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March 23, 2005

This is good...

Ordinary Iraqi citizens doing the extraordinary, ambushing terrorists before they can attack.

March 23, 2005 at 10:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 21, 2005

The Passion of Schiavo

I am frankly somewhat puzzled over the whole Terri Schiavo controversy. While I can understand why Terri's defenders (who believe that she may well be conscious and aware, in some sense) are motivated to prevent her judicially-approved murder, why are some Democrats and at least one judge so eager to see this poor woman die? Especially in light of the fact that we have recently seen a man awake from a persistent vegetative state after 19 years of apparent non-responsiveness.

And then there is the court-approved method for arranging her death: removing her feeding tube so that she can die of dehydration and starvation. (Just imagine the liberal outcry if some legislature were to suggest using this method for executing convicted murderers...)

Gerard Van der Leun (from the quite excellent American Digest) has several posts related to this topic that I found thought-provoking and worthy of mention:

March 21, 2005 at 02:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 20, 2005

One Iraqi's Thoughts on Liberation

The always interesting Anthony Shadid has an excellent feature in today's WaPo detailing a series of interviews he conducted over the past three years with a prominent Sunni bookseller in Baghdad. The fellow's complex mix of emotions -- joy at being freed from Saddam, shame at the occupation, fear and optimism over the future of his country -- are very well drawn in this sensitive profile. Worth reading.

March 20, 2005 at 07:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2005

Harvard Faculty vs. Academic Freedom: I know which one I'd pick...

As many of you know, Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences (a subset of the University faculty, which excludes all of the grad schools like Law, Business, Medicine, Education, Kennedy School of Government, etc.) narrowly voted on Tuesday evening for a non-binding resolution of "no confidence" in President Larry Summers' leadership. Of course, the vote is meaningless, since only the seven members of the Harvard Corporation can vote to remove President Summers. But it was still a black eye for a man who many people believe is doing a great job at Harvard.

Harvard undergraduate Brian Goldsmith (writing in his column in today's Crimson), put his finger on the major problem Larry faces; the faculty don't like him:

Let’s be clear about one thing: 218 Faculty of Arts and Sciences professors (out of 690) secretly voted lack-of-confidence in Larry Summers because they think he’s a schmuck.

His speech about “intrinsic aptitude,” the supposed source of the Faculty’s moral outrage, is rarely mentioned anymore. Arguing about Cornel West and Israeli divestment doesn’t work for the Larry-haters because even though some may think he chose the wrong words, a majority at Harvard knows Summers has the right policy: an accountable faculty, and zero tolerance for prejudice.

What he has accomplished as president—the biggest expansion of low-income aid since the GI Bill, the Crimson Summer Academy to prepare disadvantaged high school students for college, the greatest investments in science and technology ever, recruiting extraordinary new faculty like Louis Menand and Steven Pinker, expanding study abroad, defending affirmative action, making ours a “Green Campus”—all of that is irrelevant to the one-third of professors (of one out of Harvard’s nine faculties) that voted to kick the bastard when he’s down.

A friend who was close to Summers in Washington summed it up better than most: “He’s always been brilliant, competent, unusually good at getting things done—but there’s something about Larry that pisses people off.”

After Tuesday’s meeting, Anthropology and African and African-American studies professor J. Lorand Matory—fiercest of the Faculty’s warriors—strode outside in triumph to tell the press that “there is no noble alterative to [Summers’] resignation.” In case you hadn’t gotten the message, Matory added a TV-ready soundbite: “Larry Summers should resign as president of Harvard University.” Pardon me for asking, but: resign for what, exactly?

Because outside our ivy-covered walls, when presidents or CEOs are pushed out, it happens for a reason. Either they have crossed some ethical or moral line or, far more commonly, they haven’t accomplished what they were hired to do. Nobody can seriously claim that Summers’ performance violates the first shibboleth. And, reviewing the 2001 reportage about the Corporation’s goals for a new president—stronger leadership, higher standards, an aggressive curricular review, and Allston expansion—it is hard to argue that, in terms of substance, Summers has not lived up to expectations.

And so we are left with what one professor described to me as “Larry’s personality problem.” Rumors and gossip abound on this subject—and most sound like they came straight from a middle school cafeteria: Larry ignored me while I was talking, Larry was mean to me at lunch, Larry made fun of my idea, Larry excluded me.

While I agree with Goldsmith that most of President Summers' problems with the faculty are due to superficial personality issues and "management style," there are more important principles at stake.

