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, a U.S. statute implementing Article 3, International Convention Against Torture, which this country has signed
For three years, there have been sporadic reports in some of the media, including this column, of the CIA's sending detainees (prisoners without charges or lawyers) to countries (among them are Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco, and Uzbekistan) where the CIA knows they will be tortured to extract information the CIA can't dig out of them.
The Washington Post has done the most revealing investigative reporting, along with furious editorials, on this brutal form of kidnapping. And in these columns, I have tried to add to the story from other sources: human rights organizations and reporters around the world. In the February 11 New York Times, Bob Herbert put these actions by our government—in flagrant violation of American and international law—plainly:
"Jettisoning the rule of law to permit such acts of evil as kidnapping and torture is not a defensible policy for a civilized nation. It's wrong. And nothing good can come from it."
Now, in the February 14 New Yorker, there is a long, detailed, clearly documented story, "Outsourcing Torture"—the most important piece run by The New Yorker since John Hersey's internationally resounding essay on what we did to Hiroshima in Japan with the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare.
This report by Jane Mayer should be read by every member of Congress, which has yet to conduct a substantive investigation—with subpoena powers—into these horrific practices. There's talk of only a cursory "review." Much more is needed. The extraditions are so secret that even the 9-11 Commission members were not allowed to ask questions about these "extraordinary renditions," as the CIA bureaucratically calls them.
I know that senators Patrick Leahy, Ted Kennedy, Christopher Dodd, and Richard Durbin have read Jane Mayer's piece, as has Representative Ed Markey. Durbin, Dodd, and Markey tried to get legislation through in the last term that would throw some initial light on what is happening to detainees, but the bills were killed by the Republican leadership and the White House. (Durbin's was also snuffed out with the help of our new secretary of state.)
As I shall document later in this series, the CIA's "extraordinary renditions" began in the Clinton administration, but have been greatly expanded under George W. Bush, who piously and repeatedly pledges that this country will never, ever condone or practice torture. So do his loyalists, the new attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
In my more than 25 years as a New Yorker staff writer (while I was also a Voice columnist), its legendary editor, the late William Shawn, ran many of my pieces. But he killed one because, he told me, it might deleteriously affect our war in Vietnam. The piece was a profile of A.J. Muste, the chief strategist of the anti-war movement.
The present New Yorker editor, David Remnick, has no such reservation about affirming Justice Louis Brandeis's mandate for a free society: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant."
My one suggestion to Remnick about this crucial Jane Mayer article is that he make it more widely available by publishing it in pamphlet form, or in other readily available formats, and also send it to all members of Congress—along with an invitation to George W. Bush to respond to it. And what does Porter Goss, who runs the CIA, have to say about these kidnappings?
Members of Congress should be especially interested in Mayer's references to John Yoo, who, as deputy assistant attorney general under John Ashcroft, was a principal adviser to the president on how to evade international and American law in the war on terror. (For background on Yoo and other accomplices in these crimes, see the essential new book, the 1,284-page The Torture Papers, Cambridge University Press, edited by Karen Greenberg and Joshua Dratel. It will chill your bones.)
From Jane Mayer's "Outsourcing Torture":
"As Yoo saw it, Congress doesn't have the power to 'tie the President's hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique. . . . It's the core of the Commander-in-Chief function. They can't prevent the President from ordering torture.'
"[Yoo] went on to suggest that President Bush's victory in the 2004 election, along with the relatively mild challenge to Gonzales mounted by the Democrats in Congress, was 'proof that the debate is over. . . . The issue is dying out. The public has had its referendum.' "
Do you agree that the debate is over? (John Yoo is now a professor at the prestigious UC Berkeley School of Law, Boalt Hall, presumably teaching the rule of law.)
There will be more in this intermittent series about the special extralegal rules the president has given the CIA, as well as additions to Mayer's article. But I urge you to get this 80th anniversary issue of The New Yorker, and then insist that your members of Congress interrogate the top-level perpetrators of war crimes in this administration.
On the floor of the Senate, as the vote was to be called on Alberto Gonzales's nomination for attorney general, Ted Kennedy—in what may be the most quotable remark of his career—said: "We have a choice. Do we stand for the rule of law, or do we stand for torture? This vote will speak volumes about whether . . . [we] match our lofty rhetoric about fundamental values."
Following the president, a majority of the Senate chose torture. How much do you care?

More Liberty Beat
A U.S. Library vs. Fidel
A library defies Castro and the American Library Association on Freedom to Read

Condi Rice: Misrule of Law
The new secretary of state, the president's confidante, plays by his code of justice

The Ghosts of Torture
New attorney general twists the rule of law to which he is 'deeply committed'

Intimidated Classrooms
New York Civil Liberties Union: students can dissent in class only if professor permits

Targeting Congress on Torture
Making the Bush team responsible for international crimes against detainees

..
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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: Post-Scream Strategizing

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: Post-Scream Strategizing: "February 22, 2005
EDITORIAL
February 22, 2005

As the Democrats' newly chosen party chairman, Howard Dean has a fresh opportunity to be remembered as someone other than that presidential candidate who yelped defiantly in the face of defeat. The Democrats' fortunes are obviously at a low point. But Mr. Dean, in his surprising victory in the contest for chairman, showed a revivalist's energy and a new talent for working across the political spectrum in winning over state party leaders.

Mr. Dean's task is to build concretely on that base while disappointing Republican expectations that he will prove to be a radioactive chairman, given to upstaging his party's candidates with fresh variations on The Scream.

To calm doubters, Mr. Dean talks more as the party's ranking machinist than its chief ideologue. He vows, for example, to "grow" the party in each state and knit it more closely together by having the national committee pay state executive directors' salaries. The party's organizing and fund-raising powers were upgraded in the last elections, but the G.O.P. still outhustled Democrats in critical areas.

Ultimately, Mr. Dean will be judged on the presidential election of 2008. The first benchmark in this task comes next month, when a 40-member party commission begins studying what is right and wrong about the primary process that produced Senator John Kerry as the nominee. The helter-skelter process clearly needs fixing, starting with its overemphasis on front-loading contests. The tight calendar of winner-take-all bouts allows scant opportunity for shopper's remorse.

One of the commission's leaders, Representative David Price of North Carolina, was right when he noted that the party "needs to provide something other than a rush to judgment." Mr. Price, a political science professor at Duke University, has been through this before, serving as director of the Hunt Commission, which helped tune up the rules in the 1980's. Now he is wise to emphasize that a more deliberative pace would hardly hurt the Democrats' next search for the strongest nominee.

The New York Times > New York Region > Clinton's Popularity Up in State, Even Among Republicans

The New York Times > New York Region > Clinton's Popularity Up in State, Even Among Republicans: "February 22, 2005
Clinton's Popularity Up in State, Even Among Republicans
By RAYMOND HERNANDEZ
February 22, 2005

Remember Hillary Rodham Clinton and the conventional wisdom about how polarizing a figure she is? Well, think again.

Recent polls have shown that Mrs. Clinton, the junior senator from New York, may have turned a corner politically, sharply reducing the number of voters in the state who harbor negative views of her.

Pollsters say the change is remarkable for a woman who has long been shadowed by a seemingly implacable group of voters - commonly referred to as Hillary haters - who dislike her, no matter what she does, and who pose a potential obstacle to any presidential ambitions she may harbor.

A measure of how far Senator Clinton has come was on display Sunday when Senator John McCain, Republican from Arizona, said on "Meet the Press" that he thought Mrs. Clinton, a Democrat, would make a good president, although he said that he would support his party's nominee. She returned the compliment, saying when asked by the program's host, Tim Russert, that Senator McCain would be a good president.

The changing view of Mrs. Clinton coincides with a period following the November election in which she offered a series of speeches filled with references to faith and prayer, while putting less emphasis on polarizing social issues like gay marriage and abortion.

The result of these comments has been an emerging image of Senator Clinton that is far different from the caricature that Republicans have painted of her: that of a secular liberal whose stances are largely at odds with a public that they say is concerned about the nation's moral direction.

Political analysts say the themes Senator Clinton has emphasized - combined with the hard-working image she has sought to project - appear to be causing large numbers of voters to re-evaluate her in New York, although not nationally, where the number of people who disapprove of her is still high. In a Marist poll last fall, roughly 4 in 10 Americans had negative views of her.

Her progress appealing to once skeptical New Yorkers was illuminated by a New York Times poll released last week that showed that 21 percent of New Yorkers had an unfavorable opinion of how she is handling her job, down significantly from the 29 percent of voters who expressed similar sentiments in October 2002.

(In two recent back-to-back surveys, pollsters for Quinnipiac University, in Hamden, Conn., also found a notable decline in the number of New York voters who expressed a negative view of Mrs. Clinton.)

At the same time, Senator Clinton's job approval rating has increased to 69 percent from 58 percent in October 2002, according to the Times poll. That is higher even than the 63 percent approval rating of Charles E. Schumer, the senior senator from New York who was re-elected last year to a second term with a record 71 percent of the vote and who is known for his attention to upstate concerns.

The new attitudes toward Mrs. Clinton may be forcing Republicans to reconsider how to deal with an opponent they had until now viewed as an enticing target because of the depth of negative feelings she inspires among large numbers of New York voters.

Independent political analysts say her strong standing may give pause to any big-name Republican thinking about challenging her in 2006, chief among them Rudolph W. Giuliani and Gov. George E. Pataki. In fact, a Quinnipiac poll released earlier this month found that Mrs. Clinton would defeat both Mr. Pataki and Mr. Giuliani in head-to-head contests.

"There isn't a long line of opponents forming to take her on in 2006," said Lee M. Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

But New York Republican leaders say that they are eager to challenge Senator Clinton, especially since Republicans from around the country will almost certainly provide plenty of money and other campaign support to defeat her, as they did in 2000.

New York Republicans also say that the senator has had a free ride so far and that her opponent in the campaign will have an easy time driving up her negative ratings - and halting her rise in the polls - by pointing out what they describe as her poor record of accomplishment and her liberal ideology.

"Clinton has been operating in a vacuum and there's been nobody taking her on," said the New York State Republican Party chairman, Stephen Minarik. "Frankly, her numbers don't intimidate me whatsoever. I'm looking forward to this challenge."

Mrs. Clinton's advisers say they are taking nothing for granted. "We know that Republicans are preparing to wage a well-funded and negative campaign," said Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton. "Senator Clinton's continued hard work and strong record will serve as the best antidote to their groundless attacks."

Mrs. Clinton's current standing is a far cry from her situation in 2000, when her Republican opponent, Representative Rick A. Lazio, sought to build much of his campaign around the large number of New Yorkers who had a negative opinion of her, then about one in three.

The senator's closest advisers say her popularity stems from her success at swaying voters to her side with frequent trips around the state and attention to local concerns.

But other political analysts argue that the lift Mrs. Clinton is enjoying reflects a growing comfort with her among New Yorkers who may not have entirely believed her when she pledged in 2000 to serve out a full term and not seek a higher office.

During the race in 2000, Republicans constantly attacked Mrs. Clinton as a carpetbagger who was seeking to use the Senate seat in New York as springboard to the presidency, perhaps as early as 2004. But in the end, Mrs. Clinton kept a low profile during the last presidential election, even as many Democrats argued that she could have won her party's nomination handily.

"The No. 1 concern many people had about her - that she would run for president before finishing her term - has not happened," observed one Democrat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "She kept her word and the worst suspicions about her have turned out not to be true."

As for the inevitable questions about Mrs. Clinton's future presidential ambitions, that does not seem to trouble New York voters nearly as much as it did in 2000. The recent Times poll showed that of the voters who do expect Senator Clinton to run for president in 2008, 67 percent said it would make no difference in whether or not they would vote for her for Senate in 2006, and 18 percent said it would make them more likely to vote for her.

The New York Times > Books > An Appreciation: The Thompson Style: A Sense of Self, and Outrage

The New York Times > Books > An Appreciation: The Thompson Style: A Sense of Self, and Outrage: "February 22, 2005
February 22, 2005
AN APPRECIATION
The Thompson Style: A Sense of Self, and Outrage
By DAVID CARR

Hunter S. Thompson died on Sunday, alone with a gun in his kitchen in Woody Creek, Colo. In doing so, he added heft to a legend that came to obscure his gifts as one of journalism's most influential practitioners.

Somewhere beneath the cartoon - he was Uncle Duke in the Doonesbury strip, of course, but Bill Murray inked him well in the 1980 film "Where the Buffalo Roam" - and a lifestyle dominated by a long and sophisticated romance with drugs, Mr. Thompson managed to change the course of American journalism.

Of all of the so-called practitioners of New Journalism, Mr. Thompson was the one who was willing to insert himself and his capacious reserve of outrage into the middle of every story. In his articles for Rolling Stone and his seminal 1973 book, "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72" Mr. Thompson threw himself at the conventions of political reporting. Not only was he not neutral, he was angry, an avenging proxy for the American polity. Brick by brick, he tore away a wall - since rebuilt - that made politics seem like a low-stakes minstrel show.

"He spent his life in search of an honest man, and he seldom found any," said James Silberman, his longtime editor and publisher at Random House and Summit Books.

As a writer though, Mr. Thompson met plenty of honest digressions, and engaged them all to their fullest. He would begin with a premise - Richard Nixon was doing Satan's handiwork, for instance - and then in writing about it, tumble through the Tet Offensive, the drugs from the previous night he was trying to fight through, Hubert Humphrey's alleged spinelessness, Nixon's surprising knowledge of the N.F.L., and the fecklessness of his editors, before landing the entire rococo mix in one tidy package, like a gift.

His assignments always became quests. It was not enough for him to journey south to Cozumel off the Yucat√°n Peninsula to write about rich white men hunting sharks; he also had to retrieve 50 doses of MDA, a drug he was fond of, that he had stashed in the shark pool of the aquarium the last time he was on the island. Mr. Thompson managed to live and write his own version of the Heisenberg principle: That the observer not only changes events by his presence, but his presence also frequently surpasses the event in terms of importance. Like many contemporary American writers, Mr. Thompson lived the bell curve of a writer's life. Long after the "Fear and Loathing" rubric had been arrayed over everything from shark fishing, the Hell's Angels and Las Vegas, he was hounded by the fact that his moment - a white hot one where in which he found himself face to face with a shark or George McGovern - had passed.

His friends would continue to drop by Woody Creek, his remote, mountainous salon near Aspen for smart, engaging talk accompanied by the explosives, narcotics and weaponry Mr. Thompson counted as enduring hobbies. Ed Bradley of "60 Minutes" was one of them, and said yesterday that Thompson's menace was overestimated, that it was frequently overwhelmed by courtliness. George Plimpton was a frequent visitor, as was Walter Isaacson. Even the town sheriff was welcome, as long as he called ahead so Mr. Thompson could tidy the premises.

For a generation of American students, Mr. Thompson made journalism seem like a dangerous, fantastic occupation, in the process transforming an avocation that was mostly populated by doughy white men in short-sleeve white button-downs and bad ties into something fit for those who smoked Dunhills at the end of cigarette holders and wore sunglasses regardless of the time of day. It is to his credit or blame that many aspiring journalists showed up to cover their first, second, and sometimes third local city council meetings in bowling shirts and bad sunglasses (no names need be mentioned here), along with their notebooks.

For all of the pharmacological foundations of his stories, Mr. Thompson was a reporter, taking to the task of finding out what other people knew with an avidity that earned the respect of even those who found his personal hobbies reprehensible. Hunter S. Thompson knew stuff and wrote about it in a way that could leave his colleagues breathless and vowing to do better.

He had a gift for sentence writing, and he tended to write a lot of them. But his loquaciousness was not restricted to articles and books. In "Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist," his memoir published in 2000 which was composed of correspondence, it became clear how in his hands even the lowly expense report, usually a relentlessly banal document, could be a thing of beauty.

To Mr. Thompson, it was all true, every word of it. Maybe not literally, you-can-look-it-up true, but true in a way that the bean counters would never understand. Friends say that he appeared to be relatively happy of late, and was fully engaged in the writing projects he had before him. But a chronic series of physical infirmities - he had to use a wheelchair at times - left him feeling that he was finally being maneuvered by forces he could not medicate or write into obscurity.

And his suicide had its own terrible logic. A man who was so intent on generating a remarkable voice that he retyped Hemingway's novels just to understand how it was done, gave a final bit of dramatic tribute in turning a gun on himself.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

DenverPost.com - Spin Cycled > Tancredo bill on Taiwan angers China

DenverPost.com - Spin Cycled: "ticle Published: Sunday, February 20, 2005

spin cycled
Tancredo bill on Taiwan angers China
By The Denver Post

Rep. Tom Tancredo seems to always be able to cause a stir, even if he has to go halfway around the world to do it. Few on this side of the Pacific took much notice last week when the Littleton Republican introduced a bill to end the United States' 'one China' policy and resume normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

But his move was front-page news in Asia. According to the Xinhua Financial Network, the Chinese government 'angrily condemned' Tancredo's bill and demanded that the Bush administration block the bill. The Xinhua network is affiliated with the official Chinese news agency with a slightly different name.

'This is a gross interference in China's internal affairs and sends a mistaken signal to Taiwan independence forces,' foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan was quoted as saying by Xinhua. 'The Chinese side expresses its strong dissatisfaction and staunch opposition to this.'"

DenverPost.com - Spin Cycled > Tancredo bill on Taiwan angers China

DenverPost.com - Spin Cycled: "ticle Published: Sunday, February 20, 2005

spin cycled
Tancredo bill on Taiwan angers China
By The Denver Post

Rep. Tom Tancredo seems to always be able to cause a stir, even if he has to go halfway around the world to do it. Few on this side of the Pacific took much notice last week when the Littleton Republican introduced a bill to end the United States' 'one China' policy and resume normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

But his move was front-page news in Asia. According to the Xinhua Financial Network, the Chinese government 'angrily condemned' Tancredo's bill and demanded that the Bush administration block the bill. The Xinhua network is affiliated with the official Chinese news agency with a slightly different name.

'This is a gross interference in China's internal affairs and sends a mistaken signal to Taiwan independence forces,' foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan was quoted as saying by Xinhua. 'The Chinese side expresses its strong dissatisfaction and staunch opposition to this.'"

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World

Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: "US, Japan close ranks in bid to restrain China from moving on Taiwan
Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 19, 2005
US, Japan close ranks in bid to restrain China from moving on Taiwan

Shared concern about China and its threat to use force against Taiwan are drawing Japan and the United States closer in their determination to maintain peace and stability in East Asia.

While the Bush administration says it supports China's emergence as an economic power in the region and the world, the overriding US message to Beijing is, as State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday: "Play by the rules."
Increasingly, Japan is growing bolder in publicly seconding that view.

During talks Saturday in Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono are expected to make strong statements in support of ensuring security in the Taiwan Strait and on the Korean Peninsula.

They also were expected to renew demands that North Korea halt development of nuclear weapons while exploring strategy to persuade Pyongyang to drop its opposition to resuming negotiations with China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

Rice and the two Japanese ministers are new to their jobs, so it is an occasion for wide-ranging discussions, said Hatsuhisa Takashima, spokesman for the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Besides Taiwan, he said in an interview Friday, based on "our long-standing alliance" the two sides were seeking a common strategy to deal with terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the continuing problem of conventional weapons.

Reflecting growing US unease about China's aims, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith said Thursday that "for a country like China, the fundamental choice is whether it wishes to join the group of advanced economies whose relationships are governed by the `rules of the road' of the international state system."

Feith, who helps formulate Pentagon policy, said of all the countries growing in power, China is most likely to have the greatest effect on international relations in the years ahead.

When President George W. Bush travels to Europe next week, he will try, in what probably will be a futile effort, to persuade European Union nations to leave in place a 15-year-old arms embargo against China. It was imposed after the June 1989 Tiananmen incident.

"The president has real concerns about it," his national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said in a speech Thursday.

As for China's behavior, Hadley said, "We all have an interest in China continuing to move in the direction of democracy and freedom and being a constructive member of the international community."

The Europeans, he said, share US concerns about human rights in China.

In East Asia, Japan is showing a growing inclination to stand with the United States on Taiwan.

Praising Japan as a steadfast ally, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday that maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific region was a shared goal, and she looked forward to a joint effort with Japan to restrain China from using force against Taiwan.

Rice said the mutual goal of ensuring stability reflected a "very deep and broad relationship" between Washington and Tokyo.

Until now, Japan mostly has left it to the United States to deal with China's wrath and threats to use force against Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province that eventually must be recovered by the mainland.

Rice, in a joint news conference Friday with visiting Foreign Minister Bernard Bot of the Netherlands, reiterated the long-standing US admonition to China.

"There should be no attempt to change the status quo unilaterally," she said.

The United States' security alliance with Japan has formed the backbone of US foreign policy in Asia. The two allies long have disagreed, however, about how to deal with China's territorial claim over self-ruled Taiwan, which split with Beijing after nationalists fled to the island in 1949 as the communists were winning the civil war.

Washington has indicated it would intervene if China were to try to take Taiwan by force. A cautious Japan traditionally has sought to avoid involvement.

This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1108696750698&p=1078113566627

US News : Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report, ( Breaking News,Kerala news, India News,Us,UK,Kerala Shopping,Onam Special, K

US News : Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report, US News : Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report,US: Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report
25 Hours,46 minutes Ago

[US News]: WASHINGTON - Japan will formally join the United States this weekend in declaring the Taiwan Strait a common security concern in a move likely to anger China, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The Post said a formal agreement would be announced after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld meet with their Japanese counterparts here on Saturday.

“This is the first time that Japan has made its stance clear,” Koh Se-kai, Taiwan’s special representative to Japan, told the Post, which called the move the biggest change in the US-Japanese security alliance since 1996.

“In the past, Japan has been very indirect on the Taiwan issue,” Koh was quoted as saying. “We’re relieved that Japan has become more assertive.”

The State Department would not confirm the reported moved by Japan.

Japan ended its diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1972 to establish relations with rival China.


A US official, who asked not to be named, confirmed however that the US and Japanese ministers would confer on a “broad range of security topics in Asia, including the situation in the Taiwan Strait.”

Japanese Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono, who was to leave Japan later Friday with Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, said the two countries would “fully discuss destabilizing factors.”

Asked about China, Ono said: “Japan must have good relations. I would like to pursue common grounds” with the United States on China.

The Post, in a dispatch dated from Tokyo, said Japan would join the administration of President George W. Bush in designating security in the Taiwan Strait as a “common strategic objective.”

The move is likely to displease China, which has a considerable military force amassed on the Taiwan Strait opposite the island that split off in 1949. Beijing has threatened to use force if Taiwan formally declared independence.

Washington has recognized Taiwan as part of China since in 1979, but is obliged under US law to offer the island a means of self-defense if its security is threatened.

China is sensitive to any movements in the United States. A bipartisan resolution introduced Wednesday in the US House of Representatives calling for an end to the “one China” policy drew a sharp reaction from Beijing.

Shinzo Abe, the acting secretary general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party who is widely seen as a likely successor to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, supported the reported US-Japan agreement.

“It would be wrong for us to send a signal to China that the United States and Japan will watch and tolerate China’s military invasion of Taiwan,” Abe told the Post.

“If the situation surrounding Japan threatens our security, Japan can provide US forces with support,” he added.

An unidentified senior Japanese government official told the daily: “We consider China a friendly country, but it is also unpredictable. If it takes aggressive action, Japan cannot just stand by and watch.”

US News : Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report, ( Breaking News,Kerala news, India News,Us,UK,Kerala Shopping,Onam Special, K

US News : Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report,US: Japan, US to declare Taiwan a mutual security concern: report
25 Hours,46 minutes Ago

[US News]: WASHINGTON - Japan will formally join the United States this weekend in declaring the Taiwan Strait a common security concern in a move likely to anger China, the Washington Post reported Friday.

The Post said a formal agreement would be announced after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld meet with their Japanese counterparts here on Saturday.

“This is the first time that Japan has made its stance clear,” Koh Se-kai, Taiwan’s special representative to Japan, told the Post, which called the move the biggest change in the US-Japanese security alliance since 1996.

“In the past, Japan has been very indirect on the Taiwan issue,” Koh was quoted as saying. “We’re relieved that Japan has become more assertive.”

The State Department would not confirm the reported moved by Japan.

Japan ended its diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1972 to establish relations with rival China.


A US official, who asked not to be named, confirmed however that the US and Japanese ministers would confer on a “broad range of security topics in Asia, including the situation in the Taiwan Strait.”

Japanese Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono, who was to leave Japan later Friday with Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, said the two countries would “fully discuss destabilizing factors.”

Asked about China, Ono said: “Japan must have good relations. I would like to pursue common grounds” with the United States on China.

The Post, in a dispatch dated from Tokyo, said Japan would join the administration of President George W. Bush in designating security in the Taiwan Strait as a “common strategic objective.”

The move is likely to displease China, which has a considerable military force amassed on the Taiwan Strait opposite the island that split off in 1949. Beijing has threatened to use force if Taiwan formally declared independence.

Washington has recognized Taiwan as part of China since in 1979, but is obliged under US law to offer the island a means of self-defense if its security is threatened.

NYTimes > Presidents Bush and Clinton have become friends

Doug Mills
The New York Times
On Thursday night in Houston, Mr. Bush boarded an official blue-and-white Boeing 757 jet with "United States of America" on its side in Houston and flew to Los Angeles to pick up former President Bill Clinton.

By 10 o'clock, the two were headed toward Phuket, Thailand, to make their first appearance to help raise money for tsunami victims on Saturday afternoon local time.
From there, the former presidents were scheduled to visit Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on Sunday and Sri Lanka and the Maldives on Monday.
Neither of their wives, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton nor Barbara Bush, were on the trip.
"It's just the two guys," Jean Becker, Mr. Bush's chief of staff, said.
Ms. Becker said before leaving on Thursday that she did not know where Mr. Bush or Mr. Clinton would sit on the plane, or whether they would have separate compartments, but that both would be up front.
"I know there are couches and beds, and they'll figure out the sleeping arrangements when they get on the plane," she said.
The trip is the most dramatic example in recent months of what staff members for both men describe as a growing friendship that seems to have erased the bitterness of the 1992 election, when Mr. Clinton ousted Mr. Bush from the White House.
When Mr. Clinton was in the hospital for quadruple bypass heart surgery last September, aides say, the 41st president was almost instantly on the telephone.
"President Bush immediately picked up the phone and said, 'Bill, what the hell happened to you?' " Ms. Becker recounted.
When Mr. Bush went to the dedication of Mr. Clinton's presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., with the current president and former President Jimmy Carter in November, the 41st and 42nd presidents talked at times with such familiarity that former staff members were taken aback.
"President Clinton was walking with all the presidents, and former President Bush says, 'Bill, what are you doing with this property back here?' " said Representative Rahm Emanuel, an Illinois Democrat was a top aide to Mr. Clinton. "It only sticks with me because it seemed so 'friendlike.' "
More recently, Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton, whom President Bush appointed last month as his representatives in raising money for tsunami relief, were seen joking with each other as they sat side by side at the Super Bowl, where they had been invited by the National Football League.
Former staff members said the friendship could offer political advantages for the Bush and Clinton families, softening the edges of a political rivalry, as Mr. Bush's son begins his second term and as Mrs. Clinton considers a run for president in 2008.
Former staff members also said the friendship seemed genuine and was ultimately not that surprising given that there are only five men alive who know what it is like to go through the crucible of the American presidency. At the end of the day, the staff members said, partisan differences were overcome by the power of that shared experience.
"It has its own little Outward Bound quality to it," Mr. Emanuel said.
The new warmth arises as President Bush and Mr. Clinton, who had little love for each other in the past, have grown closer.
"Frankly, President Bush likes Clinton a lot," Roland Betts, a close friend of the president, said. "He says he thinks he's a terrific person. He's not judging his administration. He just likes being around him."
Mr. Betts, who made those remarks in an interview in December, added in a brief interview this week that in his view the current president and Mr. Clinton were charismatic people and that they "saw a little bit of themselves in each other, and they liked it."
Staff members for the three men say they first noticed the thaw last Memorial Day, when the 41st, 42nd and 43rd presidents, on stage after the dedication of the National World War II Memorial on the Mall in Washington, shared private laughs. At one point, George H. W. Bush gave Mr. Clinton a playful but vigorous shove as a reaction to something Mr. Clinton had said. Aides could not recall this past week what it was, but one person did say the current president joked at the time that Mr. Clinton's biography, "My Life," was so long that he would have to read one half and his father the other.
The warming trend continued a few weeks later, when the president unveiled Mr. Clinton's official portrait at the White House with such gracious words that aides said Mr. Clinton was stunned. Mr. Bush praised Mr. Clinton as a man "with far-ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need and the forward-looking spirit the Americans like in a president."
Mr. Clinton reddened and his eye teared as he acknowledged: "I had mixed feelings coming here today, and they were only confirmed by all those kind and generous things you've said. Made me feel like I was a pickle stepping into history."
By the time of Mr. Clinton's library dedication, he and the Bushes were falling over one another with accolades. But the 41st president spoke about the man who bested him in 1992 in personal and revealing terms.
"It always has to be said that Bill Clinton was one of the most gifted American political figures in modern times," Former President Bush said. "Trust me. I learned this the hard way."
Mr. Bush added that "seeing him out on the campaign trail, it was plain to see how he fed off the energy and the hopes and the aspirations of the American people."
"Simply put," Mr. Bush said, "he was a natural and he made it look easy. And, oh, how I hated him for that!"
Since being named tsunami relief envoys, they have appeared in public service advertisements and other appearances.
"In January," Ms. Becker said, "when we needed to get the two in the same city, it was: 'I'll come to your city.' 'No, I'll come to your city.' "
When they are together, she added, they joke about the 41st president's skydiving and which one is in the best health.
"President Bush likes to say, 'I'm 80, for God's sake,' " Ms. Becker said. "And President Clinton says, 'Well, you're the one jumping out of airplanes.' "





N.Y. Times > Doubting U.S., China Is Wary of Korea Role

February 19, 2005
Doubting U.S., China Is Wary of Korea Role
By HOWARD W. FRENCH
HANGHAI, Feb. 18 - The dispatch by China of a high-level envoy this weekend to persuade the North Koreans to return to talks on their nuclear weapons would seem to present it with an ideal opportunity.
China's economy is growing enormously, casting shadows in every direction. Its fast-modernizing military has the attention of every power, regional or global. No other country, meanwhile, enjoys the kind of long, unbroken friendship that China has nurtured for over five decades with North Korea. In short, all the pieces would seem to be in place for Beijing to score its first big coup in global diplomacy, brokering an end to the nuclear threat on the Korean peninsula.
The only problem with this optimistic scenario is that it is shared by almost no one in China.
For now, the Chinese remain reluctant to take major diplomatic risks on North Korea, convinced that this longtime ally, a country that Chinese soldiers shed blood in large numbers to defend, will never turn against them. Analysts say that Beijing's top priority is to maintain quiet on its frontier, and that it would take a more aggressive tack only if tensions between Washington and North Korea were to increase seriously.
Beyond such doubts, however, lingers an even more fundamental reason for the reluctance of China to take the lead in this crisis: its deep-seated skepticism about the United States' strategic designs in the region.
"If we cut off aid and the Koreas are unified on South Korean terms, that would be a big disaster for China," one analyst said. "The U.S. would insist on basing its troops in the northern part of the peninsula, and China would have to consider that all of its efforts going back to the Korean War have been a waste."
Other experts here look cynically on Washington's insistence on Chinese leadership in the North Korean face-off, seeing it as part of a broader effort by the United States to entangle Beijing in a growing web of international arrangements, the better to limit Chinese influence.
A fresh example of the divisions between the United States and China was provided this week with confirmation that Tokyo is moving closer to Washington's policy position that the status quo on Taiwan must be maintained. Chinese analysts often point out that having a friendly country tying up American troops on its northern border frees Beijing to focus its forces on other contingencies, notably the Taiwan question.
Meanwhile, most Chinese international security experts insist that the United States holds the two most important keys to resolving the North Korean problem: ending a state of hostility that dates from the earliest days of the cold war and providing tangible assurances to North Korea that Washington does not seek the government's overthrow.
"Although many of our friends see it as a failing state, potentially one with nuclear weapons, China has a different view," said Piao Jianyi, an expert in international relations at the Institute of Asia Pacific Studies in Beijing. "North Korea has a reforming economy that is very weak, but every year is getting better, and the regime is taking measures to reform its economy, so perhaps the U.S. should reconsider its approach."
This widely held picture of a slowly, painfully reforming North Korea suggests a broad sympathy for North Korea among Chinese intellectuals and policy makers. For many, North Korea's experience echoes China's fitful reforms of a generation ago. "In the late 1960's, China also had a lack of transparency," Mr. Piao added. "It was also threatening to other countries and, as Westerners would say, it was an oppressive country. But one threatens others because one feels threatened, and in that perspective, you can better understand North Korea."
Many experts in Chinese affairs say the main emphasis of the country's foreign policy remains avoiding turbulence wherever possible in international relations, the better to realize its economic ambitions. "As far as the Chinese are concerned, the bottom line is stability," said Robert Sutter, a former national intelligence officer for East Asia, and author of the coming book "China's Rise in Asia." "They've been really concerned about the danger of war in Korea, and that is why they got busy behind the six-party talks, not because they wanted to be seen as any great Asian player. Still, putting a lot of pressure on North Korea would be hard for them, and I don't think they want to take those risks."
But if caution remains the cornerstone of China's policy toward North Korea, Beijing wants to keep up at least the appearance of being a responsible power and attentive to regional problems. Moreover, some voices here have begun to insist that traditional diplomatic approaches no longer meet its current interests.
The nuclear situation on the Korean peninsula is unlike anything China has faced before, said Zhang Liangui, a foreign affairs expert at the Central Party School, in Beijing. The new development "might lead to nuclear competition in northeast Asia, which is the most important region in the world for China," he said, adding, "We must treat this with the greatest seriousness."
Other Chinese experts go further. Shen Dingli, vice president of the International Relations Institute at Fudan University in Shanghai, said China's priorities in the international face-off were clear: keeping North Korea from collapsing, and keeping American troops south of the 38th parallel, the line that divides the two Koreas. But he complained of Chinese timidity in limiting itself to a host's role for the talks.
"China still does not have a mentality for leading the world, and has no reflexes for pushing the U.S. and North Korea to do something," Mr. Shen said. "This crisis is a reminder that we must raise the level of our diplomacy quite a bit still. If China is not wary of the old passive approach to the world and doesn't learn how to be more pushy, we will only have ourselves to blame."
North Korea Sets Talk Conditions
SEOUL, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 19 (Reuters) - North Korea will return to talks about its nuclear weapons program if the United States pledges "coexistence and noninterference," the North's envoy to the United Nations told a South Korean newspaper in an article published Saturday.
The envoy, Deputy Ambassador Han Song Ryol, also told the newspaper JoongAng Ilbo that the North wanted an assurance by the United States that there would be substantive results from negotiations before it returned to talks.
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Thursday, February 17, 2005

CBS 46 Atlanta - Former Atlanta mayor to stand trial September 26th

CBS 46 Atlanta - Former Atlanta mayor to stand trial September 26th: "Former Atlanta mayor to stand trial September 26th
Feb 17, 2005, 10:23 AM

ATLANTA (AP) -- A judge has set the trial date for former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell for September 26th on federal racketeering charges.

U-S District Court Judge Richard Story will preside over the case. Campbell also is charged with bribery and tax evasion.

He has denied the charges. Campbell insists he never accepted illegal campaign contributions or payment for certain official actions while he was mayor from 1994 to 2002.

He is suspected of awarding an additional 80 million dollars to United Water, which had received a 20-year, 21-point-four million dollar a year contract to operate the city's water system.

Campbell has said he never authorized the payments and lacked the authority to do so."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Fighting Moderates

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Fighting Moderates

February 15, 2005
OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Fighting Moderates
By PAUL KRUGMAN

"The Republicans know the America they want, and they are not afraid to use any means to get there," Howard Dean said in accepting the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. "But there is something that this administration and the Republican Party are very afraid of. It is that we may actually begin fighting for what we believe."

Those words tell us what the selection of Mr. Dean means. It doesn't represent a turn to the left: Mr. Dean is squarely in the center of his party on issues like health care and national defense. Instead, Mr. Dean's political rejuvenation reflects the new ascendancy within the party of fighting moderates, the Democrats who believe that they must defend their principles aggressively against the right-wing radicals who have taken over Congress and the White House.

It was always absurd to call Mr. Dean a left-winger. Just ask the real left-wingers. During his presidential campaign, an article in the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch denounced him as a "Clintonesque Republicrat," someone who, as governor, tried "to balance the budget, even though Vermont is a state in which a balanced budget is not required."

Even on Iraq, many moderates, including moderate Republicans, quietly shared Mr. Dean's misgivings - which have been fully vindicated - about the march to war.

But Mr. Dean, of course, wasn't quiet. He frankly questioned the Bush administration's motives and honesty at a time when most Democrats believed that the prudent thing was to play along with the war party.

We'll never know whether Democrats would have done better over the past four years if they had taken a stronger stand against the right. But it's clear that the time for that sort of caution is past.

For one thing, there's no more room for illusions. In 2001 it was possible for some Democrats to convince themselves that President Bush's tax cuts were consistent with an agenda that was only moderately conservative. In 2002 it was possible for some Democrats to convince themselves that the push for war with Iraq was really about eliminating weapons of mass destruction.

But in 2005 it takes an act of willful blindness not to see that the Bush plan for Social Security is intended, in essence, to dismantle the most important achievement of the New Deal. The Republicans themselves say so: the push for privatization is following the playbook laid out in a 1983 Cato Journal article titled "A 'Leninist' Strategy," and in a White House memo declaring that "for the first time in six decades, the Social Security battle is one we can win - and in doing so, we can help transform the political and philosophical landscape of the country."

By refusing to be bullied into false bipartisanship on Social Security, Democrats have already scored a significant tactical victory. Just two months ago, TV pundits were ridiculing Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, for denying that Social Security faces a crisis, and for rejecting outright the idea of diverting payroll taxes into private accounts. But now the Bush administration itself has dropped the crisis language, and admitted that private accounts would do nothing to improve the system's finances.

By standing firm against Mr. Bush's attempt to stampede the country into dismantling its most important social insurance program, Democrats like Mr. Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin and Barbara Boxer have, at a minimum, broken the administration's momentum, and quite possibly doomed its plan. The more time the news media spend examining the details of privatization, the worse it looks. And those Democrats have also given their party a demonstration of what it means to be an effective opposition.

In fact, by taking on Social Security, Mr. Bush gave the Democrats a chance to remember what they stand for, and why. Here's my favorite version, from another fighting moderate, Eliot Spitzer: "As President Bush embraces the ownership society and tries to claim that he is the one that is making it possible for the middle class to succeed and save and invest - well, I say to myself, no, that's not right; it is the Democratic Party historically that created the middle class."

For a while, Mr. Dean will be the public face of the Democrats, and the Republicans will try to portray him as the leftist he isn't. But Deanism isn't about turning to the left: it's about making a stand.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Calling All Democrats

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Calling All Democrats: "OP-ED COLUMNIST
Calling All Democrats
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Published: February 10, 2005

In the past week, I've received several e-mail notes from Democrats about the Iraq elections, or heard comments from various Democratic lawmakers - always along the following lines: "Remember, Vietnam also had an election, and you recall how that ended." Or, "O.K., the election was nice, but none of it was worth $100 billion or 10,000 killed and wounded." Or, "You know, we've actually created more terrorists in Iraq - election or not."

I think there is much to criticize about how the war in Iraq has been conducted, and the outcome is still uncertain. But those who suggest that the Iraqi election is just beanbag, and that all we are doing is making the war on terrorism worse as a result of Iraq, are speaking nonsense.

Here's the truth: There is no single action we could undertake anywhere in the world to reduce the threat of terrorism that would have a bigger impact today than a decent outcome in Iraq. It is that important. And precisely because it is so important, it should not be left to Donald Rumsfeld.

Democrats need to start thinking seriously about Iraq - the way Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton have. If France - the mother of all blue states - can do it, so, too, can the Democrats. Otherwise, they will be absenting themselves from the most important foreign policy issue of our day.

Here are four things Democrats should be excited about:

What Iraq is now embarking on is the first attempt - ever - by the citizens of a multiethnic, multireligious Arab state to draw up their own social contract, their own constitution, for how they should share power and resources, protect minority rights and balance mosque and state. I have no idea whether they will succeed. Much will depend on whether the Shiites want to be a wise and inclusive majority and whether the Sunnis want to be a smart and collaborative minority.

There will be a lot of trial and error in the months ahead. But this is a hugely important horizontal dialogue because if Iraqis can't forge a social contract, it would suggest that no other Arab country can - since virtually all of them are similar mixtures of tribes, ethnicities and religions. That would mean that they can be ruled only by iron-fisted kings or dictators, with all the negatives that flow from that.

But - but - if Iraqis succeed in forging a social contract in the hardest place of all, it means that democracy is actually possible anywhere in the Arab world.

Democrats do not favor using military force against Iran's nuclear program or to compel regime change there. That is probably wise. But they don't really have a diplomatic option. I've got one: Iraq. Iraq is our Iran policy.

If we can help produce a representative government in Iraq - based on free and fair elections and with a Shiite leadership that accepts minority rights and limits on clerical involvement in politics - it will exert great pressure on the ayatollah-dictators running Iran. In Iran's sham "Islamic democracy," only the mullahs decide who can run. Over time, Iranian Shiites will demand to know why they can't have the same freedoms as their Iraqi cousins right next door. That will drive change in Iran. Just be patient.

The war on terrorism is a war of ideas. The greatest restraint on human behavior is not a police officer or a fence - it's a community and a culture. Palestinian suicide bombing has stopped not because of the Israeli fence or because Palestinians are no longer "desperate." It has stopped because the Palestinians had an election, and a majority voted to get behind a diplomatic approach. They told the violent minority that suicide bombing - for now - is shameful.

What Arabs and Muslims say about their terrorists is the only thing that will protect us in the long run. It takes a village, and the Iraqi election was the Iraqi village telling the violent minority that what it is doing is shameful. The fascist minority in Iraq is virulent, and some jihadists will stop at nothing. But the way you begin to drain the swamps of terrorism is when you create a democratic context for those with good ideas to denounce those with bad ones.

Egypt and Syrian-occupied Lebanon both have elections this year. Watch how the progressives and those demanding representative government are empowered in their struggle against the one-man rulers in Egypt and Syria - if the Iraqi experiment succeeds.

We have paid a huge price in Iraq. I want to get out as soon as we can. But trying to finish the job there, as long as we have real partners, is really important - and any party that says otherwise will become unimportant.

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: The North Korean Challenge

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: The North Korean Challenge

February 11, 2005
EDITORIAL
The North Korean Challenge

North Korea put all of its worst instincts on display yesterday, announcing that it had produced nuclear weapons, intends to go on producing them and has no further interest in talking. Experts already knew the North was probably producing nuclear bombs, and it has been painfully obvious for months that diplomacy was getting nowhere. But by waving its nukes around so contemptuously and then kicking over the negotiating table, North Korea has managed to make a terrible situation even worse.

The world cannot simply resign itself to the prospect of a nuclear-armed North Korea. It directly threatens South Korea, Japan and China. It raises the risk of nuclear blackmail against the United States, and only strengthens concerns that North Korea may be exporting nuclear ingredients and technology.

Stepping back from this nightmare will require a very different attitude on the part of North Korea. It will also require a drastic change of approach by the United States. The Bush administration did not create this problem, but, with a series of avoidable errors, it has made it much worse, much faster than might otherwise have been the case.

When President Bush took office four years ago, he immediately began distancing himself from the Clinton administration's approach, which had stopped the most imminent North Korean nuclear weapons program in its tracks. It's easy to distrust North Korea and to detest Kim Jong Il's monstrous police state. The Bush administration's response, however, was more visceral than rational, and only drove North Korea into deeper isolation and paranoia.

As Washington turned increasingly confrontational, North Korea unfroze its plutonium program, sent home the international inspectors and started building bombs. Still, the Bush administration put North Korea on a diplomatic back burner as it followed its obsession with Iraq.

The strategy of listing North Korea as one of three partners in an axis of evil and then proceeding to invade the partner that was furthest away from a nuclear weapons program was no way to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear deterrent. Washington's nonproliferation diplomacy has also been handicapped by the Bush administration's double standards about the nuclear proliferation offenses of Pakistan and other allies.

As if to compensate for the costly unilateralism of its Iraq adventure, Washington insisted on talking to North Korea only in the presence of four other nations, even though any deal must be built around a set of core understandings between North Korea and the United States. Then, to punish North Korea for a secret uranium-processing program, Washington waited many months before putting a serious offer on the table. North Korea apparently used the delays to build more bombs.

What makes this litany of diplomatic errors particularly alarming is that diplomacy is still the only path. The United States does not have any realistic military options, and intermediate steps, like United Nations sanctions, would require more international unity than the Bush administration seems able to generate. North Korea caused the problem. More enlightened, flexible and sophisticated American diplomacy must provide a way back to the negotiating table.

Monday, February 07, 2005

The China Post > Editorial > "Who are Taiwan's allies?

Editorial: "Who are Taiwan's allies?

2005/2/7

China's rise to being a great economic power has served notice on Taiwan that it can no longer outspend Beijing in the contest to secure "allies" in the great international diplomatic game.

Some "allies" are attracted to Taiwan by what is called "cupboard love" -- what's in the cupboard for them, not what's in the heart. When someone else's cupboard is looking better stocked, the ally will move the better stocked cupboard. It is no accident that cupboard love rules, because Taiwan's allies tend to be small and poor. Grenada is one case of cupboard love. The case of Vanuatu shows that Taiwan can be outspent and out maneuvered by Beijing, even though the situation there remains uncertain.

One ally tied to Taiwan by more than cupboard love is the Vatican. The Vatican knows that Taiwan has a proud tradition of religious freedom, while the mainland Communists oppress all movements they can't control. Until Beijing comes to some agreement with the Vatican about the freedom to worship and the freedom to appoint bishops and other church officials, the Vatican will recognize Taiwan.

This gives Taiwan a clue about way to go. Expect defeats in the diplomatic small fry, but cultivate relationships with those who have a free and open society in common with Taiwan. Some, such as Australia, will be under pressure from Taiwan's major real ally the United States, to come to Taiwan's aid in the event of war. These are the sorts of countries Taiwan should cultivate, not the mendicants.

Many of the current allies appreciate Taiwan for its good points -- a free, prosperous and democratic society, but in the long run, Taiwan should cultivate those with genuine community of interests - those who wish to see peace in the Asian region and want to see Taiwan prosper - those are the sort of allies Taiwan really needs. With appropriate cultivation, they might be expected to support Taiwan in cases where Taiwan has a good case -- for example, for entry into the World Health Organization. Then it would be not just a case of walking in with the U.S. and saying "I'm with him," like a gatecrasher at a party.

Less face may be involved in being a "representative" rather than an "ambassador" but Taiwan should spread its message wider than just among the allies. Taiwan's fight for international breathing space is commendable, but it needs to tell its story to a wider audience.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The New York Times > New York Region > In Barrooms, Smoking Ban Is Less Reviled

The New York Times > New York Region > In Barrooms, Smoking Ban Is Less Reviled: "February 6, 2005
In Barrooms, Smoking Ban Is Less Reviled
By JIM RUTENBERG and LILY KOPPEL
February 6, 2005
In Barrooms, Smoking Ban Is Less Reviled
By JIM RUTENBERG and LILY KOPPEL

Back in 2002, when the City Council was weighing Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's proposal to eliminate smoking from all indoor public places, few opponents were more fiercely outspoken than James McBratney, president of the Staten Island Restaurant and Tavern Association.

He frequently ripped Mr. Bloomberg as a billionaire dictator with a prohibitionist streak that would undo small businesses like his bar and his restaurant. Visions of customers streaming to the legally smoke-filled pubs of New Jersey kept him awake at night.

Asked last week what he thought of the now two-year-old ban, Mr. McBratney sounded changed. "I have to admit," he said sheepishly, "I've seen no falloff in business in either establishment." He went on to describe what he once considered unimaginable: Customers actually seem to like it, and so does he.

By many predictions, the smoking ban, which went into effect on March 30, 2003, was to be the beginning of the end of the city's reputation as the capital of grit. Its famed nightlife would wither, critics warned, bar and restaurant businesses would sink, tourists would go elsewhere, and the mayor who wrought it all would pay a hefty price in the polls. And then there were those who said that city smokers, a rebellious class if ever there was one, simply would not abide.

But a review of city statistics, as well as interviews last week with dozens of bar patrons, workers and owners, found that the ban has not had the crushing effect on New York's economic, cultural and political landscapes predicted by many of its opponents.

Employment in restaurants and bars, one indicator of the city's service economy, has risen slightly since the ban went into effect, as has the number of restaurant permits requested and held, according to city records, although those increases could be attributed in part to several factors, including a general improvement in the city's economy.

City health inspectors report that 98 percent of bars and restaurants are in compliance with the rules, though some critics question those statistics. Wrath at Mr. Bloomberg, at least pertaining to the smoking ban, seems to be abating.

There are still those cursing the ban as an affront to their civil liberties, and some bar and restaurant owners say that it has undoubtedly caused a decline in business. City officials say they doubt that contention, pointing to data from the first year of the ban showing that restaurant and bar tax receipts were up 8.7 percent over the previous year's. They said they were still waiting for more detailed and current data from the state.

But a vast majority of bar and restaurant patrons interviewed last week, including self-described hard-core smokers, said they were surprised to find themselves pleased with cleaner air, cheaper dry-cleaning bills and a new social order created by the ban.

All of this comes as great relief to Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, commissioner of the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, who took his job on a promise from the mayor that the smoking ban would be given priority. "It was not a pleasant time," he said of the initial uproar over the ban. "There was a myth that this was very unpopular."

Dr. Frieden credits the apparent success of the new smoking rules here with encouraging other seemingly unlikely places to follow suit, or at least to consider doing so. Among them are Boston, Virginia, Australia, Ireland and Italy. Last week, the City Council in Philadelphia began reviewing a newly proposed bill to make bars and restaurants smoke-free.

The councilman who introduced the bill in Philadelphia, Michael A. Nutter, cited New York as an inspiration. "This is kind of the epitome of the song: 'If you can make it there,' " he said in an interview. "What people are saying is, 'If New York can deal with clean-air legislation, why can't we?' "

Mr. Nutter said he was not worried about the political ramifications.

Mr. Bloomberg's Republican critics have indicated they will raise the smoking rules during the Republican primary campaign as an example of what they call his Democratic tendency toward regulation. But many of the mayor's staunchest opponents said they thought the ban would have no effect on his re-election bid. One of his Democratic challengers, Gifford Miller, the City Council speaker, helped secure the ban's passage. And a leading contender for the Democratic mayoral nomination, Fernando Ferrer, has said he would not seek to overturn it.

"I thought he would lose 50,000 votes simply based on the smoking ban," said Robert Bookman, a lawyer for the New York Nightlife Association, a trade group that aggressively fought the ban. "I'm not so sure anymore."

That is no small thing for Mr. Bloomberg, who once faced hecklers in the streets because of the smoking ban, and whose drop in popularity after it was put in effect was illustrated by The New York Post in a front-page bar graph with cigarette butts.

Mr. Bookman did not dispute most of the good-news numbers the city presented in relation to the smoking ban, though he disagrees with the conclusion that the ban has not had an adverse impact on restaurants and bars.

"Clearly employment is up in New York City going into 2005 or the end of 2004 compared with the year before the smoking ban went into effect," he said. "The year before was 2002; 2002 was almost a depression in New York City. It was the recession plus the 9/11 economic impact. Everybody's doing better in New York compared with 2002."

Mr. Bookman said that the nightlife industries would be doing better still without the ban. But he conceded during an interview that his group had all but given up any lingering hope of overturning the city's provision. It is instead focusing in part on what he said were unfair enforcement issues, like ticketing bar owners for the misbehavior of smoking patrons or for an increase in noise complaints drawn by customers smoking outside. City officials say noise complaints have risen because the city's 311 complaint line has made it easier to file them, not because of outdoor smoking.

The turncoats of Mr. Bookman's once vocal movement can be found on the sidewalk on any given night. Huddled in a tent at the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in the Astoria section of Queens on Wednesday and chain-smoking by two heat lamps, Kate Bly, who teaches English to foreign exchange students, said she was surprised by her own positive reaction to the measure, which she had expected would be terrible.

"I was really against the smoking ban," she said. "I thought, bars are for sinful things, smoking, drinking. Now my reaction has changed. I used to feel clammy, stinky, disgusting. Now there's a nice breakup to the evening and a new crowd."

Jason Sitek, 31, said he had similarly begun to enjoy the ban, even if smoke-free bars subtract from what he used to think a New York City bar should be. "The whole nature of New York City and the bar is you can go into a smoky atmosphere," he said. "It's like Disney World now."

Still, he said, smoke-free bars have their advantages. "You realize you stop stinking, you don't smell like an ashtray," he said on Tuesday night as he smoked outside Spike Hill, a bar in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

The temperature was hovering near 30 degrees, but down the street, in front of Rosemary's Greenpoint Tavern, Brian Rennie, 23, said he did not mind that he was forced outdoors to smoke. "I like going outside," he said. "I like to get fresh air."

Several smokers cited other advantages.

"I'm all for it. My dry-cleaning bill's gone way down," said John Payne, 36, who was smoking on Tuesday night outside Toad Hall, in SoHo. "And I'm smoking less."

A friend, Bill Cauclanis, 29, said, "There's a secondary scene now outside of bars - a smoker's scene."

He added: "You can meet a girl out here. Strike up a conversation."

What is good for singles like Mr. Cauclanis is bad for bartenders, who cannot so easily go outside and who find themselves increasingly cut out of the social scene in which they centrally stood. Now, they are often placed in the role of hall monitors, chiding those who disobediently light up, said Barry Crooks, who was tending bar at Toad Hall. Mr. Crooks, an owner of Toad Hall, said he was far more worried about a falloff in business of at least 10 percent, which he said was a result of the new smoking ordinance. "It hurt the volume of business," Mr. Crooks said.

While such complaints were once more common, and perhaps more heated, there are still plenty of them. "It hurts," said John Mulvey, owner of Bridget's Public House on Staten Island.

Public acceptance of the ban has "come around a little bit," Mr. Mulvey said. Business was off 25 percent right after the ban took effect, he said, but now that decline has stabilized at about 5 percent. And while Mr. Mulvey is no longer furious over the anti-smoking ordinance, he says it bothers him that he is not free to run his business as he sees fit - without government intervention.

Mr. Mulvey still has a champion in Audrey Silk, founder of NYC Clash, or Citizens Lobby Against Smoker Harassment. In an interview, Ms. Silk vowed to continue fighting the ban. "We're not giving up," she said.