Thursday, September 08, 2005

Christopher Hitchens: Iraq and Katrina

[While I do not necessarily share Mr. Hitchens' nearly boundless enthusiasm for the war in Iraq, I do have great respect for his intellect. He raises a number of very salient points in this piece...and he does so with his usual erudition and wit. - jtf]

Iraq and Katrina

By Christopher Hitchens
Slate September 8, 2005

I've obviously missed my vocation as a cartoonist: By Sunday I had lost count of the number of them who all seemed to know that, if Saddam Hussein was still the absolute ruler of Iraq, the city of New Orleans would now be bone-dry. (I suppose that's why certain attitudes are described as "cartoonish.") They have a two- or three-word caption to spread this ready-made piece of populism, which it will take me at least a thousand words to rebut.

It was actually the weekend before the Katrina disaster that I received an e-mail from a brilliant friend, who asked if I realized what would happen to the Iraq debate if the hurricane really hit. And of course I could at once easily see what an apparent shortage of National Guardsmen, or any lack of preparation, would look like. And if this tiny thought can occur in my mind, then what can one say about the mind of the White House? The president could have seen that a major, historic American city was in danger of being lost and could have easily got there beforehand to ask all state and city officials if there was anything they might have overlooked. A few thousand pallets of bottled water, for example, might have come in handy for a moment when there would be too much water and also too little. And remember that some reliable predictions were that the disaster would be even worse than it was, or is. Remember, too, that the same president assumed a take-charge, back-from-vacation attitude when it was none of his business and when the already-dead Terri Schiavo was being hawked up and down the land by the religious wing-nuts, as if she had been resurrected on video. And then to get to the city late, after a casual fly-by, and to say that nobody had ever thought the levees might cave in …

So, George Bush has already paid, as he should, a weighty political price for his literally fatal insouciance. What I cannot understand is why the people of Baghdad and Basra should be punished for a meteorological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. We should get out and leave them to their own devices. We need the stuff at home, goddamn it. This has all the charm and beauty of John Kerry saying that we ought not to be opening firehouses in Baghdad while closing them in the United States. It also has all the easy appeal of a zero-sum, provincial, isolationist mentality.

Lt. Gen. Steve Blum was able to tell Donald Rumsfeld early last week that he could put 40,000 troops into the area at once and double that figure if he was asked to. Huge naval vessels like the USS Iwo Jima and Bataan, which can desalinize and pump thousands of gallons of fresh water, and which have thousands of potential hospital beds, were free and on call in the vicinity, as were numberless helicopters. The 82nd Airborne and the First Air Cavalry, now deployed, have acquired huge experience in civil affairs, emergency repair, water provision, and other necessary skills—in guess which recent theater of operations. National Guardsmen from several dozen states, many of them also toughened by hard conditions in Iraq, were in position on time. The whereabouts of some Louisiana Guard units is immaterial, because they would have needed massive augmentation in any case. And only 100 National Guardsmen from Louisiana failed to show up for work, which is remarkable in the circumstances and contrasts vividly with the disgraceful performance of the New Orleans Police Department. But the president is not permitted by the Constitution to use the military for law enforcement, or not without the permission of the governor of the state, and the fuss about this is at least partly a cover for a feeble governor and a flaky mayor, who seek to displace the blame.

In other words, whatever the failures of FEMA may have been, or of the "Homeland Security" apparatus, the one thing that cannot be blamed is the "over-stretch" of our military and Guard forces. To the contrary, once ordered, they performed and are performing magnificently and were able to bring an immense spare capacity to bear.

The United States has a trillion-dollar economy and a massive and sophisticated military, which is quite capable in competent hands of combating rogue-state dictators and jihadist maniacs, while simultaneously ensuring the safety of all its citizens, at least against the more predictable acts of God or the more predictable attacks of the extremely godly. And there are billions left over after these expenditures, which we choose to waste (in my opinion) on the huge diversion of manpower and resources to the "Drug War" and to "Missile Defense." Let us by all means have a national debate on where the fat is and where the vulnerabilities are and decrease the gap between them. The administration used to argue that Saddam was an "imminent" threat. I must say that I preferred to state that he was a permanent one (which, by the way, is much more menacing and exhausting). The waters of Lake Pontchartrain were a permanent threat, understood long before the subject of Iraq came up, and more recently an imminent one. In neither case was there any alibi for being ill-prepared, or unwilling or unable to act. All state and local and federal authorities were on notice.

Just for a thought experiment, suppose we were all agreed that the Iraq engagement was a necessary one, or a just one. Would we then say that we couldn't keep it up because it might expose New Orleans to flooding? I presume not. Thus, those who try to connect the two problems in the same breath are (again I presume) already sure in their own minds that the struggle in Iraq is not worthwhile. Let them by all means stick to this view. But the warnings that Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama were in danger were warnings that can be dated back years ago.

You hear people saying that Bush showed his true colors by telling Diane Sawyer off-camera that the flood relief won't require a tax increase. But what was to prevent the relevant states from raising a special tax, five or 10 years back, to make certain that the levees and wetlands were enough of a barrier to any foreseeable tide? What was to prevent Congress from becoming seized of the matter, perhaps as a result of some fearless Democratic initiative, and appropriating special funds to augment the effort? The most damning quote now in circulation, from a knowledgeable official in New Orleans, says that the extra money for the levees had been compromised for the war in Iraq and for Homeland Security. Well, were the local politicians and people against spending the money on "Homeland Security"?

The Constitution is clear on this point: The president doesn't control the purse. An administration cannot spend money that has not been voted. A huge sum of money was voted by Congress, almost unanimously as I recall, for the reconstruction of Iraq. It was felt that we had a national interest in preventing an important state in another Gulf from collapsing into beggary and terror and anarchy. If you want a scandal to investigate, ask yourself why so little of that money has actually yet been spent. But if it had been, or was being, don't delude yourself for one moment that those dollars were stolen from Bourbon Street. By the same or a similar token, don't imagine that if the Kyoto Treaty had been properly signed by Clinton and Gore, which it wasn't because it didn't pass the Senate, or if every chlorofluorocarbon emission had been stopped 20 years ago, that we'd all be happily going to hear jazz at the Preservation Hall. Those who find themselves in the midst of a ruined city may be excused some but not all of their hysteria. Those who blog about it from dry land have no such excuse.

A favorite trope among those who try to politicize the justified outrage over New Orleans is the plight of the slum-dwellers and the dark-skinned, and quite right, too. But it's highly objectionable to be told, by those who go on in this way, that we should instantly dump the Iraqis and Kurds who are fighting for their lives in a slum that could become another slaughterhouse and plague-spot. There is something degrading and suspect here—why lavish any of our care and resources on the wogs? Does this suggestion do anything to diminish xenophobia and resentment "at home," at just the time and just the place where we don't need it? Am I expected to tell a homeless woman in Biloxi that she has just been ripped off by an Ay-rab? A scuttle from Iraq or from Afghanistan (where the Kabul-Kandahar highway also took a lot of time and equipment and manpower to build) would add to the number of stricken and broken cities in the world, and not reduce it. If liberalism and humanitarianism do not mean internationalism, they mean precisely nothing. Shame on those who try to turn the needy and the victims against each other.

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Charles C. Mann: The Myth of the Eco-Friendly Savage

The Myth of the Eco-Friendly Savage
By Charles C. Mann
Christian Science Monitor
September 8, 2005

Next week my daughter will go back to elementary school, and I will be faced with a choice. At some point the curriculum will cover the environment, and she'll be taught that before Europeans settled the Americas the Indians lived so lightly on the land that for all practical purposes the hemisphere was a wilderness. The forests and plains, the teacher will explain, were crowded with bison, beaver, and deer; the rivers, with fish; flights of passenger pigeons darkened the skies. The continent's few inhabitants walked beneath an endless forest of tall trees that had never been disturbed. But in recent decades most archaeologists, anthropologists, and geographers have come to believe that this Edenic image isn't true. When Columbus landed, the new research suggests, the Western Hemisphere wasn't filled with scattered bands of ecologically pure hunters and gatherers. Instead, it was a thriving, diverse place; a tumult of languages, trade, and culture; the home to tens of millions of people - more, some researchers believe, than Europe at that time.

Then, the majority of native Americans lived south of the Rio Grande. They were not wanderers with tepees; they built up and lived in some of the world's biggest, most opulent cities. Tenochtitlán, the greatest city in the aggressive military alliance best-known as the Aztec empire, may have had a quarter-million inhabitants - more than London or Paris. It glittered on scores of artificially constructed islands in the middle of a great lake in central Mexico. On first encountering this metropolis, the conquistadors gawped like yokels at the great temples and immense banners and colorful promenades. Hundreds of boats flitted like butterflies around the city's canals and the three grand causeways that linked it to the mainland. Long aqueducts conveyed water from the distant mountains to the city. Perhaps most astounding to the Spaniards, according to their memoirs, were the botanical gardens - at the time, none existed in Europe.

Far from being dependent on big-game hunting, most Indians lived on farms. (Otherwise, the cities wouldn't have survived.) According to a painstaking 2000 inventory of the evidence by geographer William E. Doolittle of the University of Texas at Austin, agriculture occurred in as much as two-thirds of what is now the continental US, with large swaths of the Southwest terraced and irrigated. Among the Midwest and Southeast maize fields, thousands of earthen mounds - priestly ceremonial centers - stippled the land. When the Pilgrims landed, they discovered that Indians had peeled back the great forests of the eastern seaboard, lining the coast with farms that stretched inland for miles. (There was little farming in the Northwest, but salmon nets stretched across almost every ocean-bound stream in the region.)

Further south, Indians had converted the Mexican basin and Yucatán into artificial environments suitable for farming. Terraces and canals and stony highways lined the Western face of the Andes. Raised fields and causeways covered Bolivian Amazonia. Farms dotted Argentina and central Chile. At the time of conquest, Indians had converted perhaps a quarter of the Amazon forest into farms and agricultural forests - an area the size of France and Spain combined.Where Indians didn't farm, they burned - mainly clearing underbrush to retool local ecosystems to encourage elk, deer, and bear. They burned enough trees to let bison, creatures of the prairie, survive from New York to Georgia. Indigenous fire had its greatest impact in the middle of the continent, which Native Americans transformed into a prodigious game farm. They burned the Great Plains and Midwest prairies so much and so often that they increased their extent; in all probability, a substantial portion of the grassland celebrated by cowboys was established and maintained by those who arrived there first.

"When Lewis and Clark headed west from [St. Louis]," wrote ethologist Dale Lott, "they were exploring not a wilderness but a vast pasture managed by and for Native Americans."

In sum, most researchers believe that at the time of Columbus the Western Hemisphere had been thoroughly painted with the human brush.

For the most part, this new perspective hasn't made its way into textbooks - or the lesson plans of this nation's hardworking elementary school teachers. Instead, they purvey, with the best of intentions, what geographer William Denevan calls "the pristine myth."

Like most parents, I don't want to get in a fight with my daughter's school. But I'd also like her to be taught something close to what most scientists believe.

One reason that this version of history continues to be taught is that it provides a way for schools to give lessons about conservation. In my experience, this has been transformed into the notion that we should return the land, as much as possible, to the wilderness it was before Columbus. Don't litter, do recycle, don't cut down the forests - we should learn from the Indians, the story goes, and leave the land alone.

At first glance, recognizing that the American landscape was heavily managed seems to undermine this view. For this reason, some environmentalists have rejected the new scholarship. But understanding that we inhabit a landscape irrevocably shaped by human beings doesn't imply that we should endorse careless wastefulness - let the bulldozers rip! Although Indian engineering led to some disasters, for the most part its impact on the environment was, as Mr. Denevan notes, "subtle, transformative, and persistent." The forests were burned and the land was farmed, but the soil was left largely intact, or even improved; despite their large numbers, there is little evidence that native Americans often exhausted or polluted water supplies, or overran their resource base.

As William I. Woods, director of the environmental studies program at the University of Kansas, has put it, their efforts were directed at constructing today the kind of environment they wanted to inhabit tomorrow - and they were usually quite good at it.

This is a lesson I wouldn't mind my daughter learning in school.

Charles C. Mann is a correspondent for Science magazine and The Atlantic Monthly. His new book 1491, debunks much of the conventional wisdom about the new world European explorers found.

Marvin Olasky: Katrina and American Individualism
Marvin Olasky (archive)
September 8, 2005

The American image around the world has taken a post-Katrina nosedive. "I am absolutely disgusted," said Sajeewa Chinthaka of Sri Lanka. "After the tsunami, our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering." The problem, some said, was "American individualism," with folks acting selfishly.

Hmmm -- what about the tens of thousands of Americans individuals who eagerly responded to the crisis without waiting for governmental or collective directive?

Before expressing disgust with America, please spend a couple of hours reading through Internet postings like this one: "We are a family of five. ... We have a very small room with a bed and two small dressers that we will offer to you so that you can get back on your feet. You will be welcome at our family table. ... We don't have much money after the bills are paid, but we'll happily share whatever we can. We don't expect you to pay us, and we won't expect you to leave quickly. It takes time to rebuild, and we'll give you that time."

Look at all the people ready to donate their expertise: "I am a licensed bus driver willing to go south to haul those folks out. ... I am a house painter. ... I am fully licensed, have a truck with all equipment and chemicals, and am willing to go down and help out with any pest control problems. ... I'm a building and roofing contractor from upstate New York who will donate my expertise and labor. ... I am background-screened and fingerprinted for childcare, willing to take in a few kids or a small family. ... I speak fluent Spanish and will contact anyone for anybody."

Look at all the medical talent volunteering: "I'm a board certified orthopedic surgeon who is willing to help in a medical capacity. ... I am a nurse from Cleveland. ... I am a fully licensed general surgery chief resident willing to help immediately. ... I am a CPR-certified healthcare provider." (And some specialists were willing to be generalists: "Hi- I'm a registered nurse, my boyfriend is a union electrician. Even if you couldn't use us in our professions, we would be willing to provide any assistance necessary.")

Look at the many people offering housing: "Can't get out there myself, but we have a dry, clean living room with space for a small family and their pets. ... We only have our hearts and our home to offer, but our home is comfortable and dry! ... I am a single mother with a small baby at home. I have an extra room and can house a single parent and/or children. It's not a lot of space, but I can help with meals, clothing, employment and schooling. ... We are licensed, loving foster parents who would be honored to take in a baby/toddler/young child -- short or long term."

Look at the people without special training or available space just offering themselves: "I was down at ground zero after 9-11 and can help with any manual labor, rebuilding, medical help, search and rescue, and anything else under the sun. ... I cannot offer my apartment for shelter at this time because I have no power/water, and I cannot offer money because I have very little, but I am very able to help out physically. ... I have two husky chainsaws, transportation, and complete camping and cooking gear. No PAY required, just a destination and a person who truly needs help."

Television viewers abroad may have seen images of helplessness, but many would-be volunteers showed a can-do spirit: "I can run heavy equipment or operate off-road vehicles and a variety of boats in highly variable and adverse conditions. I have extensive experience in the coastal marshes and swamps of south LA and MS, and have construction, oilfield and welding experience. I can also cook. I'll do anything to help, and I can bring some supplies."

And many of those who couldn't provide much material aid helped in another crucial way: "God bless you all. I continue to pray."

Marvin Olasky writes daily commentary on Worldmagblog, part of partner publication WORLD Magazine.
©2005 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

'Bigger Bang': Breaking the Heart of Stones

By J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 7, 2005; Page C01

You don't know from pouty. Not like Mick Jagger does.

For the most part, Jagger's life would seem to be pretty swell: At the golden age of 62, the Rolling Stones frontman has his health, his knighthood, his considerable fame and his gazillion-dollar fortune -- a French-countryside castle inclusive.

And yet, on the Stones' new recording, "A Bigger Bang," Jagger's legendary lips are locked in a full-on frown as he goes on and on about his girl problems, of which he apparently has plenty: The majority of the 14 songs he sings on the 16-track album are about his various woes with women -- from those who've already jilted Jagger ("Streets of Love," "She Saw Me Coming," "It Won't Take Long") to one who's about to ("Let Me Down Slow").

It's not just Jagger who has the lovesick blues. Keith Richards mines the subject in his two songs: "Infamy," in which he warbles, "All you do is wipe the floor with me," and the brilliantly bereft "This Place Is Empty."

But in the eight years since the release of the last Stones studio album, "Bridges to Babylon," while Richards was starring in "Pirates of the Caribbean" or whatever and drummer Charlie Watts was being treated for throat cancer, the headlines about Jagger pretty much centered on his love life.

For instance, the fling (and the baby) he had with Brazilian underwear model Luciana Gimenez Morad -- one in an ongoing series of infidelities that thrilled tabloid editors but didn't quite have the same effect on Jagger's wife, Jerry Hall, who summarily filed for divorce. The marriage was eventually annulled, Hall got a nice chunk of change and then, just for fun, recorded a song attacking her ex.

Thus, that pout.

As it turns out, it's a pretty good look for Jagger -- especially as it's framed on "A Bigger Bang." The album marks a long-overdue return to the gritty, stripped-down studio sound that the Stones seemed to have abandoned, and it stands as the group's finest new recording since 1981's "Tattoo You." (Lest you think this is anything close to a four-star, run-out-and-buy-it-NOW endorsement, though, let us point out that competition for the "Finest Album Since . . ." designation wasn't exactly fierce: The Stones' recent catalogue is hardly the stuff a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame résumé is made of. History most certainly will not recall "A Bigger Bang" as an essential Rolling Stones album; just as one of the band's best excuses to tour in some time.)

Eschewing the sort of slick production and musical overembellishment that marked most of their musical output of the past quarter-century -- a period during which the group desperately tried to remain relevant as a contemporary rock band rather than simply wearing the crown of pop music's most successful oldies act -- the Stones have basically returned to their roots by kicking all the interlopers out of the studio, from the horn section to hipster sonic architects like the Dust Brothers.

Now, it's just the aged producer Don Was leading Jagger, Richards, Watts, longtime second guitarist Ronnie Wood and a few sidemen (primarily pianist Chuck Leavell and bassist Darryl Jones) through the rawest, most urgent-sounding collection of new Stones songs in at least two decades.

On two songs ("Dangerous Beauty" and the raggedy blues number "Back of My Hand"), the group totally closes ranks, with Jagger, Richards and Watts -- together since 1963 -- handling all of the instruments themselves. Jagger alone plays four on "Back of My Hand," including a howling slide guitar.

The end result: The Rolling Stones once again sound like . . . the Rolling Stones.

While this means they're often copying themselves by repeating old rhythms and riffs, it beats the alternative: a band that doesn't play to its strengths as it awkwardly refuses to act its age.

Now, with "A Bigger Bang," we can stop already with the geriatrics jokes and instead focus on Jerryatrics, etc.: Is there any question that the scathing blues-rocker "Oh No Not You Again," is about Hall? Not with this bitterly devastating chorus: "Oh no, not you again / [Messing] up my life / It was bad the first time / I can't stand it twice."

Jagger comes out swinging, too, on "Sweet Neo Con." Apparently figuring that all's fair in love and war, he takes a song-length swipe at the Bush administration for its fighting ways -- and in the process, rhymes "certain" with "Halliburton" and "hypocrite" with "crock of," well . . . you know. Alas, despite the hype surrounding the first overtly political song in the Stones' 44-year history, the musically toothless "Sweet Neo Con" is far more interesting to discuss than to hear.

For all his anger, though, Jagger sounds far more vulnerable than vitriolic throughout "A Bigger Bang." On the haunting ballad "Laugh, I Nearly Died," he sings that he's "feeling all alone / I lost my direction / And I lost my home." And on the archetypal alt-country song "Biggest Mistake," he's downright disconsolate as he admits to having blown "a perfect love match."

Bad for him, but good for us schadenfreudists, as we get to witness Jagger perfect that pout.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Thomas Sowell: Rebuilding New Orleans -- and America

September 6, 2005

The physical devastation caused by hurricane Katrina has painfully revealed the moral devastation of our times that has led to mass looting in New Orleans, assaults on people in shelters, the raping of girls, and shots being fired at helicopters that are trying to rescue people.

Forty years ago, an electric grid failure plunged New York and other northeastern cities into a long blackout. But law and order prevailed. Ordinary citizens went to intersections to direct traffic. People helped each other. After the blackout was over, this experience left many people with an upbeat spirit about their fellow human beings.

Another blackout in New York, years later, was much uglier. And what has been happening now in New Orleans is uglier still. Is there a trend here?

Fear, grief, desperation or despair would be understandable in people whose lives have been devastated by events beyond their control. Regret might be understandable among those who were warned to evacuate before the hurricane hit but who chose to stay. Yet the word being heard from those on the scene is "angry."

That may be a clue, not only to the breakdown of decency in New Orleans, but to a wider degeneration in American society in recent decades.

Why are people angry? And at whom?

Apparently they are angry at government officials for not having rescued them sooner, or taken care of them better, or for letting law and order break down.

No doubt the inevitable post mortems on this tragic episode will turn up many cases where things could have been done better. But who can look back honestly at his own life without seeing many things that could have been done better?

Just thinking about all the mistakes you have made over a lifetime can be an experience that is humbling, if not humiliating.

When all is said and done, government is ultimately just human beings -- politicians, judges, bureaucrats. Maybe the reason we are so often disappointed with them is that they have over-promised and we have been gullible enough to believe them.

Government cannot solve all our problems, even in normal times, much less during a catastrophe of nature that reminds man how little he is, despite all his big talk.
The most basic function of government, maintaining law and order, breaks down when floods or blackouts paralyze the system.

During good times or bad, the police cannot police everybody. They can at best control a small segment of society. The vast majority of people have to control themselves.

That is where the great moral traditions of a society come in -- those moral traditions that it is so hip to sneer at, so cute to violate, and that our very schools undermine among the young, telling them that they have to evolve their own standards, rather than following what old fuddy duddies like their parents tell them.

Now we see what those do-it-yourself standards amount to in the ugliness and anarchy of New Orleans.

In a world where people flaunt their "independence," their "right" to disregard moral authority, and sometimes legal authority as well, the tragedy of New Orleans reminds us how utterly dependent each one of us is for our very lives on millions of other people we don't even see.

Thousands of people in New Orleans will be saved because millions of other people they don't even know are moved by moral obligations to come to their rescue from all corners of this country. The things our clever sophisticates sneer at are ultimately all that stand between any of us and utter devastation.

Any of us could have been in New Orleans. And what could we have depended on to save us? Situational ethics? Postmodern philosophy? The media? The lawyers? The rhetoric of the intelligentsia?

No, what we would have to depend on are the very things that are going to save the survivors of hurricane Katrina, the very things that clever people are undermining.
New Orleans can be rebuilt and the levees around it shored up. But can the moral levees be shored up, not only in New Orleans but across America?

Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate

Mark Steyn: The Big Easy Rocked, But Didn't Roll

The London Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 06/09/2005)

Readers may recall my words from a week ago on the approaching Katrina: "We relish the opportunity to rise to the occasion. And on the whole we do. Oh, to be sure, there are always folks who panic or loot. But most people don't, and many are capable of extraordinary acts of hastily improvised heroism."

What the hell was I thinking? I should be fired for that. Well, someone should be fired. I say that in the spirit of the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, the Anti-Giuliani, a Mayor Culpa who always knows where to point the finger.

For some reason, I failed to consider the possibility that the panickers would include Hizzoner the Mayor and the looters would include significant numbers of the police department, though in fairness I wasn't the only one. As General Blum said at Saturday's Defence Department briefing: "No one anticipated the disintegration or the erosion of the civilian police force in New Orleans."

Indeed, they eroded faster than the levees. Several hundred cops are reported to have walked off the job. To give the city credit, it has a lovely "Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan" for hurricanes. The only flaw in the plan is that the person charged with putting it into effect is the mayor. And he didn't.

But I don't want to blame any single figure: the anti-Bush crowd have that act pretty much sewn up. I'd say New Orleans's political failure is symptomatic of a broader failure.

I got an e-mail over the weekend from a US Army surgeon just back in Afghanistan after his wedding. Changing planes in Kuwait for the final leg to Bagram and confronted by yet another charity box for Katrina relief, he decided that this time he'd pass. "I'd had it up to here," he wrote, "with the passivity, the whining, and the when-are-they-going-to-do-something blame game."
Let it be said that no one should die in a 100F windowless attic because he fled upstairs when the flood waters rose and now can't get out. But, in his general characterisation of "the Big Easy", my correspondent is not wrong. The point is, what are you like when it's not so easy?

Congressman Billy Tauzin once said of his state: "One half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment." Last week, four fifths of New Orleans was under water and the other four fifths should be under indictment - which is the kind of arithmetic the state's deeply entrenched kleptocrat political culture will have no trouble making add up.

Consider the signature image of the flood: an aerial shot of 255 school buses neatly parked at one city lot, their fuel tanks leaking gasoline into the urban lake. An enterprising blogger, Bryan Preston, worked out that each bus had 66 seats, which meant that the vehicles at just that one lot could have ferried out 16,830 people. Instead of entrusting its most vulnerable citizens to the gang-infested faecal hell of the Superdome, New Orleans had more than enough municipal transport on hand to have got almost everyone out in a couple of runs last Sunday.

Why didn't they? Well, the mayor didn't give the order. OK, but how about school board officials, or the fellows with the public schools transportation department, or the guy who runs that motor pool, or the individual bus drivers? If it ever occurred to any of them that these were potentially useful evacuation assets, they kept it to themselves.

So the first school bus to escape New Orleans and make it to safety in Texas was one that had been abandoned on a city street. A party of sodden citizens, ranging from the elderly to an eight-day-old baby, were desperate to get out, hopped aboard and got teenager Jabbor Gibson to drive them 13 hours non-stop to Houston. He'd never driven a bus before, and the authorities back in New Orleans may yet prosecute him. For rescuing people without a permit?

My Afghanistan army guy's observations on "passivity" reminded me of something I wrote for this paper a few days after 9/11, about how the airline cabin was the embodiment of the "culture of passivity". It's the most regulated environment most of us ever enter.

So on three of those flights everyone faithfully followed the Federal Aviation Administration's 1970s hijack procedures until it was too late. On the fourth plane, Todd Beamer, Jeremy Glick, Thomas Burnett, Mark Bingham and other forgotten heroes figured out what was going on and rushed their hijackers, preventing the plane from proceeding to its target - believed to be the White House or Congress. On a morning when the government did nothing for those passengers, those passengers did something for the government.

On 9/11, the federal government failed the people; last week, local and state government failed the people. On 9/11, they stuck to the 30-year-old plan; last week, they didn't bother implementing the state-of-the-art 21st-century plan. Why argue about which level of bureaucracy you prefer to be let down by?

My mistake was to think that the citizenry of the Big Easy would rise to the great rallying cry of Todd Beamer: "Are you ready, guys? Let's roll!" Instead, the spirit of the week was summed up by a gentleman called Mike Franklin, taking time out of his hectic schedule of looting to speak to the Associated Press: "People who are oppressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society."

Unlike 9/11, when the cult of victimhood was temporarily suspended in honour of the many real, actual victims under the rubble, in New Orleans everyone claimed the mantle of victim, from the incompetent mayor to the "oppressed" guys wading through the water with new DVD players under each arm.

Welfare culture is bad not just because, as in Europe, it's bankrupting the state, but because it enfeebles the citizenry, it erodes self-reliance and resourcefulness.

New Orleans is a party town in the middle of a welfare swamp and, like many parties, it doesn't look so good when someone puts the lights up. I'll always be grateful to a burg that gave us Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima, and I'll always love Satch's great record of Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans? But, after this last week, I'm not sure I would.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Daniel Pipes: Why Corporations Fund Radical Islam

Daniel Pipes
September 5, 2005

How does the Council on American-Islamic Relations (and others in the Islamist victimization industry) fare so well when it complains to a corporation? That’s the question Margaret Wente, the Globe and Mail’s star columnist, takes up in an insightful analysis fraught with implications.

Wente’s article looks at the high-profile case of Jeffrey Rubin, chief economist for the World Markets division of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. In an April 5, 2005, report to clients, he accurately predicted that oil prices would keep rising:

The first two oil shocks [in the 1970s] were transitory, as political events encouraged oil producers to seize full sovereignty over their resources and temporarily restrict supply. This time around there won’t be any tap that some appeased mullah or sheik can suddenly turn back on.

In response to the phrase “some appeased mullah or sheik,” the executive director of CAIR’s Canadian branch, Riad Saloojee, protested to the CIBC.

We are gravely concerned that Mr. Rubin is promoting stereotyping of Muslims and Arabs in a CIBC publication. We request that Mr. Rubin and CIBC World Markets issue a letter of apology and undergo sensitization training regarding Muslims and Arabs.

In a later formulation, Saloojee put his grievance more simply: “Many Muslims felt the comments were inappropriate.”

Saloojee’s point is plain silly, as mullahs (in Iran) and sheiks (on the Arabian Peninsula) make the key decisions turning the oil spigot on or off. But that hardly mattered to CIBC, which quickly fulfilled Saloojee’s demands, issuing a public apology and requiring Rubin (called by the CIBC “one of Canada’s long standing premier economists”) to undergo cross-cultural diversity training.

Wente provides some interesting details on the latter, which was conducted by Laraine Kaminsky, executive vice president of Graybridge Malkam, diversity specialists based in Ottawa. Kaminsky devised a curriculum especially for Rubin, and CIBC paid a cool C$5,000 for her two-hour session with Rubin. (In the spirit of journalistic grit, Wente voluntarily submitted herself to the same curriculum as Rubin suffered through; she reports the information she picked up was a “combination of the anodyne, the obvious and the interesting.”)

Why this sudden retreat by CIBC, when Rubin had written an accurate and patently inoffensive passage? Why did the bank not stand by its star economist?

For that matter, why have so many other corporations capitulated to the demands of CAIR and its ilk? In 2000, I tallied up some major corporations (Anheuser-Busch, Burger King, DoubleTree Hotels, Los Angeles Times, MasterCard International, Miller Brewing, and Seagrams) that had pulled advertisements found offensive by the Islamists. Disney has reined in two of its radio broadcasters, Michael Graham and Paul Harvey. Two clothing businesses, Liz Claiborne and Warehouse One, withdrew or discontinued women’s apparel that bore Arabic script. The worst of these appeasements took place in 1997-98, when, on the basis of a bogus complaint by CAIR, Nike accepted humiliation at its hands.

Wente gives several reasons for these cases of advanced corporate timidity. First, to resist the Islamists means absorbing a public relations hit:

because image and reputation are so crucially important, big organizations are vulnerable to small interest groups with loud voices. No CEO wants his shareholders, his employees, his customers and his board of directors to pick up a newspaper and see a headline proclaiming that somebody is boycotting his company for being anti-Muslim.

Second (and conversely) touting one’s diversity virtues makes for positive publicity:

On the same day this week that the CIBC posted a record third-quarter loss on account of the Enron debacle -- $1.9-billion—it made room in its news release to remind people that in June, it celebrated Diversity Month for the 13th year.

Third, beyond the PR angle, looms the legal one.

In the United States, where laws are strict and juries tough, companies that lose discrimination suits in court can be forced to pay out millions. “Better to call me first than call the lawyer later,” Ms. Kaminsky said with a smile.

Kaminsky is here alluding to the corrective dimension of her work. Wente notes that the session with Rubin

is now formally documented in his personnel file, which gets the bank off the hook if anyone feels like suing later on, or invoking some hate law, or complaining to a human-rights commission. Did the CIBC take corrective action with its offending employee? Is the CIBC truly sensitive to diversity issues? Yessirree!

Wente concludes that the bank, in other words, “took the path of least resistance. It found a quick and dirty way to make the problem go away.”

Comments: (1) Kenneth Timmerman shows in his book Shakedown how Jesse Jackson developed this racket from practices on the mean streets of Chicago. What began as street gangs intimidating local businesses ended up working with corporate boards and Wall Street. This practice has become a potent weapon in the United States and in other Western countries; Islamists are just getting started at it. Timmerman writes me that “Jackson turned the grievance industry into a lucrative money-maker for himself and his political machine; CAIR has clearly studied his tactics and is applying them with success.”

(2) In political terms, the top personnel in most corporations are conservative but their appeasing behavior makes them structurally liberal. However much they may bemoan in private the need to apologize and pay out, they do it.

(3) The marketplace places a premium on winning a positive reputation among every segment of consumers, and that points to grievance-mongers wielding power over corporations into the indefinite future. No matter how disreputable the mongers might be, as they often are, corporations would rather pull products, apologize, and pay than fight. This bonanza promises to keep the Islamist and other shakedown artists in both the money and the public eye. The worst of it is, I see no legislative or other means to change this dynamic.

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Mr. Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Rehnquist: A Conservative in Law and Temperment

Rehnquist had long court tenure

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Posted: Sept. 3, 2005

On Jan. 30, 1952, a 27-year-old law school graduate named William Hubbs Rehnquist left his parents' home in Shorewood in a 1941 Studebaker Champion, heading for Washington, D.C.

He drove through a snowstorm in West Virginia and Maryland along the way, writing later, "It's hard to believe that even in 1941 a heater would have been optional equipment on a car sold in Milwaukee, Wisconsin."

Two days after he left, he found himself standing in awe in front of the majestic building that houses the United States Supreme Court.

"I had only foggiest notion of how the Supreme Court operated," he wrote later.

But, having graduated first in his law school class at Stanford University, he had been picked by Justice Robert Jackson to be one of the justice's law clerks, a $6,400-a-year job that, among other things, quickly began to give Rehnquist an education in the ways of the Supreme Court.

He mastered the subject.

By the time he died Saturday evening at age 80, Rehnquist had become one of the most influential people in American legal history, one of the longest-serving members of the court and the third-longest-serving chief justice.

Rehnquist played a key role in the election of one president, George W. Bush, presided over the impeachment trial of another president, Bill Clinton, and served as the fulcrum in turning the direction of the court and American law from the activist, groundbreaking era of the 1950s through 1970s to the more conservative tone of today.

Rehnquist said in a rare television interview in early 2004 that he didn't think much about his legacy. "I've probably thought about it less than you have getting ready for this interview," he told interviewer Charlie Rose.

But he added that he hoped his legacy was that he headed a smooth-running court where the justices generally got along on a personal level and where his views prevailed much of the time.

Across the political and legal spectrum, few would quarrel with that description.

Walter Dellinger, who was acting solicitor general, the federal government's chief lawyer for matters before the Supreme Court, during the Clinton administration, called Rehnquist "one of the three most important chief justices in history."

Jay Sekulow, who argued 11 cases before the court as chief counsel of the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, said Rehnquist was "an exceptionally great chief justice" whose views significantly affected American thinking and life beyond the court itself.

Many conservatives hoped, and many liberals feared, that when President Reagan named Rehnquist as chief justice in 1986, the court might reverse many of the landmark rulings from the 1960s, when Earl Warren was chief justice, or the 1970s, when the Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion was issued under Chief Justice Warren Burger.

Indeed, he was a consistent vote against affirmative action, against legal abortion, in favor of limiting or voiding court-ordered school desegregation, in favor of permitting a ban on burning the American flag, against halting executions, and in favor of allowing religion in the publicly funded arena.

But in large part, the conservative counter-revolution was muted during Rehnquist's time as head of the court.

Many of the major decisions on subjects such as abortion, the rights of defendants in criminal trials or affirmative action trimmed and altered earlier, more liberal precedents, but the precedents generally stood.

Even as Rehnquist dissented, the court broke new ground in rights of homosexuals. And the court in general upheld earlier, controversial freedom-of-speech decisions when dealing with subjects such as pornography on the Internet.

Rehnquist himself was known to regard it as an accomplishment that the court's record was "balanced" during his time as chief justice - it wasn't as conservative as he would have preferred himself, but it was a lot more so than in previous decades.

The court, he believed, was not like Congress, where the hot issues of the day were turned quickly into bills and debated in the glare of the media. The court was much more private, more stately; it dealt only with cases that made their way to the justices after lengthy legal proceedings at lower levels; it paid strong heed to earlier decisions.

Changing the direction of the court was like changing the direction of a battleship, something done by degrees, Rehnquist came to believe in his later years.

Low-key approach

The reliability of his vote on the conservative side of issues, combined with his low-key, businesslike approach to court operations and debate, seemed to make him a less prominent figure in the court's public image, especially in recent years, than one might have expected.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas pretty much took over Rehnquist's former role as a strong voice of conservative legal opinion. And Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy, generally moderate conservatives, became the swing votes on many cases decided by 5-4 or 6-3 votes, moderating the court's overall record.

But Erwin Chemerinsky, a court expert and law professor at Duke University, said, "I really think that he (Rehnquist) is somebody who will be regarded in hindsight as having had a tremendous influence on the course of constitutional law."

Rehnquist came to the court with a clearly conservative vision, and "over time, much of that vision has become constitutional law," Chemerinsky said.

Two examples of what Rehnquist stood for and what changed and didn't in his years on the court:

• Rehnquist was one of two justices who voted against the Roe decision in 1973, and he was a reliable vote against abortion throughout his career. But the majority of the court kept abortion legal even as it made abortions less available or more difficult for some women to afford.

• When Rehnquist was an assistant attorney general during the Nixon administration in the late 1960s, he wrote a memo vehemently criticizing the Warren-era ruling known as Miranda, which required that people being questioned by police be informed of their rights to remain silent and to have an attorney.

But when he had the chance several years ago to overturn the Miranda rule, Rehnquist joined the court majority in keeping it. He said it had become a part of accepted legal practice by then and was actually a help overall to law enforcement.

Legal historian Tinsley Yarborough wrote in a book in 2000, "President Reagan envisioned a Rehnquist Court willing to repudiate the Warren era's human rights legacy, as well as Roe v. Wade and other Burger Court decisions expanding the reach of individual liberty. Whether out of personal conviction or considerations of political expediency, George (H.W.) Bush attempted to pursue essentially the same goal. To date, their efforts have achieved only partial success."

In the long run, the Rehnquist court may be remembered more for putting the brakes on earlier landmarks, not throwing the court's philosophy into reverse, even as Rehnquist himself will be remembered as the leader of a wave that brought decidedly conservative thinking into a forceful position within the court.

Joining the court in 1972, Rehnquist initially was known for his dissenting opinions, often issued in 8-1 rulings. In later years, as chief, he appeared to want to avoid that role. Not only did he have Scalia and Thomas as philosophical allies, but, as chief justice, he seemed willing to build bridges with the more moderate justices and to reduce the number of his own dissents.

Boosted states' power

Rehnquist made major inroads on two fronts that did not draw widespread public attention.
He led the court in shifting power away from the federal government and toward the states. The shift included decisions that some actions of Congress were unconstitutional because they were outside the power of the federal government, such as a 1995 case tossing out a federal law banning guns near schools.

And Rehnquist was known in the judicial world, even by critics, as an effective leader of the court itself and of the federal judicial system as a whole. He promoted efficiency and organization, meeting deadlines and keeping meetings short and to the point.

He did not like long debates among the justices when they discussed cases privately, although some chafed at that.

Under Rehnquist, the court also reduced the number of cases it takes each year to about 75, half the number of a few years ago.

Rehnquist's commentary on other jurists told much about his own aims as a justice. In his 1987 book on the history of the Supreme Court - one of four American history books he wrote - Rehnquist described Robert Brooke Taney, who was chief justice from 1836 to 1864:

"Taney had a first-rate legal mind, and was a clear, forceful writer.. . . He was not overly wrapped up in legal learning for its own sake, and realized that constitutional law required vision and common sense as well as a careful legal analysis. His willingness to find in the United States Constitution the necessary authority for states to solve their own problems was a welcome addition to the national constitutional jurisprudence."

Like Taney, Rehnquist was indisputably bright, wrote opinions that were direct and unflowery ("in the law, the power of clear statement is everything," he said, quoting another justice), applied what he considered common sense to legal situations and favored limiting the power of the federal government, including the court.

He wrote in the Supreme Court book, "The justices were not appointed to roam at large in the realm of public policy and strike down laws that offend their own ideas of what is desirable and what is undesirable."

In a 1985 interview with The New York Times, he said, "I don't know that a court should have a sense of mission.. . . I think the sense of mission comes best from the president or the House of Representatives or the Senate.. . . The Supreme Court and the federal judiciary are more the brakes that say, 'you're trying to do this, but you can't do it that way.' "

Critics strongly disagreed with his description of a justice's role, saying he did make policy and impose his philosophy.

In 1980, New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis wrote that Rehnquist was "highly intelligent, legally skilled and gifted with the pen. He is personally charming. And he is an ideologue of the right, the most predictable conservative appointed to the court in 50 years."

In 1999, Lewis wrote that the court had become "a phenomenon that this country has not seen for more than 60 years: a band of radical judicial activists determined to impose on the Constitution their notion of a proper system of government."

And in 2002, Herman Schwartz, a law professor who edited the book "The Rehnquist Court: Judicial Activism on the Right," wrote:

"During the Rehnquist era, the Supreme Court has been hostile to minority aspirations and has cut back on the rights of the accused and the imprisoned; it has opened the doors of the execution chamber and shut the doors of the courthouse; it has chipped away at abortion rights, lowered the barrier between church and state, and undermined the free exercise of minority religions; it has. . . narrowly interpreted federal social legislation by misreading congressional intent, and it has promoted business interests."

On the other side of the spectrum, Chip Mellor, president and general counsel of the libertarian-oriented Institute for Justice, praised Rehnquist for "demonstrating a very thoughtful, evenhanded and principled type of conservatism that has brought the court much further in a constructive conservative direction.

"When history judges, he will be viewed as one of the most important chief justices in American history," Mellor said. "He presided over a court that issued major opinions over his tenure, and yet he managed to build a court that was known for its collegiality among the justices and, for the most part, the tempered nature of its approach to its role in deciding cases."

Sekulow, a prominent voice of conservative legal activism, said he expected that 100 years from now, Rehnquist will be remembered most for presiding over the Bush vs. Gore decision in 2000. But he called Rehnquist "one of the most significant chief justices in U.S. history" both for the way in which he ran the court and for the impact he had in shifting the court's decisions away from the directions taken by the Warren court.

In an article headlined "Rehnquist the Great?" in The Atlantic Monthly magazine in April 2005, Jeffrey Rosen, a George Washington University law professor, said Rehnquist "may be the last of the old-fashioned judicial conservatives who already look far more judicious than the conservatives who have arisen in their wake. And liberals may find themselves missing Rehnquist more than they could ever have imagined.

"With exceptional efficiency and amiability, he led a court that put the brakes on some of the excesses of the Earl Warren era while keeping pace with the sentiments of a majority of the country," Rosen wrote. "His administration of the court was brilliantly if quietly effective, making him one of the most impressive chief justices of the past hundred years."

Rehnquist was a lifelong conservative in three ways: his political views; the unchanging nature of his philosophy and views across the decades; and his personal style, which, except for a penchant for somewhat eye-catching clothes, was low-key and genial.

Roots in Wisconsin

Rehnquist's father, William B. Rehnquist, headed the Milwaukee sales office of a medical equipment and supplies firm, Bradney-Smith Co. The family lived in Shorewood, where Rehnquist attended Atwater School and what was then Shorewood Junior-Senior High School.

He was described later by former classmates as a good student ("the most brilliant person I ever met," one said years later) who was well-liked and stayed out of trouble.

One of his few personal brushes with the law came on April 17, 1942, when he was ticketed for parking four feet from a crosswalk for five minutes (from 11:05 to 11:10 p.m.) at E. Hampshire St. and N. Hackett Ave. on the east side. He was sent to Children's Court, where he was "warned about obeying traffic and parking laws," according to records.

He graduated 11th in his Shorewood class of 234 in 1942.
He left Milwaukee for college and never lived here or spent much time here after that, other than to visit his parents.

But he was a lifelong fan of both the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers football teams, known for placing small bets on almost every game - except for when he feared either team was going to lose.

And, although he was unsentimental in reminiscing about his Milwaukee years, he was fond of such things as the Silver Spring Drive shopping district in Whitefish Bay, where he would walk with his mother in her later years when she lived nearby.

His father died in 1973 and his mother, Marjorie, in 1988.

Rehnquist returned to Milwaukee for the last time in 2002, to receive Shorewood High School's first Tradition of Excellence Award on the 60th anniversary of his graduation. He remarked later that when he was driven around his old neighborhood, he was struck by how little its appearance had changed in the decades since he left.

Rehnquist's college career was interrupted by World War II; he served in the Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1946.

After the war, he received bachelor's and master's degrees from Stanford University in California, then a master's degree from Harvard, before returning to Stanford for law school. One of his classmates was Sandra Day O'Connor.

Noteworthy memo

While working as a clerk for Justice Jackson in 1952 and 1953, Rehnquist wrote perhaps the most controversial legal opinion of his career - a memo to Jackson on why the Supreme Court's 1896 decision known as Plessy vs. Ferguson, upholding racial segregation under the "separate but equal" philosophy for blacks and whites, was constitutional and ought to remain the law.

Rehnquist later said the memo was written at Jackson's request as part of an effort by the justice to consider different viewpoints as school desegregation cases headed toward the court. Rehnquist said the legal essay did not reflect his own opinion.

Jackson went on to vote in favor of declaring segregation unconstitutional in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case in 1954, and the contents of the Rehnquist memo later threatened to cost Rehnquist confirmation both when he was named to be a justice in 1971 and to be chief justice in 1986.

Historian Richard Kluger, who wrote the definitive book on the Brown decision, said that "a preponderance of evidence (suggested the memo). . . was an accurate statement of his (Rehnquist's) own views on segregation, not those of Robert Jackson, who, by contrast, was a staunch libertarian and humanist."

While he was working as a clerk, Rehnquist met Natalie Cornell, a native of San Diego and then an employee of the CIA. They married in 1953 and had a son and two daughters. Natalie Rehnquist died in 1991 of cancer.

In 1953, Rehnquist moved to Phoenix and went into private practice as a lawyer. He became involved in local politics, striking up a close relationship with then-Sen. Barry Goldwater.

After Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968, another Arizona attorney, Richard Kleindienst, was named to a top position in the Justice Department, and he recruited Rehnquist to join him as an assistant attorney general. Rehnquist played a role in selecting nominees for the Supreme Court and helping them win confirmation. Two of the people he was involved with, Clement Haynsworth and G. Harold Carswell, failed to gain confirmation.

In 1971, Nixon had two openings on the court. Several people whom Nixon was considering for the court drew negative reactions from the American Bar Association and the news media.
Rehnquist's name was floated within Nixon's circles by John Dean, the White House counsel who later played a central role in the Watergate scandal and who wrote a book on the Rehnquist selection in 2001.

"Bill Rehnquist makes Barry Goldwater look like a liberal," Dean said he told one of Nixon's aides.

Almost as a last-minute impulse, Nixon decided to nominate Rehnquist to succeed Justice John Marshall Harlan, telling Rehnquist he was in line for the job only the day before it was announced publicly.

Nixon's knowledge of Rehnquist was shaky. Tapes made of Nixon's conversations with aides show that Nixon at one point called him "Renchburg." Nixon misspelled his name in handwritten notes made the day of the nomination. Earlier, following a meeting at the White House, Nixon had asked Dean, "Who the hell is that clown?" referring to Rehnquist, apparently because he had worn a colored shirt and fashionable tie to the meeting.

"Is he Jewish? He looks it," Nixon said. The answer was no, he was Lutheran and active in his church.
Nonetheless, when Nixon announced the nomination in October 1971, he said, "I would rate William Rehnquist as having one of the finest legal minds in the whole country today. He rates at the very top as a constitutional lawyer and legal scholar."

The confirmation hearings for Rehnquist were heated, but the Senate approved the nomination, 68-26, and Rehnquist was sworn in on Jan. 7, 1972, the same day as Justice Lewis Powell.
In 1986, when Burger retired as chief justice, Reagan nominated Rehnquist to the court's top position and named Scalia to succeed Rehnquist. Rehnquist's promotion was confirmed by the Senate, 65-33, getting the largest number of "no" votes of any successful Supreme Court nomination up to that time.

Stickler for details

At the time of the Clinton impeachment trial in 1999, New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse, an expert on the court, described Rehnquist's courtroom demeanor as "confident, imperturbable, his countenance displaying little reaction to his surroundings, his Midwestern accent a legacy of a childhood in Shorewood that he left behind at age 19 en route to becoming a man of the Southwest."

Reserved and formal on the bench, he was known as a probing questioner of attorneys arguing before the court and a stickler for details. A Washington Post story in 1997 told how a lawyer, in oral arguments, had remarked that a 1954 Ford Mustang was something worth real money. "They didn't make Mustangs until '63," Rehnquist interjected. Actually, he was off by a year: Mustangs debuted in '64.

Off the bench, Rehnquist was often described as being reserved but personally warm, and he put a high value on having good relationships with other justices, even if they disagreed on legal matters.

On the other hand, although the roster of justices was unchanged for more than a decade and the nine justices knew each other well, they reportedly could go days without seeing each other, even in the course of work, perhaps due to the impact of the formal Supreme Court building, the nature of the work and Rehnquist's own reserved and businesslike nature.

Outside the court, Rehnquist was an avid tennis player, a poker and bridge player and an eager sports fan. His hobbies also included meteorology and painting. In later years, he said just spending time with his 11 grandchildren was one of his favorite things to do.

When Rehnquist was nominated to be chief justice, Benno Schmidt Jr., then incoming president of Yale University, said, "Rehnquist has a genius for friendship and a great deal of personal warmth and charm."

And The Wall Street Journal reported that at judicial conferences, he was sometimes known to warm things up by leading the group in singing "I've Been Working on the Railroad" or "Hello, Dolly!"

Court expert Chemerinsky, who described himself as a critic of most of what Rehnquist did, said, "He's had this tremendous impact in changing the Supreme Court. In almost every area of constitutional law, he's left a mark, and the court's functioning very differently than it used to, and I think he's responsible for that."

Peter Irons, author of six books on the court, said, "A hundred years from now, Rehnquist will be looked on as a chief justice who was consistently conservative and was fairly influential on the court in pressing for his point of view."

Don Downs, a University of Wisconsin professor who teaches constitutional law, said Rehnquist's longest-lasting legacy may lie in improvements he made in the operation of the federal judicial system. As for Rehnquist's legal contributions, the court has been so closely split for years that it is unclear whether changes in the future will build on or erase what he wrought, Downs said.

Rehnquist had just turned 47 when Nixon nominated him to the court. Nixon and his aides wanted someone who was relatively young so that the appointment would have lasting impact.

Thirty-three years later - more than three decades after Nixon left the presidency - the appointment of Rehnquist stands as one of the most significant decisions Nixon made.

In his book about the court, Rehnquist described his work style: "Maybe it's just my own way of working, but I've always preferred when possible to go through one thing from beginning to end, do what I have to do with it and move on."

In the unadorned, clear way that Rehnquist liked to operate, that may sum up his career. He was given two jobs, justice and chief justice, that gave him great responsibility and influence. He worked hard at them, made them his life. He stayed at them for many years, until past his 80th birthday, until illness brought the end.

He did what he believed he was supposed to do.

And, as had to be, he moved on.

Jon Pareles:The Rolling Stones Get What They Need

The New York Times
September 4, 2005

SOMETIMES clichés are underrated. The Rolling Stones embrace them wholeheartedly on "A Bigger Bang" (Virgin), their first album of new songs since 1997, and they're better off for it.

The sound is unadorned Rolling Stones: two guitars, bass, drums, a splash of piano and Mick Jagger's trans-Atlantic blues bray. Horns are absent, backup singers and synthesizers are scarce. Nearly all of the 16 songs are about woman trouble, with titles as generic as "Let Me Down Slow," "Rain Fall Down" and "Dangerous Beauty." Take them at face value: the Stones have decided they don't need anything but the basics. A riff, a catchphrase, a smidgen of melody, an attitude, and there's a Stones song.

Consider "Oh No, Not You Again." It starts with Charlie Watts on drums socking the four 16th notes he has used to pump up scores of songs. Two chords bounce between rhythm guitars, and then stop-time chords blare while Mr. Jagger tries to snuff out an old flame: "Once bitten twice shy," he blurts in an unabashed cliché. When the guitars surge in for the three-chord chorus and Mr. Richards plays his 10,000th version of a Chuck Berry lick, it's inescapable: the old tricks still work.

At least they work for one band. Once the Stones were the model that half the rockers in the universe wanted to follow. Now, in the world of Jay-Z and Green Day, they're an anomaly, refusing to retire and still being handsomely rewarded for it. They play their old-fashioned handmade roots-rock as if they're revving up a perfectly maintained original Ford Mustang convertible. The kids probably don't care - they've got their skateboards, or their Hummers - but it's amazing that the thing still takes to the road at all.
"A Bigger Bang" accompanies a tour that started last month at Fenway Park in Boston and comes to Madison Square Garden on Sept. 13 and Giants Stadium two days later. The band knows that few if any of the people paying up to $450 for (unscalped) tickets are eager for new songs. When the Stones last toured, in 2002-3, they had only a greatest-hits collection to plug. Yet with the die-hard stubbornness of the whole routine - Mr. Jagger, 62, running across stadium stages and doing his hip-shimmying, shoulder-shaking, finger-pointing strut, and baby boomers in the audience longing to recapture youth as the ultimate luxury of age - it must be a point of pride for the band to come up with a new album too.

"A Bigger Bang" has little competition to reign as the best Stones album in two decades. While the band became a touring money machine, it got by with albums - all the way back to "Dirty Work" in 1986 - that included one song for the radio, a few for Keith Richards to croak through and a bunch of throwaways. The Stones tried to modernize and think grand thoughts with the overproduced, undercooked songs on "Bridges to Babylon" in 1997; they tried to strip down and slick up with "Voodoo Lounge" and "Steel Wheels," respectively, before that. But on "A Bigger Bang," the Stones actually sound like they're having fun together, live in a studio somewhere.

It's partly an illusion. "Oh No, Not You Again," which sounds like a simple recording of the thrust and counterthrust of the Stones' guitars onstage, doesn't have Ronnie Wood sharing lead and rhythm guitar; its guitars are credited to Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards (who also played bass), and sound mostly like Mr. Richards. The Stones' gift to rock, along with their song catalog, has been the way the band has defined looseness as perfection. While the rhythm section (which usually includes Darryl Jones on bass) is unswerving, everything on top of it seems up for grabs, not so much arranged as wrangled. To assemble that by overdubbing can't be as casual as it sounds.

The occasional ambitious thoughts on "A Bigger Bang" arrive in the most unadorned, old-fashioned music. In "Sweet Neo Con," Mr. Jagger alternates blues harmonica and disgust with Bush administration rhetoric - "It's liberty for all, democracy's our style/ Unless you are against us, then it's prison without trial." And "Back of My Hand" warns of "trouble a-comin' " in an echo of Delta blues, with Mr. Jagger on slide guitar.

But most of "A Bigger Bang" comes across as something assembled on a dare: How many songs could Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards knock together from a semi-familiar riff and a stock title? More than enough. "Rough Justice," echoing "Brown Sugar," sets the tone with its raunch and slide-guitar boogie. "Let Me Down Slow," akin to "Happy," has a cleverly effective chorus melody - a descending scale as Mr. Jagger sings "Let me down real slow" - and a pushy jumble of guitars. "She Saw Me Coming" unites its riff, title and vocal hook as one bluesy punch, and has some pithy humor: "What a cast of characters/ Her lovers and my friends." Two more of the album's many breakup songs, "Streets of Love" ("Angie" updated) and the countryish "Biggest Mistake," have lyrics that thoughtfully share the blame. And "Driving Too Fast" sets its warnings to another "Brown Sugar" variant that's completely at home on a car stereo.

The Stones know the destiny of "A Bigger Bang." As with the other latter-day Stones albums, most of it will be forgotten when the tour is over, and in the long run even its better songs won't stack up against "Gimme Shelter," "Tumbling Dice," "Honky Tonk Women," "No Expectations," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "The Last Time" and dozens of other past glories. "A Bigger Bang" is about simpler, more immediate pleasures: a twang, a beat, a moan, a laugh. They're enough to keep a great band going.