Harvard Winthrop Professor of History Stephan Thernstrom put the issue in its proper context in his remarks at Tuesday's faculty meeting (which were reprinted in today's NY Sun):

Many of the criticisms of President Summers involve his personality and management style. But I will focus exclusively on the issue raised by his remarks at the National Bureau of Economic Research in January.That is the issue because it raises crucial questions about something I thought we all cherished — academic freedom. Academic Freedom is on trial here, and a victory for President Summers’ critics will be a deadly blow to academic freedom in American higher education. A previous speaker has claimed that the comments made by Professor Summers have set back the position of women at Harvard by 40 years. I emphatically disagree, and suggest that a vote to censure him for his speech will set the university back by 50 years, back to the days of Mc-Carthyism. . . .
Read the whole thing. It is a sobering reminder of just how intolerant our universities have become of independent thought and genuine scientific inquiry.

March 17, 2005 at 07:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Winning Iraqi Hearts and Minds

Instapundit links to an interesting report from StrategyPage describing how Iraqi public opinion has turned against Wahabbi terror "in a big way." Glenn's post also includes a compelling email from a reader who heard an informal talk by MG Pete Chiarelli, commander of the 1st Cav Division, who (along with his troops) has recently returned from Iraq. Chiarelli's comments (made earlier this week) supported (and elaborated) on the assessment that most Iraqis have turned against the insurgents.

While this story is widely underreported by the MSM, the reasons for this are probably not rooted in anti-US bias in the media. Rather there are real limits to the amount of "reporting" that can be done from sandbagged hotel rooms or meetings within Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. Of course, given the dangerous environment in Iraq, where journalists are routinely being kidnapped for proganda value and/or ransom, you can't blame journalists for wanting to stay safe. While journalists should not risk their lives unnecessarily, news organizations should revisit the approach of embedding correspondents with US (or even Iraqi!) forces in the field. This may be a lot less fun for the correspondents (no roomservice, air conditioning or hanging out in the bar talking to other journos), but it would give us all a lot more information about what is really happening in Iraq.

March 17, 2005 at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2005

Who are these people?

Michael Totten takes a look at the faces of the protesters in Beirut. The contrasts between the images embraced by the supporters of continued Syrian occupation and those chosen by the opposition are truly telling. (Hat tip to Instapundit, the all seeing.)

March 16, 2005 at 01:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fast women in Iran

You've gotta love this story.

March 16, 2005 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 15, 2005

Channelling Madonna in Beirut

I'd followed this link from Instapundit and took a quick link at the picture, dismissing it as an amusing piece of internet Photoshoppery. (Overlooking, of course, the fact that the photo was from AP, which doesn't do comedy.) But when I saw that even Al Jazeera had picked up the story (though mangling the quote), I realized that the material girl was being quoted as an authority by the protesters.

More seriously, it is encouraging that Arab media outlets like Al Jazeera are reporting that yesterday's anti-Syrian rally drew a million protesters, dwarfing Hizbollah's showing last week.

March 15, 2005 at 12:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More on the Jordanian terror connection

The NYT's Dexter Filkins has an interview with the family of the alleged Jordanian al-Hilla suicide bomber. They deny ever celebrating their son's "martyrdom" and express shock and horror that their son, Raed Mansur al-Banna, may have been involved in terrorist attacks in Iraq. The family also denies that their son was the al-Hilla bomber, though they admit that he was probably killed while fighting with insurgents in Iraq. Filkins also reports on Iraqi demonstrations and anger at Jordan for their role in supporting the insurgency. (Also see this Reuters report by Michael Georgy on the anti-Jordanian demonstration yesterday in Baghdad.)

The Jordanian blogger Natasha at Mental Mayhem, who broke this story, also reports that the Jordanian newspaper Al Ghad, which first published the claims that Raed Mansur al-Banna was the al-Hilla bomber, has retracted the story and apologized for having published the report without adequate verification.

Interestingly, there appears to be a wider backlash against all Arab expatriates living in Iraq because of popular suspicion that they may be involved in supporting the insurgency.

March 15, 2005 at 10:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2005

Jordanian Media Inciting Martyrdom

Check out this interesting example of the delusional Arab press writing favorably about the Jordanian suicide bomber who murdered more than one hundred Iraqi civilians in Hilla last month.

The murderer in question was evidently a 32 year old lawyer from Jordan who had been living in California at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Hat tip to Laurie Byrd at Polipundit.


More on the fallout from that article here, including Iraqi demonstrations against the suicide bombers and calls for compensation for the victims from the Jordanian government.

Also, take a look at this post by Omar at Iraq the Model about how Iraqi merchants are boycotting Syrian goods in protest at their support for Iraqi insurgents.

March 14, 2005 at 05:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack